June 25, 2017

Russian ship and submarine cruise missiles fired at IS in Syria (footage)

Six Kalibr missiles were reportedly fired at Islamic State in Syria on June 23, 2017 from 2 Russian warships and a submarine. This latest spectacular Russian salvo allegedly hit IS command posts and large weapons caches in the Syrian eastern province of Hama. 

Russian cruise missile launches are viewed by the US as threatening the US' rightful dominance over the Middle East. Put another way the missiles landed too close to the US' regional oil producing client states - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, even Iraq, as well as US bases.


June 23, 2017

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Apparently Wanted Dead or Dead

ALEX LOCKIE for Business Insider Australia has written an excellent article, of June 23, 2017 concerning feelings of North Korea's Kim Jong Un that he is under threat of assassination by foreigners. Article begins:

“The US and South Korea reportedly have a special ops team 'to take out Kim Jong Un"

"Even though he’s the supreme leader of his country, Kim Jong Un has reportedly been living like a hunted man out of fear that the US and South Korea are collaborating on a special forces team to take him out in case of a contingency.
South Korean intelligence services told lawmakers recently that the moves of US and South Korean forces make Kim “extremely nervous,” according to the Korea Herald. Apparently, Kim has been riding in his subordinates’ cars and making fewer public appearances.
In March, South Korean media reported that the US Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the same group that pulled off the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan had arrived in South Korea for a joint-training exercise.
...The US would not confirm the presence of Navy SEALs in South Korea, but it did announce the arrival of the USS Michigan, [an Ohio-class SSGN] submarine that sometimes carries special operations forces....”
See whole Business Insider Australia article.


Given Kim would have 10s to 100s of close-in bodyguards, deep bunkers in mountains and protected by (the outer concentric circle of) the whole North Korean military - it is unlikely that the US would attempt to insert a few gun toting CIA/Special Forces/SEALS to take Kim out.

More likely is the use of a huge bunker busting, GPS programmed bomb [1] (see photo and diagram below) or missiles to hit Kim in a fixed or moving position.

Happy-go-Lucky Kim III is the only man allowed to be fat in skinny, starving North Korea. He is wanted in a Bad Way by lots of people by lots of means. (Photo courtesy Korean Central News Agency via Business Insider Australia)

[1] Look at the size of "Kim's cure" the GBU-57 (above) and the means of hitting Kim in one of his deep bunkers (diagram below). The GBU-57 is a Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) designed to be delivered by the B-2 bomber” and weighs in at just under 14,000 kg. (Photo and Diagram courtesy The Aviationist)

June 21, 2017

Iran fires Zulfiqar ballistic missiles at targets in Syria - Region Nervous


The US, Israel, Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are very nervous about Iran firing Zulfiqar ballistic missiles (see photo below) at Islamic State targets in Syria. The Zulfiqars have the range, from Iran, to hit some Saudi cities and oil installations and US bases in the region.


1.  Interesting article from Tyler Rogoway, The Drive/THE WARZONE, June 20, 2017: [The 19th June 2017s] barrage of [Iranian] ballistic missiles on Islamic State affiliated targets in Deir ez-Zor Syria has reverberated throughout the region and the world. 

As we stated shortly after the strike, Tehran's unprecedented use of ballistic missiles was based on multiple factors, and sending a message to the US, Arab gulf states and Israel was clearly one of them. Now Iran is saying more ballistic strikes could come at any time.

Iran used some of its most modern missiles in the operation. Six solid-fuel Zulfiqar short-range ballistic missiles were fired at Syria. Accounts vary, but some sources state the attack failed in a tactical sense, with only one missile hitting its intended target. Iran claims 360 militants died in the strikes, while Israeli sources say three of the missiles didn't even make it to Syria at all...."

2.  Behnam Ben Taleblu, for The Military Edge, September 2016, provided some details on the Zulfiqar "Iran’s newest Zulfiqar is a solid-fueled short range ballistic missile (SRBM) that reportedly can reach 700 to 750 kilometers and is claimed to be accurate within 5 to 10 meters

The Zulfiqar is Iran’s latest variant of the Fateh-110 missile series — a family of single-stage solid-fueled SRBMs that Tehran has refined since the 1990s. First successfully flight-tested in 2002, the Iranians have upgraded the Fateh-110 platform at least half a dozen times since. All of them were built by Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) – an affiliate of Iran’s Ministry of Defense..." 

