October 30, 2015

Now Two Americans in Key Australian Future Submarine Roles

Rear Admiral (retd.) Stephen Johnson (above) appointed General Manager, Australian Future Submarine Program in October 2015. Johnson joins former Secretary of the US Navy, Donald C. Winter, in key roles relating to the Australian Submarine Program. 

The other American, Donald C. Winter. He is the senior member on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Australian Submarine selection. Winter is also former Secretary of the US Navy and former Corporate Vice President Northrop Grumman. (Photograph Courtesy Northrop Grumman)

So with the appointment of Johnson where does that leave Australian Rear Admiral Gregory John Sammut who is still listed as Head Future Submarine Program?

Sarah Kimmorley of Business Insider Australia, October 30, 2015 reports:

"US submarine ­com­mander Stephen Johnson has been appointed general manager of Australia’s biggest defence project, the navy’s new submarine fleet. 

The ­retired rear admiral was in charge of the US Navy’s undersea technology in Naval Sea Systems Command, commander of the Undersea Warfare Centre and director of the Strategic Systems Programs, overseeing the TRIDENT II strategic weapon system.

According to The Australian, Johnson’s extensive experience running large hi-tech projects, including development of the Seawolf class submarine, earned him the politically fraught role.

Johnson will be responsible for choosing the $20 billion new submarines to replace the six existing Collins-class subs...:  see WHOLE BUSINESS INSIDER  ARTICLE


The appointment of an American, Admiral Johnson, to manage the future submarine project, so early in the project, is a surprise. There appears to be no confirmation, that is no Media Releases by the Defence Minister or PM. 

It is notable that former Secretary of the US Navy, Donald C. Winter, is the most senior Member of the Expert Advisory Panel on the selection of the future Australian submarine. Winter was appointed to that role in June 2015 but nothing has been heard from or about the Expert Advisory Panel, since.

Submarine Matters last month commented on the continuity of US influence in Australia's future submarine selection.

So these two appointments of Americans in key parts of the Australian future submarine program must have political significance:

1.  to the Pacific alliance with the US.

2.  does the appointment of Johnson and Winter almost, or certainly, indicate the selection of the Japanese submarine bid?

3.  the selection of the American AN/BYG-1 Combat System has been assumed as a given. Are the appointments part of a US-Australian bilateral process making that Combat System a certainty? 
See this February 2015 Defence Ministerial Media Release where it says:

"the Government has endorsed a set of key strategic requirements for our future submarines:...c) The combat system and heavyweight torpedo jointly developed between the United States and Australia as the preferred combat system and main armament."

4.  is the appointment of Admiral Johnson a milestone or reflect a lack of tangible milestones in the Australian Submarine Program?

5.  does it mean the Submarine Program and the 2016? Defence White Paper will be delayed? See the Brisbane (Australia) Courier Mail, Nov 3, 2015 "...defence sources suggest that the new Defence White Paper might not be released until after Christmas and possibly not until after the next election."

Having two Americans in key positions is not necessarily questionable. They may be the best men for the jobs. Equally Australians would fill such positions within the Pentagon-shipbuilding complex - wouldn't they?


October 29, 2015

Undersea Cable Cutting History

Undersea fibre-optic cable. Many layers. (Courtesy KCS

Cables need armour (against sharks etc) and electical repeaters (signal boosters) (Courtesy several cable makers etc) 

In connection with the New York Times article about the Russians not even contemplating cutting honest Western undersea cables - that article seems like another attempt of the US Navy and industry to boost the sales prospects of the US Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs).

Undersea cables were first laid in the 1850s between Britain and Europe and between Britain and US-Canada. Cables have been broken by human (fishing trawlers, poor leaky cable insulation material and anchors) and natural (earthquakes, currents, bitey sharks and whales) activity. A number of ports, such as Halifax, Canada, near important cable routes became homes to specialised cable repair ships 

The first CS Alert all you need to cut German Atlantic cables in 1914!

Jonathan Reed Winkler writing in War on the Rocks records that during the Spanish - American War (1898) US naval ships cut undersea cables to isolate the major Spanish possessions of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Spanish ground and naval forces were thus prevented from having rapid communications with the high command in Spain. 

Surface ships have been more commonly used to cut undersea cables. In World War One, the British General Post Office Cable Ship CS Alert (above) was used to locate and cut five German cables heading into the Atlantic. A similar operation cut the German cables that connected Great Britain to the German coast. Successive missions by the CS Telconia and other ships later in the war eliminated the remainder of Germany's cable network and, in some instances, pulled the cables up with their grapples and relaid them into British and French ports for use by the Allied powers instead. Theft? See this source.

