Friday, May 19, 2017

Labour Party Backs Renewal Of Trident In Manifesto

Staff, Times & Star
16 May 2017

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

Asian Submarine Race Raises Security Concerns

Jeevan Vasagar, Financial Times
17 May 2017

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

Southeast Asia Building Up Maritime Defenses

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

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

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

Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
4 May 2017 

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

 Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

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

Next-Generation Technology

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

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

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg Government
4 May 2017 

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

Trillion-Dollar Modernization

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

Iran Attempted Missile Launch From Submarine, US Officials Say

Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News
3 May 2017

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

US Navy Considers UAVS To Maintain Visual On Sailors At Sea

Staff, Naval-Technology
4 May 2017

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Undersea Rescue Command Installs Submarine Rescue Diving, Recompression System

Mass Communication Specialists 3rd Class Christopher Veloicaza,
1 May 2017 

CORONADO, Calif. – The U.S. Navy installed a submarine rescue diving and recompression system (SRDRS) aboard the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) in Coronado, April 27. 
Members of Undersea Rescue Command (URC), based at NASNI, and contractors from Phoenix Holdings International, installed the SRDRS aboard the vessel, which is the URC's training ship.
This is the first time the Navy has fully assembled the SRDRS with transfer under pressure (TUP) capability aboard HOS Dominator. The installation will contribute to the URC's operational readiness and training as well as the certification of the Navy's deep sea submarine rescue capability.
"It's one of only a handful of mobile rescue systems in the world," said Cmdr. Mark Hazenberg, URC's commanding officer. "It's able to be rapidly deployed and can assist in rescues of numerous foreign submarines in addition to our own."
The SRDRS is the U.S. Navy's only deep submarine rescue system and is designed to recover Sailors from a disabled submarine that may be too deep for submarine escape. The TUP capability will allow submarine Sailors to move safely from a pressurized compartment aboard a disabled submarine to a recompression chamber aboard the rescue ship to begin decompression. The system will greatly increase the Sailors' chances of survival from significant casualties as well as avoid life-threatening consequences of decompression sickness.
The SRDRS replaced the vessels Mystic and Avalon, two previous rescue submarines, as the primary deep sea rescue asset for submariners.
 SRDRS is designed for quick worldwide deployment in the event of a submarine accident and is transportable by truck, aircraft, or ship. The SRDRS is a tethered, remotely operated vehicle that is placed into the water and attaches to a disabled submarine's hatch. At an accident site, the SRDRS works with a "mother ship" and can embark up to 16 rescued personnel plus two internal attendants.
"The Navy currently only has a rescue capability and it's being integrated with a TUP so that submarine Sailors have a decompression obligation that they'll be able to accommodate through a series of decompression chambers," said Matt Walters, principal engineer for Oceaneering Technologies.
HOS Dominator is a Hornbeck Offshore-owned vessel contracted by the Navy to provide a vessel of opportunity for URC to use and operate its systems at sea for training and proficiency.
The Undersea Rescue Command conducts worldwide submarine assessment, intervention, and rescue using deep submergence systems including remotely operated underwater vehicle, submarine rescue chamber, pressurized rescue module, and side scan sonar. URC, homeported at NASNI, is a component of Submarine Squadron 11 in Point Loma, California, which is home to four Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines, one torpedo retriever, and the floating dry-dock Arco. 

Now, Russia Is Building A Submarine Even Larger Than The Typhoon

Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer
3 May 2017 

Russia’s new military research submarine for Arctic waters will be 11 meters longer than the giant Cold War Typhoon class.
The hull is based on an incomplete Oscar-II submarine originally laid down at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk back in 1992. Oscar-II class is similar to the «Kursk» submarine that sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000. 
«Belgorod» will be equipped to carry special deep-sea diving equipment, including another submarine, and can be used both for military and civilian purposes on the Arctic shelf.
Originally, the hull of an Oscar-II class sub is much wider than most submarines since the cruise missiles are attached alongside. With the missiles removed, it is believed that larger objects for underwater operations can be carried.
Now, sources in the Navy confirms to Izvestia that the submarine has been embedded in size with almost 30 meters. The extra length is added to include special equipment including pressure chambers for divers to exit the vessel at deep sea. Also, unmanned autonomous vehicles, or subsea drones, can be carried.
The submarine’s hull is extended from the 154 meter normal length of an Oscar-II class to 184 meters. That is 11 meters longer than the Typhoon submarines built in the 1980s for the Soviet navy.
Seabed detection network
Izvestia reports that the submarine «will study the bottom of the Russian Arctic shelf, look for minerals, as well as placing out submarine communication systems.» The last could be a new detection network to be located on the seabed under the Arctic icecap with similar functions as NATO’s SOSUS submarine detection network in the North Atlantic.
With a network of subsea sonars and other detection devices, foreign submarine activities can better be monitored.
«The submarine will provide a global deployment of underwater monitoring system, which the military is building at the seafloor of the Arctic Oceans,» Professor at the Academy of Military Science, Vadim Kozyulin, says to Izvestia. He says «Belgorod» will not only be the world’s largest nuclear powered submarine, it will «The most unique submarine of the Russian Navy.»
Russia’s new sensor system was first mentioned in an article in Izvestia last summer.
Spy operations 
«Belgorod” is powered by two nuclear reactors. Also, the mini submarine to be attached to «Belgorod» could be nuclear powered, likely one of the mini-submarines developed for special purpose operations, like the «Losharik.»
Over the last decade, the Russian navy has seriously modernized its fleet of special purpose submarine, including both mini-subs for spy- and research operations, and larger carriers. 
Last Novembver, Sevmash shipyard revealed a unique video of the «Podmoskovye» sailing out to the White Sea. «Podmoskovye» is a rebuilt Delta-IV class submarine aimed to carry mini-submarines also to work on underwater intelligence cables in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, as reported by the Barents Observer.

EB Workforce Surpasses 15,000 Employees; More Hires Planned

Julia Bergman, The Day
2 May 2017

As Electric Boat's workforce continues to grow, recently reaching 15,000 employees, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office points to the strain that could be placed on the submarine builder and others in the shipbuilding industry to meet the Navy's new goal of 355 ships.
Late last year, the Navy unveiled a new force structure assessment that calls for 80 more ships, including 18 more attack submarines than it has now. President Donald Trump has called for a 350-ship Navy.
The CBO report says getting to 355 ships would cost, on average, $26.6 billion a year over the next 30 years. That's more than 60 percent above the average amount that Congress has appropriated for shipbuilding over the past 30 years, the report points out.
Released last week, the report came at the request of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Virginia, who respectively serve as ranking member and chairman of a House subcommittee with oversight over Navy shipbuilding.
Building more submarines would pose the greatest challenge to the shipbuilding industry, the report says. Hiring more workers and training new employees while maintaining current levels of quality and efficiency would present the most significant challenge industrywide, it added.
The Navy currently purchases two Virginia-class attack submarines a year, which EB and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia build under a teaming agreement, with each company alternating delivery of the submarines to the Navy. The report looks at a number of alternatives showing how the Navy's new goal for 66 attack submarines could be met.
Of the four alternatives examined, reaching the Navy's goal in 15 years would pose the most difficulties. That would mean building three attack submarines per year from 2022 through 2024, and four from 2025 through 2028.
EB President Jeff Geiger said in January, following the release of the Navy's assessment, that his company is poised to meet the Navy's demand for 66 attack submarines, provided it has the time to build up its workforce, supplier base and facilities.
Several training programs have been established around the region in the past two years, many at technical high schools and community colleges, to help train prospective workers for EB. Last month, The Day reported that the company expects to hire 2,000 employees this year alone.
Construction on the first submarine in a new class of ballistic missile submarines, known as the Columbia class, is expected to begin in 2021. EB is the prime contractor for that program, and thus will carry out most of the work on the Columbia boats, which will be two-and-a-half times larger than the Virginia-class attack submarines. Twelve of these Columbia submarines are planned.
Even before the Navy released its latest assessment, EB was planning for more work. It had set a goal of reaching 18,000 employees by 2030. The company also is preparing to spend $1.5 billion to expand its facilities in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I. In Groton, the company would like to build a new floating dry dock on the south end of its campus to be able to deliver the Columbia submarines.

