August 31, 2015

Will the Shortfin Barracuda Design Be Too Heavy = Costly?

In Comments for, August 21, 2015 2:54 PM, "HK" discussed the French (DCNS) entrant for Australia Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP)):

“HK” wrote:

"Contrary to popular opinion, my assessment is that Shortfin Barracuda may only require fairly minimal changes from the [Barracuda SSN]:

1) Essentially half the hull modules would be unchanged. This includes the SSN's entire forward section, up to right behind the sail.

2) Behind the sail is the standalone nuclear reactor module. This module is of similar length (~8m) to the equally standalone fuel cell module. They can be switched, much like inserting MESMA before. The fuel cell module will also have space for fuel and ballast tanks.

3) Which leaves the rear propulsion module, where most of the changes will happen. The good news is that scaling-up Scorpene's diesel-electric propulsion should be straightforward. Diesels are a lot more compact than the nukes' steam/electric turbines + generators, so there is plenty of space in Barracuda for 3 diesels side-by-side, with batteries/fuel tanks below deck. 

I have checked versus Scorpene's detailed plans to confirm (these plans are available online... but hush that's a secret!).

So all in all, the biggest challenge with Shortfin Barracuda is not going to be the conventional propulsion. The real potential show-stopper is the U.S.'s willingness to allow the integration of a US combat system [see AN/BYG-1] and weapons [within the Shortfin], and to a lesser degree questions about whether the fuel cell technology is ready for prime time (but the [Australian Navy] may not even have a requirement yet)."


It is nice to hear from the French side. What immediately worries is that while Australia has an admittedly vague requirement for a 4,000 ton submarine the Shortfin Barracuda may be over-weight with a surfaced displacement of "4,765" tons (see right sidebar) and a submerged displacement of 5,300 tons. Presumably to maintain "minimal changes" the Shortfin Barracuda will need to retain the displacement figures of the SSN. 

With a heavier displacement than its 4,000 ton competitors the Shortfin Barracuda may suffer from higher up-front costs, higher diesel fuel usage and higher maintenance-spares costs.

Also the Shortfin's buoyancy dynamics will be very different from the SSN due to the need to place diesel oil in several (many?) fuel tanks around Shortfin - then the need to backfill them with seawater. 

Yes having an American, Donald C. Winter, as the most senior member of the Submarine Advisory Panel not to mention, hidden negotiations, may well work against DCNS. Fuel cell AIP may well become a requirement when/if Australia recognises the need to have a backup for the new technology risks of Li-ion Batteries (batteries presumably in all three contenders' bids).

However the Shortfin's higher displacement may accommodate much large fuel capacity than the Japanese and German competitors. This might translate to longer range (18,000 nm?) or the same range (11,000 nm?) at higher snorting speeds than the competitors. Of course Australia will need to decide whether higher cost is worth the speed-range advantages. There are also many comparative factors that are important, including stealth, crew size and common maintenance facilities. Notably Malaysia in Australia's region operates DCNS Scorpenes and India will soon. Japan operates Soryus. Indonesia and South Korea operates German designs and Singapore will operate larger than usual Type 218SGs in the 2020s.

The photos above and below may be the only photos of the Barracuda SSN (also called Suffren (first of) class in existence. It shows the submarine(s) under construction at the DCNS shipyard in Cherbourg, France. This may be for French national security and/or commercial security reasons. The photos may be of the Suffren and/or the Duguay-Trouin (second of class)) under construction - perhaps taken earlier than February 2015. Photo appeared in the February 2015 article foXavier Vavasseur of Navy Recognition’s  interview with the Barracuda Program Manager.


If this is the actual and final shape of the Barracuda (Suffren class) it has much in common with the hull shape of the US Virginia class SSN. (Artist's impression courtesy Navy Recognition

Here is a youtube animation of the "SMX Ocean" now the Shortfin Barracuda proposal, showing some future capabilities.


August 27, 2015

Soryu Double and Single Hull Sections Diagram

Assembling detailed information on submarines is a “bit at a time” job - from comments “August 25, 2015 at 6:31 PM Soryu structural diagram above was provided.

Diagram made open source at with the following notes:

The Soryu hull structure consists of six sections. From right-hand side head to left-hand side tail the:

i)  first section (head) has double and single hull structures [Pete Comment – complicated due to varying loads/considerations as bow streamlining, sonars, torpedo tubes, front escape tube and hatch to sail];

ii)  second, third and fourth sections have a single hull structure;

iii)  fifth and sixth sections have double hull structures. [Pete Comment – complicated due to rear escape tube and rudder-propeller hydrodynamics considerations]

The double hull consists of the outer non-pressure hull (non-magnetic alloy) and the inner pressure hull (magnetic NS-80). The inner pressure hull (NS-80) is not as strong as the single pressure hull (NS-110), because the outer hull (alloy) shows high strength.

The single pressure hull is made of low magnetic NS-110, in S’s opinion.

At a comment on August 28, 2015 at 12:38 AM S added – Earlier post WWII Japanese submarines has been using double hull structures, but from 1994 Oyashio class submarins adopted a hybrid single and double hull structure. In part this facilitated the introduction of further sound absorber material and a long flank sonar array.