This useful book link indicates submarines, very early on, were also active in cable cutting.  "The U-151 [in 1918] also cut the undersea cables between New York and Nova Scotia and New York and Colon, Panama." 

U-151 had an amazing performance then and now. It was built in 1916 (World War One) 1,500 tons (surfaced), 18 torpedos, 2 x 6 inch guns, 56 crew and a range of 25,000 nautical miles. 

[As an aside - the century old U-151's specifications beg the question "Why does Australia in 2015 think an extra large 4,000 ton (surfaced) conventional submarine is necessary to give 11,000 nautical miles - less than half the range of U-151 a World War One submarine?]

At the beginning of World War Two Atlantic cables would have been cut in 1939, mainly by surface ships. In the Pacific the Japanese advance was so fast that allied cable cutting sometimes took until 1945. "/C" commented  October 25, 2015 at 7:49 PM at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/south-korean-hhis-hds-400-small.html about British XE-class mini-submarines  used to cut Japanese undersea cables in 1945 between Hong Kong and Saigon and between Hong Kong and Singapore. 

One of the cutters was Max Shean from Western Australia doing very hazardous duty.

Since 1945 cables continue to be broken by fishing trawlers, anchors, earthquakes, currents, and bitey sharks.  In response to this threat to the communications network, the practice of cable burial has developed. Still, cable breaks are by no means a thing of the past, with more than 50 repairs a year in the Atlantic alone, and significant breaks in 2006, 2008, and 2009.

The risk of fishing trawler nets causing cable faults was exploited during the Cold War. For example, in February 1959, a series of 12 breaks occurred in five American trans-Atlantic communications cables. In response, a United States naval vessel, the U.S.S. Roy O. Hale, detained and investigated the Russian trawler Novorosiysk. A review of Novorosiysk's log indicated it had been in the region of each of the cables when they broke. Broken sections of cable were also found on the deck of the Novorosiysk. It appeared that the cables had been dragged along by the ship's nets, and then cut once they were pulled up onto the deck to release the nets. The Russian stance on the investigation was that detaining Novorosiysk was unjustified, but the United States cited the Convention for the Protection of Submarine Telegraph Cables of 1884 to which Russia had signed as evidence of violation of international law.

Thus the Russians do have a record of cutting cables but they do not need dark ominous $Billion dollar submarines or UUVs to do it – just small cable ships or even trawlers.

Cable Landing Stations (see diagram second from top) can locate a break in a cable in less than a second. This is using electronic monitors and measurements, such as through spread-spectrum time-domain reflectometry (SSTDR). 

In a major war cable cutting has three main advantages:

1.  It immediately disrupts an enemy's international communications.

2.  It also immediately disrupts domestic communications because, in the digital age, much of the internet AND telecommunications between major cities of the same country rely on international servers and links.

3.  Having lost international cables an enemy is forced to use satellites, microwave links and other radio links. Since the beginning of World War One cables have been cut, in part, because subsequent reliance on radio links is much more easy to intercept - see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable#British_dominance_of_early_cable


October 28, 2015

Prime Minister Turnbull Remain Neutral on Submarine Issues

New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, relaxed but careful in power. He won't be drawn on submarine issues. (Photo courtesy The Guardian)

During an October 28, 2015 interview on ABC Radio 891 in Adelaide, South Australia, Prime Minister Turnbull refused to pre-empt the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP). This is most irritating for South Australians. Turnbull remains balanced and popular - such a change from the dark days of former Prime Minister Abbott.

1st Article

AAP via Australia’s 9 News, October 28, 2016, reports http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/10/28/08/37/pm-distances-himself-from-subs-pledge

PM distances himself from subs pledge

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has distanced himself from a promise made before the last election to build Australia's next submarine fleet in South Australia.

The federal government is still undergoing a competitive evaluation process, despite David Johnston, the former defence minister, pledging the 12 submarines would be constructed in [South Australia].

Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Wednesday he wouldn't go "back into the archaeology" of what was said by [Senator David Johnston], but there will be a substantial defence industry in South Australia. 


I interpret Jenning's unusual "metal bashing" comment, in the ABC Online article, to mean welding specialists from Japan will do the welds even if they do it in an Australian shipyard. If it is Japanese welders then use of the the very difficult to weld of NS110 in Australian Soryus is more likely. 

It appears from the ABC Radio interview that the Turnbull Government is not necessarily tied to assembling the future submarines in Adelaide, South Australia. 

