June 30, 2016

Undersea passive acoustic Australian IMOS - part of "SeaWeb"

Deployment Map A. (above) of key acoustic sensor sites currently sampled for sea noise by IMOS (black) and the North Western Australia locations (red) which ceased [civilian?] operation in mid 2015.

Map B. (above) IMOS about: "The Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) Portal (http://portal.aodn.org.au ) allows marine and climate scientists and other users to discover and explore IMOS data streams coming from all of these Facilities."

So how do the sensor network locations on the maps above compare with map below? :

Map C. (above) is from page 54 “Map 4. The US ‘Fish Hook’ Undersea Defense Line” of Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter's, The Tools of Owatatsumi Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities (2015, ANU Press) http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p309261/pdf/book.pdf?referer=444. [large PDF file] This map, looking highly sanitised, may depict past or current SeaWeb undersea array positions (eastern Asia - inner western Pacific sub-section). 


In plain sight is Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). 

IMOS includes Australia's dual (civilian, military) use passive acoustic undersea network and many other ocean sensor platforms. This includes RAN operated AUVs. Here is IMOS's facilities list http://imos.org.au/facilities.html - very much an Australian dual-use portion of the wider allied with the US SeaWeb sensor-database network.

IMOS includes a National Mooring Network with passive acoustic observatories that are fairly submarine relevant - see Deployment Map A.

Unsurprisingly two of IMOS "Operational Partners" are the:

·  Argo – Co-investment in Argo floats and deployment of floats
·  Expendable bathythermograph - supply the majority of the XBT probes deployed under co-investment
·  AUV – support for MV Kimbla [als see old RAN website "HMAS" Kimbla] used for pre-trial engineering deployments in 07/08
·  AODN – personnel support” 


DST Group is the Australian government's lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard Australia and its national interests. As one of Australia’s largest employers of scientists and engineers, it delivers expert, impartial advice and innovative solutions for Defence and national security. 
·  Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) – Research fellow funding
·  Acoustic Observatories – Funded for pilot deployment of three sea noise loggers in Perth Canyon, Jan-Apr 2007 and then assisted further with logger development
·  Ocean gliders (ANFOG) – Slocum glider data from the oceans around Australia have been collected by DSTO on an ongoing basis with previous deployments contributed to the IMOS Ocean Portal including: Coral Sea deployment during Exercise Talisman Sabre in July 2011, Coral Sea deployment, adjacent to Shoalwater Bay, during Exercise Talisman Saber in July - August 2013, and a Perth Canyon deployment, during a combined ocean glider deployment in conjunction with the IMOS ocean glider facility, in February - March 2014" 


June 29, 2016

How to be Diplomatic - Nigel Farage

The "facepalmer" Vytenis Andriukaitis, tells a tale himself.

Here's UK Independence Party Leader, Nigel Farage, addressing the European Parliament:



ASC. The Competitive Canoe Cargo Cult from South Australia

Clearly having had a "Good Lunch" a jovial “Federal” (but more South Australian) Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne (above) versus a completely astounded Julie Bishop (below) who is the senior Federal politician from Western Australia.


The industrial limbo that has been the Election Period has delayed the reckoning from which full blessings of ASC flow.

South Australia's  ASC, having made its mark building on-time and on-budget, is therefore being entrusted with most of Australia’s current and future shipbuilding business. As they say in France "ASC is Australia's shipbuilder par excellence".

Is not ASC South Australia's Cargo Cult in which Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, is the John Frum? If you build a veneer of political uncertainty during Election times, Federal money, and heavily protected make-work, will come. To further mix metaphors - a shipbuilding Field of Dreams

Without competitive bidding (but total political favouritism) ASC is to build some very large canoes including:

-  2 Offshore Patrol Vessels
-  9 Future Frigates
-  12, though mercifully more likely 6, “regionally superior” Submarines

in ASC’s good time.

The trick is to milk the Federal purse for all its worth and stretch out the work (like the AWD, like Collins maintenance) for as long as plausibly possible.


