March 31, 2015

Israeli Publicity on Nuclear Capability of its Dolphin 2 Submarines - Yakhont, BrahMos

The upper image is a Dolphin 2 - for size comparison and to indicate the fuel cell AIP additions. Lower submarine image highlights the high number of torpedo/missile tubes - apparently ten on the Dolphin 1s and 2s - useful for rapid nuclear missile launch. (Diagram courtesy Next Navy)
Most probably very similar to the Russian-made P-800 Oniks, Yakhont , NATO reporting name SS-N-26 "Strobile" is the Russian-Indian BrahMos (above) . The mach 2.8 end run makes Yakhont and BrahMos difficult to detect and shoot down in time. With a probable land attack capability and air-launched range longer than the notional 290km they will be a proliferating weapon to watch. (Diagram courtesy - Russian for "Military Parity" website).

Here's the BrahMos missile showing its capabilities in land, ship and submarine launch. Its ability to hit what look like 2-4 m targets supports claims of +2/-2 m accuracy.

In terms of relevance to Australia the ability of Germany's TKMS-HDW to tailor-make largish Dolphin 2 (2,000+ ton (surfaced)) warm water, submarines for Israel implies a capability to successfully tailor-make future submarines for Australia.

In late March 2015 much of the Israeli media (eg. a haaretz article of March 30, 2015) seem to be carrying Israeli government generated news of technical progress with the ISS Tanin nuclear capable submarine. Tanin appears to be the most complete of Israel's Dolphin 2 class SSKs. It does not appear the Tanin is anywhere near formal commissioning - so why the publicity? 

The media reports substantially carry mention of the nuclear second strike capabilities of the Dolphins. This is a subject that requires Israeli Government permission to be published.

The reason to mention second strike appears to be Syrian government acquisition and possible deployment of Russian-made P-800 Yakhont, NATO reporting codename SS-N-26 "Strobile" - a supersonic cruise missiles. What has Israel worried is not so much the usual anti-shipping role but more the Yakhont's land attack capability. 

With Syria's record of using Sarin gas on crude warheads against civilians Israel's worry about the Oniks would be considerable. Syrian use of radiological warheads might also be feasible and of course high explosive. The chances of Sunni rebels or Sunni governments acquiring Yakhonts adds an extra worry. See my May 21, 2013 article on Israeli airstrikes on Syria.

Media stories on Israeli second strike would of course have a "put pressure on Iran" intent as well.

In an added twist India and Russia are jointly developing the BrahMos version of the Yakhont. India wishes to market BrahMos to several countries in the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile Russia has already supplied the Yakhont in Australia's region to Indonesia and Vietnam

Please link with Submarine Matters' Israeli Dolphin Sub, Nuclear Armed, Conventionally Propelled, February 25, 2012 which mentions possible Israeli developed nuclear warheads on submarine launched Harpoon missiles (SLCMs). Israel's current nuclear SLCM may be the socalled Popeye Turbo or perhaps an Israeli version of the (jointly developed?) Indian K-15 small ballistic missile. The Dolphin 1s and 2's extraordinarily high number of ten torpedo tubes (including 4 unusually large 650mm tubes) implies the ability to rapidly launch ten nuclear land attack missiles. 

The sequence of the Dolphin 2s being delivered by Germany then modified/completed in Israel (Haifa) is a bit puzzling. Based on "Boats" but updated:

Dolphin 1 class
  • Dolphin – delivered May 1998 – commissioned 1999
  • Leviathan (trans. "Leviathan" or "whale") – delivered 1999 – commissioned 2000
  • Tekumah (trans. "Revival") – delivered 2000 – commissioned 2000
AIP Dolphin 2 class
  • Tanin (trans. "Tannin" or "Crocodile") – delivered 23 Sept 2014 - enter service 2015, commisioning 2015 or 2016?
  • Rahav (trans. "Splendour") – delivered 29 April 2013 - enter service in 2015 or 2016?
  • Name not assigned yet. Ordered 21 March 2012. Enter service in 2017 or 2018?

Tanin was apparently received months after Rahav yet Rahav will be completed later. 

Much of the Israeli modification/completion would be for the electronics and loading fitout for the nuclear missiles. Publicity about Germany in 2012 being overly knowledgable and helpful to Israel regarding the nuclear missile loading fitout must have resulted in Israel taking over that whole job. Perhaps Israel's procedures are not fully developed - hence the Tanin-Rahav completion anomaly.


March 30, 2015

Indian Defence Minister Visiting Japan Linking Soryu and Aircraft Issues?

Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar (Photo courtesy ZeeNews)

Interesting report in the Japan Times, March 29, 2015 India interested in buying Japan's Soryu-class submarines :

This is just prior to Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visiting Japan including meeting with Defence Minister Nakatani.


Regarding "Parrikar noted that Japan had strict regulations on the export of defense technologies but that the rules are changing." in the article above. Japan should be well aware that India is close to Russia on high tech submarine issues. India has even financed Russian ship and submarine repairs/renovations. India is leasing a Russian Akula II class SSN (now INS Chakra - was Russian Nerpa). So future dangers might exist of Soryu materials, designs and specifications finding their way to Russia.

Japan might also wish to note India, like most great powers, plays hard-ball as a defence customer which sellers like France find difficult. India may already be playing hardball "Parrikar suggested that India is not likely to make a decision anytime soon on whether to purchase [ShinMaywa] US-2
 amphibious rescue aircraft used by the [Japanese] MSDF." This is noting that in 2014 there seemed to be assumptions (see footnotes 3 and 4 to Wikipedia article) in the press that the US-2 sale to India was a done deal.  

See more details of France's experience at Indian Possible Interest in Buying-Building Japan's Soryu Submarine - Australia, January 30, 2015 

March 29, 2015

Kevin Andrews' speech prompts questions of evaluation process fairness

 It is difficult to find a photograph of Australian Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews letting himself be filmed with a submarine. Here's the next best thing - reflections of what looks to be a submarine in Andrew's binoculars (Photo courtesy
The following are the portions of a speech most relevant to submarines made by Australian Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews on March 25, 2015 at Australia's Future Submarine Summit (“Sub Summit”) Adelaide, South Australia, March 24-26, 2015, :


The Andrews speech and other statements made by Australian government officers and officials at the Summit appeared to confirm a growing belief the evaluation process may not be truly competitive. This is due to what appears to be an unequal match between the official competitors, which are:

- the Government of Japan (including Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese Ministry of Defence (JMD) in part drawing advice from MHI and KHI). Significantly Japan is backed by overt US Government support *


- only companies: TKMS from Germany and DCNS from France. 

European company representatives at the Summit questioned this mismatch and many wondered how the evaluation process could possibly be fair when Japan was being dealt with on a government-to-government basis while the German and French builders were on a commercial level. “It looks to me like the decision might already have been made,” said one CEO who asked to remain anonymous. “This whole process clearly favours Japan.”

* US Support for Japan's Bid

The Japan Times reported: "Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, reportedly said Oct. 24 [2014]  in Tokyo that then-Australian Defense Minister David Johnston was very interested in Japan’s Soryu-class subs.
“I talked to him about it four years ago and I said: ‘You want to find the finest diesel-electric submarine made on the planet — it’s made at Kobe works in Japan,’ Thomas was quoted as saying by Bloomberg News."