STRATCOM Deputy Commander: ‘We Have to Stay Ahead’ of Strategic Competitors

OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Magazine
2 May 2017

WASHINGTON — America’s strategic deterrent forces have prevented a catastrophic global war for 70 years, but may have been “too successful” in that mission, the deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said May 2.
“Nuclear attack is still the most consequential threat this nation faces,” Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard said. But because the strategic deterrent capabilities have prevented a nuclear conflict since World War II, “we have removed that threat from the psyche of the American people.”
That condition is reflected, Richard indicated, in the current debate over whether the nation can afford the expensive, decade-long program to modernize the nuclear deterrent Triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICMBs), nuclear-capable bombers and the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs).
In a breakfast address to a Mitchell Institute forum, Richard noted that the Pentagon had recently announced the start of a new nuclear policy review.
“It’s not a moment too soon. We have spent a long time de-emphasizing nuclear deterrence while our
adversaries have advanced,” he said, noting the new nuclear-armed missiles and ballistic-missile submarines Russia has fielded. “I could provide a similar list for China,” he added. “This is the new competition we’re in.
“The United States faces strategic competitors who are well advanced, and in some case ahead,” he said.
In order for the strategic deterrent force to remain effective, “we have to stay ahead. The [Defense] Department believes the nuclear Triad is the best way to maintain that advantage,” Richard said.
The admiral noted that Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, head of Strategic Command, told Congress last month that he could not tell them which leg of the Triad was the most vital to modernize. The ICBMs are the most responsive, the bombers the most flexible and the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines the least vulnerable.
Under the current modernization schedule, “each leg delivers just in time. We’ve taken out all the margin,” Richard said. “The modernization program will provide the strategic deterrence we need, but only if delivered on time.”
Keeping on the schedule is particularly crucial for producing the new Columbia-class SSBNs that are to replace the Ohio-class subs, Richard said.
That is because the Ohios were designed to last 30 years, but have had their service lives extended to 42 years.
“We have never taken any submarine beyond 37 years,” Richard, a career submariner, said.
If the Ohio subs were pushed beyond 42 years of service, the hulls might not be able to stand the underwater pressure and could not conduct their deterrence missions, he said.
Asked about the future of the Trident D-5 missiles that arm the Ohio subs, Richard said they are being updated and the modernized missiles will carry over to the Columbia-class boats.
However, he said, “nothing lasts forever,” and the Navy is working with the Air Force to find common components from the planned replacement for the Minuteman III ICBMs that might go into a future Trident replacement.
In addition to modernizing the weapons in the Triad, Richard said they had to update the strategic command and control system, which is full of 1960s technology.
“Nuclear deterrence is only as good as its command and control.”
Addressing the complaints about the cost of modernizing the Triad, and the nuclear warheads it uses, Richard said the program is estimated to require only six and a half percent annually of the total defense budget, which is “a fraction” of the total federal budget.  
That spending, “against our only existential threat, is a very good investment,” he said.

Monday, May 1, 2017

U.S. Congress Wants A Sub Optimized To Host Special Operations Forces

Lee Hudson, Inside The Navy
21 April 2017 

Congress wants the Navy to design a submarine optimized to host special operations forces based on the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.
Lawmakers envision the SOF-optimized sub to be built after the Navy has met all of its commitments to the nuclear triad.
"Between 2026 and 2029 the four OHIO class guided missile submarines (SSGNs) will be inactivated and the Navy will lose dual dry deck shelter (DDS) capability and large volume host submarine support to SOF," according to a report on undersea mobility for special operations forces. Congress directed the Navy to submit a report on this topic in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
The first 11 Virginia-class attack submarines were built to support SOF operations, with each sub carrying a DDS and outfitted with a lock out trunk, the report reads.
"Four of these SSNs have been designated as primary SOF support SSNs and have completed DDS testing and certification, and another two have been designated as alternates," according to the report signed by Allison Stiller who is performing the duties and functions of the Navy acquisition executive. Inside the Navy reviewed a copy of the report.
Block III and IV Virginia-class submarines are not designed to carry a DDS but they do have a lock out trunk, the report reads.
Once the SSGNs decommission in the mid-2020s the Navy will certify additional Virginia-class submarines to meet SOF availability requirements. However, the service needs to evaluate the technical feasibility of having these subs crossfitted to host various DDSs. Currently, specific Virginia-class submarines are designated for a particular DDS.
"The Navy is evaluating the number of single DDS SOF capable submarines to include in Block V; this would provide additional flexibility in meeting USSOCOM availability requirements over that of the currently certified VA Class," according to the report.
In FY-21, the Navy will begin designing Block VI Virginia-class submarines and this provides the opportunity for the service to optimize the boats for SOF.
"The Navy SOF stakeholders have begun discussions to provide input to the Block VI design to optimize SOF capability," according to the report. "Although the VA Class hull is too small to support dual DDS operation, the capability of employing two vehicles, one from a single DDS and a second stored vertically in a VPM tube, is under evaluation."
Block VI Virginia-class submarine design will also consider the need to maximize berthing and training space for SOF while embarked.
Further, the dry combat submersible program is on track to achieve initial operational capability in FY-19. The DCS is designed to launch and recover from a surface ship, the report reads.
"While in some scenarios there may be greater operational risk due to the increased detectability of a host surface vessel, the risks can be mitigated by using appropriate tactics, techniques, and procedures, and by selecting a surface delivery platform with reduced detectability and improved situational awareness systems," according to the report. 

Creating 355-Ship U.S. Navy Will Take At Least 18 Years: CBO  

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Breaking Defense
25 April 2017 

