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We have a wide range of submarines (big and small), plus workclass and eyeball Rovs for sale. Priced to suit all budgets and tasks. Silvercrest Submarines can arrange submarine maintenance, and Pilot Training courses for purchasers. Submarine certification and refit programmes can also be provided. Further information available on request.

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Submersibles for sale.

For sale in excellent condition, a four-man (1000ft depth rated) submersible with diver lockout facility. Also immediately available a range of multi passenger tourist submarines (ten to forty passenger). Small two / three man submersibles, and one-man ADS units. Pilot training and maintenance courses are arranged to support every submarine sale if required. Please contact us to discuss your exact requirements.



Argentina intensifies search for missing submarine with 44 crew

An Argentine submarine with 44 crew on board was missing in the South Atlantic two days after its last communication, prompting the navy to step up its search efforts late on Friday in difficult, stormy conditions. The ARA San Juan was in the southern Argentine sea 432 km (268 miles) from the Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal on Wednesday, naval spokesman Enrique Balbi said. The emergency operation was formally upgraded to a search-and-rescue procedure on Friday evening after no visual or radar contact was made with the submarine, Balbi said. “Detection has been difficult despite the quantity of boats and aircraft” involved in the search, Balbi said, noting that heavy winds and high waves were complicating efforts. “Obviously, the number of hours that have passed - two days in which there has been no communication - is of note.” The navy believes the submarine, which left Ushuaia en route to the coastal city of Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires province, had communication difficulties that may have been caused by an electrical outage, Balbi said. Navy protocol would call for the submarine to come to the surface once communication was lost.  “We expect that it is on the surface,” Balbi said. The German-built submarine, which uses diesel-electric propulsion, was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy’s fleet, according to the navy. President Mauricio Macri said the government was in contact with the crew’s families. “We share their concern and that of all Argentines,” he wrote on Twitter. “We are committed to using all national and international resources necessary to find the ARA San Juan submarine as soon as possible.” Argentina accepted an offer from the United States for a NASA P-3 explorer aircraft, which had been stationed in the southern city of Ushuaia and was preparing to depart to Antarctica, to fly over the search area, Balbi said. A Hercules C-130 from the Argentine Air Force was also flying over the operational area. Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Britain and South Africa had also formally offered assistance. A storm on Sunday complicated efforts to find an Argentine navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members, while satellite calls thought to come from the vessel did not help searchers identify the vessel’s location. The defence ministry has said the ARA San Juan appeared to try to make contact through seven failed satellite calls on Saturday between late morning and early afternoon. The vessel was 432 km (268 miles) off Argentina’s coast when its location was last known early on Wednesday. As waves of up to 8 meters (20 feet) and winds reaching 40 knots complicated the search by sea, authorities spent Sunday trying to trace the submarine’s location through data from the satellite calls without significant progress, a navy official told reporters. “We analyzed these signals, which as we know were intermittent and weak,” said Gabriel Galeazzi, a naval commander. “They could not help determine a point on the map to help the search.” U.S. satellite communications company Iridium Communications Inc, which was brought in to help analyze the calls, said they did not originate with its device aboard the vessel and may have been from another satellite communications company’s equipment. It said the last call it detected from its device was on Wednesday, the same day the government said the vessel vanished. More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort. Authorities have mainly been scanning the sea from above as the storm made the search difficult for boats, navy Admiral Gabriel Gonzalez told reporters. “Unfortunately these conditions are expected to remain for the next 48 hours,” Gonzalez said from the Mar del Plata naval base, about 420 km (240 miles) south of Buenos Aires where the submarine had been heading toward before vanishing. A search of 80 percent of the area initially targeted for the operation turned up no sign of the submarine on the ocean’s surface, but the crew should have ample supplies of food and oxygen, Balbi said. The navy said an electrical outage on the diesel-electric-propelled vessel might have downed its communications. Protocol calls for submarines to surface if communication is lost. Three boats left Mar del Plata on Saturday with radar detection probes and were following the path that the submarine would have taken to arrive at the base in reverse, Balbi said. “Those probes allow the boats to sweep the ocean floor during their journey and try to make a record of the floor in three dimensions,” Balbi said. The U.S. Navy said its four aircraft were carrying a submarine rescue chamber designed during World War II that can reach a bottomed submarine at depths of 850 feet and rescue up to six people at a time. The chamber can seal over the submarine’s hatch to allow sailors to move between the vessels. It said it also brought a remote-controlled vehicle that can be submerged and controlled from the surface. The dramatic search has captivated the nation of 44 million, which recently mourned the loss of five citizens killed when a truck driver plowed through a bicycle path in New York City. Crew members’ relatives gathered at the Mar del Plata naval base, where the submarine had once been expected to arrive around noon on Sunday from Ushuaia. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said. The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy’s fleet. Built in Germany, it underwent maintenance in 2008 in Argentina. That maintenance included the replacement of its four diesel engines and its electric propeller engines, according to specialist publication Jane’s Sentinel.


The True Story of the Only Underwater Submarine Battle Ever



The Hunt for Red October dramatized for the public one of the tensest forms of warfare imaginable: combat between submarines submerged deep under the ocean’s surface, the nerve-wracked crews scouring the fathomless depths for their adversary’s acoustic signature using hydrophones.However, while hunting undersea enemies is one of the primary jobs of modern attack submarines, only one undersea sub engagement has ever taken place, under decidedly unique circumstances. This is not to say that submarines have not sunk other submarines. Indeed, the first such kill occurred in World War I, when U-27 sank the British E3. Dozens other such engagements occurred in the two world wars. However, in all but one case, the victims were surfaced, not underwater. This was foremost because the submarines of the era needed to spend most of their time on the surface to run their air-breathing diesel engines; they could only remain underwater for hours at a time with the power they could store on batteries, moving at roughly one-third their surface speed. Therefore, submerged action was reserved for ambushing enemy ships and evading attackers. There were additional problems intrinsic to having one submarine hunt another underwater in an era that predated advanced sensors and guided torpedoes: how could submerged subs detect each other’s position? During World War II, submarines came to make greater use of hydrophones as well as active sonar; however, the latter models could only plot out a submarine’s location on a two-dimensional plane, not reveal its depth. :Furthermore, the torpedoes of the time were designed to float up to near the surface of the water to strike the keel of enemy ships. Although the “tin fish” could be reprogrammed to an extent, it was not standard to adjust for depth, and guessing the azimuth of an enemy submarine with the limited targeting information available posed an immense challenge.

U-864’s Secret Mission

On February 5, 1945, the U-Boat U-864 slipped from its quay in Bergen as it departed on a secret mission known portentously as Operation Caesar. U-864’s compartments were filled with key technology and resources that Nazi Germany planned on transferring to Japan. These included schematics and components for Jumo 004 turbojets to aid in the development of a Japanese jet fighter, and even two engineers from the aviation manufacturer Messerschmitt. There were also guidance components for V-2 ballistic missiles and two Japanese technical experts. U-864 also carried more than sixty-seven tons of liquid mercury, carried in 1,857 steel flasks. The mercury had been purchased but not entirely delivered from Italy in 1942, and was a key material for manufacturing explosive primers. Capt. Ralf-Reimar Wolfram’s mission was to sail the long-range submarine north around Norway, then across the Arctic Circle past Soviet territory to deliver the goods. Germany was only months away from falling, but Berlin hoped that the technology and materials would allow Japan to stay longer in the fight and divert Allied combat power.U-864 was a Type IXD2 “cruiser submarine,” and at 87.5 meters long was larger than the more common Type VII U-Boat. It was designed for long-range transoceanic patrols, and the -D2 model in particular was even bigger to accommodate enlarged cargo compartments. Before departing, U-864 had been modified with a piece of technology then unique to Germany—a snorkeling mast, allowing the submarine to sip air from the surface while shallowly submerged. Despite this formidable advantage, Wolfram’s mission proved ill-omened from the start. U-864 initially set off from Kiel on December 5, 1944, but ran aground while transiting through the Kiel canal. Wolfram decided to have the ship undergo repairs in Bergen, Norway. But in Bergen, its armoured pen was hit with twelve-thousand-pound Tall Boy bombs dropped by British Lancaster bombers on January 12, 1945, causing even more damage. Unfortunately for Wolfram, the United Kingdom had long ago cracked the Enigma code, which German U-Boats used to communicate with the Naval headquarters. By February, the British Navy had decoded messages relating U-864’s mission, and decided to set a trap.HMS Venturer, the first of the new V-class submarines, received orders from the Royal Navy Submarine Command to hunt down and destroy U-864 off the island of Fedje, Norway. The smaller, shorter-range British submarine carried only eight torpedoes to U-864’s twenty-two, but it was nearly 50 percent faster underwater, at ten miles per hour. Venturer arrived at its station on February 6. Its skipper, twenty-five-year-old Lt. James S. Launders, was a decorated submarine commander, who in addition to sinking twelve Axis surface ships, had dispatched the surfaced submarine U-711 in November 1944.Though he disposed of an ASDIC active-sonar system that offered greater detection range by emitting sound waves into the ocean, which could be tracked when they pinged off submerged ships, Launders elected to rely on shorter-range hydrophones. This was because the ping from ASDIC could be heard by adversaries from even further away. But Launders didn’t realize he was engaged in a hopeless hunt. U-864 had slipped past him. Many war stories tell of protagonists who avoid horrible fates out of sheer coincidence and dumb luck. More or less the opposite happened to Captain Wolfram.U-864 was safely out of range of the Venturer when its diesel engine began noisily misfiring, hampering acoustic stealth and threatening to break down entirely. Only a few days out from port, Captain Wolfram decided he should play it safe by returning to Bergen for repair. He could not have known he was leading his submarine straight back into danger. On February 9, the hydrophone operator on the Venturer overheard a contact that he at first believed was coming from the diesel motor of a fishing boat. Launders moved his submarine closer to the sound pickup, and spotted on the periscope what appeared to be another periscope in the distance. This was actually most likely U-864’s snorkel. Running submerged on batteries, Launders slipped the Venturer behind the German submarine and began tailing it. He was waiting for U-864 to surface before launching his torpedoes, but thanks to its snorkel, U-864 could operate underwater for extended periods of time. The German submarine began zigzagging side to side, likely having detected the British sub. After three hours of pursuit, the Venturer was running short on battery and would soon have to surface itself. Launders decided he would simply have to attack U-864 while it remained submerged. He calculated a three-dimensional intercept for his torpedoes, estimating his adversary’s depth by the height of the snorkel mast protruding above the water. However, he knew the enemy submarine would quickly detect a torpedo launch, and planned his firing solution to account for evasive manoeuvres. At 12:12, Venturer ripple-fired all four of its loaded torpedoes in a spread, with 17.5 seconds between each launch. Then the British submarine dove to avoid counterattack. The U-Boat immediately crash dove as well, then swerved evasively. After four minutes, it had managed to duck under three of the incoming torpedoes. But Launders had launched the second pair of torpedoes at lower depths. The fourth torpedo struck U-864, breaking it in two; the gruesome sound of popping rivets and cracking metal filled the Venturer’s hydrophones. The U-Boat fell 150 meters to the bottom of the ocean, taking with it all seventy-three onboard and sinking Operation Caesar along with it.More than a half century later, the wreck of U-864 was found in 2003 by the Norwegian Navy, two miles off Fedje. It was discovered that the cargo of poisonous liquid mercury had been slowly seeping from the flasks into the surrounding ocean. After spending fifteen years evaluating the risks of raising the wreck and its dangerous, unexploded torpedoes, in February 2017 the Norwegian government finally “entombed” the broken submarine with a half-meter of sand and 160,000 tons of rocks to prevent further contamination, thus forming a cairn for the German submarine that had met its terrible fate under unique circumstances.

Russian "wake object detection system", able to follow enemy submarines without using sonar.



The Soviets back in the day did not have access to advanced electronics during the Cold War era, which was why their submarine tech was thought to be sub-par. But that only tells you half the story. Newly-declassified files report on how crafty Russian engineers at the time were able to continue to play cat-and-mouse games deep underwater by following the trail submarines left behind. In one incident, a Russian submarine reportedly followed an American sub undetected for six days. Sonar was the go-to method for the Americans when it came to submarine tracking technology during the Cold War, which was something that the Russians did not have. How then did a Soviet sub manage to not only detect an American one, but also stay undetected and follow it for six days? "System Obnarujenia Kilvaternovo Sleda" (SOKS) or "wake object detection system" was a technology that was developed in place of sonar by the Russians. It was a non-acoustic method that the West ignored because they thought it was not as effective. In fact, one of the West's intelligence reports from the 1970s, which is quoted by Popular Mechanics (PM), says, "It is unlikely any of these methods will enable detection of submarines at long ranges."SOKS, however, was successful because it reportedly tracked the wake, or disturbance, in the water that submarines left behind instead of trying to 'listen' to propellers or engines. They are easily noticeable as spikes and cup-like protrusions on the leading edge of Russian submarine fins, according to PM. While the Russians had always claimed to be able to follow US submarines, it was usually dismissed as Russian propaganda, notes the report. Since research on this tech was classified by the US, even scientists were not aware of it. Rumours were also inconsistent at the time. Without knowing how it worked, and if it worked at all, and what SOKS was looking for in the water, the Americans had no real way to counter it. It was believed that SOKS was used to read changes in water density, or detect radiation, or even used a laser sensor, but no one knew for sure. The SOKS system was not one device. It was a mix of several instruments working together, at least that is what the declassified files say, reports PM. SOKS had one sensor to identify "activation radionuclides", a faint trail of radiation that nuclear plants inside subs left behind. The "gamma ray spectrometer" was another instrument that read trace amounts of radioactive elements in seawater. "The Soviets had reportedly had success detecting their own nuclear submarines [several words redacted] with such a system," the document says. Apart from radioactive trails, chemical trails were also left behind by submarines, notes the PM report. Sacrificial anodes – that prevent corrosion on submarines – leave a trail of zinc, oxygen generators leave behind hydrogen, and flakes of nickel get chipped off from cooling pipes in subs. All of these chemicals can be traced back to a submarine, and SOKS was looking for all of them. uclear reactors and submarine engines are also incredibly hot, so there is a hot trail to follow as well. Several thousand gallons of coolant is needed to keep a nuclear sub stable and the sea water that was pumped through to cool off the reactors and engines was often at least 10 degrees hotter that the surrounding water. This can be detected through an optical interference system, notes PM."A localisation system based on this technique, capable of detecting wakes up to several hours after the passage of a submarine, could theoretically be built now," says the declassified report, but how much of this tech the Russians had at the time has not been revealed. SOKS was first introduced in 1969 and it is still found on Russian attack submarines like the Akula and Yasen class subs. While sonar is the go-to in submarine detection tech, there are a host of different methods that militaries around the world are taking up. With updates in detection tech over the years, it can be said that complete stealth might not really be possible anymore. Chinese scientists in June this year, made a breakthrough in quantum magnetometers. The strange thing about the whole situation was that the scientific publication was taken down after a few days and put away after a journalist pointed out the tech's possible military applications. Using this tech, it could be possible for the Chinese to completely lock down the South China Sea, says New Scientist (NS).The device apparently worked like a magnetometer that looks for anomalies in the Earth's magnetic field in the ocean. A submarine is essentially a large piece of metal that interacts with the magnetic field and so they can be detected underwater. The drawback is that it has a limited range, so they are only used when an enemy has already been caught on sonar. What the Chinese had stumbled upon is based on a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID), which can widen and lengthen the reach of a basic magnetometer notes the NS report. Till now, SQUID devices were only useable in lab conditions and are overly sensitive, says the report. They were known to get affected by even solar activity, so they are not known to be able to shut out background noise. It is not clear if the Chinese team actually overcame this obstacle and after the study was taken offline, it might not ever be released to the world again.

Last memo from Argentine submarine reveals start of a battery fire.

The last communication from the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan revealed a leak of sea water had caused a short circuit and “the beginnings of a fire” in the batteries, according to a copy of the message published by Argentine television. “Entry of sea water through the ventilation system into battery tank No. 3 caused a short circuit and the beginnings of a fire in the battery room. Bow batteries out of service. At the moment in immersion propelling with split circuit. No updates on personnel, will keep informed,” the document obtained by the channel A24 said. The message was purportedly sent by the commander of the ARA San Juan by radio and received as a transcription. A24 did not say how it had obtained the document, on which the Argentine Navy has not commented. The communication appears to contradict some of the information released by the Navy. It was sent at 8.52am on the morning of the sub’s disappearance on Wednesday, November 15, while the authorities have said the vessel’s last message was received at 7.30am. It also goes into greater detail regarding the faults allegedly suffered by the ARA San Juan. The Navy waited five days to confirm rumours the submarine had suffered a battery fault, and then insisted it was unrelated to the disappearance. On Monday, before the leaked document was broadcast, Captain Enrique Balbi, the Navy spokesperson, told a press briefing that the sub had reported “the entry of water through the snorkel, a short circuit and the beginnings of a fire, which for us is smoke without flames. It was corrected, they isolated the battery and navigated with another circuit, it was being propelled with the circuit of the stern”. Almost two weeks after it disappeared, the only trace of the sub and its 44 crew members has been the reports of an apparent explosion close to its last known location at approximately 11am that morning. The message is also likely to raise further questions over the Navy’s decision to wait two days to begin a physical search for the ARA San Juan. While the force has insisted this was in accordance with protocol for a submarine that had lost communication, the existence of such faults has generated doubts over that decision.



Two men wearing red knit caps sit inside a sleek, winged vehicle as it bobs on the ocean’s surface. They’re seated one behind the other, and their features appear slightly magnified inside twin glass domes that enclose each cockpit. A third man wearing a mask and snorkel circles the vehicle, then gives a thumbs-up to its pilot, Graham Hawkes.  Hawkes engages two propellers and directs the vessel, which looks more like a bulbous airplane than any kind of watercraft, into a dive. This isn’t the scene from some futuristic fantasy movie — it’s GoPro footage filmed in 2013. The men are travelling in a Super Falcon submersible made by DeepFlight, the company Hawkes founded with his wife, Karen, more than 20 years ago.“We’re really not like any other submarines that you’ve ever seen,” Karen Hawkes said during a recent visit to the company’s headquarters in Point Richmond. She compared DeepFlight’s design to early fixed-wing airplanes, and drew a similar connection between conventional submarines and hot-air balloons. Balloons and submarines move up and down by changing their density, she said, but their range of movement can be limited. DeepFlight’s submersibles, like airplanes, rely instead on propulsion systems to rise and sink—allowing them to manoeuvre freely once they’re in motion, Hawkes explained. She said the submersibles have taken many forms since the first prototype was developed: A single-person craft in which the pilot lay prone to navigate.“I always thought we had to take more than one person down so we could share the experience,” said Hawkes, who has served as a willing passenger in each of the company’s subsequent designs. Most of these have wound up in the hands—and on the yachts—of the extremely wealthy. Billionaire Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin business empire, is among DeepFlight’s previous clients. Even in fiction, the submersibles have been linked with the super-rich; an early model belonged to the Greek business magnate who served as James Bond’s nemesis in the film For Your Eyes Only. But the company plans to expand both the submersibles’ accessibility and passenger count in the future, said CEO Adam Wright. He gestured to a scaled model of the Super Falcon 3S, a three-person submersible that will be used to launch DeepFlight’s first commercial tourism service next year. Partnering with an island resort, the company will offer tours at a price similar to “comparable activities like sky diving or a fishing charter,” said Wright.“More people have been to space than have seen the depths of the ocean,” said Charles Chiau, the company’s engineering director. He views the new three-person craft as more than a tourism novelty. By bringing more people into the ocean, he hopes to “affect a lot more of the future policies” surrounding marine conservation. A scuba diver and ocean enthusiast himself, Chaiu said he’d also settle for “getting more people excited about the oceans.”DeepFlight was previously in the process of testing an exploratory sub—the Challenger—designed to travel to the bottom of the Mariana trench, the deepest part of Earth’s ocean floor at 36,070 feet. That project has been postponed following the disappearance of its planned pilot, explorer Steve Fossett, in the Sierra Nevada. Wright said DeepFlight’s latest design, the Super Falcon 3S, represents a shift in focus toward more conventional markets; it’s designed to travel at depths of about 300 feet—near the point light ceases to be visible underwater. Anyone wishing to explore the ocean through underwater flight, however, will have to travel farther than the Richmond marina. After an initial life-support test in the bay, Wright said, the Super Falcon 3S will move to its beach-side home where the water is clear and blue: in the Maldives.

Russia’s New Missile Submarine


Russia’s latest nuclear-powered ballistic missile sub taken design cues from Western submarines, improving the sub’s efficiency and ability to stay undetected. The result is a submarine that will be better able to protect its deadly cargo of 16 nuclear missiles from U.S. and NATO hunter killers in wartime. The Borei-class subs are simply enormous. Each one is 525 feet long, 45 feet wide, and displaces 21,000 tons fully submerged. A single OK-650B 190-megawatt nuclear power plant drives the sub to speeds of 15 knots on the surface and 29 knots submerged, and allows the submarine to cruise underwater indefinitely, its range restricted only by the food supply. The Borei subs are some of the deadliest ever built. Each carries sixteen RSM-56 Bulava ballistic missiles, allowing it to strike targets worldwide with nuclear weapons. This makes the submarines an indispensable leg of Russia’s nuclear triad, providing a powerful second-strike retaliatory capability against any country that launches a nuclear attack on Moscow. Russia’s first submarine of the class, Yuri Dolgoruky, was laid down in 1996. Becaus of funding woes, it wasn't commissioned into the Russian Navy until 2014. According to submarine authority H.I. Sutton, author of World Submarines: Covert Shores Recognition Guide, the fourth boat, Count Vladimir, was recently launched and incorporates some design features borrowed from U.S. and other NATO submarines. According to Sutton, “The tail features all-moving rudders and end-plates on the horizontal stabilizers just like the US Navy’s Ohio class ballistic missile submarines.” The subs also feature a pumpjet propulsion system instead of a typical submarine propeller. “Pumpjets were pioneered by the Royal Navy but have also been used on US Navy submarines since the Seawolf class in the 1990s. The Borei class were the first Russian nuclear-powered submarines to be fitted with them.”

 “The smoothly faired base of the submarine’s sail is another Western influence and looks a lot like US Navy submarines, although it is still much longer. The original  Borei class submarines had an unusual raked leading edge to the sail.”All that said, the new version of the Borei class isn’t entirely Western in design influence. Sutton says the Count Vladimir has “a traditional Russian double-hull construction which has an outer casing over the occupied part of the hull. Western boats are single-hulled meaning that there is only one layer of steel between the crew and the ocean.”Another unusual aspect of the Borei submarines: their high number of torpedoes and torpedo tubes. Ballistic missile submarines operate defensively, spending all of their time at sea hiding. Typically they only have four torpedo tubes. According to Sutton the entire front-end of the Borei Class was taken from unfinished Akula class attack submarines and have eight torpedo tubes, “an unusually high complement of torpedoes for a ballistic missile submarine.”

Germany has the world's best submarines, but none of them work.