Minister for Defence – Speech – RUSI Submarine Summit – 25 March 2015

Submarines are the most complicated, sensitive and expensive Defence capability acquisition a Government can make in meeting that responsibility.
An effective submarine capability plays a critical role in Australia’s defence in conjunction with all Australian Defence Force elements.
I have previously stated – as a Government and as a nation, we have one chance to get this decision right.
Because of the previous government’s refusal for 6 years to make a decision on the replacement for the Collins class submarines, we had a looming security and capability gap arriving in about ten years.
The process that I recently announced is the best way forward to ensure that such a gap will not occur, simultaneously delivering the best possible capability to the ADF and value for money to Australian taxpayers.
Geographically we are an island continent, the world’s sixth largest country by area. This unique geography means we have special requirements for Australia’s future submarines.
Australia’s national security and our $1.6 trillion dollar economy rely on the unencumbered use of the sea.
Seventy per cent of Australia’s exported goods and services, by value, travel by sea, an export trade worth more than $220 billion in 2012-13. We are a maritime nation and we need maritime security.
By 2030, half of the world’s submarines will be in Australia’s broader strategic region. The Indo-Pacific region has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and the demand for defence technology to safeguard the region’s prosperity and security is ever increasing.
The future submarine programme represent a $50 billion investment in Australia’s safety and security – the largest Defence procurement in Australia’s history – with up to two thirds of this investment being spent in Australia during the lifetime of the future submarine.
To the average Australian taxpayer this may seem to be a huge price to be paid for a capability that may never be used in anger.
But that cost also needs to be measured against the major investment that would need to be made by any adversary to counter the effect of our submarines.
The complexity of Australia’s strategic environment means our defence planning has to cater for a range of possible contingencies, but particularly focussed on maintaining stability in our region and ensuring that conflict doesn’t have the chance to start. So submarines remain a logical and necessary investment in Australia’s wider defence capability.
And for this reason, Australia’s future submarine must give us a significant capability edge in our region as well as meet our needs in respect of geography and strategic outlook.
We need submarines capable of operations at long range over extended periods because they defend our interests far from our shores. The range and endurance must be similar to that of the Collins class submarine.
They are an essential part of our national security capability.
Another key strategic requirement for our Future Submarines includes sensor performance and characteristics that are superior to that of the Collins class submarine.
We need the sovereign ability to maintain the future submarine over coming decades, including repairs, modifications and certifying it as safe for use.
Now I acknowledge that – in recent times – there has been some anxiety about the future submarine programme.
This is why I announced the acquisition strategy in February – to provide a pathway for Australian industry to maximise its involvement in the program, whilst not compromising capability, cost, program schedule or risk.
The Government supports local industry and recognises how valuable it is to our nation. As Minister for Defence, I want to see a sustainable and viable industry better able to support Defence.
In 2014-15 financial year, Defence expects to spend $6.2 billion on equipment acquisition and support in Australia.
This equates to around 53 per cent of the military equipment acquisition and support expenditure this year, and is consistent with long-term averages of between 50 and 55 per cent being spent in Australia.
The Government does support local Defence industry.
When it comes to making decisions on Defence capability, the needs of the Australian Defence Force will – must – always come first.
The Government will acquire Defence capability that supports ADF requirements first and Australian industry can play a very significant role in this process.
Our sailors, soldiers or airmen and women need the right equipment and industry needs to demonstrate that they are world leaders, producing the best product at the best price.
When it comes to Future Submarines, Australian industry will play an important role in delivering the best possible equipment at the best value for money.  
There will be many new high-skill jobs in Australia for the life of the Submarine program, decades into the future.
Significant work will be undertaken in Australia during the build phase. At a minimum, this includes combat system integration, design assurance and land-based testing.
There will be significant opportunities arising from the support and maintenance of the submarine for decades. In dollar terms, this often accounts for two-thirds of the investment.
All three potential international partners will require significant redesign work to be undertaken on their existing submarines. There are opportunities here for Australia.  
I want to make it clear – that maintenance can occur in Australia, even if there is an overseas build. The important consideration, and a lesson from Collins, is to ensure that maintenance and knowledge transfer are planned from the early stages of design.
As I mentioned previously, this is a busy time for Defence acquisition – and there are many exciting opportunities ahead for industry.  
Here in South Australia alone – over the next four years – subject to the outcomes of the Defence White Paper – there will be up to $4.4 billion in Defence spending for building and sustaining Defence materiel.
As the competitive evaluation for the Future Submarine proceeds, Defence is engaging with a number of key industry representatives.
This includes engaging with Austrade and the Department of Industry and Science, along with engagement with State Governments, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Industry Defence Network and the Australian Business Defence Industry Unit.
Here, in South Australia, Defence is consulting with Defence SA, the Defence Teaming Centre and, of course, ASC and other companies.
Importantly, the potential international partners that will deliver Australia’s Future Submarine fleet need to understand Australian industry’s capabilities and skill sets.
During a meeting yesterday between Defence and Department of Industry officials, State Government representatives, and defence industry groups, there was agreement to the SEA 1000 Industrial Engagement Strategy.  This included the formation of the State and Industry Association Consultative Group, comprising all attendees.
The SEA 1000 Industrial Engagement Strategy involves the members of this group working together with the common aim of providing competitive Australian companies with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and skills to international partners.
The strategy includes bimonthly meetings to monitor progress against planned activities that include preparation sessions for Australian industry, the development of company profiles to be provided to international partners, a schedule of interactions between the partners and state-based organisations, and visits by the partners to states across Australia to meet with company representatives and visit facilities.
These activities will commence in early April with briefings to major companies operating in Australia, and progress throughout the remainder of the year. 
The engagements between international partners and industry will be scheduled to complement the development their pre-concept designs, allowing timely judgments of how to best involve Australian capabilities and skills in their proposals.
Importantly, there is agreement on the need for a coordinated and consultative approach to the engagement, which offers international partners full visibility of how Australian industry can support the project and maximise Australian industrial involvement
As the Government has announced, France, Germany and Japan have emerged as potential international partners. All three countries have proven submarine design and build capabilities and are producing submarines.
The competitive evaluation process will ensure that capability, cost, schedule and key strategic considerations, along with Australian industry involvement, are carefully and methodically considered, and avoid unnecessary delays to Australia’s future Submarine program.
As part of the competitive evaluation, Defence will seek proposals from potential partners for:
  • Pre-concept designs based on meeting our capability criteria;
  • Options for design and build overseas, in Australia, and/or a hybrid approach;
  • Rough costs and schedule for each option; and
  • Positions on key commercial issues, for example intellectual property rights and the ability to use and disclose technical data.
The level of Australian industry involvement will be a fundamental consideration, as will interoperability with our alliance partner, the US.
The competitive evaluation will take at least ten months, after which time Defence will bring advice to Government for consideration.
The Government will continue to ensure that a careful, considered and methodical approach is taken in making decision on the future submarine.
The opportunity is now there for industry to engage with international partners and to demonstrate that maximum Australian involvement can deliver an affordable and quality submarine such that this vision can become a reality. 
As part of the Government’s commitment to a robust and transparent competitive evaluation, we will soon be announcing the appointments to an Expert Advisory Panel to oversee the competitive evaluation process.
This panel will oversee the conduct of the process, including ensuring its probity, managing any conflicts of interest, and ensuring that confidentiality is maintained in relation to all sensitive information received during the process.
This oversight will provide the Government and the public with confidence that the evaluation process not only is, but is seen to be, fair and defensible, and that the will robustly address all relevant factors, allowing Government to balance importance considerations, for acquisition and through life support, including capability, cost, schedule, and risk.
In closing, as you know, the first priority of government is the safety and security of its citizens.
As the newly appointed Defence Minister, I ask that we work together to bring this about." ENDS

