December 22, 2017

Hot Merry Christmas From Australia 2017

Thanks everyone who read Submarine Matters in 2017. Even a bigger thanks to readers who left good blog comments or commented directly to me by Email. 

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

Christmas feasts are frequently in the cooler evening on December 25. often with cold seafood (especially prawns/shrimp on the barbie), cold ham and warm turkey and cold beer. 

I miss the really cold christmases in germany were i spent two years in 1965-66.

a collins sub enjoys a tropical sunset at christmas


a christmas carol of brotherhood, even between strategic competitors 

have a merry, safe and caring CHRISTMAS.


December 21, 2017

Australia's HMAS AE1 Submarine Found After 103 Years

The wreck of HMAS AE1, Australia's first submarine, has been found 103 years after it was lost on September 14, 1914 in waters just north of Australia. AE1 was the first Allied [1] submarine lost in World War I. AE1's disappearance marked Australia's first WWI disaster. AE1 had 35 crew, drawn from Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

[1] Germany's SM U-15 was the first submarine sunk in WWI, on August 9, 1914. 

The 2017 search team succeeded in finding AE1 using survey ship MV Fugro Equator, deep water cameras and a UUV with Side-scan sonar floating 40m above the seafloor. More funding, a reduced search zone due to previous searches, side-scan technology and possibly magnetometers, made the difference.

AE1 was found in more than 300m of water. 300m was way below AE1's 61m (see sidebar) "test depth" so the end likely came quickly, from extreme water pressure, in an implosion. 

The discovery solves Australia's oldest naval mystery.

That finding AE1 took 103 years may be an indicator how difficult and prolonged the search for Argentina's ARA San Juan may be.

HMAS AE1 sunk in Papua New Guinea's, Duke of York islands. The search was funded by the Australian government including the Australian National Maritime Museum. Also funded by the Silentworld Foundation and Find AE1. (Map courtesy BBC)

HMAS AE1 was a UK built E-class submarine sold to the RAN. The “A” designates Australian vessel.

At 55m long, 760t (surfaced) and 810t (submerged) AE1 was a large submarine for 1914. Her 3,000nm (5,600 km) range at 10 knots made her semi-ocean going.

HMAS AE1. (Photo courtesy Sea Power Centre via Australia's ABC).

Deep water camera photo of AE1 on the seafloor deeper than 300m. (Image courtesy the Australian Government via the BBC).

There was no concerted search for AE1 in 1914 because Australia was busy fighting WWI and in 1914 there was no sonar gear to search for sunken submarines. Searches for the wreck began in 1976, but found nothing until late 2017. 

From Wikipedia – “Several factors have been identified as increasing the difficulty of finding AE1. 

The volcanic nature of the region has resulted in a rugged and highly variable underwater topography, with a high frequency of wreck-like acoustic anomalies. Much of the region is deep water, limiting the number of techniques and tools that can be used to locate and verify shipwrecks. 

Volcanic activity can also disrupt the local magnetic field, affecting the operations of magnetometers. Eruptions and underwater earthquakes cause the underwater landscape to change, and have the potential to break up or bury a shipwreck. 

Due to heavy military activity around New Guinea during World War II, along with the disposal of ships in later years, there are large numbers of other shipwrecks (both located and unknown) in any potential search area.”

The Australian Government has (or is) designating the AE1 site a war grave, in cooperation with the Government of Papua New Guinea.


December 20, 2017

The TKMS Type 212CD - MTU12V4000s vs current MTU16V396s

Thanks to Anonymous's 2 comments of 20 December 2017 on which this Submarine Matters article is based. Following a Norway-German government-to-government agreement signed in June 2017 Norway and mainly Germany’s TKMS are producing 6 new Type 212CDs. CD means Common Design. Earlier, in February 2017, the 212CD purchase decison was referred to a Type 212NG.

This article discusses the pros and cons of having an extra diesel engine for the new Type 212CD.

Naval Today, on November 1, 2017 reported “According to TKMS, the class 212CD will combine the low signatures of the class 212A with extended range, speed and endurance to allow worldwide operations.”

