Monday, November 28, 2016

The New Frontier For Drone Warfare: Under The Sea

Christian Davenport, Washington Post
24 November 2016 

As unmanned aerial drones have become a critical part of modern warfare, the Pentagon is now looking to deploy autonomous robots underwater, patrolling the sea floor on what one top Navy official called an “Eisenhower highway network,” complete with rest stops where the drones could recharge.
Although still in the development stages, the technology has matured in recent years to be able to overcome the vast difficulties of operating underwater, a far more harsh environment than what aerial drones face in the sky.
Saltwater corrodes metal. Water pressure can be crushing at great depths. And communication is severely limited, so the vehicles must be able to navigate on their own without being remotely piloted.
Despite the immense difficulties, the Navy has been testing and fielding several new systems designed to map the ocean floor, seek out mines, search for submarines and even launch attacks. While the unmanned crafts are now able to stay out for days or weeks, the goal is to create an underwater network of service stations that would allow the vehicles to do their jobs for months – and eventually years.
Military officials say there is a sense of urgency because the undersea domain, while often overlooked, could one day be as contested as the surface of the sea, the skies – and even space.
While Russia and China are investing in their submarine fleets, the Pentagon has sought to seize an advantage by introducing new technologies, especially those where humans team up with highly capable robots and autonomous systems.
In 2015, the Navy appointed its first deputy assistant secretary for unmanned systems. And the Pentagon plans to
invest as much as $3 billion in undersea systems in the coming years.
Last month, the Navy participated in the multi-nation Unmanned Warrior exercise off the coast of Scotland. Autonomous subs worked in concert with aerial drones to pass along intelligence that could be relayed from undersea to the air and then to troops on the ground.
It’s too early to tell how the Trump administration might view the plans. But Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said advancements in undersea warfare should continue to be a priority for the Navy.
“The Pentagon feels like the U.S. is well positioned to do undersea warfare and anti-submarine warfare better than any other country,” said Clark, the author of a report titled “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare.” “What’s changing, though, is other counties are developing the ability to deny above the water. . . . So the U.S. is thinking it’ll have to rely much more on under the water.”
The goal is to have the unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) deploy from manned submarines or even large autonomous drone subs the way fighter jets take off from aircraft carriers, he said. The Chinese and others have built sensors that can detect large manned submarines, but the military could still send in small, hard-to-detect drone subs.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR), which looks to develop advanced technologies, is seeking to “build the Eisenhower highway network on the seabeds in the seven oceans,” Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, head of the office, said at a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies this year. The ultimate goal is to “have large-scale deployments of UUVs,” he said. “We want them to go out for decades at a time.”
While the project is still in the conceptual stages, the Navy would one day like to build service stations underwater, similar to highway rest stops. There is even a name for them: forward-deployed energy and communications outposts.
“A place where you can gas up or charge your underwater vehicles, transfer data and maybe store some data,” said Frank Herr, the head of the ONR’s ocean battlespace sensing department.
While that may be a long way off, the Pentagon is testing vehicles that are capable of going out for weeks or even months at a time. In recent years, Boeing has developed the Echo Ranger and Echo Seeker, autonomous vehicles capable of carrying out days-long operations. This year, it debuted the Echo Voyager, a 51-foot-long autonomous submarine with the ability to stay out for months; it isn’t dependent on a support ship the way others are.
“You don’t need to have a support ship involved, and that drastically reduces the daily operational cost,” said Lance Towers, director of sea and land at Boeing’s Phantom Works division.
This year, General Dynamics boosted its underwater offerings when it acquired Bluefin Robotics, which makes several types of underwater robots. Its 16-foot-long Bluefin-21 vehicle is capable of launching what the company calls “micro UUVs,” known as SandSharks, that weigh only about 15 pounds. The SandSharks could scan an enemy shoreline and pop up to the surface to relay data to aircraft flying overhead. The Bluefin-21 could even launch a tube that goes to the surface, sticks up like a large straw and then shoots out an unmanned aerial vehicle like a spitball.
While there are still huge hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to battery life, underwater-vehicle technology is about where drone technology for aircraft was in the 1990s, said Carlo Zaffanella, General Dynamics’ vice president and general manager for maritime and strategic systems.
Signal processing is improving. So is autonomy, Zaffanella said. And the advancements are coming “at a time when underwater warfare is becoming more important.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a plan to plant 15-foot-tall pods across the ocean floor that could sit there for years waiting to be awakened. When they received a signal, they would float to the surface and release aerial drones, which could perform surveillance over shorelines.
Raytheon, meanwhile, is working on a torpedo that instead of blowing things up would be the military’s eyes and ears underwater, scouting for mines or enemy submarines, mapping the ocean floor and measuring currents.
The new generation of undersea vehicles would require powerful computer brains.
“The undersea environment is particularly challenging and unpredictable,” Navy Rear Adm. Bill Merz said at a recent conference. “I would even go out on a limb here to say we are truly the unmanned of the unmanned vehicles, and in most cases we don’t even have a man in the loop. So what we field and put in the water is on its own until we hear from it again.”

Navy Veteran, Who Was Supposed To Be On USS Thresher, To Be Buried Where Submarine Sank

Julia Bergman, New London Day
27 November 2016 

GROTON — A Navy veteran will soon be laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean, more than 200 miles off the New England coast.
A submarine from the Naval Submarine Base will fulfill the wish of deceased Navy Capt. Paul "Bud" Rogers to be buried at sea. During routine operations, the submarine will transport Rogers' cremated remains to where the USS Thresher (SSN-593) sank.
The Navy is not releasing the name of the submarine or the date the burial will take place, since it does not discuss submarine operations.
Rogers, who spent much of his 41-year career serving on submarines, was supposed to be an observer on the Thresher during the boat's sea trials, but his supervisor, at the last minute, decided that he didn't have enough experience and replaced him with someone else.
It was just a day or two later, according to Rogers' wife, that on April 10, 1963, the Thresher sank — killing all 129 men aboard.
Rogers was devastated, and felt survivor's remorse for much of his life.
"Bud felt that he should've been the one to go down with the Thresher, not this other man," his wife, Barbara "Bobbye" Rogers, 86, said from her home in Wernersville, Penn. "All those years, it bothered him."
He served as an usher at the men's memorial service, which was attended by their families, including the wife of the man who replaced Rogers. She wouldn't speak to him, Rogers' wife said.
"Oh, that just really did it. He felt terrible ... He always felt he should've been the one to go down on the Thresher," Barbara Rogers said.
The Navy has said the disaster likely was caused by a leak in the boat's engine room, which led to seawater flooding an electric panel that triggered the nuclear reactor to shut down. With no propulsion, and with the added weight of the water, the ship sank below its crush depth and imploded.
The Thresher was the first nuclear submarine to be lost at sea, and shortly afterward the Navy created a program that developed new submarine safety standards.
Rogers died on Oct. 28, 2015, at the age of 86, and requested in his will to be buried at sea. Though he did not specify where, his family thought it would be fitting to bury him with the 129 men who went down with the Thresher, said his son-in-law Fred Henney, who has worked with the Navy to coordinate the burial.
An ancient maritime tradition, burials at sea have taken place for as long as people have gone to sea.
Lt. Cmdr. Paul Rumery, who will carry out Rogers' burial, has performed more than a couple dozen of these ceremonies, which usually last 15 minutes, since becoming a Navy chaplain in December 2000.
While the ashes are often left on a submarine's sail as it submerges, given the family's request to bury Rogers at a specific location, the submarine carrying his remains will transit on the surface to a point where Rumery, who will be topside, will be able to lower the cremation urn into the ocean, he said. Rogers' family will be provided with the date and coordinates of his burial.
Rogers, who was born in Robesonia, a borough in western Pennsylvania with a population of about 2,000, joined the Navy right after World War II.
He served as a fire controlman, operating the weapons systems aboard diesel and ballistic missile submarines, and was stationed at the sub base several times throughout his career. He was commissioned as an officer in 1963, and was one of the first limited duty officers to be promoted to the rank of captain.
Rogers was the program manager for the Trident Missile Program, and commanded the Nuclear Weapons Evaluation Facility at Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., before retiring from the Navy in 1990.
"It was just the love of his life. That was his first love, the submarines and the Navy. Somewhere in there, I came in," his wife joked.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

India Should Rethink Its Submarine Building Plan: Manohar Parrikar

Staff, NDTV
22 November 2016

Calling for a rethink of its submarine building programme, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today that India should look for greater numbers than the existing plan of constructing 24 such vessels.
Referring to the existing 30-year submarine building plan that envisages construction of 24 submarines, including both nuclear and conventional, Mr Parrikar said India needed a longer term plan till 2050. The existing plan ends in 2030.
He also said that the strategic partnership model is in the last stage and once brought out, the ministry will fast-track the P75 India project under which six more conventional submarines are to be built.
He ruled that unlike the ongoing nuclear submarine project, the indigenization on the Scorpene projects is very low (30-40 per cent).
Mr Parrikar emphasized on the need to retain skill and skilled people engaged in submarine construction and said the focus should also be on maintenance.
"We need to rethink about the real requirement based on our projection... We also need to assure that the skilled manpower and skills developed need to be retained," he said.
The minister noted that prime contractors are chosen through stringent criteria and are nurtured through award of contracts on sustained basis so as to retain the industrial base skills, capabilities and technology.
He said that Russia has built 595 submarines till date while the US has constructed 285 submarines.
On strategic partnership, he said, "It has already been approved and the drafting of the chapters is underway.
Approval is needed by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and probably by the Cabinet as well as it has financial implications," he said.
Mr Parrikar also called for a higher level of indigenization in submarine-building.
"Indigenization in Scorpenes is not up to the mark, but in the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme (nuclear submarines) it is over 70 per cent," he said.