There appears to be closed shop resistance to competition from other states of Australia. Peter Williams for The West Australian, June 24, 2016, has reported:

"Civmec battled defence contractors

Defence contractors were hostile to heavy engineering firm Civmec [website] entering their space to chase work under the Federal Government’s $90 billion shipbuilding program, chief executive Pat Tallon says.

Previously resources-focused Civmec had not worked in the defence space before announcing last year it wanted to help build submarines and other vessels. The Henderson-based company even built a portion of a submarine hull to show foreign bidders for the $50 million submarine program it could do the work.

Mr Tallon said some other companies did not want Civmec “cutting their grass”.

“They weren't exactly very happy at the idea that we seeking entry to the defence area,” he told a Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA function yesterday.

“Several have tried to distract us from doing this. We have been discouraged more than encouraged and ‘This wasn't the right space’ for us to be in.”

In addition to the submarines, Civmec is interested in the $3 billion offshore patrol vessel program which the Government has said would move from South Australia to WA in 2020.

That would put the company into competition with fellow Henderson shipbuilder Austal, which has built dozens of patrol vessels for the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force.

Mr Tallon said Civmec was leaning towards bidding to build modules for defence vessels from Henderson instead of setting up in South Australia, where the submarines, frigates and some of the early OPVs will be built. That was because the fabrication labour pool in SA might not big enough.


So where does this leave senior politicians from other shipbuilding states, including:

-  Western Australia's Julie Bishop (Deputy Leader of the Federal ruling Liberal Party) regarding submarine and Frigate building? and

-  the Senator for NSW and Defence Minister, Marise Payne?

Might there be somewhat more fluidity in spreading out shipbuilding work after the July 22, 2016  Election?


June 28, 2016

Brexit Result Threatens More UK Defence Programs


Reading the article below the Brexit leave European Union (EU) result (June 23/24, 2016) will likely have worse and more widespread effects on UK and European defence than I first thought:

-  the sharp drop in value of the UK Pound (of about 10% in 4 days compared to the US dollar) has
   increased the price of key weapons the UK is/was going to buy from the US including:

   =  the overdue-still-under-development, overpriced, F-35B strike fighter the UK was specifically
       building its two carriers around (big mistake!), and
   =  the P8A Poseidon ASW MPA the UK desperatly needs to sanitise seaspace for its subs.

Also the 2 large carriers themselves and the Type 26 frigates [shortlisted in the Future Frigate competition by Australia] are considered by many as too costly even for Britain's current defence budget. 

The lower UK revenue base once/if Scotland breaks from Britain (in order for Scotland to remain in the EU) also needs to be factored in. This means a lower Defence Budget for Britain, no matter if the Pound recovers.


The UK’s Evening Standard, June 27, 2016 reports:

EU referendum: Defence spending cuts expected in wake of Brexit vote


Defence spending and planning is now expected to come under severe pressure as a result of the Brexit vote, with a growing possibility of cuts and a new review once a new government is installed in the autumn.

Defence and security featured episodically in the Brexit debate, mostly in issues such as an EU European army and the need for more security forces for stopping illegal migrant trafficking.

Now the slide of the pound against the dollar will mean a number of big defence programmes will have to be scrutinised. “Considering that about 40 per cent of the big defence programmes are tied to the dollar, they are going to have to think hard,” says the pre-eminent independent analyst Francis Tusa.

Major aircraft programmes like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II for the aircraft carriers and plans for the upgrade and replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent system will be under examination.

This week the government is due to sign the contract to purchase nine P8 Poseidon torpedo-carrying maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing in the United States. 

“With the slide in the pound, the whole package could now cost in the region of £4 billion,” says Tusa, publisher and editor of the renowned independent Defence Analysis review. “That is really very expensive – particularly as there will be very little UK employment involved.” 

The P8 is to plug the gap after the cancellation of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft programme in David Cameron’s first defence review of October 2010. Recently French, Dutch and other allied aircraft have had to be called in to track Russian submarines round British coasts – because of the capability gap left by the absence of the RAF’s Nimrods. The MoD took the unusual course of placing the order directly with Boeing, without running a full competition. Cheaper alternatives are available to the P8 such as [less capable for ASW work] Airbus C295 turboprop, which is partly British built.