A German language Kieler Nachrichten article of December 7, 2017 (once translated) reported “… is planned that six identical submarines of the new class 212CD will be procured [4 for Norway and 2 for Germany]. The [German Navy’s] 1st submarine squadron currently has six Class 212A boats. Through the cooperation with the Norwegians, the [German Navy’s numbers will increase] to eight submarines. The first new addition is scheduled for 2027.”

An increase in a submarine's speed may be achieved by reduction of hydrodynamic resistance and increase in propulsive power. As 212CDs are based on 212As (which already have very low hydrodynamic resistance) greater speed can be mainly achieved by increased propulsive power.

Possible propulsive measures include more powerful diesels, motor and lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).
-    The 212CD may use the Type 214's 2 x MTU 16V-396 diesels (amounting to 3.96 MW) much higher than the Type 212A's 1.2MW (see Table page 3) diesel
-   these 2 diesels could work to a Type 214's 2.85MW Siemens Permasyn Motor. This would be an
    increase over the 212A’s existing 1.7MW  Siemens Permasyn Motor, and
-  Lithium Iron Phosphate LIBs may be relied on to give 212CDs high power when fully submerged.
-  A low power fuel cell AIP may be retained or dispensed with.

So, the single diesel generator on the 212A (though it permits miniaturisation in the Baltic) may be replaced by a more powerful two diesel generator arrangement. Favouring two diesels is:
-  Extra power necessary to generate enough electricity for LIBs. 
-  Two diesels are more reliable if one breaks down. 
-  Two also provide the option of servicing one diesel at sea while the other continues to operate.

The trade offs of using different one or two diesel generators arrangements are as follows:
-  Current beam (6.8m)/ one generator [low power] but keeps the 212 usefully compact
-  Current beam (6.8m)/ parallel two generators [lack of repair "elbow" room - bad for
-  Current beam (6.8m)/ tandem two generators [extends length of whole submarine]
-  Wider beam/ parallel two generators [requires redesign of whole submarine]

Using MTU12V4000 instead of current MTU16V396

Although a major change to two diesels was canvassed above, a less radical solution may be the use of just one MTU12V4000. Just one diesel is an important requirement of the German Navy to keep 212s small enough to handle or exploit Baltic conditions. For example a 212 only 57m long can sit in to smaller holes in the Baltic seafloor than a 214 that is 65m long. A shorter submarine can also turn more sharply on its axis (without hitting rock obstructions) than a longer submarine.

212CD equipped with one MTU12V4000 not two MTU16V396s may be still LIBs capable. Having just one MTU12V4000 diesel also makes it easier to adopt a TKMS's future Methanol Reforming FC AIP. Many common features and spare parts between 212As and 212CDs also means lower through life costs

Comparing the MTU12V4000 and MTU16V396

MTU12V4000s are more powerful than MTU16V396s. Increased power is particularly important given the higher-faster charging capabilities of LIBs.

For the quotes below try opening  which reports:
-  “A submarine charging unit with a 12V4000 submarine engine does have smaller dimensions
    compared to a 16V 396 SE design. However, the mechanical power [of a MTU12V4000] is
    noticeably increased to 1,300 kilowatts (kW) at 1,800 rpm.”
-  “Another major design objective was the reduction of the specific fuel consumption [sfc] 
   [of MTU12V4000s] in combination with greater operating flexibilities for different scenarios.”
-  “The new engine foot for [the MTU12V4000] includes an integrated shock limiter. Its compact and
    easy to install design results in very low effects of the foot’s dynamic behavior on the structure-
   borne noise signature of the engine.”

Alternatively open BMT Defence Services Ltd’s “SUBMARINE POWER AND PROPULSION: BALANCING THE ENERGY ELEMENTS” and especially note the tables in the first 3 pages.

Pete Comment

If the MTU12V4000 in operational practice proves as powerful, efficient and reliable as hoped it will be a good replacement for the MTU16V396 and other diesels.

