Friday, May 19, 2017

Labour Party Backs Renewal Of Trident In Manifesto

Staff, Times & Star
16 May 2017

The controversial Trident nuclear deterrent would be retained under a Labour government, the party has confirmed in its manifesto.
Although it did not form a part of leader Jeremy Corbyn's public unveiling of the policies he hopes will win him the election, it was contained within the 124-page document.
On page 120, the paragraph referring to it says: "Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent."
Concrete support for renewal of the missiles came after suggestions to that effect when the party's draft manifesto was leaked last week.
It is seen as a major issue in Cumbria because the submarines which carry the warheads are built in Barrow at BAE Systems.
The news has been welcomed by John Woodcock, who is hoping to be re-elected in Barrow and Furness on June 8.
He said: "I am focusing on the local issues that matter to our community rather than the national manifesto because it's obvious that Theresa May is so far ahead elsewhere in the country that she will remain as prime minister after the election.
"However, there are some important ideas in here that show the difference a strong Labour opposition could make with local MPs that are determined to stand up for their community against a Tory landslide.
"It's particularly pleasing to see the commitment to renew Trident remaining Labour Party policy in the manifesto after years of campaigning by our community.
"The choice for Barrow and Furness on 8 June is to re-elect me as your strong, independent Labour voice against a Tory landslide or a Conservative nodding dog who won't stand up against the NHS cuts to our local hospital."
Despite supporting the retention of Trident, the manifesto did set out Labour's commitment to furthering the UK's part in complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an international agreement with the objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament.
Simon Fell, who is contesting the Barrow in Furness seat for the Conservatives, has poured scorn on the Trident announcement.
He said: "It hasn't changed anything. I find their manifesto is quite worrying. They will back Trident for the next three weeks but after that they would have a strategic defense review.
"If a government led by Jeremy Corbyn or Labour on its own comes in to power it is entirely possible that the entire program of work for defense will be re-written.
"The manifesto is a fudge, it is the Labour Party trying to harden itself for the next few weeks."
Labour's manifesto included announcements on a number of policies, from nationalizing rail, renationalizing the Post Office, hiring an extra 10,000 police officers and building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year by the end of the next parliament.
Also standing for election in Barrow and Furness are Loraine Birchall (Lib Dem), Rob O’Hara (Green), and Alan Nigel Piper (Ukip).

Asian Submarine Race Raises Security Concerns

Jeevan Vasagar, Financial Times
17 May 2017

A rapid build-up of submarines in the western Pacific is fuelling Asian demand for vessels with advanced technology, defense groups say.
The number of submarines in the region is expected to rise to 250 from 200 within eight years, according to Singapore’s defense ministry, which warned this week of a growing risk of “miscalculations at sea”.
Quiet vessels with long-range firepower pose a challenge for planners seeking to keep Asian sea lanes open, said contractors and analysts gathered at a maritime defense exhibition in Singapore.
“The region is growing submarine capability quicker than anywhere else on the planet at the moment,” said Brett Reed, responsible for Southeast Asia defense sales at Austal, the Australian shipbuilder. “[Asian] navies want to be able to search for, detect and prosecute submarines.”
The latest increase in naval capabilities came this week when Singapore, which has the biggest defense budget in Southeast Asia, announced the purchase of two submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.
The number of submarines in the region is expected to rise to 250 from 200 within eight years, according to Singapore’s defense ministry, which warned this week of a growing risk of “miscalculations at sea”.
Quiet vessels with long-range firepower pose a challenge for planners seeking to keep Asian sea lanes open, said contractors and analysts gathered at a maritime defense exhibition in Singapore.
“The region is growing submarine capability quicker than anywhere else on the planet at the moment,” said Brett Reed, responsible for Southeast Asia defense sales at Austal, the Australian shipbuilder. “[Asian] navies want to be able to search for, detect and prosecute submarines.”
The latest increase in naval capabilities came this week when Singapore, which has the biggest defense budget in Southeast Asia, announced the purchase of two submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.
The number of submarines in the region is expected to rise to 250 from 200 within eight years, according to Singapore’s defense ministry, which warned this week of a growing risk of “miscalculations at sea”.
Quiet vessels with long-range firepower pose a challenge for planners seeking to keep Asian sea lanes open, said contractors and analysts gathered at a maritime defense exhibition in Singapore.
“The region is growing submarine capability quicker than anywhere else on the planet at the moment,” said Brett Reed, responsible for Southeast Asia defense sales at Austal, the Australian shipbuilder. “[Asian] navies want to be able to search for, detect and prosecute submarines.”
The latest increase in naval capabilities came this week when Singapore, which has the biggest defense budget in Southeast Asia, announced the purchase of two submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.

