October 25, 2021

Australia's Great Power SSN Aspirations Endangered

Xavier Vavasseur  for Naval News, on 21 Oct 2021, has written an interesting article entitled “World’s Newest Class of Nuclear Attack Submarine: Rare Access Inside Suffren”.

While the precise numbers of French sailors/submarines required are different the article gives an idea of the magnitude of crewing and providing simulators for a nuclear propelled attack submarine (SSN) capability.  
 
I’d say that an SSN capability, to date only held by Great Powers, is all too expensive and difficult for Middle Power Australia. 

Australia would need to build an SSN capability from scratch (ie. no SSN experience and no SSN infrastructure). 

Within 18 short months what is effectively a Tri-Nation (US, UK and Australian) Taskforce purports to address all the multi-decade issues involved in Australia acquiring an SSN capability. But, within 7 months an anti-nuclear ALP-Greens coalition may win power in Canberra (if these polls continue). Such a Coalition would likely terminate the SSN aspiration. 


Later this week I'll present some websites on AUKUS submarine issues - just put up by Australia's Defence Department.

Mid East Quad Idea to Counter China's Belt & Road

Gessler, on October 22, 2021, commented on a very interesting idea of a new Quad: 

A new 'Quad' seems to be taking shape in the Middle East, with Israel & UAE joining the common core of US & India (from the Indo-Pacific Quad).  


The Foreign Ministers/Secretaries of State equivalents of Israel, UAE, US and India held a part-virtual, part-in person summit a few days ago, a year after the historic 'Abraham Accords'. 

 
I [Gessler] can only speculate as to the US perspective in this, the others will work with it if they see common cause: 
 
1)  Keep strategic Chinese investments & facilities out of Israel & UAE/GCC (like the terminal at Israel’s Port of Haifa owned by China's CCP - that's causing heartburn in Washington) 
 
2)  Keep China from supplanting the US' role as the main external backer (strategically & financially) of Israel 
 
3)  Keep India from dependence on Iranian crude oil by substituting it permanently with GCC (Arab oil) supplies, probably making the current costly endeavor a bit dearer. 
 
Beyond that Israel, UAE, US and India could be seeking to create a common platform for controlling several emerging tech regulatory functions, keeping out Chinese 5G (and in future probably Chinese Artificial Intelligence) etc like the Indo-Pacific Quad is doing now. 
 
A good analysis of the development & some perspective from Indian website The Print https://theprint.in/opinion/global-print/why-us-and-india-are-taking-on-china-with-a-middle-eastern-quad/752775/  
 
This also needs to be looked at through the lens of the proposed Arab-Mediterranean Trade Corridor proposed by India some years ago, but until the Abraham Accords were signed, it didn't seem practical - but now it seems to be the most pragmatic thing around. 

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The Youtube (here and above) beautifully summarizes the Quad/Corridor concept in detail - especially from 8:35 onward.

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Important supporting documents:  
 
1.  Professor Michael Tanchum’s August 27, 2021, abstract “India’s Arab-Mediterranean Corridor: A Paradigm Shift in Strategic Connectivity to Europe” at https://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/papers/indias-arab-mediterranean-corridor-a-paradigm-shift-in-strategic-connectivity-to-europe/  


and 


3. Some comment’s at Tanchum’s twitter account

 https://twitter.com/michaeltanchum/status/1432982061632172033  

October 24, 2021

Japan & Canada Could Eventually Join AUKUS says UK General

Australian Government owned ABC News, October 21, 2021, reports

the UK's departing Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, has stated Japan, Canada and New Zealand could eventually join AUKUS in the future.

Now that this idea has been suggested at such a senior level, UK government and diplomatic sources have played it down.

Pete Comment

As the main substance of AUKUS is Australia's right to build nuclear propelled submarines that right could be extended to Japan and Canada if they joined AUKUS.

Nth Korea’s “New Type SLBM”: More Political Than Military Significance

https://www.38north.org/2021/10/north-koreas-new-type-submarine-launched-ballistic-missile-more-political-than-military-significance/  

October 22, 2021

Japanese Strait: Chinese & Russian Navy "Reverse FONOP"


Red ellipse marks the Tsugaru Strait (Map courtesy Wiki commons)
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My friend John, from Texas, has drawn my attention to the Tsugaru Strait problem.

Some years ago, Japan adjusted the territorial waters limits of some strategic straits between  major Japanese islands to make the passage of potentially nuclear armed USN warships and submarines legal under Japan's "no nuclear weapons on our territory" laws. 


One such strait is the Tsugaru Strait which separates Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan (see map above). This Strait connects the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean. For further details on the Tsugaru Strait’s territorial situation see Wiki here 


So potentially nuclear armed USN warships and USN submarines have been legally transiting the Tsugaru Strait for years. 


The problem is potentially nuclear armed warships of other nations also have the right to transit the Strait. 


 Japan Today on October 19, 2021, reported: 

 

“Chinese and Russian naval vessels on [October 18, 2021] passed together through the Tsugaru Strait...for unknown reasons, the [Japanese] Defense Ministry said. It is the first time the Japanese Ministry has confirmed Chinese and Russian warships going through the Strait, with its narrowest point only 18.7 kilometers. 

A total of 10 vessels belonging to their navies sailed from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean, the Ministry said, adding Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force found [that they were Chinese and Russian] destroyers and frigates...[see details of those ships here 


The narrow [Tsugaru] strait is nonterritorial and used for international navigation so the passage of foreign ships [is legal]. But the Ministry said it is analyzing the two countries' intent. 


China and Russia conducted a joint naval drill in the Sea of Japan this month and it is possible that some of the vessels were part of the exercise.” 

 
Pete Comment 

So, this time its not China objecting to a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) by Western warships passing close to Chinese islands in the South China Sea.


Instead lets say its a "Reverse FONOP" of Chinese and Russian warships legally passing  close to Japanese territory.