Mainly Anonymous and (a bit) Pete

December 19, 2017

India’s Arighat Prototype Limited by Reactor Power & Missile Maturity

India’s 6,000 tonne INS Arighat prototype SSBN launch on November 19, 2017 is less of a surprise when one considers GhalibKabir’s advice on December 12, 2017 that INS Arihant and another 6,000 tonne nuclear sub (now known as Arighat) were under construction since 2006. Their reactor specifications were apparently frozen at 83MW, meaning they could not be built much larger than 6,000 tonnes - if a cruising speed around 20kt was maintained. India, of course, sees its future SSBNs as the most secure second strike weapon platforms.

Perhaps the need for a continual high level of SSBN budgetary funding prompted Indian SSBN builders to disseminate larger SSBN Aridhaman propaganda for years. Propaganda could also be seen as  public relations. As early as July 14, 2014 Aridhaman was to be “launched into water soon”. Submarine Matters as early as August 24, 2014 doubted the ambition of India's SSBN and  6 x SSN programs (SSNs sanctioned in February 2015). 

So the non-appearance of a much larger INS Aridhaman SSBN may be due to India’s current inability to produce a reactor much more powerful than 83MW. Another limitation seems to be the immaturity of any 7,000km range SLBM (called K-5 or K-6). So India is not indulging in a rush program to produce a 13,000 tonne SSBN large enough to mount K-6s.

India’s SSBN Program at its most basic seems to have several requirements including sufficient reactor power, SSBN size to accommodate large enough SLBMs to carry a sufficient payload over a sufficient range. More specifically:

A.    Develop, test and fine tune 2 x 6,000 tonne prototypes (INS Arihant and INS Agrihat) and


B.    launch 2 small 7,000 tonne SSBN by 2022 which will have 8 x (very limited 3,500km range K-4s) 1.3m diameter, 10m long. India, of course, claims to, or does, pursue a No First Use nuclear policy. But if China fired first the medium range K-4 can, once it is ready, reach only a limited number of significant targets within China. These include:

Suspected Chinese IRBM hardened silos and TEL hiding places
The PLA’s Western and Southern Theatre Command HQs and troop concentrations
See Southwest China map for provincial capitals with comparatively large southwest Chinese populations, including:
-       Tibet provincial capital Llasa with population about 1 million
-       Yunnan provincial capital Kunming with about 7 million people and
-       Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu with about 15 million
-       Guangxi provincial capital Nanning 7 million
-       Guizhou provincial capital Guiyang with about 5 million

For a 7,000 tonne SSBN it is preferable to use a slightly uprated 90 MW reactor. This is possible, assuming 6,000 tonne Arihant of 83MW reactor is a development of the Russian 70MW - 90MW VM-4 reactorAccording to Dinesh Kumar, December 30, 2017 "INS Arihant has its limitations...[Arihant's and Arighat's (?)] nuclear reactor has a short refuelling cycle and therefore a limited endurance capacity." If ArHydronamic improvements can be made to the sail/fin and pump jet propulsor or a slower cruising speed may be acceptable.


C.    skip the 7,000 tonne SSBNs and go straight to 13,500 tonne SSBNs powered by an Indian-Russian development of Russia’s well used Russia 190 MWt OK-650 reactor. A 13,500 tonne SSBN needs the capability to launch, from Bay of Bengal bastion waters, a true 7,000km intercontinental SLBM with warheads in range of Beijing. Specifically 12 x K-6 SLBMs, 12m long, 2m diameter. A mature K-6 would give India an equivalent capability to China's JL-2 SLBM (with a range up to 8,000km).

Maybe the above US SLBM comparitive image is useful if K-4 can be equated to a light warhead Polaris A2 and the K-6 equated to a Trident I C4. This would mean the K-6 would be over twice the overall K-4 SLBM weight. (Image and broader data is at the FAS website).


India may not need to develop SSBNs at a cracking US vs Soviet Union Cold War pace because India's main SSBN opponent, China, is not developing SSBNs quickly. This is as far as overt sources can know. Also one must remember China launched the first of its nuclear submarines (Type 091s) in 1970.

I agree with Dinesh Kumar, December 30, 2017 analysis, that India's only operational SSBN Arihant "with a limited missile range compares very modestly with China, which already has about ten nuclear-powered submarines and that too with greater endurance and long-range nuclear tipped missiles, in addition to over 50 conventional submarines. China is expected to increase its submarine fleet to between 69 and 78 by 2020, according to a US Congress report. Both Pakistan [8 future SSKs] and Bangladesh [2 renovated SSKs] have contracted purchase of conventional submarines from China, thus adding to India’s increasing security challenge in the Indian Ocean Region."