(Probably) A Zulfiqar short range ballistic missile (SRBM) about to be launched from its transporter trailor. (Photo courtesy BBC Persian news).


June 19, 2017

Australia's only on Ship Battle Deaths of Vietnam War - US Aircraft Missiles

Australia's official Navy website writes (scroll 2/7s way down here ) in remembrance of a usually forgotten "friendly" fire tragedy just over 49 years ago:

"On 17 June 1968, [HMAS] Hobart was in the vicinity of Tiger Island [map below] when she detected an aircraft approaching her from the vicinity of Cap Lay. Although the aircraft was evaluated as friendly it continued to close and fired a missile that struck Hobart amidships on her starboard side. The warhead passed through the main deck, seriously damaging several compartments, while the body of the missile passed through the outer skin of the after funnel before ending up in the forward funnel. In its passage the missile killed Ordinary Seaman R.J. Butterworth [1] [only one year in the navy] and wounded Able Seaman J.R. Parker and Ordinary Seaman R.F. Davidson.

As Hobart's crew raced to action stations a second and third missile hit the ship. The second missile entered the transom without detonating, destroying the gunner's store before breaking up in the engineer's workshop and penetrating the after seaman's mess. 

The third missile hit the ship in the same area as the first, passing through one of the ship's fan spaces, the missile director equipment room and Tartar checkout room. Chief Electrician R.H. Hunt [2] was killed in this attack and several sailors injured. 

...En route [Hobart's crew] begain clearing away debris, finding and collecting pieces of the missiles which were later identified as being of US origin. It transpired that Hobart was one of several ships mistakenly attacked by US 7th Air Force jets on the nights of 16-17 June..." 



Ordinary Seaman Ray Butterworth. First to die from an American missile. (Photo courtesy Royal Australian Navy archives)

(Photo on left) holes in HMAS Hobart caused by US aircraft missile splinter damage.
 (Map on left) Tiger Island. The vicinity in which Australia sailors on HMAS Hobart were killed by friendly American missiles (Photo and Map courtesy Royal Australian Navy archives)


June 18, 2017

Inquiries begin concerning USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal Collision

Inquiries begin following the 1.30am-2:30am (Tokyo, time) June 17, 2017 collision between:

-  destroyer USS Fitzgerald (8,900 long tons "full", 154m) now berthed at the US 7th Fleet Naval
    Base at Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo (see map below), and 

-  Philippine registered container ship ACX Crystal (39,565 tonnes deadwight, 222m) now berthed at
    Tokyo’s Oi wharf.  

The bodies of a number of US sailors were found, once water was pumped out (at Yokosuka) from the 2 crushed and flooded compartments of USS Fitzgerald.

Japanese authorities were looking into the possibility of "endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence", Japanese media reported, but it was not clear whether that might apply to either or both of the vessels. 

It is most likely USS Fitzgerald's "Captain" Commander Bryce Benson, in hospital, is already being questioned along with relevant officers and crew who were on Fitzgerald's bridge. 

It is not clear:

-  how dark or foggy the conditions were? OR

-  if Fitzgerald was suffering relevant equipment, especially radar and AIS [1], technical

[1] AIS is the automatic identification system (part reliant on satellites) used for collision avoidance on ships. Very likely AIS was on both ships - but was it turned off on Fitzgerald for "hide Fitzgerald" exercise conditions?

PHOTO: USS Fitzgerald struck on the starboard side above and below the waterline. (Photo courtesy Reuters: Toru Hanai via the BBC)

Map courtesy MarineTraffic, news agencies including BBC


June 15, 2017

Robust Submarine Diesel Engines: Some Important Considerations

Mainly from an Anonymous Comment of 10/6/17 10:16 AM

Submarine experts (including submarine Vice-Adm (retired) Kobayashi [1] and Tadashi Sano, Ex-Director Submarine Design, KHI [2] ) see the following as important for submarine diesel engines.