S added comments commented about the German designed Type 214 submarine that also use a flank sonar array. The 214’s single hull structure is made of HY-100 [1] or HY-80/HY-100 [2]. S also noted that in the 1980s DSTO of Australia’s Department of Defence reported properties of HY-100 and highly appreciated it [3]. But, I worry about the combination of following two factors which may make a HY100 hull relatively higher magnetic. These factors are: i) relatively low contents of Ni (2.67-3.57%) and Cr (1.29-1.86) (see Table 1a, page 10) and concerning the same DSTO document [4], ii) single hull structure in which hull is directly exposed to surrounding water without shielding by a non-magnetic alloy. At present HY-100 may be adequate but we should think of future advances in ASW magnetic detection technology.

[For a future Australian submarine] To achieve overall low magnetism for this submarine (as it will not use NS-110) new low magnetic and high strength steel is needed for the single pressure hull, i.e. first partial area and second/third/fourth areas.

Please connect with - Submarine Matters' Japanese Submarines - Critical operational life and hull cutting issues, August 7, 2015

Pete Comment

So given hybrid single-double designs the difference between “double-hulled” and “single-hulled" submarines is not as distinct as is generally thought. Rather it is as complex as most other submarine matters. In the absence of NS-110 use there are various steels from HY-100 and approaching NS-110/HY-156 that may be appropriate.


August 26, 2015

Japan On Steep Learning Curve to Sell Submarines

The Japanese submarine delegation for the briefing in Adelaide, August 26, 2015. Admiral (ret.) Takashi Saito is in the center.


With Germany and France having been engaged in selling weapons to Australia since the 1950s  Japan is feeling the competition. Arms sellers have to sell to many interest groups. The arms buying public are concerned about jobs and taxpayer's money. Arms buying governments, like the Abbott Government, also need to play a positive role in selling. The Abbott Government's reputation has been changing every 3 months or so - some times for the worse.

Below are some snippets reflecting what the Japanese submarine delegation experienced in Adelaide today.


UPDATE 1-Japanese officials struggle to woo Australia over 

submarine contract

Aug 26 (Reuters) - Japan's effort to charm Australian politicians and the public over its bid for a A$50 billion ($35.60 billion) submarine project appeared to stumble on Wednesday, with officials from Tokyo resisting pressure to commit to building the vessels in Australia.

Japanese defence officials and executives from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries made their first major pitch to build 12 stealth submarines for Australia's navy during public briefings for defence contractors and the media in Adelaide, a ship-building hub.

Once seen as the frontrunner to win the contract, the Japanese bid has since come under scrutiny because of Tokyo's unwillingness to commit to building any submarines in Australia, where manufacturing jobs are a hot-button political issue.

Rivals ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany and France's state-controlled naval contractor DCNS have both said they would build entirely in Australia, targeting members of the Australian government with the economic and political benefits of their proposals.

Both European firms have also courted the Australian defence industry and media in key cities.

Two sources present at separate meetings between the Japanese delegation and Australian officials said the Japanese did not seem to have much understanding of the political sensitivities and appeared to have lost ground to the rival bidders.

They said the delegation gave few details about the Japanese proposal beyond reassurances they would adhere strictly to the rules of the process.

"It seems like the (Australian) federal government just told them that they had to come down here and talk to us," one source told Reuters under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

"I think they're really struggling to connect to the public. It's just not in their DNA to speak publicly about defence issues."

A defence industry source in Tokyo said the German bid was shaping up as the one to beat…..WHOLE ARTICLE

Natalie Whiting for Australia’s ABC, August 26, 2015 reported

Submarines contract: Japanese delegation in Adelaide for public relations offensive

A Japanese defence adviser has conceded the country needs to improve its public relations in order to win the contract to build Australia's next fleet of submarines.

…Japanese defence adviser and former submarines commander Yoji Koda said Japan initially failed to understand the public relations game its competitors were playing.

French and German companies bidding for Australia's $20 billion submarine contract have been courting both the Federal Government and public opinion via the media.

Japan had been avoiding that second battleground, but the current delegation will hold a news conference today in Adelaide, ahead of meeting industry officials and a visit to the defence construction facilities in Adelaide's north-west.

Retired rear admiral Yoji Koda now works as an adviser to one of Japan's shipbuilding companies and for the national security secretary.

It is the first time the pacifist country has competed in a defence bid such as this and he said being "rookies" had posed some problems.

"[The] Japanese team is gradually solving those problems, but still there are some areas [where] Japan is not so doing well," he said.

Public relations the new submarine battlefield for the Japanese

The Japanese have been criticised for being secretive, an issue which has been amplified by the PR offensive their German and French competitors launched.

Mr Koda said the Japanese team was now learning that approach.

"I strongly believe [with] the engineering capability or technology ... of building the larger submarine, I think Japan is still in the lead," he said.

"But at the same time there are several other things we need to take into consideration. One is the public relations so, yes, for the first time the Japanese team shows up at Adelaide and speaks to the public and also have a conference with [the] Australian team and I hope that will be convincing to the Australian people." WHOLE ARTCLE

In another ABC article of August 26, 2015, Leah MacLennan reported

Japanese submarine bid delegation visits Adelaide, denying any secret deal to win contract

…Masaki Ishikawa from the Japanese defence ministry said speculation of a secret deal had not come from Japan.

