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Bermuda dive with Nekton submarines.
The radio crackles into life and the command is given from somewhere far away. “You’re clear to dive. Dive, dive, dive.” We tip forwards then slosh backwards, like an ungainly ice cube bobbing in a glass. There’s a hiss of bubbles as the ballast tanks vent and the sea swallows us whole, in one frothy burst. All is suddenly quiet, apart from the gentle thrum of our engine as we begin our descent into the deep blue. At about 30m a jellyfish pulses somewhere in the distance and a small shoal of rainbow runners darts past, but we are otherwise alone, falling through an endless expanse of steadily darkening cerulean blue. This should be a peaceful experience, but my heart is beating triple-time and the heat is almost unbearable. Neatly ensconced inside a $US2.2 million ($2.9m) piece of apparatus that wouldn’t look out of place on the moon, it is as hot as a greenhouse thanks to our time on the surface on a cloudless Bermudan day. The underwater pilot explains that at more than below 300m sea level — the depth at which this two-person submersible best operates — the temperature is significantly cooler. But today we are only venturing to 60m in this electrically powered inverted human fishbowl. The aquanaut in charge is Patrick Lahey, president of Triton Submarines and one of the most experienced sub pilots in the world, who has accrued more than 1000 dives in 30 years. Unlike with scuba, there is no need to decompress thanks to a pressurised transparent hull made from 90mm-thick acrylic, almost like a giant eyeball, that passengers sit inside, giving them a 360-degree view of the seascape around. It is what Lahey calls, in his Florida drawl, a “shirtsleeve environment”. The view of the ocean floor from the Triton submersible. Picture: Nekton. In 2015 David Attenborough explored the Great Barrier Reef in a similar model, and the giant squid, a creature that can grow to the length of a bus but is hardly ever seen because of the great depth at which it resides, was first filmed in its natural habitat from one in the north Pacific Ocean four years ago. But the reason for its deployment today is considerably more important than sightseeing or looking for deep-ocean monsters. Nekton, a scientific-research charity, named after aquatic animals that swim against the current, aims to open our eyes and minds to the deep ocean. It has assembled 30 organisations from across the world to form an alliance of leading scientists, philanthropists, business leaders, divers and explorers in compiling the Nekton/XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey. The initiative will pioneer a standardised methodology for marine biologists to measure the function, health and resilience of the deep ocean. The $US8m venture, backed by XL Catlin, is led by Oliver Steeds, one part Captain Nemo and one part Steve Zissou of The Life Aquatic, with a background in investigative journalism. He believes we know little about our oceans. On board Baseline Explorer, Nekton’s mother ship and submersible launch pad for the trip’s duration, Steeds bellows with some vigour above a roaring engine as we power away from the Bermuda coast: “While trillions of dollars are spent going into outer space, there is so little spent on our oceans.
“The deep ocean is the beating heart of our planet, which regulates our atmosphere, water, food and climate [and] it’s a race against time to explore and understand this critically important ecosystem before it’s too late.” The facts, at least, are these. Just 0.05 per cent of our ocean floor has been mapped in any great detail, which means we have better maps of Mars, Venus and the moon than the seabed. The 2010 Census of Marine Life estimated that 250,000 marine animal and plant species have been described by science and at least 750,000 await discovery. Only 0.0001 per cent of the deep-sea floor has been biologically sampled. Baseline Explorer and CCGS Hudson (a Canadian vessel) are spending five weeks probing the depths of the northwest Atlantic around Bermuda, Nova Scotia and the Sargasso Sea, testing for everything from bioluminescence and acidification to new species and microplastics. Their arsenal includes two manned submersibles, a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) capable of reaching 2000m, and 10 divers, also responsible for taking samples and video transects. When I arrive, on day three of the mission, it’s like walking on to the set of a James Bond film as a sampling kit is being assembled, subs are winched into the air, GoPros are ferried about and lab is equipment unpacked. Before my sub dive, at a site called North North East, 16km off the coast of Bermuda, I’m told to expect one of the best areas in the vicinity. Once we get down it’s more like an eerie underwater moonscape: no coral, few fish, only wispy patches of seaweed, and a bright green sponge resembling broccoli. Later, it is proven to be a rhodolith bed, a type of red algae that can occur as a result of eutrophication — water pollution caused by fertilisers and agricultural run-off — and the historic effects of overfishing. “That’s just it,” beams Alex Rogers, the expedition’s ever-cheerful principal scientist and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. “We have no idea what to expect. These beds still have a high diversity of life, but much less is known about them than coral.” It was in Bermuda that American naturalist William Beebe and engineer Otis Barton made history in 1934 by descending to just less than a kilometre below the surface in what, really, should have been a steel coffin. The bathysphere, designed by Barton, was a hollowed-out steel sphere with two small viewing portholes made from fused quartz, tougher than glass and able to withstand immense pressure. At the time, no one had descended that deep and survived. The craft was lowered by cable from a boat and the duo became the first humans to see deep-sea life in situ and describe bioluminescent animals. In the 82 years since, 12 people have walked on the moon yet only three have visited the deepest part of our ocean, the Marianas Trench in the western Pacific, a location that would submerge Everest with more than 1600m to spare; a location where the pressure is 1200 atmospheres — equivalent to 50 jumbo jets pressing down on you. “When you look at the ocean you see its skin but you don’t think about what is underneath,” Rogers says. He blames a lack of scientific funding. Analysts estimate that 95 per cent of scientific data focuses on land, not sea. He has been instrumental in the discovery of more than 100 new species, including a zombie snot worm, a name he recalls with relish. The research submarine and Baseline Explorer support ship. Picture: Nekton. Heidi Hirsh, a PhD student at Stanford University specialising in carbonate biogeochemistry, and Melissa Price, who recently completed a master’s in underwater ecology at East Carolina University, specialising in shipwrecks, are two of his underlings. Hirsch shows me to a container-cum-laboratory to discuss microplastics. “Plastic pollution does not go away. It just breaks up into tiny little pieces,” she says. Price believes young minds hold the key to better ocean stewardship. With tattoos of sea creatures and plants covering her arms, including a squid inked as a reminder of being attacked by one during a dive, she makes a compelling ambassador. “The most important place to spread the news from this mission is in universities and schools. We need to plant that seed in students’ minds and encourage them into oceanography.” To that end, Nekton is supporting and providing resources for Submarine STEM, an educational program focused on ocean science. Then there are the divers. Martin McClellan, from Nevada, is hanging dry suits up on a line on deck. He is a colourful advocate for the ocean and has spent 40 years diving, much of it with a group called Global Underwater Explorers. “Yesterday, I was floored ... I’ve never seen that sort of vegetation in the ocean. We are seeing a lot of algae, moss and grass, not coral, which is really strange.” He suspects eutrophication might be a cause (although full data analysis of the mission will not be available until later this year). Upon the expedition’s completion I speak to Rogers, who has some encouraging news. He estimates they are on the way to confirming the discovery of more than 100 new species and seven types of algae. Vast communities of black coral gardens and sea whips were found, as was a new yellow and pink sea fan and a massive glass sponge “about the size of a football”. Intriguingly, shallow pelagic fish such as jacks, tuna and wahoo were frequently found feeding in deeper water. “It suggests a stronger link between deepwater and shallow-water habitats than previously suspected, which means we should be considering deepwater ecosystems into the design of, for example, marine protected areas.” They might also have found a new variety of rough-tongued bass, first described by Beebe, which they’ll call Beebe’s Rough-Tongued Bass in homage to the great oceanic explorer. The security of our oceans, a primary food source for 1.5 billion people, lies in protection. UNESCO has put forward a case for extending World Heritage status to five open ocean sites, a move supported by Nekton, and ahead of the World Conservation Congress last year, President Barack Obama signed a proposal to quadruple the size of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Hawaiian Islands for the protection of coral reefs, fish and sea mammals. Meantime Steeds is looking towards Nekton’s second deployment, in the Mediterranean.
New Manned Submersible on the Market.
Having completed sea trials and its first commercial dive, the Stingray 500, first in a series of new models from Canadian manned submersibles manufacturer and operator Aquatica Submarines and Subsea Technology Inc., is now poised to make waves in the defense, research and offshore commercial markets. After completing sea trials to 690 feet with classification society DNV-GL, the sub has made its commercial expedition on artificial reefs off the coast of Vancouver for the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Now Aquatica said it has signed several strategic partner agreements to accelerate sales into the North American, European and Asian markets, enabling the manufacturer to promote the Stingray 500 for specific contracts in several key markets. “Each of these individual companies has expertise and a strong leadership role in the regions where we seek sales representation,” said Harvey Flemming, CEO and Founder of Aquatica Submarines. Under the terms of the first agreement with MJM Offshore, an international offshore project consulting and service supplier to the offshore oil and gas industry, MJM will exclusively represent Aquatica in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, as well as in the U.K. and parts of Europe and the Middle East. “When I first came across Aquatica Submarines and Subsea Technology Inc., I reached out them immediately, as I thought the company and technology had tremendous potential,” stated Mario John McCabe, MJM Proprietor and Managing Director. “This versatile, stylish and compact vehicle is built for ease of fast track dispatch, transportation and deployment for any assignment in all waters worldwide.” The second agreement is with Singapore based MILWAVES Technology Pte. Ltd, a sales and service provider that serves the interests of a number of companies in defense technology and underwater systems to the military and maritime agencies in South East Asia. MILWAVES will be Aquatica’s exclusive representative for the entire line of submersibles and subsea services in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines and the Maldives. Richard Lee Business Development Director MILWAVES Technology Tte. Ltd., said, “The commercial submarine industry is fairly new to SEAsia markets, and this will be a good challenge for us to start the ball rolling in this region. In addition, the defense industry here is active, we just have to innovate suitable products to all customers need.” Aquatica’s third partnership agreement is formed with Oceaneos Environmental Solutions, Inc., a scientific research company focused on the development of ocean seeding technology. Oceaneos’ proprietary technology and process is designed to rehabilitate human-impacted marine ecosystems through targeted ocean fertilization methods that increases wild fish populations. Since early 2016, Oceaneos has promoted the use of Aquatica submersibles as part of its offerings worldwide, and the company is positioned to introduce Aquatica’s products into the Fisheries Research market.
It’s one of the coolest experiences in the Caribbean: Substation Curaçao’s personal submarine rides. The company’s Curasub offering descends four times a day to travel to depths unreachable for divers. And it also means that, with no effect of pressure change on the body, even those people who are unfit to dive are almost always allowed to dive with the submarine. the standard dive takes travelers around 500 feet deep on a 1.5-hour plunge, while the “Deep Dive” takes people to depths of nearly 1,000 feet — beyond the light. Substation Curacaco even offers a night dive option. For more information, visit Substation Curacao.
Bored With Your Megayacht? Add a Cruise-Liner Personal Submarine.
We've already told you about the very Zissou-esque two-man sub that lets you go 6,600 into the deep blue to explore at a cool 3.5 mph. Now the underwater pioneers at Florida-based Triton Submarines are turning their eye towards the leisure-minded set, and have built a 12.5-foot-long monster of a sub that can accommodate seven people. Because leisure = party. Capable of reaching depths of 1,000 feet, the Triton 1000/7 cruise-liner sub is "designed for operations from cruise-liners and megayachts" and can hold up to 2,220 pounds, hit a maximum speed of 3.5 knots and stay submerged for 18 hours with a full battery. So it's not built for the level of exploration the two-man sub can handle, but it'll still make a splash. Equipped with A/C and a humidity control system to make the cabin as comfortable as possible, the eight-foot-diameter sphere at the front of the sub provides stunning panoramic views. To show off your pilot skills, get $4.9 million handy, hit up Triton, and prepare to wait two years.
World’s First Deep-Diving Transparent Sub.
A new deep-diving submersible might not take you all the way 20,000 leagues, but it will go to 6,600 feet — something no other personal sub on the market can claim. The Triton 6600 can spend 4.5 days more than a mile underwater. The Triton 6600 features a transparent acrylic hull that is the “thickest ever made” and “optically perfect,” according to the Florida-based manufacturer. Dubbed the “world’s deepest diving sub” to have a clear hull, the 13-foot-long boat is controlled via a PLC touchscreen and comes equipped with six standard 20,000-lumen LED lights. It also packs enough air to support a pilot and passenger for up to 12 hours (with an additional 96 hours of air in reserve in case of emergency). Triton — which previously competed with Richard Branson and James Cameron in a contest to explore the 36,000-foot-deep Mariana Trench — operates with the philosophy that a “truly memorable, visually captivating and immersive underwater experience is only possible in a submersible equipped with a transparent pressure hull.” The 17,640-pound machine maxes out at 3.5 MPH, so it will take a while to make your descent, but a trip to Davy Jones’s Locker will be worth the wait. "I'm not a scientist or an engineer, just a high school graduate who became a hard-hat diver," says Triton’s Patrick Lahey. "But more people have been to the moon than have been to the bottom of our own ocean. That doesn't make any goddamn sense." The $5.5 million submarine isn’t cheap, but it may pay for itself in sunken treasure.
Million dollar personal submarine that can take you (and five friends) a mile under the sea.
The submarines can travel 1.5km (1 mile) deeps and can carry two to six people. Spherical cabins provide views unobstructed by top hatches and side pontoons. Some of the submersible's have been designed to be docked to a yacht. All the models have leather seats for passengers, internal lighting, and a wireless underwater communication system with optional underwater text messaging. Additional equipment such as robotic manipulator arms and a 360 degree underwater HD camera system can be added to personalize the submarine. SEAmagine, a submarine manufacturer, makes small personal submarines that can travel 1.5 km (1 mile) deep and have capacities ranging from two to six people. View of a robotic arm mounted at the front of the private submarines. When underwater, the vessel is horizontal, but when docked at the surface, it's tail up and has a horizontal walking deck for safe boarding. The California based company's submarines have a spherical cabin which provides views unobstructed by top hatches and side pontoons. When underwater, the vessel is horizontal. But when docked at the surface, it's tail up and has a horizontal walking deck for safe boarding. Some of the models, like the five-person luxury model (pictured), have been designed to be docked to a yacht. The pilot center seat folds away during boarding to provide a clear passageway for passengers. Telescopic handrails come up from the top deck to provide a safe environment for people to board whether the sea is calm or choppy. The prices of the submarines range from about $1 to $3 million dollars depending on the model. When floating on the surface, the Aurora-3 (three-person capacity submarine) offers a solid and stable platform with a high freeboard and a horizontal walking deck, assisted with telescoping hand rails to guide the boarding process to the large top hatch . The purposely designed stern provides a secure docking arrangement to improve the convenience of boarding the submarine, which is important for operation in rough weather conditions
Seamagine's six-person capacity submarine can seat five passengers and one pilot. It has segmented compartment, where the two passengers in the pilot's compartment have reclining seats. Models range from two-person capacity to six-person capacity, with most having a mission time of eight hours and a charging time of five to seven hours. All the models either have an internal cooling system or air-conditioning. They have leather seats for passengers and internal lighting and submarines with a capacity of four or more have cup holders. Floating high above the water line, the Ocean Pearl personal submarine is exceptionally stable at the surface. A front view of the AURORA-3C private submersible. The submarines have a spherical cabin which provides views unobstructed by top hatches and side pontoons. SEAmagine's personal submersibles have a navigation system as well as a topside tracking system. Some of the models, like the five-person luxury model, have been designed to be docked to a yacht. Seamagine's six-person capacity submarine can seat five passengers and one pilot. It has a segmented compartment, where the two passengers in the pilot's compartment have reclining seats. The thee passengers at the rear have three rotating seats that allow them to view each side of the submarine throughout the dive. The rear hull compartment even has an emergency restroom that can be closed off for privacy. All of the submarine's have flood lights, a wireless underwater communication system (with optional underwater text messaging), and can be color customized when ordered. The Ocean Pearl personal submarines can also be launched unmanned. The Ocean Pearl private submersible has a clam shell design that fully opens in half for comfortable boarding and exit from a support luxury yacht
The Aurora 4-person personal submarine holds 1 pilot and 3 passengers. All of the submarine's have flood lights, a wireless underwater communication system (with optional underwater text messaging), and can be color customized when ordered. If those features aren't enough, additional equipment such as robotic manipulator arms and a 360 degree underwater HD camera system can be added to personalize the submarine. SEAmagine also offers a pilot-training program that was initially developed with the US Coast Guard. It includes technical support during the initial setup and training for the private submarine pilots and support crew to handle personal journeys and maintenance.
AURORA 6 PERSON SUBMARINE - SPECS
Seamagine's six-person capacity submarine can seat five passengers and one pilot. It has segmented compartment, where the two passengers in the pilot's compartment have reclining seats.
Thai Navy To Receive Three Chinese Submarines
A chinese Navy Type 039A submarine. Thailand's navy will receive three submarines under Bt3.6 billion (US $104.2 million) worth agreement it signed with China. The three submarines are Yuan Class S26 T, which have been developed exclusively for Thailand based on China’s Yuan Class Type 039 A, The Nation reported Thursday. They would be nearly 78 metres long and 9 metres wide, equipped with the latest technology AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system that would allow them to dive consecutively up to 21 days without surfacing. “The submarines from China are the cheapest with the quality relatively acceptable. It has also offered services after purchase, something extra that we have received.” Prayut added. “We are not rich, and we don’t have much money to spend on them. We cannot build them on our own so we have to buy them from others,” said Prayut. Thailand had four submarines in 1937, the first country in Asean to have submarines and only the second in Asia. Made in Japan, they became damaged over time and were beyond repair.
Korea to develop battery-powered submarines by 2027
The military plans to build three lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery-powered submarines by 2027, according to Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials Friday. Samsung SDI will make the batteries. Hanwha Techwin will develop a system for integrating them into the submarines that Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering will manufacture. It is part of a long-term project to replace aging submarines. The Navy will have nine 3,000-ton submarines equipped with domestic technologies in a decade if the project is completed as planned, according to DAPA. The military also plans to build three lead-acid battery-powered submarines between 2020 and 2024. Li-ion batteries last twice as long as lead-acid ones, according to Samsung SDI. The key is to develop advanced Li-ion batteries that can supply power to submarines consistently. These batteries are now used for electric cars and many electronic gadgets, including laptop computers and smart phones. The DAPA officials said Germany, France and Japan are also working hard to equip their submarines with Li-ion batteries. "If the development of the Li-ion batteries for the subs succeeds, the subs' underwater navigation ability will be considerably enhanced," the DAPA said. This will strengthen the Navy's capacity against growing threats from North Korea, it said.
Russia to build civilian nuclear-powered submarine for Arctic prospecting
Russia has a project for a nuclear-propelled submarine, which would carry seismological equipment instead of missiles, an advanced research official said. The vessel would be used to explore the Arctic’s mineral riches. The project of the first-ever nuclear sub for civilian use was revealed by Viktor Litvinenko, head of a project group at the Advanced Research Fund, a state agency with close ties to the military. “It would be a civilian nuclear submarine, but instead of missile launchers it would have tubes with a robotic submersible, which would conduct seismic prospecting, search for minerals,” he told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. The preliminary specifications of the vessel as voiced by Litvinenko are 135.5 meters long, 14.4 meters wide, 12.6 knots submerged speed and a test depth of up to 400 meters, roughly equivalent to Borey-class submarines. The submarine would have a crew of 40 and be capable of diving on missions lasting up to 90 days, he added. The project is currently in its early design stage, the official said. Advanced navies use nuclear submarines for long missions that require them to spend months submerged. It allows them to hide from enemy reconnaissance and ensure that a retaliation nuclear strike would be delivered in case of a global nuclear war, thus deterring such a development. No civilian submarines use nuclear power plants, but Russia famously has a fleet of nuclear-propelled icebreakers, which it uses in the Arctic region. While requiring significant investment and technological expertise, such ships do not require regular refuel like traditional vessels, allowing long autonomous missions in the region, famous for its unpredictable weather. Scientists with the Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering Rubin are brushing dust of old ideas for civilian use of nuclear powered submarines. Speaking at the Arctic Forum conference in Arkhangelsk, head of Rubin’s project team, Viktor Litvinenko, said such a nuclear powered submarine will help future generations to solve the serious problems of developing the Arctic shelf. «This is a civilian nuclear submarine. Instead of [missiles] launchers it will have robotic systems and autonomous subsea vehicles for seismic exploration, search for any kinds of mineral resources,» Litvinenko said in his presentation, RIA Novosti reports.
50 years history of nuclear submarine design
Rubin knows how to create nuclear powered submarines. The design bureau has all Russia’s ballistic missile submarines in its portfolio, from the first Hotel-class subs in the 60ies, via the giant Typhoon class to the current Borei-class. The engineers with Rubin also designed the Echo-class and Oscar-class cruise missile submarines. Litvinenko said the new design will be the world’s first nuclear powered submarine designed for civilian purposes. It will be 135 meters long, have a crew of 40 and ability to dive to 400 meters depth. Both the Barents Sea and Kara Sea have depth shallower than 400 meters. So has the shelf along the Northern Sea Route north of Siberia. There is nothing surprising in this idea. The USSR, and now Russia, has sufficient experience in the construction and operation of nuclear submarines. It’s amazing that such a vessel has not yet been built,» says former employee of Bellona-Murmansk, Andrey Zolotkov to the Barents Observer. Zolotkov is an expert on nuclear safety and has background from the Murmansk-based fleet of civilian nuclear powered icebreakers. He says the announcement must be seen in context with the event where it is presented, the Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk that draws much attention. The depths in Arctic waters are, in the main, relatively shallow, but it is too early to talk about subsea extraction of minerals, other than oil and gas. However, if you read the statements made at the Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk, it seems we have nothing else to master than to make a broad development of the Arctic. Economy will put everything in place,» Andrey Zolotkov says. Zolotkov says that instead of lobbying new nuclear submarines for civilian purposes, it would be better to deal with those dumped in the Kara Sea. «We have to lift the dumped reactors with spent nuclear fuel that are located in Arctic waters.» In late Soviet times, ideas were presented both to build special underwater nuclear powered oil carriers and submarine freight transportation units. Also, in 1997 Rubin Design Bureau presented plans to rebuild the giant 170-meter long Typhoon submarines for cargo transport. The Typhoons are powered by two nuclear reactors. In Rubin’s portfolio is GazpromNeft’s rebuilt and ice-improved Prirazlomnoye platform that currently is pumping oil in the Pechora Sea. The bureau’s portal also lists other ideas for the use of nuclear power aimed for civilian purposes, including a 95 MW floating nuclear power plant and technical proposals for underground nuclear power plants.