USS Dallas, Featured In 'Hunt For Red October,' Completes Final Cruise –  Just In Time For Thanksgiving

David Owens, Hartford Courant
22 November 2016
Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on Earth, but Pier 8 at the Naval Submarine Base New London had the edge for a few hours Tuesday as the USS Dallas arrived home from an eight-month deployment and gleeful children, wives and girlfriends wrapped their arms around dads, husbands and boyfriends.
"Daddy," one young boy said with a mix of shock and joy as he spotted his father walking toward him. A young girl, her front teeth missing, smiled broadly as she spotted her dad.
The joyful reunions were the point of Tuesday's gathering at the sub base, but since it's the Navy it was no free-for-all. First, the boat had to be secured to the dock.
Then a customs enforcement officer had to look things over. Then the garbage had to removed.
Then it was time for crew to reunite with loved ones.
The cruise that ended Tuesday is very likely the last for the submarine, scheduled to be decommissioned in 2017. The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine joined the fleet in 1981 and is the second oldest Los Angeles-class sub still in service. It was made famous in the Tom Clancy 1984 debut novel "The Hunt For Red October," and the 1990 movie based on the book.
"It's kind of amazing how well these ships are built," said Dallas Capt. Jack Houdeshell. "At 35 years ... Dallas is still going strong and met all the requirements of what our commander wanted us to do."
As Dallas approached the sub base at Groton, first passing the Electric Boat shipyard where its construction began in 1976, horns sounded. The first to blast a greeting was the Nautilus, the Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine and now a museum moored next to the sub base. Other submarines in port sounded their horns as the Dallas got closer.
Following Navy tradition, the first crew member off the boat was Chief Petty Officer Eammon Sirhal, who would be meeting his 5-month-old daughter, Emma, for the first time. She was born about two months after the Dallas sailed from Groton.
Sirhal walked from the gangway and his wife, Kate, carrying Emma, walked from the end of the pier, where other family members waited. Cheers went up as the couple got closer, then Sirhal hugged his wife and took his daughter's tiny hand into his. "There she is," he said.
Sirhal said he'd seen photos of his daughter via email, but Tuesday was special. "Now I finally get to meet her," he said. The couple settled on Emma's name before she was born and before Dallas departed April 6.
Lisa DeGraff of Mystic had her 16-month-old daughter, Hannah, and her in-laws, John and Beverly DeGraff, with her to await the arrival of her husband, Chief Petty Officer Sean DeGraff. 
When he left, Lisa DeGraff said, Hannah wasn't crawling. Now she's a toddler who is constantly on the move. "He has no idea what he's coming back to," she said with a grin.
While at sea, Sean DeGraff attained the rank of chief, something his mother said had been a life goal. "Since he was 8 years old, that's all he's talked about," she said. "I want to be a Navy chief." 
Where'd he get the idea? Both of his parents are retired Navy chiefs.
Becoming a chief is a big deal, Beverly DeGraff said. Her son will now be a manager and guide young sailors as they go about their work.
When submarines go to sea, crew members have limited contact with family. There's sporadic email from the sub and phone calls when the submarine visits a port.
Three months after the Dallas sailed, Petty Officer Jaron Saunders was emailing his mother-in-law, Andriette Bonds of Hartford, to let her know what he wanted for Thanksgiving dinner. The Dallas was due home a month ago, but then its deployment was extended. Saunders said he was grateful to get home in time for the holiday.
His wife, Teonna Saunders of Hartford, was barely able to contain her excitement as she awaited the sub's arrival at the pier. 
"I just need him to hurry up and get to me," she said. "I want to hug him." Teonna Saunders was joined at the pier by her mother and sister, Ahjah Gamble, also of Hartford. 
Bonds said her son-in-law, a cook aboard the Dallas, will get his wish and have macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and collard greens at Thanksgiving dinner. He also won't have to cook, she said.
During its final deployment, the Dallas served in the Central Command area, which includes the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and sailed about 37,000 nautical miles. Houdeshell said he could not talk about what missions the boat performed.
While at sea, its 132-man crew had port calls in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Scotland and France.

Netanyahu Defends His Attorney In Submarines Affair: ‘Straight As An Arrow’

Staff, Times of Israel
22 November 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday defended his under-fire personal lawyer David Shimron as “straight as an arrow,” after reports alleged Shimron sought to use his influence to push through a major submarine deal for the Israeli Navy.
“The prime minister has for many years known attorney David Shimron to be straight as an arrow,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said, describing the attorney as “a man who is over-scrupulous in adhering to the law and regulations, as well as a first-rate lawyer.”
On Monday, Hebrew-language media reported allegations that Shimron had used his close relationship to Netanyahu to push Israel to purchase several submarines from the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, as well as to allow the company to build a shipyard here, effectively outsourcing lucrative maintenance of the naval vessels.
A week ago, Shimron claimed that he “wasn’t in touch with any state official over the issue of Israel’s purchase of naval vessels” and said that his work for the German company while also serving as the prime minister’s lawyer did not constitute a conflict of interest, according to the Haaretz daily.
However, after Israel issued an international tender in 2014 for the purchase of ships to protect newly developed Mediterranean gas fields, Shimron called the legal adviser of the Defense Ministry, Ahaz Ben-Ari, to inquire why a tender was issued, as he wanted the contract to be given to ThyssenKrupp without a competitive tender process.
According to Channel 10, Shimron never mentioned to Ben-Ari at any point during the phone call that he was representing ThyssenKrupp.
Hebrew language media said Shimron had been hired by ThyssenKrupp’s exclusive representative in Israel, businessman Michael Ganor.
However, the German company denied that Ganor had Thyssenkrupp’s approval to hire Shimron.
“Our sales partners are contractually obligated to consult with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems before engaging sub-contractors. This has not happened,” the company told The Times of Israel, adding that it had no further information on the issue.
“We do what we always do as part of our process, if we get indications of irregularities: We fully check and clarify the facts,” Thyssenkrupp said.
Following the release of Channel 10’s report, Shimron denied the story, saying he “never complained about the issuance of a tender.”
He said that he merely “turned to the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser with a question. I’m permitted to do that under my conflict of interest agreement, and in this case, my call was strictly a question.”
Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu also asked the Defense Ministry why the contract was opened for competitive bidding, and pressured the Defense Ministry to cancel the tender, which eventually happened.
Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in the multi-billion-shekel deal for the submarines, saying that bolstering Israel’s long-term security needs was the “only consideration” behind the purchases.
On Sunday, the attorney general announced there was no evidence of wrongdoing that might justify a criminal investigation, but said a probe into other unspecified issues regarding the deal would continue.
Opposition lawmakers have vowed to push for a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Israeli Navy Reportedly Sought to Give Lucrative Maintenance Work to German Sub Supplier

Stuart Winer, Times of Israel
21 November 2016

In a new twist to a saga involving alleged infractions over Israel’s planned purchase of three new German submarines, the head of the IDF’s civilian workers organization claimed that senior figures in the navy deliberately provoked the workforce that maintains Israel’s submarine fleet into declaring an industrial dispute, as part of an effort to have the German shipbuilder do the lucrative maintenance work instead.
The chairman of the IDF Civilian Workers Organization, Moshe Friedman, sent a letter on Sunday to workers saying he felt compelled to give his version of events regarding maintenance work on the submarines carried out at Israel Navy shipyards, the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
The submarine deal has come under intense media scrutiny after it emerged last week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, is also working for the Germany-based conglomerate ThyssenKrupp that would supply Israel with three new submarines, allegedly giving him a stake in a NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion) defense contract. Part of the deal could also see ThyssenKrupp construct a lucrative shipyard in Israel where it would maintain the subs.
Netanyahu in recent months has been pushing for Israel to buy the vessels against the will of the IDF and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. The prime minister has said he was not aware that Shimron was representing ThyssenKrupp. The attorney general is looking into the matter but said on Sunday there was no reason to consider a criminal probe.
Inhis letter, Friedman claimed that over the past year there have been disruptions at the shipyards caused by “unusual conduct by the naval command and the navy’s dock command which dragged the workers committee into sharp conflict, ultimately leading to the declaration of a lawful labor dispute.”
It became clear, he wrote, that “there were those who were deliberately agitating… to create a false impression” that the navy’s shipyards could not be relied upon to do the maintenance work. Civilians are employed by the IDF to carry out much of the maintenance work on ships and submarines, making their future employment dependent on which shipyard would deal with the submarines.
In August, Friedman and the chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, Avi Nissenkorn, met with Shimron and Miki Ganor, an Israeli representative of ThyssenKrupp, who is reportedly poised to earn 30 million euros from the deal should it go ahead. A proposal was presented, he said, for the German firm to take over the maintenance work, in Israel, from the navy.
Attempts to persuade the Histadrut to agree to give the work to a new German-operated shipyard were accompanied by “harsh statements in an attempt to blacken the dock workers,” he wrote, while stressing that Israeli shipyard workers have never halted maintenance work on submarines.
Friedman claimed that Ganor gave the impression that the Israeli navy was fully backing the move to maintain the submarines at a German-operated yard, and that Ganor said he had checked with Haifa port authorities regarding areas that would be allocated to the German dockyard.
He said Shimron, in the meeting, suggested that it would be better for the shipyard and the workers to reach an agreement among themselves rather than have a conditions dictated by the Defense Ministry.
Friedman noted that, in his opinion, sensitive defense work, experience, and information should be kept within the navy and not contracted out to foreign companies.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday ordered his office to look into the multi-billion shekel deal to purchase the German submarines.
Mandelblit was having his office examine the circumstances surrounding the deal, but emphasized that there was no evidence at this stage that would warrant police involvement in the investigation, according to Hebrew media reports on Sunday night.
The move came hours after Netanyahu denied allegations that personal interests played a role in the deal, saying bolstering Israel’s long-term security needs was his “only consideration.”
Shimron has repeatedly denied a conflict of interest, saying he “did not discuss these matters with the prime minister” and that he made no effort to influence a decision over the deal.
Over the weekend, opposition MKs demanded an official investigation into the deal.
Last month, Netanyahu announced in a cabinet meeting that Israel was in the process of negotiating the purchase of the three new submarines for the Israeli Navy, which currently maintains a fleet of five underwater vessels, with another slated to be delivered in coming years.
The new submarines were intended as replacements for the military’s older models.
But according to Channel 10, neither Ya’alon, who served as defense minister when the deal was first proposed, nor the IDF was in favor of purchasing the new submarines — somewhat of a change of pace in the normal narrative of the defense establishment fighting for acquisitions — as the decision did not fit with the Defense Ministry’s multi-year plan for the army.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump Wants 350-Ship Navy, But How And Why?

Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
16 November 2016

There could be a lot more ships in the Navy’s future, though it remains unclear where the money will come from and exactly how those ships might be used.
President-elect Donald Trump pledged to boost the fleet to 350 ships, a proposal advocated by an outgoing Virginia congressman reportedly being considered as the next Navy secretary.
“My plan will build the 350 ship Navy we need,” Trump said in an Oct. 21 speech, according to his campaign website. “This will be the largest effort at rebuilding our military since Ronald Reagan, and it will require a truly national effort.”
The speech provided no additional details. However, U.S. Naval Institute News reported that a source close to Trump attributed the idea to Rep. Randy Forbes, whose southeast Virginia district is part of the Navy’s East Coast hub.
The Navy’s 272-ship deployable fleet is operating under a 30-year shipbuilding plan that would bring it up to 308 ships.
However, just getting the service up to 308 would require $4.5 billion more in annual shipbuilding spending than planned, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Getting to 350 would cost about $4 billion more annually on top of that, according to a Nov. 9 Congressional Research Service report. That doesn’t include several billion dollars more in maintenance, staffing, weapons acquisition and long-term costs.
The large increase in shipbuilding would be paralleled by spending increases in other areas, if Congress agrees to Trump’s campaign pledges.
Trump called for increasing the active-duty Army to 60,000 soldiers and the Marines by 20,000 servicemembers, Trump supporter Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told Defense News last month.
To spend more on shipbuilding and personnel, Congress would likely have to repeal or alter a law that subjects spending above budget caps to across-the-board cuts known as sequestration.
“Well, it would be a need for a spending increase, there is just no doubt about it,” Sessions said. “And it is painful for me as a budget person to acknowledge that we can’t stay at a sequester-like level. We are just not going to be able to do that.”
Makeup of the fleet
There are several notional plans for what a 350-ship plan would look like, most of which converge in key areas.
As Cold War-era submarines retire, the fast-attack fleet is projected to decrease 25 percent by 2029. Multiple 350-ship plans call for 12 additional fast-attack submarines, which cost about $2 billion each.
The Navy is dependent on two shipyards to build its submarines. Those same contractors will also likely be working on 12 replacements for the nuclear ballistic-missile sub fleet, which begins retiring in 2027.
“Going from building two Virginia Class submarines per year to four would not be as simple as adding more money to the ship construction account,” Jerry Hendrix, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote this month in support of the 350-ship Navy. “Welders certified to work on nuclear-powered vessels take a year or more to train and certify, and the companies involved cannot cut corners for fear of damaging their reputations and stock prices.”
A 350-ship plan could build 16 more ships in the cruiser/destroyer classes, which would more than double current building plans.
The Navy previously tried to retire some of its older, Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers but met opposition in the House’s Seapower subcommittee, which was chaired by Forbes.
“This administration has tried to take out 11 of our cruisers,” Forbes said last month, while talking along with Sessions to Defense News. “You have to have those multiple cruisers or destroyers to do that 360-degree flight. It makes good sense to us to continue to modernize our cruisers.”
A future frigate planned as a heavier version of the littoral combat ship could also see greater procurement, according to some scenarios.
In all, a Congressional Research Service theoretical 350-ship plan estimates that the Navy would need 45-58 more ships built on top of the 41 it is planning to have built.
Using the ships
If Congress and the administration can free up funding and the industrial base can build them all, the question remains: what will the additional ships be doing?
The easiest part of that answer is reducing stress on the available ships and their crews.
The Navy had 58 percent of its 272 ships underway as of Nov. 10. The rest are in maintenance or preparing for a deployment.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with commitments in Asia and other priorities, have lengthened ship deployments to eight to 11 months in multiple cases. This in turn has stretched the Navy’s maintenance budget and kept families apart far longer than the Navy wants.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has stated a goal of reducing average deployments to seven months by the end of this year.
The more difficult part to foresee is what U.S. security needs will be for the next few decades. For now, the Navy remains far ahead of any other nation’s navy on a global scale.
However, most potential adversaries only need to win a conflict regionally. Asia-Pacific analysts point to China’s growing navy and assertive territorial claims in conflict with U.S. allies.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its naval posturing have raised concerns, though Trump’s overtures toward Moscow may change the strategic balance in the shorter term.
Meanwhile, stationing more ships in Italy or Greece, should those countries allow it, could give the U.S. a larger base of operations for Middle East contingencies.
The Congressional Research Service report on bigger fleets suggested that “a key potential reason for increasing the planned size of the Navy … would be to re-establish a larger U.S. Navy forward-deployed presence in the European theater, and particularly the Mediterranean.”
If Forbes’ point of view gains sway with Trump, the argument may simply come down to letting the world know that the U.S. isn’t going anywhere.
“Presence, the importance of being there, often with very basic, low-end ships that are backed up by the threat of high-end ships, is often enough to uphold American interests,” he said.

German submarine builder accused of international bribery

Ofer Aderet, Haaretz
17 November 2016
Germany’s ThyssenKrupp, which makes the submarines that Israel buys, has been involved in bribes of officials across the world to push the sale of its submarines, according to German news reports in 2015 and early 2016.
Also, in addition to reports that David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, works for a representative of the German company, a Haaretz investigation found Thursday he also serves as a board member in one of the representative's firms that was in contact with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.
Channel 10 News reported Tuesday that Netanyahu pushed for the purchase of three submarines for nearly 1.5 billion euros, despite the Israeli military’s opposition. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also tried to derail the deal.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement on behalf of the National Security Council saying that the purchase of German submarines “was done in an orderly and professional process with no outside influence and with the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the security establishment.”
Submarine Corruption
Miki Ganor, the German company’s Israeli representative who Shomron represents, spoke to Haaretz but declined to discuss the report or detail his involvement. Ganor denied the report’s claims about his ties with Shimron, saying “there’s no connection between the report and reality.”
According to the report, Ganor and Shimron worked together to move a maintenance contract from a navy shipyard to Ganor’s firm.  They met with Histadrut labor federation head Avi Nissenkorn, and the head of the local union that did maintenance for the navy.
Channel 10 did not highlight Ganor or Shimron’s involvement in the purchase of submarines.
German financial newspaper Handelsblatt reported in August 2015 that ThyssenKrupp launched an internal investigation into suspicions that company employees had bribed people to push submarine deals abroad. The report, which was quoted in the German press and by international news agencies, was based on thousands of pages of documents from the internal investigation, which the German paper obtained.
They included email correspondences, contracts with consultants and clients and bank statements, among other documents.
Analysis of the documents sparked questions about the modus operandi of its subsidiary, London-based Marine Force International, to promote deals in Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia. The German press called these deals “dubious” and “corrupt.” The report also noted that the company paid bribes to “decision makers” in Greece to promote “controversial” submarine deals.
A follow-up report in January in the German newspaper Weser Kurier was also quoted in German media. According to this report, Atlas Electronics, a company jointly owned by ThyssenKrupp and Airbus, was suspected of bribing countries to which it sold military equipment, including submarine and warship parts. The report asserted that since 2013 German authorities have conducted an investigation against the company on suspicion that it had given bribes in a project that was carried out in Greece. It was also suspected of improper management on a project in Turkey.

New way to hunt elusive submarines: Use a magnet

Staff, Military and Aerospace Electronics
17 November 2016

The traditional way of hunting submarines is with sonar, which is extremely sensitive. Still, modern submarines are very quiet, and neither side has gained a definitive upper hand with traditional anti-submarine warfare (ASW) technologies.
 There are other options. Submarine-spotting aircraft carry “magnetic anomaly detectors” (MAD) which pick up disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by a submarine’s metal hull. Those disturbances are tiny, which means MAD is only useful at ranges of a few hundred meters.
There may, though, be a better way. Thanks to something called the Debye effect, it might be possible to hunt submarines using the magnetic signatures of their wakes. Seawater is salty, full of ions of sodium and chlorine. Because those ions have different masses, any nudge—such as a passing submarine—moves some farther than others. Each ion carries an electric charge, and the movement of those charges produces a magnetic field.
The Debye effect has been known since 1933, but its effects were thought to be tiny. The American navy set out to explore it nonetheless in 2009, giving research grants to three firms to check whether it could be used for submarine detection. One, Cortana Corporation of Church Falls, Virginia, found a significant effect. Cortana was given a second grant in 2011 to continue the work, which was expected to produce a sensor which could be deployed from a ship. Since then the navy has continued to award Cortana grants for hush-hush jobs.
Neither Cortana nor the navy will discuss exactly what they are up to. But it is likely that the technique can only detect certain submarine movements in some situations. Submarines produce many different types of wake. As well as the familiar V-shaped wake they leave underwater disturbances known as “internal waves”, flat swirls called “pancake eddies” and miniature vortices which spin off from fins and control surfaces. These all depend not only on speed and depth but also on the submarine’s hydrodynamics (the underwater version of aerodynamics).
It is early days for the technology, at least in the West. But work done in Russia, whose navy has long been interested in alternatives to sonar, suggests the Debye effect can be turned into something quite potent. In 1990, two contributors to the Soviet military magazine Naval Collection wrote that “as a consequence of the great extent of the wake, it is easier to detect this anomaly than the magnetic anomaly due to the metallic hull of the submarine.” That suggests that a well-tuned Debye detector might be able to pick up a trail from several kilometres back and follow it to find the submarine. Russia’s claims in this area have long been regarded in the West as exaggerated. The new American interest suggests they might not have been.
Things are likely to get easier, too: a new generation of high-tech magnetic sensors based on machines called SQUIDs—“superconducting quantum interference devices”—should be more sensitive than existing ones. Both America and Britain are in the midst of replacing their present generation of nuclear-armed submarines. The new boats will be some of the quietest ever built. But if their wakes give them away, that may not matter.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ohio-class Replacement Submarine Program on hold for next milestone

Each sub to cost taxpayers $4.9 billion or more.