The U33, U34 and U36 submarines are at the Eckerfoerde German Navy base. Germany is effectively without its entire submarine fleet, and won't have one vessel operational for months to come. Each one of the navy's vaunted U-boats is either on maintenance or in desperate need of repairs. The German navy once boasted that its cutting-edge Type 212A submarines equipped with hydrogen fuel cells allow them to navigate submerged for over two weeks before resurfacing, thus giving them an edge over most diesel submarines that can stay submerged for only a few days. Each such vessel costs the German budget some €400 million ($469.9 million), according to the German ARD broadcasting corporation. However, the German military have recently admitted that all of their six precious vessels are out of action. Berlin lost the last of its submarines this October when the Type 212A vessel named U-35 suffered serious damage to its rudder after hitting a rock during a diving manoeuvre off the Norwegian coast. The damage was so severe that the submarine had to be escorted to the German port of Kiel by testing ship the Helmsand. The rest of the submarine fleet, it turned out, was already out of service by that point. Two of the Type 212A vessels are undergoing scheduled maintenance and will be ready for deployment no sooner than in the second half of 2018, while another two suffered some damage and are in an urgent need of repairs, with no estimated time of completion available. The sixth vessel was commissioned just in October and will become fully operational only after passing all the relevant trials no sooner than in May 2018.“This a real disaster for the navy,” the German parliament’s Defence Commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels told ARD and another German broadcaster, NDR, in early December, adding that submarine operations were once Germany’s “top capabilities.” He went on to say that “it is the first time in history that none [of the U-boats] would be operational for months.”Bartels then blamed major deficiencies in spare parts for the submarines as well as the government’s cuts of the defence budget for this unfortunate turn of events. He explained that after the end of the Cold War the German authorities decided to give up on stockpiling spare parts for the military equipment due to its high costs and instead opted for ordering them upon occurrence. The commissioner, however, said that this trend “has been reversed” and the government is once again ready to spend money on the military needs. He added though that “it will take years” before one can see the real results of the new policy. In the meantime, even if Germany manages to put all its submarines back into action, it still will not be able to operate them all at the same time. According to the ARD, the navy now has only three submarine crews while more are still in training.



One year after the ratification of their historic peace agreement, the Colombian government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) continue to make joint steps towards the peaceful demobilization and assimilation of former FARC members into Colombian society. A few hiccups aside, the deal has seen the reintegration of over 7,000 former fighters into camps designed to facilitate their transition into society.1 While countless points regarding FARC’s innovation and longevity merit examination, one infrequently analyzed item stands out: FARC’s drug submarines. Drug submarines (hereafter referred to as narco submarines) are manufactured in the thick jungles of eastern Colombia and are not the primitive vessels of one’s imagination. FARC’s narco submarines boast sophisticated anti-detection features and navigation, can haul up to 10 tons of cocaine, and can cost upwards of ten million U.S. dollars. Narco submarine development has spurred many scholars into hazy gesticulations of narco-terrorism. This paper provides an expose of the issue and more thoroughly considers its implications. 

The Development of Narco submarines

Narco submarines did not appear overnight. They are the technological by product of a shifty competitive relationship between trafficking groups and those that pursue them.2 As security forces improved their tracking strategies in the 1990s and 2000s, drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) responded in kind to avoid them. They are notoriously flexible. Once Caribbean mainstays, DTOs switched to Pacific trafficking routes to avoid detection. They often utilize other clever modes of cocaine transport, such as underwater containers bolted underneath the hulls of boats. Originally, creatively-named ‘go-fast’ boats were the first vehicles of choice in moving cocaine up the coasts of Central America. Yet improvements in radar surveillance as well as increased patrolling saw more speedboats interdicted. The development of sub-surface vessels became increasingly attractive. Sub-surface activity was first documented with the 1993 discovery of the ‘San Andrés’ self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) near the San Andrés islands of Colombia. A crude ship, it was smaller and slower than contemporary subs and could be easily spotted by air. SPSSs were soon supplemented by low profile vessels (LPVs), which avoid detection by riding just above water level. Meanwhile, the first fully-submersible submarine was discovered dense jungle terrain near the town of Facatativá, Colombia in 2000. This Russian-designed sub was not completed, but was predicted to feature advanced navigation equipment, a carrying capacity of 150-200 tons, and the ability to dive to over 300 feet underwater. While a precise estimate is impossible to establish, analysts have theorized that dozens of these subs are being churned out every year. While high-profile submarine seizures garner attention in the press,6 the combined efforts of U.S. and Central American governments have been unable to seriously address the overall stream of drugs. For one, drug trafficking events are extremely difficult to detect:“American operations analysis shows that given good intelligence of a drug event and a patrol box of a certain length and width, a surface vessel operating alone has only a 5 percent probability of detecting (PD) that event. A surface vessel with an embarked helicopter increases the PD to 30 percent, and by adding a Maritime Patrol Aircraft to the mix, the PD goes up to 70 percent. Analysis by the Colombian Navy shows that adding one of their submarines to the mix raises the PD to 90 percent.”Even with the luxury of advanced warning, a resource-intensive, multi-faceted, and (ideally) intergovernmental effort is needed to make interception of the vehicle likely. Sufficient resources are not in place for these missions. Due to budget cuts, “SOUTHCOM is unable to pursue 74 percent of suspected maritime drug trafficking.” General John F. Kelly of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) lamented to Congress in 2014 that:“I simply sit and watch it (drug trafficking) go by…”Further still, when narco subs are actually interdicted, crew members will typically scuttle the vessel via a system of sophisticated drainage valves.11 Millions of dollars’ worth of evidence can be sunk in a matter of minutes. The recovery of cocaine then morphs into the recovery of the crew members which sank it. Although the United States’ Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008 now incriminates unidentified submarine crews for attempting to evade authorities, law enforcement cannot typically prosecute for the submarine and its cargo lying on the ocean floor. Finally, in a general sense, interdiction is a problem of scale. 30 percent of the maritime flow of drugs from South America up through Central America is estimated to make use of narcosubmarines.12 Given that maritime routes are roughly estimated to account for 80 percent of drugs shipped north, narco ubmarines carry around 24 percent (0.8 x 0.3) of total product, almost a quarter of the entire drug stream. While a single narcosub interdiction may eradicate hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine, DTOs’ diversified drug portfolio still renders their cost-benefit analyses profitable. Yet their innovation with respect to narco submarines poses challenges for more than the U.S. Coast Guard and regional partners. It raises compelling concerns for U.S. national security.  


The wealth garnered by DTOs undermines national security through the endemic corruption and poor rule of law it breeds in its host countries. Many DTOs are powerful enough to form pseudo-states, areas of military primacy (especially in rural or isolated areas) where centralized federal government authority is weak. In this vein, FARC has been characterized as possessing: “…an enormous capacity to leverage economic resources, to control some territory, and to maintain a superficial presence in others…[as] their local, armed patronage and their ability to take advantage of rural youth unemployment keeps them afloat and even enables them to establish pockets of legitimacy and support in many regions of the country.”Narco submarines also pose international security threats. While a more sophisticated analysis of these threats may exist in the classified sphere, open source literature provides a useful primer of the issue. Lamentably, analyses of terrorism are always an exercise in a sort of speculative predication which may very well fail to materialize. A narco submarine-based attack on the United States might be shelved as a ‘black swan’ event, a game-changing development difficult to even contrive hypothetically.15 Still, a number of points are difficult to dismiss. Three factors must be considered: the establishment of motive, the acquisition of a narcosub, and the execution of an attack. Many scholars have posited that South America provides fertile ground for terrorist groups and their ideologies. While some have cited widespread disaffection amongst Latin America’s citizenry as a possible motive for terrorism, frustrations with policy, inequality, corruption, and other shortcomings related to governance provide conditions that promote insurgencies. A 2016 congressional report on the subject noted that “most terrorist acts occur in the Andean region of South America,” specifically FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia and the Shining Path (SL) in Peru.16 Kidnappings, attacks on infrastructure, and the killing of civilians and local authorities are common tactics. With a focus on domestic politics, grassroots terrorism has not accompanied drug shipments in their northward journeys to countries like the United States. Latin America does not present the United States with extreme, anti-Western ideological sentiments common in other regions afflicted with insurgency. Nor is the measurable level of anti-Americanism amongst the general populace especially high. Putting domestic terrorism aside, the intersection of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and DTOs must subsequently be considered. FTOs have been active in South America in their own right. Two bombings of the Israeli embassy and the Argentine-Israeli mutual association took place in Argentina the early 1990s.18 Venezuela has been frequently accused of collaborating with Iran and funding extremist groups like Hezbollah, which holds documented connections with FARC.19 Russian engineering was responsible for the birth of the Facatativá sub, and Russia has maintained connections with the Cali cartel, another Colombian DTO.20 In 2001, three members of the Irish terrorist group the Provisional Irish Republic Army (PIRA) were arrested for “training FARC militants in the use of explosives, including homemade mortars.”21 FARC utilized this kind of training in its subversive campaigns against Colombian urban centers. Most importantly, South America’s security framework has difficulty preventing these kinds of events. Counterterrorism efforts with respect to FTOs have been plagued by “corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a lack of resources.”22 In this globalized environment, the insertion of FTOs into the narco submarine context is entirely plausible. While terrorist attacks in Latin America are relatively infrequent and usually domestic in nature, the combination of weak government authority in isolated regions and verified connections to well-established terrorist organizations cannot conclusively rule out the possibility of a group plotting a narco submarine-enabled attack on the United States.  

Submarine Acquisition.

On a basic level, the acquisition of a narco submarine is a purely pecuniary issue. Given a prospective buyer operating near the location of the submarine and the means to negotiate an exchange, purchasing technological blueprints or the submarine outright would only require a monetary transfer. Yet the story is much more complex. First, in all likelihood, terrorist organizations would need to purchase an entire sub. Obtaining the necessary materials and chartering the technological know-how to bring them together would be burdensome and time-consuming. At best, the finished products – which would also require familiarity with local supply chains and the tropical terrain – would be far inferior to the original submarine models. Secondly, Donald Davis stresses that for a DTO such as FARC, the “opportunity cost of a single voyage could exceed $275 million USD.” In other words, DTOs would need to reap a profit greater than that which the sub could otherwise garner, calculated to approach a whopping three hundred million dollars. These sums are well beyond the means of the wealthiest terrorist organizations. Further still, a successful terrorist strike on the United States would immediately engender “a swift and decisive military response…[that] could significantly alter the DTO’s ability to function…” Inciting retaliatory measures would cut into profits if not totally destroy the DTO. In this way, the chartering of a narco submarine appears beyond the means of even the most fanciful ITO. The most compelling threat is the break-up of FARC, a wild-card variable that presents an uncertain trajectory. FARC’s demilitarization has created a power vacuum in rural Colombia. The Colombian NGO Indepaz has predicted “a territorial reorganization of the ‘narco-paramilitary groups’ in the aftermath of a peace accord with the FARC with the Bacrim (Spanish acronym for ‘bandas criminales’) groups vying to take over FARC drug and illegal mining businesses.” Relegated to the peripheries26 under FARC, these groups are competing amongst themselves for dominance in the emerging power vacuum. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), fighting amongst competing groups “has resulted in more than 56,000 displacements in the first half of 2017.” These paramilitary organizations include the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN; National Liberation Army) and the Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL; Popular Liberation Army), as well as a host of smaller gangs. Even indigenous communities — many of which are hostile to the federal government and its efforts to eradicate coca production — are prone to violence. At least one narco submarine has been produced post-demilitarization. In July, the Colombian military seized a narco submarine built by the ELN. With the opportunity generated by FARC’s retirement and less formalized, looser hierarchical structures, peace agreements with these organizations a la FARC appears unlikely. Finally, one must consider FARC’s organizational structure. Prior to the settlement, FARC was “divided into six different commands, each composed of at least five fronts that represent different geographic territories,” all relatively decentralized and autonomous.32 Breakdown of the structural hierarchy raises the probability that individual members33 transfer submarine technology to external agents. When not trafficking cocaine, the aforementioned cost-benefit scenario changes: why not profit from the sale of idle narco submarines or the jungle laboratories that built them? Like the ‘loose nukes’ unaccounted for after the breakup of the USSR, control of narco submarines, the expertise related to their production, and their assembly sites post-accord is unclear. With FARC’s abdication and continued power swings amongst old and emerging groups in present-day Colombia, the sale of a loose narco sub remains a serious concern. Although DTOs and FTOs have many reasons to shun technological exchanges, the uncertainty with respect to changing power dynamics amongst sub-national groups in Colombia today cannot rule out FTO acquisition of a narco submarine. How might a drug submarine be used in a terrorist attack? Transportation and detonation of a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) would clearly represent the gravest of scenarios. On paper, many narco subs are large enough to carry a WMD. Delivery on the water additionally allows submarines to reach urban centers on both the East and West Coasts. Yet the list of prohibitive hurdles involved in such an endeavor is enormous, the most pressing of which are not specific to submarines. The use of narco submarines for improvised attacks is most concerning. Described by Admiral James Stavridis in 2008 as “…clearly the next big thing,” autonomous narco submarine technology has outpaced anti-submarine defences. They are particularly difficult to expose. Kenneth Sherman notes that “submerged submarines are detected almost exclusively acoustically, and unlike the louder Soviet nuclear subs of the Cold War, modern diesel-electric submarines are extremely difficult to detect, localize, and track.” The electric subs FARC regularly employed are “virtually impossible to detect using passive acoustic measures.” Amid sequestration and budget cuts, the U.S. Coast Guard’s defences are even less likely to detect and neutralize a narco submarine on their own.  An attacking blueprint could take many forms. In 2000, the USS Cole was rammed by a small boat laden with explosives. Seventeen Americans were killed and scores more injured in this suicide attack. An attack on a Navy vessel like the USS Cole in this style is altogether feasible. A sub-surface approach with a large payload could do even more damage with little to no warning. In this sense, U.S. harbours on both coasts could be susceptible. And the target need not be military-affiliated. Large groups of people (often headed by and including American citizens) frequent cruise ships which regularly traverse the Caribbean and Pacific coastline. These cruise ships are bulky, difficult to manoeuvre, and possess no inherent defence systems. Stavridis reiterates the point: cruise ships are ‘lucrative’ targets for terrorists. Total destruction of a cruise ship, the worst-case scenario, could result in hundreds of deaths and almost $2 billion dollars’ worth of damages. The fallout from such an event would be unprecedented. Even a failed attack with respect to cruise ships could send worldwide cruise markets into sharp decline, as evidenced by the infamous ‘Poop Cruise’ of 2013.Above all, the definitive features of a terrorist attack are the reverberations it induces in society. Here narco submarines would add a unique and powerful twist to the panic. As Davis dryly remarks, “the overall shock value would be stunning.”44 Submarines possess a tangible mystique which borders on enchantment. Gliding silently along the depths of the ocean, submarines represent a sort of impalpable yet eerily present threat, alarming if activated. In the public eye, characterization of a narco sub attack could read as follows: A lone submarine built painstakingly by hand in the dense jungles of South America by a demilitarized non-state entity travelled thousands of miles north utterly undetected to successfully strike the shores of the United States, which boasts the strongest and most technologically advanced Navy of all time. Given the improbable establishment of motive and the acquisition of the necessary technologies, a submarine-based terrorist attack on the United States is not inconceivable given the scenarios considered here and envisaged elsewhere. Given the difficulties charting modern submarines post-USSR,46 the security forces of the United States should pay special attention to the evolving world of external submarine development by non-state actors. Narco-terrorism in Colombia follows a fairly intuitive procedural logic on paper. While the idea may seem far-fetched, prudent U.S. policy should continue to plan for the possibility of such an attack.  




The deep submergence vehicle Alvin is an advanced, state-of the-art, deep-diving submersible available for direct observation and investigation of the deep ocean. Alvin provides a diving experience that is unmatched by remote imaging systems, enabling excellent investigations of deep sea environments. Alvin’s numerous sensors provide large quantities of high-quality data, and new digital network interfaces allow integration of unique scientific devices and sampling tools. Digital images, HD video, and dive data travel over a new fiber-optic computer network for superb image collection and advanced systems monitoring and data analysis. Alvin recently completed the most extensive period of systems upgrades and improvements in its 50-year history. New systems include a larger personnel sphere, ergonomically designed interior, enhanced five window viewing area, digital command and control system, improved propulsion system, advanced imaging system with high-definition still images and 4K/HD video, digital scientific instrument interface system, enhanced science workspace, and manipulator positioning as well as numerous other improvements. The Alvin Program’s engineers and technicians are available to assist with any project, utilizing their many decades of engineering and operational expertise toward solving complex and challenging problems in the deep sea. In 2020, Alvin will complete the final systems conversions for operations to 6,500 meters, enabling access to over 95% of the world’s oceans. Alvin is owned by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) and operated as a part of the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.



SEAmagine Hydrospace.


A California based company established since 1995 and a leading designer and manufacturer of small manned submersibles with over 12,000 dives accumulated by its existing fleet. The company produces two to six-person models with depth ratings ranging from 150 to 1,500 meters for the professional, scientific, and super yacht markets. All SEAmagine submersibles are classed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and are based on the company’s patented technologies. The company has been producing its two and three-person Ocean Pearl models for many years and is now additionally offering its latest three to six-person Aurora submarine product line. The Aurora design is based on a hyper-hemisphere acrylic cabin but with its field of view greatly enhanced by moving the access hatch away from the top of the window into a separate compartment behind the main cabin. This design’s unique ability to tilt at surface provides an extremely stable platform that does not require obtrusive forward pontoons that severely restrict peripheral viewing. The Aurora-3C is the lightest and most compact three-person Aurora model with a dry weight of only 3,800 kilograms and a depth rating of 450 meters. This model will fit a standard shipping container and offers the largest hull interior in its weight category. The Aurora-3 to Aurora-6 are larger three to six-person models with deeper depth ratings up to 1,000 and 1,500 meters.



Aquatica Submarines.


Delivers stunning productions in the newest format. Underwater filmmaking is notoriously problematic. Multiply the requirements of operating one camera underwater by six, and you have arrived at the crux of 360° cinematography’s difficulty. In telling the story of the ancient glass sponge gardens of Howe Sound, the crew of Aquatica Submarines encountered and solved some of the greatest challenges to immersive underwater filmmaking— for media dynamo National Geographic. The crew created a filming environment full of vibrant, multidimensional light and worked with a large team of underwater.





An operator of manned submersible services for site survey and inspection, data collection, media production, and deep sea testing will soon launch Cyclops 2, a five-man submersible to reach depths of 4,000 meters. When completed, it will be the only privately owned submersible in the world capable of diving to such depths and the first since 2005 to survey the historic RMS Titanic shipwreck. Featuring the largest viewport of any deep-diving submersible, her carbon fiber and titanium construction makes Cyclops 2 lighter than any other deep-sea submersible so she can be more efficiently mobilized. Outfitted with external 4K cameras, multibeam sonar, laser scanner, inertial navigation, and an acoustic synthetic baseline positioning system, the submersible hosts the most advanced technology available. Evolving the launch platform designed by HURL, OceanGate’s mobile subsea launch and recovery platform and deep-sea manned submersible, Cyclops 2, work in tandem to form an integrated dive system used to launch and recover the sub and serve as a service and maintenance platform. The integrated system eliminates the need for A-frames, cranes, and scuba divers, allowing expedition crews to efficiently mobilize and operate in remote locations on a wide variety of ships. Initial dives will begin in January 2018 in Puget Sound before deploying to the Bahamas for deep-sea validation in April. The 2018 Titanic Survey Expedition is a six-week expedition to capture the first ever 4K images of the iconic wreck. These images will be paired with high-definition laser scans to create an interactive 3D model of the wreck and provide an objective baseline to assess the decay of the wreck over time.




JFD, has demonstrated why it is a global leader in submarine rescue after two weeks of intensive exercises at sea off the coast of Western Australia. In some of the world’s most challenging waters, “Black Carillon 2017” showcased JFD Australia’s superior ability to save lives in a deep-sea submarine emergency. As a trusted and proven strategic capability partner of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN,) JFD Australia conducted the annual safety exercise with the support of a robust local supply chain that helped deliver and install critical submarine rescue equipment to the two participating ships, MV BESANT and MV STOKER. Launching from the deck of MV STOKER, JFD’s free-swimming LR5 rescue vehicle with a pilot and two crew, was sent down to depths of 400 meters to locate the underwater target seat and simulate the safe “mating” to the rescue seat of a real submarine. This is a crucial exercise as it also serves to maintain the submersible’s third party certification ensuring that it is ready and fit for its hazardous duty year-round. “This year threw up some very tough conditions, the weather was closing in and our operations team, engineers, and technicians really needed to put their knowledge and experience to the test,” The fortnight of exercises also included mock rescues in shallower waters of 136 meters, using the RAN submarine, HMAS WALLER.  JFD Australia is also soon to deliver a hyperbaric equipment suite to the Australian Government that will offer lifesaving medical and decompression treatment for up to 65 survivors with room for a further 14 chamber operators and medical staff . “JFD Australia has a solid track record in offering a full submarine rescue system from the maintenance and service centre at Bibra Lake, south of Perth. That is on standby at all times and ready to respond within 12 hours.


Rosoboronexport. Small Submarines With Air Independent Propulsion


Rosoboronexport to Promote Small Submarines With Air Independent Propulsion . Rosoboronexport, part of Rostec State Corporation, announced in a press release last week that it will continue to promote small and midget submarines in the external market in 2018. “Rosoboronexport notes the growing interest in small and midget submarines in South-East Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Russia’s shipbuilding industry and Navy have considerable experience in their development and operation, which gives grounds for success in promoting such boats in the world market. According to preliminary estimates, the capacity of this segment of the arms market will be approximately US$4 billion for the coming five years,” said Igor Sevastyanov, Deputy Director General of Rosoboronexport. Rosoboronexport is ready to supply its foreign partners with custom-designed small and midget submarines of up to 10 different models. These include the boats displacing 130 to 1000 tons that meet the needs of most potential customers. The special exporter carries out after-sales service of the delivered products under a separate contract. Small and midget submarines are designed to guard coastal maritime borders through covert patrolling; to destroy single surface ships and vessels; to destroy submarines; to deploy (retrieve) commandos; to plant minefields; to conduct reconnaissance in designated areas and suppress enemy forces; to conduct electronic intelligence; to evacuate people from local conflict areas; and to attack enemy shore facilities located on the coast and deep inside its territory. “Small and midget submarines are a unique segment of the naval market. Despite their small size, they carry various weapons, including torpedoes and mines, and can be armed with cruise missiles. Advanced electronics enables them to timely detect targets and proactively attack the enemy, while remaining stealthy due to low noisiness and electromagnetic signatures,” added Igor Sevastyanov. Work is under way to fit such boats with AIP systems which will significantly extend their submerged endurance. Among the key advantages of small submarines are the low intensities of their physical fields, significantly reducing the probability of their detection by ASW forces. This is achieved through their small size, the application of appropriate materials and advanced noise reduction technologies, as well as other design solutions. For small submarines intended for special operations, a special lockout chamber can be provided through which combat swimmers can covertly leave the submarine. The basing of small submarines will not require radical re-equipment of existing naval bases, so their commissioning into the navy does not entail significant capital investments to build the appropriate coastal infrastructures. A specially equipped relatively small surface ship can be used as a tender for small submarines at mobile basing sites.