President Trump and the US Navy want a 355-ship fleet, but even if you double shipbuilding budgets compared to historic levels, it can’t be done until 2032, at least 12 years after the end of Trump’s current term of office. That’s the estimate offered today by the Congressional Budget Office. At a more sustainable but still expensive pace, CBO calculates, you don’t reach 355 ships until 2047, thirty years from now, when today’s five-year-olds will be old enough to run for president.
We’ve seen a lot of interesting analysis of the Navy’s 355-ship Force Structure Assessment, including an estimate from the Congressional Research Service’s Ron O’Rourke that it would cost $5 billion a year over the Navy’s former plan for a 308-ship fleet, widely derided as an unaffordable “fantasy,” Now O’Rourke’s counterpart and colleague at CBO, Eric Labs, has taken an intriguing new approach: He’s made different estimates depending on how fast you want to reach the 355-ship goal.
“Fast” is a relative term, since 2032 is the earliest date Labs sees for a 355-ship fleet, and even then it’s not the 355 ships the Navy says it wants. The Force Structure Assessment calls for a 38 percent increase in nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) above earlier plans, from 48 to 66, but Labs says there’s no way to build that many subs that fast. Construction of other vessels — even aircraft carriers — is less complex and less of a bottleneck, Labs says. So while the shipbuilding industry overall will need to increase its workforce 40 percent over the next decade, the sub builders need to grow even more.
There are just two shipyards that build attack boats, Electric Boat and Newport News, together producing two Virginia-class SSNs a year, but they’re also starting work on the much larger Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). That will dramatically increase their workload, and all the money in the world can’t create a sufficiently qualified welder (for example) overnight. Even if the yards double their attack boat output to four Virginias a year by 2025, Labs writes, “the Navy would not meet its goal of 66 attack submarines until 2035.” So put an asterisk by CBO’s “15-year plan,” because it’s really 18 years.
Interestingly, Labs finds that the cost to get started on any of the four plans is at least $23 billion a year. That’s 19 percent to 24 percent above the Navy’s previous plan for 308 ships and 42 percent to 48 percent above historical spending levels. Likewise, Labs estimates, if you look at the total cost to build a 355-ship fleet over 30 years, you pay about the same amount whether you buy as many ships as possible early or spread them out: an average of $26.6 billion a year. That’s about 25 percent above the old 308-ship plan, 40 percent above what was actually appropriated in 2016, and 60 percent above historical spending levels.
But Congress doesn’t vote to fund any program for 30 years, and most politicians — heck, most people — don’t plan that far out. In the relatively near term, the next 10 years, there’s a huge cost premium to getting 355 faster:
To get to 355 ships by 2032 (and 66 submarines by 2035), annual shipbuilding budgets would need to spike to $33 billion by 2023-2027. That’s more than 100 percent above historical spending levels and almost 50 percent above the Navy’s old 308-ship plan.
To get to 355 by 2037, spending would peak at $30 billion, also in 2023-2027, 86 percent above historical levels.
To get there by 2042, spending would rise to the $27-$28 billion range — 60-70 percent above historical levels — and stay there for most of the next 20 years, 2023-2037.
To get there by 2047, spending would rise slightly less, into the $26-28 billion range, on a slightly slower schedule and then stay there longer.
But to rise to even this easiest version of the challenge, CBO calculates a 42 percent increase in shipbuilding budgets above historical levels over the next five years. That’s a decision that this President and Congress actually have to face.

First Look At Royal Navy’s Incredible New £1BILLION Nuclear Submarine HMS Audacious

Unlike traditional submarines, the new sub is not fitted with periscopes. Images are instead delivered to the Control Room via fiber-optic cables.

Carl Stroud, The Sun
28 April 2017 

The royal Navy’s latest billion pound nuclear submarine edges out of dry dock as it prepares to take to the water for the first time.
HMS Audacious carries Tomahawk missiles capable of hitting targets 745 miles away with pinpoint accuracy.
The imposing nuclear sub HMS Audacious makes its first journey out of the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The 318 ft. long attack sub carries Tomahawk missiles capable of hitting targets 745 miles away with pinpoint accuracy.
The 318 ft. long attack sub can circumnavigate the entire globe without surfacing.
And unlike traditional submarines it is not fitted with periscopes. Images are instead delivered to the Control Room via fiber-optic cables.
The 7,400-tonne BAE Systems-built vessel is the fourth of seven Astute class submarines and is also armed with Spearfish torpedoes.
It left the giant Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria yesterday ahead of its floating out ceremony today.
A spokesperson for manufacturers BAE Systems explained: “First she will go in the water for the first time, then she will take her first dive. The Royal Navy will take her on some trials and will decide where she will be moved to or stationed next.”
“The next big milestone will be when she leaves Barrow which we expect will be in around a year.”
More than 39,000 acoustic tiles mask the vessel’s sonar signature, meaning she slips through the seas with less noise than a baby dolphin.
Yet her sonar is said to be so powerful it can detect ships leaving harbor in New York City from a listening point below the waters of the English Channel, 3,000 nautical miles away.
It comes amid claims a crisis looms over the entire project because of delays in the construction of a dry dock to repair the fleet.
The Sunday Times claimed the Navy’s ability to deploy the submarines is at risk because of delays in the building of a dry dock to deal with significant repairs.
Construction of the dock, earmarked for Devonport naval base in Plymouth, is estimated to cost £1bn but is at least a year overdue, according to insiders.
The first submarine in the class, HMS Astute, which launched in 2010, is due for an overhaul early next decade.
HMS Ambush, another Astute, crashed last July and is being repaired in the water at Gibraltar.
The Ministry of Defense said: “There is no delay. We continue to explore options for future submarine docking requirements at Devonport.
“No decisions have been taken and the Royal Navy’s ability to deploy Astute class submarines remains unaffected.”

U.S. Navy Can Only Meet Half Of Submarine Requirements In Pacific 

Justin Doubleday, Inside Defense
26 April 2017 

The Navy can only meet half of the requirements for attack submarines from U.S. Pacific Command, according to a top military officer. 
The attack submarine force is among the weapon platform shortfalls U.S. forces face in the Pacific, according to PACOM chief Adm. Harry Harris. 
"Our submarine numbers are low and getting smaller," Harris said during an April 26 House Armed Services Committee hearing on threats in the Pacific region. "The number of submarines, without going into precise detail here, the Navy can only meet about 50 percent of my stated requirement for attack submarines." 
The shortfall has deepened since last February, when Harris told Senate authorizers the Navy could meet just 62 percent of his attack submarine requirements in the Pacific. 
Harris said this week that the problem is projected to worsen, as the attack submarine force is expected to dip from 52 boats today to 42 submarines in the late 2020s. The admiral said he supports the Navy's recent force structure assessment, which delineates a requirement for 66 attack submarines. 
Meanwhile, Harris' written testimony states 230 of the world's foreign submarines are operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, including 160 belonging to China, Russia and North Korea. Harris noted that U.S. attack submarines are vastly superior to any other country's. 
Harris also said PACOM requires more small diameter bombs, as some of its inventory has been transferred to U.S. forces fighting in the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, the admiral said U.S. forces in the Pacific require more air-to-air missiles and torpedoes. 
Integrated air and missile defense capabilities in the Pacific also need to be increased, according to Harris. He called the 44 land-based interceptors based in Alaska and California "critical," and said the Defense Department should consider putting a permanent radar and interceptors in Hawaii as well. Previously, Harris has called for making operational the Aegis Ashore test site in Hawaii. 
"Across the range of integrated air and missile defense, we can and need to do more," Harris said. His calls for more missile defense capabilities come as North Korea has continued developing longer-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. Harris called North Korea "the most immediate threat" in the region. 
"Despite a number of noteworthy shortfalls in training and equipment, we must take seriously the substantial inventory of long-range rockets, artillery, close-range ballistic missiles, and expansive chemical weaponry aimed across the Demilitarized Zone at the Republic of Korea and U.S. forces stationed there," his written testimony states. 
Harris was expected to brief the committee in a classified session immediately following the April 26 open hearing.

China’s Nuclear Interest In The South China Sea – Analysis

Felix K. Chang, EurasiaReview
1 May 2017

Economic and sovereignty interests are commonly cited as the reasons for China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. The security of China’s sea-based nuclear deterrent could be added to that list of reasons.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has worried about external threats—and justifiably so. During the Cold War, it faced down both the world’s superpowers, first the United States and then the Soviet Union. Both were armed with nuclear weapons at a time when China was still developing its own arsenal.
But even after it successfully produced nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, China could not rest easy. It still had to ensure their survivability to create a credible nuclear deterrent.