1.  Submarine diesels must be robust enough to tolerate rapid starts and stops without warm-up periods [3] and without undue wear or breakdown. Rapid stop starting minimises:
-  diesel operating (indiscretion) time during snorting (recharging batteries - see history), and
-  improves the submarines high engine stress [4] manoeuvring performance in action (eg. after
   torpedos and/or Harpoon missiles are fired and then an Oyashio or Soryu accelerates into a deep
Diesel engines are exposed to high heat differences as some engine parts heat up much more quickly than other parts. High dispersal of oils and lubrication are required.

2.  Another requirement are diesel engines compact enough to provide enough space:
-  for several types of maintenance during long missions, and
-  room for engines to use rubber/elastic rafts to minimise through hull vibrations/noise.

3.  A third requirement are diesels powerful and robust enough to quickly generate high pressures within the hull:
-  to exhaust/expel gas in the seawater, and
-  to expel gas out of the snorkel into the surface air.

4.  Other diesel requirements are:
-  the capability to match/balance intake and exhaust pressures (in a snorkel), and 
-  an efficient safety device to stop the diesel for stops, reversals or other high stress needs.
For example when snorting if either the tube drawing in air or the exhaust tube were blocked valves must be sensitive enough to stop before damage to the submarine or to the crew (avoiding atmosphere vacuum within the hull :( is done

Anonymous’ Comment

Submarine diesels are quite different from ship diesels. Sub diesels require superior material as well as very robust design capabilities. In submarine/shipyards submarine diesels need to be capable of easy dismantling:
-  in order for some engine parts to be passed through the submarine’s small hull hatches, and
-  for quick and easy maintenance in the yard.

[1] Ships Of The World, 7, 2017.No.862, page 104, “Today’s Submarine” by Masao Kobayashi, Ex-Commander, Japanese Submarine Fleet and former Vice-Admiral (JMSDF).

[2] “Perfect Guide of Mechanism in Submarine” by Tadashi Sano, Ex-Director, Sub Design, KHI.

[3] “Warming up on a ship” (in Japanese, but right-click mouse translatable)
Unlike trucks and small ship diesels, a large ship [or submarine] diesel takes time until the whole large diesel has evenly warmed up across all parts. Without a warm up period large temperature differences can remain long enough to break some parts. Distribution of warm air (from dockside starter motors) can warm many submarine parts successfully.
Coolant and oil should also be circulated by dockside or internal pumps. Dockside motors might also need to "turn" the engine to warm the cylinders. The larger the engine the longer the warm-up required, eg. 30 minutes for large ship diesels.

All turbochargers are lubricated via the engine's pressurized oil system, meaning that engine oil is constantly circulated through passages entering and exiting the bearing cartridge. While a vehicle is driving ([or submarine moving] and the turbocharger is functioning, it becomes hot - the temperature of the turbocharger is relative to load. When a vehicle has been driven and is abruptly shut off (and the oil flow to the turbocharger ceases), engine oil contained in the turbocharger absorbs heat from its surroundings. If the temperature of the turbocharger prior to shut down is great enough, the oil risks burning and will have a tendency to create deposits in and around the turbo bearings in addition to contaminating the engine oil supply [not good if you are crewing a submarine on an (almost always) isolated mission].

A nice roomy engine room - or is that for the tourists? These are opposed-piston Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines on USS Pampanito (SS-383) which is permanently docked in San Francisco and can be toured as part of the Maritime Museum. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Not so roomy looking engine room of an Oberon "O-class" submarine. The 2 x 1,840 hp Admiralty Standard Range V16 diesels (same as?were still very reliable I hear! (Photo courtesy Sandy McCearn via Haze Gray & Underway).

Mainly Anonymous (with some extra translation from Pete)

June 14, 2017

Japanese Submarine Developments Continue

The following are mainly from comments made May 26 to June 6, 2017 on hull research, new diesels, and Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs):

Research on Alfa STYLE hull shape

The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) ATLA research organisation is studying a significantly different prototype submarine shape (see last line in this MoD (in Japanese) document). The shape is similar to the old Soviet Alfa-class which had a streamlined fin/sail. Shape differs in having modern X-plane rudders. It was exhibited at the ATLA Technical Symposium 2016. 