"We are not the one to be blamed for ... others speculating there may be a secret deal," he said.

"[We are] a little bit confused and perplexed why such speculation is still amongst the people's voices."

…At a news conference held during a visit to Adelaide, the Japanese delegation sought to end speculation a secret deal had been made even before the Federal Government mounted what it called a "competitive evaluation process".

The Japanese said they would ensure the Government had full details of their bid by the end of November.

Asked if construction in Adelaide was his preferred option, Admiral Takashi Saito said three options all were under serious evaluation.

"We are requested from the Australian Federal Government to come up with all three build options - Japanese, hybrid and Australian build options," he told reporters.

"Team Japan are considering and investigating all the possibilities to come up with all three build options and in that effort we are also seriously considering the Australian build option."

…South Australia's Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith…met Admiral Saito and said he made that position clear.

"He was very respectful, very receptive and the Japanese contingent under Admiral Saito made it very clear that they were considering all three options, including an Australian build and I commend them for it, as I did the Germans and the French," he said.

Chris Burns from industry body the Defence Teaming Centre said the push for a 100 per cent local build was "well received" when discussed with the Japanese delegation.

"They fully understand that we have to be part of the process from the outset and why we want to build our own submarines," he said.

"It's not just about jobs, it's about ensuring our security and the security of our country."

The contract for the future submarines is expected to be awarded by the Federal Government next year."


August 25, 2015

Morocco Can No Longer Be First Buyer of Russian Amur 1650 Submarine

Drawing board Amur 1650 with its very large, heavy, looking (not yet developed) AIP system (Diagram courtesy Aviation Forum). Morocco may be buying an Amur 1650. See reference to "Russian" AIP. January 2016 reports from Russia are that the AIP has not been developed hence the Ladas and export Amurs will no longer be built.  

The drawing board Amur 950 showing 5 of the 10 vertical launch tubes behing the sail (Courtesy Russia's Rubin Design Institute)


January 2016 reports from Russia are that Russian AIP (essential to market Amurs) has not been developed hence additional Ladas and any export Amurs will no longer be built. In December 2015 or Janaury 2016 it is likely that Russia offered Morocco the Improved Kilo class instead. This is assuming Morocco would not accept a Russian offer of a future "fifth generation" Kalina class SSK - with the Kalinas only likely to be operational (with AIP) in the Russian Navy in the mid 2020s. 


It appears the World Tribune, August 9, 2015 gained a scoop - that the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, will visit Moscow in late 2015 to sign a contract for one Amur-1650 submarine. Other news agencies picked up the story and some added important details.

Russia’s Russia Behind The Headlines (RBTH), August 21, 2015 advises that one reason Morocco is buying the Amur is due to a submarine arms race with neighbouring Algeria (which is relatively oil rich). Algeria already has two Russian made Improved Kilos (Project 636) submarines, two older model Kilos (Project 877s) submarines and has two more Improved Kilos on order (due 2017). RBTH advises that Algeria and Saudi Arabia have had a falling out over Saudi actions against rebels in Yemen. The upshot is that Saudi Arabia may be financing Morocco’s purchase of the Amur – “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” 

Saudi Arabia may well be paying the upfront price for Morocco's future Amur 1650 but Morocco might be surprised how high the downstream maintenance, spare parts and crew costs will be. mentions that Russian-Algerian relations are frosty due to their divergent positions with regard to the energy strategy of the European Union.

The Amur (Russian 4th Generation SSK) is a development of Russia's 3rd Generation SSKs - the Kilos and Improved Kilos. See Russia's-Rubin's five SSK Generations concept at  .

Russia has been attempting to sell the Amur conventional submarines for years. The never built Amurs (smaller 950, larger 1650) might be seen as export versions of the Lada class (1 completed so far) built for the Russian Navy. A weak point of the Amur-Lada has been the under-developed or non-existent air independent propulsion (AIP) system. Either Russia has had difficulty developing AIP or Russia is satisfied with nuclear propulsion (which could be seen as “super AIP”) for its own navy.

The US$342 million (€300 million) being quoted for the Amur 1650 sale to Morocco is remarkably lower than the usual cost for conventional submarines of around US$500 million. Note that the Wikipedia entry (presumably from Russian sources) quotes US$450 million for an Amur. A number of possibilities may explain the low price to Morocco:

-  China (with its US$333 million AIP “Yuan” S-20) has also been competing to sell to Morocco.
-  Russia wants to secure its first sale of an Amur with a very low price.
-  Russia will apply add-on costs for training, advisers and spare parts and eventually overhauls to recoup the sale price.
-  If the Saudis are financing the Morocco sale this may be part of a larger Saudi arms buy from Russia (giving Russia room to reduce the Moroccan submarine price).
-  Russia wishes to generate more sales from prospective buyers inside the region (expanding the arms race) and/or outside the region.

The smaller Amur 950 is marketed with the extraordinary capability of 10 vertical launch tubes (VLSs) – presumably for Klub missiles. Perhaps weighing 1,100 tonnes (surfaced) depending on whether it has AIP. This is at the expense of only 4 horizontal torpedo tubes – only 2 of which have reloads – meaning a total of 16 torpedos/missiles for the Amur 950.

