December 21, 2015

Christmas in Australia 2015

Australia's Christmas (being Southern Hemisphere) is the hottest time of year. Temperatures average around 30ºC (86ºF) during the day and 17ºC (63ºF) at night

Christmas feasts are frequently at midday on December 25 and often seafood (especially prawns/shrimp on the barbie), ham and turkey, duck or black swan (yummy :) 

a collins sub enjoys a tropical sunset at christmas

The beach on a hot christmas day

a typical australian christmas carol 

aussie christmas 1958
australia was more british then

Santa's submarine sleigh is pulled by 6 ravenous great white sharks, known as "boomers" (Photo courtesy)

December 20, 2015

Chinese sub "attack" on USS Reagon, Japanese & S Korean subs likely involved


In Comments Anonymous [Dec 18, 8:49AM] asked “I was wondering whether you would comment on a recent story that a Chinese submarine conducted a simulated attack on a CVN. What would in your view constitute a simulated attack from a submarine?"


Another good source is

The failing of these two American sources is assuming the waters in the area are only populated with US and Chinese vessels. These waters are (probably) the waters most congested in the world with submarines from South Korea, Japan and Russia. The waters are also congested with undersea sensor possibilities. So it is much more than a USN vs PLA-N vessel wargaming scenario.

It has been reported that the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (late October 2015) sailed from the south, through the Tsushima/Korea Strait, north into Sea of Japan. The Chinese submarine may well have been already in (moving slowly) in the Tsushima Basin (Sea of Japan) as attempting to follow Reagan (at 20+ knots) might be too untactically noisy or impossible (for an SSK) at 30+ knots.

 It is strongly assumed a Japanese Soryu class or Oyashio class submarine is deployed in the Tsushima/Korean Strait at all times

It is highly likely that a South Korean Type 209 or Type 214 submarine would also be in that Strait for several reasons including keeping an eye on the Japanese sub. 

Either the South Korean or Japanese submarine may have detected the presence of the Chinese submarine first - then informed via satellite Command Centers in Seoul or fleet HQ Busan and/or Tokyo or fleet HQ Yokosuka naval base (or copied in all of them).  Message realtime relayed to Washington DC, USS Reagan and Reagan's surface escort(s) and a US SSN in the area of Reagan. The US SSN may usually be home based at Guam. The surface escorts and SSN may have separately detected the Chinese sub.

Other platforms may have detected the Chinese sub including P-3 or P-8 patrol aircraft with sonobuoys, ASW helicopter with dipping sonar, Tsushima Strait's possible undersea sensors, or a combination of several platforms. 

A simulated missile attack from a Chinese submarine on USS Ronald Reagan?

The certainty of a missile simulation might be defined by default as "out of range of torpedos" eg. in  Klub/Sizzler ASCM range but out of known Chinese torpedo range.

The simulation may have perhaps begun with a Chinese satellite or Chinese naval base 1. sending targeting information and orders (S Korea, Japan or US picking up traffic) on VLF or ELF radio frequencies intendeed for the Chinese sub.

Presence of Chinese submarine may include:

2. sonar feedback off the hull revealing sea-space location 
3. electronic emissions (eg. mast mounted fire control radar) voices, mechanical sound from/in the
4. opening torpedo tube hatches
5. flooding torpedo or cruise missile tubes (less likely as this may be too close to an imminent launch)
6. Chinese submarine surfacing in vicinity of the Reagan, if Chinese Captain assumes his simulated
     attack has, so far, gone undetected (eg. against carrier USS Kitty Hawk in 2006). 

An out of sequence combination of any or all of 1 to 5 and maybe then 6. Even only 1. and 2. may together have been enough evidence.


French built, Greek Navy submarine Papanikolis (Y-2) Hammered Axis

The Mediterranean light, and perhaps an artist's "colourised" enhancements, makes Papanikolis (Y-2) an unusually pretty sub :) (Photo courtesy)

It has been reported that Nikolaos Tasiakos, the last surviving member of the crew of Greek submarine Papanikolis (Y-2), died in mid-December 2015, aged 101.