Iranian Submarine


Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a “midget” submarine that appears to be based on a Pyongyang design type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010. The missile launch was attempted in the Strait of Hormuz on May 2, the Trumpet reported Sunday. The submarine design is similar to that of North Korean ones, indicating that North and Iran are collaborating on their missile and nuclear programs. The only few countries in the world that operate Midget submarines are Iran and North Korea. The Midget submarines can travel and hide in shallow water. Probably it is the most worrisome for the US as Iran attempted this missile launch from a midget sub Tuesday in the narrow and crowded Strait of Hormuz, where much of the world’s oil passes each day. Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs.“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.” Lewis added. “In the past, we would see things in North Korea, and they would show up in Iran,” said Lewis. “In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea, and so that raises the question of whether trade—which started off as North Korea to Iran—has started to reverse,” he added.



No leakages from sunken nuclear sub, yet

After more than 10 years on the seafloor of the Barents Sea, no detectable levels of radiation are measured from K-159. The scrap o the 55-years old November class submarine should, however, be monitored closely, reads the recommendation in a newly published report by a joint Norwegian-Russian expert group that made measurements near the wreak during an expedition in 2014. K-159, holding two nuclear reactors with spent nuclear uranium fuel, sank during towing from the naval base Gremikha towards the Nerpa scrapping yard north of Murmansk in August 2003. Laying at a depth of 246 meters in one of the most important fishing areas of the Barents Sea, just west of the Kildin Island of the coast of the Kola Peninsula, the submarine has caused concern for possible leakages of radionuclides to the marine environment. During inspection with a remote operated underwater vehicle (ROV), the radiation expert from Norway and Russia discovered damage and break in the outer hull of the submarine. After years of analyzing the samples from the area, both seawater and sediments, the results are now published in the report and show no urgent need to worry.

«There is no indication of any leakage from the reactor units of K-159 to the marine environment.» Like most Soviet submarines, also the K-159 had two reactors on board. The reactor compartment, inside the inner hull, was not possible for the researchers to examine. Both reactors had been shut down for 15 years before the submarine sank. Despite being old, the amount of radioactivity in the two reactors is still high and sooner or later the submarine should be lifted, both Russian and Norwegian experts agree. «Monitoring of the marine environment around K-159 should be followed closely, especially in connection with any future plans for the recovery of the submarine,» the report concludes. The K-159 is the only nuclear submarine on the seafloor of the Barents Sea. The Kursk submarine, that sank after a huge torpedo explosion in 2000, was lifted and brought to land for decommissioning two years after. In Arctic waters, the «Komsomolets» submarine lays at 1,600 meters depth in the Norwegian Sea with one reactor and two plutonium warheads. In the Kara Sea, east of Novaya Zemlya, 16 reactors are dumped on purpose, including the entire submarine K-27 and a reactor from the Soviet Union’s first civilian nuclear powered icebreaker, the «Lenin».

Will your next super yacht have a submarine on board?

For the next generation of super yacht owners - as well as plenty of traditional yachties - owning a yacht is often about much more than merely possessing a high-value material object. Experience is the keyword of the year. It is no surprise, then, that the ultimate exploration opportunity is becoming more and more popular among super yacht owners: diving down into the ocean in your very own personal submarine. 

Personal submarines began to appear in the super yacht market around 2007, and have steadily increased in popularity since then, with many high-profile yachts sporting their own submersible vessels, including the iconic 88-metre Maltese Falcon and the 55.75-metre explorer Alucia famously used in the recent filming of the BBC series, Blue Planet II. Indeed, for owners who are interested in deepening their involvement with oceanic scientific research, either personally or by allowing scientists to make use of their super yachts’ capabilities, owning a submarine makes complete sense. But what about the less scientifically-minded super yacht owner, whose vessel has not been purpose-built for submarine capabilities? Is a submarine more expense and hassle than it's worth? To get to grips with this question, we spoke to submersibles experts and discovered the incredible exploration and recreation possibilities which owners can benefit from, that there are surprising financial benefits to hosting a sub on board, and that with relative ease, submarines can be incorporated into many vessel’s standard tender garage. DeepFlight, as an example, offers the DeepFlight Dragon submarine designed to fit on smaller yachts and is currently being integrated into the new build of a 40-metre Princess M Class.

One explanation for the growth in submarine popularity is linked to a palpable desire to attain the ultimate experience. As Louise Harrison from Triton Submarines explains, this trend has comparisons with bygone history. “I believe we’re entering a new age of the gentleman and gentlewoman explorer. Just like in the past, we are back to having a huge unexplored realm suddenly accessible to us that has not been seen at all. Ninety-five percent of the ocean has never been explored, so it means that every time you go out there you might see something for the first time.” Although there are many high-profile research vessels which have made amazing discoveries by submarine (Alucia provided the first-ever footage of a giant squid using a Triton Submarine in 2012 as one example!) the use of personal submarines opens up these exploration opportunities for non-scientists too, democratising these experiences in what is often dubbed ‘underwater tourism’. As Karen Hawkes from DeepFlight explains, “Aside from opening up the oceans, DeepFlight submarines also enable a wholly new experience of underwater flight: yacht owners are now able to skim over reefs and fly alongside marine mammals in a way that was heretofore impossible. It’s not just about going deep; it’s about accessing the oceans in a safe and environmentally friendly way, and seeing a piece of our planet no one else has seen before.”The latest generation of personal submarines now combine high technical performance with aesthetic appeal, enabling owners and guests to dive below the surface in stylish and comfortable settings, with many contemporary submarine interiors customisable for each owner. Harrison describes the personal submarine experience for the super yacht guest: “You’re sitting there, you’re breathing and talking naturally and normally with the people around you, listening to your favourite music, taking some photos. It’s kind of like going out in your family car but in the ocean - who wouldn’t be attracted by that?” Of course, even with these potential benefits in mind, canny super yacht owners will inevitably have concerns about the practicalities of incorporating a submarine into their vessel: will it be expensive, how do I get the submarine on board, and will I need to hire extra crew to operate the submarine? First things first, as Erik Hasselman from U-Boat Worx explains, it is easiest to incorporate a submarine on board your super yacht if you know from day one that you want a submarine, since it can be included into the initial yacht design. However, the latest submarines, such as the recent Super Yacht series from U-Boat Worx, the Triton 1650/3 LP ‘Low Profile’ sub and the DeepFlight Dragon, are increasingly being designed to suit the traditional super yacht market and can be added to your yacht long after she is just a concept on a piece of paper. The designs of these subs are both compact and lightweight, meaning they can be stored in a standard tender garage, and thus on much smaller yachts. As Hasselman told us, “I’m not guaranteeing that any 40-metre yacht will fit a submarine, but the increasingly compact units have certainly doubled, tripled, quadrupled the number of yachts that can carry a sub on board.” Hawkes adds that launching, recovering and storing submarines can be as straightforward as how yachts currently handle their tenders. In short, if you have access to a tender garage, a crane, and a power supply to charge the submarine, it could well be possible for your next super yacht to have a submarine on board. 

The Super Yacht Sub 3LX

Naturally, it cannot be denied that adding a submarine to your super yacht comes with associated costs and complications: it certainly should not be viewed as just another toy - or even a toy at all. With the cost of the submarine itself representing a substantial sum (some of the most expensive submersibles can cost several million dollars), why would super yacht owners want to commit to this additional financial investment? As the experts explain, however, investing in a submarine is exactly that: an investment. Submersibles do not depreciate in value over time because of their relative rarity and are therefore a worthwhile and somewhat risk-free investment in that regard. Secondly, when it comes to charter, it’s a no-brainer. Choosing between several yachts in the same size class, the same build quality, and similar charter fees, it’s only logical that a vessel with a submarine is infinitely more attractive to most than those without. When it comes to operating the submarine for the dives themselves, this is also a surprisingly straightforward endeavour and can be an enjoyably hands-on experience for owners and guests alike. DeepFlight has always designed its submarines for owners and their crews to operate themselves. After all, as Hawkes says, “You don’t give the keys to your Ferrari to a chauffeur.” Triton and U-Boat Worx offer fantastic crewing services, but also provide training programmes so that owners and crew can learn to safely operate and maintain the submarine themselves in just a few weeks. This can be a highly cost-effective decision: piloting training for up to six people is included in the cost of buying a Triton submarine, for example. As Harrison explains, piloting a Triton sub is both easy and enjoyable: “The physical piloting is simple and intuitive. You just have a joystick, and go forward and back and side to side and up and down: that part is very straightforward! It’s even possible to install a guest joystick so passengers can try piloting under the watchful eye of the pilot.” The same goes for U-Boat Worx, in which their already six-year-old MANTA controller allows passengers to take control of the sub under supervision. So, whether you want to explore historic shipwrecks, fly in the water alongside whales and dolphins, add your own contribution to the scientific research of the future, or truly stand out in the charter market, adding a submarine to your vessel can open up a new world of possibilities for any yacht. As Erik Hasselman concludes: “The submarine experience has been described using many different words, but, trust me - there is really nothing that can come close to seeing it with your own eyes.”

Attack Submarines Are Getting Quieter and Deadlier

Air-independent propulsion is shifting the balance of power at sea. Over the past decade, air-independent propulsion — or AIP — for submarines has spread rapidly around the world. The technology, which allows conventionally powered submarines to operate without access to outside air, has the potential the shift the balance away from the big nuclear attack submarines, or SSNs, that have dominated undersea warfare since the 1950s, and back towards small conventional boats. In global terms, this might again make submarines the great strategic equalizer; small, cheap weapons that can destroy the expensive warships of the world’s most powerful navies. Does this mean that the United States should invest in these kinds of boats? Probably not.


Several navies experimented with AIP during the 20th century. The earliest work began in World War II in the German and Soviet navies, although none of the experiments produced operationally suitable boats. After the war Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union took advantage of German research to produce their own experimental boats, but nuclear propulsion seemed to offer a more fruitful direction for submarine development. In the mid-2000s, converging technological developments enabled several major submarine producers around the world to begin to develop practical AIP systems. France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and China all laid down AIP-capable boats, in some cases exporting those submarines to customers around the world.



AIP systems allow conventional submarines to recharge their batteries without surfacing for air, which enables them to remain underwater for extend periods of time and not expose themselves to detection. Three main types of AIP are found in extant diesel-electric submarines:

Closed Cycle Steam Turbines

Used on French-built submarines, closed cycle steam turbines mimic the energy production process found on nuclear subs — where a nuclear reactor provides heat that turns water into steam — by mixing oxygen and ethanol. This system — dubbed MESMA by the French — is complex, generates a lot of power, but is somewhat less efficient than the alternatives.

Stirling Cycle

A Stirling cycle engine uses diesel to heat a fluid permanently contained in the engine, which in turn drives a piston and generates electricity. The exhaust is then released into the seawater. This is slightly more efficient, and somewhat less complicated, than the French variant, and is used on Japanese, Swedish and Chinese boats.

Fuel Cell

Fuel-cell technology is probably the state of the art in AIP. A fuel cell uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, and has almost no moving parts. They can generate a lot of energy with minimal waste product, and are very quiet. German-built submarines have successfully taken advantage of fuel cell technology, and the French, Russians and Indians are also moving in this direction.

Procurement trends

The great thing about AIP is that the technologies involved can be retrofitted into older submarines through the insertion of a hull section. Germany has done this with some boats, including a Type 209, and reports suggest Russia has managed to retrofit a Kilo. Sweden has retrofitted four older boats, and Japan at least one. For navies that want to maximize the lethality of their existing sub flotillas, retrofits can be cost effective. However, most navies are more interested in new construction. Germany has four types of SSPs under construction for various navies. Newly constructed Type 209s may also have AIP. Sweden has three classes of boats with AIP; the large Japanese Soryus will have AIP, as will the French Scorpenes, French-built Agosta 90Bs (for Pakistan) and Scorpene-inspired Kalvaris (for India). The new Spanish S-80s have AIP, as do the two small Portuguese Tridente boats. Russia’s troubled Lada class has AIP propulsion, and it is expected that the next diesel-electric class (Amur) will also have it. China’s 15 Type 041 (Yuan) boats have AIP, with another five on the way.

Combat implications

SSPs can exceed the performance of SSNs under certain conditions. They can take advantage of good endurance and extreme quiet to lay in ambush for approaching enemy vessels, although this requires good intelligence about enemy fleet deployments. They can also conduct short and medium range surveillance of enemy naval forces. In situations that favour small, manoeuvrable boats — shallow littorals, for example — they can pose a serious combat threat to their larger nuclear cousins.

What this means for the United States. Should the United States build SSPs? The United States has not built a diesel-electric submarine since 1959. Much of the know-how associated with the construction of nuclear subs is transferable to their conventional cousins, but it would nevertheless involve a significant learning curve. The United States is a global leader in the development of fuel-cell technology, so it is likely that American sub builders would go that route. However, the U.S. Navy is nearly unique for its global focus; it intends to fight in areas distant from U.S. shores. Diesel electrics, even with AIP, have shorter ranges than nuclear boats and therefore require nearby bases. Moreover, cost-consciousness in the U.S. Navy has manifested largely in terms of personnel reductions, meaning that the organization tends to prefer smaller numbers of high-end, expensive platforms to large numbers of inexpensive vessels. Before investing in AIP boats, the U.S. Navy should also take care to rigorously game out future submarine warfare scenarios that involve Undersea Unmanned Vehicles. Autonomous and semi-autonomous drone submarines potentially have many of the advantages of AIP boats, without requiring investment in new submarine designs. All in all, there is no question that AIP-equipped boats pose a threat, under some conditions, to the large nuclear attack submarines that many great navies have come to rely on. However, this does not necessarily mean that the best response for the U.S. Navy is to invest in these conventional subs. They cannot do many of the tasks that the navy requires of its submarine force, and in coming years technology may eclipse many of the advantages that they bring.

Captain who saved White Sea from nuclear disaster dies at 67.


When a training missile exploded in the silo, Captain Igor Grishkov immediately dived his enormous Typhoon submarine to flush away burning rocket fuel before the other nuclear weapon-tipped missiles were set on fire. One of Russia’s most unknown heroes, submarine captain Igor Grishkov, is dead 67 years old, the blog site Korabel reports. After retirement, he moved to Severodvinsk by the White Sea where he lived until his death this week. Severodvinsk Mayor, Igor Skubenko, is quoted saying Captain Grishkov will remain forever in the history of Severodvinsk and his successful experience and struggle to rescue the submarine will be adopted by many other submarine commanders. What happened in the White Sea in September 1991 is little known to open public sources. Captain Igor Grishkov was sailing out the White Sea to the area where he was told to launch a ballistic test missile supposed to hit the designated target on the Chukotka Peninsula in the Far East of the Soviet Union. Grishkov’s vessel, TK-17, was the fifth of the six giant Typhoon class submarines. On board the 170 meters long vessel was a crew of 160 and, for the Soviet Union more important; a capacity of 20 SS-N-20 ballistic missiles, each tipped with up to 10 warheads. Fully armed, such submarine could carry 200 nuclear warheads. In other words, one of the deadliest machines ever built by humans. For Moscow, the test was of high political importance. This was just a month after the failed coup against Mikhael Gorbachev and showing the outside world that everything was still intact became a priority mission for the strategic nuclear weapon forces of the USSR. The test-shooting voyage in the White Sea became nothing but a terrifying failure. First 23 years later, in 2014, parts of the story were published in Pravda Severa, the regional newspaper in Arkhangelsk. Other pieces of what happened are mentioned in navy blog sites and other Russian navy publications.  Sailing in subsea position to the area where the test-launch should take place, Captain Igor Grishkov knew the procedures. At this time, his vessel was only four years old and a proud for the Soviet Navy. Internationally, the Typhoons were well known from the thriller film from 1990 - The Hunt for Red October - based on Tom Clancy’s novel with the same name published in 1984.

Ready to launch

The Typhoon submarines and the on board SS-N-20 nuclear missiles are designed to launch its nuclear weapons from submerged position. So also for this test on September 27, 1991. 0-9-8-7-6….. , then suddenly the missile exploded, blowing off the cover of the silo. Captain Grishkov ordered his men in the command centre of the submarine to blow the tanks with air and make an emergency surfacing. At surface, the crew could see a massive fireball over the deck. All 20 nuclear missile-silos on the Typhoons are in front of the tower. The fire came from the solid propellant of the exploded missile that had leaked inside the silo and all around the deck near the blown-to-pieces part of the silo-cover. Also the rubber-cover of the outer hull was on fire. Within seconds, Captain Grishkov reportedly understood the danger. What would happen if the fire spread and triggered overheating of the highly flammable propellant in the other 19 missiles. Those who were not on board for test shooting but aimed for real nuclear war. There was only one option; dive down again and hope the seawater would extinguish the fire. He warned his crew members in the missile compartment to be prepared for flooding. Diving a more than 30,000 tons heavy vessel just after emergency surfacing is not easy, it is dangerous and its risky. But the alternative was so much worse. The commanders on bridge managed the task quickly and then surfaced again. The manoeuvre was successful and a real nuclear catastrophe in the White Sea was miraculously prevented. A Typhoon submarine is powered by two 190 Mat reactors. How many of the possible maximum of 190 nuclear warheads that were on board at the time of the accident is not known. Information about exact numbers of nuclear weapons is surrounded by secrecy, in the Soviet Union, like in today’s Russia. And in other nuclear weapons states. TK-17 sailed back to the yard in Severodvinsk, some 40 kilometres west of Arkhangelsk on the south coast of the White Sea. Back in port, the accident was kept secret to most people. Damage control was done, the burnt silo was cleaned and sealed off and the rubber on the outer hull was repaired. The silo in question was never used again, and TK-17 continued to sail with 19 missiles until she was laid up in 2004 and put in reserve. Although the heroically saving of his crew and submarine, Captain Igor Grishkov was never awarded with the medal “Hero of the Soviet Union” or today’s “Hero of Russia”.  For the last 14 years, TK-17, also holding the name “Arkhangelsk” stays side-by-side with another Typhoon class submarine, the “Severstal” TK-20 in Severodvinsk. Both two vessels are awaiting decommissioning.

1968 was the deadliest year for submariners post-WWII

It almost seems like something out of a James Bond movie, heavily armed submarines suddenly disappearing without a trace while underway. But sadly, in 1968, the truth would turn out be far worse than fiction when four countries reeled after the successive losses of four submarines. 318 sailors from Israel, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States were tragically committed to their eternal rest in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. While some details have surfaced over the years, the causes behind the losses of each of these four submarines remain unclear to this day, posing a mystery for historians, researchers, and naval engineers alike.

INS Dakar

The Dakar, an Israeli vessel, was the first of the four submarines to go missing that fateful year. Originally produced for the British Royal Navy in 1943 during the Second World War, Dakar was a diesel-electric submarine sold to Israel in the mid-1960s after being put through a considerable refurbishment which streamlined the sub’s hull and superstructure, upgraded the engines, and diminished the sub’s noise while underwater. After spending most of 1967 undergoing a refit and sea trials after being sold to the Israeli navy, Dakar set sail on its trip across the Mediterranean Sea to Israel in mid-January of the following year, where she would be formally welcomed into active service with a large ceremony. Expected back by Feb. 2, Dakar never arrived. Transmissions from the sub ceased after Jan. 24. Immediately, all nearby naval vessels from a number of countries, including Great Britain, the United States, Turkey, and Greece, began a sweeping search-and-rescue mission to find the Dakar. Despite finding one of the sub’s emergency buoys in 1969, Dakar remained hidden in the murky depths of the Mediterranean, lost with all hands. It wasn’t until 1999 that Dakar was be found, laying on the seabed near Crete and Cyprus. Parts of the submarine were raised to the surface, including its conning tower and a few smaller artifacts. To this day, a number of theories on the loss of Dakar exist, though none of them appear to be the definitive answer behind why the submarine went down.

Minerve (S647)

Minerve, another diesel-electric submarine, was the second loss of 1968, going down just two days after Dakar in January. Typically staffed with a crew of 50 sailors, the Minerve was a smaller patrol sub, though retooled to conduct experiments on behalf of the French Navy. Able to carry missiles, it could stay submerged for 30 days before resurfacing to recharge its batteries and resupply. On Jan. 27, Minerve was roughly 30 miles from base when its crew made contact with a French Navy aircraft to confirm their arrival time of less than an hour. After that transmission, the Minerve went silent. Now with their submarine overdue and unresponsive, the French Navy kicked into high gear, launching a large search-and-rescue operation including an aircraft carrier and smaller research submersibles. To this day, the Minerve has never been found, even though it was lost a relatively short distance from its homeport. The sub’s entire crew of 52 sailors perished with their ship.


A Golf II class submarine, similar to K-129, running on the surface in 1985. Built for the Soviet’s Pacific Fleet as a ballistic missile submarine, K-129 had been active for over 7 years by the time it was lost in early March of 1968. With sharp and sleek lines, the K-129 looked more like a shark than it did a traditional submarine. Armed with nuclear-tipped torpedoes and missiles, it was far more dangerous than the average diesel-electric submarine in service at the time. While on a combat patrol in the Pacific Ocean, the submarine went unresponsive, having failed to check in on assigned dates. The Soviet Navy began a frantic search for their lost sub, worried that it was lost with all hands. After sweeping the area where K-129 was supposed to conduct its patrol for weeks, the search was called off and the sub was declared lost with its 98-man crew. That, however, wasn’t the end of the K-129’s story. The U.S. Navy, with its SOSUS intelligence system, was able to triangulate the location of the missing sub, having detected an underwater “bang” on March 8. After the K-129’s loss, the Central Intelligence Agency saw a major opportunity in finding the wreck and extracting code books and encryption gear from the sub’s bridge. It would give them a huge advantage in snooping on Soviet military and espionage activities. Code-naming the operation “Project Azorian,” the CIA used a gargantuan ship called the Glomar Explorer, outfitted with a big mechanical claw to grip and collect the submarine. Project Azorian proved to be something of a mixed bag of results. While attempting to raise the K-129 from the seabed, the large grappling claw holding the stricken submarine malfunctioned and the vessel cracked in two. The forward half of the submarine was lifted into the Glomar Explorer, but the aft fell back into the ocean, taking with it the control room and all-important code books and cryptographic gear. Nevertheless, the bodies of six of the sub’s lost crew were recovered and buried by the CIA at sea with full military honours. The CIA has still kept silent on what else they recovered from the front section of K-129. The sub’s missiles remain in the ocean.

USS Scorpion

Commissioned in 1960, the Scorpion was a Skipjack-class fast attack submarine designed to prowl around near Soviet patrol sectors, waiting to hunt down and destroy enemy surface and subsurface warships. In early 1968, Scorpion departed for the Mediterranean from Norfolk, Virginia after undergoing a hasty 9-month refit. In May, the Scorpion and its crew found themselves at Rota, Spain, where they provided a noise cover for a departing Navy ballistic missile submarine by making high-speed, “loud” dashes as the larger missile sub slipped away. This was to keep nearby Soviet subs and spy ships from monitoring and recording the Navy’s newest nuclear deterrent’s noise signature for further reference. Less than a week later, Scorpion went missing. Overdue by nearly a week for its return to Norfolk, its homeport, the Navy began searching for its submarine. Five months later, the remains of the attack submarine were found on the ocean floor near the Azores. It had been lost with all hands. A number of differing theories exist on the destruction of the Scorpion, with some claiming that the sub was deliberately torpedoed by the Soviet Union in retaliation for supposed American involvement in the loss of K-129. The last received transmission from the submarine seems to lend a margin of credibility to these claims — the sub’s captain reported contact with Soviet vessels and declared his intention to reconnoitre the area. Others say that the unusually fast refit that Scorpion underwent in 1967 left considerable room for technical error, thanks to Navy contractors cutting corners to get the sub back out to sea. As a result, mechanical failure was to blame. Further groups of researchers and historians believe that the submarine could have gone down due to a malfunctioning torpedo exploding aboard the vessel. Even to this day, the majority of Scorpion’s last patrol is still classified, and the Navy’s official position on the loss is “inconclusive.”