India needs to build submarine parity with China by 2040.


December 18, 2017

How Secure is the Australian Future Submarine Facility at Cherbourg, France?

On December 15, 2017 Defence reporter Andrew Greene at Australia’s ABC News Online, wrote:

“...Australia's $50 billion Future Submarines program has been hit by allegations of fraud, with [an Australian] Commonwealth official being investigated for misappropriating funds.

The investigation has been confirmed by senior defence officials following questioning from South Australian Senator Rex Patrick during a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.

"Defence is conducting an investigation into some allegations in relation to financial management," [Australian] Defence Department Secretary Greg Moriarty told the committee.

"I don't want to go into further detail while there is a proper process underway," Mr Moriarty added.

It is believed the Defence Department employee under investigation was involved in the establishment of Australia's Future Submarine Office in France.

The secure facility in Cherbourg houses submarine designers, naval architects and engineers, bringing together staff from France's Naval Group (formerly DCNS), and Lockheed Martin as well as the Australian government....”


I wonder if Prime Minister Turnbull knew about the fraud issue when he openned the Australian Future Submarine program office at Cherbourg in July 2017? "Cherbourg, France, July 9, 2017 – Naval Group (formerly DCNS) and Lockheed Martin Australia today welcomed the official opening of Australia’s Future Submarine Office by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in the presence of the French Ministry For The Armed Forces, Florence Parly." (Details and photo courtesy Naval Group Australia)


The submarine industry worldwide recieves more than its fair share of corruption and bribery allegations.

As the “secure facility in Cherbourg” conducts higher than merely Top Secret work any corruption is a worry.

Poor program security already and the possibility of Chinese or Russian intelligence blackmailing or bribing corrupt officials working in such a facility is a worry.


December 15, 2017

December 2017 Donor Report: INS Kalvari Commissioned December 14, 2017

Image courtesy Times of India.

Hi Donors

I've just emailed you the December 2017 Donor Report: INS Kalvari Commissioned December 14, 2017.

Leadin - "Twelve years after the 6 x SSK Project-75 began INS Kalvari (S50) has finally been commissioned, on December 14, 2017, by Prime Minister Modi. France’s Naval Group was chosen in 2005 to build the six Project-75 Scorpenes at Mumbai – with the subs becoming the Kalvari class.

Twelve years might be an average time to design and commission a new submarine type, but the Kalvari class Scorpene design is mostly off-the-shelf."

Please check your spam bin if you don't see it in your IN box.



December 12, 2017

China's VT5 Light Tank Superior to Indian, British & German - Sometimes

Most countries have or crave tanks, except the Vatican, which boasts an armoured, 
 airmobile, Popemobile

Developed countries usually have at least one heavyweight main battle tank (MBT) type for urban warfare, deserts and the ideal tank country of rolling hills. Countries with large enough defence budgets can afford some specialised tank types. 

China's increasingly large defense budget affords light tanks for muddy, slushy, snowy, mountain warfare and jungle warfare. China's latest notable light tank is the VT5.    

The VT5 saves weight by having " automatic bustle-mounted ammunition loading system, which allowed [it] to reduce the crew to 3 men.

...Due to its light weight the VT5 is much more mobile than [Chinese] main battle tanks, such as Type 96 and Type 99. It can be used in mountainous areas that are not accessible to main battle tanks. For example the Indian T-72 orT-90 main battle tanks [tellingly] can not go high in to the mountains. At high altitudes air becomes thin and their engines start to loose power. So high in the mountains the new Chinese tank should not encounter any heavily-armored opponents.”

The VT5, on display at an arms bazaar, has pixelated camouflage because enemy sensors take longer to detect a vehicle with such camo and it looks good. (Photo courtesy Military-Today)

To the right of the VT5 is another armoured vehicle in rather loud blue pixelation, perhaps not strictly for camouflage. A Business Insider author describes the blue camo thus: China “unveiled a shocking maritime camo scheme on a variety of armoured vehicles and missile batteries [see at 1min 40secs] in their September 3, 2015 military parade. The blue pixelated camo makes little sense for land combat vehicles, even an amphibious vehicle would lose its need for a bright blue camo scheme as soon as it left the water. Perhaps the Chinese chose the colour scheme to signal a rhetorical shift in the focus of their armed forces on naval strength.”.