The French built, Papanikolis (Y-2) had an outstanding career sinking Italian ships and sailing boats in WWII. Dropping and recovering British, New Zealand and Greek agents/commandos against German/Italian held islands was another of Papanikolis (Y-2)’s major functions. Some specs for this sub include 580 tons (surfaced), 30 crew, 7 x 533mm torpedos, 4 inch gun.

Wiki reveals: "Papanikolis (Y-2) together with her sister ship, Katsonis, formed the first class of Greek submarines ordered after the First World War. She was built at the Chantiers de la Loire shipyards between 1925–27, and commissioned into the Hellenic Navy on 21 December 1927. Its first captain was Cdr P. Vandoros.

Despite her age and mechanical problems, she participated in the 1940-41 Greco-Italian War under the command of Lieutenant Commander Miltiadis Iatridis, carrying out six war patrols in the Adriatic. During one of these, on 22 December 1940, she sank the small Italian motor ship Antonietta, and, on the very next day, the 3,952-ton troop carrier Firenze near Sazan Island.[1] After the German invasion of April 1941, together with the rest of the fleet, Papanikolis fled to the Middle East, from where she would operate during the next years, carrying out nine war patrols in total.

Under the command of Commander Athanasios Spanidis, the former captain of Katsonis, she participated in two patrols in the Aegean Sea in 1942. During the first, in June 1942, she sank six small sailing vessels between 11 and 14 June, and proceeded to disembark SOE agents in Crete and receive a team of 15 New Zealand commandos.[2] During the next patrol, from 31 August to 15 September, she unsuccessfully attacked an 8,000-ton oil carrier, and disembarked two mixed British-Greek commando teams at Rhodes, which succeeded in attacking the island's two airfields and destroying a large number of Axis aircraft[2] in "Operation Anglo".

Coming under the command of Lieutenant Nikolaos Roussen, the submarine went into another patrol in November, offloading men and equipment at Crete. On 30 November, Papanikolis successfully ambushed and sank an 8,000-ton cargo vessel at the Alimnia islet, near Rhodes.[3] On 17 January 1943, after carrying agents and equipment to Hydra, she captured the 200-ton sailing vessel Agios Stefanos and manned her with part of her crew, which sailed her to Alexandria, while the next day, she sank another 150-ton sailer.[2] During subsequent patrols in March and May, she sank further 4 sailers, totaling 450 tons.[2]

Papanikolis survived the war and returned to Greece after liberation in October 1944. However, she was severely outdated, and was decommissioned in 1945. The ship's conning tower was preserved and is on display in the Hellenic Maritime Museum at Piraeus."


December 19, 2015

Future Sub decision to be made in "first half of" 2016

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, hold bilateral summit talks Friday at the State Guest House in Tokyo. (Photo and description courtesy AFP-JIJI via Japan Times)

Following Prime Minister Turnbull's short trip to Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Abe, December 18, 2015, Reiji Yoshida for The Japan Times, same day, in part reported:

..."According to Japanese officials, during the closed part of the meeting, Abe explained Japan’s proposal for joint production of a modified version of Japan’s latest Soryu-class submarine, which experts say is one of the world’s best and quietest nonnuclear submarines.

Turnbull thanked Japan for its proposal but only said Australia will make a decision in the first half of the next year, the Japanese officials said.

France and Germany have proposed their own plans to export submarines to Australia. Canberra is set to choose one model through a competitive evaluation process.

In the joint statement, the two leaders also expressed “strong support for the United States rebalance” policy to maintain it military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. is believed to be supporting Japan’s bid to export submarines to Australia, hoping it will further strengthen trilateral military cooperations in the region." Ends - see WHOLE ARTICLE.