Conservator consulted on mining submarine
A conservator from Auckland is coming on board a project in Middlemarch to try to preserve the oldest surviving submarine in New Zealand. Middlemarch Museum secretary Nicky Gilkison said Object Lab director Rose Evans would be in Middlemarch for three days from Wednesday to determine the best way to preserve and exhibit the Platypus submarine. The bullet-shaped submarine has been outside the museum for more than 20 years. The craft was built in Dunedin in 1873 to mine gold from Otago river beds. When the vessel was launched the same year, the machinery inside included pumps powered by paddle wheels, ballast tanks allowing the vessel to sink and rise, and a hatch on top to let submariners in, and a hatch on the bottom to provide access to the riverbed. The diving craft was tested in Otago Harbour in 1874 with six submariners on board.
A floating capsule hotel is coming to Japan
In case you didn’t already think it was weird to visit a faux medieval Dutch city on an island in Sasebo, Japan, soon you’ll be able to leave the fake town’s ferry port via a floating orb, arriving next day on a desert island. That’s that plan of Sasebo’s Dutch-themed park Huis Ten Bosch anyway. The spherical, two-story vessels are literal capsule dwellings, each carrying up to four people across nearly 3.75 miles of water. Huis Ten Bosch plans to put the new floating hotel rooms into operation by the end of the year. Guests will be charged between $260 and $350 a night, falling asleep during the leisurely drift out to sea and waking up at the company’s 420,000-square-foot sister island. Currently uninhabited, the island is being built out with brand-new attractions (hopefully on par with the bonkers mode of transport used to get to them).
New Personal Submarines Unveiled
Dutch submersible manufacturer U-Boat Worx introduces five new research submarines that open up the deep to private explorers and oceanographic research organizations. The deepest diving submersible of the new C-Researcher series is the two-person C-Researcher 2, which has an operating depth of 2,000 meters. The two-person model also comes in a 500 meter rated version, while the three-person designs are built for 480 meters, 1,100 meters and 1,700 meters. Two key innovations on the C-Researcher submersibles are the Pressure-Tolerant Lithium-ion battery technology and the automatic trim weight system. The battery system, developed in-house by U-Boat Worx, results in a 350 percent increase of battery capacity when compared to traditional submersibles using lead-acid. The technology has been tested to 4,000 meters and stores a total of 62 kWh in compact battery modules.The abundance of power makes it possible to apply more and stronger electrical thrusters, extend mission time, install additional lights and halve travel time between the surface and the ocean floor. The C-Researcher design also incorporates U-Boat Worx’ characteristic unimpeded view for its occupants. This has been achieved by placing the acrylic sphere at the front of the submersible and the automatic trim weight system. Bert Houtman, founder and chairman of U-Boat Worx comments, “By combining the latest innovations with over 12 years of experience in designing, building and operating the world’s largest fleet of submersibles, our new C-Researcher series offers super yacht owners and deep ocean research communities the safest, best-performing and most luxurious submersibles to explore the underwater world”. Each submersible is designed with a multitude of safety features and extraordinary safety factors. Independent certification by classification society DNV GL ensures international approval and recognition. Existing U-Boat Worx submersibles are already operated globally by yacht owners, research institutions, and cruise liners. The first of the new C-Researchers are scheduled for launch in the summer of 2018.
Dreadnought: What we know about Britain’s next nuclear submarine
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 Van HMS Dreadnought of 1906 (below) brought in a huge shift in naval warfare as, amongst other features, it was the first guard 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. Thebattleship 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 Defence 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 tonnes, that’s 1,300 more tonnes 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 Defence 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 Defence and Security Review, each of the Dreadnoughts will carry eight operational missiles and no more than 40 warheads. 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.
N.Korea's Submarine Fleet:
North Korea should by all rights be a naval power. A country sitting on a peninsula, Korea has a long naval tradition, despite being a “shrimp” between the two “whales” of China and Japan. However, the partitioning of Korea into two countries in 1945 and the stated goal of unification by force if necessary—lent the country to building up a large army, and reserving the navy for interdiction and special operations roles. Now, in the twenty-first century, the country’s navy is set to be the sea arm of a substantial nuclear deterrent. The Korean People’s Navy (KPN) is believed to have approximately sixty thousand men under arms—less than one-twentieth that of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) ground forces. This, as well as comparable budget makes the KPN’s auxiliary role to the KPA. KPN draftees spend an average of five to ten years, so while Pyongyang’s sailors may not have the latest equipment, they do end up knowing their jobs quite well. A substantial number of these sailors serve in the KPN’s submarine fleet, which is one of the world’s largest. In 2001, North Korea analyst Joseph Bermudez estimated that the KPN operated between fifty-two and sixty-seven diesel electric submarines. These consisted of four Whiskey-class submarines supplied by the Soviet Union and up to seventy-seven Romeo-class submarines provided by China. Seven Romeos were delivered assembled, while the rest were delivered in kit form. Each Romeo displaced 1,830 tons submerged, had a top speed of thirteen knots and was operated by a crew of fifty-four. The Romeo submarines were armed with eight standard-diameter 533-millimeter torpedo tubes, two facing aft. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was filmed touring and taking a short voyage on a Romeo-class submarine in 2014. Despite such an endorsement, the submarines are generally considered obsolete and are being phased out. In 2015, the Pentagon believed that North Korea has seventy submarines of unknown types on active duty. A multinational report on the sinking of the South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan states that the KPN operated twenty Romeo-class submarines, forty Sang-O (“Shark”) class coastal submarines (SSCs), and ten midget submarines of the Yono class. The Sang-O class of coastal submarines is approximately 111 feet long and twelve feet wide, and displaces 275 tons. It can do 7.2 knots surfaced and 8.8 knots submerged. There are two versions, one with torpedo tubes and another where the torpedo tubes are replaced with lockout chambers for divers. The latter are maintained by the KPN but operated by the Reconnaissance Bureau’s Maritime Department. An improved version, informally known as the Sang-O II, is 131 feet long, displaces between 350 and 400 tons, and reportedly has a top speed of thirteen knots. The armed variant is believed to be capable of carrying, in addition to torpedoes, sea mines, while the Reconnaissance Bureau’s version carries between thirty-five and forty passengers and crew. Finally, North Korea has about ten Yono-class midget submarines (SSm). Derived from an Iranian design, the Yono class displaces 130 tons submerged, with two 533-millimeter torpedo tubes and a crew of approximately twenty. The submarine can make an estimated eleven knots on the surface, but only four knots submerged. North Korea’s submarine fleet, while smaller and less well funded than the other armed services, has generated an outsized number of international incidents. On September 18, 1996, a Sang-O SSC operated by the Reconnaissance Bureau ran aground near Gangneung, South Korea. The submarine, which had set a three-man party of commandos ashore two days before to reconnoiter a South Korean naval base, had failed to pick up the party the the previous night. On its second attempt, the submarine ran aground and became hopelessly stuck within sight of the shoreline. Aboard the submarine were twenty-one crew and and the director and vice director of the Maritime Department. South Korean airborne and special-forces troops embarked on a forty-nine-day manhunt that saw all of the North Koreans except for one killed or captured. Many committed suicide or were murdered by their superior officers to prevent capture. The remaining North Korean sailor, or agent, is believed to have made his way back across the DMZ. Eight ROK troops were killed, as were four South Korean civilians. In 1998, a Yugo-class midget submarine, predecessor to the Yono class, was snared in the nets of a South Korean fishing boat and towed back to a naval base. Inside was a macabre sight: five submarine crewmen and four Reconnaissance Bureau agents, all dead of gunshot wounds. The crew had been murdered by the agents, who promptly committed suicide. The submarine was thought to have become entangled in the fishing boat’s net on its way back home to North Korea, after picking up a party of agents who had completed a mission ashore. In March 2010 the corvette ROKS Cheonan, operating in the Yellow Sea near the Northern Limit Line, was struck in the stern by an undetected torpedo. The 1,500-ton Cheonan, a Pohang-class general-purpose corvette, broke into two halves and sank. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed and fifty-six were wounded. An international commision set up to investigate the incident pinned the blame on North Korea, in large part due to the remains of a North Korean CHT-02D heavyweight acoustic wake-homing torpedo found at the location of the sinking. The submarine responsible is thought to have been a Yono-class midget sub. North Korea’s latest submarine is a step in a different direction, the so-called Sinpo or Gorae (“Whale”) class ballistic-missile submarine (SSB). The SSB appears to blend submarine know-how from previous classes with launch technology from the Soviet Cold War–era Golf-class ballistic-missile submarines; North Korea imported several Golf-class subs in the 1990s, ostensibly for scrapping purposes. Both the Golf and Gorae classes feature missile tubes in the submarine’s sail. The tubes are believed to be meant for the Pukkuksong-1 (“Polaris”) submarine-launched ballistic missiles currently under development. If successful, a small force of Gorae subs could provide a crude but effective second-strike capability, giving the regime the opportunity to retaliate even in the face of a massive preemptive attack. North Korea’s reliance on submarines exposes a harsh reality for the country: U.S. and South Korean naval and air forces are now so overwhelmingly superior that the only viable way for Pyongyang’s navy to survive is to go underwater. While minimally capable versus the submarine fleets of other countries, North Korea does get a great deal of use out of them. Although old and obsolete, North Korea’s submarines have the advantage of numbers and, in peacetime, surprise. Pyongyang’s history of armed provocations means the world hasn’t seen the last of her submarine force.
The Russian Navy is set to receive the biggest nuclear submarine in the world which would even surpass the legendary Typhoon underwater cruisers.
The nuclear submarine Project 09852 (Belgorod) will become the largest submarine in the Russian Navy, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported. Its size will outperform the heavy nuclear-powered Typhoon missile cruiser Project 941, currently the largest nuclear submarine according to the Guinness World Records. Project 09852 is designed to carry out research missions. It will carry uninhabited deep-sea vehicles and bathyscaphes, as well as special scientific equipment. It will be engaged in studying the bottom of the Russian Arctic shelf, searching for minerals at great depths, and also laying underwater communications. The submarine is being developed based on the unfinished Antey-class strike missile carrier Project 949A. These boats were built in the USSR as a response to the deployment of US aircraft carrier compounds in the global ocean. Twenty “Granit” supersonic anti-ship cruise missile launchers were aboard. The Navy command told Izvestia that the submarine’s upgrade would be completed in 2018. It is expected to measure up to 184 meters in length. This is 11 meters longer than Russia's largest nuclear submarine, the Typhoon. Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences Vadim Kozyulin told the newspaper that the "Belgorod" submarine would become not only the largest, but also a unique submarine of the Russian naval fleet."According to data, the 'Belgorod' will carry the 'Losharik' autonomous deepwater station. It will transport and install autonomous nuclear submarine modules designed to charge uninhabited submarines on the seabed. The submarine will ensure the deployment of a global underwater monitoring system, which the military is building on the bottom of the Arctic waters," he said. Before the construction of the Project 09852 submarine started, the Typhoon sub had been one of the most unique weapons systems in the world. It's length is 173 meters, the width – 23 meters. There are combat posts, crew cabins, a sauna, a swimming pool, a gym and even a smoking room inside. Moreover, it is equipped with 20 launchers of the largest RSM-52 sea-launched ballistic missiles, each of which has 10 nuclear warheads. There are six torpedo tubes in the bow of the submarine, which can shoot torpedoes, underwater high-speed missiles and place mines. At the moment out of the six nuclear-powered Project 941 submarines built for the Russian navy, there is only one in service – the TK-208 "Dmitry Donskoy." The ship tests new types of naval weapons and equipment. The first launches of the newest sea-based ballistic missile Bulava were carried out from it.
I-400 Class Japanese Submarine Aircraft Carriers of WW2
Did you know that the Japanese developed a submarine aircraft carrier during World War II? That’s right you are reading that correctly. If you did, congratulations you are a military history aficionado. If not, don’t despair let us introduce you to I-400 class submarine. The idea was to provide a ship with the potential to raid the American coastline during the war. With a fleet of 18 planned they were the brainchild of none another that Admiral Yamamoto. The ebb and flow of war meant the fleet was never completed. The I-400 was developed by the Imperial Japanese Navy and were, by virtue, the largest submarines of World War II. A record they held until the development of nuclear ballistic missile carrying submarines during the 1960’s. These freakish subs were capable of carrying up to three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft. The idea was to launch and recover them before being detected. They were specifically designed to travel unseen to their destination and carry out hit and run raids. Being submarines, they were also equipped with traditional torpedoes for close range sea surface combat. The I-400 submarine aircraft carriers were also designed to have a large combat range and in theory hit anywhere in the world. During proposal stages in 1942, 18 were planned for construction. Work on the fleet began in 1944 but commissioned numbers were stripped back to 5 when Yamamoto was killed. Only 3 were ever completed. Necessity breeds invention, so the saying goes, and why not try to make submarine aircraft carriers? Seems a reasonable question to ask. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Yamamoto conceived of an idea to strike the US mainland using aerial bombing campaigns using submarine-launched raids. Captain Kameto Kuroshima was tasked with a feasibility study of the strategy soon after. Kuroshima completed the study in 1942 and the Japanese Fleet Headquarters approved it shortly afterward. His proposal was to build 18 of these ships with the capability of making three round trips to the west coast of the US without the need to refuel, or one round trip to anywhere in the world. Not only that, the vessels needed to be able to carry at least two attack planes armed with either torpedoes or bombs. General plans were completed the same year. The first ones came off the production line, well dock, in January of 1943 and was christened the I-400. Through April 1943 to February 1944 four more were planned with only three ever completed. Of these only two, I-400 and I-401 ever entered active service. Each of these impressive machines was powered by four 1,680 kW engines. They even had enough fuel to travel around the world one and a half times. They measured 120 meters in length and displaced around 5,900 tons, which was more than double that of their American counterparts. Their cross section was a unique figure of eight configuration, owing to the top aircraft hangar. This provided the necessary strength and stability to afford the ship of handling the additional weight of the hangar and not make them top heavy. The aircraft hangar was just below the conning tower and fixed along the ship’s center line. This aircraft hangar was, obviously, water tight and cylindrical in form. Its outer access door was opened hydraulically internally or manually from the outside. It had a 51 mm thick rubber gasket. Not only did the ship have aerial strike capabilities but was also equipped with some of the largest guns ever seen on a submarine. She was equipped with three waterproofed Type 96 triple mount 25mm anti-aircraft defense guns and a single Type 11 140mm deck gun aft of the hangar! The vessel, being a submarine, was also equipped with 8 torpedo tubes mounted at the bow with no aft tubes. It couldn’t be too awesome after all. Aircraft were stowed in the top aircraft carrier. Owing to the dimensions of it the Seiran fighters needed to be designed in such a way as to fit snuggly. Taking inspiration from American naval fighters’ ability to fold their wings, the Japanese took this to the next level. Not only could the wings be folded back but also the top segment of the vertical tail stabilizer and entire horizontal stabilizers. The specially designed fighter’s pontoons were also removable and stored in separate compartments on either side of the hangar. Fighters were launched from a 26-meter forward deck mounted compressed air catapult at the bow of the ship. The fighters were recovered using a storable collapsible crane. Underneath the track, four high-pressure air flasks were connected in parallel to provide sufficient “thrust” to launch the fighters to takeoff speed. During fighter deployment, rapid launch of fighters was a necessity. As older WW2 fighters usually required some time to warm up, specially designed oil pre-heaters were employed to get the engines up to operational temperature as quickly as possible. This was also essential as you couldn’t have engines ticking over when submerged, you might just kill the crew!. of the 18 planned, 5 were laid down and only 3 completed. Of those, all were captured by the U.S. Navy and they either sunk I-400 and I-401 as target practice in 1946 or converted to tanker submarine, I-402. I-402 was later sunk in 1946 of the Goto Islands by the U.S. Navy.
Triton Submarines’ 7500 Series Subs
Triton Submarines’ new 7500 series submarines let two or three people explore ocean depths that no other personal submarines can reach. The two- or three-passenger subs, with their clear panoramic acrylic bubble, can bring you beside rare frilled sharks at 5,000 feet or even deeper to see cartoon-like Fangtooth fish appear in the inky black depths. The 7500 is designed to descend up to 7,500 feet, or 1.4 miles, beneath the surface for up to 10 hours. The pressure-sealed compartment and transparent hull were also made for passenger comfort, remaining at one atmosphere (or the pressure at sea level) regardless of the diving depth. The hull was built using proprietary technology developed by Triton’s acrylic manufacturing partners. Besides the comfort factor, Triton created a simple operating system using touchscreen controls and a joystick for steering. Triton subs are also built with sophisticated navigation and monitoring systems to reduce pilot workload. The advanced autopilot also decreases fatigue. Of course, the thrill of submerging into deep-sea depths from a Jules Verne novel will keep the pilot and guests on the edges of their seats. Triton says that it takes about two hours for the 7500s to reach their maximum depth. “But once there, passengers will have plenty of time to see the unique animals at this extreme depth or maybe investigate a wreck site,” says Triton president Patrick Lahey. Triton currently has eight classed subs that are rated to 3,300 feet in operation. It designed its underwater vehicles to be deployed from a yacht, with features like a single lift point so it can be lifted directly from a tender garage. The catamaran design of the ballast tanks also gives it stability for floating on the water’s surface. The two-person 7500/2 has a starting price of $5.8 million, while the three-person 7500/3 starts at $6.3 million.
Navy installs submarine rescue system in merchant vessel
A recompression system for sailors rescued from disabled submarines has been installed on a Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel. Contractors installing a rescue diving and recompression system on a merchant ship of the U.S. Navy. The SRDRS was installed aboard the HOS Dominator by the Navy's Undersea Rescue Command and contractor Phoenix Holdings International. The HOS Dominator is normally used for training by the Navy. Its new rescue system features a transfer under pressure capability, which will enable sailors on a disabled submarine to move safely from a pressurized compartment aboard the submarine to a recompression chamber aboard the rescue ship. "It's one of only a handful of mobile rescue systems in the world," Cmdr. Mark Hazenberg, URC's commanding officer, said in a press release. "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 only deep submarine rescue system of the U.S. Navy for recovering crew from a disabled submarine too deep for submarine escape. The Navy said the SRDRS replaces two rescue submarines as the main deep-sea rescue asset.