March 26, 2015

Documents for Competitive Evaluation Process sent to (Likely) Bidders

Rear Admiral Gregory John Sammut, Head Future Submarine Program with long experience as a submariner and other positions.
Mr Harry Dunstall, Acting CEO, DMO (Defence Material Organisation). Only a thumbnail photo available.

Australia's Future Submarine Summit (“Sub Summit”) Adelaide, South Australia, March 24-26, 2015 is just finishing. Many Australian politicians, military officers, officials and some lucky journalists took part as well as foreign industry representatives and foreign naval officers.

Yesterday (March 25) much logical procedural information for the competitive evaluation process was reported in the media. These details are in several news items but mainly the following :

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews reaffirmed that the competitive evaluation process would continue. Andrews said that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s [of the ALP “Labor Party”] alternate policy of a Tender (that also included Sweden) would not be adopted. Significantly Shorten promised he would honour any submarine contracts signed by the Abbott Government.

Andrews said the Abbott government will appoint an expert advisory panel to ensure accountability for the first phase of the future submarine project. That "The panel will oversee the “competitive evaluation process” between companies from Germany and France and the Government of Japan. Industry representatives questioned the move and many wondered how the evaluation process could possibly be fair when Japan was being dealt with on a government-to-government basis while the German and French builders were on a commercial level."

“It looks to me like the decision might already have been made,” said one CEO who asked to remain anonymous. “This whole process clearly favours Japan.”

Acting CEO of DMO, Harry Dunstall, said the project…would include maximum Australian industry involvement regardless of where the vessels were built. There are three build options on the table, an overseas build, an Australian build or a hybrid build between Australia and an overseas yard.

Mr Dunstall said potential build partners would submit pre-concept plans by November 2015 with a decision to be made by government in early 2016.

[Another source advised “Harry Dunstall, …told the conference that after the bidding contracts had been signed, there would be an eight-month period during which the companies would prepare their preliminary design proposal and present it to the government for consideration. [Question - Is that an additional stage of the process?]

Dunstall said Australia would insist on full access to all technical and intellectual property details related to the project for the life of the boats.

And firms would be banned from entering exclusive teaming arrangements with the bidders before a contract was signed.

“All potential international partners are to be treated fairly,” Mr Dunstall said. “We want industry to be available to work with any international partner that we choose.”

Rear Admiral Greg Sammut, Head Future Submarine Program said key attributes for an Australian submarine were;
-          range (how far they could travel)
-          endurance (how long they could stay there)
-          payload
-          stealth and
-          sensors.

Separately Germany’s TKMS reported that they just received the:
-          draft contract
-          statement of work
-          data descriptions which tell us what we need to do, and
-          functional performance specifications (sent through classified channels)

Presumably Japan and France's DCNS received this documentation at the same time?

“Submarines must be capable of offensive operations … to strike the key capabilities of an adversary before they can be brought to bear against our interests,” Rear Admiral Sammut said.

He said the future submarine had to be affordable and delivered on schedule and in a fit state for the operators and he issued a warning about “over optimistic” delivery schedule.