The Amur 1650 Morocco may perhaps have 10 VLS but not 6 torpedo tubes that all have 2 reloads  = 18 torpedo/missiles horizontally fired. The resulting total of 28 heavyweight shots could not in practice be fitted in a 1,800 ton (surfaced) submarine. So it is more like that a 1650 would have 10 missile VLS + 8 torpedos (6 in the horizontal tubes with 2 of the tubes having 1 reload).

Nicky has provided some useful Youtubes concerning the Amurs - and . The Youtubes mention the Amurs' diesel-electric propulsion. As well as doing extensive engine development themselves the Russians would draw hardware testing and reverse engineering opportunities from Western marine engines sold to Russia. Russia's efficient technical intelligence gathering system would also help.

Its notable that the video portion of doesn't mention or show AIP at all. The other Youtube also doesn't mention AIP. Yet it is AIP that has been the biggest new development in non-Russian SSKs in the last 20 years or so. Russian marketing staff may claim AIP is part of  Russia's Lada (St Petersburg) and therefore an option for the Amurs but where is the working proof?


Russia’s Sputnik News International, August 22, 2015 refers to the original World Tribune report but also adds extra submarine details from its own Russian sources :

"Morocco to Buy Russian Amur-1650 Superquiet Submarine

Morocco and Russia are close to reaching a deal on the delivery of a Russian-made Amur 650 (project 677E) submarine which would be the kingdom’s first submarine, World Tribune reported.

The contract is expected to be signed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to Moscow later this year. The two countries have been in talks on the issue in several stages since 2013, according to the media outlet.

The sum of the deal may be €300 million ($342 million), reported.

During the DSA-2014 international arms forum in Malaysia, the Malaysian navy also expressed interest for the submarine.

"Malaysian navy commander visited our display and expressed interest in our Amur 1650 submarines," a Rosoboronexport spokesman told Rossiskaya Gazeta.

The Amur 1650 diesel-electric powered submarine was developed by the Rubin design bureau. In addition to an air-independent power plant, the submarine is equipped with a regular diesel generator and a set of accumulator plants. While surfaced it is propelled by the diesel-electric power plant, and by the accumulators and the air-independent power plant while submerged. Thus, the submarine has the technical specs close to a nuclear-powered one.

In comparison with its predecessors, the Amur 1650 submarine is capable of multiple missiles firing (up to six missiles at once) and has a hydroacoustic system with unique sonar for detecting low-noise targets at various distances.

The main feature of the Amur 1650 is its extreme quietness. According to experts, the new submarine outperforms the submarines of Varshavyanka (project 636) class which are now believed to be the most silent submarines in the world.

The Amur 1650 [specifications] has a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters. While submerged, the submarine can reach speed of 21 knots (39 kmh) at a distance of 650 miles. The submarine can submerge at a depth of 250 meters. The armament includes 18 torpedoes and 10 vertical silo-based missiles."[It is unclear whether the submarine Morocco is buying will have the vertical launch feature.]


S's response to "7 Problems With The Japanese Option"

Japan had a submarine building industry for 100 years before it began to build the Soryus. The class immediately preceeding the Soryus are the Oyashios. Above is Oyashio class submarine SS-599 (Setoshio) being fitted out at MHI shipyard, Kobe in 2006. SS-599 was commissioned on February 28, 2007.

Little is known publically in Australia about Japan’s submarine building concerns. Submarine Matters provides one forum for discussions. To that end Japanese concerns are being highlighted. I have clarified the English in some sentences [...] brackets - hoping this remains faithful to S's intended meaning. 

At in Comments “S” commented on August 21, 2015 at 12:54 AM. In "S's response... S provided additional  information on August 25, 2015 6:31 PM, regarding to Australian Made Defence’s "7 Problems With The Japanese Option":

"Requirements for submarine performance significantly depend on design concept which is based on various factors such geopolitical situation, geographical conditions, technological issues and diplomatic relations. Therefore, the ideal design concept of submarine becomes highly country specific. The design concept of the Soryu is continuous improvement of performance by batch building [in order to respond to a highly defense-oriented policy of surveillance of the sea around Japan]. The operational period and range of the Soryu are purposely set to be short [with the design  concept optimised for this]. [Introducing quality upgrades and extra fuel will make the submarine design heavier (i.e. increase in size, therefore increase in water resistance). This will lead to performance degradations].

The design concepts of the Collins, Type 216 and Conventional Barracuda are long [range], [high endurance] and multi-purpose functions including deployment of special forces. [These] are very different from design concepts [for the] Soryu. But, I think Japan can achieve many capabilities in the table “How They Compare” [see].

I think there [are] two key issues, i.e. 1) development of new hull materials and 2) establishment of submarine building management system in Australia should be addressed. 
1)    I do not think that the JSMDF agrees with a NS110 very high yield pressure hull steel  technology transfer. So new low magnetic and high strength steel for a single pressure hull [rather than the Soryu's double hull design] should be developed, but evaluation and testing will be very time-consuming.

2)    There are some shortcomings in the quality management system. Part of this is information security management concerning top secret Japanese technology transfer to Australia. Many people, including a former executive of ASC, indicate ASC has considerable skills and self-reliance, but  ASC can strengthen its management planning with regard to aims, training and internal checks. Some strengthening of performance measures to achieve customer requirements would be advantageous.