Russia's Massive Arctic "Research" Submarine Will Be The World's Longest
The highly modified Oscar II class nuclear guided missile sub will have a bunch of new tricks up her sleeve, and a very sensitive and challenging mission set to use them on. The record for the world's longest submarine has been held by the massive Soviet-era Typhoon class for nearly the last four decades. That is about to change as Russia's currently under construction arctic "research" submarine, which is a highly modified variant of the Oscar II class of nuclear-powered guided missile subs, will be lengthened from 505 feet to (roughly) an even more impressive 604 feet. The Typhoon boats, of which just one remains in limited service, have a length of 574 feet. The Oscar II class, which was made famous by the loss of the Kursk in 2000, is already a hulking design. Its wide beam is necessary so that angled anti-ship cruise missile launch tubes, 24 in total, can line their outer hulls. Each of these tubes houses a single P700 Granit (SSN-N-19 Shipwreck) missile that is capable of carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead. The primary purpose of these vessels is to launch a devastating cruise missile barrage on unsuspecting US carrier battle groups. These huge underwater arsenal ships of sorts are notoriously quiet and hard to detect, and they also pack an arsenal of torpedoes for taking on other submarines or hunting vulnerable surface vessels. In 2015, Russia announced that its eight Oscar IIs will be reconfigured to carry more modern supersonic 3M55 Oniks and subsonic 3M54 Klub cruise missiles. The upgrade has the potential to give the type a credible land attack capability as well as a more modern anti-ship weaponry. Supposedly the upgrade will increase the boat's missile magazine to 72. Other upgrades to the ships combat, communications and sensor systems are part of the upgrade. These enhanced Oscar IIs are known as the Project 949AM class. Russia's one-off larger and far more exotic version of the Oscar II class is being built out of the previously unfinished hull of the Belgorad. Instead of carrying all those missiles, this special-mission "research" submarine will carry a large array of special equipment, including submersibles, ROVs, spools of cable, airlock chambers for divers and even large pieces of cargo that can be mounted on the sea floor. It can also carry extremely large cargo on its back. This may include self-contained nuclear generators that can be placed on the seafloor to power equipment for very long periods of time autonomously. A roughly 100 foot long plug in Belgorad's hull will help make room to accommodate these special capabilities. The last American Seawolf class submarine built, the USS Jimmy Carter, was modified along the same lines for underwater espionage operations on the sea floor, such as tapping fiber optic cables and recovering sunken technology. But even though the Jimmy Carter's hull was also extended, and it displaces roughly 12,500 tons, the Oscar II class displaces nearly 20,000 tons, and that is without modifications. The Belgorad will likely displace close to 30,000 tons when fully outfitted. Officially the Belgorad will be used to study the sea floor in the arctic, and will hunt for mineral and oil deposits. But its actual mission set will likely include installing a new "submarine communications systems" and possibly a network of hydrophones along the arctic shelf. Akin to something of an arctic SOSUS network used for tracking foreign submarines, this surveillance system could give Russia a heavy advantage when it comes to undersea operations in and around the polar ice cap. Belgorad is clearly being built with arctic operations in mind, but it would also likely venture outside the frigid waters of the far northerly latitudes to work as an espionage ship like the Jimmy Carter. There have been well established fears that Russia has interest not just in tapping certain fiberoptic communications cables, but in cutting them completely as a information warfare tactic. Being able to blind an area of the globe from the constant flow of information they have become accustomed to is a powerful strategic capability to have in one's back pocket. And reports that Russia may be working acquire such a capability came before the revelations of the 2016 US Presidential campaign cycle, where Moscow mined sensitive party communications via hacking and cyber espionage and weaponized wikileaks as a delivery system for strategically distribute this private information. A slide from an unclassified briefing on NORTHCOM's capabilities of interest specifically mentions the Losharik class nuclear midget submarine that can operate at extreme depths and is thought to utilize a large mothership submarine for transport and mission support activities. Being able to mount an undersea cable cutting operation clandestinely, without exposing a ship on the surface to detection, would not only give Russia the element of surprise, but it could also give Moscow some level of plausible deniability—which has been an omnipresent tactic in its current hybrid warfare playbook. The thing is that Russia already has two other submarines that are supposedly capable of at least some aspects of this type of work—one a converted Delta IV nuclear ballistic submarine and the other a converted Delta III. Both of these subs are also known to be motherships for deep-diving midget submarines, including the shadowy nuclear-powered Losharik class. There has been some speculation that the Belgorad's enhanced length could also allow it to act as a mothership for deep diving, long endurance mini-subs as well. Or during a time of war, it may be able to carry and deploy a brace of shadowy "Kanyon" nuclear-tipped, very long-range super torpedoes. It is worth noting that Kanyon (also referred to as Status Six), although hyped majorly in the press, is likely to be a conceptual weapon system at this time or one that could be just beginning development. It could also be a big disinformation play as well. The existence of Kanyon and its relation to the Belgorad was originally "leaked" on Russian TV, which makes the whole program suspect. Even so, the idea may be that one day Belgorad could be used for such a purpose if the Kanyon system is ever fully developed. The concept could offer Russia an alternative nuclear second-strike capability—one that is not vulnerable to US anti-missile defenses. If anything else, Moscow's disdain for America's ballistic missile defense capabilities has been made clear. The country has even broken a major arms proliferation treaty to develop and deploy a land-based nuclear tipped cruise missile in an attempt to get around the reach of these defenses, even if they are nowhere near capable of fending off a large barrage of nuclear ballistic missiles. With this in mind, the Kanyon concept may be an attractive one, but it would come at a high price—both monetarily and geopolitically. This "leaked" document not only shows the Kanyon super-torpedo, but it also appears to show the Belgorad on the upper left hand side. Maybe the biggest mystery is what Russia needs with three massive and very costly spy and mothership submarines? Sure all that capability is nice to have, but Moscow is not exactly rolling in rubles right now, and prioritizing such a fleet over say building more fast attack or AIP capable diesel electric submarines is a bit confounding. Their existence has to be part of a grander wartime strategy than just being used as espionage and underwater exploration vessels. Still, even just fielding the Belgorad alone is another stark example of how committed Russia is to dominating the arctic region. One recent, although highly doubtful claim that has been made by a former Russian colonel is that Russia has planted, or plans to plant, nuclear warheads on the seafloor off America's coastline. These weapons supposedly can be detonated on command, resulting in a massive radioactive tsunami roaring toward America's coastline and wiping out key infrastructure and military installations in the process. It all sounds totally ridiculous, but considering the Russian Navy's growing fleet of elaborate submarines that can work on the ocean's floor, along with all the other components that go with them—like even deeper-diving nuclear-powered midget submarines—such a claim almost sounds a bit more plausible.
Russia's Science Research Sub
A gigantic new research submarine designed by Russia will travel underneath ice floes, mapping its underwater surroundings with a pair of huge plane-like wings. The sub will help Moscow exploit its Arctic frontier as it prepares to harvest previously untouchable natural resources. The Arctic Research Submarine was designed by the famous Rubin Design Bureau, which was also responsible for the Typhoon-class missile submarines, the largest subs ever built. This vessel will weigh in at 13,280 tons, making easily the largest civilian research submersible ever built, and will be 442 feet long. The sub will have a maximum speed of 12.6 knots and a crew of 40. The most striking detail is the presence of two sets of wing-like sonar receivers that give the sub a futuristic appearance. The "wings," which retract into the hull like the blade of a pocket knife, are meant to receive sonar signals broadcast from the ship's hull. This allows the Arctic Research Submarine to image its surroundings in all directions as it cruises along underwater at a leisurely 3 knots. H.I. Sutton, the analyst behind the Covert Shores submarine web site and book of the same name, says about the sub: "From analysis of the model displayed by the design bureau, the wing structures are close to 165 feet (50 meters) long, so it will have a wingspan of about 330 feet (100 meters). This is much greater than any aircraft that has ever flown." A graphic made by Sutton (see above) shows the submarine will have an even greater "wingspan" than an Airbus A380 jumbo jet. Sutton doesn't believe the wings have any hydrodynamic use, however. "It is unlikely that the wings will be used to generate lift like an aircraft. That would be less efficient because it would have to constantly use its control surfaces to maintain a precise depth. This would also generate noise which could make the sonar less effective." Although built to operate under the arctic ice, the submarine's sheer size will make navigating tough at times. "There will be many places in the Arctic where the submarine cannot go because its wings will make to too wide to navigate the many ice columns which protrude downwards from the ice cap, " Sutton explains. "These can extend downwards for hundreds of feet or even to the sea floor." As a civilian survey submarine, the ship will be unarmed. It will incorporate the ability to deploy and fetch remotely operated vehicles (underwater drones) and be capable of operating at depths of up to 1,300 feet. Russia is eager to secure mineral and energy mining rights in the Arctic, in areas becoming more accessible as global warming reduces the amount of pack ice. Moscow has made bold underwater territorial claims in the Arctic extending past the traditional 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone claimed by all countries, including parts of the North Pole. In 2007, Sutton points out, Russia used mini-submarines to plant its flag on the sea bed 14,000 feet beneath the North Pole.
Pakistan proceeds with new miniature submarine program
In its 2015-2016 yearbook, the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) listed the development and construction of a miniature submarine as a target for 2016-2017. This may be related to talks in 2016 between the Pakistan Navy and the Turkish defence vendor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.S. (STM) for the joint development of a mini-submarine to supplant the Pakistan Navy’s aging Cosmos MG110 (SX756/W) mini-submarines.The Cosmos MG110 displaces 119 tons submerged. It can carry eight special operation forces (SOF) divers and two swimmer delivery vehicles (SDV). The MG110s were bought in the 1980s to replace the SX404 mini-submarines, which had been deployed in 1971 against India. According to MSI Turkish Defence Review, Pakistan and STM had studied the feasibility of upgrading the MG110s, but both sides concluded that this was not an affordable route. Subsequently, STM proposed “designing a submarine platform from scratch,” which – if inked – would be considered a “different and strategic” collaborative effort between the two countries. Turkish shipbuilder Yonca-Onuk is proposing its Underwater Offensive Team boat (i.e. SDV). The MoDP listing the mini-SSK as a program could indicate that Pakistan is proceeding with STM’s offer. If so, this would be STM’s fourth naval project for Pakistan, following the Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker, Agosta-90B submarine upgrade program and MILGEM Ada corvettes. Until recently, STM’s naval designs have been surface ships of various kinds, such as frigates, corvettes, tankers and patrol boats. At the 2017 International Defence Industry Fair, which took place in Istanbul during May 9-12, STM showcased its design proposal – i.e. x-TS1700 – for the Turkish Navy’s National Submarine/Milli Denizalti (MILDEN). STM seems to be building a sub-surface portfolio. It is not known how Pakistan will configure its next-generation mini-submarine. Today, Pakistan uses its MG110s for SOF missions involving the Special Service Group Navy (SSGN), such as frogmen operations. It may also use them for laying mines and, as per some unverified reports, firing torpedoes. That said, Pakistan should be expected to retain a focus on SOF operations, which would prioritize deploying divers and SDVs. New concepts, such as deploying unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) for clearing mines or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) for surveillance, could be considered for this new design. It would be valuable for positioning these mini-submarines against asymmetrical threats. It is unclear if the Pakistan Navy would require its new mini-submarines to carry torpedoes. Granted, the Pakistan Navy’s order for eight Hangor-class submarines indicates a plan to use submarines for anti-access and area denial in Pakistan’s littoral waters. Having many smaller submarines armed with heavyweight torpedoes lurk in coastal waters (with coastal anti-ship missile batteries) could deter amphibious landing attempts. However, this would be in the realm of a sub-1,000-ton coastal submarine more so than a miniature submarine. Aside from Turkey and Pakistan, Indonesia and South Korea also developing their own series of mini-submarines. At Indo Defence 2016, the Indonesian shipbuilding PT Palindo Marine showed a mock-up of its mini-submarine design – the Kapal Selam Mini (KSM). The KSM will displace (underwater) 127.1 tons. South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has its HDS-400-series of mini-submarines.
HyperSub: A Speedboat That Transforms Into A Submarine.
This might sound like an idea coming straight out of a 'Fast & Furious' movie but believe us, it is 100% real. The HyperSub has two modes, one as a speedboat and the other as a submarine. We'll take a look at both individually. As a speedboat, the HyperSub is ideal since it can be deployed from just about any beach or dock. It has a couple of engines which help it attain speeds of up to 26 knots. That's just as good as any regular 900hp speedboat you could find on the market today. As a submarine, it provides an on demand deep dive option as well as high endurance submarine abilities. It can dive repeatedly since it works on rechargeable batteries. It protects the crew inside against changes in pressure too.
The Irishman who designed the UK’s first submarine.
A visit to a submarine is fascinating but terrifying. Fascinating because they’re unbelievably tiny inside, terrifying because as you clamber around, stepping into sleeping quarters smaller than most fridges, and trying not to bang your head on the waist-high ceilings, you can’t help but think about the sort of things they got up to (or, perhaps, down to) during the cold war.At the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, in the town of Gosport on the south coast of England, you can get an extra chill down your spine by visiting the UK’s very first submarine, Holland 1 – which was designed by an Irishman.John Philip Holland was born by the sea in Liscannor, Co Clare, where his father was a coastguard, in 1841. After leaving school he joined the Christian Brothers and worked as a maths and science teacher in Limerick, Cork, Drogheda and Dundalk. He left the Christian Brothers in 1873 because of ill health, and followed his mother and two brothers to the United States shortly afterwards.Shortly after his arrival Holland slipped on an icy Boston street and broke his leg. While he was recuperating in hospital he returned to the subject that had always fascinated him: the creation of a boat that could sail beneath the surface of the sea and attack other ships below the waterline. The concept was not new, but a commercial prototype had never been developed.In 1878 Holland’s first design was launched – only to sink on its maiden voyage, prompting one wit to remark that the professor had built a coffin for himself. In 1875 Holland submitted his designs to the US navy but was turned down. The Fenian Brotherhood spotted the potential of his invention, however, and gave him enough money to allow him to give up his day job and work full time on his submarines. In 1878 his first design was launched – only to sink on its maiden voyage, prompting one wit to remark that “the professor has built a coffin for himself”.Holland was back in business in 1881 with what became known as the Fenian Ram, a cigar-shaped vessel 10m long by 2m wide, with a 15hp engine. It had a torpedo gun and a toilet but no periscope – indeed, no navigational aid of any kind. It cost $15,000, which alarmed the Fenians so much that they stole it, prompting Holland to offer his expertise to the US navy again instead.He managed to get funding for a series of subs, each bigger and faster than the last, and capable of diving deeper. In 1900 the navy finally bought his type 6 design, which cost a whopping $150,000, was 20m long and had a 150hp engine. It clearly fitted the bill: the Americans ordered six more, and orders flooded in from navies around the world.Back in the UK the admiralty was maintaining a stiff-upper-lipped silence about submarines. Secretly, however, it was building some at the Vickers shipyard Back in the UK the admiralty was maintaining a stiff-upper-lipped silence about submarines. Secretly, however, it was building subs at the Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The first three, all designed by Holland, were built under licence between 1901 and 1903 – even though their creator was said to be unhappy about his submarines being put into the service of Ireland’s traditional enemy.As a teacher Holland might be mollified by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum’s website, which explains the extraordinary lengths to which the navy went to conserve Holland 1 – including the building of a gallery with a powerful dehumidification system, to display the vessel. It also describes him as the father of the submarine.It seems a pity that we know very little about the life of this Irish inventor. One of the few images of him that survives – an amazing shot of Holland popping out of a submarine, walrus moustache and all – just increases the mystery.Holland died from pneumonia in Newark, New Jersey, at the age of 73. The Fenian Ram is on display at a museum in Paterson, New Jersey; there’s a Holland Street in Liscannor, and a memorial at the school where he taught in Drogheda.
Iran Is Building Its Own Submarines.
The Iranian military has long planned for a defensive naval war in the Persian Gulf, in which it would leverage its large fleet of fast attack boats toting antiship missiles to launch swarming hit-and-run attacks on adversaries in along Persian Gulf, with the ultimate goal of shutting down passage through the Straits of Hormuz. Supporting this naval guerilla-warfare strategy are twenty-one indigenously produced Ghadir-class mini submarines, derived from the North Korean Yono class. The 120-ton vessels can poke around at eleven knots (thirteen miles per hour) and each carry two 533-millimeter torpedoes. All in all, shallow littoral waters are very favorable for mini-submarine operations, with interference from rocky shallows and loud surf reducing sonar detection ranges and giving mini submarines abundant opportunities to hide and wait in ambush. On the high end of the capability spectrum, Iran operates three much larger and more capable Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines purchased from Russia in the 1990s. These can comfortably hunt in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Four years ago, Iran also launched its own domestically built Fateh-class submarine. The homemade vessel may lack modern features such as antiship missiles or quiet Air Independent Propulsion system, but it does seem to be the genuine article—not something one should take for granted with reports of new Iranian weapons. Why would Iran invest considerable sums in building its own submarines instead of shelling out for off-the-shelf hardware in Russia or China? The reason is doubtlessly related to Tehran’s jarring education in how shifting international alliances can throw defense planning askew. Prior to the Iranian Revolution, the government of the shah was lavished with large quantities of top-shelf U.S. weapons, which became rather difficult to maintain after that one little incident in the 1979 involving the American embassy. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Tehran found itself on the outs with both America and the Soviet Union, and turned to the Chinese for arms—as well as backdoor dealings with Reagan administration officials. This tumultuous history has created a tremendous impetus for military self-sufficiency in Iran, even if the results in the short term are nothing special compared to extant foreign weapon systems. The “semi-heavy” Fateh (“Conqueror”) measures between forty and forty-eight meters long, and is claimed to displace about six hundred tons submerged—putting it in a similar weight class as the small German Type 205 and 206 coastal defense submarines launched in the 1960s and ’70s. It appears to be an elongated version of the Iranian-built Nahang, an unarmed prototype that may currently be serving as a special-operations submarine. Fateh has four bow torpedo tubes with likely access to six to eight reloads, with a circular sonar array situated under the tubes. Fateh can operate up to two hundred meters below the surface—more than adequate for the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. Sources variously place its maximum speed while submerged at between fourteen and twenty-three knots (sixteen to twenty-six miles per hour), with the lower estimate seeming more likely. The Fars news agency claims that Fateh can also operate up to five weeks at sea at a range of up to 3,100 miles, giving it the endurance to venture further afield into the Arabian Sea. However, it’s less clear how long the diesel-electric submarine can sustainably swim underwater without surfacing or snorkeling to recharge batteries. You can see some media footage of Fateh in the clip below, including what appear to be deck plans at the two-second mark and the interior of the vessel at thirteen seconds. The website Covert Shores also offers a detailed analysis of the imagery here. Despite being launched from the Bostanu shipyards in 2013, Fateh still appears to be undergoing sea trials and has yet to be declared fully operational. Jane’s claimed a second Fateh-class submarine was spotted in satellite photos under construction at the Bandar Anzali naval base on the Caspian Sea, but its current status is unknown. Also nebulous are Tehran’s plans to produce two sixty-meter-long Besat- or Qaem-class submarines displacing 1,200 to 1,300 tons, armed with six torpedo tubes. Other claimed specifications include a three-hundred-meter diving depth and a maximum speed of twenty-three miles per hour. This new design was announced in 2008, and was to enter service in 2015. A distinct lack of follow-up reports or imagery since that announcement give the impression the project has either been abandoned or is beset by major delays. However, an Office of Naval Intelligence report published in March 2017 treats the Besat class seriously, and claims it will enter service with the Iranian Navy with the capability of firing submarine-launched cruise missiles in the next five years. Theoretically, such weapons would significantly increase the striking range of Tehran’s submarine fleet. However, such technology might prove difficult for Iran to develop independently. A weapon that may be closer to entering service is the Hoot (“Whale”) supercavitating torpedo, which reportedly can attain speeds of over two hundred miles per hour—around four times faster than a typical modern torpedo. This is achieved by using rocket exhaust heat to vaporize water in the path of the torpedo, allowing it travel in a gas bubble with minimal drag resistance. The first Hoot tests were broadcast on Iranian TV back in 2006, and the weapon reportedly underwent new trials in 2015 and May 2017, though the outcome of those tests is unknown. Defense analysts believe the Hoot to be reverse engineered from the Russian Shkval torpedo. Past experience demonstrates that Tehran routinely exaggerates and obfuscates the scale of its defense projects, and the timeline in which they will be completed. Nonetheless, the submarine Fateh is tangibly real and looks like it could usefully expand the medium-range capabilities of the Iranian submarine fleet. While the status of the Besat class is more difficult to assess, if it is ever deployed it would mark another capability improvement.Though the new Iranian boats may remain far from the cutting edge of submarine design, they could still prove dangerous adversaries in the confined and shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. More importantly, the ongoing effort to domestically produce larger and more capable submarines and submarine-deployed weapons provides more evidence that Tehran is investing long-term efforts into becoming a self-sufficient military power.
Sea Ghost. New Russian Stealth Submarine.
The stealth capabilities of Russia’s new Lada-class diesel-electric submarines far exceed those of their predecessors, Admiraty Shipyard’s CEO Alexander Buzakov told the Russian press. According to Buzakov, the new vessels are even stealthier than Russian Kilo-class submarines, thought to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in the world and dubbed "black holes" for their ability to "disappear” from sonars. The new submarines are able to maintain such a low profile thanks to a clever implementation of a next-generation anti-reflective acoustic coating and a new improved hydro-acoustic system, Buzakov said. He also added that during the new submarines’ construction and design process, the development team managed to gather a lot of valuable data which, among other things, allowed them to significantly improve the Kilo-class submarines as well. The Lada-class submarines are designed to defend coastlines against ships and other submarines, gather intelligence, provide surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and act as a mother ship for special forces. With its new air-independent propulsion plant, a Lada submarine can remain submerged for as many as 25 days. With its vast array of weapon systems, the Lada is also world’s first non-nuclear submarine to be equipped with specialized launchers for cruise missiles.
DeepFlight Dragon: Civilian submarine now available.
A Deep Flight Dragon submarine sits on display during the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2015. DeepFlight Dragon, a state-of-the-art product that offers consumers the ability to travel underwater, has hit the market and is priced at $1.5m Its hover-board technology boasts of enabling a user to "take flight underwater". The submarine, which is easy to operate, can travel at speeds up to 5mph and can go as deep as 400ft underwater. According to a CNN report, private submarines are becoming commonplace due to the availability of cheaper and stronger composite material. Advanced technological innovations have resulted in engineers managing to build underwater machines that are more durable. One such material is carbon fibre, which has only recently been introduced in the market. The DeepFlight Dragon's hull has been manufactured such that it is capable of withstanding water and air pressures involved in ocean diving. The material used is believed to be lightweight and resists damage due to rust or corrosion. The submarine is equipped with a fail-safe safety mechanism that helps the gadget float to the surface on encountering a power failure or system malfunction. The DeepFlight Dragon is one of the many private submarines available in the market, experts have claimed. The submarines are available at varied prices. For instance, the Seabreacher X boasts of a 260 horse power supercharged engine and is available for purchase at $80,000.Other private submarines currently in the market are the Scubster, the Triton and the SEAmagine. The EGO-Compact is yet another 'semi-submarine' believed to function partly above and below water. Due to rising popularity of private submarines, some holiday resorts offer customers the option of piloting a submarine for an entire day.