Please link with Submarine Matters' article of March 24, 2015 MHI and KHI not at Australia's Future Submarine Summit, Adelaide, March 24-26, 2015


March 25, 2015

Thailand may eventually purchase two submarines

What appears to be a commissioning ceremony for two of Thailand's Matchanu class submarine in 1938. They were 370 tons surfaced.
Model of a Matchanu class submarine (courtesy thaigunship). Submarines, up to 1945, carried many objects on the hull and often had upturned bows - all leading to slow submerged speeds.

For the latest on Thailand's on-again, off-again interest in submarines see Submarine Matters Does Thailand Need Submarines At All? August 12, 2015.

On March 25, 2015 the Bangkok Post reported a rise in Thai interest in submarines: "A plan to buy submarines for the Royal Thai Navy is on again with strong backing from Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who wants Thailand’s fleet to be on par with neighbouring countries. [The Thai Navy may wanttwo diesel-powered submarines with displacement of 2,400-3,000 tonnes. The source said the Chinese-made Yuan class is favoured by the committee due to its specifications. The "U-class" [do they mean U-209 class?] from South Korea and Germany also pinged the sonar screen.

Comment - the possible budget reported elsewhere equal to US$1.1 Billion would indicate a total  upfront price for two modern medium sized submarines. 


Japan sold four Matchanu class submarines to Thailand in 1938. Thailand decommissioned these submarines in 1951. The early decommissioning was due to the Thai Government's reaction to a failed coup in 1951. The Government dismantled Navy influence - in part by stripping the Navy of its submarines.

In recent years Thailand has been evaluating several small-medium submarine types with a view to restarting a submarine service that actually operates submarines. An interesting entry in states:

"It has been standard practice with the Thai submarine program ever since it was originally floated in 1959, proposals are floated and subsequently suspended and revived several times until cancelled. It was revived (and canceled again) in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2003, and 2009."

Thailand has several reasons for its current evaluation of submarines. The reasons include the growth and modernisation of navies surrounding Thailand. Nearby countries have developed submarine services, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and China. 

Bangladesh recently ordering two submarines from China and possible Burmese interest in Chinese submarines provide additional reasons for Thailand to buy submarines. Submarines provide a potent asymmetric defensive weapon for countries with small navies. Submarines also contribute to a country's and its Navy's prestige. The Royal Thai Navy has apparently established a submarine squadron at Sattahip naval base which has  a German-made Rheinmetall submarine simulator, staffed by RTN officers who have received submarine training in Germany, as well as South Korea, over the past two years.

Most submarine building countries have offered to sell two or three submarines to Thailand, including:

- France-DCNS (Scorpene?)

- South Korea-DSME (Chang Bogo class, Type 209 derivative) or alternatively the unbuilt "HDS-500RTN" based on the unbuilt "KSS-500A" (510 tons, crew of 10) which is in-turn a descendant of Germany's HDW Type 207 (Kobben) small defensive submarines.

- China - the "S-26T" which may be a version of China's Yuan class or used Romeo-Ming class?

- Germany-TKMS-HDW Type 209/1400mod and also the Type 210mod 
Russia's improved Kilo class (Project 636)

- Sweden? (mysteriously silent). Perhaps two (further) refitted Sodermanland class? (currently Sweden's HMS Södermanland and HMS Östergötland?).


Thailand has been hesitant in acquiring submarines possibly seeking leases, used subs or good credit terms. This is in a business environment where the Thai economy is growing more slowly than anticipated

Thailand appears to be seeking smaller than standard submarines. If used submarines are considered the remaining German built Type 207s (Kobben class) and Chinese Romeo-Ming class are likely to be obsolete and rusty as they have passed or are nearing their 30 year use-buy dates. Design and construction of modern 500 ton submarines are likely to be expensive as they are smaller than standard - requiring higher than usual design costs for low production numbers. As Thailand has had no submarines for more than 60 years there is no easy answer to what Thailand needs - no simple replacement program. The German simulator may increase the chances that Germany or South Korea (using German designs) might eventually win any Thai order. 

I'm wondering about the silence on Sweden. With Sweden's recently announced pre-order of two A26s this may free-up Sweden's two Sodermanland class (currently Sweden's HMS Södermanland and HMS Östergötland) for further refitting and sale to Thailand. This is noting there is a historical precedent where Sweden effectively created Singapore's submarine service using 4 Challenger class (refitted Swedish) submarines. 

The question "what does Thailand want?" remains. Thailand may need small submarines for shallow, littoral waters in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea yet Thailand may also need medium sized submarines for longer range/endurance. Subs with AIP may be on Thailand's list of needs.


