July 6, 2016

Poland may buy Norway's Ula class submarines

Two of Norway's six Ula class submarines at their very charming looking Haakonsvern Naval Base, Bergen, Norway. These subs are only 26 years old - maybe good condition! These may possibly be sold to Poland. (Photo courtesy Petr Šmerkl, Wikipedia).
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In June 2016 Germany and Poland signed an MoU to establish a joint submarine operating command to be based in Glucksburg, Germany. This command probably is, or may become, subordinate to NATO's "Allied Maritime Command".

The authority may increase the chances that Poland will purchase German TKMS submarines - maybe new build Type 212AsType 210mods or used Ula class subs. These would replace Poland's 5 German built ex-Norwegian Kobben class (transferred to Poland in 2002/3). In terms of used submarine sales the (average) 51 year old Kobbens may be too old to find second-hand market buyers.

Poland has again been talking to Norway about a joint submarine procurement strategy. Noting Norway's 5 existing German built Ula class subs average only 26 years old, Poland may conceivably buy them. Used Ulas from Norway would be far less expensive than new build 212As.

The small 1,000 tonne Ulas may also be quite adequate for the shorter range, mainly Baltic operations, that Poland likely undertakes. Poland has expressed interest in arming its next class of submarines with cruise missiles and they could be fired from 533mm horizontal torpedo tubes in new or used submarines.

Norway, operating in the North Sea and Arctic Ocean, may well choose Type 212As to replace its 6 Ulas.

All these submarine purchasing possibilities may also favour France's DCNS, which is also on Norway's submarine buying shortlist. France, like Germany, is a NATO country. Apparently, Sweden's Saab Kockums is not in the running as (for submarines at least) Poland and Norway, seem to favour NATO countries, something Sweden isn't.

Pete

26 comments:

MHalblaub said...

Taiwan would buy any kind of working submarine.
Does Poland want to offend China and can Getman veto such a deal?

Regards MHalblaub




Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
A couple of questions come to mind,

1. How useful are the Ula class SSK's are to Poland.

2. If Poland is selling the Kobben class Submarines, who do you predict will be the likely buyer. My guess for the Kobbens would be Thailand, Philippines or Taiwan.

3. How likely will Germany sell the Type 212 because they don't build them anymore and only build the export Type 214

4. How good is the Type 210Mod for the Baltic.

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 7/7/16 2:12 AM]

True "Taiwan would buy any kind of working submarine" but given:

- China has circled Taiwan with seafloor sensors, and a PLA-N sub or two on station, and

- human agents (even in the Taiwanese Navy)...

...in a shooting war Taiwan's subs would last about 10 minutes.

I expect Germany would have the final say on re-export of the Kobbens. Germany is likely to maintain its quiet policy of blocking German built subs going to Taiwan. All countries, including the US, are concerned about Chinese economic retaliation.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Re:

1. How useful are the Ula class SSK's are to Poland?
A: If well maintained by Norway and assuming Norway/Germany would help with support, the right-size-for-the-Baltic Ulas may do well for Poland in the short-medium term. After 10 years Poland could receive new subs, probably from Germany.

2. If Poland is selling the Kobben class Submarines, who do you predict will be the likely buyer. My guess for the Kobbens would be Thailand, Philippines or Taiwan?
A: Thailand and Philippines may make sense. Taiwan too political. Some Latin American countries (and other small countries) also prospects.

3. How likely will Germany sell the Type 212 because they don't build them anymore and only build the export Type 214?
A: I think Germany is just completing its last 212A (for German Navy) and it is still involved in joint building them (under Todaro class badge) with Italy. But it could easily take 10 years to new build Polish 212s, 210s or 214s. So Ulas as an interim solution for Poland makes sense.

4. How good is the Type 210Mod for the Baltic.
A: the 210mod is an evolution of the Ula AND of the Baltic specialised 205/206s. TKMS has very much been marketing the 210mod to Baltic countries. Also if Sweden were smart it would lower its sights down from the A26 to joint building 210s (under a good Scandinavian Project name) with TKMS.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

"Also if Sweden were smart it would lower its sights down from the A26 to joint building 210s (under a good Scandinavian Project name) with TKMS."
I think that door is closed after the expropriation by the Swedes. They will have a hard time selling their A26 to anybody.

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
To expand on the questions

1. If you were a betting man, what country do you think and what are the odds that a country would buy a Polish Kobben class SSK.