Britain's nuclear subs in cyber war
David Cameron wants to spend £31 billion on a new fleet of submarines kitted out with the latest nuclear missiles. But could these deadly weapons and the Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers be rendered impotent by cyber warfare? Former defence secretary Lord Browne said recently there could be no guarantee of a reliable nuclear deterrent without an “end-to-end” assessment of the cyber-threat to the system. Cyber warfare expert Kim Zetter, author of Countdown to Zero Day, told Daily Star Online around 20 countries were ramping up their cyber warfare capability. Britain and America's nuclear subs communicate with the admirals on shore by way of a special computer system which is not connected to the internet. “There are definitely cyber mercenaries out there who would sell their hacking and programming skills” The absence of an internet connection is known in the military and computer world as "air gapping" and was always thought to make such systems impossible to hack into. But Ms Zetter told Daily Star Online: "Air gapping is no longer as secure as people once thought it was."And one experienced hacker, known as Rebirth, told the Daily Star Online: "There are ways to get around air gaps. No network is actually secure. You can possibly run by the area with a signal decompressor and disable it completely."Modern computer-controlled hardware will always have someone trying to gain access to it and someone will always be trying to gather information on their enemy so it is important for these systems to be secure and checked for vulnerabilities."Asked if it was possible for a James Bond-style "baddie" to take over Britain’s subs and target them on London, Rebirth said: 'It is not farfetched. If you have the skills to do so anything is possible."In 2010 a computer worm called Stuxnet was discovered by researchers in Belarus. German researcher Ralph Langner and his team then helped crack the code that revealed this digital warhead's final target. It has been created by the US and Israel to derail the Iranian nuclear programme. The US spent millions of dollars creating the Stuxnet malware and then infecting the computers of contractors who then passed on the virus to the Iranian computers at a vital centrifuge. It is the first and only known cyber warfare attack and the computers at the centrifuge WERE air gapped. Two other incidents may have been cyber attacks. During the first Gulf War US Patriot missiles were based in Israel and were designed to protect that country from Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles. But somehow the Patriots missed the incoming missiles. It was blamed at the time on a "software glitch". Software failure was also blamed for an incident in South Africa when a gun suddenly went out of control and began aiming at its own soldiers. Air gapped systems can also be attacked through radio waves and researchers in Israel showed how they could siphon data from an air gapped machine using radio frequency signals and a nearby mobile phone. In 2014 it was reported that Mr Cameron had pledged to spend £1.1 billion on tackling cyber warfare threats. But most of that money has gone on drones and only a fraction on cyber threats. The nightmare scenario is of a James Bond-style scene where a cyber attack led to Britain's nuclear missiles being redirected at London or Washington or maybe Moscow. That may still be some way off but some experts fear that our enemies – be they Russia, China, North Korea or ISIS – could be working on ways to sabotage the West's military advantage. Last month American tech security tycoon John McAfee said ISIS, or Daesh, was far more advanced in terms of cyber warfare than we thought and he added: "We have to prepare ourselves, because the next war is not going to be fought with bombs and battleships and airplanes."It’s going to be a cyber war, fare more devastating than any nuclear war."Lord Browne, who was defence secretary between 2006 and 2008, highlighted a report by the US Department of Defense.It warned that the US and Britain "cannot be confident" their defence systems would be able to survive an “attack from a sophisticated and well-resourced opponent utilising cyber-capabilities in combination with all of their military and intelligence capabilities". Franklin Miller, a former White House defence policy official, said the report was meant as a "shot across the bow" to some in the US defence community who were planning on connecting defence systems to the internet. But Lord West, a former Royal Navy admiral, told the Daily Star Online: "I asked a question in the Lords recently. Up until I left, the Navy had the whole thing air gapped and I said I hoped the upgrade would be air gapped. As soon as you connect it it's vulnerable."The Americans were thinking of upgrading all their communications and linking it into the web because it's cheaper. As soon as you connect things you're vulnerable."Lord West said: "The Russians are good at cyber warfare but not as good as the NSA (US National Security Agency) or GCHQ."The next best after the Russians are probably the Israelis. The Swedes have a niche capability. The Chinese have massive capability, huge in scale. But it's not clear how good they are."But rather like Enigma it's often the devil you know. The Chinese are already hacking into our companies. But it's the unknown or as Dick Cheney said the known unknown.""It's a matter of having to look at what vulnerabilities are there. The F-35 Lightning for example has a back-up programme and the US have put a lot of money into that and making sure it's not get-at-able."With the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers there will be connectivity but money has been put aside to protect them. The more you use big data the more you need firewalls. New ships are bound to be less vulnerable than old ones."But Kim Zetter said: "There are definitely cyber mercenaries out there who would sell their hacking and programming skills. Any country can acquire the capability if they are willing to pay for it. "They don't have to be people with political sympathies. Some are supporters of ISIS and have these skills."The experienced hacker, Rebirth, said Iran was not the only country which had been hit by cyber attacks and added: "These countries are too proud or embarrassed they have fell victim to these attacks."He said Britain’s new nuclear submarine fleet could actually make them a "bigger target for cyber attackers".
James Cameron's Deepsea Challenger made it about as far underwater as you can go.
5th Russian-made Kilo submarine arrives in Vietnam
A freighter carrying the fifth Kilo-class submarine made by Russia for Vietnam has arrived late Tuesday night at Cam Ranh gulf in Vietnam's south central coastal Khanh Hoa province, some 1,040 km south of capital Hanoi. The submarine, which was made under the contract between Vietnam and Russia to build six of its kind, will be released into the sea after several days, reported Vietnam's state-run news agency VNA on Wednesday. The submarine is nearly 74 meters in length with displacement of 3,000-3,950 tons. It is able to operate at a maximum depth of 300 meters and at a speed of 20 nautical miles per hour with 52 crew members on board, reported VNA. The Kilo-class submarines are named after major cities and provinces of Vietnam. Earlier, the country received four of them, namely HQ-182 Hanoi, HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City, HQ-184 Hai Phong and HQ-185 Khanh Hoa. The four submarines were handed over to Submarine Brigade 189 under the Vietnamese Navy.
Russian submarine activity topping Cold War levels
Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is again at Cold War levels, according to NATO's top military commander Source: Russian MoD, NATO is seeing Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic return to Cold War levels. Russian submarines have also made a major jump in technical capability, according to NATO's top naval commander. Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is currently equalling or even surpassing Cold War levels, according to NATO's top naval officer. The North Atlantic was again and area "of concern" for the alliance, Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, Commander of NATO's Maritime Command, said, with the commanders of his submarine cells currently reporting "more activity from Russian submarines than we've seen since the days of the Cold War". Not only are Russian submarines returning to Cold War levels of operational activity, but Russian submarines have made a major jump in technological performance, Vice Adm Johnstone said, with NATO seeing "a level of Russian capability that we haven't seen before". Russia, he said, "through an extraordinary investment path not mirrored by the West" has made "technology leaps that [are] remarkable, and credit to them." Russian submarines now "have longer ranges, they have better systems, they're freer to operate", he said. The alliance has also "seen a rise in professionalism and ability to operate their boats that we haven't seen before", noted Vice Adm Johnstone, adding, "that is a concern". Together, this meant that the level of Russian submarine activity NATO is currently seeing in the North Atlantic is "very different from the period of quiet submarine activity that perhaps we've seen in the past". However he added, "I think none of that would worry us if we knew what the game plans were or we knew why they were deploying or what they were doing … we don't understand what the strategic and operational objectives are of the Russian state." This was because "a lot of what the Russians are doing at the moment we don't understand, and is obscure and is shrouded in other activity which makes us nervous, and makes nations nervous".
Bling below the waves: 'A submarine of my own'
If you want to see how the truly rich spend their wealth, there are few better places to visit than the Monaco Yacht Show, held each year in late September. The principality's vast harbour is littered with huge yachts belonging to those rich people who are not only proud of the trappings of their station in life, but are always looking for different ways to display it. One story I heard was of a super yacht owner who had just found a new use for his vessel - the school run. But for some, a mega yacht on its own is no longer enough - you need the latest accessories too. Amongst the newest of these is a machine whose time, advocates say, has come - the "personal" submarine. Image caption For some of the super-rich owning a yacht is no longer enough. Several of the latest models were on display in Monaco, including some from a small US company - DeepFlight. It was founded by the British engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Graham Hawkes, who has had an extraordinary career. For many years he held a world record for solo depth diving; he's invented a robotic machine-gun; and he's played the part of a villain in a James Bond film. He designed and operated a small sub used in an underwater battle in the movie, For Your Eyes Only. BBC presenter Peter Day and I first met Mr Hawkes in California several years ago. At the time he was obsessed with the idea of building a craft capable of going right to the bottom of the ocean. Beaten to it by film director James Cameron, who accomplished the feat in 2012, he steered his business in a new direction. Now, his company makes a range of submersible craft aimed at the super yacht crowd, marine researchers, and others. One of the selling points of machines like these, says Mr Hawkes, is that they enable astonishing experiences. Once, when he was taking the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on an underwater trip, they had a memorable encounter with a great white shark, which swam past them. "It was bigger than this submersible", he recalls. "I was looking straight in to this eye of this huge predator and I was just in awe. And Richard was saying 'Graham, get closer, get closer'. "And all I remember saying is 'Richard, I'm not going to lunge at a great white shark'. But we ended up laughing and giggling after that, we were so happy." The devices made by DeepFlight differ from some other small subs because they are "positively buoyant," and need force or motion to keep them underwater. If thrust disappears for any reason, the craft will float back to the surface - a feature which Mr Hawkes claims offers safety benefits. The Super Falcon model works in a similar way to an aircraft, he explains: "It has 'wings' and you need to get some speed, about a walking speed on the surface, and then you point it down and the wings pull it down… and it flies under water. Another model, the Dragon, works more like a helicopter, and can "hover" underwater. Small submarines have been around for many years but it is only comparatively recently that the market for them has begun to take off. "My partner and I were at yacht shows twenty years ago with manned submersibles and bigger diesel electric luxury submarines," recalls another Monaco exhibitor, L. Bruce Jones of Florida-based Triton Submarines."And people would walk by our booth and sort of snicker at us - what are those crazy guys doing here? "But now, fast forward twenty years and we're being accepted."One reason for this change lies in recent advances in technology, which have helped to lower manufacturing costs, and also enabled the production of more versatile craft, with many additional features. Triton's range includes battery-powered subs that can dive down to depths of hundreds of metres for many hours before needing to return to the surface.Another development, that is proving popular with customers, is the huge increase in the size of windows. "In the old days you used to have this big steel pressure hull with small windows," says Erik Hasselman of Dutch sub makers U-Boat Worx, which is also exhibiting its products at the Monaco show. Mr Hasselman says that recent improvements in acrylic technology mean that "we can build these very large acrylic spheres that will allow people to have a really big window," and thus get a much better view of what is happening beneath the waves. None of this comes cheap. Prices for the smallest personal submersible craft start at around $1.5m (£1m). The high cost is likely to ensure that these products remain the preserve of the wealthy, commercial users, and well-funded research bodies. However sub-makers also see the possibility of substantial growth in the leisure market, in which operators are already offering tourists underwater trips in small submarines. If that happens, then increasing attention may start to be focused on the health of the world's oceans - something that many scientists are deeply concerned about. At the moment, says Mr Hawkes, this issue can seem remote to many people.But, he asks, "what if the politician …what if the fisherman, what if the housewife who was worried about the damage to the ocean could have gone and seen? … The important thing is that, [today] nobody can go, nobody can see. "We're trying to change that."
SeaWorld announces new ride.
SeaWorld has announced a major new attraction planned at its San Diego theme park. "Ocean Explorer" is an educational, interactive submarine ride expected to open in late spring next year. The cost to build the ride is estimated to be in the tens of millions. The theme park company has been dealing with backlash from the documentary Blackfish since 2013. Attendance at the San Diego park was 3.6 million in 2015, down 4% from the year before, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. In attempts to move past the negative image, SeaWorld has announced several rides at their parks. The feature ride at Ocean Explorer will mimic an underwater scientific exploration in mini submarines: Visitors will be able to explore three acres of aquarium from their submarines, getting up close views of octopuses, spider crabs and jellyfish. Onboard the submarines will be educational content and digital displays. The ride, SeaWorld says, is meant to teach visitors about the ocean ecosystem and inspire them to protect marine life. “The idea behind (Ocean Explorer) is you’ll be transported around on a research expedition and you’ll be learning about all these animals and then will leave SeaWorld inspired to act on their behalf,” said John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego. The three-minute long submarine tour is one of five rides that SeaWorld San Diego has planned.
Submarines at Dubai International Boat Show
Some of the more exotic additions to the Dubai International Boat Show lineup this year are the U-Boat Worx C-Explorer 3 and Friday Personal Submarine. The compact passenger-carrying submersibles have a maximum depth of 300 metres, 16 times deeper than than 18 metre limit for most recreational diving qualifications. “There are lots of things to explore that are too deep for SCUBA diving,” said U-Boat Worx Roy de Boer. “Most shipwrecks that you can dive have been prepared, and lots of divers have already been there. With a sub, you can find shipwrecks that have never been seen since the day they sank – you can be the first there.”
Friday is a spin-off from the Univeristy of Coimbra in Portugal. It uses an acrylic globe to offer an unrestricted view of the surrounding sealife and is small enough to fit on a yacht. The craft is propelled via electric motor and uses similar controls to aerial drones. “We developed the submarine to use in our own research, aiming to dive up to 300 metres with a mission of eight hours duration,” said Friday CEO Fernando Seabra Santos. “It was an intellectual challenge for a group of researchers, and aims to be the smallest, lightest, and also the most affordable of its kind.”
India To Buy 2 Rescue Submarines.
With its own deep search and rescue submarines, the Navy would be able to deploy these vessels far more quickly and reliably in the event of a submarine emergency. India will spend 1,900 crores on buying two rescue submarines from a UK firm, the government has decided. The decision to buy submarines for emergency deep-sea missions was first taken 14 years ago, but it was only last night that the Cabinet Committee on Security chose UK manufacturer James Fisher for the purchase. The Deep Search and Rescue (DSAR) mini-submarines are designed to rescue 20 sailors at a stretch. They attach themselves to the emergency hatches of a submarine trapped underwater, providing sailors with an exit route. The submarines that India is buying can dive to a depth of more than 500 metres and are engineered to withstand extreme ocean pressures. India presently has 13 submarines in service, but not a single rescue submarine. However, since 1997, the Indian Navy has an understanding with the US Navy which would fly in its own mini rescue submarines which would quickly be deployed if needed. In order to be able to do this, the Indian Navy regularly trains at air bases on both the Eastern and Western sea board to ensure that the US rescue submarines are quickly offloaded from US transport jets, shifted to special trucks, and moved to ports from where they are hoisted onto ships which would sail towards the submarine in distress. With its own deep search and rescue submarines, the Navy would be able to deploy these vessels far more quickly and reliably in the event of a submarine emergency. The Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuratna had managed to surface after a mishap in the Arabian Sea in February 2014, though two officers were killed and several others injured in the incident. The INS Sindhurakshak sank after some if its onboard weapons detonated accidentally while it was docked at the main naval base in Mumbai three years ago. 18 sailors were killed. The Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, cleared the acquisition of the two critically-required DSRVs from a UK-based company, James Fisher Defence, sources said. The long-pending Rs 1,900 crore deal for the Navy to acquire two deep-submergence rescue vessels (DSRVs), which are basically mini submarines that dive to 'mate' with 'disabled' submarines to extricate sailors trapped deep underwater. Grappling with rudimentary submarine rescue capabilities, the Navy's quest for acquiring two DSRVs has been hanging fire for over 15 years now, as earlier reported by TOI . Fortunately, the force has not suffered a major accident while a submarine has been out at sea. The Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuratna had managed to surface after a mishap in the Arabian Sea in February 2014, though two officers were killed and several others injured in the incident. There were 94 sailors on board at that time. The acquisition of DSRVs is all the more important since the Navy is grappling with 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, all of them well over 20 years old. Equipped with pressurised chambers, sonars and cameras, a DSRV can rescue around 20 sailors at a time from depths of over 600 metres after 'mating' with the stricken submarine's hatch. The Navy's existing "submarine escape pressurized suits'' can be used only for relatively shallow depths, while diving support ship INS Nireekshak can launch "bells" till about 175 metres.
Triton Unveils the 6600/2, the World’s Deepest-Diving Personal Submarine.
Triton Submarines, a Florida-based manufacturer founded in 2007, has been known for its deep-diving subs capable of deploying from yachts and traveling more than 3,000 feet below water. Now, the company has unveiled its latest design: a personal submarine that will take two passengers to depths of up to 6,600 feet, further than any personal watercraft ever created. To reach these new depths, Triton constructed an advanced acrylic hull for its passengers to sit inside while maneuvering below the water. Traditionally, acrylic spheres in submersibles are made by casting two separate halves together. Instead, the hull of the Triton 6600/2 is built from single slabs of acrylic that are heated to a pliable forming temperature, then molded into the frame. “The acrylic has always been the problem in the past. There was no one who could make the material thick enough, with the quality you needed, to have a sub go to such depths as with the new 6600/2,” says principal designer John Ramsay. “The innovative construction is the big piece, and the properties of this acrylic are absolutely fantastic—they’re substantially better than what would typically be required for an acrylic pressure vessel.” At eight inches thick, the Triton 6600/2 features the “thickest acrylic sphere in a submersible to date,” according to Michael Haley, Triton’s U.S. director of sales and marketing. Triton’s new submarine is 6.9 feet tall and carries up to 550 pounds. Four thrusters powered by 24-volt batteries allow for speeds of up to 3 knots (roughly 3.5 m.p.h.) and enable one pilot and one passenger to spend up to 12 hours admiring marine life. Since sunlight can travel only 700 feet or so below water, the engineers working on the 6600/2 mounted six powerful lights to the craft to ensure that its passengers could see their underwater surroundings. The safety features include an additional four full days of reserve oxygen, emergency food and water, and emergency breathing equipment. The new Triton 6600/2, which will cost roughly $5.5 million, is expected to be on the market within the next two years.
Japan Commissions New Stealth Attack Submarine
Last week, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commissioned its seventh Soryu-class diesel-electric attack stealth submarine, christened the JS Jinryu, at a ceremony held at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture in central Japan, according to a MHI press release. The commissioning ceremony was attended by senior Japanese defense officials including State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya, JMSDF Chief of Staff Tomohisa Takei, and Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency Commissioner Hideaki Watanabe. The JS Jinryu is the seventh Soryu-class submarine delivered to the JMSDF and the fourth built by MHI. (Other ships were built by the Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation.) “MHI also built the first Soryu-class submarine, and has produced a total of 26 submarines at the MHI Kobe Shipyard over the last 70 years,” the MHI press statement reads. The keel for the JS Jinryu was laid in February 2012. The vessel was launched in October 2014. Overall, the JMSDF plans to induct a total of 11 Soryu-class submarines by 2020. With 4,100 tons submerged, the Soryu-class is larger than any other sub class in service with the JMSDF and is Japan’s first class of air-independent propulsion submarines. The JS Jinryu is powered by two Kawasaki 12V 25/25 SB-type diesel engines and four Kawasaki Kockums V4-275R Stirling engines and has a range of 6,100 nautical miles (11297 kilometers) with a maximum surface speed of 13 knots and a submerged speed of 20 knots. It is unclear whether the JS Jinryu will also be equipped with advanced lithium-ion batteries (the design of which is one of Japan’s top military secrets) in order to improve the submarine’s underwater endurance. Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced last year that it plans to equip all future Soryu-class subs with lithium-ion batteries. The Soryu-class ships’ hydrodynamic design is based on the older Oyashio-class diesel-electric attack submarines currently in service with the JMSDF. It is also fitted with a computer-controlled, Swedish-designed X rudder to increase the ship’s maneuverability when operating in shallow waters close to the seabed. According to naval.technologies.com, the ship’s “hull form is made of high tensile steel and is covered with anechoic coating to reduce the reflection of acoustic waves.” It also features “acoustic isolation of loud components, while the design incorporates highly automated systems.” The vessel’s crew consists of 9 officers and 56 enlisted men. The JS Jinryu is fitted with six HU-606 533mm torpedo tubes that can accommodate Type 89 homing torpedoes and UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. As I reported last week, the JMSDF will dispatch a Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarine to Sydney next month to participate in a joint naval exercise with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force in order to boost Japan’s chances to win a major defense contract in Australia
North Korean submarine missing, presumed sunk
The US and South Korea are reporting that North Korea is believed to have lost one of its submarines. The vessel was operating off the coast of North Korea when it disappeared, and the North Korean navy has been observed engaged in search and rescue operations in the area where the sub is believed to have been stationed. North Korea’s navy (formally called the Korean People’s Navy) fields a wide range of vessels, including amphibious landing craft, over 400 patrol boats, and 70 submarines. Most of the country’s subs, however, could charitably be described as “ancient.” North Korea’s arsenal includes:
50 Romeo-class submarines: These are based on a post-WW2 1950s Soviet design, which was in turn based on the WW2-era Type-XXI German U-Boat. History buffs may recognize the Type XXI as the absolute cutting-edge of WW2 submarine warfare. It was the first submarine designed to remain submerged rather than as a surface vessel that submerged to attack or evade the enemy. It could travel for days on battery, recharge in less than five hours via snorkel, and featured advanced hull designs and silent running capabilities that exceeded the other submarines of its day.
North Korea’s Romeo-class subs are believed to be based on the Chinese Type 033. The Romeo enhanced some of these capabilities further and the KPN is using Chinese designs built between 1973 and 1995, but the oldest of these vessels is still over 40 years old.
40 Sang-O submarines: These are much smaller than the Romeo class, at just 300 tons. These are the largest submarines that North Korea is known to have put into domestic mass production. These are small ships, suitable for local patrols and domestic defense, but not for significant force projection. A boat of this type was captured by the South Koreans in the 1996 Gangneung submarine infiltration incident.
10 Yono-class submarines: These are midget subs, at 130 tons. They have a crew of two with 6-7 special forces onboard. A ship of this class is believed to have been involved in an October 2010 incident in which a South Korean corvette was destroyed by an unknown North Korean submarine. In addition, North Korea is believed to have fielded a new submarine as recently as 2014. Little is known about this new, Sinpo-class design — it may be based on older vessels from Yugoslavia or incorporate technology from newer Russian vessels. South Korean sources suggested at one point that it could be built from old Golf II-class hulls that North Korea imported in the early 1990s, but this has not been confirmed. If rumors are true, it would be North Korea’s first ballistic missile submarine, though it lacks the ability to project force much outside of NK’s territorial waters. As of this writing, the KPN has not requested outside assistance or aid with any rescue efforts. It could be some time before we know which submarine was lost and whether or not any survivors were rescued by the recovery crews.
Russia's First Yasen-Class Submarine is Combat-Ready.
Russia’s first Project 885 Yasen-class submarine, Severodvinsk, is now combat ready. The vessel and crew have undergone a range of tests including deep-water submergence and the use of the navy’s submarine rescue vehicle. The 120-meter (390-foot) Severodvinsk was commissioned in December 2013 and is the first of up to six in its class (sometimes also referred to as Graney, Granay or Severodvinsk class). The next, Kazan, is expected to be launched later this year. Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Arkhangelsk are under construction. Severodvinsk is speculated to have cost $1.6 billion. Armaments include 24 vertical launch tubes for various cruise missiles including the P-800 Oniks which have a range of about 300 kilometers (186 miles). The submarine also has eight 650-mm torpedo tubes for torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. The submarine has a crew of about 90, suggesting a high degree of automation, although some sources put the number as low as 50. U.S. Virginia-class submarines have a crew of 134. The hull is made of low magnetic steel, and the vessel has a spherical bow sonar. According to Western intelligence estimates, the Severodvinsk is probably only slightly quieter than the improved Akula-class submarines it is superceding. However, it has expanded missions with better anti-submarine capabilities including the first Russian spherical sonar.The new multipurpose submarines are all being built at the Sevmash yard in northern Russia. Sevmash is the largest ship-building complex in Russia, and the only shipyard in the country to focus on building nuclear submarines for the navy.