March 24, 2015

MHI and KHI not at Australia's Future Submarine Summit, Adelaide, March 24-26, 2015

Australia's Future Submarine Summit is being held in Adelaide, South Australia on March 24-26, 2015. There are many Australian politicians, military officers and officials due to speak as well as foreign industry representatives.  

The content carried in an article of March 22, 2015 from the Reuters Tokyo office has been reproduced in the Australia media. The Reuters article reported: “The no-show by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries [MHI] and Kawasaki Heavy Industries [KHI] at an event called Australia's Future Submarine Summit, held amid intensifying competition for the deal, exposes a potential weak link in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's more muscular security agenda: Japan Inc.”

It is significant that two retired Japanese Vice Admirals, Masao Kobayashi and Yoji Koda (details of each below) are attending the Summit and are due to speak on March 26, 2015 - both are advisers to Japan's National Security Council. Some Australian newspapers (such as the Herald Sun drawing on The Adelaide Advertiser) did mention the Japanese Admiral’s attending. 

Perhaps officers from the Japanese Consulate, Adelaide and Japanese Embassy, Australia will also attend? The presence of the retired Japanese admirals who still advise the Japanese Government clearly indicates that Japanese bilateral relationship-alliance with Australia is Japan’s main submarine sale strength. Japan's approach at present seems to rely less on commercial approaches given the absence of MHI and KHI. This is in contrast to France and Germany’s more commercial approach – though German government representatives will also be present in Adelaide.


 Vice Admiral Masao KOBAYASHI, JMSDF (Retd) photo (above) courtesy Sub Summit

Maseo is now an adviser to Japan's National Security CouncilBiodata: "Masao graduated from the Japanese Defense Academy in 1973 and commenced a career in the JMSDF submarine service. He had held many posts in the submarine force. Shore billets included Submarine Branch Head in the Ship Systems Section in the Maritime Staff Office and Operations Officer in the Fleet Submarine Force. He has commanded TAKASHIO SS-571, (Uzushio class), and has been the Commander of Submarine Division Two. In 2001/2 he was the Commander of Submarine Flotilla One, and was Coordinator of Exercise at sea for Pacific Reach 2002. Masao’s last post was as Commander of the Fleet Submarine Force. He retired from the MSDF in 2009. Vice Admiral KOBAYASHI served with distinction in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and is well regarded as an authourity in the submariner community." See Kobayashi's comments on submarines to the Japanese press - reported January 18, 2015.

Vice Admiral Yoji KODA, JMSDF (Retd) - photo (above) courtesy Sub Summit

Yoji is Maseo is also an adviser to Japan's National Security Council. Biodata: "Yoji is a graduate of the Japanese Defense Academy in 1972, the JMSDF Staff College, and the US Naval War College. As a Surface Warfare Officer, he has commanded JS SAWAYUKI (DD-125), Flotilla Three and Fleet Escort Force at sea. Yoji’s shore duties include tours as Director General (DG) for Plans and Operations, Maritime Staff and Director-General of the Joint Staff. He retired from the JMSDF as Commander in Chief, Self-Defense Fleet, in 2008. Following retirement from active duty, he was invited to join the Asia-Center, Harvard University as a research fellow researching the US-Japan Alliance and the Chinese Navy during 2009/11. Yoji is a prolific writer on maritime and strategic subjects in both Japanese and English, and his most recent articles include “A new Carrier Race [large PDF file]” and “The Russo-Japanese War” published by the US Naval War College. He contributed to “Refighting the Pacific War (an Alternative History of World War II)” published by the US Naval Institute in 2011. He is currently an advisor to National Security Agency. Vice Admiral Koda served with distinction in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and his body of academic subject matter speaks for itself."

Admiral Koda, in late March 2015, raised the possibility that most of Australia's possible Soryus might be built in Australia. However there has been little or no discernable support in the Japanese government, military, MHI or KHI for this approach.


March 23, 2015

Suspected Russian submarine snagging a Scottish trawler net

The "Butt of Lewis" Lewis Point, Outer Hebrides, Scotland at the top of the map. The "Butt"/Point is  the closest point where a suspected encounter with a Russian submarine occurred. On the right is the UK (Scottish) mainland.

Faslane Naval Base is in Gare Loch. A Russian submarine may regularly stay on station around 50km or more out to sea.
Several UK media outlets have carried a mid-March 2015 report that a submarine snagged on a large net almost dragged a UK (Scottish) trawler under. The reported encounter occurred near the "Butt of Lewis" Lewis Point, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. 

If it was a Russian submarine it was probably a Russian attack submarine (Kilo SSK or Akula SSN) submarine from the Russian Northern or Baltic Fleets. Russian SSBNs would steer clear of northern Scotland where the encounter occurred.