China’s Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent

Early on, China understood that ballistic missiles based on land would be more vulnerable to preemptive attack than those based under the sea.  And the longer they could stay under the sea, the safer they would be.  Thus, in the late 1950s, China began to acquire the technology needed for nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), which can operate underwater for long periods, and for their associated submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).
By the 1980s, China built its first SSBN, the Type 092 (or Xia-class), along with its first SLBM, the JL-1. Though only one Xia-class submarine ever became fully operational, China went to great lengths to protect it. Chinese engineers tunneled under a rocky promontory at Jianggezhuang, adjacent to the Yellow Sea, to provide the submarine with a hardened shelter. As it turned out, the Xia rarely went to sea during its service life.  But if it sailed into the Yellow Sea today, China might have some cause for concern, given the proximity of capable naval forces from Japan, South Korea, and the United States on the sea’s eastern edge.

China’s Southern Strategy

After the Cold War, China continued to improve its sea-based nuclear deterrent. About a decade ago, China began serial production of its second SSBN, the Type 094 (or Jin-class). So far, the Chinese navy has commissioned four Jin-class submarines; the completion of the JL-2 SLBM followed.  But years before the submarines entered service, China had already started construction on a new naval base for them that runs along Yalong Bay, near the South China Sea. With satellite imagery, one can see the grand scale of the new base.  It even features a submarine tunnel, like the one at Jianggezhuang, but with enough room for loading facilities and multiple submarines.
China’s Jin-class SSBNs are now regularly seen at the base.  South of it is the South China Sea—a region increasingly dotted with Chinese military outposts and airfields. It is also a region with no navies capable of directly challenging China’s. Indeed, Chinese strategists may have envisioned the South China Sea to be a naval bastion, a partially enclosed area where China’s SSBNs could safely operate under the protection of friendly air and naval forces. The Soviet navy operated in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk in much the same way during the Cold War.
To be sure, the South China Sea carries drawbacks as a naval bastion. The biggest is probably the fact that operating there would put China’s SSBNs further from potential targets in the Western Hemisphere, though future SLBMs may have longer ranges. Still, the South China Sea does enable China to disperse more widely its undersea nuclear forces, and thereby improve their survivability. If China has come to see the South China Sea as important to the security of its sea-based nuclear deterrent, then those who hope that patient economic and diplomatic engagement will persuade China to change its behavior in the region are very likely to be disappointed, as they have been to date.

Slash Ship Design Time In Half, U.S. Navy CNO Says 

Colin Clark, Breaking Defense
28 April 2017

WASHINGTON – That the Navy should get more money to build up its surface and submarine fleets may be the message Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson sends in an upcoming article which he promises would be a “strong Navy voice” on budget issues.
Richardson told an audience at the Brookings Institution Thursday that he would be publishing an article “in the next couple of weeks” which he appeared to be previewing. He pressed two big ideas of interest to our readers. One, the US must continue to hammer away at short-term innovation because computing power and the spread of advanced technologies through the commercial sector makes it imperative for the Navy to build weapons that can be upgraded every five years or so. Build a hull to last 30 years, he said, but design the guts of the ships and the weapons so they can be improved on a regular basis.
Second, Richardson called on shipbuilders to greatly speed how they design ships, urging them to cut the time it takes by one-third to one-half. On top of that, ways around and through the acquisition process must be found to allow for more classes of ships to be designed and built more quickly.
I hear much of this resulted from an in-depth Navy study of whether the service could actually build a 355-ship Navy, as President Trump has urged, any time soon. The conclusion of the internal study was simple: no, it can’t be done given current design and acquisition timelines. Richardson told the Brookings’ crowd, without mentioning the study: “We’ve been taking too long to get things done.”
My source on the Navy study says the Navy went through Eric Labs’ recent Congressional Budget Office study of the 355-ship Navy and concluded his numbers were sound. Labs estimated that the Navy couldn’t hit that mark until 2032, even if you double shipbuilding budgets compared to historic levels.
Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris told Congress earlier this week that his command is already short of subs and surface ships. Harris said he only has 50 percent of the subs he need to tracks Russian, North Korean and Chinese undersea activity.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

India Seeks Submarine Upgrade To Plug Scorpene Data Leak

Staff, Defense World
18 April 2017

India will push for several upgrades in the proposed three new Scorpene submarines it is discussing with France to address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.
“We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned,” a senior defence official was quoted as saying by the Hindu Tuesday.
Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
The detailed discussions pertaining to the additional buy would be held during the India-France strateigic dialogue around December. As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise, another official said.

Moroccan Navy Shows Interest in Greek Submarines

Staff, North African Post (Via Far-Maroc)
18 April 2017

Senior commander of Morocco’s Royal Navy had talks with Greek peers on a set of issues of mutual interest, on top of which the possibility of acquiring Submarines used by the Greek navy, said the website Far-Maroc specializing in military issues.
The same source reported that commanders of the Tarik Ben Zyad and Sultan Moulay Ismail frigates raised during a visit to Greece the prospects for strengthening cooperation between the two countries’ navies as well as the possibility of acquiring used Greek submarines.
Since last year, negotiations have been ongoing between Morocco and Russia on the delivery of the Amur-class 1650 super-quite submarine, which will be the Kingdom’s first submarine.
Russia’s Amur-1650 diesel-electric powered submarine will significantly boost Morocco’s capabilities, as it will carry Club cruise missiles in addition to featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP). With a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters, the submarine can sink into a depth of 250 meters.
The acquisition of submarines will also boost the capabilities of the Royal navy in its protective mission of the 2952km coastline stretching from the strait of Gibraltar to the Mauritanian coast on the Atlantic and from Tangier to the Algerian coast on the Mediterranean.
The main Atlantic bases of the Moroccan navy are found in Casablanca, Agadir and Dakhla, while the Mediterranean bases are located in Ksar Sghir and Al Hoceima.
Although it was established in 1960, the Moroccan navy traces its roots back to the 11th century with the rise of the Al Moravid dynasty, and during the era of the Almohad dynasty, which stretched through the Maghreb, the Moroccan navy was the mightiest in the Mediterranean.

Submarines of the Future Could Be Piloted Using Virtual Reality

Luke Dormehl, Digital Trends
18 April 2017

When it comes to exploring groundbreaking new technologies with the potential to shape our future, few companies can measure up to United Kingdom defense giant BAE Systems. From military drones that can be “grown” using chemistry in large-scale labs to energy-scattering deflector shields, BAE has long played a role in bringing sci-fi-sounding tech to life.
Its latest concept? A method for controlling submarines using virtual reality headsets.
The tech would collect data from the various sensors dotted around a submarine, and then relay this information to the submarine captain in the form of a detailed VR simulation, created using the Unity graphics engine. The idea is that this would allow the captain to “teleport” themselves around a simulation of their submarine to get multiple different views of it as they pilot it, a bit like switching perspectives in a racing game — but with the benefit of real-time information.
This could be done either with the captain on board, or from elsewhere, with the craft controlled remotely.
It could also provide additional information about different systems within the sub, thereby making analyzing this data more intuitive. This wouldn’t have to be limited to navigation purposes. For instance, in one example given, VR could be used to check details of the submarine in the event that a pipe or piece of material has to be replaced — such as whether a replacement will fit in particularly narrow parts of the sub.
A demo of the tech was shown off last week at the U.K.’s Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol. However, don’t necessarily expect it to arrive any time soon. Speaking to the U.K.’s The Sun newspaper, a BAE Systems representative said the project could take decades to be fully completed and implemented, by which point VR technology will have moved on significantly from where it is today.
As the group has told Digital Trends previously, BAE’s work is to keep an eye on the future and make sure it is anticipating where things will go.
“One of the things that we do within BAE Systems is to carry out trend analysis — whether those are political, sociological, environmental or technological,” Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ futurist and technologist, told us. “What these trends do is to tell us something about the future, and from that we can generate a series of ‘so what?’ questions about the difference this will make to those of us in defense. What are the things we need to worry about or be aware of, and how do we best stay on the front foot?”