Southeast Asia Building Up Maritime Defenses

Jun Endo, Nikkei Asian Review
17 May 2017
MANILA – From Singapore to the Philippines, Southeast Asian nations are spending big on submarines and other vessels to ramp up their naval capabilities amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.
The five major Southeast Asian countries have all increased defense spending by double digits in the five years through 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Indonesia and Vietnam have both seen a more than 60% boost. Seven countries in the region ranked among the world's top 40 arms importers last year, accounting for over 9% of global imports.
Singapore's Defense Ministry on Tuesday signed a contract to purchase two submarines from Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. It had bought two of the same vessels in 2013. It is replacing older submarines in order to secure nearby sea lanes, as trade traffic through the Strait of Malacca grows.
The Republic of Singapore Navy held its inaugural International Maritime Review the day before. "The RSN had a humble beginning and started with only two wooden ships," President Tony Tan Keng Yam said at a parade. "Fifty years on, the RSN is now an advanced and integrated naval force comprising frigates, submarines, naval helicopters and other vessels."
Thailand's military government also recently approved the purchase of a non-nuclear submarine from China for 13.5 billion baht ($391 million at current rates), with plans to buy two more. It overrode domestic opposition, citing the need to increase maritime security.
From land to sea
Traditionally in Southeast Asia, the army has been the more influential military arm. But with the growth in maritime trade and Beijing's militarization in the South China Sea, countries are shifting their focus to nautical forces. Economic growth has expanded room for military spending, and Japan and other countries are also providing Southeast Asian nations with more defense equipment.
The Philippine Coast Guard dispatched a surveillance ship it received from Japan to Benham Rise earlier this month. China is believed to have conducted unauthorized exploratory activities by the formation, located 250km east of the Philippine island of Luzon.
Japan has provided three 40-meter surveillance vessels to the Philippines so far, and is scheduled to hand over seven more by 2018. It is also planning to provide two 90-meter vessels. Many of the Philippine Coast Guard vessels are older, and the country was forced to back down in the face of China's overwhelming might during a 2012 standoff in the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Manila is working to modernize its equipment, and increased military spending by nearly 40% between 2011 and 2016.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has purchased six Kilo-class submarines from Russia, the last of which was delivered to its key military port in Cam Ranh Bay in January. The U.S. also lifted its arms embargo on Vietnam last year for the first time since the Vietnam War, which means the Southeast Asian nation could start buying American arms. Outside the region, Taiwan launched a homegrown submarine program in March.
No country wants a military clash with China. But the growing naval presence could ultimately lead to an arms race in the region and raise the stakes in the South China Sea.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Navy & UK Manufactures 17 Tactical Nuclear-Missile Tubes for  "Columbia-Class" Submarines

The effort is to ensure a second-strike nuclear ability from beneath the ocean around the world in the event of a catastrophic first-strike on the continental U.S. 


Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
4 May 2017 

The Navy has recently advanced development of a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to be used as undersea strategic deterrents -- by signing a deal to being the manufacture of 17 new tactical missile tubes able to fire nuclear-armed Trident II D5 missiles. 
A 95-million modification to a Naval Sea Systems Command deal with Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, is a key part of the Navy's broader deterrence strategy to ensure a second-strike nuclear ability from beneath the ocean around the world in the event of a catastrophic first-strike on the continental US. 
The effort, which has been preceded by "tube and hull" forging work underway for several years, is part of a collaborative US-UK Common Missile Compartment program.
The US and UK are together immersed in a common missile compartment effort.  In fact, the US and UK have been buying parts together for the common missile compartment and working on a $770 million contract with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat. This recent contract modification includes foreign military sales to the United Kingdom.  Work will be performed in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and is expected to be completed by December 2023. United Kingdom foreign military sales funding in the amount of $22,957,933 will be obligated at the time of award, a Pentagon statement said. 
The US plans to build 12 new Columbia-Class Submarines, each with 16 missile tubes, and the UK plans to build four nuclear-armed ballistic submarines, each with 12 missile tubes. 
Earlier this year, ship specifications for the new Columbia-Class submarines were completed and the program is now in detailed design phase and initial production contract, service officials said.
In acquisition terms, development of the new submarines have passed what's termed "Milestone B," clearing the way beyond early development toward ultimate production. Production decisions are known as "Milestone C."
"The program was approved to proceed to Milestone B Jan. 4, authorizing it to enter into the engineering and manufacturing development phase and permitting the transition from preliminary design to detail design,"  William Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior earlier this year. 
Ultimately, the Navy hopes to build and operate as many as 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, to be in service by the early 2040s and serve well into the 2080s. 
The Navy has begun early construction and prototyping on a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines designed to help ensure global peace by deploying massive destructive power under the sea.
The Ohio Replacement Program, a so-called SSBN, is scheduled to begin construction by 2021. Requirements work, technical specifications and early prototyping have already been underway at General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Designed to be 560-feet– long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, ORP will be engineered as a stealthy, high-tech nuclear deterrent able to quietly patrol the global undersea domain. 
The new submarines are being designed for 42 years of service life.
Construction on the first submarine in this new class is slated to be finished up by 2028, with initial combat patrols beginning in 2031, service officials said. 

 Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

Detailed design for the first Columbia-Class submarine is happening now. The new submarines are being engineered to quietly patrol the undersea domain and function as a crucial strategic deterrent, assuring a second strike or retaliatory nuclear capability in the event of nuclear attack.
The Navy is only building 12 Columbia-Class submarines to replace 14 existing Ohio-class nuclear-armed boats because the new submarines are being built with an improved nuclear core reactor that will better sustain the submarines, Navy officials have said.
As a result, the Columbia-Class submarines will be able to serve a greater number of deployments than the ships they are replacing and not need a mid-life refueling in order to complete 42 years of service.
With the life of ship reactor core, there is not a need for mid-life refueling, Navy developers explained.
By engineering a "life-of-ship" reactor core, the service is able to build 12 SSBNs able to have the same at sea presence as the current fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines. The plan is intended to save the program 40 billion savings in acquisition and life-cycle cost, Navy developers said. 
Electric Boat and the Navy are already progressing on early prototype work connecting missile tubes to portions of the hull, officials said.  Called integrated tube and hull forging, the effort is designed to weld parts of the boat together and assess the ability to manufacture key parts of the submarine before final integration.
 In 2012, General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a five-year research and development deal for the Ohio Replacement submarines with a value up to $1.85 billion.  The contract contains specific incentives for lowering cost and increasing manufacturing efficiency, Navy and Electric Boat officials said. 

Next-Generation Technology

Columbia-Class submarines are being designed with a series of next-generation technologies, many of them from the Virginia-Class attack submarine.  Leveraging existing systems from current attack submarines allows the Columbia-Class program to integrate the most current technologies and systems while, at the same time, saving the developmental costs of beginning a new effort, officials said. 
The Columbia-Class will utilize Virginia-class’s fly-by-wire joystick control system and large-aperture bow array sonar.
Sonar technology work by sending out an acoustic ping and then analyzing the return signal in order to discern shape, location or dimensions of an undersea threat. 
Navy experts explained that the large aperture bow array is water backed with no dome and very small hydrophones able to last for the life of the ship; the new submarines do not have an air-backed array, preventing the need to replace transducers every 10-years.  
The submarines combat systems from Virginia-class attack submarines, consisting of electronic surveillance measures, periscopes, radios and computer systems, are also being integrated into the new submarines. The new Columbia-class subs will also utilize an automated control fly-by-wire navigation system, a technology that is also on the Virginia-Class attack submarines. A computer built-into the ship's control system uses algorithms to maintain course and depth by sending a signal to the rudder and the stern. 
The shafts of the new submarines are being built to last up to 10 or 12 years in order to synchronize with the ships maintenance schedule. Existing shafts only last six to eight years, developers said. 
The Columbia-Class will also use Virginia-class’s next-generation communications system, antennas and mast.   For instance, what used to be a periscope is now a
camera mast connected to fiber-optic cable, enabling crew members in the submarine to see images without needing to stand beneath the periscope.  This allows designers to move command and control areas to larger parts of the ship and still have access to images from the camera mast, Electric Boat and Navy officials said.
The Columbia-Class submarine are also engineering a new electric motor for the submarine which will turn the shaft and the rotor for the propulsion system. The new motor will make propulsion more efficient and potentially bring tactical advantages as well.
In total, the Navy hopes to buy 12 of the new submarines to serve into 2085 and beyond. 
Production for the lead ship in a planned fleet of 12 Ohio Replacement submarines is expected to cost $12.4 billion — $4.8 billion in non-recurring engineering or development costs and $7.6 billion in ship construction, Navy officials have said. 
The Navy hopes to build Ohio Replacement submarine numbers two through 12 for $4.9 billion each in 2010 dollars.