Please connect with Submarine Matters article of December 17, 2015 on the Turnbull visit.


December 18, 2015

One Million Pageviews Before Christmas

Just a number, but its rare that milestones can be marked.

Tens of thousands of different people viewing Submarine Matters over the last few years helped achieve this.

To write about weapons and politics for such a large audience is a privilege and pleasure.

The following are some memorable songs in celebration. Ode to Joy and Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring are also Christmas songs.

I Thank You.


December 17, 2015

Trident D5 and Bulava SLBMs compared

The Bulava (Russia's latest SLBM) is much lighter and shorter ranged than the Trident D5 (on left)  - I wonder why? 

Does the Trident D5 need to be longer ranged when launched from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, traveingl over the Russian landmass (much larger than the US) then hit missles in their silos in central Russia?


13.42 m
12.1 m
  2.11 m
2.0 m
Launch Weight:
59,090 kg
36,800 kg
Up to 8 MIRV Mk 4 or Mk 5 warheads, 2,800 kg
One to six MIRV, 1,150 kg
Nuclear 100 kt or 475 kT
Nuclear, 100-150 kT
Three-stage solid propellant
Three-stage solid propellant
12,000 km
8,300 km
In Service:

Presumably the Trident is also much more accurate than the Bulava?

Predictably the Bulava has MIRV capability.

A Russian Borey-class nuclear submarine successfully test-fired a Bulava strategic missile, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ballistic missile was launched from a submerged position with all 16 rockets onboard the sub during the test.


Australian Submarine Issues, Turnbull Tokyo Visit - December 18, 2015

Prime Minister Turnbull met Prime Minister Abe at the G20 in Turkey, mid November 2015 (above).  They are meeting again tomorrow, December 18, 2015. (Photo courtesy AAP via Australia's SBS News). 

Turnbull visiting Abe in Tokyo, December 18.

As expected in Submarine Matters post of December 6, 2015 Australia's Prime Minister Turnbull is meeting Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo on December 18. Abe will be promoting the Japanese submarine, of course. The China problem will also be discussed.

Japanese whaling is also likely to be discussed. Japanese advice provided to Submarine Matters is:

Five years ago, then Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Stephen Smith MP, said:

Both Australia and Japan have agreed that, whatever our differences on whaling, this issue should not be allowed to jeopardize the strength and the growth of our bilateral relationship.”"

As well as talks in Tokyo some members of Turnbull's staff may visit the MHI and KHI Soryu submarine building yards in Kobe, Japan.


Defence Minister Payne (red-orange top) next to Japan's Defence Minister Nakatani at the 2 + 2 talks, November 22, 2015. In front is Foreign Minister Bishop (white top) next to Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida. (Photo courtesy The Australian).  

Insider Briefing, Adelaide, December 17

Meanwhile, in Adelaide, December 17, Defence Minister Marise Payne indicated/implied to industry insiders that the 2016 Defence White Paper, which will frame many submarine issues, will be released in early 2016. No submarine contender is likely to be chosen until after the 2016 Australian Federal Elections.


The Turnbull Government would lose votes if it indicated which States or electorates would Not be involved in the submarine build. So instead the Government can imply, before the Election that all may benefit. The hard decisions of saying which contender wins (which in turn favours the Australian companies the contender has formed alliances with) are best made after the Election.

In Australia elections typically fall in the Southern Hemisphere Spring (the weather is warm and people positive). The most popular month is September - see Background on Next Australian Federal ElectionTurnbull is a popular leader, whose Liberal National Party Coalition is very likely to hang on to power.

South Australia seems the most expectant and sensitive State on this issue. Hence all three contenders have rolled out promises that they will make Adelaide a submarine building and maintenance hub. After the Elections the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) a small submarine fixated party from South Australia, may become more powerful, at the expense of the Turnbull Government.

It was easy to pick Japan as the winning contender when Abbott ruled, but under Turnbull the winner is a well kept secret. Either that or the Australian Government (and the US) have simply not decided yet.