Egypt Receives Second Type-209/1400 Submarine From Germany

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt Independent
19 April 2017

Egypt will receive a German-made 209/1400 Submarine at the Ras al-Tin base on Wednesday.
The submarine can sail for 11,000 miles with a speed reaching 21 knots. Its length is 60-73 meters. Missiles and turbids can be launched through the submarine, which has been provided with modern navigation and telecommunication techniques to protect regional waters as well as national security.
The Navy has qualified a technical staff to work on the new submarine using recent submarine technologies, in accordance with a timeline set between Egypt and Germany.
In December, Egypt received the first 209/1400 Submarine at the German city of Kiel. This comes as part a deal made between the two nations for four submarines to help protect Egypt's national security through supporting the Navy’s technical and combat capabilities.
Egyptian technical teams traveled to Germany last year for training on operating these new submarines.

BAE Systems To Build Sixth Astute-Class Submarine For Britain

  Richard Tomkins, UPI
19 April 2017

BAE Systems in Britain has received a $1.77 billion Ministry of Defense contract to build a sixth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine for the Royal Navy.
The Agamemnon will be about 318 feet long, have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an endurance of 90 days. It can carry Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes.
Securing the contract for the sixth Astute class submarine is a significant milestone for BAE Systems, and the result of many years of hard work by our highly skilled workforce.
"Securing the contract for the sixth Astute-class submarine is a significant milestone for BAE Systems and the result of many years of hard work by our highly skilled workforce," Will Blamey, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said in a press release.
"The Astute class submarines are among the most highly capable and technologically advanced in the world and we're immensely proud to build them for the Royal Navy."
BAE Systems is the prime contractor for the seven-ship program. It constructs the vessels at its facility in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The first three Astute submarines are already in service.
"These are the most advanced submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy and are already providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability across the world," said Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.

US Navy Redesigning its Submarines to Accommodate Women

Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press
19 April 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Every submarine in the U.S. fleet was designed with the height, reach and strength of men in mind, from the way valves are placed to how display screens are angled.
That's going to change.
With women now serving aboard submarines, defense contractor Electric Boat is designing what will be the first Navy subs built specifically to accommodate female crew members.
The designers are doing the obvious things, such as adding more doors and washrooms to create separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women and to give them more privacy. But they are also making more subtle modifications that may not have been in everyone's periscope when the Navy admitted women into the Silent Service.
For example, they are lowering some overhead valves and making them easier to turn, and installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines.
The first vessel built with some of the new features is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021, the future USS New Jersey.
The Navy lifted its ban on women on submarines in 2010, starting with officers. About 80 female officers and roughly 50 enlisted women are now serving on subs, and their numbers are expected to climb into the hundreds over the next few years.
For now, the Navy is retrofitting existing subs with extra doors and designated washrooms to accommodate women. But Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, is at work on a redesign of the Navy's Virginia-class fast-attack
subs and is also developing a brand-new class of ballistic-missile submarines, relying on body measurements for both men and women.
"We have a clean sheet of paper, so from the ground up, we'll optimize for both men and women," said Brian Wilson, Electric Boat director of the new ballistic-missile sub program.
Electric Boat officials had no immediate estimate of how much the modifications will cost.
As anyone who watches war movies knows, submariners are always turning valves, whether to operate machinery, redistribute water between tanks or isolate part of a system that has been damaged.
On the Columbia-class boats, valves will generally be placed lower, Wilson said. Sometimes there will be an extension handle, and some will be easier to turn. Sailors will be able to connect their masks into the emergency air system at the side of passageways, instead of overhead.
Emergency air masks are being moved on fast-attack submarines, too, but the bulk of the changes on those subs are to ensure privacy.
Seats in the control room on the ballistic-missile submarines will adjust forward a little more so everyone can touch each display and reach every joystick. Steps will be added so shorter people can climb into the top bunk or see into the washers and dryers, since clothes that get stuck in the machines are a fire hazard.
The first Columbia-class ballistic-missile sub is scheduled to join the fleet in 2031.
At 5-foot-6, Lt. Marquette Leveque, one of the first women to serve on a submarine, said that she didn't have any trouble reaching valves and other equipment but that the ergonomic changes will be helpful for shorter crewmates.
Leveque was assigned to a compartment with two other female officers on the USS Wyoming. They shared a washroom with male officers. A sign on the door could be flipped to show whether a man or woman was using it.
With so few women on board, the timesharing worked, she said. But with more on the way, the need for separate spaces is greater, she added.
"Privacy is important anywhere you are," she said. "We live on this boat, as well as work there."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Turkey’s Golcük Shipyard & TKMS Jointly Market Type 214 Submarine to Indonesia

Bilal Khan, QUWA
16 April 2017

Turkey’s Golcük Shipyard and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) are reportedly offering the Reis-class variant of the Type 214 diesel-electric submarine (SSK) to the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).
As per IHS Jane’s, TNI-AL officials will be meeting with representatives from Golcük Shipyard and TKMS at the forthcoming International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF), which will take place in Istanbul in May. TNI-AL officials will also visit Golcük Shipyard’s production site to observe the progress being made on the Turkish Navy’s first Type 214, the Pirireis.
The Type 214 is derived from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH’s (HDW) highly popular Type 209 SSK. Featuring design innovations from the HDW Type 212 and optionally powered by a fuel-cell based air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, the Type 214 displaces 1,700-tons (surface).
It has eight torpedo tubes which can deploy heavyweight torpedoes – such as the Atlas Elektronik SeaHake – and anti-ship missiles, such as the Harpoon and Exocet.
The Turkish Navy currently plans to procure six Type 214TNs. Under the original 2.5 billion Euro contract, the ships are being built in Turkey with a mix of subsystems drawn from Turkey’s domestic industry and Germany. Aselsan is supporting the Type 214TN program by providing electronic support measures (ESM) and sensor systems, while Havelsan is developing an integrated command and control suite.
The Indonesian Navy currently has three Type 209 Chang Bogo-class SSKs on order (for U.S. $1.1 billion) from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in South Korea. The Chang Bogo-class SSK is a variant of the HDW Type 209 built under license by DSME. The second TNI-AL ship was launched for sea trials in October. PT Palindo Marine is also developing a 22-metre miniature submarine which it hopes could form the basis of a littoral seas patrol submarine.