2. If the German Type 212 production line is still going, Who would be you in line to buy them

3. How far can you stretch the life of the Ula class SSK and Kobben class SSK before they have to be scrapped.

4. Is the Type 210Mod just a paper project or has TKMS been aggressively marketing the Type 210Mod.

5. As for Taiwan, how likely will they ever get submarines?

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

it is strange to be informed by an Australian blogger about a German-Polnish agreement. I checked the German news later on and close to zero article by the media. Just NDR had a small but less interesting article repeating the official statements.

There are just the official comment:
German Navy: http://www.marine.de/portal/a/marine/!ut/p/c4/NYuxDsIwDAX_yE6REBJb0w6woS5QNrcxUaQ2qVwHFj6eZOCddMvp4RMLkd7Bk4YUacEHjnM4Tx9YSSDzxJLjDi6w46w7UH6pkMd7PTqGOUXWauWoodgLaRLYkuhSSxYpBYLD0TS9NSfzX_NtbXe5dceD6a92wG1d2x8r4Adc/

and other bloggers:
http://augengeradeaus.net/2016/06/deutschland-und-polen-vereinbaren-gemeinsame-u-boot-kommandobehoerde/
http://www.bundeswehr-journal.de/2016/deutsche-marine-uboot-jagd-und-uboot-kooperation/

Main reason to keep it low might be not to make Russia more angry than they are at the moment. Next week will be a NATO conference within Poland and several NATO countries will move troops to Poland.

Regards,
MHalblaub

MHalblaub said...

Dear Nicky,

I try to explain your questions, too.

1. How useful are the Ula class SSK's are to Poland.

The Ula-class is far bigger than the 500 t Type 205 of German Navy with 8 torpedoes and no reloads. This submarines were thought for a one way mission. Type 210 has 8 torpedoes with 6 reloads.

2. If Poland is selling the Kobben class Submarines, who do you predict will be the likely buyer. My guess for the Kobbens would be Thailand, Philippines or Taiwan.

Taiwan is a no go and Thailand and the Philippines are to proud to buy such old submarines with relative new technique inside.

3. How likely will Germany sell the Type 212 because they don't build them anymore and only build the export Type 214

Type 212 production is still going on for Italy and it is very likely that all countries will use the same submarine type to reduce costs.

4. How good is the Type 210Mod for the Baltic.

The Type 210 was build for Norway. Norway is not located at the Baltic Sea. Norway is located at the North Sea and very close to Russia according to the way a Russian fleet has to chose from bases like Seweromorsk or Murmansk to name just a few. You do not need a big submarine to control the Baltic Sea (Type 205).

Regards,
MHalblaub

MHalblaub said...

Dear Anonymous,

the Swedish goose is cooked since Japan stated that the Sterling engine is not worth the effort.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [8/7/16 4:42 AM]

Thanks for the German Navy and German blog articles. Rather uninformative on Poland's next sub-type.

It falls to imaginative foreign blogger/analysts to make up this deficiency.

A submarine acquisition process, even for TKMS new builds, takes a long time (5 to 15 years years).

I said Poland MAY buy Ulas, 212As, 214s or 210mods

1. Don't you think Poland may want an interim submarine?

2. Or will Poland still be operating 60 year old Kobbens (in ten years time) while a new sub is being built for Poland?

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [8/7/16 12:19 AM] and MHalblaub [8/7/16 4:55 AM]

I think we should be kind to poor Sweden

In the spirit of Western alliance solidarity and democratic diversity Sweden appears to have shared its vaunted Sirling/Sterling AIP system with a sound paying customer.

mainland China!!

http://www.chinastirling.com/en/

Regards

Pete

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

Germany has a problem that may sound familiar to you:
6 submarines and about 2 and a half crews.

So Poland could rent several submarines due to the fact that for each submarine two crews are planned for a rotation system just like on US SSN.

Regards,
MHalblaub

MHalblaub said...

P.S.
Poland operates one Kilo class submarine and 4 Kobbens. The fifth is just for spare parts.

The Kobben's hulls are rather old but diving depth is restricted by the Baltic Sea. The electronic systems and sonar systems were completely replaced during the refit at TKMS. Therefor I guess Poland can and will operate these submarines longer.

Poland just has to check former Königsberg today Kaliningrad. Danzig just sits opposite to it.

The rest of the Russian fleet is trapped inside the narrows between Helsinki and Tallinn.

I could imagine that a German Type 212A with English labels is as cheap as a costumized Type 210mod.