Separately China’s one stop shop for weapons’ sales, NORINCO, let the VT5 light combat tank strut its stuff in August 2017. Military attaches of 50 countries were awed beyond gobsmacking by the VT5 display of great Middle Kingdom tank craftsmanship. This was at a tank racing circuit in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The VT5 can do 70 km/h - significantly faster than contemporary British and German tanks.


December 8, 2017

China's LEOs Work With Its Undersea Surveillance System

KQN made interesting comments on December 5, 2017 on China's undersea surveillance system, islands and missiles. This Chinese surveillance system relies on hydrophones and other undersea sensors backed up by confirmation and weaponised patrols by Chinese submarines, surface ships and aircraft. 

I will first refer to the low earth orbiting (LEO) portion of China's undersea surveillance system. Hydrophones can "cue" LEOs, that is "alert" LEOs that a potential target has been detected by hydrophones and the target's approximate location. The latest Chinese LEOs are probably the Chinese Yaogan-30 reconnaissance / "spy" satellites - the subject of today's post below.

Drawing on: Satellite Observation December 3, 2017 and N2YO .

China launched (see coverage paths above courtesy Satellite Observation):

-  3 Yaogan-30s on September 29, 2017 (dubbed the green Yaogan-30-01 triplet)  

-  3 more Yaogan-30s on November 24, 2017  (the red "Yaogan-30-02" triplet), and 

-  3 more Yaogan-30s are expected to be launched soon (dubbed the future blue Yaogan-30-03"

All 6 satellites (and 3 later) will have a 600km low earth orbit (LEO) with a 35° inclination. 

Satellite Observation has an interesting analysis: 

-  each triplet is not flying in close formation so this suggests they are not used for signal intelligence
   triangulation to pin
point the source of an electromagnetic signal (eg. a surface ship).

-  Each of the 3 satellites in each triplet are too far away for triangulating signals, since the satellites
   are not even in line of sight of each other.
-  also at 600 km this is below the 1000km optimal orbit for signal intelligence satellites
-  instead each satellite of each triplet have been phased 120° apart, providing maximum revisiting
-  3 x 3 revisits means a high revisit rate (almost constant) 
-  high revisits from a 600km orbit suggests small optical [Comment also perhaps including infra-red
   for night and synthetic aperture radar (SAR)) satellites to see through rain and shallow water].

The observation is made: "...the satellites have a good coverage of the Pacific, India, China, North Korea and even Japan, but the most northern and southern parts of the globe are not covered: the satellites spend their time in the band of latitudes relevant to Chinese national security concerns...In conclusion, the Chinese are building a high-revisit constellation, in all likelihood for tactical use."



Perhaps likely optical/infra-red naval viewing targets include surface ships, surfaced submarines and even snorkels. Other sensors including SAR might be useful detecting shallow running submarines including submarine wakes. 

Technical advances in China's reconnaissance satellites may one day make (non-AIP) conventional submarines, like Australia's, that need to regularly snort, unviable. 

Other viewing targets may be stealth aircraft, SLBMs and SLCMs being launched and in flight. 


December 7, 2017

Israel's Dolphin Submarine Nuclear Strike Issues

It is well known Israel has nuclear weapons and considers Iran its main future nuclear threat. But what issues is Israel facing with its main first and second strike platforms - the Dolphin submarines?

Launch Points

To assure a future nuclear armed Iran that Israel’s submarines could destroy Iran in a second strike Israel requires sound geographical deployments (see map below). As Israel’s Dolphin submarine base at Haifa is on the eastern Mediterranean this provides unimpeded access to a second strike launch zone (say) 30 nautical miles (nm) offshore. There is the great advantage of only a short time (2 or 3 hours) from leaving Haifa to arriving at a launch point.