Displacement: Surfaced: 7,700–8,600 tons, Submerged: 13,800 tons
$1.5 Million Submarine for Sale in Fort Lauderdale.
The DeepFlight Dragon sports a raised back spoiler, aerodynamic design, propellers, and two enclosed cockpits. It's small, sleek, and off-white, looking more like a toy fighter jet than a $1.5 million two-person submarine. DeepFlight's director of tourism, James Doyle, explained earlier this week in Fort Lauderdale, "It's a toy for the 1 percent of the 1 percent." According to a brochure, the DeepFlight Dragon's hoverboard technology was designed "on the principles of aviation" and "allows you to fly underwater and explore the world's oceans in three dimensions." The watercraft can spin, do barrel rolls, and shoot its nose straight out of the water. It's like flying underwater. DeepFlight is a California-based company that sells personal submarines all over the world. The Dragon was designed by Graham Hawkes, a marine engineer who has designed more than half of the world's manned submarines. His watercraft are mostly used by the U.S. military and government to locate human remains in lakes, drugs smuggled under ships, and submerged mines. In 1981, Hawkes even played the James Bond villain in For Your Eyes Only. (He mans one of his own submersibles in the movie.)
On Monday and Tuesday, company representatives were in Fort Lauderdale advertising the luxury submarines. In person, these machines are even more remarkable than in photos. It looks like someone shot a ray gun at a McDonald's happy meal toy and enlarged it. A rider inside can rest her legs straight out in front. Eyes can peek out of the cockpit bubbles. It's not recommended for the easily claustrophobic. Weighing less than two tons, the DeepFlight Dragon is the lightest and smallest submarine on the market. Moving more like a plane or drone, the Dragon can easily turn in every direction. ""You can explore the ocean in three dimensions," Doyle says. The Dragon can travel at speeds of up to 5 miles per hour and can dive down up to 400 feet. It's the latter point that's the biggest selling point. In a world where all seven continents have been traversed, the ocean remains the biggest remaining frontier. "Since it goes down 400 feet, you can be the only living human that has seen what you're seeing," Doyle says. "When you're down there, you can very well be the first person in the world who has been there." After purchase, there's a 7-day integration and training course provided, which covers piloting, integration, and maintenance. The course includes input from expert pilots, marine engineers, and submariners. In the US, there is no government-mandated license for private operation of a DeepFlight submarine.
Deep-Sea Ecologist Rewatches seaQuest DSV:
There’s something we need to address before I can even begin revisiting seaQuest DSV, otherwise it will consume this entire 3-season rewatch: There are no beards on submarines. Even the most hirsute scientists working on DSV Alvin are forced to shave their face sweaters before the dive. Why the ban? Submersibles, even research submersibles with peaceful missions, face extreme danger. In a crisis, all personnel need to be able to rapidly don emergency respirators. Facial hair prevents a complete seal. The beard must go. That, incidentally, is one of several reasons why I prefer robots for deep-sea research. seaQuest DSV ran from 1993 to 1996. Billed as Star Trek-but-underwater, seaQuest envisioned a future of ocean exploration and colonization, with underwater farms, long endurance deep-diving submarines, and subsea warfare. Produced by Steven Spielberg and with legendary oceanographer Robert Ballard serving as science advisor, it was notable for being fairly well-grounded in the best available science of the day, for the most part. seaQuest DSV is over twenty years old, but its biggest milestone is still two years away: the show was set in the far flung future of 2018 (the pilot, which begins 13 months earlier, happens sometime at the end of this year). So how well does the only big budget underwater drama hold up? In episodes 1 & 2, “To Be or Not to Be,” the pilot two-parter sees battle-hardened Captain Marilyn Stark relieved of duty for disobeying orders from the United Earth Oceans Organization. seaQuest (vessel names are traditionally italicized) goes into a 13-month drydock while the UEO searches for a new captain. Their unwilling recruit, Captain Nathan Bridger, is tricked into coming aboard, along with his talking dolphin, Darwin. After meeting the crew, including the Wesley-Crusher-esque boy genius, Lucas Wolenczak, and a fog-hologram moral-guidance AI thing, Bridger is given the hard sell—persuasion by outright kidnapping. The seaQuest is attacked by a rogue submarine piloted by Stark, and Bridger, as the ranking officer who is also a hostage, is forced to assume command. Let me just say that this is by far the worst way to pick a captain for an endurance mission. Submarine crews undergo extensive medical and psychological screenings before being deemed fit for duty. They also have a chance to get their surface lives in order before going on long deployments. Bridger, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the sub and was essentially press-ganged into service, 18th century British admiralty-style. Beyond the obvious question of why anyone would want to be led by a deeply reluctant captain, how exactly does a captain command the respect of their crew when they are essentially hostages? So let’s talk about seaQuest, the submersible. In this episode, it reached a depth of 22,000 feet (about 6,700 meters). While we’ve built submarines that can go deeper, like Deepsea Challenger and Trieste II, they are small crafts that carry one or two people. Research subs, like DSV Shinkai 6500, can reach 6,500 meters but still only carry 3 passengers in a titanium pressure sphere. seaQuest is huge, with a crew of over 200, and tubular rather than spherical. The closest we’ve ever come to a seaQuest-type submersible is the NR-1, affectionately named Nerwin. The smallest nuclear sub ever built, Nerwin could carry 13 people to a depth of almost 1,000 meters and stay down for over a month. Nerwin was instrumental in finding pieces of the space shuttle Challenger. Ballard himself used it to find the HMHS Britannic. The submarine was decommissioned in 2008.
seaQuest is huge, and I have questions, not the least of which being: What’s up with the dolphin tubes? The submarine has a network of water filled tubes so that their talking dolphin, Darwin (also kidnapped, in clear violation of CITES and the Marine Mammal Protection Act), can travel anywhere on the ship. Are these tubes pressurized? Would all that water sloshing back and forth wreak havoc with buoyancy compensation? Why do they need a dolphin inside the submarine, anyway? So let’s talk about dolphins. First off, it’s actually pretty easy to talk to a dolphin; the real challenge is getting the dolphin to talk back. seaQuest has solved this problem with a handwave-y communicator, the vo-corder, that allows the crew to ask Darwin simple questions. Fine. It’s unlikely that real dolphins will have much to say, and even if we could get them talking, the resulting conversation might be enough to make John Waters blush. As a plot device, it’s not completely unreasonable, and at least they didn’t make the dolphin psychic (cod save me from the telepathic dolphin people). Dolphins do have sophisticated social structures and appear to have rudimentary language. Some research even suggests that individual dolphins have unique names. The U.S. Navy does maintain a military dolphin program, and a lot of the behaviors that Darwin demonstrates can be accomplished by well-trained Navy dolphins. Darwin, however, was not a real dolphin, but a set of very good animatronics that the show made a point not to brag about, lest they break the illusion. On that, seaQuest DSV is in very good company. The humpback whales of Star Trek IV: The One With Whales were also animatronic. seaQuest DSV does get a lot of science details right. The homesteading colony uses hydrothermal vents for energy—there are several current proposals to do this exact thing—and deep-sea mining, an industry which, after several decades of false starts, is about to become a reality, features heavily in the constant warfare between various underwater confederacies. And yet, for all they get right, there’s still an awful lot of beards on submarines.
Britain's first nuclear submarine had lack of storage in maiden voyage
THE CREW of the first British nuclear submarine stored crates of beer in its torpedo tubes and had to ration toilet paper during its maiden voyage. Speaking for the first time about the early days of the underwater nuclear deterrent, the submariners of the Valiant reveal during a BBC Radio 4 programme today that their first 28-day trip was plagued by “teething problems” such as a lack of storage space. The £25million fully nuclear submarine entered service in July 1966, 12 years after the Americans launched the first nuclear boat, the Nautilus. Before this submarines had to surface to recharge batteries and provide air for the crew, but nuclear technology allowed a vessel to produce its own energy and stay submerged for long periods. The Valiant made its inaugural voyage in 1967, remaining underwater for nearly a month and travelling 12,000 miles from Singapore to the UK but encountered several problems on that record-breaking journey. Certainly there were lots of teething problems, Captain John Jacobsen was in charge of ensuring the smooth running of the carbon monoxide burners, which cleaned the air inside the boat. “Certainly there were lots of teething problems,” he said. One was a thin film which developed and prevented the system from working and which required heat at 1,500F to solve the problem.This was impossible inside a submarine, so he had to call at Mauritius and ask a crematorium to do the job for him.
Built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-on-Furness, the Valiant was 285ft long, 20ft longer than the Dreadnought, a partially nuclear British submarine launched in 1963. The Valiant had technology making it more silent than its American counterparts. Despite these advances, the crew found they had limited storage space, so put their beer in the torpedo tubes. Another crew member, Harry Brazier, failed to order enough toilet paper for the maiden voyage, saying: “I knew I was in charge of victuals stores but I didn’t know what victuals stores meant. “It never occurred to me that it might be loo paper. I thought it was things like beans, bacon and sausages.” When a coxswain informed him of the mistake with three weeks until they next docked, Harry had to make an embarrassing speech to the rest of the crew. “Sorry, torpedo officer here, I have made a bit of a mistake. I seem to have forgotten to order any loo paper, but good news, there’s enough for one roll each and don’t forget there are two sides to each sheet, and you can fold it in half.”
New tourist submarines capable of diving to 3,740ft launched as demand for exploring ocean depths soars.
Holland-based U-Boat Worx has launched three new luxury sub models. Two are capable of diving to 3,740ft - the deepest any tourist model can go. The new submersibles can carry five, seven or nine people per dive . Cruise holidays are about to become far deeper experiences - thanks to an incredible new range of private submarines that can take holidaymakers on tours beneath the surface of the ocean. U-Boat Worx has launched three new luxury submarine models designed for cruise ships and tourism - Cruise Sub 5, 7 and 9 - and two are the deepest-diving ever built. The Cruise Sub 5 and 7 are capable of diving to 3,740ft - that's further than any other tourist submersible can go. Depending on the model, it can carry five, seven or nine persons per dive.
The Cruise Sub 5 and 7 are capable of diving to 3,740ft making them the deepest-diving tourist submersibles. U-Boat Worx has launched a new range of private submarines especially designed for cruise ships. All guests will enjoy the same panoramic experience thanks to two large acrylic spheres.
The Cruise Sub 7
Occupancy - 1 pilot and six passengers
Maximum operating depth - 3,740ft
Dimensions - 481 x 344 x 255 cm
Weight - 11,500 kg
Pressure hull material - Acrylic and steel
Hatch type - Top hatch
After the first success stories of submersibles operated from luxury Cruise Ships like The Taipan from Star Cruises and the Crystal Esprit, the Netherlands-based submersible manufacturer is seeing increased demand from the industry. 'Our operations on cruise ships inspired the development of the Cruise Sub series,' says Bert Houtman, Founder and Chairman at U-Boat Worx. 'Whether the operator focuses on exclusive deep sea exploration in remote destinations or on doing numerous subsea excursions on coral reefs, the Cruise Subs are optimized for maximizing the guest experience.' Traditional tourist submersibles have small windows, and passenger seating much like a bus. The new Cruise Sub series is based on the U-Boat Worx submersibles that are used on exclusive private super yachts and by research institutes. U-Boat Worx says that all guests will enjoy the same panoramic experience thanks to two large acrylic spheres that place everyone on the front row. The interior can revolve inside the sphere, ensuring passengers always have the best view. The submersibles are battery-powered and therefore have no impact on the marine environment.
U-Boat Worx's submersibles can reach depths of 1,150metres - that's several Eiffel Towers laid end to end. The interior can revolve inside the sphere, ensuring passengers always have the best view while diving - regardless of the direction the submersible is travelling. The submersibles are designed to international standards and can be operated non-stop for up to 12 hours. The submersibles are battery-powered and therefore have no impact on the marine environment in which they operate, so diving in a U-Boat Worx submarine is an ecologically sound activity, the company says. Last year a company announced that it will begin offering submarine tours of the Titanic wreck. The tour takes in sights like the famous grand staircase, the ship's huge anchors and the Marconi Room, from which the world's very first SOS was broadcast. The once-in-a-lifetime privilege is being offered by luxury concierge service, Bluefish, and does not come cheap, setting you back a whopping £41,000 ($60,000). Director of Bluefish, Steve Sims, speaking last year, said: 'We have sent over 40 people down and they have been housewives to technology billionaires, the Titanic really does capture the minds of a wide crowd. 'Bluefish is known for providing the amazing and rare and the Titanic fits both those criteria. 'More people have been into space than set eyes on the Titanic.' Guests will stay aboard the Akademik Keldysh ship at sea and wait for suitable conditions to see the Titanic up close. The transport to the ocean floor is a MIR I or II submersible which are capable of reaching ocean depths of 20,000 ft (98 per cent of the ocean floor worldwide) and withstanding intense pressure. The submersible is constructed of nickel steel and can hold one pilot and two passengers, providing a personal encounter of the vessel. The unique dive takes 11 or 12 hours in total and once you reach the ocean floor powerful lights let you see the main features of ship. As well as this divers can spot harrowing personal items such as shoes or bags caught between the metal rust, which serve as a poignant reminder of the tragic human loss. Not only does the trip offer a truly unique ocean expedition, but it also offers the chance to learn about the majestic vessel in depth. You will take part in a series of lectures and briefings, revealing latest findings about the 269 metre-long liner. U-Boat Work has created the deepest-diving tourist submarines in the world.. U-Boat Worx has unveiled a new take on tourist submarines, designed to show lucky passengers more of the underwater world around them. The Cruise Sub can take 5, 7 or 9 people to 1,140 m (3,740 ft), which the company says makes them the deepest-diving 5 and 7-person tourist submarines on the market. Whereas traditional tourist submarines are laid out like a bus with small windows on the side, U-Boat Worx places passengers behind two large acrylic spheres for a panoramic view of what's going on around them. The driver sits within the cylindrical pressure hull in the middle, and the interior seating can rotate to give everyone a good look at what's going on. This layout is based on the design used on the luxury-yacht and research-friendly units U-Boat Worx has created in past. The interior has been designed with luxury in mind, which means there are comfortable leather seats, a bespoke audio system and air conditioning - more than can be said for your average SCUBA expedition. Speaking of SCUBA diving, passengers need no qualifications to explore the Little Mermaid's environment. Pilots do need training, but it only takes two weeks to become certified and U-Boat Worx says pilots can even hand the controls to passengers in a safe environment. The Cruise Subs are battery powered and can dive for up to twelve hours. Pricing for the five-seat Cruise Sub starts at €2,530,000 (US$2,886,224), but there are optional extras available. U-Boat Worx is hoping to sell the 5, 7 and 9 seat subs to cruise ship operators and resorts.
Japan Loses Bid to Build Submarines for Australia.
Japan lost its bid for a contract worth 50 billion Australian dollars to build 12 next-generation submarines for Australia as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday announced the selection of French shipbuilder DCNS as a partner for the project. At a press conference in a suburb of Adelaide, Turnbull, while expressing gratitude for the Japanese bid, said "the French offer represented the capabilities best able to meet Australia's unique needs." The Japanese government had proposed building a fleet based on the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Soryu-class submarine, made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. <7011> and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. According to Australian media reports, the Japanese bid was viewed by some Australian government officials as having considerable risk because of Japan's inexperience in exporting arms and building submarines overseas. In 2014, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe relaxed the country's arms export controls to enable shipments of large weapons overseas. It had hoped to build momentum for arms exports by winning the submarine contract from Australia, which has favorable diplomatic ties with Japan.
KSEW will produce 4 ‘next-generation’ AIP-equipped submarines
During the handing over ceremony of two landing craft mechanized (LCM) amphibious landing ships, Rear Admiral Syed Imdad Imam Jafri (the Commander of Logistics in the Pakistan Navy) congratulated Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Ltd. (KSEW) for winning a contract to produce four “new generation” air-independent propulsion (AIP) equipped submarines (for reference: AIP enables a conventional submarine to operate underwater without snorkeling for oxygen for a relatively long period – potentially weeks). Although the gradual and incremental progression of Pakistan’s amphibious capabilities is good news, the open recognition that KSEW will construct four new submarines seems to suggest that the landmark deal for eight submarines from China has been inked. Under the agreement, KSEW was to produce four of the eight submarines. In the aftermath of the Pakistan Navy (PN) walking away from a purchase of three Type 214 submarines from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany, the PN initiated talks with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. Ltd (CSOC) for six AIP-equipped submarines in 2011. In April 2015, the Pakistani government approved the purchase of eight submarines from China, and the contract was submitted to Beijing for final approval in July of that year. While the base design of Pakistan’s forthcoming submarines is widely believed to be a variation of the CSOC S20, the export variant of the Type 039A/041 Yuan-class diesel electric submarine (SSK), it was not clear if the PN had also ordered AIP systems. The S20 is not offered with AIP by default, CSOC requires the customer to acquire AIP systems separately. Rear Admiral Jafri’s statements clearly confirm that Pakistan’s submarines will be equipped with AIP, but the origin and type were not disclosed. China developed a Stirling-based system, but fuel-cell powered solutions are also (or at least were) under development at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics. It will be interesting to see which route the PN chooses, and whether a portion of the submarine deal would go towards supporting the development of a Chinese fuel-cell AIP solution. Armaments have not been disclosed either. At the minimum, it is very likely that the submarines will be armed with at least six 533mm torpedo tubes to launch heavyweight torpedoes and anti-ship missiles (AShM). In terms of the latter, the PN could opt for the newly revealed CM-708UNB sub-launched AShM. The CM-708UNB has a marketed range of up to 290km. Pakistan may also try to align the new submarines into its goal to develop an assured second-strike nuclear deterrence capability. The torpedo tubes onboard these submarines may be designed such that they could take on the Babur land attack cruise missile (LACM), which in turn would house a miniaturized plutonium warhead. This is a guess on our part, as with much of this submarine deal, the details have not entirely been confirmed. It will also be interesting to see how the PN equips the submarines’ internals, especially in terms of the on-board electronics as well as command and control systems. In any case, it seems specific details are finally beginning to trickle down, we will keep an eye on how this program develops.
China's 'Boomers': Should America Fear Beijing's Underwater Nukes?
The gradual, but steady development of China’s ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program has been closely monitored by international observers. China is the last of the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council to establish an operational SSBN force. A recent report by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) says that China’s Jin-class SSBN represents the country’s “first credible at-sea second-strike nuclear capability.” That goal remains a long way off, however. Although the Jin-class is a potential step forward for China’s nuclear deterrent, its nascent SSBN program continues to face considerable challenges. A secure second-strike capability requires that some portion of a country’s nuclear forces survive an enemy’s first strike. By virtue of being able to hide in the vastness of the ocean, SSBNs have the potential to be an essential component of China’s nuclear second-strike capability. A reliable long-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), capable of striking a target at intercontinental range with a nuclear payload, is critical to this strategy. The JL-2 SLBM carried by the Jin-class can deliver between one to three nuclear warheads to an estimated range of 7,400 km. The relatively short range of the JL-2 requires China’s SSBNs to travel undetected through several crucial chokepoints into the Pacific Ocean in order to strike the continental United States. This shortcoming requires China to rely on the stealth of the Jin-class to sail the submarine into firing position. However, available information suggests that theJin-class is detectable by foreign Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) assets. According to a 2013 report in The National Interest, the Jin-class may have fundamental flaws that create a detectable sonar signature. Evidence of this vulnerability can be found in a 2009 ONI report, which compared the low-frequency noise of China’s SSBN force to Russian/Soviet submarines, and revealed that the Jin-class was the noisier than Russian Delta III-class SSBNs that were first commissioned in the mid-1970s. China also faces the technological and bureaucratic hurdles of establishing effective command and control (C2) with its SSBNs. Reliable C2 communication with decision makers on the mainland and firing protocols for when an SSBN loses contact with its national command authority are critical to ensuring that an SSBNonly fires when it is absolutely necessary. Contacting an SSBN when it is submerged requires advanced communications technology. Salt water only permits radio waves to penetrate a short distance into the ocean, requiring communication stations to use Very Low Frequency (VLF) or Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radio waves to signal a submarine. An alternative option for relaying information to submarines comes from aircraft like the U.S.-E-6B TACAMO that trails a several-miles-long antenna to signal submarines at shallow depths. Little is publicly known about China’s communications infrastructure; however the Chinese navy maintains VLF facilities at Changde and Datong. China may seek to improve its infrastructure on reclaimed land features in the SCS to help secure safe passage for its SSBNs to the Pacific Ocean. Establishing control of the waters within the nine-dashed-line could potentially lessen the drawbacks of the current submarine base on Hainan Island, as submarines operating out of the base are exposed to ASW forces of the United States and other countries. Theplacement of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island with a range of 125 miles, which could be deployed on other land features, may empower China to counter foreign ASW aircraft during a crisis. China’s own ASW forces may also play a key role. Establishing airbases for its emerging aviation-ASW program might eventually enable China to counter enemy attack submarines charged with tracking China’s SSBN fleet. These efforts could potentially enhance China’s second strike capability while a new, quieter SSBN and longer range SLBM are under development. There is limited available information on the development of new submarine and missile technology, making it unclear when China will be capable of fully addressing the aforementioned problems. In any case, securing safe passage into the SCS is only a partial solution. China’s SSBNs must still traverse the long journey from their home base on Hainan Island, through strategic chokepoints, to locations far away from the safety of China’s protected coastal waters – a task that might prove extremely difficult for China’s current fleet of Jin-class SSBNs.
