January 31, 2017

Visit to HMAS OTWAY Holbrook (Oberon) Submarine Museum

HMAS OTWAY at her Holbrook home.
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In the first of Pete's long distance submarine quests he travelled 100s of kms into Australia's semi-desert to visit a huge (in its time) Oberon class submarine. For submarine junkies, historians, kids and everyone else this Oberon class submarine is HMAS OTWAY - Holbrook Submarine Museum. In the 1990s the top half of OTWAY was cut up and trucked from its former operating base (at HMAS Platypus), in Sydney Harbour, 500 kms southwest to the small town of Holbrook, New South Wales. Holbrook is halfway between Australia's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, just off Australia's busiest "Hume" highway

Australia’s Oberon class “O boats” were highly successful from the beginning. Reasons for that success included:
-  use of an evolved, design (with few vices and good diesels) based on 60+ years of British
   submarine design, 
-  strong influences of the captured (and revolutionary) German Type XXI U-boats, and
-  from before WWI Australian born "British" officers and crew serving for decades, in war and
   peace, in the UK Royal Navy (RN) submarine service. This included Aussies in RN Oberons,
   before Oberons the RN Porpoise class, further back WWII V class1930s T class etc. 

See vital information and statistics about OTWAY and Oberons at

See Submarine Matters'  December 16, 2013 article for brief details of (then) secret Oberon exploits, including OTWAY's - at Australian Oberon Submarine Intelligence Gathering . Also see.

THE HOLBROOK STORY


This 2014 youtube tells of Commander Holbrook VC's exploits, The Museum growing Oberon collection, Gundula Holbrook's hologram, and much more.
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In the pamphlet information below the Holbrook Museum describes how Oberon submarine, HMAS OTWAY, got there, the steadily expanding exhibit of the insides of an Oberon submarine, full of analogue gauges and systems http://mgnsw.org.au/organisations/holbrook-submarine-museum/ :

“Our prize exhibit is a genuine WW II “Jolly Roger” flag from a British submarine, it is one of only three dozen world-wide that remain from over 300 British and Australian submarines that operated in time of war.

We have the original above water line superstructure of the Oberon Class submarine HMAS OTWAY set within beautiful parkland.  Also a large scale model of Lt. [later Commander] Norman Holbrook VC's submarine B11.

We have recently completed re-building HMAS OTWAY’S original Wardroom (Officer’s quarters) in front of our control room within the Museum. The 7 original masts [periscopes, snorkel, antennas, radar] are back on the Otway with the Radar mast rotating during daylight hours.

In the museum you will see the extraordinary Hologram in which [Holbrook’s widow Mrs Gundula Holbrook, interestingly of Austrian birth, hence German accent!] tells the  fascinating story of her husband’s brave exploits on [HMS] B11 in 1914 and the subsequent town's name change [from the unpopular, in WWI, name "Germanton" to "Holbrook"]. The theatre seats forty and is wheel chair friendly. You will see an original torpedo tube with a torpedo mounted, two rooms full of interesting artefacts and information.

Then to finish (without having to go under water) you will enter the main passage from HMAS OTWAY and be able to sit in the officer's wardroom and experience what it would be like to live in a submarine. You may look through the periscope to see 360 degree views of Holbrook and take as many photos as you like.

On the way out there is a photographic exhibition showing how the Otway was transported and re-built here in Holbrook. Then don't forget to sign the guest book!”

Pete

January 30, 2017

Stray magnetic fields undersirable in submarine lead-acid battery use.

Electrical currents in a submarine’s electrical equipment, especially in its batteries, can induce stray magnetic fields. Above are used batteries at main battery supplier to Collins submarines, PMB Defence. Each battery cell weighs about 3 tonnes, is about 1.5m high and a metre wide. The entire battery weight for a Collins is about 450 tons [150 cells] (Photo courtesy overclockers forum. Comment #9).
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In a Comment on 26/1/17 10:24 PM an Anonymous advised, along the lines:

Electrical currents in a submarine’s electrical equipment, especially in its batteries, can induce stray magnetic fields. Such distortions of the electro-magnetic field can lead to magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) of a submarine. MAD detectors may be frequently present in seabed arrays and on the tail booms of ASW patrol aircraft.

