November 22, 2013

Ongoing debate on Australia's SEA 1000 future submarine requirements.

The HDW Type 210mod "Ula Class" submarine specifically built for Norwegian conditions, with a submerged displacement of 1,150 tons.

For the latest on Australia's future submarine issue see June 11, 2014’s Australia's Future Submarine - Swedish vs German Claims . 

For my preceding post "Australian SEA 1000 Future Submarine, shipbuilding-budgeting issues" Anonymous has commented as follows:

"Anonymous said...

So what is the military issue behind a bigger son of Collins-class?

Range of a Collins-class submarine today is reached by even smaller submarines like Type210mod or A26. To gather intelligence a small submarine is better suited and a diesel-electric submarine is even quieter than a large Virginia-class submarine.

What about crew size? A Virginia-class submarine is manned with about 130 men. A modern Type210mod needs just 15 men (21 for 3-watch). Therefore 3 crews of Virginias 26 small submarines could be manned. For price of one Virginia class submarine Australia could get at least 4 Type210. For A$30billion Australia could buy more than 40 Type210mod.
This submarine could be built in Australia. The advantage of building a steady stream of small submarines is to include improvements in the next batch and to keep the knowledge alive how to build them.

Just 3 operational submarines are easier to track and even very fast submarines can’t be everywhere at once. Also a fast submarine is very noisy. A trip around Australia is roughly 7,000 nm. For each submarine 2,300 nm to patrol. With 26 submarines the area is less than 300 nm. With just 3 operational submarines it is very hard to lose one with a crew of over 100 men.

US combat System due to US weapons? What a nonsense! South Korea ChangBogo-class (Type 209) can fire Harpoon missiles. If Raytheon dislikes selling some Tomahawks Australia could just ask Israel about some Popeyes. Israel operates Popeyes on Dolphin-class submarines (Type 209).

Oh, more range. What about submarine tenders? Even the US Navy has a few.

Going big will result in too few submarines. Going to Virginia will add a capability already existing in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. After 6 or 12 small submarines Australia can still switch to a larger submarine type but then with better knowledge.
November 22, 2013

On this current post I am responding with:

Hi Anonymous

The HDW 210mod and all existing SSKs (including the current sized S-80) fall far short of Australian SEA 1000 (future submarine) requirements.

The SEA 1000 submarine needs range, endurance, speed, multi-mission capabilities and weapons load far above existing SSKs.

If you compare the totality of HDW 209, 210mod ("Ula"), 212 or 214's published capabilities with Collins you'll see the difference.

Note that SEA 1000 needs higher capabilities than even the Collins, especially for the added weapons load of 8+ Tomahawks in a VLS and an AIP capability (achieved by "usual" AIP, advanced batteries or nuclear).

Ideally an SEA 1000 should be operationally autonomous (from US SSNs) and hence capable of shadowing a fast moving SSN for at least a week.

The crew size of 135 for a Virginia being much larger than for SSKs (or the 60 for a future French Barracuda SSN) is indeed an issue.

Tomahawk is a requirement because Harpoon missiles are far too short in range for many land attack scenarios and because Tomahawk is US combat system compatible.

There are too many current uncertainties about the suspected Israeli SLCM Popeye. Popeye may include considerable "off the books" US, French and/or Indian content making it difficult for Israel to export.




Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
do you think the US are unreliable allies? That was my thought reading RAN has to shadow a fast going nuclear powered submarine (SNN) for a week. I doubt that there will be within the next 10 years any technique for a conventional submarine to maintain submerged about 20 knots for more than 24 hours. Therefore the only solution would be a SNN, to wait or to trust the US.

I am well aware that the small HDW 210mod falls short of the SEA 1000 requirements. In my eyes these requirements are the wet dreams of some Admirals.

A greater range would be useful. A bigger weapons load is nice to have. The 8+ VLS are also a nice to have but they could also be tube launched. Btw Popeyes in action:

The British Astute-class submarines can also fire Tomahawks without an US combat system.

The problem for Royal Australian Navy will be the gap between Collins-class retirement and entry into service of SEA 1000 submarines. Australia can throw a lot of money after the Collins-class to keep them running until 2030. Today the price for one HDW Type 210 is about the costs Australia needs to maintain Collins-class for one year. The maintenance costs for Collins-class will awfully rise in the future.

My advice would be to order as soon as possible 6 Type 210mod/A 26 to fill this gap. 5 submarines should be built in Australia. That will give Australia time and knowledge to design a proper submarine. This interim solution would also save a lot of money and add capabilities.

Australia should not try to reinvent wheels that already exist in far better quality. E.g. engines, AIP, combat system, … That will lead to a troubled and outdated son of Collins – just like the father.

(I tried two times to log me in …)

AIP: Direct Methanol Fuel Cell:

Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

I'll reply at the next post.