Taiwan's Home-Grown Submarine to Cost Less

Aiswarya Lakshmi, Marine Link
16 April 2017

Taiwan's shipbuilder CSBC Corp's chairman Cheng Wen-lon said that a home-grown submarine will cost less than NT$100 billion (US$3.29 billion) to build. 
According to a report in Taipei Times, chairman of the local shipbuilder commissioned to plan and design the vessel  also said that much depends on the Navy’s demands: Planned crew sizes, mission length and strategic and tactical requirements would all determine the eventual size of the submarine.
Nationally developed ships would be crucial to the company’s future operations, Cheng said, pledging to place the company’s best personnel on the program.
Eariler, all attempts by Taipei to buy a conventional submarine from other countries have been thwarted by a litany of threats from China. Beijing takes a hard line at any country that supplies arms to what they consider their own territory. 
So, the President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan had no choice but to build its own submarine fleet as she promoted a deal to deploy the first vessel in less than a decade. 
Tsai touted the contract with CSBC Corp., as a necessary step to improve the island’s defenses. 
The company plans to deliver the first diesel-electric model in 2024, with deployment expected a year or two later.
The Taiwanese Navy has a requirement to replace two inoperable World War II-era Guppy-class attack submarines as well as the life extension program for its two Dutch-built Sea Dragon-class (Zwaardvis Mk 2) submarines built during the early 1980s.

Friday, April 14, 2017

North Korea’s Hidden Submarine Threat Is Another Worry  As Regime Warns It’s ‘Ready’ For War

Jeff Daniels, CNBC
12 April 2017 

A nuclear attack threat from a North Korean submarine is one of the nightmare scenarios facing Japan and South Korea.
The chilling thought of North Korea’s fully submersible submarines firing a nuclear ballistic missile isn’t as far-fetched as some might think. Pyongyang has made major advances in weapons in recent years and shown a willingness to use its submarines for offensive military actions.
Indeed, last month was the seventh anniversary of the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan navy ship by a North Korean submarine torpedo attack. That aggression killed 46 sailors and wasn’t the first time the reclusive North had made incursions into South Korean waters.
The submarine threat adds to growing fears in the region as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons ambitions show no signs of slowing. It also comes as a U.S. carrier strike force led by the USS Carl Vinson sailed toward the Korean Peninsula.
Not surprisingly, North Korea decried the deployment of the American carrier task force to the volatile region. “If the U.S. dares opt for a military action ... the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Monday. DPRK is short for the North’s formal name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Experts believe North Korea’s navy has around 70 submarines in its fleet, although only a handful today are believed to be capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles or so-called SLBMs. What’s more, defense analysts believe Pyongyang has the capability today of building a nuclear warhead small enough to arm a submarine missile.
Last August, North Korean media showed off video of a so-called KN-11 submarine missile being launched from eastern coastal waters. Images of the North Korean dictator pointing to the missile launch were shown on the state television network.
The submarine-launched missile flew about 310 miles toward Japan. The test set a new distance record for Pyongyang’s SLBM program, and experts suggest the ballistic missile has the capability to travel more than 600 miles.
“The problem with the SLBM is that it exposes South Korea’s flanks to attack,” said Bruce Klingner, an Asia and national security specialist at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank.
Klingner, a former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, explained that the THAAD anti-missile system deployed last month by the U.S. in South Korea is focused on identifying missile threats from the North. As a result, a submarine missile from the North Korean navy could be launched behind radar and evade defense systems.
Similarly, missiles fired by North Korean submarines off the east coast of Japan might be able to dodge detection from Japan’s Patriot anti-missile system by launching from behind radar.
Joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises this year included drills on destroying the North’s submarines.
Klingner said some people have been dismissive of the Pyongyang submarine threat by maintaining that the North’s vessels are “old and noisy.” The noise comes from the submarine’s diesel-powered engines.
Yet in 2015 South Korean defense officials reported a sudden disappearance of around 50 of the North’s submarines.
“We didn’t know where they were at the time,” said Klingner. “One would hope that we would keep very close tabs on those that could launch the SLBM.”
Advances in North Korea’s land-based weapons development have been helped by its submarine program.
As an example, Pyongyang in February showed off a new medium- to long-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and uses solid-fuel technology. The land-based ballistic missile is believed to use the same technology of the KN-11 solid-fuel submarine missiles.
Solid fuel offers significant advantages over liquid-fuel rockets because it makes the missile easier to hide, requires less support and allows for faster launches.
“All of that is very worrisome because that may very well have a nuclear weapon someday,” said Klingner.
He said the North Korea’s liquid propellant ballistic missiles, such as the so-called No-Dong medium-range, road-mobile system already is believed to be nuclear capable “so that means Japan and South Korea are under nuclear threat today.”
The secretive regime also is working to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach North America. In January, NBC News reported that Pyongyang could test-fire the ICBM “at any time, at any place,” quoting a senior regime official in North Korea.
The U.S. has a ground-based interceptor missile and radar system designed to detect and kill ICBM missiles. Thirty-six such interceptors are stationed in Alaska and California, and the military expects to have a total of 44 in place by the end of this year, according to a defense official.
“Their conventional forces maybe not very capable at the moment, but they have a lot of weapons of mass destruction,” said Nicholas Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington. “Even if they would end up losing a war, ... they could kill an awful lot of people on our side.”
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks last week and discussed North Korea. Trump tweeted about the meeting Tuesday and also had words for Pyongyang.
Analysts say China wants to prop up the rogue nation to keep it as a buffer zone between the communist North and U.S.-backed South Korea. China represents the lion’s share of North Korea’s trade.
Meantime, the sudden rerouting of the Navy’s Vinson carrier strike group over the weekend led some to question whether U.S. military action against North Korea could be imminent. Beijing urged “all parties remain calm and observe restraint,” according to a story from China’s state-owned CCTV.
“I don’t want to speculate about North Korea military actions,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday in response to a question from reporters. “We owe some confidentiality as we discuss with our allies this situation that we face up there.”

Sea Change Defence Giant BAE Reveals Tech that  Allows Submarines to be Piloted Using Virtual Reality

Margi Murphy, The Sun
13 April 2017

BRITISH defence giant BAE Systems has developed an innovative new system that allows operators to control the submarine they are travelling in using virtual reality headsets.
The system, which uses a design engine called Unity, collects information from sensors on the sub’s outer shell as well as ocean data and sends it to the captain.
The person wearing the HTC Vive headset is immersed in a simulation of what’s in front of them, but can ‘teleport’ themselves to different cabins or even outside the ship, using real-time information.
They are presented with several screens, showing them the submarine’s exterior, as well as different cabins and a host of mechanics and “sub health information”, effectively giving turning them into a virtual “ship brain”.
The system allows soldiers to “see” what’s in their midst using sensors and computer simulations.
This cutting edge technology, which was on show at Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol on Wednesday, could also become a crucial tool for managing maintenance and repairs.
For example, if a pipe or piece of material needs to be replaced, the operator can use the headset to virtually take it where it needs to go, and check whether it will fit down the notoriously tricky spots in the submarine chamber.
This cuts costs and speeds up operations, BAE Systems researchers believe.
The military is already using its virtual reality pilot flight training system.
RAF and Navy pilots have started “flying” a F-35 Lightning II simulator as they prepare for flight trials on the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier next year.
The bespoke £2m simulator facility offers a 360-degree immersive experience for pilots to fly the jet to and from the UK carrier.
It will test pilots’ skills to the limits as they practice landing on the deck of the new aircraft carrier in a
range of difficult sea and weather conditions provided by the simulator.
But more funding is needed to develop the virtual reality operations for submarines, a BAE spokesperson told The Sun Online.
It's a long-term project, which could take thirty to forty years to complete, but the military need to be fast if it is to stay ahead of the curve and ensure it is well positioned as weapons and military operations become more advanced.
The British company, known for building warships and weapons, has a cutting edge research team.
It recently revealed it was designing a directed energy laser system which could be used by military commanders to spy on enemy activities from space.