Even before Brexit there was a growing belief that the defence budget -- at roughly £34 billion a year -- was overstretched, and would need revising. Large naval building programmes such as the two aircraft carriers now being completed at Rosyth and the requirement for a new frigate, the Type 26, currently costed at £650 million each, are coming under pressure – the initial plan for 13 of the new frigates has now been cut to eight.

This autumn [Sept-Nov 2016] the government was due to sign initial contracts for the main building phase for the four large submarines and new warhead for the Trident nuclear ballistic missile programme. This has now been blown off course by Brexit and may not take place till next year as Trident renewal will have to be debated and approved by parliament.

Crispin Blunt, chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons recently published his estimate that the Trident renewal programme could cost £182 billion at today’s prices for a 32 year programme beginning in 2028 – the date the present Vanguard nuclear submarines are due out of service.

“At that price, I think it’s pretty unaffordable,” Blunt has said.


Returning to subs - The UK's need replacement of 4 Tridents missile submarines (launched between 1992 - 1998) may become particularly unaffordable because there will be many smaller more immediate weapons, and defence base costs, to be paid first. 

A major issue is "How long is the real service life of Britain's Trident subs?" An initial 30 year assumption has turned into 40+ years for the USN and French Navy.

Still, if the UK with a lower Defence Budget has to go to the expense of relocating/rebuilding the Faslane nuclear submarine base elsewhere in the UK this may kill off the already expensive/unpopular Trident sub program. 

All this means (for submarine advocates) is that the governing UK Conservative Party needs to be very careful to schedule the decision date (on whether or not to build the new Trident submarines) to a time such a decision can be a positive yes. 

-  there are claims the Trident decision will be made in the UK House of Commons before the UK
    Parliament rises on July 21, 2016

-  but I think it most likely in the confusion and acrimony of Brexit Leave the Trident decision will be
    pushed down the scale of priorities from the expected 2016 "Main Gate" decision point, to 2017 or


A “silver lining”, in these days of Brexit shock, is that it has destabilised the leadership of the leftist/pacifist Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who, of course, opposes Trident. Corbyn may soon be replaced by more mainstream Labour leader, who is sympathetic to the UK shipbuilding unions who favour building 4 new Trident subs.

This BBC article of June 30, 2014 indicates where the UK Trident SSBN are located (at Faslane, north of Glasgow, Scotland). Alternatives in the UK, France and the US (marked in green) all involve great cost and major political downsides. I'll put a copy of the BBC article on Submarine Matters on July 1, 2016 before the July 2, Australian Election results come out.


June 27, 2016

Chinese Provocations at MALABAR 2016 & in India, Japanese MoD Budget Rising

MALABAR 2016 was held in the East Sea area between Sasebo Naval Base (Nagasaki, Kyushu) and Okinawa (see Kadena and Futenma) which also hosts JMSDF Naval Base, Okinawa.

The Indian Navy and USN have regularly conducted the annual bilateral exercise named ‘MALABAR’ since 1992. Since 2007, MALABAR has been held alternatively off India and in the Western Pacific. Japan became a permanent MALABAR participant in 2015.

On June 17, 2016 at 1:55 PM “S” commented on MALABAR, China intruding into India. Also see  details of rises in the Japanese defense budget:


The US Navy, Indian Navy and Japanese Navy (Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF)) conducted joint maritime Exercise “MALABAR 2016” – in the East Sea area between Sasebo Naval Base (Nagasaki, Kyushu) and JMSDF Naval Base, Okinawa, held between June 10, 2016 and June 17, 2016.

China made aggressive actions against India and Japan as follows:

A Chinese spy ship, of the Type 815 Dongdiao-class (weighing 6,000 tonnes, many radomes and antennas) had been tracking the Indian Navy ships participating in MALABAR when the spy ship infiltrated Japanese territorial waters on June 15, 2016. [For information also see a Japanese language Sankei News report of June 15.]

A Chinese Type 815 Dongdiao-class spy ship rather reveals its "secret" mission with all those antennas and "golf ball" radomes.