This may be because Turnbull and Defence Minister Payne have now had more time to recognise that other states, particularly Victoria and Western Australia, have strong claims to shipbuilding experience and efficiency

Six Liberals from South Australia may have been part of the 54 Liberal Party votes that were essential to give Turnbull power on September 14, 2015. But the 6 may have had no real choice. Abbott’s clear "Build in Japan" decision would have provided even less likelihood of any submarine build taking place in South Australia.

On September 23, 2015 Industry Minister Christopher Pyne appeared to confirm that the submarines would be built in South Australia but that might have just been a short-term tactic of the Turnbull Government to make the 6 South Australian Liberals feel that they had achieved a victory. Pyne's September 23 statements may also have been made for temporary consumption by South Australians. 

So the Turnbull views on ABC Radio above may indicate a longer-term reality that the Turnbull Government will divide the submarine between all the States. 

This may be in broader recognition that naval shipbuilding is an Australian national activity not just South Australian. Submarines are not the only items in the naval shipbuilding mix. South Australia can also benefit from being part of the Frigate and Offshore Patrol Vessel builds.


2nd Article

Meanwhile Australia’s ABC Online, October 28, 2015, interviewed Peter Jennings made available to backup Turnbull’s comments http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/highly-likely-submarines-will-be-built-in-australia/6893766

“Peter Jennings, is executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)” and “chair of the Government-appointed independent expert panel providing advice to the minister on the [2015] Defence White Paper.”

"It seems to me highly likely now that these [submarines] will be constructed in Australia," Mr Jennings told 7.30. "I think that's the option that governments will find politically and technologically most suitable.

"Whether that is all going to be in South Australia or if we will have a mix of different states, that's a separate matter.

...[Jennings] said that should be the industry's focus rather than submarine hull construction, something he termed "metal bashing".

"It means dealing with the smart innards of these technical systems, rather than the metal bashing that's associated with hull construction, which is always the low-end and frankly the least value of these major projects," he said....


I interpret Jenning's unusual "metal bashing" comment to mean welding specialists from Japan will do the welds even if they do it in an Australian shipyard. If it requires Japanese welders then use of the very difficult to weld of NS110 in Australian Soryus is more likely. 


October 27, 2015

The Russian Cable Cutters Are Coming :0

In World War Three those dastardly Russians might cut our cables! Funny - the Internet is designed to minimise the communications impact of WW3 like scenarios. Click on this site for much expanded undersea cable map. (Map courtesy Alfa img)

Brace yourself, with the thought "Anything is possible!" If you recall Submarine Matter's Russian "Drone" and Submarine Propaganda - But Whose? be very, very afraid that the Russians may Do Something! The New York Times article below seems like another attempt of the US Navy and industry to boost the sales prospects of US Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). A UUV may become essential for every US submarine mission.

Inspired by the NSA's Operation Ivy Bells intrepid reporters David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt from the New York Times detail a very dark tale that may happen but not quite yet. The following are snippets with necessary bolding to be scary - almost. This New York Times article is the original that launched all the copycat "Russians May Cut..." articles over the last two days. Here it is   http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/world/europe/russian-presence-near-undersea-cables-concerns-us.html
Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort

WASHINGTON — Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.
The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War…The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack…the West’s…citizens have grown dependent.
While there is no evidence yet …through a lens of deep distrust, reminiscent of relations during the Cold War.
Inside the Pentagon and the nation’s spy agencies, the assessments of Russia’s growing naval activities are highly classified and not publicly discussed in detail. …But more than a dozen officials confirmed in broad terms…
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge…who would not answer questions about possible Russian plans for cutting the undersea cables.
In private, however, commanders and intelligence officials are far more direct…. cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, [not just UUVs] cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba —…have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.
Russian spy ship RV Yantar - cunningly disguised as a spy ship - revealed by the  radome on the roof. (Photo courtesy The Washington Free Beacon)
…What worries Pentagon planners most is that the Russians appear to be looking for vulnerabilities at much greater depths, where the cables are hard to monitor and breaks are hard to find and repair.
…The exceptions are special cables, with secret locations
…So important are undersea cables that the Department of Homeland Security lists their landing areas — mostly around New York, Miami and Los Angeles — at the top of its list of “critical infrastructure.”
…American officials closely monitor the Yantar, which Russian officials insist is an oceanographic ship with no ties to espionage.
…Admiral Ferguson said the intensity of Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the last year [50 percent of a tiny number compared to US patrols]...
Russia is also building an undersea unmanned drone capable of carrying a small, tactical nuclear weapon to use against harbors or coastal areas, ...