December 16, 2015

Australia's low key FONOPS of disputed South China Sea islands

In late November 2015 BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was conducting a BBC private Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) near Mischief reef claimed by China. Wingfield-Hayes recorded the (late Nov or a week later voice...?) of an Australian RAAF airman whose Orion maritime patrol aircraft (see Youtube below) had been contacted by a Chinese Navy chap on an island. Wingfield-Hayes published an article on Dec 14-15, 2015 describing the encounter:

""China Navy, China Navy," the voice said. "We are an Australian aircraft exercising international freedom of navigation rights, in international airspace in accordance with the international civil aviation convention, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea - over."

We heard the Australian message being repeated several times, but did not catch any response from the Chinese side.

The purpose of such flights is to demonstrate to China that countries like Australia and the US do not recognise its newly manufactured islands.

But they do exist and China is already enforcing a 12-nautical-mile exclusion zone around them, or trying to. At Fiery Cross the warnings began at 20 miles..."

Late November 2015 BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes' BBC  FONOPs near Mischief reef    when he recorded an Australian Orion aircraft talking to the Chinese Navy. A longer explanatory Youtube is here.

The blue dots are some of the Spratly islands/reefs China is building up/fortifying in the South China Sea. Mischief reef is particularly contentious as it is only about 200 km from the Philippines island of Palawan (the BBC private aircraft FONOPS took off from Palawan then landed there). Philippine fisherman have long shared waters around the reef with Chinese and other fisherman, but now the waters are "China only". Strategic position and suspected undersea oil are worth more. (Map courtesy Philippine Government via BBC).


Australia under Operation Gateway conducts periodic Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) near islands that China is fortifying in the South China Sea. China has not been publically complaining about the Australian FONOPS because Australia has not been publicising the FONOPS. So like much of diplomacy all has been at a low key, unstated, non-confrontational level.

Australia clearly did not want to escalate the FONOPS to a fully publicised USS Lassen style confrontation. So a rhetorical device was constructed of a UK journalist (conducting a BBC FONOPS...) just happening to pickup an Australian-Chinese radio discussion (during a vague multi-day period).

Anyway China subsequently commented, but none too severely.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei responded mildly on December 15, 2015 to "Dorothy Dix Questions" about Australia's and the BBC's South China Sea FONOPS.

"Q: According to the BBC, an Australian military aircraft might have taken part in a freedom of navigation flight in the South China Sea in late November or early December. Is the Chinese side aware of that? What is your response?

A: We have made our solemn position clear on many occasions. I would like to stress again that there is no problem with navigation and overflight freedom in the South China Sea. We hope other countries, especially those outside the region, will watch their words and actions, rather than bringing up troubles and deliberately complicating the situation in the South China Sea.

Q: In late November, BBC journalists took a civilian aircraft around four reefs built by China in the South China Sea. They were warned off by the Chinese navy each time and they were further than 12 nautical miles from these reefs. Given that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says that artificial islands do not have maritime territorial rights, how does that qualify as freedom of navigation being unaffected by China’s construction activities?

A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands. While exercising freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, relevant countries should respect China’s sovereignty and security."

No missiles or guns fired. May it stay that way.


December 15, 2015

The French DCNS Bid for Future Australian Submarine

This October 2015 Youtube (above) displays the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A.


This second Youtube (of 2014) gives an idea of what a modern submarine can do. It  depicts the "SMX OCEAN" concept.

"Australia’s Future Submarines

The Future Submarine Program will deliver Australian an affordable, regionally superior, conventional submarine capability, sustainable into the foreseeable future.
Australia must have the ability to operate, sustain, maintain and upgrade Australia’s submarine force on an enduring basis.

Australia’s Future Submarines project will be the biggest defence acquisition in Australia’s history, valued at $50 billion.

