September 30, 2016

Why the Early signing of submarine design contract with DCNS?

The advertisement in The Australian, in mid September 2016, was put up by prominent Australians including Dick Smith and John Singleton, questioning the wisdom of the Turnbull Government's April 26, 2016 future submarine decision. This may have been a significant reason for the Government's early signing of the design contract with DCNS today. (This advertisement above was reproduced on the internet by Crikey)
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In addition to the Lockheed Martin announcement Australia's Defence Ministerial duumvirate made another major announcement on September 30, 2016 http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2016/09/30/first-contract-signed-with-dcns-to-commence-design-phase/ :

“The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP and the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne today announced the next significant step in the building of Australia’s Future Submarines with the signing of the [Design and Mobilisation contract] between the Government and DCNS to commence the design phase of the Program." Whole Announcement

-  signing of the contract “was ahead of schedule”
-  good for Australian industry especially Adelaide, South Australia's.

The Government has signed the design contract with DCNS earlier than intended to head off opposition to the decision to select the DCNS Shortfin. Basically signing nails down a legal relationship with DCNS that the Government could not plausibly walk away from. Walking away might today also involve the Government paying compensation to DCNS.


The design contract may set out an initial design period of about three years with design work mainly done at the DCNS submarine building yard/design center at Cherbourg, France and also significant design work in Adelaide. The design contract is just the first of a long series of Government-DCNS contracts and hurdles, involved in the Shortfin Project.

Other factors influencing the signing being “ahead of schedule” include:

1(a). Concern over the last few weeks that prominent Australians, including philanthropist Dick Smith and entrepeneur John Singleton, are running a campaign against the Australian Government’s decision to buy/build a new conventional submarine design (in the shape of the DCNS Shortfin Project) rather than buy a  cheaper, existing, off-the-shelf, submarine design. Stories have appeared in News Corp Australia newspapers which have an excellent standard of national security coverage. The newspapers are headed by The Australian, and The (Sydney) Daily/Sunday Telegraph and The (Adelaide) Advertiser. The Government is probably concerned that further articles and advertisements, critical of its decision, may resurface in the press.

1(b). The high cost nature of the AU$50 Billion Project might become increasingly unpopular nationally when placed against civilian health, education and welfare funding priorities.

The above opposition to the Project has boosted pressure from pro-Project forces including:

2. the South Australian State Government (see State Premier Weatherill’s concern).

3. Federal Liberal MPs and Federal Liberal Senators from South Australia (including concern from Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne who just happens to be a Federal MP from South Australia).

4. Prestige and political need to confirm one of the Turnbull Government’s major political achievements to crow about - specifically the April 26, 2016 submarine decision which selected the DCNS Shortfin.

5. The very ship/submarine building orientated Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) political party has a near balance of power in the Senate and House of Representatives in Federal Parliament, Canberra. This allows NXT, if unhappy, to hold up Government legislation.

6. DCNS concern that the anti-Project forces might significantly delay or impede the Project.

7. Workers, voters and unions in South Australia concerned the Project might be delayed or impeded.

8. ASC, other arms companies and other politicians in other States concerned the Project may be delayed or impeded, and

9. A political and/or legal need to simultaneously announce the DCNS signing decision with the Lockheed Martin selection decision.

Pete

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Adoption of LIBs is one of the future trends of submarine technology, but, to be spiked-cost by LIBS is hardly discussed. For your reference, as a friend of Aussie, I will show very simple budget estimation considering adoption of LIBs.

Budgets of 27SS, 28SS and 29SS suggests that LIBs are much more expensive (+0.13 billion AUS) than LABs for one submarine.

Let think about cost of 12 submarines for 30 years-operation, where each submarine equips with two-fold greater amount of LIBs than that of Japanese submarine and LIBs are exchanged for every 6 years. In this case, increased cost by adoption will be as follows:

(+0.13 billion AUS per sub) x 12 subs x 2 (amount of LIBs per sub) x 5 (exchange) =15.5 billion AUS

DCNS proposed submarine with LABs for 50 billion AUS. If RAN adopts LIBs system, Australia should pay extra 15.5 billion AUS (total 65.5 billion AUS).

I hope my estimation is wrong.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

While its very difficult to estimate DCNS Shortfin battery costs more than a decade before the Shortfin is built - I agree that if Australia had chosen Japan's Soryu Australia would be getting tried and tested subs much sooner, less expensive and less problematic than the Shortfin
- but such criteria misses the political point of Canberra spending as much money as possible in South Australia.

Actually on LIBs for submarine the US also seems to making progrss. M&A Electronics, September 30, 2016 reports http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2016/09/batteries-submarines-general-atomics.html :

"...General Atomics Electromagnetic has signed a contract with the Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Riviera Beach, Fla., to provide lithium-ion fault tolerant (LiFT) battery systems for use on the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) mini-submarine that will transport military combat divers in a dry environment

...The General Atomics LiFT battery systems have built-in single-cell fault tolerance to prevent uncontrolled and catastrophic cascading cell failure. This not only ensures the safety of any on-board personnel, but also ensures systems continue to operate through faults..."

Regards

Pete

subdriver said...