It is therefore important that diesel-electric submarine maintenance in port and during missions minimizes stray magnetic fields. This is partly achieved by arranging the contents of the submarine (especially batteries) for magnetic minimization. Another measure is degaussing a submarine’s iron, especially in its hull, before a mission.

A major way to minimize a stray magnetic field is be achieved by partial cancellation of magnetic field through “alternative arrangement of two battery modules with an opposite current loop. So, for the n-row by m-column array of battery modules, n and m are even numbers, and for the submarine with two battery sections, m is multiples of four.”

Existing lead-acid batteries may function by being closely packed in modules [1]. Such an arrangement doesn’t need pedestals (which can form a rigid structural base of a battery) and this minimizes stray magnetic fields. No pedestals also have the benefit of lowering the center of gravity. The lower the center the lower the chance of battery shaking, vibration and, in extremis, falling over.

Alternatively, lead-acid battery arrangements may use pedestals because this benefits battery installation and maintenance.

But discussion of precise battery arrangements is a highly confidential area for which there is little open source information. So one cannot be sure how diesel-electric submarine building and customer countries arrange their lead-acid batteries.

[1] see Page 11.2 (Figure 11.01 Battery compartment – typical arrangement) and Page 11.16 (Figure 11.06 Arrangement of cell group water cooling connections) of this Canadian Forces (CF) Oberon class (“O boat”) Training Notebook (Electrical). This Notebook would have been based on UK Royal Navy and Vickers original information. Notebook is decades old now and used to be classified “RESTRICTED” http://jproc.ca/rrp/rrp2/oberon_battery_and_electrical.pdf (about 10MB)



BACKGROUND

The Japanese Ministry of Defence Standard NDS F8016B concerns “General rules for design of equipment with small stray magnetic field”, 5.3”Arrangement of main batteries for submarine” which specifies that submarine is generally equipped with 240 directly connected cells as a group. 

Flowing from NDS F8016B Japanese lead-acid battery arrangements might adhere to the following rules:

i) width of each column of cell module should be the same.  (240 = 20 columns x 12 cell modules) was decided based on these rule. In this case columns of 20 satisfies rule. 

ii) numbers of each column are desirably multiples of four or must be at least an odd number (20 = 4 x 5) and number (12) of cell module in a column satisfies rule 

iii) desirable numbers of cell modules in a column are multiples of four. (12 = 4 x 3). Logically speaking, if the rules are satisfied, other arrangements such as three groups of 24 columns or four groups of 16 columns are possible.

iv) polarity cancellation of a pair of neighbouring columns should be conducted by cross connection of these columns, and so on.

January 27, 2017

Philippines may buy Russian subs and Thais buying Chinese

A gradual submarine arms buildup is continuing among Southeast Asian countries. Southeast Asian countries already owning submarines include Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. This buildup also marks strengthening preferences for China, away from the traditional US ally.

The main impetus seems to be China providing soft loans and projects in Southeast Asian countries along with provision of sophisticated weapons at low prices. Possible new Southeast Asian buyers of submarines include:

-  Thailand. Reuters, January 25, 2017, reports. “Thailand's military government has approved
    [US$380 million] to buy a [Yuan derived S26T] submarine from China...Thai officials said [on
    January 25, 2017]. Relations have been strengthening between China and America's oldest ally in
    Southeast Asia, particularly since ties with the United States cooled after [the US criticised
    Thailand’s] 2014 coup.”
    =  see the whole Reuters article, also
    =  see Submarine Matters March 25, 2015 article on new submarines for Thailand.