JFD completes harbour acceptance trials for DSRV

JFD, the world leading underwater capability provider serving the commercial and defence markets and part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has completed the first stage of harbour acceptance trials of its first deep search and rescue vehicle (DSRV) for the Indian Navy’s 3rd Generation Submarine Rescue System, the company has announced. The initial harbour acceptance trials of the first DSRV, which were undertaken at Glasgow’s King George V dock, are now complete. As part of this process the system has been comprehensively tested in a variety of conditions. The DSRV hull previously underwent factory acceptance tests in December 2017 at the JFD-owned National Hyperbaric Centre in Aberdeen. These tests included thorough pressurised testing on the system’s pressure hulls and command module – all of which were completed successfully. Upon completion of the harbour acceptance trials, the DSRV will be fully integrated with the rest of the rescue system at a site in Glasgow including the offshore handling system, intervention suite and 90 person decompression facilities. Speaking on the development, Ben Sharples, India DSRV Project Director at JFD said “The completion of the initial harbour acceptance trials for the first DSRV, to be delivered to the Indian Navy, is an important step in the delivery of this contract. This is part of the progressive acceptance of the system designed to drive out risk during the later stages of sea acceptance.  JFD’s 3rd Generation DSRV marks a significant and pioneering step-change in real world submarine rescue capability. It is one of the deepest submarine rescue vehicles available and is weight optimised for maximum payload and optimum transportability. It has high levels of in-water performance including speed and manoeuvrability and can mate with submarines that might be subject to inclination on the seabed. We are pleased of the progress that has been made in delivering on this important contract and look forward to the DSRV becoming operational later this year.” The 3rd Generation Submarine Rescue System has been developed by JFD to maximise the chances of successfully rescuing the crew of a distressed submarine (DISSUB). Using its 30 years of experience and knowledge it has challenged the convention and brought to market an innovative new system that ensures the highest standards in safety, quality, flexibility and speed, thereby better protecting the lives of submariners. Under the £193m contract, awarded in March 2016, JFD is providing two complete flyaway submarine rescue systems to the Indian Navy, including DSRVs, Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS) equipment, Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) systems, and all logistics and support equipment required to operate the service. The equipment has been designed, manufactured, integrated and tested by JFD prior to shipping in March 2018 for final commissioning and trials. The full, certified systems are due to be delivered to the customer in June 2018.

In 2003, a Chinese Submarine Sank. How the Crew Died Is Horrifying.

On April 25, 2003 the crew of a Chinese fishing boat noticed a strange sight—a periscope drifting listlessly above the surface of the water. The fishermen notified the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) which promptly dispatched two vessels to investigate. At first the PLAN believed the contact to be an intruding submarine from South Korea or Japan. But when Chinese personnel finally recovered the apparent derelict they realized it was one of their own diesel-electric submarines, the Ming-class 361. When they boarded on April 26, they found all seventy personnel slumped dead at their stations. Military commissioner and former president Jiang Zemin acknowledged the tragic incident on May 2, 2003, in a statement honouring the sacrifice of Chinese sailors lives and vaguely characterizing the cause as “mechanical failure.”A month later, an inquiry by his commission resulted in the dismissal of both the commander and commissar of the North Sea Fleet, and the demotion or dismissal of six or eight more officers for “improper command and control.” Jiang and President Hu Jintao later reportedly visited the recovered submarine and met with the families of the deceased. The Chinese government is not disposed to transparency regarding its military accidents. For example, it does not release the results of its investigations into jet fighter crashes and it never publicly acknowledged earlier submarine accidents. At the time, some commentators expressed surprise that Beijing acknowledged the incident at all, and speculated it was obliquely related to contemporaneous criticism of Beijing’s attempts to downplay the SARS epidemic. The Type 035 Ming-class submarine was an outdated second-generation design evolved from the lineage of the Soviet Romeo-class, in turn a Soviet development of the German Type XXI “Electric U-Boat” from World War II. The first two Type 035s were built in 1975 but remained easy to detect compared to contemporary American or Russian designs. Though China operated numerous diesel submarines, due to concerns over seaworthiness, they rarely ventured far beyond coastal waters in that era. Nonetheless, Chinese shipyards continued to build updated Ming-class boats well into the 1990s. Submarine 361 was one of the later Type 035G Ming III models, which introduced the capability to engage opposing submerged submarines with guided torpedoes. Entering service in 1995, she and three sister ships numbered 359 through 362 formed the North Sea Fleet’s 12th Submarine Brigade based in Liaoning province. 361 had been deployed on a naval exercise in the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea gulf east of Beijing and Tianjing. Unusually, a senior naval officer, Commodore Cheng Fuming was aboard. In its last ship’s log on April 16, the submarine was practicing silent running while off the Changshang island, heading back to a base in Weihai, Shandong Province. Because it was maintaining radio silence, the PLAN didn’t realize anything was amiss until ten days later. The method by which 361 was recovered after its presence was reported remains unclear. Several accounts imply the ship was submerged, but the fact that it was promptly towed back to port implies that it had surfaced. The lack of clear official explanation has led to various theories over the years. The typical complement of a Type 035 submarine is fifty-five to fifty-seven personnel, but 361 had seventy on board. Officially these were trainers, but conditions would have been quite cramped. The presence of the additional personnel and the high-ranking Commodore Cheng leads to the general conclusion that 361 was not on a routine mission. Indeed, some commentators speculated that the additional crew were observing tests of an experimental Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system which would have offered greater stealth and underwater endurance. As it happens, another Type 035G submarine, 308, was used to test an AIP drive, and Stirling AIP drives would soon equip the prolific Type 041 Yuan-class submarines which prowl the seas today. Another theory is that leaks allowed seawater to mix with battery acid, forming deadly chlorine gas that poisoned the crew. The Hong Kong Sing Tao Daily claimed the submarine had embarked on a “dangerous” antisubmarine training, and that “human error” led it to nose-down uncontrollably, causing it to get stuck on the seafloor. However, the most widely accepted explanation today was first published by the Hong Kong Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper: the crew was suffocated by the sub’s diesel engine. A conventional diesel electric submarine uses an air-breathing diesel engine to charge up its batteries for underwater propulsion. This is usually done while surfaced—but a submarine attempting to remain undetected can also cruise submerged just below the surface and use a snorkel to sip air. The snorkel is designed to automatically seal up if the water level gets too high. According to Wen Wei Po, 361 was running its diesel while snorkeling when high water caused the air intake valve to close—or the valve failed to open properly due to a malfunction. However, its diesel engine did not shut down as it should have in response. You can find what appears to be a translated version of the article here. Apparently, the motor consumed most of the submarine’s air supply in just two minutes. The crew might have felt light headed and short of breath during the first minute, and would have begun losing consciousness in the second. The negative air pressure also made it impossible to open the hatches. A 2013 article by Reuters repeats this theory as well as mentioning the possibility that was exhaust was improperly vented back into the hull to fatal effect. Any of these explanations would reflect serious failings in both crew training and mechanical performance. The recent tragic loss of the Argentine submarine San Juan, the fire raging amongst moored Russian Kilo-class submarines at Vladivostok (a drill, Moscow claims), and the fortunately nonfatal but highly expensive flooding of the Indian nuclear-powered submarine Arihant highlight that despite being arguably the most fearsome weapon system on the planet, submarines remain dangerous to operate even when not engaged in a war. Even brief breakdowns in crew discipline or mechanical reliability can rapidly turn the stealthy underwater marauders into watery coffins. Only high standards of maintenance, manufacturing and crew training can avert lethal peacetime disasters—standards which are difficult for many nations to afford, but which the PLA Navy likely aspires to it as it continues to expand and professionalize its forces at an extraordinary rate.

The Chamber is a new film set in a sinking submarine

Film audiences who aren’t already claustrophobic might feel that way after watching The Chamber, a new thriller set almost entirely off the coast of North Korea in the cabin of an overturned submarine stuck at the bottom of the Yellow Sea. The plot — a looming conflict between the US and North Korea — is either poorly timed or extremely well-timed, given recent global events, but the real story is the classic moral quandary of how humans behave when trying to survive. Mats, a Swedish submarine ship captain for hire (played by Force Majeure star Johannes Bah Kuhnke), gets entangled in espionage when his boss orders him to pilot an American special ops team to an undisclosed location in a rickety Cold War-era submarine called the Aurora. The American mission is led by the steely Edwards (Charlotte Salt), with Denholm (Elliot Levey) and Parks (James McArdle), rounding out the three-person unit. Before they submerge, Mats says, “This isn’t some fancy Navy Seal submarine. She isn't a high-tech sporty thing.” Only Mats knows how to manoeuvre the old finicky sub, but his boss has agreed to let the Americans call the shots. The film’s conflict comes from the team’s mysterious mission, which revolves around destroying what appears to be an RQ-170 surveillance drone that’s been hidden from the North Koreans in the Yellow Sea. When Edwards first spots the hidden drone, she marvels at it. “An RQ4, a global hawk UAV, a US unmanned aircraft with full targeting and surveillance capabilities. It’s a drone. Beautiful, isn’t she?” It becomes clear the she will go to any lengths to destroy the drone, even if they destroy the fragile submarine in the process. In an interview with The Verge, writer-director Ben Parker says the premise of the film was inspired partly by the terror of drone strikes. “A drone that crashed in the ocean was where the kernel of the story came from. I’ve always been fascinated, or rather terrified, by drones. My first fascination, as a child, was of planes and aeronautics. I would have posters of planes on my walls.” But with the advent of remotely piloted, weaponized drones, his admiration turned to fear. “The disconnect of using unmanned aircraft for attacks is something that scares me. And The Chamber was really about all my darkest fears rolled into one, so I wanted the plot to revolve around the recovery of one of these drones.”More than one of Parker’s fears makes its way into the film. He is claustrophobic, and the movie often feels that way as well. Jon Bunker, a concept artist on Gravity, conceptualized the close quarters of the submarine. The set was slightly larger than a real cockpit to make space for the camera, but the cramped space still feels oppressive — and on the verge of falling apart. I wanted it to be a raggedy submarine... to be fairly old and broken, because I saw, first hand, how advanced and safe modern subs were,” Parker says. “I wanted to be able to create a sense of dread in the audience, that this sub was like an old beat-up car, on its last legs and ready to collapse. And that this was the only option available. I think the use of an old, beat up ship must be influenced by my love of the Millennium Falcon as a kid. A reluctant hero, piloting a patched up tin-can.” Parker also got inspiration and insight from his uncle, who was also a submarine pilot. “He was in the Special Forces, and he used to tell me stories about submarines. When I wrote the script, he was someone I could go back to and see what was plausible... He’d go down to great depths in these submarines and I was in suspense [to hear] what he found down there.” As part of his research, Parker visited a NATO rescue submarine at Fort William in Scotland and was struck by the ordinary cameras on the exterior. “They were there for durability, not beautiful camera footage, so when it came to shooting the exterior viewpoints, I thought why not use the same thing they do on the real sub?” he says. “Using GoPros allowed us to get the look and with most manoeuvrability among the miniatures and sets. I really wanted to use on board GoPro footage for some of the interior action too again, to ramp up the realistic feel, but we didn’t end up using this in the film.” Nor was The Chamber itself a high-tech or big-budget endeavour. With a budget of less than a million dollars, the crew had to be creative to film believable action sequences. “I didn’t want it to look low-res, but I did like the idea of confining things to a small space. It was even more fun. Four people stuck in a prison cell wouldn’t have been as dynamic,” Parker says. Instead of CGI, the crew used old Hollywood tricks to create murky underwater sequences with GoPro cameras. “I realized I was emulating a lot of my B-movie inspirations, shooting models, higher camera rates, and then slowing it down,” says Parker. He cites the clever, sometimes outrageous camera work of filmmaker Roger Corman as an influence to create the effect of the ocean, and a way around budget constraints.. The film was shot in 23 days in a warehouse in Wales. “We constructed [the submarine] from the ground up ourselves. We had to film everything in sequence,” Parker says. As they filmed scenes where sub begins to fill with water, the actors had to stand in water for hours at a time, often while it was too cold or too hot. And then there was the unnerving pairing of electricity and water. “We used visual effects where we needed to, but to also have real, practical effects wherever we could. And of course, being a ‘submerged’ thriller, I knew the limitations of mixing practical water and CGI effects. I wanted to try and do as much in-camera as I could,” he says. “We had a big net above the models with flour. Someone would tap the net, and little bits would come down with dust.” For the final sequence, the cast and crew shot off the south coast of the UK near Devon. “We all jumped into the water and slowly drifted out to the sea,” says Parker of the last days filming on location.

Iron Coffin: Inside North Korea’s infiltration submarine

The 1996 mini submarine used to infiltrate special operations personnel into South Korea.
The central compartment is a tangle of valves and piping.
Communications gear used by the infiltrators.

An unusual tourist attraction outside the Olympic city of Gangneung tells a nightmare story – one that holds lessons for US war planners preparing strikes on North Korea. Balanced on a stand on the rocky shoreline of northeastern South Korea perches a small submarine, just 100 meters from one of the many, many concrete bunkers that stand sentry over this strategic stretch of surf-smashed coast. The bunkers and tangles of razor wire are South Korean. The vessel is not: She is a North Korean infiltration boat which ran aground here in 1996.  On the night of September 17, 1996, a taxi driver motoring along the coastal road just outside the city of Gangneung spotted something odd in the dark water. Curious, he stopped his car and looked closer. What he was looking at was a North Korean Sango (“Shark”) class infiltration submarine. He contacted police. At dawn, South Korean naval commandos gingerly boarded the boat and breached her hull. She was empty. Inside, a fire had been lit in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy onboard equipment, but her crew – and the commando unit they had been conveying – had disappeared. A security alert was issued at 05:00 on the morning of the 18th for the whole of Gangwon Province, the area where the Winter Olympics and Paralympics are currently underway. According to a detailed report on the operation published by specialist website NK News, over 40,000 South Korean troops deployed into the rugged hills and mountains to track down the infiltrators. Among the hunters were two full brigades of South Korea’s own killer elite: “black berets,” or airborne special forces.

One of their first finds on a hillside was a row of 11 dead men. All had been shot in the head. There was no sign of a struggle. They are believed to have lacked physical fitness, so been executed – apparently without resisting – by their comrades. The remaining sailors – some of whom had special forces training – and a three-man commando team split up and headed north. Their plan was to exfiltrate through 150 km of South Korean territory, then cross the DMZ into friendly territory. Some of the escapees were dressed in dark-colored civilian clothes and tennis shoes; others were in South Korean uniforms and carried South Korean weapons. These men were elite troops of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, or RGB: North Korea’s 200,000-strong directorate for espionage, special operations and, more recently, cyber warfare. Over the next days and weeks, scattered firefights would take place across Gangwon’s autumnal forested terrain as groups of infiltrators were discovered and engaged. When it was over, 13 had been killed in gunfights. One surrendered to local police. (He was debriefed, turned, and now works as a special advisor to the South Korean Navy.) One was never found. He is presumed to have escaped back to North Korea – a masterly feat of tactical field craft. In the 49-day search operation, 12 South Korean troops and four South Korean civilians were killed. It was later discovered that the commandos, using scuba gear, had carried out a successful reconnaissance of South Korean military installations ashore before their vessel ran aground as it came inshore to pick them up. It would not be the last such operation.

In 1998, a Yono (“Salmon”) class mini-submarine was trapped in the nets of a South Korean fishing boat outside the nearby port of Sokcho – like Gangeung, on the Sea of Japan, or what Koreans all the East Sea. The vessel sunk as it was being towed into shore; by accident, or as a result of scuttling by the crew is unclear. This time, the crew did not escape. Inside, was a gruesome scene. When the boat’s hatches were forced open, it was discovered that the nine men aboard, crew and commandos, had shot each other and themselves rather than face capture. An RGB-controlled midget submarine is widely believed to have launched the deadliest attack on South Korea in recent years – albeit on the other side of the peninsula, in the Yellow Sea. The submarine was blamed for the sinking of the corvette Cheonan in 2010, for the loss of 46 South Korean sailors. North Korea denies that attack. However, North Korea did, belatedly, admit to the 1996 incident: It called it a training operation that went wrong. As a result of Pyongyang’s admission, the cremated remains of the infiltrators were returned to North Korea. The submarine, however, was not.

German U-boat men of World War I dubbed their craft “iron coffins,” but the North Korea boat, at just 35 meters long and less than four meters wide, is smaller than their wartime vessels. Her interior is cramped to the extreme. The three compartments are lined with a tangle of tubing, valves and communications equipment; fire damage can be seen in the conning tower. The only sanitation facility aboard is a single sink. To picture 26 men, complete with scuba gear and weapons, compressing themselves into this tiny underwater space is a claustrophobe’s nightmare. In repeated operations – in 1968, 1969, and the two submarine incursions – these troops have fought to the death, killed each other or killed themselves to avoid capture. And each time, they have taken a heavy toll on their South Korean opponents. While their equipment may be primitive, their training and motivation are clearly top-tier.


Mystery drama on the high seas: A princess, a spy and an escape plan gone wrong

Did the UAE snatch a US-registered yacht from Goan waters in a bid to take back Dubai ruler's daughter, who'd escaped with a former French spy? Worse, was India a silent bystander or an active accomplice?
Reports say that Herve was on a mission to rescue 33-year-old Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Saeed Al Maktoum, from Dubai by sea. In a video, Latifa has claimed she was being beaten and tortured and hence wanted to escape to the USA, to freedom. Herve had packed Latifa and her companion and capoeira (Brazilian martial art) instructor Tiina Johanna Juahiainen into a yacht, Nostromo, registered in the US, and was headed from the Dubai coast towards India. But, the yacht, cite reports, lost contact mid-sea. Reports then state that the founder and CeO Radha Stirling of the NGO Detained in Dubai, which was formed to assist victims of injustice in the United Arab emirates (UAe), got an SOS on March 4 from Latifa, who is reported to have said she had heard gunshots on the yacht. "After that, contact with all on board has ceased." At the time, the Nostromo was traced to 50 miles off the Goa coast. As the story gained international traction, with social media abuzz and media reporting skeletal details, fears about the fate of those on board the Nostromo grew. early on March 23, there was some news, said Stirling, in an email to mid-day on Friday. "Herve is currently at sea and we do not have an exact location confirmed and neither do we have information as to whether he is safe or free," she said. She said, "Nostromo actually had six passengers onboard. There were three Fillipino nationals, too, with Herve, Tiina and Latifa. The next that Nostromo was seen was at a military base in the United Arab emirates. This shows that the US registered yacht was seized from Indian or international waters by the UAe and with the knowledge and/or assistance of the Indian government." Asked specifically about Herve and Tiina, Stirling said that they know for sure that, "Both Herve and Tiina had been released from the custody of the UAe and Tiina had been confirmed to be home with her family in Finland after leaving Dubai on an emirates flight. There has been no official announcement about the whereabouts or safety of Latifa but she is presumed to be in the custody of the UAe. If this is accurate, then the UAe has apprehended her from what is legally US territory and she should legally have been returned to that same yacht that Herve is now sailing on." Stirling said, "The passengers onboard Nostromo had planned to disembark in India and fly from Mumbai to the United States where Latifa had intended to seek safety and asylum." In fact, the proposed landing in Mumbai will mirror Herve's own flight from Dubai in 2008, encapsulated in his book called 'escape from Dubai'. In August 2009, Herve had spoken to this newspaper about his escape from Dubai where he had claimed that he was wrongly indicted for embezzlement, fraud and sexual harassment. At the time, Herve had said that, "I created exomos in Dubai in 2004, a subsidiary of a company called Dubai World to make submarines for the leisure market." The Dubai downturn meant hard times and Herve said he was accused of wrongdoings and knew he had to get out. By May 2008, he began to plan his escape. On the eve of his escape, Herve disguised himself in an abaya – the full cover worn by Muslim women, including the niqaab, which is a face veil. Herve had said, "I escaped from a beach off Fujeirha, on a dinghy. I sailed for six hours before I met a friend at a rendezvous point, who had taken my sailboat out of Fujeirha. Once on the sailboat, I sailed to India." In that report, published in this paper on Aug 23, 2009, Herve had said, "I landed in Gateway of India at 2am on May 28, 2008 after approximately a week on the sea." One feels this is the same way Herve may have planned Latifa's escape, only something went wrong near Goa, and what exactly will be known only by establishing contact with those who were on the yacht. It is evident though that the world has not heard the end of this story. Stirling says, "No intelligence as to what happened that night on Nostromo has yet been provided, but will be demanded through legal channels."

Small Swedish Submarine “Sank” an American Fleet On Its Own

A small Swedish submarine was able to “destroy” a Nimitz class aircraft carrier from the mighty US Navy 7th Fleet during War Games 2005 exercises. The United States has the largest and most diverse armada on the planet, which stands out especially for its Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, true billion-dollar floating air bases. The power of the American aircraft carriers is so great that it makes the US Navy the second largest air force in the world – behind only the US Air Force itself. However, during War Games 2005, a small Swedish submarine managed to “destroy” one of these impregnable North American forts and part of its escort, says Real Engineering, the “portal that teaches you to think like an engineer” in your channel on YouTube. During NATO manoeuvres in the Atlantic in 2005, a small Gotland-class Swedish submarine was able to enter the “red zone” of the 7th US Navy Attack Fleet, pass among the ships escorting the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, launch several exercise torpedoes against your hull and escape undetected. A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, such as the $ 4.5 billion USS Ronald Reagan, carries twice as many airplanes and helicopters as any other aircraft carrier: no less than 90 fighter-bombers and helicopters. However, a Gotland class submarine, which costs about 100 million dollars (the cost of a single F-35 fighter-bomber) seems to be more useful. The US Navy chiefs were so confused by the results of the manoeuvres that they decided to ask the Swedish Navy some Gotland lent for two years to improve the US submarine detection systems. Finding the submarine in the depths of the ocean, the portal points out, is not easy at all. The small 1,600-ton ship stands out for having air-independent propulsion, with Stirling cycle engines that are quieter than diesel engines and allow them to stay underwater for a long time. The Gotland class of the Swedish Navy was built between 1992 and 1997. The ship, with a crew of 27 people and 60 meters in length, is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots. Each submarine is equipped with four 533 mm and two 400 mm torpedo tubes. Despite being an unusual result, this is not the first time a small submarine “sinks” a powerful aircraft carrier into naval exercises. In 2015, during joint exercises between the French and US Navy in the North Atlantic, a French Saphir-class nuclear submarine, which manoeuvred “on the side of the enemy”, “sank” an American aircraft carrier and most of its escort. Saphir trained with the 12th US Navy Attack Fleet, consisting of USS Theodore Roosevelt, several Ticonderoga cruisers, an Arleigh Burke-class counter-torpedo, and several Los Angeles-class attack submarines. In 2007, also a diesel-electric submarine of the navy of Canada, in exercises with the British navy, “sank” the carrier HMS Illustrious. In naval carrier exercises, submarines are often used, which represent a real and significant threat to the safety of the American war fleets – something that does not seem to be necessary to prove.