Detailed participants in MALABAR 2016:

Indian vessels included INS Sahyadri and INS Satpura (both Indian built stealthy frigates), INS Shakti (fleet tanker and support ship) and INS Kirch (corvette).ity helicopters)

US Navy vessels included supercarrier USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Mobile Bay, Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung Hoon, one SSN, Long Range Maritime Patrol (MPA) aircraft will also participate in the exercisez). [also see USN report].

JMSDF forces included the destroyer/helicopter carrier DDH-181 Hyuga, a US-2 Search And Rescue  flying boat, Japanese designed and built P-1 MPA and a Japanese built Orion P-3C)(see a JMSDF Press Release in Japanese)

China Intruding on Indian Territory

In what appears to be a coordinated provocation more than 250 soldiers of the Chinese PLA intruded into the disputed Indian territory in the state of Arunachal Pradesh on June 9, 2016.

S Comment

Naturally China rejected the infiltration and incursion allegations made by Japan and India.

These over-reactions of China overt MALABAR reflect its impatience. This is due to diplomatic isolation of China caused by Chinese egotism in the South East Sea.

Japanese Defense Budget Increasing
The published Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) budget [according to Wiki] for 2015 was 4.98 trillion yen (approximately US$42 billion, and roughly 1% of Japanese GDP), a rise of 2.8 percent on the previous year. 

On the 31st of August, 2015, the JMoD requested a military budget of 5.1 trillion yen for the 2016 financial year, a rise of 2.2% on the 2015 budget. If approved [?], this increase would raise Japanese MoD spending to it highest level in Japan's modern history, although still leaving it in 7th place in terms of military spending world-wide, behind its regional neighbour China[couldn’t open http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20160616/k10010558741000.html]

Sources used:


June 26, 2016

Lowy Institute’s 2016 Poll - China, Japan, Abbott, Subs, FONOPs

The Lowy Institute has realeased another of its excellent annual Australian international policy polls.

The Lowy Institute is a centrist, think tank. Reliable. See http://www.lowyinstitute.org/about

See page 4 of the poll documentThe 2016 Lowy Institute Poll reports the results of a nationally representative opinion survey of 1202 Australian adults conducted by telephone between 26 February and 15 March 2016. The maximum sampling variance (‘error margin’) is approximately +/- 2.8%.” This was before: Turnbull's April 2016 Continuous Shipbuilding and DCNS Submarine announcements, calling the Election, and, of course, before the Brexit result.

The results of the Lowy Poll were released in June 2016. It has been a tracking survey on Australian international policy over the past 12 years. Special items of interest to Submarine Matters include Australia’s relations with China and Japan, ex Prime Minister Abbott’s poor foreign policy record, popularity of building submarines in Australia and FONOPs.


Since 2008, Lowy have asked Australians a series of questions about China’s rise. China’s economic growth has had a strong impact on Australia, with China overtaking Japan to become Australia’s largest trading partner in late 2007. Yet despite its economic importance, Lowy Institute polling has shown that Australians hold a mixed, perhaps even contradictory, set of views on China.

Australia’s Best Friend In Asia

In this year’s Poll, China now has a clear lead over Japan when we ask Australians to identify ‘Australia’s best friend in Asia’.

In 2016, 30% say China is our best friend in Asia, compared with 25% saying Japan. This is a clear shift from 2014 when we last posed this question. China and Japan ranked equally that year, with 31% nominating China and 28% Japan as Australia’s best friend in Asia, in a statistically equivalent result. 

In detail:

Despite being Australia’s largest trading partner, the results from this year’s poll show Australians continue to hold mixed views on China. According to the 2016 thermometer, feelings towards China sit at a lukewarm 58°, matching last year’s result. While China has established a lead over Japan as Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’ in 2016 (30% saying China and 25% saying Japan is Australia’s best friend in Asia), Japan registered at 70° on this year’s thermometer, a much warmer result than China’s 58°.

…Only 15% saw [China] as ‘more of a military threat’….

[BUT] Japan has been regarded more warmly over the history of our polling than the majority of Australia’s other neighbours in Asia. Singapore is one exception, scoring comparably with or marginally warmer than Japan (71° in 2016 compared with Japan’s 70°).