It could be the Japanese are talking to TKMS which also features a highly streamlined fin/sail in the Type 212A (photo of model below). These fin/sail styles can provide improved hydrodynamic motion efficiency, noise reduction against passive sonar and the rounded shape may be  more stealthy against active sonar. 

New Diesels for the First of a New, Post Soryu, Submarine Class

29SS will be the first submarine of a new Japanese class (see this Table). It will probably be named after a famous ship in Japanese naval history. 29SS will charge Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) only and will likely be contructed at the MHI shipyard, Kobe with launch in 2023. It will be equipped with 2  advanced, more powerful, diesel engines and a high pressure air tank [for what?]. The diesel engines' possible modifications to increase power may be increased bore, stroke and/or charging pressure, and reduction in vibration/noise, etc.

The current Soryu diesel is KAWASAKI-12V/25/25SB
It is a V12, with bore 250mm, stroke 250mm, volume 147L, piston speed 10m/s, power 2280 kilowatts/minute [?] kWm, power/volume 15.4kW/L. This is considered adequate for the Lead-acid Battery (LAB) Soryu Mark 1.

The future diesels need to be more powerful to take advantage of the quick battery charging ability of LIBs. More powerful diesels might include:

-  Kawasaki-12PA6V-280CL V12, bore 280mm, stroke 350mm, volume 258L, piston
   speed 8.4m/s, power 3540kWm, power/volume 13.6kW/L or

-  Wärtsilä 26, 12V26 V12, bore 260mm, stroke 320mm, volume 204L, piston speed 10.7m/s, power 
   4080kWm, power/volume 20.0kW/L or

-  a Kawasaki modified MTU 4000?

Japan Choosing NCA formula LIBs?

On February 17, 2017 Submarine Matters reported on the two types of LIB (“NCA” and “LTO”) that Japan is considering for its new submarines. It may be likely that Japan prefers NCA (Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (LiNiCoAlO2)) produced by GS Yuasa (GSY). GSY’s cells have coatings that reduce the fire risk.

Note the Soviet Alfa class 1971-1990 (above) had a highly streamlined fin-sail (Photo courtesy findmodelkit). The fin/sail of the TKMS Type 212A (below) (Photo courtesy HobbyBoss) seems to owe much to the Alfa. Japan, when considering future hull shapes, might seek TKMS' advice on the fin-sail.

Future Submarine Matters articles this week will be:

-  June 15, 2017 on Robust Submarine Diesel Engines: Some Important Considerations from
    comment on 10/6/17 10:16 AM and

-  June 20, 2017 carrying comments on Japan's future 29SS submarine and LIBs (GS Yuasa) etc.


June 8, 2017

June 2017 Donors' Report – Kockums’ Submarine Vertical Launch Plug

Model of the Vertical Launch Plug - door open revealing 6 of the long range cruise missiles.
(Photo courtesy Mike Yeo and Staff, DefenseNews)

Hi Donors

I've just emailed Submarine Matters June 2017 Donor Report: Kockums’ Submarine Vertical Launch Plug out to you, as a WORD attachment. Please check your spam bin if you don't see it in your IN box.

Leadin to report:

"It was interesting to see photos...of SAAB Kockums’ display of a 3 x vertical multi-purpose lock (VMPL) plug at IMDEX Asia 2017. The plug, perhaps 10m long and weighing 500 tonnes, may be an option on a future A26 derivative. Each lock can carry 6 Tomahawk missiles for a total of 18 Tomahawks (or perhaps other land attack missiles). 

In 2015 Sweden entertained the idea of mounting a large horizontal multi-purpose lock in the torpedo room of future A26s. But this may have created little customer interest as such a lock may have been at the expense of 3 or 4 conventional torpedo tubes..."