3)   Apparently Germany is finding that the CEP is a creative   challenge


Just as Japan builds cars for Australia's specific requirements Japan can build subs for Australian requirements. Japanese car exports to Australia far outstripped German + French exports, of course.

As Australians often do not know what they want at the beginning of a submarine batch - Japan's "continuous improvement of performance" procedures should do nicely. 

The Super SoryuAU (term first used here) will be heavier than subs for the Japanese Navy but greater engine power and a more hydro-efficient shape should maintain performance for the Super SoryuAUs.

Yes 1. new pressure hull steel for Australian welders is important and 2. the establishment of a submarine building management system in Australia that is up to Japan's high standards is important (a bit like the former Mitsubishi car factory in Adelaide) 


"1)" Yes NS110 should not be transferred as it is difficult to reweld and Australia's security system is not like Japan's.

"2)" ASC management system standards have indeed been poor as shown in the Collins and now in the AWDs. Appointing a Japanese senior executive would be a good idea for a start.

Thankyou for passing on Germany's frustrations. I'm sure Germany appreciates the kind gesture.


August 24, 2015

Mystery of the Disappering North Korea Mini-submarines

One of North Korea's 40 (or so) 300 ton Sangeo class mini-submarines. The 40 Sangeos represent more than half of North Korea's submarine force of 70. The photo is of one that ran aground in 1996. (Photo and description courtesy Globalsecurity)

North Korea may have built 10 x 130 ton Yeoneo class submarines. Note one of its two outside strapped torpedos is shown. It may have been a Yeoneo that sank South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan in 2010.

Update August 26, 2015

UPI reported along the lines that it is unclear how many North Korean submarines have re-emerged. "Seoul's military said the latest North Korea buildup provided new insight into how Pyongyang would launch an attack on South Korean territory. [North Korean] Submarines would be used to deploy Special Operations personnel to lay mines in South Korean port cities like Busan and Ulsan in order detonate nuclear power plants and other facilities.

"[North Korea's] deployment of a large fleet of submarines could be seen as a way of creating a distraction when launching a simultaneous attack against major ports and facilities in South Korea," said Moon Geun-sik, a former South Korean Navy captain."

On August 24, 2015

News that 70% of North Korea's submarines have submerged and cannot be detected may or may not be significant. North Korea is estimated to have:

-  40  x  300-ton Sangeo-class mini-submarines N Korea's largest known domestically built submarine. The 40 Sangeos represent more than half of North Korea's submarine force of 70. 

-  10  x  130-ton Yeoneo-class mini-subs and

-  20  x 1,800 ton 1950s vintage Romeo-class which would probably be only semi-functional .  

-  1 SINPO class submarine (up to 1,800-tons) which may be one of the Romeos with one or two vertical launch tubes fitted for future missile use.

If all 50 of the Sangeo + Yeoneo mini-submarines have submerged/disappeared then that is 71%. So perhaps none of the Romeo's, requiring much larger crews, have submerged?

The mini-submarines have only a limited endurance (perhaps 1 week or 2?) so they will need to resurface soon.


Shin Hyon-hee of the The Korean Herald reported late on August 23, 2015

N.K. beefs up frontline forces

The Koreas’ cross-border standoff showed more signs of flaring up on Sunday as the North Korean military sharply beefed up its frontline artillery forces and [allegedly] forward-deployed a majority of its submarines and other offensive assets despite the high-level talks over the weekend. 

...The South’s military was also unable to locate about 50 undersea vehicles, or 70 percent of the North’s submarine fleet, which have left their bases. 

...In particular, the movement of North Korean submarines is a critical indicator of provocation that Seoul closely keep tabs on at all times, he noted. 

...“It’s around 10 times the usual. We have not seen in decades that many submarines that are simultaneously out of their bases,” the official said. 

“This is the level where we can expect something really worrying to happen ― we don’t know what kind of operations they are and will be undertaking where.” 

...The heavily militarized [North Korea] is believed to run more than 70 submersibles including 20  1,800-ton Romeo-class, 40  300-ton Sangeo [or Sang O] class and 10  130-ton Yeoneo [or Yang O] class vessels. Albeit old and equipped with outdated weapons, they outnumber the South’s fleet. 

...To head off any unanticipated provocation, the South Korean military is maintaining full readiness and mobilizing more antisubmarine assets such as destroyers, P-3C patrol planes and Lynx antisubmarine helicopters, the official added. 

The South Korean Navy operates a 13-submarine fleet, consisting of nine 1,200-ton 209-class and four 1,800-ton 214-class. It is pushing to add five 214-class submarines by 2019 and nine 3,000-ton submarines carrying vertical launchers for submarine-to-ground missiles. It launched a submarine force command last February to better counter North Korean threats and carry out underwater operations, training and education, and maintenance...." 



August 23, 2015

Later Japanese Responses to "7 Problems With The Japanese Option"

Soryu class submarine SS-506 "Kokuryu" being built at the KHI shipyard in Kobe, Japan. SS-506 was commissioned in March 2014. 


The Japanese opinion (probably a consensus) that the submarine for Australia should not be made using extremely difficult to weld (and highly national security sensitive) NS110 Japanese submarine steel opens up a range of "not build/assemble in Japan" production possibilities. One possibility in Japan's response to the CEP is "assemble in Australia".