Japan’s thermometer reading in 2016 is at 70°, its highest result since 2012, when public sympathy appeared to be a factor following the tsunami and Fukushima disaster which hit Japan in 2011. This year’s result continues a warming trend from 2013 when it registered a cooler 65°.



Tony Abbott is ranked the lowest of all seven Australian prime ministers based on their foreign policy performance. Mr Abbott is the only prime minister who a majority of Australians say did a poor job. There is a wide margin between Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull on their foreign policy performance (…68% saying Mr Turnbull, has done a very good or reasonable job in handling Australia’s foreign policy).



In an emphatic result, 70% of Australians say ‘the submarines should be built mainly in Australia, even if this will cost us more’. Only 26% say ‘the submarines should be built at the best possible price, even if this means they are mainly built overseas’.



Despite seeing China as our best friend in Asia, Australians are firmly in favour of Australia conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

…This reinforces the Poll’s related finding that 79% of Australians consider China’s military activities in our region as a negative influence on their overall view of China.

June 24, 2016

Defence Implications of Brexit - Submarines and Boris

Aged Chelsea pensioners still in step after voting today.

Now that Britain's Exit (Brexitfrom the European Union (EU) referendum vote count has ended (52% Leave and 48% Remain) there are many downside implications and perhaps alarmist expectations:


While there is an initial shock to defence analysts, foreign policy establishments and markets the forces and feelings of continuity should prove stronger.

Non-EU treaties, alliances, understandings and other Britain-Europe ties are more bonding than the EU (which under Merkel's + Brussels' EU domination was itself proving divisive).

The continental geography of almost all other EU members should limit exits. Ireland and Cyprus exiting may be something to watch.

Putin's Russia may want to exploit Britain's EU exit but Russia's targets are predictable - the old states of the Soviet Union (Ukraine, Poland, tiny Baltic States. etc).

The US maintaining more naval and Marine forces in the Baltic and Black Sea areas may diminish the still unproven pivot to Australia's own Asia-Pacific area.

Trident Successor Submarine Issues

It is difficult to measure the impact of Brexit Leave on these submarine issues. It may encourage Britain to think even more in terms of independent defence which may translate into Britain finally choosing 4 x replacement Trident SSBN's. This may be spurred by greater worry about a belligerent Russia.

-   Prime Minister David Cameron resigned today but will actually leave office in October 2016.
    As Cameron was a major supporter of Trident the Trident supporters in the UK Parliament and 
    government may lose ground.

-  there are claims the Trident decision will be made in the UK House of Commons before the UK
    Parliament rises on July 21, 2016

-  but I think it most likely in the confusion and acrimony of Brexit Leave the Trident decision will be
    pushed down the scale of priorities from the expected 2016 "Main Gate" decision point, to 2017 or

The resurgence of (mainly Remain in EU) Scottish-separate-from-Britain feeling may cause a future shutdown of Britain's current SSBN Base at Faslane (HMNB Clyde).

Forces of Continuity

Britain is still in NATO which provides continuity in Britain's defence relations with almost all countries of Europe, the US and Canada.

-  Britain's planning and mandate to fight Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria) has much to do with 
   the NATO Summit in Wales September 2014 and at NATO HQ, Brussels in December 2014

Britain is still in the intelligence sharing UKUSA "Five Eyes" structure

I initially though Britain would need to break ties with the EU agency known as the European Defence Agency (EDA). But there is provision for non-EU members enabling them to participate in EDA’s projects and programmes without exercising voting rights.

-  the EDA handles an expanding range of roles including: crisis management, weapons research, production and purchasing cooperation

Non-members of the EU can still participate in the internal market 
- see this subsequent article.

Some continuity exists due to the length of time to exit from the EU. This would likely be a minimum of 2 years (under Article 50) - perhaps starting now  (depending on what the UK Parliament and Cameron decide)

-  The defence views or non-views of Boris Johnson's (now a ruling Conservative Party MP) may be 
    pivotal. He is widely considered a replacement Prime Minister (replacing Cameron)

Opportunities for Australia

-  Britain may be hungrier to sell (drop arms prices) outside the EU defence. Australia is a long term customer for British defence products, especially naval vessels.  