Aston Martin submarine.

Aston Martin and Triton have announced the completion of their joint design for Project Neptune – a submarine. Bring on the Bond references.

Aston Martin and Triton Submarines have unveiled their collaborative design for Project Neptune, a joint project to create a limited number of mini subs. Production of the first model is due to commence shortly ahead of a public unveiling later in 2018. Since the announcement of the project back in September 2017, both Triton and Aston Martin have pushed the boat out to ensure styling and detailed design remains par with the more conventional road-going vehicle. To boast the Aston Martin emblem, every 'vehicle' must tick all the boxes in terms of refinement, performance, beauty and elegance. In addition to these strict criteria, the submersible must also be safe, dependable and – in this case, at least – offer passengers near 360º visibility. To mark this key accomplishment, Project Neptune's final technical specification was announced as of this afternoon; confirming an ability to dive down to depths of 500 meters while carrying two passengers and a pilot. Top speed is quoted as 5 knots (6mph). A spokesperson for the project explained: 'By improving the hydrodynamic efficiency, reducing frontal area, and increasing the power; the submersible will have an anticipated sprint speed in excess of 5 knots and approximately four times the acceleration of Triton’s flagship 3300/3 model.'Marek Reichman, Aston Martin EVP and Chief Creative Officer commented: 'The exterior design of Project Neptune owes a lot to the pursuit of performance. As with the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the hyper-car we are developing with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, we have afforded as much attention to the hydrodynamics of the underside as we have the visible surfaces. Some of that detail may never be seen, but its effect will certainly be felt. 'Project Neptune’s interior was a great challenge. Unlike a sports car where the interiors are installed into an open-sided cabin before the doors are fitted, everything you see inside will be lowered through the upper-hatch and assembled within the completed sphere of the pressure hull. We have been able to present a congruous aesthetic that defies its multi-part complex installation.'

John Ramsay, Chief Technical Officer at Triton Submarines, commented: 'The work we have done together on the exterior of the submersible pleases me most. I’m particularly proud of our joint development of the acrylic canopy and iridium coating. The prototypes look incredible, being simultaneously functional and beautiful. John added: 'The interior is quintessentially Aston Martin – a luxurious mix of hand-stitched leather and high-performance carbon fibre, assembled without obstructing the panoramic sight-lines that Triton submersibles are famous for.' If having one of these luxurious submersibles isn't quite enough, you can select from a range of three designer specifications, crafted by Aston Martin’s in-house design team.  Fancy having an up-close look? Aston Martin and Triton Submarines will be welcoming prospective buyers to explore the submersible at this week’s LYBRA Superyacht Show in Barcelona, Spain. Already sold? Although numbers are strictly limited, you can register interest through your local Aston Martin dealer or their nominated Triton Submarine’s representative.

Lurid tale of bribery and murder looms anew for Malaysia's Najib

Ousted Malaysian premier Najib Razak is already in hot water over allegations he looted state funds, but his legal woes could worsen as calls grow for a fresh look at an even darker past scandal involving the grisly slaying of a young model. The lurid earlier affair centred on allegations that Malaysian officials took huge kickbacks in the 2002 purchase of Scorpene submarines from France when Mr Najib was defence minister. The sensational saga transfixed Malaysia for years until the authoritarian former regime used its leverage to eventually bury it, though whispers persist that Mr Najib, 64, and his wife Rosmah Mansor were deeply involved. But Mr Najib was trounced in a stunning May 9 election and Malaysia's new government has vowed to investigate not only current allegations that Mr Najib stole billions from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, but also lift the lid on other unresolved scandals under the graft-plagued former government. "We are very encouraged by the quick moves so far on (1MDB) and that the government is taking previous corruption seriously," said Ms Cynthia Gabriel, who heads the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), a Malaysian NGO. "In this regard, scandals like Scorpene cannot be ignored. Pressure is building and its going to get more interesting." Mr Najib's immediate concern is allegations that he, his family, and cronies pillaged billions from 1MDB. He is barred from leaving Malaysia and police have seized large amounts of cash, jewels and luxury items from his home and other sites. But 1MDB pales in many ways to the Scorpene affair, which has sex, submarines, assassins on the run, and an unfortunate Mongolian model and translator. It centres on allegations that French submarine maker DCNS paid "commissions" of more than 114 million euros (S$180.50 million) to a shell company linked to Mr Abdul Razak Baginda, a close Najib associate who brokered the US$1.1 billion submarine deal. Mr Najib's opponents said the payments were kickbacks. Mr Abdul Razak's Mongolian mistress Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was said to have demanded a payoff for working as a translator in negotiations, was shot dead, her body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur in 2006. Allegations that Mr Najib and Madam Rosmah were involved in the killing - carried out by two government bodyguards - were steadfastly denied by Mr Najib. He also was forced to publicly deny having had an affair with Altantuya. The case sank off the radar after a Malaysian court in 2008 cleared Mr Abdul Razak of abetting the murder, sparking allegations of a huge cover-up to protect Mr Najib, promoted to deputy prime minister by then. But a key figure now looms as a potential game-changer. Sirul Azhar Umar was convicted along with another police bodyguard in the killing, but he has said they were patsies for "important people" who ordered the murder, and has previously threatened to tell all. Before he could be jailed, Sirul somehow managed to flee in 2015 to Australia, where he is believed to be in custody.  He told a Malaysian news outlet on Saturday he was ready to reveal who ordered the murder. “I am willing to assist the new government to tell what actually transpired provided that the government grants me (a) full pardon,” Sirul, who is in Australian immigration custody, told news website Malaysiakini. "At that time, the judiciary was compromised," Mr Anwar, 70, said in an interview. "I don't know to what extent Najib was involved or not, but he's certainly implicated in some way," he added. He noted that all traces of Altantuya entering Malaysia before her murder were eliminated, saying that "had to be a higher-up decision". Also looming is a slow-moving effort in French courts that could reveal more. French judicial sources last year told AFP that investigators there had indicted two former top French executives linked to the Scorpene deal, as well as Mr Abdul Razak. Following Malaysia's election, C4 publicly called for an immediate investigation of Mr Najib and others over the submarines and Altantuya's murder, calling the affair "one of the (previous) government's greatest robberies". Ms Gabriel admits that the sheer backlog of scandals under the former government, including dodgy land deals, looting of timber resources, and numerous suspicious deaths of government critics while in police custody, could delay justice for Altantuya. Powerful vested interests also remain, including former establishment figures now aligned with the new government. "It might be tricky. But if they truly are now behind the rule of law, no stone should be unturned," she said. Dredging up the truth in the Scorpene case can be risky. In 2008, a private investigator deeply involved in the affair, Mr P. Balasubramaniam, implicated several government officials, including Mr Najib, in the murder. He quickly recanted, later saying he had been threatened, and fled to India. He returned in 2013 vowing to tell all in the scandal, just as Mr Najib was facing crucial elections, but died two weeks later. Authorities blamed a sudden heart attack.


Titanic Survey Expedition Rescheduled To 2019


Lightning damage to Titan and uncharacteristically stormy conditions in the Bahamas prevented the team from completing the first 4000-meter dive 45 days prior to the Titanic Survey Expedition. This milestone was a key decision point in the testing timeline and a trigger for a go/no-go decision to conduct the expedition in 2018. Deep sea testing began in late April near Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas. Upon arrival, the sub’s electronics sustained lightning damage that affected over 70% of its internal systems.  This delay and persistent poor weather in the Bahamas lead us to change the testing plan to accommodate maintenance and electronics improvements needed for our 4,000m manned tests. To quickly validate the hull design, Titan will first be lowered unmanned to 4,000 meters on a cable from a support ship. This test in June will provide real-time data on hull performance and prove her ability to dive to her designed depth. In parallel, our engineers continue to troubleshoot and improve all electrical systems. As soon as these essential systems are back online, we will resume incremental depth testing with Stockton Rush piloting the submersible to 4,000 meters over a series of dives – and becoming the second person in history to solo dive to this depth.



Malaysia mulls task force to probe French submarine deal

MALAYSIA'S Cabinet is discussing setting up a special task force to investigate alleged corruption during the purchase of two French submarines in 2002 when the defence ministry was headed by ousted prime minister Najib Razak. Since his surprise defeat in an election last month, Mr Najib has been barred from leaving the country, and anti-corruption agents have relaunched a probe into how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund that he founded. Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing, but during nearly a decade in power he was dogged by scandal - mostly financial - including over suspected kickbacks paid in the submarine deal. French financial prosecutors are probing the sale of the Scorpene-class submarines built by state-controlled warship builder DCN International (DCNI), and have placed Abdul Razak Baginda, a former aide to Mr Najib, under formal investigation in connection with the deal. Malaysia's new defence minister said on Monday that a proposed task force looking into the deal will be discussed in Cabinet, but did not elaborate further. "It's too early for me to comment because this task force will be discussed with Cabinet," Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu was quoted as saying in an online report by Channel News Asia. Abdul Razak advised Mr Najib on the 2002 submarine deal. He has denied wrongdoing, and the previous Malaysian government denied allegations of corruption. Telephone calls made by Reuters to Abdul Razak were unanswered. The French probe began after Malaysian human rights group Suaram alleged that the sale resulted in some US$130 million of commissions being paid to a company linked to Mr Najib. There has been no evidence linking Mr Najib directly to corruption in the deal, and he and his supporters have consistently denied any wrongdoing. Mr Najib could not be reached on Monday for a comment on the task force. DCNI later became a new entity called DCNS, which in turn rebranded itself as Naval Group last year. French defence company Thales owns around a third of Naval Group. Suaram also linked the 2006 murder of a 28-year-old Mongolian model to the submarine sale. Altantuya Shaariibuu, an interpreter and associate of Abdul Razak, was killed and blown up with military grade explosives in a forest on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital. Last month, Mongolia's President Battulga Khaltmaa urged Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to reopen investigations into her murder.


Real story of how the Titanic shipwreck was discovered

IT TOOK 73 years to find the wreckage of the Titanic at the bottom of the sea — but it might never have been discovered if it wasn’t for a curious navy chief on a completely different mission. A new exhibit, Titanic: The Untold story, at the National Geographic Museum in Washington has revealed the once top-secret story about oceanographer Robert Ballard’s discovery of the wreck while searching for two nuclear submarines. The navy commander, who found the wreck on the first day of September 1985 after only 12 days of searching, was tasked to explore sunken submarines the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion using submersible technology. The submarines sank in the North Atlantic Ocean during the Cold War, and the US government wanted to learn the environmental impact on the subs and find out whether foul play was involved. But Ballard wanted more from the mission and asked for funding to locate the Titanic after several expeditions to find the wreckage had previously failed, largely due to the difficulty of reaching a wreck that lies nearly 4km below the surface, where the water pressure is over 3000kg per square inch.   But Ballard believed its remains were near the submarines and wanted a chance to find it. Others were given months to locate the ship. Ballard and his team had less than two weeks after completing their first mission. He studied every detail of the Titanic and decided to seek not the ship itself, but the debris field. He (correctly) theorised it had broken in half and left a debris trail as it sank. At 2am on September 1, they found the RMS Titanic wreckage at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Newfoundland, about 2000km from New York.  Ballard and several crew members watched the robotic submersible technology deliver images of the Titanic’s boiler, which hadn’t been sighted since it was above water all those years ago. “We were at the very spot Titanic sank. We were there,” Ballard told National Geographic. The Navy didn’t expect Ballard would find the Titanic, so when that happened, “they got really nervous because of the publicity,” he said, which is why the story is only now being told. The story is being told in detail at the National Geographic exhibit, which is now open to the public through January 6, 2019.

Sweden Makes Some Tough Submarine (1 Sunk a U.S. Aircraft Carrier)

For decades, submarines came in two discrete flavours: traditional diesel-electric submarines that need to surface every day or two to recharge their noisy, air-breathing diesel engines, and nuclear-powered submarines that could quietly hum along under the sea at relatively high speeds for months at a time thanks to their nuclear reactors. The downside to the nuclear-powered variety, of course, is that they cost many times the price of a comparable diesel submarines and require nuclear propulsion technology, which may not be worth the trouble for a country only interested in defending its coastal waters. A diesel submarine may also run more quietly than a nuclear submarine by turning off its engines and running on batteries—but only for a very short amount of time. Still, there remains a performance gap in stealth and endurance that many countries would like to bridge at an affordable price. One such country was Sweden, which happens to be in a busy neighbourhood opposite to Russian naval bases on the Baltic Sea. Though Sweden is not a member of NATO, Moscow has made clear it might take measures to ‘eliminate the threat,’ as Putin put it, if Stockholm decides to join or support the alliance. After a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine ran aground just six miles away from a Swedish naval base in 1981, Swedish ships opened fire on suspected Soviet submarines on several occasions throughout the rest of the 1980s. More recently, Russia has run an exercise simulating a nuclear attack on Sweden and likely infiltrated Swedish territorial waters with least one submarine in 2014. Back in the 1960s, Sweden had begun developing a modernized version of the Stirling engine, a closed-cycle heat conversion engine first developed in 1818. This was first used to power a car in the 1970s, then the Swedish ship-builder Kockums successfully retrofitted a Stirling engine to power a Swedish Navy A14 submarine Nacken in 1988. Because the Stirling burns diesel fuel using liquid oxygen stored in cryogenic tanks rather than an air-breathing engine, it can quietly cruise underwater at low speeds for weeks at a time without having to surface. Kockums went on to build three Gotland-class submarines in the late 1990s, the first operational submarines designed with Air-Independent Propulsion systems. The Gotland became famous for sinking a U.S. aircraft carrier in a 2005 military exercise; its characteristics and operational history are further described in this earlier article. Stirling AIP technology has subsequently been incorporated into numerous Japanese and Chinese submarines, while Germany and France developed more expensive fuel-cell and steam-turbine based AIP submarines instead. Sweden, meanwhile, converted her four late-80s vintage Västergötland diesel-electric submarines between 2003 and 2005 to use Stirling AIP engines—refits which involved cutting the submarines in two and stretching them out from forty-eight to sixty meters! Two of these submarines were re-designated the Södermanland-class, while the other two were sold to Singapore. The latter Archer-class boats are climatized for operations in warmer waters and boast improved navigation and fire control systems.

Sweden’s Ghostly Super Sub of the Future

Sweden intends to retire its Södermanland boats between 2019 and 2022. Since the 1990s, Kockums had been bouncing around a concept for a next-generation AIP submarine designated the A26 to succeed the Gotland-class, but encountered numerous setbacks. Stockholm cancelled A26 procurement in 2014, and at one point there was even a raid by the Swedish government attempting to confiscate blueprints from the German parent firm Thyssen-Krupp which was confronted by company security. Since then, Kockums has been purchased by the Swedish firm Saab. Finally in June 2015, Swedish defence minister Sten Tolgfors announced Stockholm was finally committing to procure two A26s at a price equivalent to $959 million—less than a fifth the unit cost of a nuclear-powered Virginia class submarine of the U.S. Navy.


OceanGate tests the Carbon Fiber and Titanium Hull of Titan, to a Depth of 4,000 Meters.

OceanGate has successfully completed unmanned depth tests validating the carbon fiber and titanium hull of Titan, to a depth of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). The monumental milestone opens the opportunity for manned exploration of more than 50% of the ocean. As part of Titan’s extensive testing program, the OceanGate team conducted a series of unmanned dives by lowering the submersible on monofilament line incrementally to 4,000 meters. Onboard the sub, strain gauges and acoustic emission sensors measured the health of the hull, providing data for the team to analyze between dives. These sensors are permanently mounted in the sub and give the pilot real-time feedback on hull behavior on all manned dives. The cable test was just one phase in a test program that began nearly three years ago with the construction of a one-third scale model of the pressure vessel and the launching of Cyclops 1. The scale model underwent four rigorous pressure tests in a chamber at the University of Washington, which validated carbon fiber as a viable material for the hull design. Following the cable test, Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s CEO and Chief Pilot, will dive solo in incremental depths until reaching 4,000 meters; In doing so, he will join James Cameron as one of only two people in history to solo dive to this depth.

Singapore Navy’s newest, custom-made German submarine

More than 30m under the waters around Singapore, where light hardly penetrates the murky depths, noise is perhaps the last thing you would expect. But the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) latest submarine, the Type 218SG, hears and senses a cacophony of chatter. Not of people, but of the 2,000 ships that sail through the Singapore Strait every day.  “Many of the boats in the world are not designed for such environments: Warm, shallow, noisy, crowded,” RSN’s head of naval operations Cheong Kwok Chien told Channel NewsAsia in an exclusive interview on Saturday (Jun 30). “The operating environment makes a lot of difference to a submariner, and if you design a boat meant for this type of environment, you can make a lot of difference to whoever you’re up against.” And so the RSN searched all over the world for a submarine that could replace its ageing Archer-class and Challenger-class predecessors. A submarine that could truly be made for Singapore from scratch. “We’ve operated second-hands for 20 years,” Rear-Admiral (RADM) Cheong said of the retrofitted Swedish submarines. “Over 20 years, we’ve built up knowledge of what a submarine would be that’s designed for local waters.” In the ???????end the Germans, masters of the submarine craft, “offered the best deal” in terms of technology, logistics, training and knowledge exchange. It has been reported that the contract for the first two Type 218SGs is worth more than 1 billion euros (S$1.6 billion). The deal clincher? “The Germans were also very willing to listen to our requirements and change a lot of the original design to suit what we need in our waters,” RADM Cheong said. The manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), also prepared high-resolution, virtual reality goggles for Singapore officials to put on and “walk” through the submarine, allowing them to tweak even the smallest details. “We can actually know the ergonomics,” RADM Cheong said. “For a Singaporean’s height, can I reach the top? We could also make the pathways smaller and put more equipment because we are smaller in size.” The Defence Ministry said Singapore will get four Type 218SGs, with delivery from 2021. The programme is “progressing well”, with the first two and remaining two submarines having commenced construction and steel-cutting, respectively. But perhaps the most crucial customisations are in the Type 218SG’s combat system. Its improved sonar, which listens to sounds like propeller noises and water flow, locates enemies faster and identifies them more accurately. “That’s when digital audio recognition comes in. We will hear frequency, sound wave profiles, and compare to known sounds that we have,” RADM Cheong said. “That basically helps us light up the underwater world.” With the waters around Singapore so shallow and congested, the Type 218SG can tell whether it’s facing a merchant ship, cruise liner or warship better than RSN’s current submarines. “It’s like going into a disco and picking up the sweetest voice,” RADM Cheong added. “You need to be quite capable. If not you will be blasted, and in our environment everybody gets blasted.” Once the target is locked on, then come the torpedoes. A Type 218SG model that TKMS had displayed at an exhibition last year indicated that the submarine will be fitted with eight forward-firing torpedo tubes for heavyweight torpedoes. The "big improvement", however, lies in the submarine’s electronics and computers that enable fewer crew members to do more with the weapons. “If you watch the old war movies, it’s a whole bunch of people trying to hear (the enemy) then get the torpedo ready; there’s a whole lot of activity on the boat,” RADM Cheong said. “No, what we are going for now is one guy pressing a button to release the torpedo.” Another improvement is the Type 218SG’s air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, which RADM Cheong said is more efficient than the one in the Archer-class submarine. The AIP allows submarines to stay underwater longer before surfacing to recharge the battery that powers its systems. The battery is charged by a diesel engine that needs air to operate. As such, the Type 218SG can last underwater two times longer than RSN’s current submarines. “That makes the submarine even more stealthy and mysterious because it can be all over the place without coming up,” RADM Cheong said. This stealth is what makes the Type 218SG so lethal, as RADM Cheong spoke in broad terms about how the submarines fit into RSN’s overall strategy. “All over the world, submarines are what we call strategic capabilities,” he said. “Because they are stealthy, can go to a lot of places and deliver a very impactful strike. So, most navies will use the submarine to deliver these effects.”   Besides hunting ships, submarines can do surveillance, deliver special forces, unmanned underwater vehicles and high-end weapons like nuclear missiles. “Sometimes, you have to strike at the Achilles heel of the adversary, somewhere he thinks he’s quite safe and doesn’t expect anybody to come,” RADM Cheong said, highlighting the “psychological threat” a submarine poses. When RSN’s submariners go for exercises, they typically train in some of these skills. “It makes all the seagoers, especially people on ships, quite fearful because you don’t know where it is,” RADM Cheong added. “Surface ships dislike submarines a lot, because most egos are broken by submariners.” In a one-on-one situation with conventional warships, RADM Cheong stated that submarines “always win”. “When the submarine hears you, with the range that it shoots, there’s not much you can do about it.” However, submarines are not invincible. RADM Cheong pointed out that they lack speed and are prone to being spotted when they surface. "So, these are inherent vulnerabilities,” he added. “Fast things and aircraft hunt submarines. To hunt a submarine, you must operate out of its element. If you operate in water, you must be something that it cannot or doesn’t want to kill." One example of a low-value target is an unmanned underwater vessel.


Nevertheless, RADM Cheong said a good submariner can remain undetected if he knows where to position the vessel in relation to how sound waves travel underwater. “If he exploits all these black holes underwater, nobody can hear him and he can hear everybody else,” he added. “He can be quite silent and maybe even invisible.” For the Type 218SG, RSN’s submariners will train in simulators and abroad with their German counterparts, who RADM Cheong described as some of the best in the world. “They like to have a worthy partner to spar with,” he said. “We also take this opportunity to learn from them.” RADM Cheong said the Germans were also grateful that the RSN wanted to fully customise its submarine, pointing out that they gained “a lot of interesting insights”. “They said not many customers are so forthcoming in saying that this doesn’t work.” To that end, RADM Cheong said the Type 218SG answers a lot of challenges. “German submarines are like BMWs, so we are very glad we decided on this class of submarine,” he added. “This new build is designed for Singapore roads, tailored to our ergonomics, size and driving range. Even the horn sounds better.”  The RSN also ensured that the internal systems, like the engine and electronics, were cost-efficient and maximised the crew’s capabilities. “On board, every submariner you bring is a huge investment,” RADM Cheong said. “So in terms of combat fighting, you want the submarine to be able to do a lot but not by putting in a lot of people.” RADM Cheong said this is crucial to tackle the “ever-present” threat of terrorism at sea with an increasingly constrained manpower base. The saying is that one US aircraft carrier carries more people than the number of active personnel the RSN has. “Almost everything that we wear, eat and the energy that we consume every day comes through the sea,” he added. “So, what the Navy has done is to look at this environment and recognise that we need to defend our lifelines."

Legoland's most costly attraction  — an "undersea" submarine ride.

When SeaWorld San Diego unveiled its now closed Submarine Quest attraction last year, passengers quickly discovered that the closest they were going to get to seeing sea life during the three-minute long ride was a brief encounter with a digital version of a giant octopus in a darkened enclosure. Not so for Legoland California, which plans to deliver an abundance of marine life — more than 1,000 sea animals, from stingrays to sharks — when it debuts this week its version of a submarine ride that really does go underwater. Standing in for an actual ocean is a 300,000-gallon aquarium populated with multiple species of sharks, rays and tropical fish, a feature that will differentiate the park’s Lego City Deep Sea Adventure attraction from other theme park submarine rides, including the last incarnation of Disneyland’s longstanding Submarine Voyage, now dubbed Finding Nemo. None incorporate real sea life.