Submarine Matters International 

June 6, 2017

Chinese Intelligence Activities in Australia

"Agents of Influence" on a mass scale? On 24 April 2008 Chinese "diplomats" organised and payed travel costs of at least 10,000 pro-Beijing supporters (Chinese students) see my May 5, 2008 article. The students travelled 100s kms to Canberra (Australia's capital) to protect a Chinese foreign policy goal. 


China’s Military (PLA) Intelligence and also Civilian Ministry of State Security (MSS) Intelligence are a threat to the security of Australia. This includes human intelligence (HUMINT) Case Officers who direct, or at least debrief, some (like students) in categories (below) who are living in Australia or travelling through. Case Officers are often Chinese "diplomats" or defence attaches or other authority figures, like Chinese professors or wealthy Chinese business figures.

Case Officers may direct and/or debrief ethnic Chinese:

-  students (eg. post-grad level (see 4th pagragraph) (see US 30/8/2020 experience) working in "dual-use" high tech areas). See this March 11, 2021 ASIO updateLong after this June 6, 2017 article. See Australia's Government in January 2020 slowing visa
   acceptance (probably on security grounds) of some Chinese (high tech) PhD
   students - see "visa delays"
-  academics, scientists (PhD on up) especially in high tech or reporting on politics.
-  engineers, business people (high-tech, military, economic and political reporting)
-  journalists (usually official Chinese news agencies) also useful for influence spreading
-  pro-China Australian citizens (including some (usually ALP) politicians)

China based Chinese officials may do the directing/debriefing of the Australia based categories by phone, email, snail-mail, OR wait till these categories living in Australia return to or vist China (including Australian politicians' on China financed study tours).

Intelligence is often collected in fragments (ie. bit by bit collection, all sources and methods) from little agents. This is in contrast to the popular image of very high-up Russia style moles or agents (eg. the Cambridge Five)

Another Chinese intelligence activity is nurturing pro-Beijing political and/or economic influence via "Agents of Influence". More specifically China may influence Australian business deals or Australian politics. In this regard ALP politicians come up way too often - through fake comradely behavior often accompanied with a bit, but not too much, cash (see 2016 Chinese influence scandal) and possible very high level 2009 scandal

This is not to say that other major countries don't operate or spread economic and political influence in Australia through intelligence ways.

Like many other authoritarian intelligence agencies active in Australia Chinese agencies probably spend most of their time spying on and pressuring their own nationals:

-  security monitoring by Chinese diplomats (helped by informants) of any/all of the Chinese groups
    while in Australia. This is monitoring particulary of Chinese Australian residents/citizens deemed to
involved in:

   :  overseas activities for Uyghur/Uighur/East Turkestan/Xinjiang Independence causes. Alleged some
      involved in Islamic terrorism outside China. See February 2017 (paysite) report of Uighur militant
      jihadists from China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region fighting for various causes in Syria and 
      March 2017 (paysite) report.

   :  anti-Beijing Government causes

   :  anti-Communist groups, eg. Hong Kong students living outside China/Hong Kong

    pro-democracy groups

   :  pro-Tibet independence groups

   :  Falun Gong and 

   :  Chinese Christians reacting against oppression of churches in China.


On 24 April 2008 Chinese "diplomats" organised and payed costs of at least 10,000 pro-Beijing supporters (Chinese students) (see photo above). The students travelled 100's of kms, from Sydney and Melbourne to Canberra (Australia's capital). "Australia's ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope confirmed that the Chinese embassy was closely involved to ensure that "pro-China demonstrators vastly outnumbered Tibetan activists.""

What followed was a 2 hour "spontaneous" loyalty demonstration for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Torch Relay, in Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle. Pro-Tibet democracy protesters were crowded out and intimidated as were Australian police. The occasion was the pro-Beijing Olympics (2008) Torch Relay. Usually Australian Federal Government controlled the Parliamentary Federal Triangle.

Just imagine if the Australian Embassy tried to organise a similar "spontaneous" protest in Beijing? Would a mob burn down the Australian Embassy? 


A major Sydney Morning Herald article of 7 May 2009, concerned how Chinese interests seemed to influence an Australian Defence Minister. 