Asia's arms race dives underwater
The ocean depths of the Pacific are becoming crowded in the latest stage of Asia's arms race, as the region's military powers rapidly increase their submarine fleets and deploy the very latest technology. Australia's decision to buy 12 highly advanced diesel-powered submarines from France's well-regarded defense contractor DCNS is the latest example. The 4,700-ton Shortfin Barracuda boats will cost nearly $40 billion, but will allow Canberra, a key U.S. ally, to double the size of its underwater fleet and add significant extra firepower. The decision comes at an opportune moment; many of the most senior U.S. admirals in the Pacific Fleet are very concerned about the rapid improvement in Chinese subsurface capability and the United States Navy has taken steps in recent years to mitigate it. The Americans have introduced advanced anti-submarine warfare systems, including integrated computer systems, highly sensitive sensors towed behind ships which can "hear" the acoustic signature of submarines over hundreds of miles, and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, commercial jets with very long range that can listen for submarines across huge expanses of the ocean. Whether or not these measures will enable the U.S. to retain its edge in undersea combat over China remains to be seen. As a senior U.S. Navy official said: "We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating, and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines." At present, the United States, with its all-nuclear powered submarine fleet, remains the undisputed king of the underwater seas. Fourteen of its submarines are ballistic missile boats capable of launching long-range nuclear weapons; four are guided missile boats, which can launch long-range conventional Tomahawk cruise missiles; and 53 are attack submarines, which can find and kill other submarines and surface ships. Some 60% of the underwater fleet is routinely deployed in the Pacific, but all of the boats can be moved there via the Panama Canal if needed. Russia has roughly the same numbers of submarines (13 ballistic missile and 50 attack boats) while China has only 4 of the ballistic missile boats and around 50 mostly diesel-powered attack boats. The important question, of course, is not numbers but quality. In the intricate cat-and-mouse game of submarine operations, the technological edge and the skill of the crew are more important than raw numbers. China, for example, does not have a long tradition of subsurface operations at a high level of competence, but is improving rapidly. Given that its key objective would be finding and killing U.S. aircraft carriers in the event of a dispute over Taiwan, it needs to improve the broad area targeting and reach of its force. Beijing also has its ballistic missile boats as a strategic nuclear deterrent.
Six old submarines to get a facelift
To maintain its depleting sub-surface levels, the Navy has begun the process of upgrading six of its oldest submarines. The first of them is en route Russia for major refit and life certification (MRLC), which will extend its operational life by 10 years. INS Sindhukesari, a Kilo-class submarine commissioned in 1989, left India in early May and is scheduled to reach the Zvezdochka yard at Severodvinsk in Russia in two months. “These submarines have completed over 25 years of service. It was decided to upgrade them in view of the delay in the induction of new submarines. The main aspect of the MRLC is that it will be certified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM),” a senior Navy officer said. In August 2014, the Defence Acquisition Council had accorded approval for sending six submarines for the MRLC — four Russian Kilo class and two German HDW class. The process is expected to cost over Rs. 1,000 crore each. Two Kilo class submarines are to be sent to Russia, while two more would be upgraded in India by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited in Vizag. Both the HDW submarines are to be upgraded in India, one each by Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL) and the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. “The upgradation plan might be revised based on the induction of Scorpene submarines as their schedules are being accelerated,” the official said. The government had approved an ambitious “30-year submarine construction plan” in 1999 for building 24 conventional submarines under two different production lines. But not a single submarine has been inducted till date and the first Scorpene submarine under Project-75, after repeated delays, has just begun sea trials and is expected to join the force in October this year. Incidentally, the Scorpenes will roll out without their major weapon, heavy weight torpedoes, which are caught up in allegations of corruption in other defence deals.
Colin Firth to star in Russian submarine disaster film Kursk
Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of the 2002 book A Time to Die will tell story of torpedo explosion aboard ‘the pride of the Russian navy’ that killed all 118 crew. Based on Robert Moore’s 2002 book A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy, the film is being produced by France’s EuropaCorp. Kursk may be a more cerebral creature than the Luc Besson-owned studio’s usual staple of exploitation-tinged action movies, including Taken. A Time to Die details events that took place in 2000 in the Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle. Captain Gennady Lyachin was engaged in a torpedo exercise on board the submarine K-141 Kursk, called “the pride of the Russian navy”, when the missile exploded, instantly killing seven men in the ship’s forward compartment and leaving the other 111 crew members’ lives in danger. The movie will tell the story of the battle for survival on board the submarine and the desperate efforts of the crew’s families to persuade authorities to mount a rescue effort. The Danish film-maker Vinterberg, known for his part in forming the rules of the Dogme 95 movement alongside Lars von Trier, has recruited his Far from the Madding Crowd star Matthias Schoenaerts to join the cast. It’s not known whether Firth or Schoenaerts will play Lyachin. Kursk will be based on a screenplay by Robert Rodat, the Oscar-nominated writer of Saving Private Ryan,. The movie may draw comparisons with Hollywood films The Hunt for Red October and K-19: The Widowmaker, both themed around submarines.
Cruise ship submarines now standard
A few years back I had to look up the acronym ROV when reading a review of the latest equipment being installed on an expedition ship. Nowadays, remotely operated underwater vehicles are pretty much standard issue on any self-respecting expedition ship; they are equipped with video cameras so passengers can view footage of what's going on in the ocean far below the ship's hull. The latest generation of small-scale, luxury expedition ships are being fitted with increasingly sophisticated tools for exploring what lies beneath – and above, in some cases. Crystal Cruises' Crystal Esprit, which started cruising for the luxury line in 2015, boasts a mini-submarine among its extensive collection of water toys. The 62-passenger ship sails in the Mediterranean and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. The mini-sub takes three people down to about 300 metres to check out coral reefs and marine life and it costs $US599 a go. Crystal is upping the ante even further with its 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, which is due to make its debut in August 2018. Named after Captain Cook's research vessel HMS Endeavour, Crystal Endeavor will operate expedition cruises in polar and tropical regions. As well as featuring two helicopters and two landing pads for flightseeing expeditions, the ship will be equipped with two seven-person submarines, eight electrical amphibious zodiacs and Seabob underwater scooters, as well as more run-of-the-mill jet skis, kayaks and snorkelling and scuba-diving kit. At the same time that Crystal Endeavor is due to set sail, Australian company Scenic will be launching its first expedition vessel. Scenic Eclipse will carry 228 passengers, and, like Crystal Endeavour, will have two helicopters and a seven-seat submarine on board. It seems there is a growing market in "tourist" subs; a submersible manufacturer in the Netherlands, U-Boat Worx, has recently launched three new models, with some capable of diving to 1140 metres. The company's founder and chairman, Bert Houtman, said that the "Cruise Sub" series was inspired by the success of its operations on ships such as Crystal Esprit.
The Criminal and Terrorist Threat of Narco Submarine Technology
For several decades, international agencies such as Ameripol, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the UNODC have worked incessantly with domestic law enforcement agencies to seize illicit drugs, arrest traffickers, and reduce the flow of narcotics into the United States and other countries. Through a series of bilateral, multilateral, regional, and global accords, governments and their militaries have increasingly cooperated in multiple anti-drug measures and operations designed to mitigate the threats presented by drug traffickers. Transnational organized crime (TOC) has become an obstinate issue in international affairs. Organized crime affects the global economy and has the capacity to undermine the rule of law and governance of nations. Sustainable development, public health, and public safety are imperiled by the criminal activities of drug trafficking organizations. In the United States, the Department of the Treasury, the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (AMO), Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense have designed comprehensive strategies aimed at addressing the corrosive effects of the illegal drug trade, including money laundering, corruption, terrorism, human trafficking, and economic distortion. For instance, the Department of the Treasury, through the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), combats all aspects of money laundering committed by criminal organizations and terrorists. The Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South and the U.S. Southern Command have been conducting interagency detection and monitoring operations, and developed tactical approaches for the interdiction of illicit trafficking and the mitigation of other narco-terrorist threats in support of national and partner nation security. The illicit drug trade is a profitable business. According to a 1997 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, illicit drugs generated approximately $400 billion per year of total revenue. At that time, it was estimated that illicit drugs represented approximately 8 percent of total international trade. Since then, authorities have made numerous interdictions and arrests. Yet in 2015, the UNODC reported that the bulk weight (tons) of seized cocaine in the Americas in the year 2013 was at a level similar to the one reported in the year 2006. This is particularly concerning when we consider the resolute efforts made by law enforcement agencies during the past two decades.
The Rise of Narco-Submarines
During the late 1980s, Colombian drug cartels dominated the flow of cocaine into the United States and Europe. Through the use of go-fast boats and small planes, the Medellin Cartel and Cali Cartel delivered their illicit product throughout the Americas. However, the increased effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in detecting and seizing aircraft and boats, forced drug traffickers to consider developing alternative means for transporting and delivering narcotics to their intended destinations. Drug cartels in Colombia began to experiment with narco submarines in the early 1990s. They tried to counteract ameliorated radar and communication technology held by militaries and law enforcement. Accordingly, drug traffickers made attempts to improve the design and operational capabilities of their narco submarines in order to gain the ability to further evade detection and seizure. After the collapse of the Medellin and Cali Cartels, other criminal organizations such as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) continued to invest in narco submarine technology. The design and engineering of narco submarines continued to evolve during the late 1990s and 2000s. Over time, these vessels became capable of self-propulsion and full submersion. They were also able to travel longer distances while having an increased carrying capacity. Simultaneously, law enforcement developed advanced radar technology. And it was in the mid-2000s when authorities noticed great similarities in the design of the vessels they were seizing. These vessels resembled go fast-boats and were reconfigured so that they would sit just above the water line. This type of narco submarines became known as low profile vessels (LPVs). During the past few years, U.S. authorities working alongside other Latin American militaries began to seize vessels – actual submarines – that were capable of full submersion. Many of these narco submarines were capable of speeds of 15 miles per hour while carrying up to 10 tons of narcotics. Some of these newer models were powered by 350 horse-powered diesel engines and carried large fuel tanks which allowed them to travel a range of up to 2,000 nautical miles. Because the majority of their structure was made out of fiberglass and they could navigate below the sea surface, these vessels became almost impossible to detect via sonar or radar. Many of these vessels were built with upper lead shielding which helps minimize their heat signature and thus they can evade infrared sensors. Also, several models had piping along the bottom to allow the water to cool the exhaust as the vessel moves, making it even less vulnerable to infrared detection. These vessels also have ballast tanks and are equipped with a satellite global positioning system that aids their navigation.
Narco Submarines Today
Drug cartels have grown increasingly strategic and resourceful. Their vast profits allow them to invest in enhanced transportation technologies and innovative methods of evading capture. In recent years, narco submarines have been used by FARC and other criminal organizations (Los Rastrojos, Urabenos) throughout the Western Hemisphere to transport narcotics from South America to Central and North America. These vessels travel usually from Western Colombia via the Pacific Ocean towards Central America and Mexico. They are also deployed from Northern Colombia via the Caribbean towards Central America and small islands located throughout the Caribbean region. However, the number of narco submarines has apparently risen as there are reports of seized narco submarines in Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, and Brazil. Since 2012, Operation Martillo has led to the seizure of almost 700 metric tons of cocaine, detained over 1,800 suspects and 581 vessels and aircraft. Nonetheless, in spite of the success of these integrated efforts, maritime drug smuggling activities continue. It is worth taking into consideration that the UNODC’s 2015 World Drug Report recently reported: “While maritime trafficking is not the most widely used mode of smuggling drugs, law enforcement operations at sea have potentially the greatest impact as the average volumes of seizures is proportionally higher. In the period 2009-2014, for instance, the average for each seizure by sea was 365kg, while by land (road and rail) it was 107kg and by air 10kg.” This suggests that law enforcement should continue to focus on maritime interdiction and cooperation with allies. Collaboration is imperative to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of ongoing interdiction efforts. In order to adequately disrupt drug trafficking operations in the Americas, agencies must improve their exchange of intelligence, share best practices, and invest in various types of technology.
Challenges to Countering Narco Submarines
In July 2011, the National Security Council released its Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. The report explains that transnational organized crime (TOC) poses a significant and growing threat to national and international security. Moreover, TOC yields ominous implications for public safety, health, democratic institutions, and economic stability across the globe. The report indicates that criminal networks are expanding and diversifying their activities, which in turn leads to the amplified convergence of threats to national security. Among the key priority areas that are included in the Council’s strategy are: protecting the financial system and strategic markets against transnational organized crime; strengthening interdiction, investigations, and prosecutions; disrupting drug trafficking and its facilitation of other transnational threats; and building international capacity, cooperation, and partnerships. Following these aims, the U.S. Coast Guard has been collaborating with the U.S. Navy and other agencies. These interagency partnerships have utilized military surveillance aircraft and nuclear fast attack submarines to search for vessels carrying narcotics. Furthermore, the Coast Guard has also been using HC-130 Hercules aircraft which provide surveillance and tracking of drug trafficking vessels. Notwithstanding the increased cooperation and integration of activities between law enforcement agencies, governments, and other stakeholders, drug trafficking organizations continue to propagate threats to U.S. national security and the security of other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Just to complicate matters a bit more, budget cuts in the U.S. have led to limited funding for maritime surveillance, interception, and seizure efforts. In March 2015, Marine General John Kelly, commander of (SOUTHCOM) U.S. Southern Command, testified before the Armed Services Committee about the security challenges that the United States faces. In his testimony, General Kelly noted: “[Our friends across the region] are frustrated by what they perceive as the low prioritization of Latin America on our national security and foreign policy agendas, which is especially puzzling given the shared challenge of transnational organized crime……. The tentacles of global networks involved in narcotics and arms trafficking, human smuggling, illicit finance, and other types of illegal activity reach across Latin America and the Caribbean and into the United States, yet we continue to underestimate the threat of transnational organized crime at significant and direct risk to our national security and that of our partner nations.” General Kelly added the following statement about terrorist organizations that are part of the global criminal network: “As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.” General Kelly also pointed out that reduced funding has limited SOUTHCOM’s activities: “as the lowest priority Geographic Combatant Command, ‘doing less with less’ has a disproportionate effect on our operations, exercises, and engagement activities…… we are managing to keep the pilot light of U.S. military engagement on in the region — but just barely.” In similar fashion, last year the U.S. Coast Guard reported that it is having difficulties capturing narcotics smuggled into the U.S. because of an aging fleet that needs constant maintenance and repairs. Ever since the 2009 across-the-board sequestration budget cuts, the USCG has not been able to upgrade or replace its ships making interdiction efforts increasingly onerous.
Conceivable Threats to International Security
It is not known how many of these vessels continue to travel undetected and ultimately reach their intended destinations. It is difficult to determine how many drug carrying vessels are currently being deployed and which specific routes they are using. Drug traffickers consider captured vessels as part of the cost of doing business. In spite of the interdictions to date, we can suppose that drug traffickers continue to use this transportation method as it continues to yield high profits even when the risk of capture and cost of interdiction are factored into the cost-benefit analysis. It is not known how many of these narco-sub vessels are currently under construction and in operation throughout South America and Central America. Based on recent history we can be certain that drug smugglers will continue to search for effective ways of transporting and delivering their product even if law enforcement authorities continue to detect, intercept, and disrupt narcotics distribution. The conceivable threats to international security become increasingly complex and acute when we recognize that some drug trafficking organizations have been linked with terrorism. For over 50 years, FARC has carried out bombings, extortions, assassinations, and kidnappings throughout Colombia. In an effort to finance its agenda, FARC has engaged in drug trafficking operations that include the use of narco submarines. There are also the cases of individuals with suspected ties to Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and Hezbollah who have been involved in drug related activities. Some of these funds from drug trafficking activities have been used to finance terrorist activities. It is not clear to what extent criminal organizations are involved in financially, logistically, and operationally supporting the efforts of terrorist groups. Yet, there are indications that these networks could facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward U.S. borders as well as high-value targets in the Western Hemisphere. Despite the fact that law enforcement has seized several vessels, many other narco submarines have traveled undetected and almost completely unrestricted. This makes them increasingly perilous to international security. It is feasible that criminal-terrorist cooperation could deliver great damage via the use of narco submarines that could carry weapons or parts of weapons of mass destruction, biological warfare agents, and chemical weapons. Terrorist organizations have in the past used the international illicit marketplace to finance their activities, purchase equipment, and potentially could deploy narco submarines as vessels of mass destruction. Hezbollah has supporters in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America. There have been illicit activities such as money laundering and drug trafficking in the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, which generated revenue that was later transferred to Hezbollah. For decades, Iran has funded, provided weapons, and trained terrorists. During the past several years there has been increased cooperation between Iran and Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. Although the nature of the cooperation appears to be related to economic exchange, it is important to realize that other types of cooperation could potentially exist between individuals from these countries which could in turn pose threats to U.S. national security and the security of other countries in the region. Furthermore, there are some recent cases of terrorists who have traveled to Latin America and have been arrested near the U.S. border. Narco submarines constitute an eminent threat when we consider that their design and technology have evolved, and thus they are proficient in avoiding detection and capture. These vessels are equipped with advanced navigation systems, satellite communication, and radars. They can travel long distances undetected evidenced by the copious narco submarines that have been detected throughout the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. A terrorist group such as FARC could feasibly collaborate with Al Qaeda or Hezbollah and equip narco submarines with added technical features that would enable terrorist organizations to launch destructive attacks on U.S. targets throughout the Americas. Given their capacity to travel long distances, narco submarines could also be deployed to European coasts and coastal cities. In addition to carrying biological and chemical weapons, narco submarines could also transport terrorist operatives to target locations.
Advances in narco submarine technology have certainly presented challenges to law enforcement authorities and militaries throughout the continent. Low profile vessels can mask their heat signature, evade sonar and radar, and use lead siding to help mask their infrared signature. These particular technical aspects make their detection and capture exceedingly difficult. In order to be able to counteract drug smugglers’ innovative technology, law enforcement must also invest in upgrading their own set of technologies. In order to thwart existing maritime drug trafficking activities as well as reduce the threat of potential terrorist attacks, law enforcement agencies and militaries must enhance cyber intelligence capabilities. It is crucial that organizations such as Interpol, Europol, Ameripol, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police strengthen cooperation and information sharing. Authorities must seek to strengthen efforts to interdict illicit trafficking in the air and maritime domains. It is critical that TOC networks are disrupted including their access to finance and their ability to use technology such as narco submarines to deploy biological and chemical attacks. Law enforcement must target the nexus among TOC networks that are involved in drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and terrorist activities. Agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Navy, in cooperation with other international agencies must continue to: collect and share information and data; use technology such as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), satellite-based computer systems, and sensors; integrate ISR systems; enhance the joint tactical radio system; upgrade wideband satellite communications; further utilize horizontal fusion; invest in MASINT (Measurement and Signals Intelligence), CHIMS (Counterintelligence / Human Intelligence Information Management Systems), and modeling and simulation software that allows analysts to simulate events, their probabilities, and a range of potential outcomes. All of these operations and enhanced technologies that are necessary to protect countries from these potential threats will require additional funding. It is pivotal that public officials, policy makers, and other stakeholders consider the current limitations that exist today, evaluate the challenges that lie ahead, and assess how these preceding threats may be mitigated effectively in the near future.
DeepFlight Working with LR to Certify Personal Subs
DeepFlight has entered into a working relationship with Lloyd’s Register (LR) to certify DeepFlight personal submarines in accordance with LR’s Rules for the Construction and Classification of Submersibles and Diving Systems. DeepFlight has redesigned the concept of a personal submarine through its use of composite materials, allowing the submarines to be lighter weight than all conventional submarines, and enabling easy beach and shore launches. Applying the principles and dynamics of flight underwater, DeepFlight submarines’ flight characteristics offer greater speed, longer range and unprecedented maneuverability. Additionally, all DeepFlight craft are permanently positively buoyant, offering the safety advantage of automatic return to surface. According to DeepFlight, certification is one of the many initiatives the company has undertaken in preparing to offer the unique experience of underwater flight to resort guests. DeepFlight submarines will be the first composite-hulled personal submarines to undergo certification. In addition to working with Lloyd’s Register, DeepFlight has also engaged with the U.S. Coast Guard. Both organizations provide expert third party validation on the innovation and safety of DeepFlight craft. Adam Wright, CEO of DeepFlight stated, “We are delighted to be working with Lloyd’s Register to certify our DeepFlight submarines. This relationship validates our efforts to join the automobile, aviation and other industries, in utilizing composite materials to make safer craft. We see our work with LR as a great leap forward in submarine innovation, allowing us to open the oceans for personal exploration.” Mark Daley, President, Lloyd’s Register Americas Marine and Offshore, said, “Lloyd’s Register is proud to be working with DeepFlight to provide certification of this innovative concept. This industry first has required input and thought leadership from a breadth of Lloyd’s Register’s experience. Working with the DeepFlight team and the U.S. Coast Guard, we are excited to be part of this project in realizing personal underwater flight.”
Chinese submarine rescue ship shines at RIMPAC.
FIRST CIVIL MANNED SUBMARINE SOLD IN SOUTH AMERICA
HMS Ambush submarine crashes into ship.