I'm increasingly interpreting Japan's intention as Japan manufacturing the submarine parts in Japan. These parts will involve an easier to weld (lower than NS110 value) pressure hull steel. Then the parts will be shipped to ASC-Adelaide and perhaps other Australian shipyards. Then assembled, including welded together, in Adelaide.


At in Comments on August 23, 2015 at 11:42 AM a Japanese representative (possibly from the Japanese Ministry of Defence) responded to Australian Made Defence’s "7 Problems [Questions in red] With The Japanese Option" I have asked follow-up questions at 2 and 6.

Question 1 “What are the risks?”

Japanese Response:

1-1) Hull stability and operation temperature
The pressure hull is designed for [operational temperature ranges of] ca. -30C to ca. +50C. This temperature range does not depend on country. [Information from China, Russia and Australia is within that] temperature range. [Adaptation of a cold water-hull to warm water conditions is not a problem. Rather a greater concern would be hull steel brittleness if a hull designed for warm water is used in cold water].

1-2) Modification [to increase operational] range
For increasing of operation range, hull must be elongated [lengthened] for carrying extra fuel. The Soryu is the hull elongation [lengthened] version of Oyashio, but there are no problem related to hull elongation.

Question 2 ”Will Australia have to pay for the development of a new shipyard and workforce in Japan to build it submarines?”

Japanese Response:

In the case of knock-down production [of Japanese submarines in Australia?]. The Japanese responder does not think that an  additional new shipyard is required. A professional engineer team of KHI and MHI as field [superintendents-managers would visit the] Australian Submarine Corporation. [They would provide guidance for] Australian engineers on welding and assembling of steels, materials and parts from Japan.

Question 3 ”How long do Japanese submarines last?”

Japanese Response:

Design and building of submarine may be optimized for achieving given submarine life based on modern quality control concepts. If submarine user requires a longer life-time, the design and building will be optimized again. But, I do not think that it will not be a big modification, because the safety factors are considered well in the original 15 years-operation submarine.

Question 4 ”What will be Australia’s capacity to sustain submarines built in Japan?”

Japanese Response:

If new hull material is developed by a [Australian-Japanese corporation] Australia and Japan will share the related intellectual properties according to contribution.

Question 5 ” Can the hulls be built in Japan and fitted-out in Australia?”

Japanese Response:

[A] modular building system is adopted for the current Soryu submarine. Beside hull welding-connection work, involvement of Australian manufacturers in constructing and installation of each module will be important issue, too.

Question 6 “ How do we go in times of trouble?”

Japanese Response:

Trouble related to "black box" technology [highly sensitive technology, like the snorkel system] will be fixed in Japan or by Japanese experts.

Question 7 ”Will we repeat the problems of the past?”

Japanese Response:

The Japan lacks experience of arm export. But, many companies involved in Japanese submarine building are very famous and first class, they export their products and some of them have foreign branches."


August 22, 2015

Chinese SSBNs including Shipyards and Bases

Below is an excellent article of April 25, 2014 by

"China SSBN Fleet Getting Ready – But For What?
Posted on Apr.25, 2014 in ChinaNuclear Weapons by 

By Hans M. Kristensen
China’s emerging fleet of 3-4 new Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines is getting ready to deploy on deterrent patrols, “probably before the end of 2014,” according to U.S. Pacific Command.
A new satellite image taken in October 2013 (above) shows a Jin SSBN in dry dock at the Bohai shipyard in Huludao. Two of the submarine’s 12 missile tubes are open. It is unclear if the submarine in the picture is the fourth boat or one of the first three Jin SSBNs that has returned to dry dock for repairs or maintenance.
The U.S. intelligence community predicts that “up to five [Jin-class (Type 094) SSBNs] may enter service before China proceeds to its generation SSBN (Type 096) over the next decade,” an indication that the noisy Jin-class design might already be seen as outdated.
This and numerous other commercial satellite images (see below) show how China over the past decade has built an infrastructure of naval facilities to service the new SSBN fleet. This includes upgrades at naval bases, submarine hull demagnetization facilities, underground facilities and high-bay buildings for missile storage and handling, and covered tunnels and railways to conceal the activities from prying eyes in the sky.
Apart from how many Jin SSBNs China will build, the big question is whether the Chinese government will choose to operate them the way Western nuclear-armed states have operated their SSBNs for decades – deployed continuously at sea with nuclear warheads on the ballistic missiles – or continue China’s long-held policy of not deploying nuclear weapons outside Chinese territory but keeping them in central storage for deployment in a crisis. 
Nuclear Submarine Sightings
Over the past decade, a total of 25 commercial satellite images made available on Google Earth have provided visual confirmation and information about the status and location of the Jin SSBNs (see table below). They show the submarines at four sites: the Bohai shipyard at Huludao on the Bohai Sea where the submarines are built; the Xiaopingdao naval base near Dalian where the submarines are fitted out for missile launch tests; the North Sea Fleet base at Jianggezhuang near Qingdao where one Jin SSBN is homeported along with the old Xia-class SSBN from the 1980s; and at the South Sea Fleet base at Longpo on Hainan Island where at least one Jin SSBN has been based since 2008.