Building the submarines will be a mammoth task – at least twice the size of the Collins Class program.
On completion, the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A will be the most technically complex artefact in Australia.

Our pedigree

As one of the largest and oldest defence materiel constructors in the world, DCNS has the technical capability to deliver the highest quality submarines for the Australian Navy and the Australian public.
DCNS is the only submarine design company in the world to have design competencies in nuclear and conventional submarines, safely delivering submarines ranging from 2,000 tonnes to 14,000 tonnes to navies all around the world.
In the Western World, alongside the United States and France, France belongs to the very exclusive club of nuclear nations. DCNS designs, builds and maintains the French Navy’s nuclear submarines, and as such, control the most complex and sensitive technologies in our shipyards. It is with this in mind that DCNS has prepared the proposal for Australia’s Future Submarine Program.

The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A

The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A, designed specifically for the Royal Australian Navy, is the world’s most advanced conventionally powered submarine.
Cutting-edge technology, direct from France’s nuclear submarine program, pushes the submarine’s stealth capabilities into a new realm.
Pump jet propulsion replaces obsolete propeller technology. Hydroplanes can retract to reduce drag and noise.
The Shortfin Barracuda will field the most powerful sonar ever produced for a conventional submarine.
As new technology is developed between France, Australia and the United States, upgrades can be easily made via quick-access technical insert hatches.
The Shortfin Barracuda is 97 metres in length and displaces 4,500 tons when surfaced.
It is a magnificent, inspiring submarine which will remain state-of-the-art until the 2060s.
In adopting this technology, Australia will join an elite club which includes only the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France.
Australia and France have enjoyed a close friendship across many generations. The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A marches that friendship well into the future.

The Build

DCNS will present three strategies to build Australia’s future submarines. For
The first option is to start the project in France and build all the submarines in Cherbourg, France.
The second option combines the capacity of two shipyards, one in France and one in Adelaide.
The third option is to start the project in Australia and build all the submarines in Adelaide.
Each option has different costs and benefits, and ultimately the choice of how the submarines will be built is a decision for the Australian Government to make.
For both options, dedicated programs and measures have been designed to transfer technology, expertise and knowledge to Australia. This technology transfer will prepare Australia for the future operation and maintenance of the submarines.
DCNS has the capability and resources to deliver either Australian build option.

Full transfer of stealth technology

France is offering the Australian Government complete access to the stealth technologies utilised on board French nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarines (SSNs) and ballistic  missile submarines (SSBNs).
These technologies are the “crown jewels” of French submarine design and have never been offered to any other country. The very nature of these stealth technologies and the decision to release them to the Australian Government is a significant demonstration of the strategic nature of this program for the French authorities.
The United States will be responsible for supplying integrated combat systems to the Future Submarines, as well as the submarine’s weapons.
The collaboration between Australia, France and the United States will see DCNS providing design, technology and expertise within this sovereign framework.

Local employment

DCNS intends to attract and work with the local Australian defence industry across the design, construction and sustainment phases of the Future Submarine Program.
We view Australia’s Future Submarines Program not only as an opportunity to share our expertise and systems, but also to work in partnership with Australian naval shipbuilders to further develop the technical skills of the naval manufacturing workforce.
Our success as an advanced technology company is not only built on meeting customer needs by deploying exceptional know-how and unique industrial resources; it is also driven by our ability to develop innovative strategic partnerships with the countries for whom we build.
DCNS. Building Australia’s Future Together."
This is, of course, the overt summary bid

December 14, 2015

Turkish Subs Great At Blockading Russian Black Sea Fleet

Current tensions between Russia and Turkey would be making Turkish  naval commanders tense. Turkey's medium sized submarine service (13 subs) may give Turkey a useful intelligence tool and make some Russians apprehensive, but ultimately Russia would win a confrontation. Turkey is in NATO so that may give Turkey a little confidence.