and

-  the Philippines. Update Philippines, January 26, 2017, reported: [Philippines Defense] Secretary
    Delfin Lorenzana said the country is now evaluating Russia’s offer to sell the Philippines some of
    its advanced diesel-electric submarines....[the Philippines is] determining whether Kilo submarines
    are]essential for the modernization needs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and whether the
    country can afford to acquire and maintain such an expensive weapons platform...Six Russian-
    made Kilo-class submarines are now being operated by Vietnam People’s Navy [just across the
    South China Sea from the Philippines]...The Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to
    acquire its own...submarines under the AFP Modernization Program which is now entering the 2nd
    Horizon (2018-2022)..." See whole Update Philippines article

China is also well positioned to sell likely even cheaper Yuan derived S20 and S26 to anti-US President Duterte's Philippines.

Pete

January 26, 2017

Poland Signalling a DCNS or TKMS Submarine Preference

Submarine acquisitions are multi-year processes. Here is a DCNS - (Xavier of) Navy Recognition video, uploaded September 2, 2015, responding to the Polish sub replacement competition.
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Poland is seeking a submarine replacement (for its aging 450 ton TKMS Kobben class) from:

-  DCNS, with Reuters, January 25, 2017 reporting:
   “Poland's state-run defense firm PGZ has signed a memorandum of understanding with French
    military shipbuilder DCNS that could allow them to work together on building submarines in
    Poland, PGZ said in a statement.”

OR

-  TKMS. Submarine Matters reported July 6, 2016:
    "In June 2016 Germany and Poland signed an MoU to establish a joint submarine operating
    command to be based in Glucksburg, Germany...The authority may increase the chances that
    Poland will purchase German TKMS submarines - maybe new build Type 212As,
    Type 210mods or used Ula class subs."

Poland seems to be keeping DCNS and TKMS guessing in order to, of course, extract the best deals from them. They may well be offering lower tonnage range DCNS Scorpenes (like the 1000) vs small version TKMS (Type 214s or 210mods). With DCNS and TKMS both offering:

-  reformer fuel cell AIP, and

-  Tomahawk style, torpedo tube launched, land attack cruise missiles, to make the Russians nervous.

Pete

January 25, 2017

McCain's Medium Carrier Luxury

Additional suggestions to light attack aircraft have been made in the January 16, 2017, "McCain" White Paper (about 10 MB, PDF) of the US Senate Armed Services Committee. This is for medium conventional aircraft carriers that could be built in addition to the nuclear propelled Ford supercarriers.


Carriers compared, though they forgot the Nimitz class! USS America (LHA-6) weighs 45,000 tons, 844 feet long, 40 jets/helicopters/Ospreys (is at lower level, second to left) See larger/clearer image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
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In order to achieve the optimal 16 carriers, argued by some, the White Paper, page 10 recommends:

"The Navy should also pursue a new “high/low mix” in its aircraft carrier fleet. Traditional nuclear-powered supercarriers remain necessary to deter and defeat near-peer competitors, but other day-to-day missions, such as power projection, sea lane control, close air support, or counterterrorism, can be achieved with a smaller, lower cost, conventionally powered aircraft carrier. Over the next five years, the Navy should begin transitioning from large deck amphibious ships into smaller aircraft carriers with the goal of delivering the first such ship in the mid-2030s."

The "large deck amphibious ships" in question most directly mean the 45,000 ton America class designated Landing Helicopter Assualt (LHA) ships which are already dedicated to air assets (no landing craft or well deck). The airwing is frequently helicopters/Ospreys carrying Marines and up to 20 F-35Bs.

Modifications would presumably mean angled decks, catapults for F-18s and F-35Cs, and arrester cables. This may make them updates of the 45,000 ton Midway class carriers built in the 1940s (when Senator McCain was in his early teens).