Bohai Ship Yard
The Bohai shipyard at Huludao builds China’s nuclear-powered submarines. The shipyard, which is located in the north of the Bohai Sea, is immensely busy with numerous large tankers and cargo ships under construction at any time. The submarine hulls are assembled in a large 40,000-squaremeter construction hall at the western end of the shipyard, rolled across a storage area into a dry dock for completion, and then launched into the harbor where they spend years tied up to a pier fitting out until handed over to the Chinese navy (PLAN).
Commercial satellite photos provide snapshots of the status of submarine construction and the quality is good enough to differentiate different submarine types and identify design details such as dimensions and layout of the missile compartment. One of the most recent photos (see below) shows a Jin-class SSBN in dry dock with two of 12 missile tubes open. Additional unassembled submarine hull sections are laid out on the ground next to the assembly hall.

The busy Bohai shipyard mixes nuclear submarine construction with commercial tankers and cargo ships in half a dozen dry docks. In this composite image from October 11 and 25, 2013, a completed Jin-class SSBN can be seen in dry dock and what appear to be hull sections for another submarine awaiting assembly. 

In addition to satellite photos, tourists also occasionally take photos and post them on Google Panoramio or other web site. One such photo (see below) shows most of the shipyard with other overlaid photos showing dry dock cranes and two missile submarines first seen in 2007.

Image: Google Panoramio; inserts from Chinese internet. Click for large version.

Xiaopingdao Submarine Refit Base
After completing construction at the Bohai shipyard the submarines sail to the Xiaopingdao refit base near Dalian. This base is used to prepare the submarines for operational service and is where test missiles are loaded into the launch tubes for test launches from the Bohai Sea across China into the Qinghai desert. Xiaopingdao is also used by China’s single Golf-class SSB, a special design submarine previously used to test launch SLBMs.
The base has been upgraded several times over the past decade-and-a-half including an extended pier to service the larger Jin-class SSBNs.
On two occasions, in March 2009 and March 2011, two Jin SSBNs have been seen docked at Xiaopingdao at the same time.
Xiaopingdao is also where the first Jin-class SSBN was spotted on a commercial satellite photo in July 2007.

Click for large version.

Jianggezhuang (Laoshan) Submarine Base
The oldest nuclear submarine base is the North Sea Fleet base at Jianggezhuang (Laoshan) approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) east of Qingdao in the Shandong province.
The Jin-class SSBN was first seen at Jianggezhuang on a commercial satellite image in August 2010.
The base is also home to the old Xia-class SSBN, the lone unit of China’s first experiment with ballistic missile submarines. The Xia completed a multi-year dry dock overhaul in 2007 but has probably never been fully operational and has never conducted a deterrent patrol.
This base is where we in 2006 spotted the long-rumored submarine cave, also described in Imaging Notes. The cave has a large water tunnel with access from the harbor and three land-tunnels providing access from various base facilities.
A satellite image from July 2013 (see below) shows both the Xia and a Jin SSBN at the base, with the Xia being assisted by two tugboats. Water turbulence behind the submarine indicates the Xia’s engine is operational.

Both Jin- and Xia-class SSBNs are based at Jianggezhuang submarine base, which includes an underground submarine cave. A possible underground weapons storage site is located northeast of the base. Click for large version.

Jianggezhuang also has a dry dock, the only one at a naval base that has so far been seen servicing nuclear-propelled submarines. There are also several nuclear-powered attack submarines homeported at the base.
Only a few miles north of the base is an underground facility that may be storing munitions for the submarine fleet. As such, it could potentially also serve as a regional storage facility for nuclear warheads for the SLBMs once released to the navy in a crisis by the Central Military Committee.
Several buildings have been added since 2003, possibly in preparation for accommodating the new Jin SSBN and its larger JL-2 SLBMs.
Hainan Island Submarine Complex
The South Sea Fleet naval facilities on Hainan Island are under significant expansion. The nuclear submarine base at Longpo has been upgraded to serve as the first nuclear submarine base in the South China Sea. The first Jin-class SSBN was seen at Longpo on February 27, 2008, and a new photo from November 2013 shows a Jin SSBN with its missile tubes open (see below).

In this image from November 30, 2013, a Jin-class SSBN can be seen flashing its 12 missile tubes while docked at Longpo naval base on Hainan Island.

Longpo submarine base includes four piers for submarines, an underground submarine facility with tunnel access from the harbor and land-tunnels from the other side of the mountain, as well as a demagnetization facility. Longpo was the first base to get a demagnetization facility, which has since also been added to the East Sea Fleet near Ningbo.
The Hainan naval complex also includes the conventional submarine base at Julin, which also appears to be under expansion with new piers and a sea break wall under construction.
Approximately 12 kilometers (7 miles) northeast of Longpo is a military facility that appears to include four tunnels connecting to one or several underground facilities inside the mountain. Tugged away at the end of a lake inside a valley, the facility has a significant infrastructure with administrative and technical buildings as well as several camouflaged high-bay buildings surrounded by berms for blast protection during explosives handling.
The naval complex on Hainan Island is spread across several locations with nuclear submarines based at Longpo, conventional submarines based at Julin, and a possible underground weapon storage facility north of the bases. Click for large version.