U.S. Navy Sub’s Overheating Motor First Glitch in $126 Billion System  

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg Government
4 May 2017 

The first known glitch in a $126 billion nuclear-armed submarine program -- overheating of a prototype motor -- was disclosed by a key U.S. lawmaker this week and confirmed by the Navy, which said it has fixed the problem. 
The flaw in the main propulsion motor was discovered earlier this year, the Navy said in a statement Thursday. Still, it was a milestone, of sorts: an early setback for the submarine being built by General Dynamics Corp. and top subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.
“It’s a technical hiccup in the performance of a motor,” Representative Rob Wittman   , the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services seapower panel, told reporters Wednesday. “There’s a motor that didn’t perform properly. It overheated.”
The Navy said in its statement that the issue with the motor designed by a General Dynamics subcontractor isn’t expected to delay planned delivery -- anticipated for around 2028 -- of the first of 12 submarines that the service needs to have on patrol by 2031. Construction of the vessel is set to begin in fiscal 2021.
“Recovery from this manufacturing problem will result in late delivery of the prototype motor to the test facility” but “sufficient margin exists in the test program to accommodate” recovering from the issue “without impacting delivery of the shipboard motor” to the first ship, Captain Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.
Lucy Ryan, a General Dynamics spokeswoman, referred inquiries about the overheating motor to the Navy.
Wittman said he planned to meet with the head of the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion division Admiral James Caldwell and some of the contractors to ask “why did this happen?”

Trillion-Dollar Modernization

The Columbia-class submarine will replace the aging Ohio class. It’s part of a trillion-dollar program to modernize the U.S.’s sea-air-land nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, including maintenance and support. President-elect Donald Trump has said “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The new submarine class ranks among the Pentagon’s most expensive programs. The projected $126 billion acquisition cost, an estimate that includes expected inflation, is third behind the $379 billion F-35 aircraft and the $153 billion ballistic-missile defense network.
The Congressional Research Service said in a report on the submarine that its schedule “currently includes little or no slack between now and 2031 for absorbing delays” due to funding shortfalls, or “problems in developing and testing new technologies intended for the Columbia class, such as its electric-drive propulsion system.” 

Iran Attempted Missile Launch From Submarine, US Officials Say

Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News
3 May 2017

Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a submarine in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday but the test failed, two U.S. officials told Fox News.
An Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine conducted the missile launch. North Korea and Iran are the only two countries in the world that operate this type of submarine.
In February, Iran claimed to have successfully tested a submarine-launched missile. It was not immediately clear if Tuesday’s test was the first time Iran had attempted to launch a missile underwater from a submarine.
This incident comes on the heels of other recent provocations from Iran. 
In April, the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destoryer fired a warning flare after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel came within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan. 
The USS Mahan "made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship's whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel's intentions."
Iranian officials announced late last month that the country's defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that its military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it a "forward moving force," according to reports in the BBC.
Iran's official IRNA news agency also announced recently that the country has become self-sufficient in producing the amount of gas that it requires on a daily basis.
North Korea in 2015 conducted a successful ballistic missile test from a submarine for the first time.

US Navy Considers UAVS To Maintain Visual On Sailors At Sea

Staff, Naval-Technology
4 May 2017

US Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) sailors have developed a new use for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to maintain a visual on the sailors at sea, especially during man-overboard situations.
Since 2006, more than 110 sailors and marines have fallen overboard with eight losing their lives, stated the Naval Safety Center.
Conducting operations during rough sea conditions and low visibility increase the risk of a crew member going overboard, and are the most difficult times to maintain a visual on the sailor.
Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet (SUBPAC) lieutenant commander Christopher Keithley said: “Being on the sail of a sub during a night transit in stormy weather made me think about what if someone were to fall overboard, how hard would it be turn around and find them.
“As a submarine officer, I have done numerous man-overboard drills at sea where I gained an appreciation for the difficulty in keeping track of low-profile objects in even the calmest of seas. It was this background that I brought to one of our innovation Lab [iLab] events where the discussion of UAVs occurred.”
During the initial proof of concept pilot program event, Keithley and his team from iLab worked in collaboration to move on with their plan.
Keithley added: “My UAV concept isn't meant to replace current man-overboard procedures but work with them. Because of this program, I was able to present my idea and hopefully contribute to solving this challenge.”
The idea has been selected to be presented at the next PACFLT Commander's Conference in June.
Keithley added: "I'm grateful for this opportunity and hope one day I can see the man-overboard UAV used on every ship and submarine that operate in open water."