Legoland in Carlsbad unveiled its latest ride for youngsters called Lego City Deep Sea Adventure Submarine Ride. Inspired by a similar ride at three other Legoland parks overseas, Deep Sea Adventure marks parent company Merlin Entertainments’ single largest investment in an attraction in any Legoland park, outside of Carlsbad’s Sea Life Aquarium. Park officials, however, will not disclose how much was spent on the ride. The attraction, which opens Monday, is located in the northeast corridor of the park where its miniature golf had previously been situated. While the Carlsbad park is no stranger to underwater life considering it also operates the Sea Life Aquarium, it is no small feat creating a massive concrete-walled tank and the accompanying infrastructure needed to navigate 12-seat vehicles through the watery environment. “This is a big deal because any other submarine ride is mostly simulated and there isn’t even water in them much less sea life,” said Larry Wyatt, owner of Pasadena-based Wyatt Design Group, which does design work for theme parks and was involved in the original planning for Legoland California. “For a lot of these it’s animation or animatronics so this is something no one has done, not even Disney. “There is a lot of competition in Southern California so every so often you have to do something really big to make a difference.” The ride inevitably invites comparisons with SeaWorld’s ill-fated Submarine Quest, a ride that ran on an elevated track and did not traverse water. It has been closed since early this year with little explanation for the closure. In a May post on his website,, editor Robert Niles said of Legoland’s Deep Sea Adventure: “no matter how this turns out, it's got to beat last summer's Submarine Quest ride at SeaWorld San Diego.” Conceived four years ago, the attraction has a direct tie-in to Lego's Deep Sea Adventure line of toys and complements its aquarium that opened eight years ago. It also builds on the popularity of similar attractions at the Windsor, Dubai and Japan parks. “Sea Life Aquarium is an extremely popular attraction here and part of the formula that makes Legoland a successful resort,” said park president Peter Ronchetti. “So bringing that into the ride in a very controlled way opens up a whole new area of discovery for the children. It checks all the boxes for us, it’s something different for us, it’s in an exciting environment, and we’re bringing the ride and fish together in a whole new way.” It’s also designed to appeal to Legoland’s demographic of young children who likely haven’t been exposed to submarines or even sharks, Ronchetti said. “How many 10-year-olds have been on a submarine and looked out and seen a shark?” he said. “The industry benchmark in North America has been submarines with animation and mechanical fish. But this is real so we’ve broken new ground for North America.” The ride’s story line is structured around a voyage in which the passengers are searching for sunken Lego artwork, swords and other treasures strategically located on the “ocean” bottom. In keeping with the Legoland tradition of Lego model-building, the journey starts in the ride’s queue area where children are invited to construct sea creatures at a large table dominated by a 5-foot-tall shark crafted from more than 80,000 Lego bricks. As they move through the line, submarine passengers are treated to a bit of high-tech wizardry as they’re given a briefing on the mission that awaits them by a 3-foot-tall Lego diver whose face appears to be moving as he speaks. Except the figure itself isn’t really moving. “This was specifically developed for Legoland California,” said Tom Storer, senior project manager with Merlin. “We spent a lot of R & D to find the projector that would fit into the microphone so you can feel like the figure is talking to you. This came from Merlin Entertainments creative team, so this is a unique idea developed for this project.” The real treasure-hunting quest begins as passengers step down to board the submarine while it advances very slowly along the track. Once seated, riders can gaze out at the water via portholes in front and back or through large picture windows on either side of the vehicle. They are soon greeted by the voice of a master diver. “There’s incredible sea creatures and treasures to discover out in the deep,” he says. “We’re going to have a whale of a time.” As exotic fish glide by and an occasional nurse shark or southern stingray with a 5-foot-wide wing span come into view among the faux coral, the guide says excitedly, “Wow, there must be hundreds of fish here. Keep your eyes open, too, for black tip reef sharks. Above are individual touch screens where kids and adults can tap icons of treasures as they spot them in plain sight. The more treasures they successfully detect, the better their outcomes at the end of the ride as they strive to become a master explorer. “Keep looking explorers,” the guide urges, “you’re off to a flying start.” An occasional cloud of bubbles erupts outside the windows, designed to mimic a sub descending. While the vehicle itself does not descend, the depth of the tank changes at one point from 7-½ feet to 10-½ feet. Most of the fish that have been captured for the attraction are native to Australia and were acquired from multiple sources, including accredited zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and Europe, said Marie Collins, displays curator for the Sea Life Aquarium and Deep Sea Adventure. Eventually, there will be more than 2,000 sea animals. The fish are fed throughout the day, occasionally in sight of those riding the subs, but before the park opens, aquarium staff do the heavy feedings. Because of the variety of fish, food varies from algae and garlic-soaked nor to shrimp, clams, tuna and salmon. With eight submarine cars continuously operating, Legoland hopes to process 1,000 passengers an hour on the ride. Storer of Merlin was formerly a lieutenant in the Navy and recalls not so fondly his training on submarines. “Compared to that, I like this a lot more,” he said. “There are no windows on a real submarine so it’s refreshing to look out and see real sea creatures as opposed to a white wall.” SUBMARINE RIDE: FUN FACTS. Length of ride: 4 minutes. Number of passengers per sub: 12. Weight of submarine: 22,000 pounds. Tank size: 300,000 gallons. Animal species: Eventually 2,000, including black tip reef shark, southern stingray, and bigscale soldierfish.

New Seabourn expedition ships to include onboard submarines

Seabourn has signed a "letter of intent" for two new expedition ships to include a pair of submarines onboard for underwater exploration. The Carnival Corp-owned brand has signed a deal with ship builders T.Mariotti and Damen to build the two 264-passenger vessels, which will be delivered in June 2021 and May 2022. The 23,000-tonne ships will offer 132 veranda suites and will meet PC6 Polar Class standards allowing it to explore regions such as the Arctic and Antarctica. Both ships will carry two submarines onboard as well as 24 Zodiac inflatable boats. Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s president, said: “The combination of immersive experience, fine accommodations and sumptuous amenities offered by these new ships builds on the success of our current product and further demonstrates our leadership as innovators as we continue offering the finest ultra-luxury cruises available.” Seabourn plans to announce design and service details for the ships later this year, with itineraries and booking information to be released in early 2019. Current plans are for the first ship to sail in the Arctic in late summer 2021 followed by a full winter season in the Antarctic.

RAN grants operational licence for JFD submarine rescue system


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Australian government have granted an operational licence for a new AUD19.7 million (USD14.7 million) submarine rescue system developed by JFD, the Australian subsidiary of the UK-based company announced in a 3 July statement.The move means that for the first time the whole crew of an Australian submarine can be treated at once using the new hyperbaric equipment, Toff Idrus, general manager of JFD Australia, was quoted as saying in the statement.“What it means for submariners is extremely significant as up to 88 people can now receive life-saving medical treatment in the hyperbaric equipment suite and pressurised transfer chamber at any one time.“When you consider that a Collins-class submarine has a crew of 48–60, this new capability is very significant and represents an important milestone for submarine rescue in Australia,” said Idrus.The equipment, which consists of a transfer-under-pressure chamber and a recompression treatment suite, is able to withstand and operate effectively in rough, continuous seas with swells of 5 m, according to JFD.The system, which took two years to build, will undergo further naval testing and evaluation in August, culminating in the annual ‘Black Carillion’ naval exercises set to be held in November 2018, added the company.s Jane’s reported in April, JFD is contracted to provide submarine escape-and-rescue services for the RAN under the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service (JFSRS) brand.For its Australian JFSRS, JFD utilises the 21.5-tonne LR5 free-swimming submarine rescue vehicle (SRV), which is designed to mate with a distressed submarine in the event of an emergency, and transfer the rescued personnel onto the deck of its host ship.The rescued submariners are then moved through the transfer-under-pressure chamber and into the hyperbaric equipment suite, with doctors monitoring their wellbeing and helping them overcome any life-threatening effects that come from being rescued from pressurised waters.

Russia to develop rescue system for distressed submarines.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has announced a closed tender for creating a modular rescue system for the crews of submarines in distress, according to materials posted on the state procurement web portal on Tuesday. "The fulfillment of the R&D work: ‘Developing a Modular System of Rescue for the Crews of Distressed Submarines Lying on the Seabed (codenamed Luchina),’" the materials say. The R&D work should be completed by November 10, 2020 and is estimated at 221 million rubles ($3.5 million). "The initial (maximum) price of the state contract is 221 million rubles, with budget appropriations to equal 26.5 million rubles ($419,300) in 2018, 91.5 million rubles ($1.4 million) in 2019 and 103 million rubles ($1.6 million) in 2020," the accompanying documents say. The contractor will be selected in September this year.

Thailand to develop midget submarines

A project by the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to develop a midget submarine – provisionally known as the Chawalan class – has been approved by the Thai government, it has been confirmed to Jane’s . Under the project, the RTN has been allocated THB200 million (USD6 million) to develop and build a submarine prototype over the next seven years. Initial research on the project started in late 2017. The design and development of the midget submarine will take four years, with a further two years to build the prototype and an additional 12 months to undertake trials and evaluations. If the project is successful, construction of the platform is expected to commence in the mid-2020s

SUBMARINES for 'suicide missions' on enemy targets.

CHINA'S military is planning to launch robot submarines for 'suicide missions' to sink enemy targets, scientists have revealed.  The hi-tech submarines, which are in development, will be powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to replace human crew members. This will allow the vessels to navigate independently and work alongside China's existing fleets of submarines. Beijing hopes to launch the new submarines in the early 2020s to become a naval superpower to rival the United States. The unmanned subs are expected to patrol the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, home to many disputed military bases. The AI has no soul, it is perfect for this kind of job. They will be used to plant sea mines and even carry out 'kamikaze'-style attacks on enemy fleets, according to reports. An anonymous Chinese researcher told the South China Morning Post: "The AI has no soul. It is perfect for this kind of job. "The submarine can be instructed to take down a nuclear-powered submarine or other high-value targets. "It can even perform a kamikaze strike." The AI-powered subs are not expected to fully replace traditional manned submarines. Luo Yuesheng, an automation expert at China's Harbin Engineering University, said: "AI will not replace humans. "The situation under water can get quite sophisticated. I don't think a robot can understand or handle all the challenges." However, Chinese officials hope the technology will help the country challenge assert its power in the South China Sea. China lays claim to most of the strategic waters, which are a key trading route. However, the United States carries out regular naval patrols in the region to assert its right to freedom of navigation. China has long objected to Washington's military operations, accusing the US of breaching Beijing's sovereignty.

Global sales of submersibles are on the rise,

Louise Harrison, sales director of Triton in Europe, attributes their increasing popularity to a growing desire among younger members of the super-rich to explore areas of the world that were once exclusively the purview of dedicated researchers and explorers. Between 25 and 30 submersibles were sold in 2017, ranging in price from £1 million to £30 million. There is a growing desire among younger members of the super-rich to explore areas of the world that were once exclusively the purview of dedicated researchers and explorers.


Submarine commanders who fired nuclear torpedoes at Novaya Zemlya

It was early morning 10th October 1957 when Captain Georgy Lazarev slowly sailed his «S-144» submarine into the quiet waters of the Chernaya Guba to conduct the first ever launch of a nuclear torpedo. More than 60 years later, his devastating blast is honoured with a monument on site. It was a deadly arms race going on and the Soviet Union was intensely developing its nuclear weapons program and conducting high-risk testing.Georgy Lazarev was only 37 years old, but already among the most experienced submariners in the Soviet Navy. He had served in the Northern Fleet during the 2WW and in 1948 completed the Frunze Naval School in Leningrad.But he had never been close to executing an order similar to the one he got in early fall 1957.Lazarev and his crew had in May that same year first been ordered to sail from the home base of Polyarny near Murmansk to Severodvinsk. There, a local shipyard had strengthened the vessel’s torpedo compartment. Then, the submarine was ordered to set course for Balushya Bay in Novaya Zemlya.The mission was top secret and none of the crew members, including Captain Lazarev himself, knew about their assignment, ship navigator on board the «S-144» Igor Murzenko recalls.All through August and September the submarine crew conducted comprehensive preparations in Novaya Zemlya, in the area of the Balushya Bay and the nearby Chernaya Bay, Murzenko reveals in conversations made with Professor Georgy Kostev.Soviet authorities had in July 1954 decided that Novaya Zemlya, the Arctic archipelago situated between the Barents Sea and Kara Sea, would become test ground for nuclear weapons. Hectic subsequent developments took place on site. Only about 14 month later, a first testing with a nuclear-armed torpedo model T-5 was conducted. That, however, did not include a launch from a vessel, but only the submerging of the torpedo into the water and subsequent detonation.It was only in 1957 that the T-5 was ready for real shooting. In April that year, the Soviet Council of Ministers had issued a secret decree that ordered test firing of nuclear weapons on surface and underwater, including with torpedoes, in the area.The T-5 had been engineered in the early 1950s and final testing without ammunition reportedly took place in the Ladoga Bay near St Petersburg immediately prior to the operation in Novaya Zemlya.Captain Lazarev had an utmost systematic approach to his work and he paid great attention to the younger officers, he patiently listened to their assessments and points of view, Lieutenant-navigator Igor Murzenko says about his former boss.They were serving on board a powerful vessel. The «S-144» had been in service since 1953. It was one of the first submarines of project 613, in NATO countries referred to the Whiskey-class. The 76 meter long diesel-engined attack submarine could hold a speed of 13,1 knots in submerged position and the weaponry was far more deadly compared with previous subs.


Commander Lazarev early in the morning 10th October 1957 got the instructions he had been waiting for: he was to sail to the Chernaya Bay and there from submerged position launch the nuclear torpedo. There was no specific target. The torpedo was simply to explode in the middle of a group of vessels placed in the area. A total of ten vessels, among them four submarines and three destroyers, were on site, the closest only 240 meters from the detonation point. The weapons developers wanted to study the effect of the detonation on nearby vessels.It was absolute silence in the command post of the «S-144» as the clock approached 10 that morning. Then came the launch, and then again silence. Only the ticking seconds of the timer device could be heard, Igor Murzenko recalls. Then, on 9 o’clock 54 minutes, 32 seconds, the torpedo detonated. The depths were 30 meters and a powerful shockwave soon afterwards hit the «S-144».«It was like crisp, almost metallic, knock on the ship, as if someone was lashing huge and heavy chains on the hulls,» Igor Murzenko describes.The «S-144» was located about 10 km from the site and Captain Lazerov could through the periscope see a huge vertical column of water and subsequent fire mushroom.However, instead of leaving the area, the sub was instructed to sail to the middle of the detonation point. Several people, among them both Lazarev and Murzenko entered the bridge as the vessel reached the site. But they quickly returned back inside when they turned on the dosimeter which showed overwhelming radiation.All the vessels that had been within a radius of 500 meters from the detonation were destroyed and sunk. Several of the other vessels got serious damage, but some of them were considered still fit for sailing and continued service after the blast.The «S-144» itself returned to Belushya Bay and a week later sailed to Liinakhamari, the port in the Kola Peninsula located only few kilometers from the border to Norway. There, the ship was decontaminated. Later, it returned to its base in Polyarny. However, also the «S-144» had got damage from the blast in Chernaya Bay and was never again used as attack submarine. After 1957, the vessel was rebuilt and subsequently served as training target, Professor Georgy Kostev writes.Captain Lazarev was released from duty and moved to St.Petersburg where he got a post in the Naval Academy.None of the sailers involved in the operation had knowledge about the level of radiation to which they had been exposed. They had been told by their superiors that underwater detonations posed no threat to their health. However, several of the crew members of the «S-144» later experienced otherwise.The situation was worst for the crews of the ships that had been used as targets in the Chernaya Bay. These sailors had viewed the explosion from the nearby shores and later, many of them sailed the same vessels back to their original bases.The archipelago of Novaya Zemlya was subsequently intensively used as test area for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons developers. A total of 224 nuclear- and thermonuclear tests were carried out in the area, the last two on October 24, 1990.As the remote Arctic lands of the Novaya Zemlya today again attract increasing attention from the Russian Armed Forces, the memory of heroes from the 1950s and early 1960s is brought to the forefront.In July this year, the Northern Fleet conducted a major expedition in the Novaya Zemlya, including in the areas around Chernaya Bay. In that connection, the expedition members laid the foundation for what will become a memorial monument for the submarine commanders that executed nuclear torpedo testing.On the monument will be listed the name of Georgy Lazarov and three other sub commanders; Nikolay Shumkov, Gennady Kaymak and Fyodor Kupriakov, the Northern Fleet informs.It was Shumkov, who on 23rd October 1961 from his «B-130» submarine, first fired a torpedo with a 4,8 kilotons warhead that exploded under water in the Chernaya Bay and then four days later on the same site shot a torpedo with a 16 kilotons warhead that exploded on the surface.The shooting was part of the exercise named «Coral». Also Gennary Kaymak was part of that exercise. On the 20th of October, he became the first ever to fire a nuclear missile that hit a target on the land surface of the Novaya Zemlya. Kaymyk was commander of the  «K-102», a project 629 submarine («Golf»-class).

The Wacky, Risky World of DIY Submarines

When marine scientist Shanee Stopnitzky learned that police had hauled her stolen yellow sub out of San Francisco Bay and taken it to an impound lot, she was relieved. Not for the vehicle, but for whoever took it for a joy ride. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can die,” Stopnitzky told Earther. Stopnitzky knows the risks better than most, having spent the last year immersing herself in the wild west world of DIY submersibles. This past spring, she quit her PhD program at UC Santa Cruz to become captain of two submersibles, and to lead the Berkeley-based Community Subermersibles Project, a 300-strong cooperative of volunteer engineers and fabricators dedicated to upgrading the machines and piloting them at sea. Fangtooth, a bright yellow 2-person sub with a top-hatch painted to look like Captain America’s shield, was the group’s first acquisition, purchased in March 2018 on six thousand dollar loan. Shortly after its misadventure at the hands of an unknown thief, in June, the group purchased their second submersible, Noctiluca, on a $100,000 loan from a generous individual. Larger and more powerful than Fangtooth, Noctiluca—formerly S-101—is a diesel-electric sub with a storied history, built by the British-based Marlin Submarines in the 1980s and upgraded by amateurs over the years. In the ‘90s, the sub briefly fell into the hands of to anti-whaling activist organization Sea Shepherd, where it acquired its distinctive orca whale paint job. The Community Submersibles Project purchased it from its last owner, U.S. Submarines co-founder Ellis Adams, who’d had it in storage in Florida for the past five years. Ultimately—once both subs are paid off and upgrades and repairs are completed—Stopnitzky and her crew hope to use them conduct exploratory research in some of the most poorly-studied ocean environments on Earth. Their dream destination? The mysterious Tonga trench in the South Pacific. “The end goal is for our crew to do our own expeditions,” Stopnitzky said. “I would basically be trying to target areas that have been least studied.”Virtually every type of locomotion has spawned a hobbyist community, from tinkerers who build their own cars to moonlighting aerospace engineers who fly their own ultra-light aircraft. But somehow, the idea of a homemade sub feels even more unusual and dangerous than taking to the skies in a DIY-plane. Perhaps it’s the fact that most of us will never step into a commercial sub in our lives, or that a great deal of technical training is required to safely explore the deep, from knowing how to operate life support systems to navigating poorly-mapped undersea geology, sometimes in total darkness. You’ve also got to keep any personal claustrophobia and anxiety about being mere inches away from the crushing pressure of the cold, dark sea in check. In that sense, diving in a sub is more like piloting a spaceship than an aircraft. “There are endless numbers of hazards” at the bottom of the ocean, John Wiltshire, the director of Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa told Earther. He named just a few, including getting stuck under a ledge, trapped in a cave, or simply becoming so mesmerized with your surroundings you forget to keep an eye out for danger. Those hazards haven’t deterred a niche community of DIY-ers from trying to explore the ocean on their own, without insurance or the aid of an expensive, certified vehicle. Perhaps the most famous of them is Karl Stanley, a self-taught engineer who turned his passion for DIY subs into a thriving business by skirting US government oversight and offering thrill-seekers the chance for a deep sea dive in one of his homemade subs off the coast of Honduras. He’s the one who sparked Stopnitzky’s interest in submersibles, after she spent a week last year doing volunteer work at his business in Roatán in exchange for a dive to 2,000 feet. “I realized it’s actually not out as far out of reach, engineering wise, as I was expecting,” she said. “The systems are often really simple.” Now, the Community Submersibles Project is in a position to try and prove that. Skilled engineers can volunteer to work on the subs, which need upgrades and repairs. Or, folks can pay a membership fee to become part owner of Noctiluca, with higher tier memberships including a comprehensive submarine training course, after which members are allowed to pilot the sub for any non-commercial purpose, from pelagic pleasure-cruises to filmmaking. Think of it like a food co-op, but for ocean exploration. Fangtooth is currently only equipped to dive to about 30 feet for half an hour. Stopnitzky says the group would like to upgrade it to become capable of dives to 120 feet for up to 72 hours, by adding an oxygen-diffusing, CO2-scrubbing life support system. Those upgrades are ongoing, but when the sub will be ready to hit the waves again depends on how quickly the Community Submersibles Project can crowdfund the money needed to finish them. Noctiluca, meanwhile, already has a life support system and is rated for 72 hours underwater and dives of up to several hundred feet. But the sub’s diesel motor, which gives it the somewhat unusual ability to cruise hundreds of miles along the ocean’s surface, needs repairs, and the batteries that power it during dives need replacing. The sub’s loan also needs to be paid off before it can be used, something the group hopes to accomplish through a mix of crowdfunding, renting it out as a prop, and their membership club.  “It’s mostly financially constrained,” Stopnitzky said. “We have the expertise to make it [the repairs and upgrades] happen right away.” But while the Community Subermersibles Project may indeed have technical expertise, not everyone’s comfortable with this model of community-led ocean exploration. Industry experts cited safety concerns with subs built and upgraded outside the purview of a shipping classification organization, non-governmental groups that maintain standards for the construction and maintenance of subs. In the US, certification is necessary for subs to become insured for commercial purposes. While Noctiluca is insured against theft or damage, neither submersible has liability insurance should something go wrong on a dive. “Strictly speaking I wouldn’t recommend someone go out in a sub like this,” said Bruce Jones, co-founder and President of Triton submarines, where Noctilcua was housed before Stopnitzky and her crew decided to purchase it. Triton builds a wide array of personal submersibles, geared toward everyone from wealthy thrill-seekers to film crews. Unlike a DIY sub, all of its wares are built to the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) submarine classification standards or to a complementary set of European standards. While certification is, in Jones’ words, “a very arduous process” it ensures every component and life support system is tested and retested before a civilian is allowed to take the vessel out for a spin. Folks in the commercial sub business like to point out that classed civilian subs are, statistically speaking, the safest form of transit in the world. Most U.S. scientific research also happens in an ABS-certified vessel, according to Wiltshire. He explained that a researcher working with an uncertified vessel won’t get funding from a major U.S. granting organization like the National Science Foundation or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Even if private funds could be procured, most major marine science universities’ dive safety officers wouldn’t let their scientists step aboard a backyard sub.  But while certification and major US research partnerships may be out of reach for a group like Community Submersibles Project, there’s not much stopping them from shipping off to sea when their subs ready to go. As far as safety goes, Stopnitzky emphasized that personal subs have an “excellent safety record” and are typically designed by “very serious engineers.” “Having a good engineer and skilled fabricators makes for a good submersible, not certification,” she said. Stopnitzky’s ultimate goal is to travel to parts South Pacific that have seen very little undersea exploration. She’d like to survey biodiversity and study the ecology of the diel migration, a vast daily disaspora of ocean life to the surface at night and back into the ocean’s depths when the sun rises. She says she’s hoping to start another PhD overseas in a year or two, with a department that’ll support such work. In theory, the possibilities are as wide as the open ocean, given that we’ve only explored a small percentage of it carefully. And Wiltshire—although he felt homemade subs weren’t necessarily safe—admitted there’s likely no shortage of scientists who’d jump at the opportunity to take one for a spin. “If you’re willing to provide the sub,” he said, “they’re gonna be lined up down the block.”