HMS Ambush, the UK's most advanced attack submarine, has collided with a merchant ship in the Mediterranean - the latest in a number of incidents involving Britain's submarine fleet. The vessel was involved in a ‘glancing collision’ with the ship off the coast of the peninsula of Gibraltar. "The submarine suffered some external damage, but there is absolutely no damage to her nuclear plant and no member of the ship's company was injured in the incident," Britain's Ministry of Defence said in a statement. "There are no safety concerns," it added. The submarine, HMS Ambush, was not carrying nuclear weapons as it is not part of Britain's ballistic missile submarine fleet. The collision occurred whilst the submarine was submerged and conducting a training exercise. An immediate investigation is now being conducted. The Astute class submarines, which are based at the Clyde naval base in Scotland, are Britain's largest and most powerful attack submarines. Opponents in some of Britain's political parties and in the wider public have cited safety concerns as one of the reasons for not backing Trident's renewal. This latest incident follows a 2010 mishap near the Isle of Skye, just off the Scottish coast, in which HMS Astute, the first and lead vessel of a planned seven nuclear-powered Astute Class submarines, ran aground and was marooned for several hours. The incident, which was caught on camera and happened during sea trials, saw it become stuck near the Skye bridge on October 22 2010. It then sustained further damage after colliding with a tug, the Anglian Prince, which tried to free it. Its commander at the time, Andy Coles, was later removed from being in charge of the vessel. The following year, an officer was killed on board the same submarine by a member of the crew. Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, from Wigan, was killed by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan while Astute was docked in Southampton. Molyneux was awarded a posthumous George Medal, second only to the George Cross, for attempting to tackle drunken guard Donovan as he ran amok with an assault rifle during a civic visit by Southampton's mayor. He admitted murdering Molyneux and was jailed for life at Winchester Crown Court in September 2011. The Astute class vessels are the most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy. They weigh around 7,400 tonnes, equivalent to nearly 1,000 double-decker buses, and are 100m long. Armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the billion-pound, Barrow-built vessels can accurately strike targets up to 1,931km from the coast. Advanced stealth technology means they can remain undetected despite being 50 per cent larger than the Trafalgar Class submarines they will replace. Their nuclear reactors will not need refuelling in their entire 25-year life and they make their own air and water, enabling them to circumnavigate the globe without needing to surface. Three boats - Astute, Ambush and Artful - have entered service. The other Astute class submarines - including Audacious, Anson and Agamemnon - are in various stages of design or build. The seventh vessel's name has yet to be confirmed. BAE Systems was awarded a £1.3bn contract by the government to deliver the fifth Astute Class submarine in November.
Lockheed Martin Takes Another Crack at the Submarine Market
Lockheed Martin's drone Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) submarine is an epic failure. But don't worry, Lockheed investors. The company has another submarine system up its sleeve -- and this one could be worth millions. Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin received news that after 15 years of trying to get its RMMV to work right, the Navy is about ready to throw in the towel. Plagued by multiple breakdowns that jeopardize its ability to successfully track down and tag underwater mines, the $700 million contract is going up for a recompete, and it may soon be taken away from Lockheed Martin and handed to a rival (General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) being the most likely substitute). At the same time, however, Lockheed Martin scored a success with one of its other submarine programs last week when the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded Lockheed a $166 million contract to build non-drone mini-submarines for its operators. This latter contract isn't as big as the RMMV program, but it's still pretty important. The contract in question calls for Lockheed Martin to design, develop, and test -- then produce and maintain -- a fleet of "dry combat submersible systems" for SOCOM. In English, that means underwater mini-submarines that can deploy secretly from a surface mothership and carry special forces troops to land on hostile shores, remaining underwater and unseen the entire way. Lockheed is being given 66 months to complete the work. But in fact, it's probably a long way toward success on this contract already. Three years ago, if you recall, we noted that the company had won a $10 million contract to lease to SOCOM "a commercially classed dry submersible vessel known as S301i." SOCOM has been using S301i ever since to evaluate the use of the vehicle and whether it would suit SOCOM's purposes. Now it appears they've decided it does -- and they've increased the contract value by 16 times. (Don't get too excited, though. Lockheed Martin's operating profit margin in this tangential business is only 7.9%, making it about one-quarter less profitable than the revenues Lockheed gets from building fighter jets.) What's also interesting about this contract is that it may come at the expense of General Dynamics -- the very company that may benefit from Lockheed losing control of the RMMV contract. Two years ago, not long after Lockheed leased S301i to SOCOM for evaluation, General Dynamics received a $44 million SOCOM contract of its own -- also to develop a dry submersible sub dubbed "UOES 3." Whether SOCOM intends to build and buy both mini-subs simultaneously, supporting the two manufacturers so that they can compete against each other on price is unknown (although it sounds like smart shopping). For now, all we can say for sure is that Lockheed Martin isn't out of the submarine race entirely yet.
New mini-submarine the Navy SEALs could use for their elite missions.
Due to the diverse environments and niche missions they are tasked with, operators within the US special forces community receive the most innovative gadgetry the military has to offer. Partnering with Submergence Group LLC, Lockheed Martin will develop up to three Dry Combat Submersibles (DCS) for US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) over the next five years per its $166 million contract. Weighing at around 30 tons, the purpose of these vehicles will be to transport highly trained servicemembers, such as Navy SEALs, to their area of operations while submerged in water. Although the concept isn’t new, the DCS will be a significant upgrade to the current swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) that’s in service — Lockheed Martin claims that it will have a longer endurance and have the capability to operate in deeper waters. Additionally, because of its unique dry one-atmosphere design, the DCS will have ability to deliver its passengers — up to six, not including the pilot and navigator — closer to its destination before they have to disembark into the water. SDVs in the past have been limited by their flooding nature — passengers were constantly exposed to water and relied exclusively on scuba gear. Inside the DCS, operators will be able to use an Underwater Telephone (UWT) and UHF radio for communications. Once they arrive at the destination, the operators will be able to lock themselves out and begin disembarking.
Even though a similar dry Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) was being developed, the program was eventually abandoned after it was plagued with issues, including internal fires, noisy propellers, and weak power sources. Although details remain scant, the commercially available Dry Manned Submersibles already being developed by Lockheed Martin has a depth rating of 328 feet, 24-hour operability, and a range of around 45 nautical miles at 3 knots.
Men to cross English Channel in pedal-powered submarine
Two men are to attempt to pedal a submarine across the English Channel. French engineers Antoine Delafargue, 33, and Michael de Lagarde, 36, plan to travel 135 nautical miles (250km) from Plymouth to St Malo on Friday. The pair, who have designed and built the vessel themselves, told the Plymouth Herald they expected the trip to take seven days. "It's going to be a very physical challenge", they said. "It's a big 3.5 tonnes [3,500kg] bicycle, there are two pedalling sets, one at the back and one at the front and we will switch seats every four hours." Image caption Mr Delafargue and Mr de Lagarde plan to make the trip on Friday Image caption The submarine has cost more than £100,000. The pair will pedal between between eight and 12 hours a day each while the other sleeps, to power the propeller inside the 6m (20ft) long vessel. In 2012, 2014 and 2016 the UK hosted the International Submarine Races event for human-powered vessels. Image caption The vessel weighs more than 3 tonnes (3,000kg). The submarine, which has taken two years to build with the help of Plymouth designer Paul Moorhouse, will travel along at about 100m (328ft) below the surface. Mr Delafargue has spent more than £100,000 funding the project but said it was a "childhood dream" come true.
Israeli Navy Eyes Next Threat: Narco-Subs
Following Hezbollah’s surprise C-802 shore-to-ship missile attack in the 2006 Lebanon War and Israel's failure to intercept Hamas frogmen before they reached the country's southern shore during the 2014 Gaza war, the service is taking no chances. Next time, Israeli officers say, the Navy will be ready for the next big challenge: small, stealthy narco-submarines. “In the maritime world, subsurface threats are multiplying. Many are garage technology submarines that drug lords have built in their backyards. Others are much more sophisticated," said Rear Adm. Yossi Ashkenazi, head of the Israeli Navy’s Materiel Command. "If criminals can deliver 10 tons of drugs over long distances undetected, terrorists can do the same with weaponry." US Adm. James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander at NATO, agreed. In a study last year by the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he warned that nations must develop cooperative strategies for countering vessels that “transport more than just narcotics, [but] the movement of cash, weapons, violent extremists or, at the darkest of the spectrum, weapons of mass destruction.” The study divided narco-subs into three distinct categories:
In a recent interview, Ashkenazi said there is no firm indication yet that Hezbollah or Hamas are operating such narco-subs. Nevertheless, given close links between the narcotics trade and terror, Ashkenazi said the Navy is preparing a range of manned and unmanned countermeasures. “We’re very carefully watching this. The possibility of these unmanned subs getting leaked to other organizations puts us in a place where we have elevated our awareness of how to deal with subsurface threats," he said. The officer declined to provide details for obvious security reasons, but said the service is improving technologies, tactics and procedures to address the emerging threat. He said the Navy is working with state-owned Rafael on a second-generation prototype of its Protector unmanned surface vessel (USV) and is also considering exploring the multimission sonar and torpedo capabilities featured in Elbit’s unmanned Seagull prototype. “Regarding USVs, we are deep inside the technology. We have a new generation prototype of Rafael’s that we’re working with … and the Elbit system is unique in that it is totally modular. We can install or remove unmanned capabilities for ultimate flexibility in multiple missions,” Ashkenazi said. Ofer Ben-Dov, vice president for Naval Systems in Elbit’s ISTAR Division, said the Seagull’s multimission unmanned system is designed to detect submarines “including small size and midget submarines, at long ranges.” For anti-submarine warfare missions, he said the system uses a high-performance dipping sonar for detection, as well as anti-submarine torpedoes, “which can be replaced by less lethal means for use against narco-subs.” As for the Protector’s anti-submarine capabilities, Rafael said the system’s modular design allows operators to select subsystems that best meet specific operational requirements, including missions in “the underwater battle space.” Apparently the long-feared appearance of South American “narco-subs” (drug smuggling submersible vessels) in Europe is imminent. This comes from revelations that Israel is deploying new sensors and techniques to find these small, easily built vessels that they fear will be used to attack Israel’s new offshore natural gas fields. Israel is not talking about how they found out. The United States has been dealing with these vessels for over a decade and is apparently sharing with Israel what it knows about finding these vessels. The Israelis have an advantage in that they have a less restrictive ROE (Rules of Engagement) and, while the United States never has enough surface ships or long-range helicopters to make sure that long-range sensor contacts are actually narco-subs and not some legal vessel, the Israelis can warn all maritime traffic in their coastal waters to identify themselves or risk being fired on from the air or from surface craft. A number of the latter are unmanned, like the new Seagull USV (unmanned surface vessel) that can fire wire guided torpedoes. Most of these narco-subs are still "semi-submersible" type vessels. These are 10-20 meter (31-62 foot) fiberglass boats, powered by a diesel engine, with a very low freeboard and a small "conning tower", providing the crew (of 4-5), and engine, with fresh air and the ability to safely navigate. A boat of this type was, since they first appeared in the early 1990s, thought to be the only practical kind of submarine for drug smuggling. But since 2000 the drug gangs have developed real submarines, capable of carrying 5-10 tons of cocaine. These subs cost a lot more than semi-submersibles and also don't require a highly trained crew. These subs borrow a lot of technology and ideas from the growing number of recreational submarines being built. Only three of these true subs have been found and apparently they are not sufficiently more effective to justify their higher cost. Despite losing over a hundred of semi-submersibles to the U.S. and South American naval forces (and dozens more to accidents and bad weather), the drug gangs have apparently concluded that the subs are the cheapest and most reliable way to ship the drugs. Several hundred of these nacro-subs have been built and used on one-way trips to Mexico or the United States. Most of them get through. A detection network, run mainly by the United States, locates a lot more of these cocaine subs than there are warships available to run them all down. Since the early 1990s the United States has used a special interagency (Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, and Defense) and international (over a dozen nations participate) intelligence sharing/analysis operation (Joint Interagency Task Force-South) to track drug smuggling from South America. After 2001 the task force has become quite expert at tracking the submarines and submersibles built in South America for smuggling cocaine to North America and, in a few cases, all the way to Europe. Some of these long range subs are apparently going all the way from Ecuador to the United States, bypassing the Mexican cartels (who have been fighting each other, in a big way, since 2008). Particularly worrisome are the larger boats headed for Europe. Little is known about these, expect that they exist. Only one has been found, abandoned on a Spanish beach. These subs would be more at risk of being lost because of accident or bad weather than being spotted. European navies (especially Portugal and Spain) and coast guards have been alerted and are looking. Apparently the risk of failure is so high for these trans-Atlantic narco-subs that few have been built and not on a regular basis. The Colombian security forces and other Latin American navies have been responsible for most of these vessel captures. Usually these boats are sunk by their crews when spotted but the few that were captured intact revealed features like an extensive collection of communications gear, indicating an effort to avoid capture by monitoring many police and military frequencies. The Colombians have captured several of these vessels before they could be launched. Since 2010 the Colombians have been collecting a lot of information on those who actually builds these subs for the drug gangs and FARC (leftist rebels that provide security and often transportation for moving cocaine). That includes finding out where the construction takes place. Colombian police have arrested dozens of members of gangs that specialized in building submarines and semisubmersible boats. As police suspected, some of those arrested were retired or on active duty with the Colombian Navy (which operates two 1970s era German built Type 209 submarines). These arrests were part of an intense effort to find the people responsible for building subs for cocaine gangs. Find the builders and you stop the building efforts. In this case it has only delayed some construction and made it more expensive to build these boats.
Will the New Special Ops Mini-Submarine Sink or Swim?
Special Operations Command has hired Lockheed Martin to provide a miniature submarine for the Navy SEALs: the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS). Capable of carrying eight SEALs, the DCS would be used to infiltrate hostile areas, carrying soldiers to within reach of accessible coastlines. The submersible will be delivered in 2018, answering what SOCOM calls an "urgent need." It's been urgent for a while. In fact, SOCOM actually had an operational mini-sub in 2003. The ill-fated Advanced Seal Delivery System (ASDS) was the predecessor to DCS, and while it died on the vine, it was arguably more capable than the new vessel. The key feature of the new DCS is that it will keep SEALs dry. They'll be fully enclosed inside a mini-submarine while in transit, reducing their exposure to cold water and fatigue. Up to now, SEALs have gone ashore from SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV). These are semi-enclosed submersibles in which the SEALs ride, exposed to the water while breathing from the vehicle's compressed air supply or using their own SCUBA gear. The same "keep them dry" logic was the basis for the old ASDS. Designed and built by Northrop-Grumman in the 1990s, ASDS was 65 feet long, weighed 60 tons and, using electric propulsion, could travel about 125 nautical miles at a speed of around eight knots at a classified depth. The forthcoming DCS, which is based on Lockheed's S301 commercial submersible, is approximately 31 feet long, weighs about 30 tons, and uses similar electric propulsion. If we were to extrapolate from the S301, we'd say it probably can travel around 60 nautical miles at a depth of 190 feet. The program was officially canceled in 2006 after only one submersible (ASDS-1) was built. John Brandes, senior program manager, for Lockheed Martin, told IHS Jane's in July: "The difference between DCS and ASDS is displacement, length, and the payload capacity. ASDS was close to twice as long; it had a lot more displacement and could carry a lot more things." But ASDS didn't pan out. The sub was plagued by technical problems including noisy propellers and batteries that depleted more quickly than expect. There were also your typical cost and schedule overruns. The program was officially canceled in 2006 after only one submersible (ASDS-1) was built. The final straw came in November 2008 when ASDS-1 literally went up in flames while its lithium-ion batteries were being recharged at its Pearl Harbor base, exploding into a fire that burned for six hours. That failure led to SOCOM 's present effort to buy a dry submersible off the shelf. Lockheed Martin's DCS program director, Erika Marshall, says SOCOM has essentially used the S301 as a technology demonstrator, evaluating various propulsion, battery, and other technologies before combining them in the new mini-sub. The contract with Lockheed Martin is for just one DCS for now. If SOCOM has the desire and funding to acquire more, there are options for two additional submersibles. The DCS will have two topside hatches through which SEALs can exit upon reaching shore and enter when being picked up following a mission. It will also have a lock-in lock-out lower hatch through which gear or other payload items might pass. Whether it has active or passive stealth features or weapons capability is strictly classified. One thing it does not have is the ability to be launched from a full-size submarine. The old ASDS was designed to be to deployed from the Navy's SSGN Ohio-class guided missile submarines. In fact, the Navy converted four SSGNs during the mid-2000s to allow them to carry and launch ASDS. DCS will only be deployable from a surface ship. The means of getting it off the deck and into the water have yet to be determined, though use of a crane or A-frame is likely. The presence of a large ship putting DCS into the water 60 miles offshore is hardly clandestine or stealthy. The SSGN-deployed ASDS would have been much more difficult to detect. SOCOM will have to work out compensatory tactics if DCS is to be used successfully. Yes, SOCOM needs a new way to deploy the SEALs, but you can't help but wonder if this is a step backward.
$2.2 Million Mini Submarines That Are Exploring the Deepest Parts of the Ocean.
The ocean isn’t the easiest place to explore. Aside from the fact that it covers most of the Earth itself, it’s also pretty much uninhabitable by man because, you know, we have this habit of breathing. Because it’s just so big, a vast majority of the ocean is hard to study for extended periods of time. In fact, it’s estimated only 0.0001% of the deep ocean has actually been explored. Right now, a research mission known as Nekton is exploring some of those previously unexplored depths. With the use of a fish bowl-like $2.2 million mini-submarine known as the Triton, researchers are regularly taking dives down beyond 300 meters (984 feet+). That accomplishes a lot, as the mission (shown here on a dive in Bermuda) is discovering new species every day, one of its team members told The Guardian. Other discoveries include fossilized beaches covered up since the ice age, new species of coral and data on temperature change in the ocean among other things.
X-51 is here! Helensburgh museum's submarine arrives in Scotland
The 50-foot-long submarine, X-51, was brought north to HM Naval Base Clyde from storage at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and reached the Faslane base on Wednesday evening. The 39-tonne vessel, which has been donated by the Royal Navy, was launched in 1955 and named HMS Stickleback in the same year. It's expected that she will be moved from the base to the new museum in West King Street in the next few weeks. X-51 was transported to Scotland by Dumbarton-based haulage firm Galt Transport – a sponsor of the new museum – in two parts, with the main body of the submarine and the craft's engine travelling separately. The 50-foot-long submarine, X-51, was brought north to HM Naval Base Clyde from storage at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and reached the Faslane base on Wednesday evening. The 39-tonne vessel, which has been donated by the Royal Navy, was launched in 1955 and named HMS Stickleback in the same year. It's expected that she will be moved from the base to the new museum in West King Street in the next few weeks. Work is well under way on preparing the museum, which will occupy part of the former St Columba's Church on the corner with Sinclair Street, for its new exhibit. The museum - Helensburgh's first purpose-built visitor attraction - is due to open later this year. X-51, which was previously on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, is a direct descendant of the midget submarines used in some of the most daring raids of the Second World War, including the audacious attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. Those WW2 midget submarine crews underwent their initial training around the Firth of Clyde, having been based at HMS Varbel – the wartime name given to the requisitioned Kyles of Bute Hydropathic Hotel, at Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute. X-51 was transported to Scotland by Dumbarton-based haulage firm Galt Transport – a sponsor of the new museum – in two parts, with the main body of the submarine and the craft's engine travelling separately. Work is well under way on preparing the museum, which will occupy part of the former St Columba's Church on the corner with Sinclair Street, for its new exhibit. The museum - Helensburgh's first purpose-built visitor attraction - is due to open later this year. Though X-51 will be the focal point of the museum, other exhibits will also include an interactive memorial in remembrance of the men who gave their lives as members of the Royal Navy submarine service.