Lee Hudson, Inside Defense
7 November 2016

The Navy's top acquisition priority -- the Ohio-class Replacement Submarine -- is on hold to pass its next major milestone decision until the program office works through two data points to satisfy the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, according to multiple sources. 
On Nov. 4, a Defense Acquisition Board meeting was held for the next-generation ballistic submarine program to clear milestone B. Once approved, the Navy can transition from technology maturation and risk reduction into engineering and manufacturing development. 
However, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall directed the Navy to complete two items before signing an acquisition decision memorandum. The first task is rebaselining cost estimates from fiscal year 2010 dollars to FY-17 dollars, according to sources. 
Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, program executive officer for submarines, said during his Oct. 26 presentation at the Naval Submarine League that once the Office of the Secretary of Defense approves milestone B, an updated cost estimate would be released. 

"I am very confident we will be closer to that $4.9 billion number than the $5.6 billion number" for follow-on ships. The cost estimate Jabaley referenced is in FY-10 dollars. The service's cost target for each follow-on boat is $4.9 billion. 
The second hurdle for the Navy is getting further along with negotiations for the detailed design and construction contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat, according to sources. 
Shortly after an ADM is signed, the Navy will award a contract to Electric Boat. This changes the funding stream for the Navy from research and development to procurement dollars. 
Sources estimate this could take at least a couple of weeks and it is likely an ADM will not be signed until December. 
The Navy did not respond to a request for comment by press time. 

South Korea Launches Latest Attack Submarine

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
10 November 2016

South Korean defense contractor Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) has launched the Republic of Korea Navy’s (ROKN) eighth Son Won II-class (Type 214) diesel-electric air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarine, DSME announced on November 8.
The launch ceremony of South Korea’s latest sub, the Lee Beom-seok — a domestic license-built variant of the Type 214 submarine build by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft of Germany — took place at the Okpo shipyard shipyard in Geoje Island, in the southeastern part of South Korea. The new submarine is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018 following extensive builder and operational trials.
The Lee Beom-seok is the third submarine of the Son Won II-class (also known as KSS 2-class) assembled by DSME. As I reported elsewhere (See: “South Korea Launches New Stealth Submarine”), another South Korean defense contractor, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), has launched another five Son Won II-class subs over the last years. The latest boat built by HHI, the Hong Beom-do, was launched in April and is expected to be delivered to the ROKN after extensive operational trials in July 2017.
South Korea is also currently in the process of developing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the KSS-III–class. Although not officially confirmed, the new missile will likely be a variant of the Hyunmoo-2B or the Hyunmoo-2A, as I reported previously. “Two Hyunmoo-2B (현무, literally means “Guardian of the Northern Sky”) prototypes were test-fired in June 2015.  The ballistic missile purportedly has a range of more than 310 miles and can carry a payload of up to 2,200 pounds (997 kilograms). It is capable of hitting targets anywhere in North Korea,” I summarized (See: “South Korea to Develop Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile”).
The new 1,800-ton submarine measures 65 meters (213 feet) in length with a beam of seven meters (22 feet). “With its air-independent propulsion system, built around Siemens polymer electrolytic membrane fuel cells, the submarine can stay submerged for up to two weeks and can dive up to 400 meters (1,312 feet) deep,” I reported elsewhere.  Powered by two MTU Friedrichshafen diesel engines, the Lee Beom-seok is capable of reaching a top surface speed of 12 knots and up to 20 knots when submerged with its electric motor. The sub can be armed with long-range submarine-to-ground cruise missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, heavyweight anti-ship torpedoes, and naval mines.

Sea Floor May Be Terrain for Future Warfare

Richard R. Burgess, SeaPowerMagazine
9 November 2016

ARLINGTON, Va. — A builder of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) is looking at the sea floor a future battlefield of naval warfare.
Hydroid Inc., a division of Kongsberg Maritime that builds the REMUS 100 and 600 AUVs used by the U.S. Navy and other agencies, envisions the concept of “seabed warfare.”
 “Think of the sea floor as terrain,” said Tom Reynolds, director of government business for Hydroid, told Seapower, Nov. 8, forecasting the increasing use of the sea floor for sensors, AUV energy charging stations and possibly more sophisticated weaponization.
The concept of seabed warfare is not really new. The United States and other nations placed underwater sound arrays on the ocean floor during the Cold War. Bottom and moored sea mines are an example of weaponization. The U.S. Navy formerly was equipped with CAPTOR mines, which housed and encapsulated Mk46 torpedo, awaiting the passing of a hostile submarine or ship.
Reynolds discussed the possibility of planting sensors on sea floor as well as charging stations for AUVs that conduct surveillance or reconnaissance, independent of a mother submarine. He noted that earlier in the decade the Strategic Studies Group chartered by the chief of naval operations envisioned an “undersea constellation” to augment the U.S. Navy’s submarines as a cheaper and long-dwell solution for undersea surveillance given the limited number of submarines available.
The constellation could be used for surveillance, recharging, protecting undersea cables or venturing AUVs where even submarines fear to tread. Reynolds said a sea floor infrastructure could be a grid for operation of submarines and AUVs. A vehicle such as an Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle could be used to plant sensors and charging stations on a grid in the sea floor.
The Office of Naval Research has a Forward Deployed Energy and Communications Outpost Innovative Naval Prototype project to develop such charging stations.
Hydroid already has succeeded in development of a charging station for AUVs, Reynolds said. In a project for the National Science Foundation, a REMUS 600 measures the levels of nitrates in the ocean. The AUV acoustically homes in on a recharging station on the sea floor. The AUV is recharged by docking at the charging station and transmits its data to the surface through a buoy antenna on the surface.
“It’s a good prototype and we’re learning from it,” Reynolds said. 

Search for a missing U-boat and the WWII battle fought off the coast of Louisiana

Curt Sprang,
9 November 2016

Maybe you've heard stories about the German submarine crewmen that docked their U-boat and caught a show at the Saenger Theatre.  Or perhaps it was the story of the U-boat crew that convinced Cajun fishermen to give them enough fuel to get back home.
Neither story really happened.
"It's a good rumor," says WWII author and researcher C.J. Christ.  Turns out, Christ knows a lot about chasing down rumors.

"This friend of mine came up and said, 'Do you know there's a German submarine in just 60 feet of water just off the coast of Houma?'  I said, 'No I didn't know that'."
Christ says that conversation with a friend led to nearly 30 years of searching for the U-boat.  He never found it, but that doesn't mean the rumor was false.
But in 2001, a team that was surveying the Gulf of Mexico for an oil pipeline found something unusual.  It was near the site of the Robert E. Lee, a passenger ship that was hit by a torpedo from a U-boat and sank near the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1942.

But the survey crew's discovery was the German U-boat U-166, the sub that Christ had spent decades searching for.
Here's how it all went down during WWII.  In the summer of 1942, U-boats struck terror into ships throughout the Gulf of Mexico.  Germany was in control of France at the time, and the U-boats could carry enough fuel to get from the coast of France to the gulf, patrol for a few weeks, and return to their base.  24 of the submarines were sent to the gulf.
"The war was actually in the Gulf of Mexico right off our coast.  In fact, one ship sank between the jetties going into the river, another sunk off the coast of Grand Isle, 2 and a half miles off shore," Christ says.
In July, a passenger ship called the Robert E. Lee was carrying more than 400 people to New Orleans.  Many of the people were returning to the U.S. after their ships were sunk by previous U-boat attacks.  When the ship was a few miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River, it was hit by a single torpedo and sank.  Its escort ship immediately began dropping depth charges to try to destroy the U-boat.  There was no indication at that time to show if the submarine was hit or escaped.
Two days later, a plane from Houma spotted a U-boat in the gulf and dropped one depth charge.  The pilot reported seeing oil on the surface of the water, and for decades it was believed to be the successful sinking of  U-166.
But Christ says that Germany's records from the war show that it was a different submarine that was attacked by the plane south of Houma and that those records show the sub escaped.
So back to the surveying team in 2001.  Its pipeline work located the actual location of U-166, about a mile away from the Robert E. Lee's location.  Both vessels were found at the bottom of about 5,000 feet of water.
Christ is a veteran of the Korean War and is an avid WWII researcher, especially when it pertains to the Gulf of Mexico.  He even wrote a book on the subject.
After finding out about the survey team's discovery, Christ joined a team that located the sub and used a remotely operated vehicle to carry a camera to the gulf's floor and record images of U-166.
"The camera was right in my face when we saw it for the first time," Christ says.  "When I saw that, I knew that was our u-boat."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

U.S. Navy is retiring a submarine that miraculously survived a terrifying collision with a mountain peak

The collision caused the death of one crewman and injuries to dozens more. It took $88 million to repair the boat.