In 1972, the Navy Used a Spy Submarine to Wiretap the Russian Navy

Since 2015, there have been reports of Russian submarines and spy ships trawling the waters near the ocean-spanning underwater fiber-optic cables vital to trans-oceanic Internet access. In fact, reported activity by spy ship Yartar off the U.S. nuclear-armed submarine base in King’s Bay, Georgia is likely in search of secret military cables used exclusively by the Pentagon.  The Russians might be interested in hacking into those cables because the U.S. Navy pulled of such an exploit forty-six years earlier using a specially-modified spy submarine, a nuclear-powered wiretap, and some helium-swilling aquanauts.  Commissioned in 1960, the USS Halibut was a one-of-a-kind nuclear-powered submarine designed to launch Regulus II nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The 5,000-ton submarine housed two 17.5-meter-long Regulus II missiles in a grotesquely bulged hangar on her foredeck. The missiles were launched while surfaced from a hydraulically extended ramp to strike targets up to 1,150 miles away.  However, by the time the Halibut entered service, the Navy had developed the Polaris, the U.S.’s first Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile, which could be fired from underwater into space to strike target nearly 3,000 miles away. The obsolete Regulus II was canceled a year before the Halibut was commissioned in 1960, and the submarine spent four years lugging five older Regulus I missiles on deterrence patrols before these too were retired.  Still, the Navy saw useful potential in the Halibut’s unconventional layout, and in 1968 she received a unique overhaul. The bulged missile hangar was converted into the ‘Bat Cave’ (inspired by comic book character’s lair) stuffed full of spy equipment, including a rare 60s-era 24bit UNIVAC computer, a retractable seafloor-scanning sonar, and a photo-developing lab. A well underneath the Bat Cave could deploy two 2-ton ‘Fish’—remotely operated underwater spy vehicles. Halibut’s lower hull had special thrustors and anchoring winches to maintain its position on the sea floor and later received four skids allowing it to safely ‘land’ there. An apparent mini-submarine was prominently strapped onto the Halibut’s rear deck, which the Navy publicly boasted was a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) simulator. This was a deception: the pod actually housed a special pressurized chamber for use by saturation divers, with an integrated diving lock. Deep-sea divers risk decompression sickness (the ‘bends’) caused by gas bubbles forming within the body when reacclimatizing to regular air pressure. Based on technology pioneered in the SEALAB underwater habitats, the pressure chamber was designed to give divers a long-term pressure-stable habitat so they would only need to depressurize once at the end of their mission. The divers used oxygen mixed with helium rather than heavier nitrogen to aid acclimatization. You can see an amazing diagram by HI Sutton of the Halibut and its gadgets here . The Halibut’s first mission was to locate the Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129, which on March 8, 1968 sank nearly 5,000 meters to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean under mysterious circumstances. The Soviet Navy searched for K-129 for months, but it was the Halibut that finally found her with her “Fish” that August, after having the search radius narrowed to ‘only’ 1,200 square miles using data from the Navy’s SOSUS hydrophone network. In 1972, the Captain James Bradley of the Office of Naval Intelligence thought of a new use for the Halibut. The Soviet Navy maintained a major nuclear-missile armed submarine base at Petropavlovsk on the remote Kamchatka Peninsula. Bradley felt it was likely that the base maintained an undersea communication cable to transmit messages directly across the Sea of Okhotsk. However, the cable’s presence was not even confirmed, so how was it to be located? Bradly was inspired one day by recollecting the signs he had seen on the side of the Mississippi River warning ships not to lay anchor in areas near underwater cables. (Anchors remain a frequent cause of damaged cables.) Reasoning the Soviets would use similar signs, he dispatched the Halibut off the coast of Kamchatka to search for them. The Halibut was not particularly quiet by the standards of modern submarines, and she risked being attacked if she was discovered penetrating the perimeter formed by Soviet naval bases on the Kuril Islands seized from Japan at the end of World War II. In fact, the Halibut had a self-destructive device to ensure she and her crew could not be captured. After a week of snooping, the Halibut’s crew finally spotted beach signs in Cyrllic warning ships not to lay anchor. Discretely, the technicians in the Bat Cave began scanning the seafloor with her ‘Fish’, and in a matter of hours spotted the cable 120-meters below the sea via a grainy video feed. The 5,000-ton submarine carefully settled close to the seafloor, deploying her special anchors. The elite saturation divers in the pod swam out to the cable and wrapped a three-foot long magnetic induction device around the cable. Rather than risking damage and detection by piercing inside cables, the tap recorded the activity passing through the cable. The operation was considered so secret that most of the Halibut’s crew were told their mission was to recover fragments from a P-500 “Sandbox” missile test for analysis. The supersonic anti-ship missile was rumored to use an advanced infrared-seeker. To reinforce the cover, after recording several hours of conversation, the Halibut sailed to the site of the test and her dovers did recover two million tiny P-500 missile fragment, which were reassembled jigsaw-like until it was discovered that Sandbox used only radar guidance! The brief tape was brought back to Pearl Harbor and found to be highly promising. The Navy rapidly commissioned a new six-ton wiretap device from Bell Laboratories called ‘the Beast’ (photo here ) which used a nuclear power source and a massive tape recorder to records of weeks of conversation across multiple lines at the same time. The Halibut returned and installed this new device, and the sub’s crew were soon listening in on Soviet telephone conversations, celebrating their success by feasting on a spider crab scooped up from the sea floor. Thenceforth, the Halibut and other submarines began regular courier runs to install new tapes on the tap while bringing back the old tapes for analysis by the NSA in what was called Operation Ivy Bells. The Halibut herself was decommissioned in 1975, and the courier runs taken over by the USS Parche, Sea Wolf and Richard B. Russell. The tapped cables provided a treasure trove of intelligence for the NSA: mixed in between personal calls to family and sweethearts were private conversations on sensitive political topics and detailed information on Soviet submarine operations. Much of the Soviet traffic was unencrypted because cables were considered a highly secure form of communication. This candid, unfiltered portrait of the Soviet Navy’s state of mind vis-à-vis the United States reportedly influenced U.S. military leaders to deescalate activities which were threatening to panic Moscow, and also apparently informed the Washington’s negotiating posture for the SALT II treaty which limited the size of strategic nuclear weapons forces.

SEAmagine sets the ultimate standard in personal submarines .


SEAmagine has been defining ingenuity in submersible engineering for over two decades and the company’s brand-new Aurora-3C model is truly an underwater adventurer’s dream machine.  This exquisitely crafted personal submersible defines excellence in design, elegance, performance, safety, and comfort alike. Over the past twenty-two years, the California-based SEAmagine Hydrospace Corporation has manufactured small, personal submarines with passion, imagination, and precision engineering at the helm of their operation.  The Aurora-3C is, thus far, the crowning jewel of their never-ending drive to create the ultimate underwater experience for sea-adventurers via this new vessel’s unbelievable field of view, spacious environment, exceptionally easy boarding and exiting arrangement, and its unparalleled safety and comfort. 


Compact and lightweight in design, this new, 3-person, luxury submarine offers the most spacious interior and comfortable entry arrangement in its weight category.  With a diving depth of 457 m, this model has a dry weight of only 3,800 kg and its large, front acrylic window along with the second 180-degree hemispherical window integrated into the entry hatch offers passengers and the pilot an expansive field of view in all directions.  Compact in its external configuration while still spacious in its interior, this vessel has a low height and an even lower hoist point making it ideal for setup in confined spaces. To ensure safety and comfort during boarding, this ABS-classed submersible turns into a high freeboard platform when floating at surface, and the top deck’s retractable handrails guide passengers to a staircase going through an extra-large entry hatch leading to the leather seating area, featuring a panoramic view of the underwater world.


Aboard the elegant, air-conditioned cabin, two passengers are seated in the front two luxury leather seats with the pilot sitting in the equally comfortable center-rear section. The passengers’ custom seats have a covering of stitched leather and were designed specifically for this particular submarine interior to maximize comfort while ensuring the optimum in ergonomics. Each passenger seat features a leather-covered side armrest equipped with a, high-tech, user-friendly computer screen where passengers can choose between displaying diving depth and navigation data or streaming the HD video camera feed from the underwater camera located externally on the front of the craft.  Furthermore, these passenger armrests are each fitted with a BOSE® sound system which can be connected to passengers’ smartphones through Bluetooth technology.

The Aurora-3C’s incredible field of view, provided to the three occupants via the large front acrylic window, is greatly enhanced by the vessel’s patented design.  This craft is unencumbered by the requirement of long, forward pontoons which restrict peripheral viewing from the front and are often found in traditionally designed submersibles.  To further maximize views, the access hatch holds a large second window which is surrounded by a clear windshield.  In addition to the breathtaking front view, this second window provides the rear pilot with a remarkable upward, sideways and rear view.  Not only does this 180-degree, acrylic hemisphere offer a significant additional field of view, it also invites a lovely cascade of natural light into the cabin.


This fully electric vessel is powered by the latest lithium polymer battery technology and consists of 6000 m depth-rated, pressure-balanced batteries installed externally in two separate oil-filled compartments, providing 40kWh of power, The Aurora-3C’s hydrodynamic design, equipped with six powerful propulsion thrusters, has over 600 Kg of thrust, and the thrusters’ arrangement, controlled from a single joystick, offers ultra-high agility of movement under water in all directions. With direct drive, (no gearbox) and 90% reverse thrust, these thrusters also offer a perfectly smooth response when starting and stopping. To engage passengers in the most thrilling of underwater adventures, a second, optional, handheld joystick control is available to front passengers affording them the opportunity to maneuver the craft under the supervision of the trained pilot who always maintains override capability from the main rear control station.


The Aurora-3C is designed to be positively buoyant at all times and, for this reason, the vessel will always want to rise up and float to surface when it is under water. This submarine is kept under water by two vertically-oriented thrusters which push it down and control the diving depth. Should the propulsion system be turned off, the vessel will always gently float back to surface on its own due to its natural positive buoyancy. This feature makes the submarine intrinsically safe.  As another safety feature, the Aurora-3C is equipped with a robust emergency buoy release system that can be activated either by the pilot or remotely through the water by the topside support crew. This Emergency Buoy’s tether is attached to the submarine by a 600 m long coiled line which has a 3900 kg breaking-strength rating. The Aurora-3C is the only submarine in its weight and size category with such a substantial emergency buoy release system.


With underwater lights, a robotic arm, sonar, HD camera filming, and a sophisticated navigation system, this vessel is equipped with the latest subsea technology in every aspect of its design.  A total of twelve highly efficient, powerful, underwater LED lights mounted around the vessel provide exceptional lighting when deep under water where the sunlight does not reach. The pilot and the two passengers each have access to the external HD camera through convenient, hand-held controls and everyone can take turns filming using the monitors mounted on each armrest. Similarly, all three occupants can use the hand-held controls to direct the robotic arm giving them the ability to pick up items from the seafloor.


The Aurora-3C entry and exit arrangement for passengers is superior to all other submarines in its weight category. The top deck, made of synthetic teak decking, offers an excellent boarding platform supported by two retractable hand rails on each side. A staircase leads passengers to the large entry hatch located over the pilot seat, and the pilot seat transforms itself into two additional steps extending the upper staircase all the way inside to the cabin floor.  Once inside, passengers are assisted in securing themselves into their individual seats by sturdy handles on the sides of each front seat.  The remarkable amount of space within the very large entry hatch and the roomy entry area inside the submarine hull is a standout feature unique to the Aurora-3C which distinguishes it from any other, compact submarine designs.


SEAmagine offers a comprehensive submarine pilot and support crew training program which the company initially developed twenty years ago in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard.  The program has since evolved into a well-structured, highly effective training curriculum that SEAmagine conducts on a worldwide scale. Depending on the number of trainees, the training curriculum (in combination with the setup of a new submarine on a yacht) will typically take around three to four weeks to complete. 


SEAmagine Hydrospace Corporation is a California based company established in 1995 and a leading manufacturer of small manned submersibles with over 12,000 dives accumulated by its existing fleet. The company produces 2 to 6 person models of its submersibles for depths from 150 meters to 1500 meters deep. All SEAmagine submersibles are classed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and are approved by the Cayman Island Shipping Registry. SEAmagine’s submersibles have been used in scientific, commercial, and superyacht sectors and have also been used in numerous film projects produced by National Geographic, BBC, and others.  SEAmagine maintains a flawless safety record, has built a solid track record of reliability and practicality over the past 24 years in both the professional and superyacht markets, and has garnered an enviable reputation for reliable, top-tier support worldwide.


Scenic Unveils Submarine for Eclipse

When the Scenic Eclipse launches from Uljanik in January, it will carry the U Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7, giving guests unique underwater access. Capable of diving to a depth of 300 metres with seating for up to six guests, the submarine has been custom-built for optimal sightseeing of marine wonders, the company said. The U-Boat Worx submarine is designed to meet international noise standards, and to provide unmatched comfort, space and style, with maximum legroom and headroom while keeping overall weight and size to a minimum. Scenic Founder and Chairman, Glen Moroney said the submarine will offer guests a unique opportunity to go below and beyond. “Scenic has always sought to venture beyond the horizon and with our submarine we provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy unparalleled access to some of nature’s most beautiful marine environments. From inside the U-Boat Worx submersibles, each guest will enjoy an uninterrupted view thanks to the strategic placement of all components and the use of an ultra-clear acrylic hull, expertly engineered to make you feel “at one” with the ocean," Moroney said. The submarine design consists of a three-person pod on the front and at the back of the sub for a total of six guests plus the pilot, who is located behind the guests. The seats are mounted on a platform that can swivel 180 degrees, so the guests are able to see both sides of the submarine. Strong exterior lights will allow guests to take in the colors and details of wrecks and other underwater sights. “The sub is able to do from 8 up to 12 dives per day, depending on the length of dive, giving as many guests as possible access to this unique opportunity,” said Moroney. “Because the cabin is pressurized, there is also no need for a slow ascent or descent. One of the thrills for guests is a fast, upward journey where they pop out from below the ocean with a splash."


South Korea launches its first missile-capable submarine.

South Korea launched its first ever missile-capable attack submarine on Friday, despite a recent diplomatic thaw with the nuclear-armed North. The £535 million, 3,000-tonne Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine is capable of firing both cruise and ballistic missiles and is the first of three planned diesel-electric boats to go into service in the next five years. It represented a "leap forward in the country's" defence industry, President Moon Jae-in told a launch ceremony at the Daewoo shipyard where it was designed and built. "Peace through power is the unwavering security strategy of this government." Mr Moon will head to Pyongyang next week for a third summit with the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, at a time when US-led efforts to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons have stalled. "We have set off on a grand journey toward the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," Mr Moon said. "But peace is not given gratuitously," he added. The new submarine is fitted with six vertical launch tubes and features indigenous sonar and combat management systems. Aside from the new vessels, South Korea has an existing fleet of 18 smaller submarines, all built in co-operation with Germany. According to the defence ministry, the North has 70 ageing submarines and submersibles, and Yonhap news agency reported that it has also developed a new 2,500-tonne submarine fitted with a vertical launch system.

Hollywood movies about Russian nuclear submarines

Donovan Marsh/G-BASE; Millennium Films, 2018 During the Cold War, Soviet nuclear submarines haunted the U.S. Navy like underwater ghosts. And American and European directors continue to take inspiration from the ocean battles between Washington and Moscow's sub-aquatic monsters.

 1. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)Featuring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, K-19 tells the true story of the Soviet ballistic missile nuclear submarine staring disaster in the face under the sea in 1961. The crew is forced to act fast to try and prevent a massive nuclear disaster, but is the sub's destiny already decided? Interesting fact: The first script was completely rewritten after sailors involved in the real life drama complained it was not accurate.

2. The Hunt for Red October (1990)Based on Tom Clancy's bestselling novel, the movie follows Marko Ramius, captain of a new Soviet submarine, who secretly wants to defect to the Americans with his boat. The problem is that the U.S. doesn't know his plans, and sees the approaching Soviet submarine as a real threat. The movie features cinematic heavyweights Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.

3. Hostile Waters (1997)Another movie based on real events, Hostile Waters is about the Soviet K-219 submarine that collided with the USS Aurora not far from America's eastern coast. To prevent the onboard ballistic missiles exploding, the Soviet captain, played by Rutger Hauer, decides to sink the submarine.

4. Phantom (2013)Ed Harris portrayed Dmitry Zubov, the captain of a Soviet nuclear submarine with KGB agent Bruni (David Duchovny) on board. Soon Zubov realizes that Bruni is a renegade, who plans to use the submarine to start a world nuclear war.

5. Crimson Tide (1995)It's the mid-1990s and Russia, suffering from an economic and political crisis, is slipping into civil war. The U.S. is worrying about the country's nuclear weapons amid the chaos, and sends its underwater fleet to Russia's coast to try and control the situation, as the threat of a global nuclear war looms large.

6. Kursk (2018)The upcoming French-Belgian drame (the only film on the list not from Hollywood) tells the story of the tragedy that befell the Russian K-141 submarine in 2000, when 118 crew members died. The movie features Hollywood stars including Matthias Schoenaerts, Lea Seydoux, Colin Firth, and Matthias Schweighöfer.

7. The Bedford Incident (1965)During its mission off the Greenland coast, the American destroyer USS Bedford detects a Soviet submarine. The captain decides to play cat-and-mouse with the Soviets, but he has no idea it will have tragic consequences for both sides.

8. Hunter Killer (2018)Russia's president is overthrown and captured by the minister of defense during the visit to the Northern Marine base. Joe Glass (Gerard Butler), captain of the USS Omaha submarine, is sent to Russian waters to rescue the president. As you can imagine, hardcore action ensues.

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material. Russian navy hollywood submarine More exciting stories and videos on Russia Beyond's Facebook page Read more Where do nuclear submarines leave their "hearts"?The biggest, deepest, and fastest: The record-breaking world of Soviet subs5 new Western movies and series that star Russian actors 10 best Russian war movies

UK to upgrade SBS capabilities with 3 new  mini-submarines

US approves $90 million sale to the UK of 3 SDV Shallow Water Combat Submersibles, likely for Britain's SBS. The U.S. State Department approved the sale to the United Kingdom of three mini-submarines designed for special forces use, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release. The proposed sale includes three SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Mark 11 Shallow Water Combat Submersibles, along with spares, handling and test equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and training, and other services and support. The total estimated program cost is $90 million. DSCA noted that the U.K. “has a proven track record of successfully deploying predecessor system,” a reference to the Mark 8 Mod 1 SDV, which the U.K. procured for the Special Boat Service, the Royal Navy’s special forces and counter-terrorism unit, which is the maritime sister service of the SAS. The prime contractor will be Teledyne Brown Engineering, and implementation will require multiple trips to the U.K. by U.S. government and contractor personnel for reviews, training and support. The Shallow Water Combat Submersible is the latest iteration of the SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) mini-submarine, designed for operation by specialist U.S. Navy SEAL special forces teams. Designated the SDV Mark 11, the SWCS is a battery-powered free-flooding wet submersible platform intended primarily for the clandestine insertion and extraction of special forces. The covert nature of its operational use means that the majority of its capabilities and performance requirements are classified. The first production SDV, the Mark 7, began experimental service in 1967, and its first mission was off the coast of North Vietnam in June 1972. It was replaced with the Mark 8, which was introduced in the 1980s and subsequently improved. Mark 8 SDVs were used for reconnaissance and demolition during Operation Desert Storm and to secure offshore oil terminals during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Mark 8 Mod 1 SDV cruises at 4 knots (7.4 km/h) and has of up to 12 hours endurance, giving it a range of around 18 nautical miles (33 km) carrying a dive team of four along with its pilot and co-pilot. Under a 2010 contract, Teledyne Brown Engineering developed a full-scale interior mockup of a new SDV submarine and provided a demonstration of the system’s functionality. The company was then awarded a $383 million U.S. Special Operations Command contract in 2011 to design, develop, test, manufacture and sustain the Shallow Water Combat Submersible. The SWCS was designed to replace the Mark 8 SDV, improving a variety of capabilities including range, speed, payload, navigation and communications, all based on a modern modular subsystem design to ease processor and sensor upgrades. According to HI Sutton, the new vessel is 6.8 m (22.4 ft) long, 1.5 m (5 feet) wide and high, weighs 10,000 lbs (4,500 kg) and can carry 6 or more sailors. Teledyne delivered the first SCWS test unit in 2014. The Shallow Water Combat Submersible is deployable from surface ships as well as from larger submarines able to carry the Dry-Deck Shelter used to launch the vessel. In May 2014, the U.S. Navy had eight Ohio- and Virginia-class submarines able to carry the Dry-Deck Shelter, with a ninth expected later that year, according to War is Boring. Also in 2014, the Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Astute (S119) was pictured in Gibraltar fitted with a similar deck pod. Mark 8 SDVs can also be launched and recovered from amphibious carriers and other surface ships or from the shore. They can even be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules or heavy-lift helicopter.

Russian Kursk Submarine Disaster

In 2000, one of the worst peacetime submarines accidents ever took place off the coast of Russia. A huge explosion sank the giant nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, killing most of its crew and stranding nearly two dozen survivors hundreds of feet underwater. An international rescue team assembled to save the sailors, but was unable to reach them in time. Colin Firth stars in a new movie about the disaster called Kursk, which comes out this year. Here's the true story of the doomed

Carrier Hunters sub.

One of the Soviet Union’s biggest worries during the Cold War was America’s fleet of aircraft carriers. The Soviets saw American carriers as both delivery platforms capable of launching thermonuclear airstrikes against the motherland and as hunters of the USSR’s own nuclear ballistic missile fleet. The USSR spent enormous sums on weapon systems meant to hunt down American carriers in wartime. The Antey-class submarines were one such solution. The subs, nicknamed “Oscar II” by NATO, made up a large class of nuclear-powered boats designed to to kill large ships—particularly aircraft carriers. The Oscar IIs were 508 feet long with a beam of nearly 60 feet and displaced 19,400 tons, twice as much as a destroyer. To keep up with American nuclear-powered carriers, the Soviet subs were each powered by two OK-650 nuclear reactors that together provided 97,990 shipboard horsepower. Such power gave them a top speed of 33 knots underwater.  The Oscar IIs were big because they carried big missiles. Each submarine carried 24 P-700 Granit missiles, which themselves were each the size of a small plane—33 feet long and weighing 15,400 lbs. each. The missiles had a top speed of Mach 1.6, a range of 388 miles, and used the now defunct Legenda satellite targeting system to home in on their aircraft carrier targets. A Granit could carry a 1,653-lb. conventional high explosive warhead (enough to damage a carrier) or a 500-kiloton warhead (enough to vaporize an aircraft carrier with a single hit.)  Thirteen Oscar I and Oscar II submarines were built, including K-141—also known as Kursk.