The Longpo base does not have a dry dock so nuclear submarines would have to sail to another base for maintenance or repair. The conventional submarine base at Julin has a 165-meter (550-feet) dry dock that could potentially accommodate a Jin-class SSBN, but it would be a tight fit. More likely are the 215-meter (706-feet) dry docks at the Zhanjiang Naval Base on the mainland north of Hainan Island, or the East Sea Fleet submarine base near Ningbo. Yet so far available commercial satellite images have not shown a nuclear submarine at either Julin, Zhanjiang (South Sea Fleet headquarters), nor Ningbo (East Sea Fleet headquarters), and it is unclear if the bases are certified for nuclear-propelled submarines. If not, then nuclear submarines based on Hainan Island would have to use a dry dock as far north as Jianggezhuang or Bohai for maintenance and repairs. That seem strange so I’m sure I’ve missed a naval dry dock somewhere closer to Hainan.
A unique new feature at Longpo is a 1.3-kilometer (0.8-mile) long covered railway completed in May or June 2010 (see below). The railway connects a high-bay building with possible access into the mountain at the eastern part of the base with one of the land-based tunnels to the underground submarine cave on the Longpo peninsula. The covered railway clearly seems intended to keep movement of something between the two mountains out of sight from spying satellites. Two turnoffs from the railway lead to a large building under construction with rail tracks inside. The purpose of the new facilities and rail is unknown but might potentially be intended for movement of SLBMs or other weapons between storage inside the mountain to the submarine cave for arming of SSBNs or SSNs.
A new covered railway constructed in 2010 might connect a missile handling building with the submarine cave on the other side of the mountain. Click for large version.

Before a roof was constructed to conceal the land-tunnel into the submarine cave, the rail tracks into the tunnel were visible on satellite images. Other features at this portion of the base include five ventilation stacks, the roof between the covered railway and tunnel entrance, and a coverage being constructed over a second tunnel road entrance (see above). These features are also visible on a tourist photo posted on Google Panoramio (see below).

The east side of the underground submarine cave at the Longpo naval base on Hainan Island includes rail- and road-tunnels, ventilation stacks, and a covered railway.

With the emerging Jin-class SSBN fleet, China appears ready to add an important component to its nuclear deterrent. Although the focus of China’s nuclear posture is the land-based missile force, the Chinese leadership appears to view a triad of nuclear forces as a symbol of great power status. Commercial satellite images clearly show that the Chinese leadership has been spending considerable resources over the past decade building the infrastructure needed to support the SSBN fleet. The development is watched closely in India, Japan, and the United States as an example of China’s (modestly) growing and more sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
In building the Jin-class SSBN fleet, however, China appears more to mirror the nuclear postures of the United States, Russia, Britain and France rather than demonstrating a clear purpose and contribution of the SSBN force to China’s own security and crisis stability in general.
As a new second-strike capability added to the Chinese nuclear arsenal, the Jin SSBN fleet only makes strategic sense if it is more secure than the Second Artillery’s land-based ICBM force. Its justification must be based on a conclusion that the ICBMs are too vulnerable to a first strike and that a more secure sea-based second-strike force therefore is needed.
The ultimate test of the Jin SSBNs will be whether they can survive long enough at sea in a hypothetical war situation to provide a back-up deterrent at all. If they are too noisy, the Jins could be vulnerable to early detection and attrition, especially if they had to deploy to distant patrols areas in order for the missiles to be able to reach important targets. With a range of 7,200 to 7,400 kilometers (4,470 to 4,600 miles) – the range estimate given by the U.S. intelligence community for the JL-2 SLBM carried on Jin-class SSBNs, a submarine would need to sail deep into the Pacific Ocean to be able to target the U.S. west coast. To threaten Washington DC, a Jin SSBN would have to sail halfway across the Pacific (see map below). Not exactly safe travel for a submarine that is noisier than the ancient Russian Delta III SSBNs built in the 1970s.
It is probably a fair assumption that U.S. attack submarines have already been trailing or monitoring the Jin SSBNs to record individual sound characteristics and observe operational patterns. Such information would be used to locate and, if necessary, sink the Chinese submarines in a hypothetical war.
The value of the Jin SSBNs is also dependent on their capability to communicate with the national command authority on land from submerged patrol areas. Secure and reliable communication is essential for the Chinese leaders to be able to exercise command and control of the nuclear missiles on the SSBNs. If communication is poor, the SSBNs could become irrelevant or, perhaps more importantly, downright dangerous to crisis stability if loss of contact caused Beijing to mistakenly conclude that one or more of the subs had been sunk by enemy action. That could, potentially, cause the Chinese leadership to conclude that the nuclear threshold had already been crossed and decide to activate its land-based nuclear forces in a way that would be seen by an adversary as preparation to launch.
Some of these issues may become clearer when China begins to operate the Jin submarines as a real SSBN force. Part of the public debate has been somewhat overblown with claims that Jin SSBNs will be able to target the continental United States from Chinese waters. They will not. And the DOD assessment that the Jins “will give the PLA Navy its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent” is probably premature and certainly depends on what is meant by “credible.”
Whatever their ultimate capability may be, however, the Jin SSBNs and the infrastructure China is building are symbols of the extensive nuclear modernizations that are underway in all the nuclear-armed countries. The Chinese government says it “will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any other country,” but it is certainly in a technological race with the United States, Russia and India about developing improved and more capable nuclear weapons."