Sam Fellman, Navy Times
8 November 2016
Sailors and former crewmembers bid farewell at a Friday ceremony to the attack submarine that survived a devastating 2005 collision and would go on to serve another decade, including four more deployments. 
 The submarine San Francisco is being retired from the fleet after 35 years of service and will shift to Norfolk later this month to become a nuclear reactor training ship. 
 A look at its traumatic history:
On Jan. 8, 2005, the submarine struck an underwater mountain going nearly full speed. The violent collision slammed sailors into bulkheads and equipment. One crewmember recalled chaos and carnage from the impact, which was like hitting a cement wall at 40 mph. The shocked chief of the watch leaped back into action and actuated the emergency ballast tanks, bringing the sub to the surface from a depth of about 500 feet.
The force of impact killed Machinist’s Mate 2 nd Class Joseph Ashley and wounded dozens more. Hospital Corpsman 1 st Class (SS) James Akin and another crewmember later received the Meritorious Service Medal for setting up an emergency triage center and caring for 70 injured shipmates.
The impact crushed the submarine’s bow and caused at least $88 million in damages. A command investigation faulted the submarine’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, and his navigation team for failing to properly chart a safe voyage plan. They transited an area filled with undersea volcanoes when they could have avoided the area and also failed to take additional precautions, like more frequent soundings to check depth changes. It would take the better part of three years to return the San Francisco to operational service.
Crews would take the submarine on at least four more deployments. They returned to cheers in San Diego from their final cruise on Oct. 14. Later in November, the submarine will head to Norfolk for a two-year conversion to become a moored training ship, where future submariners will learn to safely operate nuclear reactors and engineering systems. 
 "By any measure, the San Francisco has had a stellar career as an operational submarine," said Cmdr. Jeff Juergens, the outgoing commanding officer, in a Nov., 4 ceremony in San Diego. "I've been extremely fortunate to be one of the few to command this fine submarine, and especially lucky to get to command San Francisco for the last three years, which have been so successful." 

Ribbon Cutting Officially Opens New Submarine Innovation Lab

Lt. Tia Nichole McMillen, Submarine Force Pacific Public Affairs
8 November 2016

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) Rear Adm. Frederick “Fritz” J. Roegge, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), joined industry partners to cut the ribbon officially opening the COMSUBPAC Innovation Lab (iLab), Nov. 7.
 Roegge spoke to nearly 50 submarine personnel and thanked those involved in the iLab’s creation.
“I am excited to be here today, and I thank everyone who made today possible,” said Roegge. “I’m delighted by the work of our great partner organizations and their leaders in bringing this innovation lab to fruition. It’s truly a testament to high velocity learning to do it so quickly. It’s imperative that we create an innovative space for our personnel to identify, research, and use emerging technologies to address the Navy’s most pressing challenges.”
The iLab's mission is to exploit and leverage low-cost commercial sector research and tools from the computer gaming industry and cellular phone markets to demonstrate cutting-edge battlespace visualization capabilities. 
“This emerging maker-space is where submariners can prototype low-cost solutions to training and operational problems using cutting edge virtual reality and augmented reality tools,” said Roegge. “To achieve high velocity learning, we must expand the use of learning-centered technologies and put them in the hands of our greatest asset: our Sailors.”

The iLab is outfitted and operated in partnership with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Battlefield Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) Lab and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) New Training Technologies Program Office. 
“The capabilities of the Navy need to consistently move forward,” said Chief Petty Officer Craig McHenry, Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific facilities manager. “There is so much knowledge out there that we must understand and use to our tactical and operational advantage. The iLab is a tool our Sailors can use to unlock that ability and capitalize on our findings.”
The iLab also has a relationship with the University of Hawaii Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA). Industry partners are assisting Sailors in building tailored applications.
“COMSUBPAC is embracing the capabilities of the future and attempting to use these capabilities to its advantage,” said McHenry. “High velocity learning, as exemplified by our iLab, can only make our military and civilian team stronger and smarter. I’m proud to serve on this team, and I’m excited to see where we take this technology in the future.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Parliamentarians spend 24 hours under the waves in HMCS Windsor

 Ryan Melanson, Lookout
3 November 2016
A 24-hour adventure under the waves in HMCS Windsor, one of Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines, was the highlight of a visit to the East Coast by four parliamentarians from Oct. 12 to 13.
The politicians made the trip as part of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) Program. For nearly a decade, CLaS has been embarking government officials, community and business leaders, and other strategic stakeholders on board HMC ships and submarines to showcase the skill sets and equipment the navy employs in defense of Canada.
Guests included Liberal Members of Parliament Marwan Tabbara and Chandra Arya, as well as opposition Members Pierre Paul-Hus and Cheryl Gallant, both of whom sit on the House Standing Committee on National Defense. They were accompanied by Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic.
The submarine with embarked guests submerged more than 100 meters under water, and guests dined in the
boat’s small messes alongside personnel, and slept on metal racks alongside submarine trainees and Mark 48 heavy torpedoes.
MPs also got a small taste of the slow-moving game of hide and seek that is submarine warfare, with Halifax-class frigate HMCS St. John’s and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter participating in a short exercise about 20 kilometers offshore.
Windsor closed within 2,000 yards of the warship at periscope depth, giving everyone a chance to observe the “adversaries” from the search periscope, before the participants took turns listening to St. John’s acoustic signature through the boat’s newly advanced AN/BQQ10 sonar, the same system employed by the newest submarines in the U.S. fleet.
Sitting at the fire control system, they then learned how visual, acoustic and other points of data are combined to accurately track nearby vessels and plot possible attacks.
As part of the simulation, Windsor fired off a green flare, a signal indicating a torpedo attack against St. John’s. There was no harm done, but in reality the boat’s torpedoes would have no issue breaking the back of a frigate.
“The torpedo will find and sink whatever is out there, guaranteed. It’s been proven time and time again,” said Lieutenant-Commander Peter Chu, Windsor’s Commanding Officer.
Later, the visitors witnessed the crew run through a comprehensive set of pre-diving checks before plunging below into their natural hidden state below the waves.
“It becomes incredibly calm,” observed Marwan Tabbara while the submarine was submerged, compared to the way Windsor rolls with the waves at periscope depth.
It’s one of the many reasons submariners prefer to stealthily submerge as much as possible, though the boat did surface again in the evening so their guests could experience a “snort”, drawing in air and recharging the battery while running the diesel engines.
Before leaving the boat to continue their tour of CFB Halifax sites, each visitor was presented with an Honorary Submariner card, an HMCS Windsor coin, and even a dolphin badge like the ones worn by submariners around the world.
“I really encourage them all to carry these with pride and to show them off whenever they can,” LCdr Chu said. “It’s an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, no doubt.”
The parliamentarians’ time at CFB Halifax also included a number of other stops to help illustrate the full picture of Maritime Forces Atlantic. These included glimpses into the navy’s future, such as a static tour of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter at 12 Wing Shearwater, N.S., as well as a walkthrough of Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard where work on the first Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel is well under way.

  Indonesia’s PT Palindo Marine showcases mini-submarine design

Bilal Khan,
4 November 2016
Indonesian shipbuilder PT Palindo Marine has showcased its mini-submarine design, named Kapal Selam Mini, at Indo Defence 2016
The 22-metre submarine is intended for Special Forces operations in littoral waters (IHS Jane’s). Thus, the Kapal Selam Mini submarine does not possess torpedo tubes, which larger conventional submarines use to carry anti-submarine warfare torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
As per IHS Jane’s, PT Palindo Marine will begin constructing the prototype and technology demonstrator boat in 2017 with the aim of completing it in 2019.
The Kepal Selam Mini was collaboratively designed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence, University of Indonesia, and PT Palindo Marine, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (IHS Jane’s).
The Kapal Selam Mini will carry a crew of five alongside seven Special Forces operatives. The submarine will have a submerged displacement of 127.1 tons. It will be able to remain submerged without snorkeling for up to three days and dive to up to 150 metres.
Notes & Comments:
The Kepal Selam Mini is a very lightweight submarine, though PT Palindo Marine’s decision to omit
armaments is a notable decision considering that older designs, such as the Italian MG110, possess torpedo tubes. There could be a case of managing complexity, but one should not preclude further design changes between the technology demonstrator under construction and what could ultimately be in the product catalogue.
The Indonesian Navy expressed interest in acquiring midget submarines to patrol its littoral waters, which is a valid need since Indonesia is an archipelago. With numerous islands, each sustaining major segments of the total Indonesian economy, one can understand Jakarta’s interest in maintaining the security of its coasts, which can emanate conventional and asymmetrical military threats, and from crime (e.g. piracy).
If the Kepal Selam Mini comes to fruition and if Indonesia matures the design, PT Palindo Marine could one day have an internationally competitive design on its hands. Numerous segments of the worldwide defence industry are bifurcating between very expensive, but very capable, high-end solutions, and very inexpensive, but relatively very capable, low-end solutions. This is plainly evident in the combat aircraft market, which is seeing many developing world air forces embrace turboprop-powered attack aircraft.
The submarine market could be worth examining in that respect. A low-cost but capable anti-access and area denial submarine could be of interest to many countries, which may not be able to enter the current marketplace due to cost. DCNS and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems toyed with the idea (through the SMX-23 and Type 210mod, respectively), but in contrast to France and Germany, PT Palindo Marine’s small conventional submarine initiative is being backed by domestic need.