One of the Russian Kilos or Akulas submarines was probably travelling to or from its regular surveillance area where UK (and perhaps US) submarines enter and leave the Faslane Naval Base (HMNB Clyde) 40 km northwest of Glasgow, Scotland. The Russian submarines would ideally wish to follow UK/US submarines leaving Faslane and also intercept UK telecommunications.

Submarine-Trawler Incidents Have a Long History

The revelation of a possible Russian submarine encounter follows more than 100 years of submarines accidentally damaging or wrecking trawlers through net snags and also collisions.

In 2005 the Guardian reported: "Large submarines have also been caught in fishing nets, but usually, the trawlers come off worse. In 1990, four fishermen died when their trawler was dragged under by a British submarine on a training exercise off the west coast of Scotland. A few weeks later, an American submarine ploughed into the nets of a trawler from Northern Ireland, making the vessel heave before ripping the net from its winches."

Submarine collisions destroying small ships also occur. In February 2001, while conducting an emergency main ballast tank blow off the coast of Oahu USS Greeneville struck and sank the 191-foot (58 m) Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru.


March 19, 2015

Sweden announces pending order for two A26 submarines

Japan, France and Germany are the last three contenders for Australia's future submarine (SEA 1000) competion. The specifications of Swedens A26 (above) have not been made public. The A26 figures may be accurate with suppoting information of a displacement around 2,000 tons. (Diagram courtesy The Australian)

Good news from Sweden of (pending) production orders for two A26 middle size conventional submarines for Sweden’s submarine assembly line. Australia-Sweden submarine relations have been under stain over the last few weeks due to another of Abbott’s undiplomatic statements – that Sweden cannot build modern submarinesThis was in the context of Australia's removal, in February 2015, of Sweden as a contender in Australia’s submarine competition.

Swedish made submarines are not at all out of date. What may have concerned the Australian government more was Saab's (perhaps too strongly) politically insistent campaign alongside South Australian interests for "build in Australia". This may have been understandably prompted by Sweden's deep experience of building the Collins in Australia. Whatever the merits of the Collins build the Collins experience causes caution in politicians. Politicians, most of the public and fair-minded people are almost all outside of the professional inner circle and other interested parties who see/saw virtually no problems with the Collins build.

Under the, perhaps already decided "one horse race" called the “competitive evaluation process” DCNS’s position is not secure either. If Japan dropped out, for whatever reasons and/or the Australian Coalition Government fell, the possibility of returning Sweden to the selection process migh be more favourable.  

Anyway Sweden has made a positive announcement below, which should reassure potential customers that Saab-Kockums are a going submarine concern. I’m wondering whether there will be further announcements on 2 to 3 additional A26s for a total of 4 or 5 A26s to replace the 5  submarines currently in Sweden's submarine service ("flotilla"). An added concern is the emerging Russian threat in the Baltic Sea. Sweden might also wish to build 2 to 4 replacement submarines for the Netherlands although the Netherlands has not yet released details of what it wants. In that regard please connect with of February 19, 2015.


Marine Technology News, March 18, 2015 reports :

"Sweden Orders New Submarines

By Aiswarya Lakshmi [and Saab, Peter Hultqvist, Sweden?]

Sweden is to buy two new submarines from constructors Saab Kockums. The A26 subs are to be delivered by 2022 and will cost up to SEK 8.2 billion ($945 million).

"This is the biggest single decision when it comes to economic investments that we will make during this parliament. The decision, to be formally made by the cabinet on Thursday, is to ensure Swedish submarine capability past 2030", stated Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.

"These are the next generation of submarine. These submarines will be very hi-tech", he added.

The government will on Thursday authorize the armed forces to order two submarines, defense ministry spokeswoman Marinette Nyh Radebo said.

The Swedish government is increasing its defense spending over the coming years, citing a worsening security situation, particularly Russian activity in and around the Baltic Sea.

Defence and security company Saab welcomes the Swedish Minister of Defence, Peter Hultqvist’s, announcement to invest in two submarines of the next generation, A26.

[Acquistions are a multi-stage process, hence not finally signed yet.]

Saab has not received any order on production of the new submarine but Saab looks forward to the discussions, which will lead to an agreement and order for A26. This will be a part of an earlier signed Letter of Intent. 

Saab and FMV (The Swedish Defence Material Administration) signed a Letter of Intent in June 2014 regarding the Swedish Armed Forces’ underwater capability for the period 2015-2024. The Letter of Intent comprises support, development, design and production of submarines and other underwater systems, corresponding to potential orders of approximately SEK 11.2 billion [US$1.3 Billion], provided that necessary decisions are made." ENDS


March 17, 2015

Abbott's February 2015 Submarine Promise Juggling Again Controversial

Australian Prime Minister Abbott's juggling of promises on the new submarine selection has again become controversial. Most of this controversy is old however what is new is:

- the lack of communication and joint decision-making between Abbott and his Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop (and presumably with her Department (DFAT)).