US intelligence liaison, fearing the security of its own shared secrets with Australia, was most probably very unhappy how Prime Minister Rudd's Australian Labor Government initially handled the 2009 matter.

Since 2009 Australian Government politicians (especially Labor, though not always) have been more circumspect about Chinese businessmen or women bearing gifts, cash or study trips.

Chinese "comradely socialist internationalism" tends to boil down more to being bribed by a major foreign power. Such Chinese private - government generosity leads to Australian media exposes and career damage for politicians, political damage for parties and governments. Politicians rarely face  "under the table donation collection" legal charges.

Chinese Donations to Universities - Does it Benefit Some Current/Former Politicians?

Mr Xiangmo Huang with Vice-Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Professor Ross Milbourne in December 2013. Mr Xiangmo Huang, from China donated the $1.8 million in order to establish the "independent" Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI). See more below in red.

Survey Reports Lack of Australian Public Interest in Japan's Disputes or in Japan's Point of View. 

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on January 6, 2015 reported results of a Survey that indicates most Australians would reject siding with Japan and the US against China should a conflict in the East China Sea arise. The ANZUS Treaty does not bind Australia to Japan. These perceptions and facts underline Japan's need to lock in a defence relationship with Australia - including Japan leveraging and Soryu submarine deal. See references to the Soryu below.

Few Australian know about or care about several disputes in the East China Sea involving South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan. Possibly the most dangerous Japan versus China dispute is over the Diaoyu Island chain in the East China Sea - a chain known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China. Taiwan also claims these islands, calling them the Diaoyutai Islands. Taiwan's capital, Taipei, is the closest capital city of the three countries to these islands, however as it has the weakest navy and weakest national strength Taiwan's claims are ignored.  

For the results of Australian Attitudes on ANZUS and the East China Sea see the six statistical Survey tables at http://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/ACRI%20Poll.pdf. The Survey was commissioned and paid for by the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI). ACRI was established in December 2013 with a grant of $1.8 million from the Founder and Chairman of the Yuhu Group, Mr Xiangmo Huang, a citizen of China. Despite this direct funding ACRI is frequently described as "independent".

 ACRI commissioned UMR Research to carry out the Survey (see UMR's website here). 

It was announced on April 30,  2014 that Australia's former Foreign Minister, the Hon Bob Carr, would lead ACRI as the Director. 
The Survey indicated that of "more than" 1,000 Australians [Surveyed] 71% would prefer to remain neutral should a conflict arise. Only 15 per cent of respondents said they supported backing a Japan-US alliance. 4% said Australia should back China and 9% were unsure.

From a slightly different angle the survey found should the US President call and ask the Australian Prime Minister to join in supporting Japan, 68% said Australia should declare itself neutral and not make a military contribution. Only 14% of those surveyed said Australian troops should join allies US and Japan in war while 17% were unsure.


June 1, 2017

Dutch firm maybe breaking China's "No help Taiwan submarine" ban

Over the years Submarine Matters has written several articles (including this February 5, 2014 articleabout Taiwan's dreams of foreign assistance to build or import new submarines for the Taiwanese Navy. Years ago the Bush (Jnr) Administration promised Taiwan some new conventional subs - problem is (and was) the US no longer builds conventional subs. Non-US countries do not have the US' political power to defy China by supplying Taiwan with submarines. 

For more than 20 years China has used political and economic pressure on foreign companies and countries to prevent them designing and/or building new submarines for Taiwan. China is likely to be displeased with the Netherlands' company below unless China sees some offsetting benefit.

In a move involving considerable Dutch courage [1] the Netherlands' RH Marine company is to carry out some much needed electronics upgrades [probably including the combat system] to Taiwan's 2 Dutch built Chien Lung (aka Hai-Lung) class submarines.

Taiwan's Chinese-language Liberty Times commented ""This will also be helpful for the program to build home-grown submarines,” 

In the same article the Taiwanese Navy aimed to reduce Chinese concerns. The Navy  "stressed that the Dutch company’s participation in the upgrade program “is unrelated to [Taiwan's domestic submarine design and construction] program.”

On the RH Marine website. Perhaps this display could play a role in a submarine's combat system?