Carter Calls Strategic Command ‘Bedrock’ of U.S. Defense At Change of Command

Jim Garamone, Defense Media Activity
3 November 2016
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2016 — U.S. Strategic Command remains the bedrock of American security, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today during the organization’s change-of-command ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.  
Carter officiated as Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney handed the flag to Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten. The secretary praised the men and women of the command for their efforts, and said that funding and resources are on the way to ensure the nuclear mission remains viable.
“America’s nuclear deterrence remains the bedrock of our security, which all of you ensure here at Stratcom,” Carter said. “As you do so, you manage uncertainty, prepare for change, and perform your duties with the unparalleled excellence we expect of you. I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve accomplished. And you’ve done all this thanks to the wisdom and leadership of Admiral Haney.”
Mission Support:
The command supports every DoD mission, in every region and in every domain, Carter said, noting the command is a linchpin to America’s military effort and deterrence around the world.
“You underpin our nuclear deterrence, enable precision-guided munitions and navigation with space capabilities, and experiment with new warfighting strategies in emerging domains to prepare us for whatever the future might bring,” the secretary said.
Carter praised Haney for his level-headed leadership, noting the admiral has ensured a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force while paving the way to its future, “and by collaborating in new and innovative ways with our intelligence community on space issues.”
Stratcom’s commander also serves as an ambassador in uniform, and Haney has reached out to allies, academia and industry, the secretary said.
It is no secret that in the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States underfunded the nuclear mission, Carter said. “We’re determined to correct that now,” he said.
Carter spoke about the nuclear and space missions the command oversees. The nuclear mission is the highest priority mission in the military, he said.
“That’s because you deter large-scale nuclear attacks against the United States and our allies,” the secretary said.
“You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of a failed conventional aggression. You assure our allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible. And if deterrence fails -- though we hope it never does -- you provide the president with options to achieve American and allied objectives -- all to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons ever being used in the first place.”
This means, Carter said, that the nation must recapitalize the nuclear triad and all the capabilities that make it run. “We must continue to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” he said.
That process has started, Carter said. “We’re beginning to correct for decades of underinvestment in nuclear deterrence -- dating back to the end of the Cold War, when the United States believed it would be safe to allow funding for the nuclear enterprise to drop, and it dropped dramatically,” he said.
The recapitalization is about sustaining deterrence in a world very different from the Cold War. “From ballistic missile submarines to ICBMs, from bombers to air-launched cruise missiles, we’re replacing many aging nuclear weapons delivery systems because if we don’t, we’ll lose them, which would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter -- something we can never afford,” the secretary said.
The U.S. military is investing in long-range standoff weapons, replacing nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program, and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, Carter said. The recapitalization program, he added, includes investments in nuclear command-and-control, communications, and intelligence capabilities.
“As many of you know, that includes satellites, radar systems, ground stations, command posts, control nodes, communications links, and more -- which are critical to assuring nuclear command and control, and providing us with integrated tactical warning and attack assessment,” Carter said.
The department is also investing in the people who make the nuclear enterprise run, the secretary said.
Nuclear deterrence relies on maintaining capabilities in space, Carter said. He praised Hyten for the expertise he brings to the job from being commander of Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “The truth is, space is woven into every aspect of our military operations -- conventional and nuclear alike,” Carter said. “That’s why we’re making sure -- and making it known -- that our space capabilities are as resilient and assured as our nuclear capabilities.”
The secretary closed saying he knows Stratcom has faced tough times, but Haney has left it in better shape than he found it, and he expects Hyten will do the same.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Russia Will Start Constructing New Ballistic Missile Submarine in December

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
3 November 2016
Russia will begin construction of an improved variant of the Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) aka Dolgorukiy-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), designated Project 955A Borei II, in late December, according to a Russian defense industry source.
Construction of the Borei II-class Knyaz Pozharsky will reportedly begin on December 23 at the Sevmash shipyard, located in the town of Severodvinsk, a port city on Russia’s White Sea in Arkhangelsk Oblast. The ship will purportedly be the last Borei-class sub to be laid down under Russia’s ambitious shipbuilding plan. (Plans to build two additional improved Borei II-class submarines have apparently been put on hold.)
The Knyaz Pozharsky will be the fifth vessel in the Borei II-class. The first improved Borei-class sub, the Knyaz Vladimir, was laid down on July 30, 2012 at the Sevmash shipyards and is expected to be commissioned in late 2017 or early 2018. Two other Borei II-class allegedly were laid down in December 2014 and 2015 respectively. The two subs are scheduled to join Russia’s Northern and Pacific Fleets by 2020, although delays may occur. The Borei II-class submarine Knyaz Oleg, slated to join Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2019, was laid down in the summer of 2016. (Earlier reports appear to have mistakenly indicated that construction of the sub began in July 2014.)
The Borei-class was specifically designed to replace Soviet-era Project 941 Typhoon-class and Project 667 BDRM Delta IV-class subs.
In comparison to the Borei-class, Borei II-class submarines are fitted with four additional missile tubes, boast smaller hulls and cons, and feature improved acoustics and lower sound levels, next to a number of other technical improvements. Both variants of Borei-class subs will be armed with Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Borei-class will be capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava ICBMs, whereas the improved Borei II-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.
The Bulava is a sea-based variant of the Topol-M SS-27 ICBM, armed with six to 10 warheads per missile. That means one Borei-class submarine can carry between 72 and 160 hypersonic, independently maneuverable warheads, yielding 100-150 kilotons apiece.  The Borei II-class boomer, given its four extra missile tubes, will be able to launch somewhere between 96-200 warheads. “The Bulava missile purportedly has range of over 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles) and is specifically designed to evade Western ballistic missile defense shields,” I noted elsewhere.
The Russian Pacific Fleet currently operates two Borei-class SSBNs, the Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh. The latter successfully test fired two Bulava ballistic missiles from a submerged position in the White Sea off the northwest coast of Russia in November 2015. The third active Borei-class sub, the Yuri Dolgoruky, serving in Russia’s Northern Fleet, test-launched two Bulava ICBMs from a submerged position in the White Sea in September (See: “Russia’s Deadliest Sub Test Fires 2 Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles”).

Sub Veteran Witnessed Hydrogen Bomb Test

Greg Forbes, Sioux City Journal
1 November 2016
SIOUX CITY – Vivid memories of Nov. 1, 1952, remain for Phillip Severson even though he had his eyes closed for part of it.
Severson’s service with the U.S. Navy landed him on the USS Curtiss that day, 25 miles from Enewetak Island. The atoll was a popular testing ground for nuclear weapons and that day was no different. In just a matter of minutes, Ivy Mike, carried to the island by the Curtiss, would be the first hydrogen bomb detonated.
“They just brought us up on the deck and told us to face away from the deck and cover your eyes with your arms,” said Severson, who worked in the engine room of the ship. “I wasn’t expecting too much as far as heat and a shockwave.”
Severson acknowledged that what happened next is a little unbelievable, but something he swears to this day.
“I was braced against a lifeboat and I will swear to this day, with both arms over my eyes and my eyes closed, I saw the boat I was leaning against,” he said. “Some guys say they saw their own bones.”
The blast of heat from the detonation took his breath away, he said. The shockwave made his knees buckle.
“After that was done, they let us turn around and it (the cloud) looked like it was never going to quit,” he said. “It was the whitest cloud I ever saw, with pink ruffles in it.”
Severson said he didn’t know what to expect when the bomb went off. Details during wartime were kept pretty quiet, especially concerning the nuclear arms race. Military officials made sure that was the case back home, too.
“I found out that the recruiter took a liking to visiting my parents every so often to find out if I was writing about anything I was doing,” he said. “Our cameras were confiscated and we were under strict orders to not write about anything we would see or perhaps even thought.”
The cloud of secrecy continued, even as complications of the fallout manifested in a large amount of the nearly 400,000 individuals involved in Operation Ivy. About seven years later, Severson began experiencing issues with his thyroid. After one treatment failed, his thyroid had to be removed.
“I went from about 200 pounds to 165 pounds and I couldn’t pour water out of a boot, I was that weak,” he said.
Still, Severson had to keep quiet how the malady arose.
“We were under strict secrecy to not tell anyone, even if we have problems with our health, even the doctors,” he said. “None of us could talk about anything, even when they were ill.”
Severson said he heard a lot of talk prior to the detonation celebrating the opportunity to avoid active battle in Korea. But reflecting more than 60 years later, Severson said the cheers weren’t necessarily for a better situation.
“A lot of individuals thought they were lucky they didn’t go to Korea,” he said. “But their lives were shortened just about as effectively as if they had been there.”
After Operation Ivy, Severson went back to San Diego, where the Curtiss was stationed, and took a trip across the country to attend submarine training in Connecticut. He served on two submarines until he left the Navy in 1954.
Severson calls himself fortunate. He said he’s lucky to have escaped the fallout without worse consequences – many contracted cancer afterward. As a youth, he was a sickly child and was still able to pass the rigorous requirements to be accepted into the submarine program. He was able to find a steady, fulfilling career in construction and carpentry when he decided anesthesiology wasn’t the correct path for him. He was able to retire from Midwest Energy after 18 years with the company.
However, he doesn’t use the word “lucky” to sum up how he feels about not going to combat in Korea. He enlisted in the Navy with the expectation that he was going to do the job that he was asked to do, and that’s what he did.
“Being in the Navy, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go,” he said. “It was the luck of the draw, but I wouldn’t have minded it one way or another.”