This programme is so fraught with risk that that its ultimate success will require very deft project management and very close and detailed oversight. Did the Australians not study the Scorprne programme in India ? It is 12 years since the contract was signed for a proven design and the first subamrine is yet to be commissioned. In this case it is still on the drawing board - the basic design features are for a SSN so it will be interesting to watch this programme evolve.The Indian programme was so manipulated by the French that the IN had no choice but to accept the weapon DCNS wanted them to buy and cleverly eliminated the competition through various means. At every stage there have been issues. The ergonomics of the boat itself are so poor that even Russian submarines, not known for their ergonomics seem better laid out. I pity the crew that has to be deployed for 30-45 days.
And then of course the famous document leak. Its amazing that 22000-odd pages running the length of the submarine could be accessed by a single individual - it obviously wasnt some sub contractor or casual employee - such access is restricted to very few people and should have been on a need to know basis - obviously for DCNS this is an export submarine so they were perhaps casual about it since their own country does not get affected.

Australia which has commissioned special studies on ergonomics must insist on an internally well designed boat

Finally, good luck to Australia. I hope I get to see the Shortfin Barracuda at sea in my lifetime.

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the Dry Combat Submersible is (DCS) another tool for shifting taxpayers money around. A Type 210modmod without an engine would be far cheaper and far more capable.

I have to admit that in the case of DCS LIBs make sense because they have a higher energy density than LABs. For a submarine with another main power source the advantage is marginal. The bottleneck is the diesel engine to reload the batteries.

More powerful engines could be a solution but that feature comes with a several costs: higher engine costs and more power is related to more noise. Rough estimation is 3 dB for twice the power. Noise from a submarine is distributed spherically.

So the detection range of the submarine is expanded by the factor of 1.4 (2^0.5). Range is not so impressive but the detection area (under sea microphone network) is doubled (2^0.5^2).

Another point is more engines need more space.

Due to several advantages I still recommend many 1,000 t submarines for Australia.

Regards,
MHalblaub

MHalblaub said...

According to the early signing...

Nothing new with that and Lockmart. Australia (some minister) signed the contract very early and now it is very obvious that this aircraft is a lame duck. The airframe is more aerodynamical advanced than the F-117 but a brick compared to every teen fighter (F-14, F-15, F-16...) even the F-4 has a far better top speed and acceleration. The F-35 is only stealth for X-band radar and very visible for infrared due to its hot nose.

The F-35 has a fat and hot nose problem. It is not easy to cool the nose due to the radar system behind it. Also the power consumption would be incredible. 128 kN dry thrust without afterburner is transferred into heat via friction.

The early signing is necessary before some people start to think over. The AN/BYG system is not necessary to operate with the US Navy. All other NATO navies operate with the US fleet without AN/BYG. Access to SeaWeb is related to permission and today not related to the submarine control system.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Here is a useful summary of the Soryu's strengths http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/why-japans-soryu-class-submarines-are-so-good-17898

at the US "Nationa Interest" website.

Pete

Peter Coates said...

A most interesting article in The (Melbourne) Age, of Oct 3, 2016 http://www.theage.com.au/national/public-service/is-dcnss-imaginary-shortfin-barracuda-submarine-australias-biggest-defence-blunder-20160930-grsqhn?deviceType=text

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete (3/10/16 11:17 AM)

Type 89 heavy weight torpedo (development name, G-RX2) with maximum depth of 900m and maximum speed of 55knot is one of the most superior torpedoes, and its propulsion system is top secret [1]. Newly coming post-Soryu submarine will equip with next generation torpedoes (G-RX6).

As torpedo tubes have the same strength as pressure hull, if maximum depth of torpedo is bigger than that of submarine, submarine can fire a torpedo at maximum operating depth of submarine. I think Soryu is one of strongest submarines in anti-submarine combat. Of course, post-Soryu is stronger than Soryu.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_89_torpedo

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

The Type 89 (in its G-RX2 and G-RX6 versions) sounds like a highly effective weapon. It would give an enemy a shock if the enemy were hit from underneath by a deep diving Japnese submarine firing one of these torpedos.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_89_torpedo indicates the 89s are likely to have many similarities with the Mark 48s.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

A thermocline is a thin but distinct layer in a large body of fluid in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below [1]. In the open ocean, the thermocline is characterized by a negative sound speed gradient, making the thermocline important in submarine warfare because it can reflect active sonar and other acoustic signals [1].

Submarine waits for its chance to attack vessels by torpedo at 200 feet below thermocline [2]. Rapid change in temperature results in a sudden change in density generating internal wave [2]. If summation of magnitude of internal wave and attack depth is much bigger than maximum operation depth of submarine, above mentioned attack is rather risky. In this point of view, submarine with deeper maximum depth has an advantage, because it has more chances to attack below thermocline.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermocline
[2]https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%B5%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A2%E3%82%AF%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B3

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 1/10/16 6:38 PM}

I can only hope that in any attack using Aussie F-35s that Australia's Growlers ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_EA-18G_Growler#Australia ) are on hand to blind the enemy's radars and communications - thus allowing our F-35s to get through.

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at 5/10/16 12:27 AM]

Hydographic knowledge is obviously important in knowing likely thermocline behaviors in different parts of the ocean.

For example the Chinese PLA-N spy ship "Dong Hai Jiu 101" * that has been anchored just outside Australia's HMAS Stirling submarine base (near Fremantle) for months may have done some very useful (for China) work on the behavior of thermoclines in Australian waters.

* http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/world-economy/security-experts-claim-a-chinese-vessel-tasked-with-finding-mh370-is-likely-spying-on-us/news-story/93b0ee754fbf98b1ce9dada6aadabea6

Regards

Pete