Tensions have included:

-  Turkey's suspected soft handling of ISIS. Shared Sunni religion would be part of this. About 80% of Turks would be Sunni Muslim. ISIS is all Sunni Muslim. Also corruption in Turkey is high and the allure of blackmarket ISIS oil is high.

-  November 24, 2015 - Turkey shooting down a Russian fighter-bomber.

-  December 4, 2015 - Russia displays a man portable anti-aircraft rocket launcher (MANPAD) on a Russian warship in the Bosphorus Strait basically in Istanbul (Turkey's largest city)

-  December 13, 2015 Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy shoots (AK-47?) warning shots close to the Turkish trawler called Geçiciler-1

The Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy. Launched in 1967.


Turkey is in a good geographical position to blockade or divide Russia's Mediterranean and Black Sea Fleets:

The Sea of Marmara, and very narrow Bosporus and Dardanelles (bottom left of map) are ideal waters for Turkish subs to blockade the Russian Black Sea Fleet (HQ in Crimea) and Mediterranean Fleet (major port Tartus Naval Base, Syria). This is if Turkey and NATO were willing to risk it.  (Map courtesy GlobalResearch(dot)ca)

Turkey has been a long and substantial user of submarines over the years. Here is a list of Turkish submarines over the last 100 years including many ex Bulao (GUPPY upgrade). 

Currently Turkey has 13 German designed Type 209s, including:

5 x Atılay (aka "Ay") class Type 209/1200s, 1,600 tons (submerged)

4 x Preveze-class Type 209T1/1400s, 1,800 tons (submerged) built at Gölcük Naval Shipyard in Turkey.

4 x Gür-class Type 209T2/1400s 1,800 tons (submerged) built at Gölcük Naval Shipyard

Uploaded March 1, 2015. An example of a the larger German (TKMS) designed Type 214 submarine. Turkey is building six 214s. 

OMICS International advises The 214s have air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines. They will be (or are) being built with maximum local content at Gölcük Naval Shipyard in Kocaeli, Turkey.

As the Turkish Type 214 will have a significant amount of Turkish indigenous systems on board, this variant of the Type 214 will be known as the Type 214TN (Turkish Navy). Germany's TKMS-HDW will preassemble structural and mechanical parts of the submarine in Germany, or classified elements such as the AIP and propulsion system and will then ship them to Turkey. All electronic and weapon systems (including the Combat System) will be of Turkish production. Cost of the contract is 2 billion euros and may last ten years or more.

The Type 214 submarine is derived from the Type 212 but as an export variant it lacks some of the classified technologies of its smaller predecessor, the most important of which is probably the non-magnetic steel hull, which makes the Type 212 submarine impossible to detect using a magnetic anomaly detector. [Is TKMS offering Australia non-magnetic steel hull in the CEP?]

Due to improvements in the pressure hull materials, the Type 214 can dive nearly 400 meters

The six 214s, known as Type 214TN (for Turkish Navy) will replace the early Atılay class (209s) around 2020. Details of the 214TNs include 1,690 t surfaced / 1,860 t submerged, endurance 84 days

214TN's Armament:
8 x 533mm torpedo tubes, 
2.500km Roketsan GEZGIN-D Land Attack Cruise Missile [Tomahawk like?]
IDAS small missile anti-aircraft capability
Harpoon anti-ship missile and land attack
Mark 48 torpedos

This shows the Australian Navy hierarchy that US weapons with an indigenous combat system, can be fitted to German submarines.

See Youtube of Turkish naval vessels. Specific details of Turkish Type 214 submarine at


One reason Turkey may be hesitant or maybe appeasing ISIS is due to the dangerous neighbourhood Turkey lives in (map below):


Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft missile system (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) now in Syria, would be making Turkey nervous, as well as NATO and Western coalition pilots who are bombing targets in Syria. The S-400 could also hit aircraft 300-400 km over the border into Turkey or Iraq. Like Israel, Turkey dislikes the realities of being in the Middle East.