Navy Taking On Anti-Torpedo Submarine Defense

John Keller, Military and Aerospace
2 November 2016
U.S. Navy undersea warfare experts are renewing their efforts to develop an advanced active countermeasure for defense of U.S. and allied submarine forces against acoustic-homing torpedo attack.
Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced plans Tuesday to issue an industry solicitation next month to design, build, and test an acoustic device countermeasure (ADC) called the ADC MK 5. The formal solicitation should be released about 16 Dec. 2016.
This torpedo-defense countermeasure will generate noise to deceive the sonar guidance systems of incoming torpedoes that are homing-in on the sounds the target submarines are making, as well as the acoustic returns of active sonar pings.
The ADC MK 5 project is part of the Navy's Next-Generation Countermeasure (NGCM) program to replace existing ADC MK 3 submarine acoustic countermeasures systems.
The ADC MK 5 is to be a 3-inch-diameter expendable device that submarines launch from external launchers have advanced features that submarines can employ as static or mobile devices with adaptive countermeasure (ACM) technology.
The upcoming ADC MK 5 full and open competitive solicitation is a follow-on to research contracts awarded in late 2010 to Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems in Braintree, Mass., and to the Argon ST subsidiary of the Boeing Co. in Fairfax, Va., to develop the Navy's NGCM anti-torpedo defense system.
Although funding constraints have held up NGCM development, Navy officials appear to be on track to select one company to develop the NGCM ADC MK 5 submarine torpedo countermeasure.
The NGCM ADC MK 5 will have acoustic communication links to connect separate countermeasures devices to enable group behavior to defeat incoming torpedoes. It will be launched in-groups of as many six units -- some of which will act as stationary broadcast jammers, while others will be mobile and function as sophisticated decoys.
The ADC MK 5 countermeasures will have receivers that can operate in full duplex mode, and an acoustic communication link will pass tactical information and updates among the deployed countermeasures, submarines, and surface ships.
The ADC MK 5 will be re-programmable to operate together with U.S. and allied torpedoes or anti-torpedo systems, and will be able to change tactics in response to changing tactical or environmental conditions via the acoustic communication link.
The countermeasures will have advanced tactical embedded processors and a built-in threat torpedo classifier. The system's new technologies will include mobile countermeasure operations and tactics; acoustic communications; group behavior and the ability to work against incoming torpedoes cooperatively; the ability to classify incoming torpedoes; full-duplex receive and transmit sensor capability; and single-crystal transducers.
The solicitation expected next month will be for ADC MK 5 special test units, engineering development models (EDMs), and engineering services. The EDM portion of the contract will include low rate initial production (LRIP) of the advanced torpedo countermeasures.
The NGCM program seeks to insert new countermeasure technologies into the submarine's defense against threat acoustic-homing torpedoes. Companies interested in bidding may email requests for classified ADC MK 5 performance specifications to the Navy's Karen Giunta at

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Billion-Dollar Deal That Is Stirring Up Israeli Army

Ben Caspit, Al Monitor
31 October 2016
On Oct. 26, the Israeli Cabinet secretly authorized a huge weapons transaction that developed under the radar over the recent year: Three additional Dolphin-class submarines will be purchased from a German shipyard in the port city of Kiel. A memorandum of understanding between Israel and Germany is expected to be signed this month in Berlin.
The deal is assessed at about 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), approximately 400 million euros ($439 million) per submarine, after a discount of about 30% financed by the German government.
The clandestine negotiations between Israel and Germany were relatively brief. Many Israelis are strongly criticizing the deal, from various aspects. One clear conclusion can be reached regarding the policies and strategic mindset of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: The Iranian threat, including concern regarding a nuclear Iran, continues to preoccupy Netanyahu and assume center stage in his very essence.
According to foreign reports, these submarines (Israel already possesses five of them; the sixth will arrive in 2019) are viewed as the Israeli answer to the Iranian threat, as they are capable of carrying and launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. According to foreign reports, the impressive submarine fleet Israel is building will give the country a significant “second strike” capability even in the event that it absorbs an Iranian nuclear attack. These submarines transform Israel from a “one-bomb country” (which would be so devastated from one nuclear attack that it could not respond in kind) to a state that could respond and cause great destruction to any country that would dare attack it.
In a conversation with Al-Monitor, an Israeli military source emphasized that Israel has no intention of enlarging its fleet of submarines from six to nine, but to gradually replace aging submarines with new ones. According to the source, the life span of a submarine is 20-30 years. Over the next decade, the three oldest submarines in the Dolphin fleet will become obsolete, and will be replaced gradually by the new submarines.
This argument does not convince the naysayers, many of which come from within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They believe the tremendous sum of money wasted on the submarines should have been earmarked for more urgent needs. “The first Dolphin submarine will begin to become obsolete only in 2030,” an Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. “Until then, it’s not certain that we will need such a large quantity of submarines. The current commitment to pay billions of shekels in a huge deal for products that may not be absolutely necessary is rather strange, to say the least.”
Critics of the transaction feel that the monies should have been used to upgrade the IDF in more important spheres. “The submarines are not effective in the war against terror,” a high-level Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Submarines are ineffective in fighting against the Islamic State and Hamas; even the third Lebanon war [if this happens] will not be decided in the ocean depths. It would have been better to spend all this money to provide armored shield protection for all of the army’s armored personnel carriers, or for unmanned aircraft [drones], for cyber strengthening, and other spheres that are critical to the war against terror. Unfortunately, Israel is making its traditional mistake: It is once again preparing for yesterday’s wars and not tomorrow’s conflicts.”
Another debate raging between the sides is connected to the price of the deal. Netanyahu’s main concern, when he pushed for a speedy agreement with the Germans, was that German Chancellor Angela Merkel might not survive the elections awaiting her in 2017. Those close to Netanyahu say that Merkel’s replacement might not be as generous as she is and might not approve a discount of 30% on the submarines to Israel. Better to close the deal now, before it’s too late, they say.
This argument does not satisfy the critics. The German discount is fictitious, they claim; instead, they say, the Germans upped the price and then gave a discount on the higher amount. Not long ago, that same German shipyard sold four similar submarines to Egypt at a much lower price. No one in Israel did the necessary preparatory work; no one conducted the kind of negotiations that are necessary for a transaction of such magnitude. There are other, more experienced shipyards in the world that produce the kind of submarines that Israel needs. To the final price, the Germans added their investment in research and development (R&D), but no one checked if this R&D hadn’t been carried out in any previous transaction it signed with other countries. The additional characteristics that are supposed to be added to the new submarines belong to the specialized fields of other shipyards, mainly in France, and common sense would dictate that additional price quotes be obtained from French shipyards as well (before deciding from whom to buy). Instead, someone was in a very big rush to complete this transaction and threw away Israeli taxpayer money with a very ready hand — so say the critics.
The submarine deal has the Israeli military system up in arms in recent weeks; it is one of the hottest issues in unofficial conversations. The assessment among security experts is that the IDF itself did not push the deal and that the army heads do not feel there is a need for six expensive submarines, which will carry enormous price tags of upkeep, maintenance and equipment — price tags that will only rise over the years. In December 2015, it was reported that a high-level IDF officer, who presented to journalists the multi-year program of the army, said the IDF planned to surrender one of its submarines with the arrival of the sixth submarine in 2019. According to this officer, today a candidate for the position of air force commander, Israel can make do with only five submarines.
Now, less than a year later, it emerges that the IDF will not concede even one submarine and that it plans to spend huge sums to acquire three additional submarines. Netanyahu has succeeded in imposing his will on the entire
defense system with relative ease. In previous years, the heads of the different military arms did not hesitate to criticize Netanyahu and oppose his views. But this time the military, headed by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, closed ranks with Netanyahu and executed his orders, almost without asking questions.

U.S. Ship Giant Sets Sail For RAN Building Program in Australia

Brendan Nicholson, The Australian
1 November 2016
An American builder of surface warships and submarines is the latest international giant seeking a share of Australia’s $95 billion naval shipbuilding program.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, which designed and built 70 per cent of the US Navy’s surface warships and half its nuclear submarine fleet, has offered to help guide the Royal Australian Navy’s 56-ship building program.
The company hopes ultimately to have a role servicing American warships in Australia as part of the US rebalance to the region.
The first officials from the company arrived at the weekend to open an office in Canberra, with vice-president Jeff McCray saying HII would offer shipbuilding advice and fleet maintenance.
A key role it offered was to help Australia build and train the workforce for the huge naval construction program, he said.
Ultimately, HII hoped to help sustain warships from the Australian and US navies in the region. An early task would be to build relationships with local companies to service and sustain the fleets.
HII is the world’s largest shipbuilder working only on building and maintaining warships. It has 35,000 employees.
Mike Smith, HII’s executive vice-president of strategy and development, said the move would allow the company to better support the US Navy in the western Pacific. “Having a presence also affords us the opportunity to support the Royal Australian Navy as they upgrade their fleet, train their navy and shipbuilders, and enhance their shipbuilding capabilities,” he said.

Navy Seeking Unmanned Underwater Advances To Field Today,  To Inform Next Generation Sub Design In 2020s

Megan Eckstein, USNI News
31 October 2016
The Navy submarine community is pushing hard to make progress on unmanned underwater vehicle development and operations, which lag behind unmanned aerial vehicles, through prototype testing and the creation of a UUV squadron.
Rear Adm. William Merz, who recently took over as the service’s director of undersea warfare (OPNAV N97) said Oct. 27 at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium that the submarine community currently gets more use out of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are more technologically mature and easier to operate, and he wants to see UUVs catch up.
“I’m tired of waiting,” he said.
“Give me what you have, I will take it to sea, I will give you feedback and you can continue to develop and evolve, and then I’ll take that to sea and give you more feedback.”
He noted the Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish UUV was brought to the Middle East in 2012 and used by a team of developers and U.S. 5th Fleet sailors to conduct real missions.
“We think we pretty much skipped a whole generation of testing, evaluation and development” thanks to the rapid fielding approach, Merz said.
Commander of U.S. Submarine Force Pacific Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge said at the same conference that in 2019 the Navy would stand up its first UUV Squadron, which will
be subordinate to Submarine Development Squadron 5. He said that, as new types of UUVs come online, the UUVRON would be responsible for learning to man, train and equip operational UUV units and developing UUV operational concepts
This rapid learning effort with unmanned vehicles will actually be important in shaping the next manned submarine. Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley said Oct. 26 at the symposium that current plans for the Virginia-class attack submarine call for two more blocks of new capabilities –Blocks VI and VII – before transitioning to an SSN(X). It is too early to know what SSN(X) will look like, he said, but the future platform will be required to “seamlessly integrate, deploy and employ unmanned vehicles.”
The Navy expects to buy its first SSN(X) in 2034, which means an analysis of alternatives to select a material solution to meet the warfighting requirement would happen in the early- to mid-2020s, he said. Ahead of that AoA, the Navy needs to learn everything it can about UUVs, multi-domain unmanned vehicles such as those that can be launched from undersea and then fly through the air, and unmanned vehicle support systems like the Forward-Deployed Energy-Charging Outpost (FDECO) that UUVs could connect to and recharge mid-mission. While Merz is encouraging industry to send him solutions that could be fielded and tested today, Jabaley said he was soliciting any idea, no matter how crazy, for future submarine-based unmanned systems.
“We have for years used any available interface on the submarine to get the UUV off the ship, whether it was torpedo tubes, 3-inch launcher, trash disposal unit – we have to get beyond that, there has to be a better way to design this submarine from the ground up to seamlessly employ UUVs,” Jabaley said.
“And I’m talking transformational stuff – I testified before Congress earlier this year, I said, you know, it’s like the remora, that little suckerfish that attaches itself to the shark or the whale as it goes along; maybe that’s the answer. Maybe there’s some way to figure that out.”
The rear admiral said he wanted to engage industry, academia and Navy labs in the hopes of “finding those really weird ideas that everybody says, ‘well that’ll never happen.’ Yeah, but maybe there’s a part of it that can. Maybe that part you can pair with a part over here, and before you know it you have something useful.”
Jabaley said there had been talk of extending the Virginia-class program a bit longer, adding in a Block VIII instead of moving into SSN(X) in the 2030s. He said that option was still on the table but stressed that his PEO is “aggressively approaching the SSN(X) because the need for this type of platform is significant.”