Other close options for launch points, eg. the Red Sea or Gulf of Aqaba, would take days and are easily blocked in time of war. The Suez Canal and Red Sea were both blocked in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1956 and 1967. These waterways are too shallow and/or narrow to be submarine friendly.

Submarine passage through the Suez Canal by international law must, very indiscreetly for a submarine, be on the surface. The risks that an Iranian Kilo submarine or aircraft might intercept a Dolphin are very real, as a Dolphin exits south from the Suez Canal or Red Sea.

This leaves the Arabian Sea, off Iran’s southern coast, as the only other, barely viable, launch zone. But major problems are arduous voyages over excessively long distances. This all complicates calculations of lead times and reduces Israel’s ability to plausibly threaten Iran with a second strike.

From Haifa, via the Suez Canal and Red Sea, to the middle of the Arabian Sea a return trip is just over 6,000nm and takes 30 days at a rapid snorkelling speed of 10 knots. For distance calculations see. With the Dolphin’s “maximum unrefuelled range [of] 8,000 nautical miles” this leaves little fuel for operating on station or fleeing pursuers. Refuelling from a submarine tender or friendly base (if there is one) may well be necessary. Refuelling becomes highly specialised if a Dolphin II also needs AIP chemicals. Refuelling has to take into account the possible need for emergency high-speed tactics, which burn up fuel rapidly.

If the narrows to the south of Israel are blocked or unusable for other reasons then the longer route, via the Strait of Gibraltar and around South Africa (Cape of Good Hope) is even further. This means  12,000nm over a 50 day transit (one-way). This adds up to (2 x 50 days) + 30 days on station = a 130 day mission. For a conventional submarine with only 35 to 45 crew this would be too exhausting, leading to major drops in efficiency and safety. Three indiscrete refuelling and reprovisioning cycles would likely be required.


Perhaps the simplest way to avoid distant launch point operations is to increase the range of the Dolphin’s nuclear tipped land attack missiles. But details of these missiles are unclear. Israel advertises its SLCM as an unlikely and major modification of the Popeye air to surface missile (also see this reference). The Israeli SLCM is advertised to have a range of 1,500km. They may be:

1.  long and one-stage rocket propelled allowing them to operate at the edge of space at least at
     supersonic speed over their whole trajectory. Speed and high altitude would make them more
     difficult to shoot down. But having sufficient range from undersea launch and with a sufficient payload are major technical hurdles of such small rockets. Or

2.  Israel’s answer to the US Tomahawk SLCM. Drawbacks are SLCMs' subsonic speed and
     relatively low and vulnerable altitude would limit their value as second strike weapons.

My theory is the so-called “Popeye Turbo”, as it applies to an alleged SLCM, is a cover name developed by Israel and the US for an Israeli derivative of the US Tomahawk. A derivative created by US Tomahawk scientists/technicians who retired to Israel, assisted by Israel’s well known talent for technical intelligence gathering.

An alternative theory is that “Popeye Turbo” is a small SLBM tested by Israel in the Indian Ocean in 2002. This was a test also involving India. India at a minimum could have provided Israel with a launchpad, testing airspace and sea-space because Israel testing SLBMs in the Mediterranean or close waters would meet much international political resistance. Perhaps a deal included Israel assisting India in developing the mini-SLBM Sagarika/K-15. To control publicity the 2002 missile test was plausibly witnessed by the US, probably after being alerted to watch it.

Israel’s “Popeye Turbo” SLCM, miniature SLBM or Israeli Tomahawk may well be launched through the Dolphins’ horizontal 650mm torpedo tubes. Such missiles from launch zones 30nm west of Haifa can already hit Tehran.


If Israel’s next class of three submarines (Dolphin 3s?) are larger than the current Dolphin 2s, then larger, longer range missiles might be mounted.

Israel’s Dolphins would very likely launch their SLBMs or SLCMs from the Mediterranean Sea because alternative launch points involve indiscrete movement, choke points and/or excessively long voyages.

One day Australia might need to consider similar issues Israel is facing now, that is second strikes using missiles mounted on conventional (for Australia “Future”) submarines.


December 6, 2017

With Few Spares Germany's 6 Submarines Are Broken "Kaputt"

As the seagull says - its interesting that since October 2017 none of the German Navy's fleet of six Type 212A submarines seem to be available for operations. 