Problem the conversion to traditional CATOBAR carrier would render the effort in of developing the STOVL F-35Bs wasted. This might mean only a handful of F-35Bs would be used by the US thereby shifting the fixed development costs to the main remaining users - the almost complete specialised for F-35B UK Queen Elizabeth class carriers to $300 million each levels. 

Perhaps the White Paper, more usefully suggests, this time for the Ford carriers, on page 10:

-  “...the number of aircraft carriers is irrelevant if there is a shortfall of Navy strike aircraft...Over the next five years, the Navy should therefore procure 58 additional F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and 16 additional EA-18G Growlers, while continuing to procure the F-35C as rapidly as possible, to fill out ready and effective carrier air wings that can meet joint requirements."

-  “Unmanned aerial vehicle technology will be essential to the future of the aircraft carrier and its continued ability to project power. The MQ-25 will bring the first unmanned aerial vehicle to the carrier while performing [mid-air refueling] tanking and some [ISR] intelligence missions.”

What benefits or problems do you think these suggestions may make?

Pete

January 24, 2017

YUAN 2 - Naming first principles. Numbers not Dynasty Win.

Emperor Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 but doesn't represent a submarine class terribly well.
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Following yesterday’s YUAN 1 article it struck me that it seems useful to look at the name “Yuan” submarine from first principles.

Dynastic Names Unhelpful

It seems the West/NATO was a little too clever in "reporting" naming Chinese submarines after Chinese dynasties. A downside includes an implication the Chinese PLAN is an age old mystically-minded outfit.

Here is an aging list of NATO reporting names for ships and submarines http://www.ais.org/~schnars/aero/nato-shp.htm which includes the dynastic “HAN Class”, “MING Class”, and “XIA Class”.

Western audiences (except for specialised enthusiasts) have no inkling of the sequence or characteristics of each successive Chinese dynasty.

In any case Chinese submarine dynasties are out of order. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_dynasty (right sidebar scrolling about 1/5 way down) where you will see "Song" dynasty followed by "Yuan" (so far, so good) but then followed chronologically by “Ming” dynasty. This is unhelpful as the first Ming submarine was launched in 20th century terms long before the first Songs or Yuans).

Also "Yuan" is a unit of currency.

Sequential Numbers and Letters Much Better

Instead Chinese submarine developments have less to do with old dynasties and more to do with incremental submarine improvements that respond to:
-  modern naval requirements,
-  naval engineering solutions/realizations, and
-  related technical developments in submarine components 
   (eg. electronics, weapons, AIP, batteries and diesels.)

Incremental improvements are best reflected in numbers and letters rather than dynastic names.

There is no single Yuan model. Instead each succeeding "Yuan" submarine incorporates gradual improvements (hence Type 039A, 039AG, 039B and 039B (upgraded), S20, and S26T

Better than "Yuan" is using Type “41” as a collective term for all China's AIP submarines (and then A, B, C as subsets). This provides a clean break from the non-AIP Songs (Type 039s)

So far as I can see the “Type” numbers are of Chinese PLAN origin, judging by:


Confirmed by this Chinese site http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2011-08/11/c_121845981.htm (right-click mouse to Translate to English)

Submarine Classification
Nuclear submarines
“Long March” followed by a number*
Ballistic and cruise missile armed conventional submarines
“Expedition” followed by a number*
Conventional submarines
“Great Wall” followed by a number*


 * but seems to be Westernized to “Type” followed by:
-  a Mandarin Chinese numeral? translated to Arabic numeral? and 

There is a consideration that politicians and navies prefer to use evocative names when describing submarine classes to other politicians, long-suffering Finance Ministers and the public. Evocative names seem a cheap drawcard to induce the public, as tax payers, to part with $100s millions per submarine and in Australia $Billions PER submarine. 

Submarines should be demystified, de-romanticized as they are chiefly weapons of war rather than memorials to obscure, ancient, dynasties or metal fish.

Pete

January 23, 2017

YUAN 1 - Submarine Table - China's Type 039A/B, 041. Work in progress.