Silence, tight quarters and no women: On board Israel's most advanced submarine
Haaretz’s military correspondent joined the crew of INS Rahav, the Israel Navy’s newest submarine, on a brief training cruise. He learned about the unique physical and mental demands of service on the IDF's most expensive war machine, its technological capabilities and why Israeli subs are still off-limits to women. The commander of Israel Navy Ship Eilat, a Sa’ar-5 class Israeli missile boat, was extremely displeased. For some time, INS Rahav, the navy’s latest Dolphin-2 class submarine, had been cruising in the waters beneath him, at fairly close quarters. The sub occasionally lunged up and trained its periscope on the missile boat. Observers on the boat, whose task is to spot such potential threats, hadn’t noticed the periscope’s tip, which is the size of a fist, on the surface. The sub was practicing intelligence gathering, using the missile boat and its surroundings as targets; it wasn’t spotted even when sailors from the boat were lowered into the water in a rubber dinghy. The commander of the missile boat sounded rather offended when the Rahav informed him, somewhat late, of its presence, but Lt. Col. Shalom made no effort to apologize. The whole doctrine of submarine activity is based on total secrecy. In an operational mission, the sub’s identification by the enemy could prove fatal. After all, a submarine is not an aircraft, which can take action to cut off any contact with an adversary’s aerial defense system and escape danger within tenths of a second. Last week’s exercise dovetailed with the farewell cruise of the outgoing commander of Shayetet 7, the Israel Defense Forces submarine squadron, Col. Doron. Military censorship forbids publication of the officers’ surnames. Indeed, there are few areas in which the country’s defense establishment is so stingy about releasing information. In 1999, when the first German-made Dolphin-class submarines arrived in the country (INS Rahav, which the navy took possession of this year, is the fifth), Western media reported that Israel had equipped the vessels with nuclear cruise missiles. Israel, it was explained, had thus acquired second-strike capability: If Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon at Israel, the Islamic Republic would be the target of a nuclear reprisal, as Israel had an alternative offensive capability that was itself immune to attack. These are issues that the country’s political and security chiefs never talk about in public. At most they describe them as “media fantasies,” without elaborating. Accordingly, an attempt to explain in detail the operational activity of INS Rahav, based on observation of a half-day training exercise off the Haifa coast, recalls the fable about six blind men who try to describe an elephant. It’s not because of the short duration of the exercise: A previous cruise, of three days, off the coasts of Norway and Germany aboard Israel’s first Dolphin-class submarine 17 years ago, also produced only partial reportorial results. Doron, the outgoing squadron commander, is 45. Born in South Africa, he immigrated to Israel as an infant with his family and grew up in the Be’er Sheva suburb of Omer and in Rehovot. His naval career began with an officers course, followed by service on missile boats, but he spent the following 22 years on submarines. He will now take a year off for academic studies before being promoted to brigadier general and taking up a sensitive post in the General Staff’s operations directorate. Like Shalom, from the Rahav, he believes that no other assignment in the IDF could afford him the satisfaction he had as a submarine commander. “During my stint as commander, I told myself that it’s really weird that the army is actually paying me to do this,” he notes. The exercise was part of the long and comprehensive training period for the officer with the rank of major who will succeed Shalom in the near future, at the conclusion of his five years as a submarine commander. “Rahav” is the name of a sea monster in the Bible, and in conversations with the officers onboard, they harp on the word “monster.” That, in fact, seems like an appropriate word to describe the IDF’s most expensive war machine. The cost of the sixth diesel-electric powered sub that Israel plans to acquire from Germany in 2020 will be in the neighborhood of 400 million euros. In a long sea deployment, of up to a month, the commander of such a vessel is chiefly and indeed exclusively responsible for the sub itself and for the lives of about 50 people – submariners and others seconded to the vessel. While at sea, contact with his superiors in the rear is minimal at best. The expansion of the IDF’s submarine squadron from three to five (and eventually to six) demands that additional commanding officers be trained. But it’s still a tiny, exclusive club. A naval officer will be marked out as a submarine commander as he approaches the age of 30. By the time his training ends, he will be 32 or 33. There have been two cases in recent years when the training was halted midway through when candidates were considered inappropriate. But no sub commander in Israel has ever been removed in the course of duty. “Being a submarine commander is a state of mind,” Doron says. “You can’t take advice from anyone in the rear. It’s leadership in extreme conditions of uncertainty. As squadron commander, when I send a sub commander out on a mission, I have to trust him implicitly. He is the one who will decide whether to take action or not. I am a long way away. In a truly problematic situation, there is no one for him to talk to; the next-ranking officer in the chain of command is eight years or more younger. What he has going for him is the tactical preparation I gave him before the mission and the long training process. Ten days might go by before I can talk to him and find out exactly what happened, because speaking to him any earlier could put him at risk [of detection].” Shalom confirms this description. “There is no one to tell you what to do out there,” he says. “There’s no checklist that you memorize. What’s permitted today might be prohibited tomorrow.” Doron, who is analytical both in demeanor and in the way he explains things, draws on terminology from a different sphere. “Commanding,” he observes, “is a spiritual event. It doesn’t come only from a place of authority. They [the crew] know that you will get them back safely and that without you it won’t happen. As such, they have confidence in you. You aren’t always able to give yourself a deep explanation of why you acted as you did. I imagine it’s the same with pilots. I always tell a new submarine commander that his actions have to come from the gut as well as from the head. I remember, as a submarine commander myself, waking up in the middle of the night and jumping out of bed, because in my sleep I had heard someone make an incorrect report over the loudspeaker system.” The long periods spent on a submarine demand an ability to adapt to seriously cramped quarters – even on the new, more spacious models. Only the commander has small, separate quarters of his own, offering a bare minimum of privacy. Seven officers and noncoms squeeze into microscopic berthing compartments, each with a locker for personal equipment. The top-security wing of a prison is less crowded, but of course the company and the conditions are definitely better on the sub. Privacy in the toilet? Not really. The door has to remain ajar to allow access, in an emergency, to equipment that’s stored even there. Silence is a vital condition: Under certain conditions, the noise made by the slamming of a door could reveal the presence of a submarine. When Haaretz photographer Tomer Appelbaum raised his voice for a second, crew members gave him a shocked look. Nevertheless, there’s high demand to serve on an Israel Navy sub: One of every 10 candidates makes it through the tough classification and integration process, and only one out of two who are accepted to the track itself will finish the course a little more than a year later. Doron: “The ability to delay gratification; the ability to get along with others during an overload of missions and severe crowding. You need people who understand that they can’t quarrel with the person in the position next to them, because afterward they will be together for two weeks or more without being able to disengage. Other requirements are high cognitive ability and self-discipline to allow rapid learning of extensive materials. “In a mission, the sub is completely self-reliant. Every crewman is also a technician who can deal with hitches in his area of responsibility. Modest types who can delay gratification aren’t enough for me, and I can’t accept brilliant people if they’re incapable of being team players either. Military operations are often compared to sprints or marathons, but on a submarine, it’s a relay race.” Officers come from two main tracks of military service: either outstanding graduates of naval officers courses (or hovlim; the commander of Shayetet 7 has first pick among them) or crewmen who served as team leaders and became officers relatively late, around the age of 25. A regular submariner gets 13 months of training, signs up for 16 months of career service and ends up doing four years in the IDF. Team leaders serve for seven years and then are eligible for two years of academic studies. In other navies, a crewman signs up for 12 to 20 years of service up front. “In other words,” Doron notes, “my team leaders are 22 years old, compared to 30-plus in other navies.” About a year ago, Doron took part in a conference in Germany with submarine squadron commanders from 27 other countries. “All 27 colleagues reported staffing problems,” he relates. “Holland and Germany are operating only half of their submarines because of a shortage of professional crewmen. The Italian fleet is also undergoing a serious manpower crisis. The average age of crewmen in those navies is 37. Recently, the Italians opened the submarines to women, to fill the ranks. The fact that our service is shorter probably helps us sign up soldiers.” But the primary difference in motivation, he suggests, is apparently related to the feeling of a security threat. “With us it’s not work, it’s service,” Doron says. “I imagine that it’s harder to tell submariners in Holland that it’s important for the sake of the homeland.” One outstanding feature of submarine service is the need for total severance from the outside world during long missions – almost unparalleled in other operational units. Is such a disconnect still feasible in an era when 20-year-olds are as active in the digital world as they are in the real one, if not more? Doron acknowledges that this has become a problem and necessitates more intensive preparation. “In the submariners course, they already can go weeks without a cell phone,” he explains. “They have to undergo a socialization process geared to service on a sub, and that applies to the parents, too. These days, if a parent can’t get hold of their kid for 10 minutes, they’re already calling the police and the hospitals. That’s the level of availability we’ve become accustomed to. “But,” he continues, “I tell the crewman’s parents: You have to know he won’t be available. And that if I suddenly have to send someone out on sea mission, he won’t be able to call his mother and tell her he’ll be incommunicado for a while, because that could expose the mission. I need the parents to come to terms with their son’s unavailability as part of the deal. At the same time, military service must not become a parental nightmare. That too is part of our contract with them. Parents have the phone numbers of the squadron’s personnel officer; they know that if something happens, we will update them.” Even when the submariner is allowed to be active on the social networks back on land, he is subject to stricter rules of secrecy (which are also the standard in some intelligence units and in the air force). “You come back from a mission of a few weeks opposite the shores of an enemy state,” Doron says. “You’re in a bar with a friend who tells you about an operation in Jenin – but I don’t allow you to say a thing. Nor do I allow you to upload photos of yourself in uniform, and certainly not from the submarine.” Says Doron: “The squadron maintains constant contact with career men’s wives. We talk to each family at least once a week during an operational mission, in order to let them know that everything is fine. We also ask the wives how they are getting along. If they’ve had a burglary and the house is a mess, I will send people from the unit to help out. Also if there’s a problem fixing something that her partner would normally deal with. But things would be even better if we had a contract with a civilian firm that could take care of problems normally handled by the partner who’s on a mission at sea. The cost would be negligible compared to the burden that falls on the family and the need for their support.” The support of the family is also required when it comes to persuading a crewman to sign up for additional years in the career navy. But not all are required. “I need them as combat personnel until the age of 25,” says Doron. “Afterward, most of them are transferred to reserve service. People leave here in order to become physicians, engineers, lawyers. The country needs them in those jobs, too. When a 25-year-old tells me he’s going to study medicine, I don’t try to convince him to stay with me.” The training mission allows a glimpse, albeit very limited, of the submarine’s tasks and abilities. As part of the mission, it practices intelligence gathering related to the situation on the Haifa coast. A peek into the periscope by an accompanying journalist shows long-range observation and photographic capabilities. “You can make out the model of a car from a very long way off, and from close range you can know whether the person you’re watching is smoking a cigarette,” Doron says. “You can get close to a place where no one will know you’ve been and execute a specific operation or gather intelligence that’s inaccessible by other means.” With INS Rahav’s entry into active service, the navy’s sub squadron is operating a significantly large number of vessels simultaneously. Doron: “This situation enhances our operational potential and turns it into something else completely. I can decide to assign a submarine commander to operational activity only. I will want him to think of and initiate operations from morning till night; I won’t want him to deal at all with training and preparing crewmen.” Doron commanded a submarine in the Second Lebanon War, in 2006: “We had impressive achievements, but I also know what more we could have done and didn’t do. The navy didn’t realize what it was capable of at the time, when it came to waging a battle against an enemy in a way that’s a far cry from classic submarine warfare. We weren’t dealing with destroyers or submariners.” Part of the change over the years in sub crews’ training and capabilities is due to heightened cooperation with the IDF’s air force and infantry units. Division commanders from other forces are regularly invited to participate in sea deployments, to acquaint them with the submarines’ capabilities, and to devise joint training schemes and afterward joint operational plans. According to Doron, “The IDF has enough firepower. What’s needed is to locate more high-quality targets, and that’s something we can do, from the sea.” The political upheaval in the Middle East over the past five years, he notes, has also demanded changes in the nature of the submarines’ activity: “We always need to examine what is relevant and not be afraid to take risks. We’re now doing things that I would never have imagined a year and a half ago. There were cases when operational necessity dictated a new response, by means of submarines, because of their ability to move undetected. In my opinion, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the potential.” Soldiers in the submariner track don’t get to witness the true essence of the squadron’s activity until their training is completed. In the meantime, Doron tells them to watch movies about submarines. “There are enough films like that on the National Geographic Channel,” he says. “I won’t reveal details about the essence of the work during the course, because not everyone completes it, and we can’t risk information leaks. The whole story here is to prevent the submarine’s being exposed. Operational tension is very high when the submarine is in enemy territory. True, it’s different from being shot at with an M-16 from the next alley. But when something goes wrong, it happens very fast. The submarine is a small, sealed platform. If the problem isn’t dealt with immediately, you’ll find yourself in trouble very quickly.” Shalom, the commander of the Rahav, interrupts when Doron is asked about operational activity. “These aren’t things that can be shown,” he says. “This is not an F-16 aircraft, where you can say that it attacked a particular target. If we reveal where we go, they’ll be waiting for us there. The moment a submarine makes a little noise, it’s liable to be exposed. You can still get out safely, but it costs in blood, sweat and tears. There’s no ‘Sorry, we made a mistake’ here. If you’ve been discovered, you are in trouble and that means chaos.” Doron’s approach is more open. “Ultimately, the Israeli taxpayer should know where his money goes. The submarines are an important element of Israel’s national security. I can’t go into details about everything we do, but people ought to know that this is the most advanced vessel in the Mediterranean. There are many aspects to national security, and public trust is one of them. Openness to the public is like reporting to shareholders. It’s also important for us in terms of recruiting new crewmen. In contrast to the past, I don’t think we can maintain total silence about our activity.” The navy is due to receive the sixth and final last submarine in the Dolphin project in 2020. Its name, despite the inherent sensitivity, will be INS Dakar, after the Israeli submarine that sank in 1968, with all 69 sailors aboard lost. (It was located in 1999, and the crew’s surviving remains were brought to the surface.) The commander of the navy, Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg, accepted the squadron’s recommendation to adopt the sadly evocative name, Doron says: “Some of the bereaved families were opposed to it. The navy commander and I visited with them to explain our viewpoint. I think the time has come and that it’s a worthy commemoration, especially now that we know where the Dakar sank and what happened.” A fierce dispute broke out five years ago about the acquisition of the sixth sub. Top IDF brass argued that there was no need for another one, but the defense minister at the time, Ehud Barak, was insistent and persuaded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of its necessity. To date, the project overall has cost 2.5 billion euros. According to officials in the German government, Berlin has subsidized about half the cost. This was a form of belated compensation for the fact that in 1991, in the first Gulf War, German companies were revealed to be involved in the manufacture of chemical weapons for the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The three last submarines to be acquired by the navy – Tanin, Rahav and Dakar – will all have been equipped with air-independent propulsion that precludes the need to surface frequently for atmospheric oxygen; they are also 12 meters longer than their predecessors. The operational life of Dolphin-class submarines is estimated to be 30 years or a bit more. Nevertheless, in a briefing with a senior IDF officer last year, it emerged that the General Staff’s Planning Directorate is readying for the possibility of taking the first submarine, purchased 17 years ago, out of service when the sixth becomes operational. This is apparently related more to the high maintenance costs of submarines than to their lifespans. For his part, Doron admits that “even within the IDF, we are not yet taken for granted: In general, the army always wants more planes, not subs. Objections always existed, as far back as the period of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres at the end of the 1950s, but they forced the navy to acquire its first submarines instead of destroyers.” No women allowed. One thing hasn’t changed since the first Dolphin arrived: In the Israel Navy, submarines are off-limits to women. Women can serve as combat pilots and combat navigators in the air force, and as commanders of missile boats, as artillery commanders and fighters and as combat personnel in the Border Police – but not on submarines (or in infantry assault units or tank crews). In 1999, senior officers promised that the possibility of integrating women on submarines was being examined, but nothing came of it. According to Doron, the possibility was reconsidered recently but with the same conclusions. “Because of the cramped conditions on submarines, it is impossible to avoid physical contact,” he explains. “There are very few toilet and shower compartments. Some countries, such as Italy and the Scandinavian countries, decided that this need not be a limitation. Women and men dress together in the same room. It’s not perceived as a sexual thing. In Israel, one or two women complete every naval officers course. Conditions on the missile boats are roomier. A small area could be closed off for two women with a bit of privacy. I’m sure that if we were to ask them, some would want to serve on submarines.” This might be justified if there were a large number of potential female submariners, not just one or two. “We asked the U.S. Navy for input – they’ve had women on submarines for the past two years,” Doron says. “But they have 72 subs, some of which are bigger than ours, so they have room for maneuver. The Australians have six women in their submarines, which are also larger, and they allocate them a specific area. If a woman gets sick, she is replaced by another woman. But assignment problems arise. The Italians concluded that their effort was a failure. Things were better in Denmark, where a woman has already been a submarine commander. “Discussion on the integration of women on submarines is legitimate,” he continues. “No one here would refuse an order for women to serve on submarines. In my view, though, in the present physical conditions, it would be wrong. If it’s to be done in the future, it has to be planned accordingly. We’ve had women on trial sea deployments and asked them about the dilemmas and complexities they face. It’s not a matter of superstition, as, for example, in the past, there were navies in which sailors took an unfavorable view of women being in certain parts of a ship. It’s also not a matter of restraint. Possible sexual tension on a long cruise could make it more complex, but that won’t break a submariner – he’s used to giving up a lot of things.”
BMIV Submersible for sale.
Israeli Sub Dakar.
For Sale - the world's most advanced Tourist submarine.
The Support Barge was built specifically to support the DS100's operations. This 85 foot long, 95-ton vessel has extraordinary manoeuvring capability through two Schottel drives. It has an integrated hydraulic lift for dry-docking the DS100 from the water. The support barge also has the battery chargers, high-pressure air compressors, oxygen transfer pump, workshop space, tools and spare parts necessary to operate and maintain the submarine.
The DS100 Passenger Catamaran (14m long) is a high-speed passenger transfer vessel powered by twin 350 hp Caterpillar diesels. The catamaran is able of carry 90 passengers at speeds of 18 knots. Passengers are transferred to the stable support platform of the Support Barge where the DS100 docks after each dive. The replacement value is US$525,000.
Commander reveals future vision for Russian Navy.
Deep Diving Submarine to S.Africa to film the Coelacanth
New Submarine Rescue System.
Construction of South African Submarines
Search Is On for WW II Sub Detection Networks
World Records, New Technologies at Sixth International
Investment and Business Opportunity.
1. Copper salvage. Six shipwrecks with copper cargo have been located off the south west coast of Africa, depth 300ft to 600ft. The research and salvage team have formed an investment syndicate to salvage and sell the cargoes. Minimum investment of US$50,000 per syndicate member.
2. Tourist Submarine Company. This SA based company
has negotiated to purchase a ten-man tourist submarine for their Indian
Ocean resort. Permits are in place and the location receives 600,000 tourists
per annum. Excellent marine life and two shipwrecks on the dive site.
Minimum investment of US$100,000 gives an equity stake in this exciting
Civil War Sub Captain's Remains Found.
Rusting Nuclear Graveyard.
A Superior Surveillance Platform.
Robots to Replace Submariners
Submarine Rescue Systems.
Interesting Midget Submarines.
This is the Nordenfelt I, 1884 brainchild of Swedish inventor and industrialist Thorsten Nordenfelt 1884.
One of the two Resurgam, an early Victorian submarine designed and built in Britain by Reverend George Garrett in 1878-79. The Resurgam I was a hand powered, one-man submersible; the Resurgam II had a three-man crew, and was steam-powered.
A submarine motor car, invented by Michel Andre in 1937.
The Motorised Submersible Canoe (MSC), nicknamed 'Sleeping Beauty' was a British underwater reconnaissance or attack vehicle for a single frogman during World War II.
The Biber, a German midget submarine of the German Navy during the second World War, came armed with two externally mounted torpedoes.
The Welman submarine was a WWII one-man British midget submarine developed by the Special Operations Executive, but sadly was not very successful.
This K-250 one-person submersible was designed by retired US Navy WWII submarine captain George Kittredge in the 1960s.
Mikhail Puchkov's homemade personal submarine made a splash in the 1980s.
This is the one-man microsubmersible Mantis, designed by Graham Hawkes, British marine engineer and submarine designer. You might remember it from For Your Eyes Only.
C-Quester was one of the first mass-produced personal submersibles by the Dutch U-Boat Workx. Production was discontinued in favour of multi-passengers subs.
Newtsub Deepworker 2000, a single-person submersible by Nuytco Research Ltd.
Deep Rover, another single-person submersible by Nuytco Research Ltd.
The Innespace Dolphin prototype personal watercraft, which can ride on top of, leap out of, or dive under the water' surface.
AquaVenture WaterCrafts prototype sub, 2010.
Friday morning Israel announced it is working with Germany to acquire a Dolphin class submarine. This will be Israel’s six submarine intis felt and the purchase is part of the 2012 deal signed between the two countries, with Germany paying for about a third of the cost of each sub — $180 million out of half a billion dollars. According to the Jewish Press.com, when it arrives in 2018 one of the older submarines will be decommissioned and to eventually buy two more to replace older ones. These are the largest submarines built since WWII and each one is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes, as well as cruise missiles with a range of 930 miles. This means the subs can hit anywhere in Iran, including with nuclear warheads.
Introducing the Successor-Class: The Largest Submarines Ever Built For the Royal Navy.
The United Kingdom has started production on its new Successor-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The four new boats will be the largest submarines ever built for the Royal Navy—displacing 17,200 tons with a length of about 502ft—but they will only have 12 missile tubes rather than the 16 found onboard the current Vanguard-class. The new boomers will also share technology with their U.S. Navy counterparts—the Columbia-class Ohio Replacement Program SSBNs—using a common missile compartment (CMC) design. Once completed, the new boomers will enter service in the 2030s. “Britain’s ballistic missile submarines are the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety – we use them every day to deter the most extreme threats,” said British defense secretary Michael Fallon. “We cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s so we are acting now to replace them.” At the start of this month, the British government approved an initial £1.3 billion—roughly $1.6 billion—in funding for the new ballistic missile submarines. That initial outlay will cover long-lead items—as the CMCs—and preparing the shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness for the task of building the enormous new vessels. “This additional financial investment by the MOD [Ministry of Defense] is an expression of confidence in our ability to build these sophisticated vessels,” said Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines. “We have been designing the new class of submarine for more than five years and thanks to the maturity of our design, we're now in a position to start production on the date we set back in 2011. This is a terrific achievement and I pay tribute to all those who have made this possible.” There is not much information available about the technical characteristics of the British Successor-class design. While the 17,200-ton boats will be larger than their 15,900-ton Vanguard-class predecessors, the new SSBNs will carry four fewer missiles. Part of the reason for the vessels’ larger size is likely due to the need for enhanced stealth—larger submarines are inherently quieter. But it is also possible that the British have adopted an all-electric permanent magnet motor to drive the boat—similar to what is planned for the Columbia-class—for their new SSBNs, which might also account for the increased displacement. Indeed, the British submarines’ PWR-3 pressurized water reactor plant is thought to draw heavily upon the technology used on the U.S. Navy’s General Electric S9G reactor plant found onboard the Virginia-class attack submarines. However, the Columbia-class will have a newer 42-year life-of-the-boat reactor that is significantly more powerful than the S9G. The Successors are already going to be sharing their CMC modules with their Columbia-class counterparts, thus such an arrangement might not be outside the realm of the possible. Indeed, according to General Dynamics Electric Boat’ Will Lennon—the company’s vice president of engineering and design programs, who spoke to The National Interest earlier this year—the CMCs will be built in modular units of four tubes—or Quad-Packs. While the Columbia-class will use four Quad-Packs for a total of 16 missiles, the smaller British Successors will use only three for a total of 12 tubes. The tubes are the same 87-inch diameter vessels as the current Trident II D5 launchers on the present day Ohio-class and Vanguard-class, but are a foot longer—leaving some margin for a future missile design. Other innovations found onboard the new British boomers focus on crew comforts. The new submarines will have separate classrooms and study areas, a sickbay with a doctor, a gym as well as separate berthing for female crewmembers. Additionally, the submarine will have a new lighting system to better simulate nighttime and daytime. Thus, life onboard a Successor should be more pleasant than onboard a Vanguard.
Diawoo Shipbuilding launches 2nd submarine for Indonesian navy.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., a major South Korean shipbuilder, launched a 1,400-ton diesel submarine on Monday for the Indonesian navy, a company official said. The submarine is the second of the three submarines being built under a 2011 deal worth US$1.1 billion. In March, the shipbuilder had a launching ceremony for the first submarine, said Yoon Yo-han, a spokesman for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering held a ceremony for the second submarine at its shipyard in Geoje Island, close to the country's southeastern port city of Busan, he said. About 60 people participated in the ceremony, including company and Indonesian officials. The shipbuilder is set to deliver the first and second submarines to Indonesia in March and October next year, respectively. The third submarine is scheduled to be delivered to the Southeast Asian country in 2018, Yoon said. The submarines, a modified version of the Chang Bogo class currently in service in the South Korean Navy, can travel 18,520 kilometers without a port call, twice the distance from Busan to Los Angeles.
SUBSEA, SUBMERSIBLE, ROV ELECTRIC MOTORS.