Drawing from a report of October 20, 2017 by Sebastian Sprenger for DefenseNews

“Navy officials blame bottlenecks in the procurement of spare parts for the submarines’ downtime. While a comprehensive package of spare parts was a key aspect of any new acquisition during the Cold War, cost-saving measures adopted since then have resulted in parts no longer being kept in reserve....”

Of the German Navy’s 6 subs “U-Boote”:

U-31  is being overhauled at TKMS’s Kiel shipyard until December 2017 or is that 2018
          Is U-31 operational yet?
U-32  is out of service, awaiting a maintenance spot at TKMS’s Kiel shipyard
U-33  is being overhauled at TKMS’s Kiel shipyard until February 2018
U-34  is out of service, awaiting a maintenance spot at TKMS’s Kiel shipyard
U-35  was moved into TKMS shipyard at Kiel after an X-plane rudder blade was damaged during a
          diving manoeuvre off Norway on October 15, 2017. Damage to be repaired by?

U-36  is being overhauled at TKMS’s Kiel shipyard until May 2018


Germany's online on October 20, 2017 reported once translated into English:
"SPARE PARTS BOTTLENECK: Marine misery: Germany's submarines are all broken" (in German the article says "kaputt"). To translate this German language article Right-click mouse, then "Translate to English". 

As at December 2, 2017 the situation does not appear to have improved

Are any of Germany's submarines available or operational as of December 6, 2017?


December 5, 2017

Chinese's SOSUS in South China Sea On Dual-Use Cables


Since February 18, 2016Submarine Implications of Woody andthe 3 Reef basesSubmarine Matters has been concerned about China laying Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) arrays on the seafloor: At that time I wrote:

“-  For ASW and anti-shipping China can also string its undersea SeaWeb (SOSUS just part of it)
     networks between the island/reefs and the Chinese mainland.”


This concern about Chinese SOSUS has become more widespread. 

On the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s (ASPI’s) The Strategist website Eli Huang from Taiwan has written a most interesting article which describes mainland China’s campaign to string SOSUS capable high speed undersea fibre optic cables between its recently militarised islands in the South China Sea.

The article “China’s cable strategy: exploring global undersea dominance” is dated
December 4, 2017. The following is just a small part of Ms Huang's article:

“...China sees cable networks as an essential element of its One Belt, One Road initiative. Undersea cables will ensure that Beijing is well placed to influence media and psychological operations as part of its ‘three warfares’ strategy. In the military arena, such a cable network creates a strategic advantage in anti-submarine warfare for the Chinese navy. It will form an irreplaceable part of China’s underwater observation system in the South China Sea. This ‘underwater great wall’ includes a number of subsurface sensors connected through optical cables to a central processing and monitoring facility in Shanghai. The system will function much like America’s SOSUS network, which employs fixed sensor arrays to detect Soviet submarines. A Chinese system could erode American undersea warfare advantages in the South China Sea.
Undersea cables have been described as Taiwan’s Achilles’ heel. In the event of a conflict across the Taiwan Strait, the cables will be prime Chinese targets: cutting them will cripple Taiwan’s international communications. And the damage wouldn’t be confined to Taiwan. There are at least 10 international submarine cables between Taiwan and Asia–Pacific countries. Damaging Taiwan’s cables would disrupt international business and financial markets, leading to severe economic effects on regional countries, including Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia...”
Eli Huang is an assistant research fellow of the Prospect Foundation in Taiwan. She is also special assistant to Dr Chong-Pin Lin, former deputy minister of national defense in Taiwan. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Prospect Foundation.



Separately from the Article. China's claimed islands are in red above, most are being militarised with 100,000s tons of sand and concrete for sea ports and airports on which weapons are placed. Dual civilian-military use undersea cables can carry SOSUS arrays, For example, from Mischief Reef-Woody Island-Hainan Island-mainland China. (Map courtesy amti.csis, janes and lawfareblog). 

Scroll across to the South China Sea on this TeleGeography-Huawei Marine Networks interactive submarine cable map to see how intense cable laying across the South China Sea is becoming.