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This 'Life-Changing' Shift Has Made Submariners Much Happier

David B. Larter, Navy Times
28 October 2016
The 18-hour day is dead and gone in the submarine force, and junior officers who were on the front lines for the change say the change has been a revolution for morale and alertness throughout the force.
The submarine force began transitioning in 2014 from an 18-hour day, where sailors stood watch six hours and had 12 hours off for other duties and sleep. Five junior officers speaking on a panel at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium all agreed that the change to eight-hour watches with 16 hours off had an immediate positive affect.
“It has had an extraordinary impact on a couple of areas,” said Lt. Travis Nicks, who was on a fast-attack boat when his ship switched to eight-on, 16-off watches. “Mission execution and alertness. I did one deployment with six hour watches and one deployment with eight-hour watches. And on the eight hour deployment, nobody fell asleep as the contact manager standing up. The officer of the deck wasn't leaning up against the scope with both eyes closed and being slapped by the junior officer of the deck to stay awake.
“I know that sounds like whining to everyone in this room who went their whole career on six-hour watches but I wish you'd had the experience of eight-hour watches because it's life-changing,” Nicks said.
The impact was also immediately apparent for crew morale, he added.
“The second part is it dramatically improves morale on the ship,” he said. “When guys are sleeping, I noticed immediately that guys are complaining less. They need fewer bathroom breaks. They're dipping less tobacco. Everything gets better with eight-hour watches.”
Experts such as Nita Shattuck, an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, have argued for years that even without sunlight the body works best on a 24-hour clock and that the 18-hour day led to chronic sleep deprivation among sailors which has led to accidents over the years.
In 2013, the heads of the Surface Navy released a statement saying that their force should also make a priority out of sleep.
"The aviation community has long embraced the concept of crew rest as a foundation for safe operations," said Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, then head of Naval Surface Forces, and Rear Adm. David Thomas, then head of Naval Surface Force Atlantic. "It has a place in the surface force, as well."
For Lt. Jessica Wilcox, who served on the ballistic missile sub Wyoming, the benefits of sticking to a 24-hour clock underwater were written on her sailors’ faces.
“We implemented them on my last patrol and it was a godsend,” she said. “Mostly the way I saw it was in my [engineers] and the bags that they didn't have under their eyes anymore.”

U.S. Navy Invests in Subsea Threat Detection Array

Staff, The Maritime Executive
1 November 2016
Next year, General Dynamics' Mission Systems Maritime and Strategic Systems division will begin developing a new submarine detection sensor array for the U.S. Navy. 
The Office of Naval Research project, code named DRAPES (Deep Reliable Acoustic Path Exploitation System), is part of the Future Naval Capabilities program. It will involve the construction and installation of three arrays of acoustic sensors.  Sensor nodes within each array will transmit the signals they pick up to other nearby sensors and thence back to shore – avoiding the interference problems of wave noise near the surface. The Naval Ocean Processing Facility will gather and evaluate the sensors' results. 
General Dynamics' Mission Systems division has been involved in submarine warfare for over five decades - including the design of the nuclear weapons system on the SSBN platform. 
The arrays are part of a wide range of new experimental ASW technologies under investigation by the Navy - including the new unmanned surface vessel ACTUV, which is intended to deploy on extended patrols to locate and track enemy submarines. 
The DRAPES project is also part of a Navy research push into enhanced subsea communications, which could be used for navigation purposes (comparable to GPS) and for coordination of manned/unmanned systems. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency put out a solicitation last year calling for proposals for something like an underwater wireless internet – a seamless communications system that would allow Navy assets to work together and share large amounts of data below the surface, without tethering to a cabled network. Existing products for wireless underwater comms are available, but only at low speeds (up to about 20 kbps for acoustic devices) or short distances (as much as 60 feet for 1 kHz radio waves, as little as six inches for the standard Wifi frequency of 2.4 GHz).

Navy Weighs New Build Plan for Nuclear-Armed Subs 

Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
1 November 2016
The Navy will need an additional $60 billion to complete its plan build of Columbia-class nuclear-armed ballistic missiles submarines.
The Navy's new deal to produce the first 22 missile tubes for it new Columbia-class nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines comes at time when the service is considering new build strategies for the submarines to address a massive funding shortfall for the top-priority program, Congressional and Navy officials explained. 
General Dynamics Electric Boat recently received a new $101.3 million contract to build the new U.S.-U.K. Common Missile Compartment for the new submarines, slated to ultimately replace the existing Ohio-class fleet. 
However, a newly released Congressional Research Service Report, called "Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and issues for Congress," addresses substantial funding concerns expressed by senior Navy leaders. The primary concern, among other things, is that the Navy will need a substantial top-line budget increase in order to fund the new Columbia-class without massively depleting resources needed for other service platforms.  
"Navy officials testified that the service is seeking about $4 billion per year over 15 years in supplemental funding—a total of about $60 billion—for the Columbia class program," the report states. 
The report suggests a number of strategic avenues through which the Navy might seek to ameliorate this funding shortfall; the suggestions include an increased use of "block" buys and "multi-year" contracts which can both increase volume and lower costs due to longer-range planning. Varying the schedule of production to allow for incremental funding over the years was also proposed by the report. Another recommendation was to reduce the amount of Columbia-class submarines built, an option not likely to be favored given the priority placed on undersea deterrence. 
Congressional researchers credit Navy planners for investigating the possibility of using a single, joint-class block buy contract that would cover both Columbia-class boats and Virginia-class attack submarines.
"Such a contract, which could be viewed as precedent-setting in its scope, could offer savings beyond what would be possible using separate block buy or MYP contracts for the two submarine programs," the report says.
The Congressional report also says the Navy could work on leveraging results from a specially-created National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund established in 2015.The fund was created by members of Congress as a way to allocate specific acquisition dollars to pay for the new submarines. 
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.

Early Submarine Construction Underway

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 Columbia-class program, previously called the Ohio Replacement Program, 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. 
“This platform is being designed for 42 years of service life. It has to survive into the 2080s and it has to provide a survivable, credible deterrent threat,” Capt. David Goggins, Ohio Replacement Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview earlier this year. 
Construction on the first submarine in this new class is slated to be finished up by 2028, with initial combat patrols beginning in 2031, he added.
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 ship specifications have been completed and the program is preparing for a detailed design phase and initial production contract, Goggins explained.
“I have to make sure I have a detailed manufacturing plan that is executable. Now I’m working on the detailed construction plan,” Goggins said.

Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

Navy officials explain that the Ohio Replacement submarines’ mission is one of nuclear deterrence.
Detailed design for the first Ohio Replacement Program is slated for 2017. 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 Ohio Replacement 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 Ohio Replacement 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, you don’t have a mid-life refueling. This allows our 12 SSBNs to have the same at sea presence as our current 14. That alone is a 40 billion savings in acquisition and life-cycle cost because you don’t have those two additional platforms,” Goggins 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. 
The U.S. and U.K. are together immersed in a common missile compartment effort for ORP.  In fact, the U.S. and U.K. are buying parts together for the common missile compartment and working on a $770 million contract with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat.  The U.S. plans to build 12 ORPs, each with 16 missile tubes, and the U.K. plans to build four nuclear-armed ballistic submarines, each with 12 missile tubes.

Next-Generation Technology

The ORP is 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 ORP program to integrate the most current technologies and systems while, at the same time, saving the developmental costs of beginning a new effort, Goggins explained.
 In particular, the ORP 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. 
“The large aperture bow array is water backed. There is no dome and it has very small hydrophones. It is a better performing array, but more importantly it is not air backed. When you have an air-backed array, you have transducers that need to be replaced every 10 years,” Goggins explained.
Previous sonar technologies present higher maintenance costs, whereas large aperture bow arrays can bring both higher performance as well as lower life-cycle costs, he added.
“This enables lower operations and sustainment costs because these transducers and hydrophones last for the life of the ship,” Goggins explained.
The submarines combat systems from Virginia-class attack submarines are also being integrated into the new Ohio Replacement Program submarines. The subs combat systems consist of “electronic surveillance measures,” the periscope, radios and computer systems, Goggins explained.
The new ORP subs will also utilize an automated control fly-by-wire navigation system, a technology that is also on the Virginia-Class attack submarines.
“The ship’s control system allows the operator to put information into a computer about the course and depth for the submarine. A computer algorithm maintains that course and depth by sending a signal to the rudder and the stern,” Goggins said.
Goggins also explained that 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, he explained.
The ORP 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 Ohio Replacement Program is 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 such as quieting technologies, Goggins explained.