The following Table, based on frequently contradictory Sources, is a work in progress. The ultimate, probably, unattainable aim, is to build a table as complete as the SORYU TABLE



1. Model
2. No.
3. Shipyard
4. Launched
5. Commissioned
Remarks
039A
330
31 May 2004
2006
East Sea
039A
331
2007
2009
East Sea
039A
332
Wuchang
2007
2009
East Sea
039A
333
Wuchang
2008
2010
East Sea
039B
334
Wuchang
2010
2011
East Sea
039B
335
Wuchang
2010
2011
East Sea
039B
336
Shanghai?
Changxing
2010
2011
East Sea
039B
337
Shanghai
2011?
2012
East Sea
039B
338
Wuchang
2011?
2012
039B
339
Wuchang
2011?
2012
039B
340
Shanghai?
?
2012
North Sea
039B
341
Shanghai?
?
2012
North Sea
039B
342
Wuchang
Dec 2013?
2015
039B
343
Wuchang
2013/14?
2015
039B
344
Wuchang
Dec? 2016
2017/18?
039B
345
Wuchang
Dec? 2016
2017/18?
039B
346
Wuchang
Dec? 2016
2018/19?
347
348
349
Completing 20 for China
Export
Models
Wuchang
2023
4 to be export to Pakistan
S20P
Wuchang
2023
to Pakistan
S20P
Wuchang
2023
to Pakistan
S20P
Wuchang
2023
to Pakistan
S26T
Wuchang
S26T
Wuchang
2026
for Thailand
S26T
Wuchang
2026
for Thailand
S20P
Karachi shipyard
2028
4 to be built in Pakistan
S20P
Karachi
2028
Pakistan
S20P
Karachi
2028
Pakistan
S20P
Karachi
2028
Pakistan

SOURCES

Latest Congressional Research Service study, June 2016 The most reliable data may be at column 5. “Commissioned”. This is drawn from Page 17, Table 1, “PLA Navy Submarine Commissionings” in Ronald O'Rourke's In China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress, June 17, 2016, Congressional Research Service CRS 7-5700  RL33153 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf  (PDF 10 MB).
Column 3 most Shipyard entries are Wuchangfar northeastern China also Shanghai, Changxing Shipyard, east central coastal China.
- The O'Rourke, CRS Table 1, disagrees with many sources on number of Yuans Commissioned in 2011 and 2012.


China Military Power 2016, Full Title ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China [April 26] 2016, US DoD,
- submarines mainly at pages 22 and 26, 
- on pages 27 and 72 is the sub-launched YJ-18 (ASCM) (PDF, about 10 MB). 


Capt. Christopher P. Carlson, USN (Retired) Essay: Inside the Design of China’s Yuan-class Submarine, US Naval Institute (USNI) News, August 31, 2015 https://news.usni.org/2015/08/31/essay-inside-the-design-of-chinas-yuan-class-submarine

Right-click mouse to translate Taiwanese source 039A / B meta-level diesel attack submarines http://www.mdc.idv.tw/mdc/navy/china/039ab.htm . Then scroll 1/3 down, after all the photos, to see a Table with model, number, shipyard, launch, commission, fleet. Also see much information with specs and many more details model by model.

Sources: Global Security (January 2017) for some lauch, commission and export details., 

Much analytical information I haven't assessed yet at Submarines: Chinese Kilo Evolves Beyond the Original https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htsub/articles/20170121.aspx of January 21, 2016 . With higher estimates of Yuans built and projected.


On 3 Type 039B Yuans being built December 2016 at Wuchang shipyard. See IHS Jane’s, 5 January 2017 http://www.janes.com/article/66691/china-resumes-production-of-yuan-class-submarines

All of these Sources are useful to visit and revisit to build a more accurate Table(s).

Once the Yuans are more settled I'll fill out Tables on China's Mings, Songs, Kilos, the odd Qing, SSNs then SSBNs.

Pete