-   Australia's Future Frigates CEP is considering choosing from a shortlist of three sellers.
    One is Britain's BAE Systems (Type 26 Frigate). The other competitors are remaining EU
    Members: Italy's Fincantieri (FREMM Frigate) and Spain's Navantia (redesigned F100 Frigate)

-  this may be in the context of heightened trade across the board between Britain and Australia. 

The up and coming Prime Minister-to-be, and main Brexit Leave advocate, Boris Johnson, hunches back while competing in Quasimodo-bell-pulling at the London Olympics, 2012. 


June 23, 2016

Making the pump jet lighter - likely key aspect for use on Shortfin

The pump jet on a DCNS Triomphant class SSBN. Note the H-plane tail which aids stability when the sub is firing its ballistic missiles . A similar but smaller version of the DCNS pump jet may be going on the Barracuda SSN and eventually the Shortfin SSK.

Since writing Shorfin’s Pump Jet Propulsor - A Sales Feature of April 29, 2016, I’ve been puzzling  about what is technically new to make a pump jet viable on an SSK viable.

A central problem is that there is a correlation between pump jets and large nuclear submarines. Only companies (or countries) that developed pump jets for nuclear subs were in a position to then develop them for SSKs.

Until recently the weight of steel or other metal alloys may have made a pump jet too heavy for a Barracuda (at the smaller end of the SSN scale) or the Shortfin large SSK derivative. Still further lightening may be necessary before a pump jet is viable for Shortfin.

From looking at the sources in the BACKGROUND (below) it seems that using Nickel Aluminium Bronze alloy and/or epoxy fibre composite for a pump jet's rotor shaft, rotors, stators and the duct/shroud has many advantages including

-  providing a better power to weight ratio for the sub
-  not unbalancing the sub
-  a fully composite duct gives off a minimum magnetic signature
-  composite duct also reduces acoustic signature [See "Submarines - Rolls-Royce" website and within it scroll down to the "Propulsors" subheading] 
-  pump jets are low maintenance
-  all in all, the above help make a pump jet viable for a small SSN or large SSK.

A rotor (brown) and stator (dull silver) can be seen in this Mark 50 torpedo pump jet.


[Page 27] Although recent designs of composite propeller systems is classified, the use of modern composites manufacturing allows for continuous fibres to be aligned  with major hydrodynamic and centripetal forces. …The use of composites is now is now being introduced for propeller shafts on large ships (frigates and destroyers) where they account for 2% (100-200 tons) of total ship weight.

Carbon fibre/epoxy and glass fibre epoxy composite shaft shave the potential to be 25-80% lighter than steel shafts…while also providing noise suppression…thus reducing…acoustic signature. Also the non-magnetic properties of composites reduce that signature.”

This 2008 paper for the UK Royal Institution of Naval Architects on page 1 explains meaning of composite:

“A composite material is a material that consists of two components: the fibres and the matrix…The fibres are the part of the composite material that contributes to the strength whilst the matrix holds the fibres together.”

See "Submarines - Rolls-Royce" website and within it scroll down to the "Propulsors" subheading on the benefits of the pump jet propulsor for the Astute SSNs.

As can be seen above several nuclear subs lack pump jets because they lacked (or lack) pump jet technology. It seems pump jets cannot be retrofitted. (SSBN diagram courtesy pinterest)


June 22, 2016

Excellent ADM Shortfin Interview, Sean Costello, CEO DCNS Australia

Sean Costello (left) and French Ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier in March 2016 (Photo courtesy Adelaide Advertiser)

On June 15, 2016 an excellent interview appeared on the DCNS Australia website

Or most directly the actual interview drawn from Australian Defence Magazine - ADM June 2016, VOL. 24 NO.6 is at http://dcnsgroup.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ADM-From-the-Source.pdf

There ADM Editor, Katherine Ziesing, asks Sean Costello, CEO DCNS Australia, a whole range of pertinent questions about the DCNS Shortfin win. Including:

-  the future timelines…milestones, 
-  value of the pump jet, 
-  lithium-ion batteries and AIP, 
-  DCNS working with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin on the combat system, 
-  how the Barracuda SSN program is going, 
-  ASC and other topics

You will see Sean Costello was/is well qualified to lead the DCNS bid. 