India Plans To Buy Three More Scorpenes

Dinakar Peri, The Hindu
13 April 2017

India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May. India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines that the two sides would be discussing, a senior defence official told The Hindu.
"We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned," the official said.
Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari  is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months. The second submarine Khanderi  was launched in January and is undergoing sea trials.
Another official said that detailed discussions would be held at the India-France strategic dialogue, which is expected to take place around December.
As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise.
The upgrades will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine's capability following the leak of its technical specifications running into several thousands of pages in Australia last year.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Delivered USS Providence (SSN 719) 23 Days Ahead Of Schedule

Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard Public Affairs,
13 April 2017

PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, Maine - Portsmouth Naval Shipyard delivered USS Providence (SSN 719) back to the Fleet 23 days ahead of schedule and on budget April 7.
USS Providence arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Dec. 4, 2015, for a Pre-Inactivation Restricted Availability (PIRA). The project team and ship's crew worked seamlessly throughout the maintenance availability to meet the Naval Sea Systems Command's mission priority of the on-time delivery of ships and submarines.
"As a team, the shipyard with the captain and crew of Providence, focused on the positive plan forward," said project superintendent, Mark Ayotte. "Together we reached our goal of getting the warfighter underway to do what they do best for the Navy and our country."
The project team and crew thrived in an environment that promotes increased levels of collaboration, innovation and high velocity learning. Their teamwork coupled with the shipyard's collective commitment to excellence ensured non-stop execution of work.
"Portsmouth is committed to safely delivering first-time quality work, on time and on budget," said shipyard commander, Navy Capt. Dave Hunt. "It is our commitment to safety and quality that enables us to deliver these submarines on or ahead of schedule and provide the combatant commanders with the assets they need, when they are needed."
Providence's PIRA was approximately 200,000 mandays of work scheduled for a 15.7 month time frame. The project team and crew completed the complex work package more than three weeks ahead of schedule.
The on-time completion of submarine availabilities is critical in the maintenance of today's fleet and is essential to maintaining maritime superiority and expanding the advantage. PNSY, a field activity of NAVSEA, is the Navy's center of excellence for attack submarine overhaul, repair and modernization.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Taiwan Navy Expansion: Plans to Build 8 Submarines Creates Tension in Asian Waters

Staff, Reuters
5 April 2017 

“In our indigenous submarine project, we hope to be able to make eight submarines,” Lee Tsung-hsiao, navy chief of staff, told lawmakers, confirming publicly for the first time the number of vessels being planned. 
Cheng Wen-lon, the chairman of state-controlled shipbuilder CSBC Corp Taiwan, which has been contracted to build the submarines, also told lawmakers that the initial design will be fully completed by early 2018. 
Military and defence industry officials in Taiwan have said the first submarine is expected to go into operation within 10 years.
Lee's comments come ahead of the first meeting between leaders of the United States and China this week that Taipei has fretted could harm its interest.
China regards democratic Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to take control of what it sees as a wayward province. 
The United States is obligated by US law to help Taiwan defend itself, but its arms sales to Taiwan angers Beijing and has slowed down the pace of sales, defence experts said. 
Taiwan and the United States, its sole arms supplier, are currently engaged in fresh arms sales talks.
Last month, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed that her administration would see through the indigenous submarine programme as she toured one of the navy's four ageing submarines, purchased from the United States and Netherlands at least 30 years ago. 
Taiwan has never built a submarine before and will need to rely on foreign technology support to make an advanced vessel, defence experts have said. 
Taiwan's submarine project is in the middle of a four-year design contract phase budgeted at £79.34billion that began in 2016.

N. Korea Still Years Away From Developing Submarine Missiles: U.S. Pacific Fleet Chief

Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency
4 April 2017 

SEOUL – A top U.S. naval commander said Tuesday that North Korea appears to still be years away from fully developing the technology needed for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
“To launch those missiles from under the water is very, very complicated,” Adm. Scott Swift, who commands the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in an interview. “I think it’s still years away before that technology is developed.”
He cited what the U.S. military has “seen and knows” but would not specify the grounds of his assessment.
The admiral stressed the seriousness of the North’s general ballistic missile capability coupled with its nuclear program. It has carried out five known underground nuclear tests and stated the goal of miniaturizing nuclear bombs to fit on to various types of missiles in stock.
“That’s what main concern is,” he said, speaking at a meeting with a small group of reporters at the U.S. military base in the Yongsan district of Seoul on his third trip here as the leader of America’s naval forces in the Pacific.
His remarks indicated the Pentagon’s move to focus, for now, on countering growing threats from nuclear and ground-based ballistic missiles, rather than being distracted by the Kim Jong-un regime’s possible bluff.
Last year, the North’s media announced the success of a ballistic missile launched from a submarine, releasing some photos of the experiment.
Swift reassured South Korea and other allies about the U.S. security commitment to Asia under the Donald Trump administration.
Aides to Trump have distanced themselves from the Barack Obama administration’s policies to “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia.
It does not mean an end to the U.S. focus on the defense of Asia itself, and the Pentagon maintains a plan to deploy 60 percent of U.S. naval assets to the Asia-Pacific area by 2020, the admiral said.
There has been no change to any guidance from Washington for him and Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, he added.
“We are still being robustly resourced and we will remain committed to the whole Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he pointed out.
He added that probably 57 or 58 percent of U.S. naval firepower was already positioned in the theater.
Swift said his fleet plans to introduce more strategic and most modern weapons, including the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), a guided missile destroyer designed as a multi-mission stealth ship with a focus on land attacks.
Among others are the EA-18G Growler, a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft, and new littoral combat ships.
He was cautious about South Korean media reports that a Zumwalt-class destroyer may be ported in the country’s naval base in the southern island of Jeju.
In a meeting with Adm. Harris, who heads the Pacific Command, in Hawaii earlier this year, some South Korean lawmakers proposed the deployment of the American Navy’s newest destroyer there. They later told media that Harris showed a positive response, if not a clear yes.
“As a naval officer, I think it is little premature to discuss what the future plans are” for Zumwalt, said Swift.
He said it would take several years to complete the weapon systems of the “very unique” ship and decide on the details of its tactical use after testing. The U.S. Navy plans to have only three Zumwalt destroyers deployed.
Asked about the likelihood of the state-of-the-art warship being deployed in or near South Korea in the future, he said, “Anything is possible.”
He also did not rule out the possibility of sending more high-profile warships to East Asia in addition to the two nuclear-powered super carriers, USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, in Japan.
“There might be three sometimes, there might be four,” he said. “One of the great advantages of naval power is its flexibility to deploy.”
The challenge, though, is the capacity of the facilities that the Pacific Fleet has for maintaining and sustaining warships, he said.
The admiral has commanded the Hawaii-based Pacific Fleet for nearly two years. He describes his troops as the “most capable, ready and significant naval force in the world.”
He met with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Monday and attended the annual Pacific Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS).