Remember - be very afraid :0

Though scary some Russians are cute!

October 26, 2015

Diagram - Inside the Soryu Submarine

"wispywood2344" has drawn and labeled this very useful diagram of the Soryu.  A larger version of the diagram is at http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/others/Soryu_cutaway.svg

Looking at the diagram:

-  The coloured sections (1 to 12) are within the pressure hull where the crew lives. The pressure hull is protected by the strongest steel - Japanese Naval Steel (NS110).  The outer line is the streamlined exterior hull (where components can tolerate higher water pressures) - protected by less high yield steel like NS80.

-  Torpedo Section 1. Here the Weapon Embarkation Hatch allows perhaps 10 x torpedos/missiles and perhaps 20 x mines to be slotted backwards and then neatly fitted into this section. Other mixtures of weapons are possible, up to 20 heavyweight torpedos and/or missiles.
-  Stirling Generator Section 9. The presence of Stirling AIP indicates this is a Soryu Mark 1 (see Soryu Table below, SS-501 to SS-510). See Soryu Table below. As a Mark 1 it retains lead-acid batteries (LABs).

-  LOx Tanks/Cold Box Section 10 these feed the Stirling Generators.

-  Adding Sections 9 and 10 together shows the great amount of space AIP takes up in the current Soryus. All this AIP equipment is also heavy (perhaps 150 tons) and also causes buoyancy problems as the LOx is expended. Stirling AIP is not useful high speed cruisinge because its AIP is low and nearly constant (eg. 240kW for Stirling AIP in Soryus). This AIP cannot be refueled during missions because it needs liquid oxygen (LOx) and kerosene which cannot be supplied by other ships.

-  Lithium-ion Batteries can fill some of the space previously used by AIP. Diesel fuel can be used in diesels to recharge LIBs. Diesel, unlike AIP LOx and kerosene, can be supplied by other ships.

-  S advised in Comments below that Japanese Ministry of Defence technical standards require that  240 cell modules are set in fore battery section (Section 5) and also in the aft battery section (Section 8). So S estimates that the location and arrangement of lead-acid battery cell modules in the Soryu considering the following factors: 
   i) hull size and structure (hull diameter and length, sound absorber and hull thickness, frame size)
  ii) amount of overhead space and aisle space for maintenance and installation of cell modules, and  iii) spacing between cell modules for electric wiring. In battery Sections (5 and 8 in Diagram), 20 lines x 6 cell modules are set in the starboard side and port side of a central maintenance aisle over the keel. So the mathematics are 2 (sections) x 2 (sides) x 20 (lines) x 6 (cell modules) = the 480 cell modules Total.

In 27SS and 28SS which may be prototypes of 29SS and SAE concept, Lox tanks and cold box (10) will be exchanged by additional LIBs. Along with equipment of LIBs, following consideration will be needed: i) improvement of electric propulsion system including motors, ii) improvement diesel electric and snorkel generation system, iii) improvement of safety and electric wiring system for higher current and voltage.

The Soryus are built in Kobe, Japan with builds alternating between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) each year. See Soryu Table below.

MHI built Soryus can be distinguished from KHI built Soryus by the shape of bridge door near hydroplane on the sail

MHI built Soryus have rectangular doors with sharp corners (see photo above)

 KHI built Soryus have doors with round corners. This is significant for we Soryu spotters because one can determine from which shipyard a Soryu is made even when the numbers/Soryu identities have been blacked out.

Soryu Table

LAB or LIB & AIP *
Laid Down
Sōryū (そうりゅう) / Blue Dragon
March 2005
Dec 2007
Unryū (うんりゅう) / Cloud Dragon
March 2006
Oct 2008
Hakuryū (はくりゅう) / White Dragon
Feb 2007
Oct 2009
Kenryū (けんりゅう) / Sword Dragon
March 2008
Nov 2010
Zuiryu (けんりゅう) / Sword Dragon
March 2009
Oct 2011
Kokuryū (こくりゅう) / Black Dragon
January 2011
Oct 2013
Jinryū (じんりゅう)/ Benevolent Dragon
Feb 2012
Nov 2014
/Holy Dragon
Nov 2015
Soryu Mark 2 
LIB only
LIB only
LIB only


 1st Australian class?


- LAB = Lead Acid Battery.
- LIB = Lithium-ion Battery,
- AIP = Air Independent Propulsion (Swedish-Kockums designed Stirling engine)