June 21, 2016

Japan Probably Has Nuclear Submarine and Weapons Know-How

1st Ship reactor (built or went critical)
United States
1952 Ivy Mike
1954 USS Nautilus 
1961 USS Enterprise
1962 Savannah

1953 Joe 4
1957 November class

1959 Lenin
1956-58 Grapple
1960 HMS Dreadnought 

1968 Canopus

1967 Test No. 6
1970 Type 091 (401)

1968 Shakti I

2009 INS Arihant

1968 Canopus (shared test assumed)

None. Dolphin SSKs used.


1968 Otto Hahn


1972 Mutsu

In the table above there is a pattern. Nuclear weapons powers achieved thermonuclear (H-Bomb) tests first, then they develop a submarine reactor. This is with the exception of Israel which is too small to build nuclear subs. 

This may reveal the higher priority given to nuclear weapons. Also it is of little use launching an SSBN if it has no compact thermonuclear warheads to place on ballistic missiles.

The ability of Germany and Japan to develop ship reactors may indicate they have sufficient nuclear know-how to develop submarine reactors and thermonuclear weapons. 

Brazil has not yet launched a submarine reactor but is considered capable of building nuclear weapons fairly quickly. 

Various types of information sharing has been known to happen between the 5 official nuclear powers.


On June 13, 2016 (4:08 PM) S provided Comments along the lines:

The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has published reports on propulsion reactors but has not built any since the Mutsu nuclear propelled cargo ship in the 1970s. Japan is not currently planning development of a nuclear submarine.

Plans exist for a nuclear reactor known as "DRX" for a deep submergence vehicle . See the proposed DRXs reactor line drawing

Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERIreactor known as "MRX" that was intended to be 3 times more powerful than the Mutsu's reactor. MRX was being researched, from the 1990s for use in a far larger ship. 

[Pete tracked down http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/31/058/31058473.pdf published in  2000. It was envisaged:

"The basic concept of an innovative advanced marine reactor MRX has been established by design study toward the goals of light-weightiness, compactness, and safety and reliability improvement with adoption of several new technologies. The MRX is the integral-type PWR aimed for use of ship propulsion. Adoption of a water-filled containment makes the reactor light-weighted and compact greatly. The total weight and volume of the reactor are 1600 tons and 1210 m3, which are equivalent to halves of the Mutsu, although the reactor power of MRX is three times greater."

With power output of MRX calculated as 30 MW - 100 MW, 100 MW may be well suited for a small SSN.]

Also see JAERI 1997 document (mainly Japanese language) on MRX 

See JAEA's Business Plan activities (extending from 2005 to 2021). Basically no research on ship reactors was conducted by JAEA at all. Japan is not currently planning development of a nuclear submarine.

Factors that may cause Japan to research (or perhaps re-research) submarine reactors may be greater strategic threats from China, Russia and North Korea. Also competition with South Korea and US isolationism may encourage more Japanese research.

Set against Japanese submarine reactor development:

-  Japan's strategic threats are close (just across the Sea of Japan) making the marginal utility low for
   fast moving, long range, Japanese nuclear propelled submarines.  
-  Japan may place a higher priority on developing the necessary dual (civilian-military) use precursor
   technology for nuclear weapons. 

Russia already has highly developed submarine reactors but China apparently has not built fully satisfactory, efficient and quiet submarine reactors. North Korea probably cannot afford submarine reactors but North Korea is continually surprising.

While South Korea is not a strategic threat to Japan there is rivalry. South Korea studied (probably still studying) the possibility of submarine reactors under various names like KSS-N or KSS-III (nuclear) for decades.  

If South Korea makes any progress in a "Nuclear Propulsion Ship" (see DSME "New Technology List") then this would catch Japan's attention. South Korea's - Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) might modify its licensed 100 MW "SMART" small PWR reactor which has the right power output, at least, for a nuclear sub.

Possible declining support from the US, in the shape of future Trump Presidency strategic isolationism, may encourage Japan to look at nuclear options, including submarine propulsion and nuclear weapons.

Pete and S