Russia Launches Most Powerful Nuclear Attack Submarine Yet

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, Independent
5 April 2017

Russia has unveiled its army’s most powerful submarine to date, capable of carrying hundreds of torpedoes and reaching speeds of up to 31 knots.
The new Yasen-class nuclear powered attack submarine, called the Kazan, is armed with torpedoes and long-range Kalibr cruise missiles. The ship was launched at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, northern Russia.
According to Russia’s state news agency TASS, the new submarine has been designed to destroy an enemy’s submarines, surface ships, naval bases and ports, among other targets.
The ship reportedly carries a crew of up to 90 men and can be at sea for 100 days. It measures at around 139 metres long and can reach depths of around 600 metres underwater.
The vessel has space for eight Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles and 300 torpedoes, and can reach speeds of up to 31 knots.
A single-shaft steam turbine nuclear power unit is understood to be part of the ship’s design, giving it a capacity of 43,000 horse power, and its arsenal is thought to be capable of hitting targets up to 1,500 miles away, The Mirror reported.
The Russian military had fallen on hard times after the 1991 Soviet collapse when it was forced to scrap many relatively new ships and keep most others at harbor for lack of funds. The military has revived its strength thanks to a sweeping arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
At the launch of the new submarine, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov claimed the new ship is the most modern in the world, emphasising how hard it is to track due to its low-level noise.
“It represents the cutting edge of nuclear submarine design,” he said.
The launch comes at a time when Russian submarines combat patrols have reached levels not seen since the Cold War. Crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol last year, which Admiral Korolyov called “an excellent level”.
The submarine is expected to be placed in service by next year and Russia’s navy intends to commission a total of seven of the submarines to be put into service by 2023.

Ohio-Class Subs Could Be Unfit Underwater In A Decade, STRATCOM Warns

Leo Shane III, Military Times
4 April 2017 

WASHINGTON — Navy officials may have as little as a decade before their Ohio-class submarine fleet won’t dive beneath the waves anymore, the head of U.S. Strategic Command warned lawmakers on Tuesday. 
“Each submarine is built to go down, under pressure, a certain number of times. Once you reach the end of life, you can't go down any more,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, STRATCOM commander, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And a submarine on the top of the water is not an effective deterrent.”
The comments came as Hyten detailed the need for stable and sufficient funding for nuclear modernization efforts, including the military’s submarines. Navy officials have already begun a $100 billion-plus plan to replace the aging Ohio-class submarines with the Columbia-class in coming years, but the STRATCOM commander warned that recent budget fights could jeopardize that progress. 
“Every year [of] that program, if it slips one year then the future commander of STRATCOM is down one nuclear submarine,” he said. “Two years, two nuclear submarines.
“We know that because there's a certain time in the future where Ohio-class submarine just will not go under the water anymore, just the pressure on the vessel itself will not allow it to go down. (The Columbia-class program) has to stay on time.”
Hyten would not detail exactly when military officials predict the older subs will become obsolete, but said the problem will start “towards the end of the next decade.”
Lawmakers at the hearing called that alarming. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., called it “a very precipitous risk” for the country if a replacement isn’t prioritized.
Hyten’s comments were the most recent of a series of dire predictions from military officials about looming defense budget issues, as lawmakers try and find a solution for federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. 
Most federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, have been operating off fiscal 2016 spending levels since last fall as Congress tries to work out a long-term spending plan for the government. If a solution is not found before the end of April, the country will face another partial government shutdown. 
In recent days, lawmakers have discussed the possibility of another continuing resolution to push the funding fight to October, but military leaders have warned that plan will leave them short on a number of multiyear procurement and planning priorities, including the Columbia-class subs 
Last week, Marine Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, said he would be forced cut all flying hours for several F/A-18 Super Hornet and Harrier squadrons under a continuing resolution. Service officials are expected to outline other possible training and personnel cuts at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.
Hyten said the continued budget confusion is taking a toll on his service members. 
“They are dealing with very old equipment,” he said. “We have a commitment to them, as a nation, that we need to give them the tools they need in order to do their job. Their enthusiasm can only last a certain amount of time, and if we don't follow through on that commitment, that morale will be brought into question.” 
Lawmakers have been unable to reach a long-term funding deal balancing military and non-defense funding since 2011, when they passed 10 years of budget caps designed to reign in the federal budget.

Dreadnought: What We Know About Britain’s Next Nuclear Submarine

Chris Smith, BT News
6 April 2017

The secretive HMS Dreadnought will replace the Vanguard as Britain’s subsurface nuclear deterrent.
Around 15 years from now, the Royal Navy’s newest submarine will come into service.
The first Dreadnought, one of four new ships currently under construction at an estimated cost of £31 billion, will replace the existing Vanguard class that has defended the UK since 1994. Details are in short supply, but here’s what we know so far.
Previously known as the Successor program, Dreadnought will consist of four submarines. The first of the Dreadnought class will come into Royal Navy service in the early 2030s.
The Dreadnought class will carry the Trident nuclear missiles, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The measure to renew Trident passed in the House of Commons in July 2016 by a majority of 355 votes.
The Dreadnought name has plenty of history. Nine Royal Navy vessels have already carried the moniker. The HMS Dreadnought of 1906 (below) brought in a huge shift in naval warfare as, amongst other features, it was the first battleship to have a main gun battery. Ships named Dreadnought also sailed during the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Britain’s first nuclear submarine was also called Dreadnought and was launched by the Queen in 1956 (bottom
picture) from the same yard in which the current class is being constructed.
Work on the concept design has been underway since 2007, according to BAE, while the Government approved the business case in 2011.
The Dreadnought class submarines will be built at BAE System’s site in Barrow-in-Furnace, Cumbria.
In October 2016, the Ministry of Defense committed £1.3 billion to the project to get building work underway. The total cost is estimated at £31 billion.
It’ll be the first Royal Navy British submarine with lighting capable of simulating night and day.
The Dreadnought will be 152.9 feet long, which is around the size of 3 Olympic swimming pools, almost ten feet longer than the V-boat.
It’s also the largest ever built for the navy, displacing 17,200 tons, that’s 1,300 more tons than Vanguard
While details are still vague on the specifics, the Dreadnought will manufacture its own fresh oxygen and water.
There’s 42.5km of piping and 20,000 cables (347km). There’ll also be 13,000 electrical items on board the ship.
The UK Defense Journal offers insight into Dreadnought’s Common Missile Compartment. It writes: “While details remain sketchy at best regarding the Dreadnought class, one of the key features the new boats will have is a Common Missile Compartment (CMC). CMC aims to define the missile tubes and accompanying systems that would be used to launch new ballistic missiles, successors to the current Trident II/ D5 missile fleet used by the USA and Britain.”
There’s room on board for 130 crew members; three of whom are chefs.
It’s also the first Royal Navy submarine that will offer separate quarters, washing facilities and toilets for male and female crew members.
According to the 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review, each of the Dreadnoughts will carry eight operational missiles and no more than 40 warheads.
Whether you’re a bookworm or a gym-rat (or both), the Dreadnought has you covered. There’ll be a classroom and study area, and also modern gym facilities. A treadmill is useful as crewmembers can’t exactly go for a long run on a submarine.
More than 2,600 people are currently working on Dreadnought, with BAE predicting up to 7,800 employed each year, throughout the 2020s
‘Delivery Phase 1’ commenced in October 2016 with the cutting of the first steel. However, although there was union dismay over reports that French, not British, steel would be used in the construction, the MoD responded by confirming British steel would be used ‘in the process’.
Several hundred suppliers will be involved, 95% of whom will be from the UK.
Dreadnought submarines are being designed to meet and deter security threats well into the 2050s.