European NATO members tend to pool their big items.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Your 8/7/16 4:58 PM

Poland leasing 2 or 3 German Navy 212As sound likes a workable interim solution for 10 years while TKMS (and likely a Polish shipbuilder) joint build new 212As.
- this is assuming that the fleet of 6 x 212As have a high 66% availability
- meaning 2 will be in maintenance while 2 each will be available to the German and Polish Navies.
- this would also keep the 212A "assembly line" open for Germany's/Poland's and Italy's force flexibility and upgrade benefit.
__________________________________________________________________________________

Your 8/7/16 5:46 PM

- Poland could indeed retain a couple of Kobbens for a few years to keep the Russians nervous.
- the low salinity and cold water of the Baltic would reduce Kobben rust-corrosion which would make them easier to sell.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [at 8/7/16 2:02 AM]

Alas!

You have exceeded your Requirements List quota of questions in this string.

Regards

Pete

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi pete,
I think for Poland, they should talk to TKMS on the Type 214 because the Type 214 is being built and I think the Type 218SG is being built as well for Singapore.

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
This may Interest you on the Taiwan Submarine issue.

Taiwan Started Designing its Own Diesel-Electric SSK Submarines
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4186

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [at 9/7/16 4:55 AM]

Thanks for "Taiwan Started Designing its Own Diesel-Electric SSK Submarines
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4186 "
which mentions "Under a four-year contract, design work is estimated at Tw$3 billion ($94.46 million). Preparatory work begun last year with an approved budget of Tw$10 million."

Even reverse engineering or using a blueprint costs US$Billions. Taiwan, as usual, is talking chicken feed amounts and wants the US to fund the US$Billins.

Then the article says "at present the navy's demand is submarines ranging from 1,200-3,000 tons". That's pretty vague. How flexible are Taiwan's reverse engineering opportunities and blueprints?

"Since [2001], however, there has been little progress." Not, at all, surprising!

Unfortunately for Taiwan - China banning countries assisting Taiwan on subs continues to rule.

Regards

Pete

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
Do you think it's possible and do you think Taiwan will be able to import the skill sets required to build submarines. I don't think America is willing to show them how to build submarines because America only builds nukes. Taiwan may have to do a version of industrial espionage to gain the materials and skill sets required to build them.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Not until Taiwan is prepared to spend serious money.

Yes America does not build submarines - just the best!? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia-class_submarine

Taiwanese spying on the US is well known in the biz - including the FBI and US military counter-intel. See "U.S. Navy officer suspected of passing secrets to Taiwan, China" http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-espionage-idUSKCN0X80DL

Cheers

Pete

Anonymous said...

The agreement with Germany for a joint command for the submarines does not mean anything when it comes to which submarines Poland will buy. Also Norwegian defense department have declined that there are any talks about selling any submarines to Poland, this statement came as there was a rumor some time ago saying that they were transferring a Kobben class to Poland. When Norway finally get their new submarines the kobben class will be ready for scrapping.

Poland may buy German, Swedish or German submarines. The one who will offer the absolute best deal for the polish industry and the polish workers will be the one who takes home this order.

Anonymous said...

Forget about the Kobben-class, I was of course talking about the Ula-class.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [11/7/16 11:55 AM]

Yes Swedish or German submarines are possible - and French.

Lets hope the A26 program yields more than just 2 subs for Sweden.

Although Sweden may need to join NATO to sell subs to NATO countries that are increasingly worried about Putin.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Of course "Poland may buy German, Swedish or German submarines." is a misstake. It should say German, Swedish or French.

Anonymous said...

Also I think France is very underestimated when it comes to the polish acquisition. Poland have specifically spoken out a wish for real, long range, cruise missiles on their future submarines. Not just SSM's like harpoon, Exocet or future NSM, like most navies opt for.

Only France can deliver this out of the three favorites. Sure Poland could buy tomahawks from US and integrate them on a Swedish or German submarine. But buying Tomahawks is hardly easy, only UK have been successful while both Spain and Netherlands have failed an agreement.

Peter Coates said...

While France appears to have a submarine launched cruise missile that is sufficiently mature
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_de_croisi%C3%A8re_naval this may not necessarily mean Poland will need to buy a French sub.

Poland may still see it as possible that German built subs could field:

- Harpoon land attack as a "Kaliningrad buster"
- current Tomahawk cruise or
- other long range submarine cruise that the US or Germany are working on.

Pete