- that the Australian "Cabinet's top secret National Security Committee (NSC) met in October [2014] and supported a move that would allow the bulk of Australia's submarine fleet to be built offshore."

Abbott has made two conflicting promises:  :

1.  in 2013 - mid 2014 to South Australia that 12 new submarines would be built in South Australia, and

2. Abbott's request-promise in mid 2014 with Japanese Prime Minister Abe that Australia wishes to buy 6-12 new submarines from Japan (and built in Japan).

When Abbott's position as Prime Minister is threatened (as in February 2015) he quickly needs to juggle Promises 1 and 2. This juggling may occur again.

On March 16, 2015 Australia's ABC aired a 4 Corners program called "House of Cards" (video and transcript here) that recalled Abbott's juggling of Promises 1 and 2. See shorter report of ABC program (below). This juggling occurred on February 8-10, 2015 when Abbott told Liberal-National Party Coalition politicians that he would allow ASC to participate in an "open tender". This appeared to be a decision moving in the direction of Promise 1, as it would make it possible for Germany, France and Sweden to win and then "build in Australia".

By February 10, 2015 Abbott had apparently forgotten the "open tender" promise and had replaced it (or returned it) to "competitive evaluation proces" generally assumed to mean ASC could play a small part of "build in Japan". "Despite press speculation at the time, the [Australia's National Security Committee (NSC)] did not make any final decision to build the submarines in Japan." However it was assumed by many in the Federal Government and the South Australian Government that the build would occur in Japan (see article below).

This is a March 17, 2015 ABC article about the submarine issues that were brought to the surface in "House of Cards" (March 16, 2015 : 

"Tony Abbott changed submarine tender policy overnight when faced with leadership spill

Prime Minister Tony Abbott took less than 24 hours to agree to re-examine the Government's policy on the $20 billion future submarine project, in an effort to shore up votes against a leadership spill last month.
The ABC's Four Corners program can reveal that Cabinet's top secret National Security Committee (NSC) met in October last year and supported a move that would allow the bulk of Australia's submarine fleet to be built offshore.
The sensitive decision was not announced at the time, although a press release had been drawn up for then defence minister David Johnston.
In February, the weekend before the spill motion, South Australian senator Sean Edwards told Mr Abbott his vote would depend on whether local shipbuilders, including the Australian Submarine Corporation [ASC], would be given the opportunity to participate in a tender for the contract.
"He rang me at 6.30 on Saturday night and I heard from him at ten past three the following Sunday, the next day," Senator Edwards told Four Corners.
"He said he'd had a discussion with the defence minister and they'd come to a position on this, which obviously I was seeking."

Policy change not discussed with Bishop

Mr Abbott did not raise the submarine discussions that weekend with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, a spokeswoman for Ms Bishop told the program.
This was despite Ms Bishop being a member of the NSC.
Mr Abbott's agreement with Senator Edwards again revisited the previous outcome of the October NSC meeting, which had broken an election promise to construct the submarines in South Australia.
Details of the highly confidential October [2014] NSC meeting were based on accounts from sources closely involved in the submarine project.
Despite press speculation at the time, the NSC did not make any final decision to build the submarines in Japan.
However, it did decide to open the way for their construction overseas because of time and cost constraints.
South Australia's Minister for Defence Industries, Martin Hamilton-Smith, told [ABC's 4 Corners] his State Government "kept receiving feedback ... that the Japan option was very much the option".
"In fact, I was told we may as well give up," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
Following the leadership spill, Mr Abbott reconvened the NSC and Defence Minister Kevin Andrews announced on February 20 that the Future Submarines Project would involve a "competitive evaluation process".
Under that process, the Minister said the Defence Department would seek proposals from partners that included "options for design and build" of the submarines "overseas, in Australia and/or a hybrid approach" ENDS
In my article of September 8, 2014 "Australia's Future Sub Likely to be Japan's Soryu, outsider is Germany" I indicated that it was likely Abbott had decided on buying Soryus built in Japan. I felt then and feel now that a foreign build is advisable. In that article I also raised some risks of Australia being Japan's first major defence customer as well as the Soryu's short range compared to what Australia wants.
The US may have put pressure on Japan and Australia to rush a Soryu deal but many details and issues (including substantial Australian participation) need to be ironed out first.