The Torpedo That Failed

The Kursk was completed in 1994 and assigned to the Russian Northern Fleet. On August 15, 2000 the Kursk was involved in a major fleet exercise, along with the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and battlecruiser Pyotr Velikity. Kursk was fully armed with Granit missiles and torpedoes and was to make a simulated attack on Kuznetsov.  At 11:20 AM local time, an underwater explosion rocked the exercise area, followed two minutes later by an even larger explosion. A Norwegian seismic monitoring station recorded both explosions. One Russian account claims the 28,000-ton battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy shook from the first explosion.

Racked by explosions, Kursk sank in 354 feet of water at a 20-degree vertical angle. One of the explosions ripped a large gash in her forward bow, near the torpedo compartment. A Russian Navy board of inquiry later determined that one of the submarine’s Type 65-76A super heavyweight torpedoes had exploded, causing the gash. The explosion was likely caused by a faulty weld that failed to hold the hydrogen peroxide fuel chamber together. Like many torpedoes, the Type 65-76As used hydrogen peroxide as underwater fuel. The danger was that this chemical compound can become explosive if it comes in contact with organic compounds or a fire. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Hydrogen peroxide is not itself flammable but can cause spontaneous combustion of flammable materials and continued support of the combustion because it liberates oxygen as it decomposes.” In one instance recorded by the NLM, “Leakage from drums of 35% hydrogen peroxide onto a wooden pallet caused ignition of the latter when it was moved. Combustion, though limited in area, was fierce and took some time to extinguish. Leakage of 50% peroxide onto supporting pallets under polythene sheeting led to spontaneous ignition and a fierce fire.”

The Fateful Moments

So what happened on board the Kursk? The likely chain of events was something like this: A hydrogen peroxide leak started a fire, which in turn detonated the Type 65-76A’s 900-lb. high explosive warhead. This probably started the gash in the hull above the torpedo section. The second explosion would have been the detonation of the remaining torpedoes aboard the submarine. The Kursk’s sinking didn’t kill all of its 118 crewmembers—at least not right away. One of the ship’s officers, Lieutenant Captain Dmitri Koselnikov left a note dated two hours after the second explosion recording 23 survivors. Despite a hastily organized rescue effort, including British and Norwegian rescue teams, the Russian government was unable to reach any of the survivors in time. The wreck of the submarine was recovered in 2001 and returned to the Russian Navy submarine shipyards at Roslyakovo.


Thailand’s New Mini-Submarine Quest

Last week, a British engineering group announced that it had won the contract to help Thailand design its midget submarines. Though few specifics have been publicly disclosed thus far, the development has nonetheless put the spotlight once again on Bangkok’s decades-old aspirations in this domain. As I noted before in these pages, over the past few years, Thailand has made some notable advances in terms of realizing its decades-long aspiration to acquire submarines. The most headline-grabbing of these was the approval of a deal to purchase submarines from China, initially concluded back in 2015. In July, on a separate note, news publicly surfaced that the current Thai government under Prayut Chan-o-cha was moving forward with a new project to design a so-called “midget” or mini-submarine, which had been in the works since late last year.At the time, the suggestion was that the planned construction of a prototype, a vessel in the unofficially named “Chalawan Class,” would take approximately seven years, with a surface displacement of 150-300 tons, a crew of 10, and a range of 300 nautical miles. But few additional specifics were offered, and it remained to be seen how quickly Thailand would move to turn this idea into reality. Last week, we saw another development in Thailand’s midget submarine quest when U.K. engineering group BMT won the contract to help design it for the RTN. The official announcement came from BMT in a statement issued on October 17. According to BMT, under the new contract, which was signed in September, it will provide assistance to the RTN during the design phase of the project as an overseas independent consultancy. BMT said it had been contracted “to recommend submarine-specific engineering management best practice to help the RTN minimize risk during the design phase.” Few additional specifics were provided on the nature of BMT’s work, including the specific value of the contract. But the work is due to be completed in the first quarter of 2019, suggesting that Thailand continues to want to move quite quickly on this within the broader context of its long-held submarine ambitions. As I have noted before, the extent to which Bangkok will actually be able to do so remains to be seen. There have been a range of challenges getting in the way of inroads in the past, and some of them remain today, including cost issues and domestic political transitions that could affect the speed at which certain defense projects can move through.


$48-million Triton 36000/2 submersible for the deepest oceans

If you like the water, don't mind cramped spaces, and have a spare US$48 million lying around, then Triton Submarines has a submersible that can take you and a passenger to the bottom of the deepest ocean. With its support ship thrown in for the sticker price, the
Triton 36000/2 Hadal Exploration System is designed to make repeated visits to the nadir of the seabed for science, exploration, or the ultimate joyride. Submersibles have come a long way in the past half century. In the 1960s they were the reserve of major navies, scientific institutes, and pioneering deep-sea engineering firms. Today, they've become the playthings of the very rich. For the right price, you can buy a wide variety of underwater vessels, with Triton even working on a luxury submersible with Aston Martin. But as with all luxury items, the private submersible market is a game of oneupmanship and the Triton 36000/2 is about as oneupmany as you can get. This isn't just an acrylic sphere with electric motors and some ballast that can be dropped off the boat dock of a superyacht for a quick spin around the coral reef. It's a cutting-edge deep-sea vessel that can rival the real record breakers.
And though anyone with the scratch can buy it, the system is also being marketed to governments, philanthropic organizations, and research institutes.

The Triton 36000/2 pressure hull

What sets the Triton 36000/2 apart is its spherical, 3.54-inch-thick (90-mm) titanium pressure hull that Triton says took new, advanced forging techniques to produce without any welds or similar weak spots. With an inner diameter of 59 in (1.5 m), it can carry two passengers in its ergonomically-designed leather seats to the deepest spot in the ocean – the Challenger Deep, which bottoms out at about 36,000 ft (11,000 m). At that point, the water is always near freezing, in total darkness, and the pressure is in excess of 16,000 psi (1,089 ATM). This is a place that only three people have visited before and only as one-offs. According to Triton, the Triton 36000/2 has been tested at the Krylov State Research Center in St. Petersburg, Russia to 20,305 psi (1,382 ATM), as well as on deep dives in the Bahamas. It has a pressure safety factor at least 20 percent greater than it will ever encounter. In addition, it can go to those depths repeatedly on trips of over 16 hours – including the 2.5-hour descent. Triton claims that this repeatability is a first for manned submersibles operating that such depths.

The Triton 36000/2 is built to make repeated dives to the deepest ocean sites on Earth

To achieve this, the 11.7-tonne (25,700-lb) vessel has a 64-kWh, 24-V electrical power system running on Li-Fe-P batteries that supply the life support systems, manipulator, 10 electric thrusters, four wide-angle cameras and ten 20,000-lumen LED lamps. In the event of an emergency, it has life support for 96 hours and can jettison its batteries, thrusters, manipulator, and ballast to achieve positive buoyancy. Because the Triton 36000/2 is designed for extreme ocean depths, the purchase price includes its support ship, the DSSV Pressure Drop. This 224-ft (68-m) diesel electric vessel displaces 2,000 gross tons and can carry 47 passengers and crew as well as the Triton 36000/2. The former US Navy submarine seeker and NOAA science and survey vessel has a stern-mounted A-frame for releasing and recovering the submersible, as well as a climate-controlled hangar, support systems, wet and dry labs, specimen freezers, and a media suite. In addition it has the latest Kongsberg-Simrad EM-124 multi-beam sonar for topographic mapping of the ocean floor. And like any good seller, Triton is also throwing in three unmanned landers with L3 Systems-supplied acoustic modems to aid in the Triton 36000/2's navigation and to relay communications to the mothership. They also have six push-core samplers for collecting geological and biological samples from the seafloor, as well as up to 10 L (2.6 gal) of seawater. They can also record data on the way up and down using their conductivity, temperature and depth sensors, and their time-lapse cameras. The Triton 36000/2 is currently on a world expedition during which it will conduct over 50 dives to the five deepest locations on Earth. These include the Puerto Rican Trench, the Meteor Deep in the Southern Ocean, the Molloy Deep off Greenland, and the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, along with other dives to historic shipwrecks. Once these are completed, the Triton 36000/2 submersible will be available for delivery in 2019.


 Submarine rescue record reached in Indian Ocean trials

JFD has demonstrated key submarine rescue capabilities with a series of successful rescue trials in the Indian Ocean, smashing previous records for submarine rescue. This successful procedure confirmed the high flexibility of the system to adapt to very harsh recovery situations and means the Indian Navy has now joined a select group of nations with the sovereign capability to rescue submariners in a transportable or 'fly-away' kit that is easily mobilised. Working in partnership with the Indian Navy, which in March accepted delivery from JFD of the first of two free-swimming submarine rescue vehicles, JFD’s team of highly-skilled personnel oversaw and helped achieve the following:

  • Deepest ever submarine rescue dive of 666 metres; 
  • Deepest ever submarine hatch opening of 655 metres; and
  • Deepest ever JFD remotely operated vehicle dive of 750 metres. 

This means that JFD can safely rescue submariners at depths that were once considered unattainable and further shows why it is the world’s triple-0 number for submarines in distress. JFD Australia managing director, Toff Idrus said, "The system was tested in particularly challenging conditions, not unlike those you would see in Australia. "It is a similar capability to the one JFD provides to the Royal Australian Navy from our advanced manufacturing base at Bibra Lake, in Perth and as we prepare for the annual Black Carillon ocean exercises off the West Australian coast in early November where similar scenarios will be conducted, it gives us great confidence," Idrus said. The records came during final testing of the submarine rescue system’s capability in challenging conditions off the coast of Mumbai which included a mock rescue from a disabled submarine on the ocean floor. After finding and then attaching to the submarine, JFD and the Indian Navy carried out a safe transfer of personnel from the submarine to the rescue vehicle. "Time to the first rescue is critical in operations of this nature and from our base here in Australia and at other locations, which now include India, we are “rescue ready” and able to respond within 12 hours to a disabled submarine anywhere in the world," Idrus explained. JFD is a underwater capability provider, serving the commercial and defence markets with innovative diving, submarine and hyperbaric rescue, technical solutions and services. The company is at the forefront of Hyperbaric Rescue, along with being the leading supplier of commercial and defence diving equipment and saturation diving systems to the commercial industry. JFD was created in 2014 through the merger of James Fisher Defence and Divex. In 2015 JFD acquired the National Hyperbaric Centre to further boost the services offered to its customers. In 2016 LEXMAR was acquired to enhance the capability and offering within JFD’s diving capability and suite of saturation diving systems. JFD acquired diving and recompression specialist Cowan Manufacturing in February 2018. 


The SMX-31 could be the first of a new generation of submarines.

A French defense contractor is showing off a submarine design unlike any other. Inspired by the sperm whale, the SMX-31, also known as the “Electric,” is heavily armed and supports a wide range of unmanned vehicles, and can even function as a mothership to naval special forces. The submarine is also heavily automated, with a crew of just 15.Unveiled at the Euronaval exhibition in Paris, SMX-31 breaks almost every convention of submarine design. The vessel lacks a conventional sail, giving it an organic, whale-like appearance—indeed, its design was influenced by the deep-diving sperm whale. It has retractable hydroplanes that fold into the hull, a hexagonal-patterned skin with built-in sensor antennas, and a pair of rim drive propulsors (pump jets) housed in the stern of the craft.  Internally, the sub is a two-hulled design, with a lighter outer and heavier inner hull. The ship is electrically powered, with lithium ion batteries providing a power source instead of diesel engines or a nuclear reactor. Maximum diving depth is unknown but at least 800 feet. Electric can also act as a mothership for unmanned vehicles. It can launch unmanned aerial vehicles from a tethered launcher that floats to the surface while the submarine itself remains submerged. It will disgorge unmanned undersea vehicles from a rear hangar. SMX-31 will also accommodate underwater delivery vehicles such as the six-man Propulsor Sous-Marins 3rd Generation used by naval special forces to infiltrate coastal areas. SMX-31 carries a whopping 46 heavy torpedoes and missiles, including the F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedo and SCALP land attack cruise missile recently used in NATO air strikes against Syria. The submarine has vertical launch silos in the bow and horizontally mounted stern-mounted launch tubes. All of this capability is packed into a very small ship: “Electric” is just 229 feet long and displaces 3,400 tons. The submarine will be able to operate at sea for 30-45 days, depending on battery capacity, with a maximum underwater speed of 20 knots. One reason such a small submarine can do so much is that it has a crew of just 15. Submarines smaller than SMX-13 typically have crews of 60 or more.


The True Story of the Russian Kursk Submarine Disaster

In 2000, one of the worst peacetime submarines accidents ever took place off the coast of Russia. A huge explosion sank the giant nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, killing most of its crew and stranding nearly two dozen survivors hundreds of feet underwater. An international rescue team assembled to save the sailors, but was unable to reach them in time. Colin Firth stars in a new movie about the disaster called Kursk, which comes out this year. Here's the true story of the doomed sub.

Carrier Hunters

One of the Soviet Union’s biggest worries during the Cold War was America’s fleet of aircraft carriers. The Soviets saw American carriers as both delivery platforms capable of launching thermonuclear airstrikes against the motherland and as hunters of the USSR’s own nuclear ballistic missile fleet. The USSR spent enormous sums on weapon systems meant to hunt down American carriers in wartime.  The Antey-class submarines were one such solution. The subs, nicknamed “Oscar II” by NATO, made up a large class of nuclear-powered boats designed to to kill large ships—particularly aircraft carriers. The Oscar IIs were 508 feet long with a beam of nearly 60 feet and displaced 19,400 tons, twice as much as a destroyer. To keep up with American nuclear-powered carriers, the Soviet subs were each powered by two OK-650 nuclear reactors that together provided 97,990 shipboard horsepower. Such power gave them a top speed of 33 knots underwater. The Oscar IIs were big because they carried big missiles. Each submarine carried 24 P-700 Granit missiles, which themselves were each the size of a small plane—33 feet long and weighing 15,400 lbs. each. The missiles had a top speed of Mach 1.6, a range of 388 miles, and used the now defunct Legenda satellite targeting system to home in on their aircraft carrier targets. A Granit could carry a 1,653-lb. conventional high explosive warhead (enough to damage a carrier) or a 500-kiloton warhead (enough to vaporize an aircraft carrier with a single hit.)

The Torpedo That Failed

The Kursk was completed in 1994 and assigned to the Russian Northern Fleet. On August 15, 2000 the Kursk was involved in a major fleet exercise, along with the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and battlecruiser Pyotr Velikity. Kursk was fully armed with Granit missiles and torpedoes and was to make a simulated attack on Kuznetsov.  At 11:20 AM local time, an underwater explosion rocked the exercise area, followed two minutes later by an even larger explosion. A Norwegian seismic monitoring station recorded both explosions. One Russian account claims the 28,000-ton battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy shook from the first explosion. Racked by explosions, Kursk sank in 354 feet of water at a 20-degree vertical angle. One of the explosions ripped a large gash in her forward bow, near the torpedo compartment. A Russian Navy board of inquiry later determined that one of the submarine’s Type 65-76A super heavyweight torpedoes had exploded, causing the gash. The explosion was likely caused by a faulty weld that failed to hold the hydrogen peroxide fuel chamber together. Like many torpedoes, the Type 65-76As used hydrogen peroxide as underwater fuel. The danger was that this chemical compound can become explosive if it comes in contact with organic compounds or a fire. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Hydrogen peroxide is not itself flammable but can cause spontaneous combustion of flammable materials and continued support of the combustion because it liberates oxygen as it decomposes.” In one instance recorded by the NLM, “Leakage from drums of 35% hydrogen peroxide onto a wooden pallet caused ignition of the latter when it was moved. Combustion, though limited in area, was fierce and took some time to extinguish. Leakage of 50% peroxide onto supporting pallets under polythene sheeting led to spontaneous ignition and a fierce fire.”

The Fateful Moments

So what happened on board the Kursk? The likely chain of events was something like this: A hydrogen peroxide leak started a fire, which in turn detonated the Type 65-76A’s 900-lb. high explosive warhead. This probably started the gash in the hull above the torpedo section. The second explosion would have been the detonation of the remaining torpedoes aboard the submarine. The Kursk’s sinking didn’t kill all of its 118 crewmembers—at least not right away. One of the ship’s officers, Lieutenant Captain Dmitri Koselnikov left a note dated two hours after the second explosion recording 23 survivors. Despite a hastily organized rescue effort, including British and Norwegian rescue teams, the Russian government was unable to reach any of the survivors in time. The wreck of the submarine was recovered in 2001 and returned to the Russian Navy submarine shipyards at Roslyakovo.


In 1942, Japan Used Mini-Submarines to Assault Sydney

Australia was situated considerably closer to the action in the Pacific than the United States during World War II. Japanese aircraft bombed the northern city of Darwin, while ground forces advanced dangerously close in New Guinea. However, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s plans to capture nearby Port Moresby were frustrated at the Battle of the Coral Sea . The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)’s next strike would target the U. S. naval base at Midway Island in June 1942. However, 8th Submarine Squadron was tapped to launch two diversionary raids using Type A Ko-hyoteki midget submarines to infiltrate harbor defenses. Japan’s devastating Pearl Harbor attack included five Ko-Hyoteki—but not one of them succeeded in its mission . Carried atop large cruiser-submarine motherships, the two-person minisubs measured twenty-four meters long and carried two 17”-diameter torpedoes. Their lead-acid batteries afforded them only twelve hours of propulsion at slow speed. Though not intended to be suicide weapons, the Ko-hyoteki crew’s odds of escape and recovery remained extremely low. Two cruiser-submarines sallied to ambush British ships besieging French-held Madagascar. Meanwhile, submarines I-22, I-24, I-27, and I-28 transited to Truk to load Ko-hyoteki for a southern raid, embarking a revised model with wider hulls, improved gyro-compasses, bow-mounted net-cutters on to slice through harbor nets, and accessways to allow manning while submerged. Meanwhile, I-21 and I-29 scouted out potential targets in Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia using E14Y two-seat float-planes stowed in their submersible hangars. Reports of battleships in Sydney harbor led to the city’s selection as a target. However, the plan rapidly went south, literally and metaphorically. On May 11, I-22 was torpedoed heading for Truk by the American submarine USS Tautog. Then the mini-submarine on I-24 suffered a battery explosion, forcing the sub to double back and pick up the spare Ko-hyoteki. The surviving cruiser-submarines finally assembled thirty-five miles away from Sydney harbor on May 29 and launched a second scout-plane mission—this time only spotting the cruisers USS Chicago and HMAS Canberra and Adelaide in the harbor, rather than the expected battleships. The floatplane then crash-landed in heavy waters. On May 31, the mothership-submarines approached points six to eight miles from Sydney Harbor and launched mini-subs M-14, M-21, and M-24. Sydney’s harbor defenses included small patrol boats, anti-submarine nets and “indicator-loops” of electromagnetic sensors. However, there were two 400-meter gaps on the edge of the loops—and only two of the eight loops were operational due to a lack of personnel. As M-14 attempted to slip through the western gap, however, she collided with rocks and became entangled in the submarine net. A watchman spotted the floundering sub and informed the patrol boat Yarroma. She and another converted launch located M-14 at 10 PM and lobbed two depth charges towards the trapped submarine—but their pressure-sensitive fuses failed to detonate in the shallow water. Abruptly, M-14 exploded at 10:30 as her crew detonated her 300-pound scuttling charge. M-24 brushed with disaster when she scraped the hull of a schooner, but then slipped into the harbor behind a ferry passing through an opening in the anti-submarine nets. At 10:30, she was illuminated by the Chicago’s searchlight—but the cruiser’s 5” guns couldn’t depress low enough to strike her, though quad. 50-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns did rake the submarine. Dodging two Australian corvettes, M-24 dove out of sight…and circled around. At 11 PM, M-21 was also caught in a patrol boat’s searchlight. The armed steamer Yandra rammed the midget submarine and blasted the nearby waters with six depth charges, but M-21 finally escaped by diving to the seabed. Harbor commander Rear Admiral Muirhead-Gould had been partying with the Chicago’s captain when submarine reports began trickling in at 10 PM. Though he raised the alarm, he then drunkenly snapped at the anti-submarine crews, implying they were jumping at ghosts. But at 12:30, M-24 finally lined up a shot at the Chicago’s stern and launched both Type 97 Special torpedoes—but misjudged the angle. One plowed into Garden Island without detonating. The other narrowly skimmed under Dutch submarine K-IX and struck the dock beside the depot ship Kuttabul. The blast from the 772-pound warhead snapped the converted ferry in two, killing twenty-one sailors. This finally triggered a more vigorous sub-hunt. At 3 AM, the loops detected M-21 sneaking back into the harbor. After a prolonged depth-charge bombardment by three hounding patrol boats, M-21’ crew committed suicide. Only M-24 escaped—but though the motherships waited three days for the Ko-hyoteki to return, she never did. To complete their mission, at midnight on June 8, I-24 surfaced off Sydney and blasted the city’s eastern suburbs with ten 140-millimeter shells. Two hours later, I-21 emerged seventy miles northeast off Newcastle and lobbed thirty-four shells at that city’s steelworks. The inaccurate bombardment resulted in only one injury, most of the shells failing to explode. Australian coastal guns at Fort Scratchley spat back four 6” shells as the Japanese submarines hastily ducked back underwater. Later in June, the subs sank three freighters off Australian waters—a relatively meager catch. The Sydney attacks had little material effect considering the resources invested in them. Indeed, all of the Japanese submarines involved in the action, as well as both Allied heavy cruisers in the harbor, were sunk in combat over the next two years. Nor was the raid a successful diversion. U. S. naval cryptographers decoded the plans for the Midway attack, and ambushing U.S. carriers dealt an irrecoverable blow to IJN by sinking four carriers between June 4-7. However, despite the efforts of Allied censors, the Sydney raids did impart a sense of vulnerability to Australians. Civilians moved away from coastal zones, a coastal convoy system was implemented, and additional resources were devoted to shoring up demonstrably spotty defenses. M-14 and M-21 were dredged up and rebuilt into a single submarine for display. The crew’s remains were buried with full military honors and returned to Japan in 1943. Sixty-four years later, M-24’s bullet-pocked wreck was finally discovered submerged twenty miles in a site now registered as a war grave.



Alvin Submersible Makes 5,000th Dive

 Alvin, the country's only deep-diving research submersible capable of carrying humans to the sea floor, reached another milestone in its long career on November 25, 2018, when the sub made its 5,000th dive during an expedition to the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. Officially commissioned June 5, 1964, the Navy-owned and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)-operated sub has been through a series of upgrades and advances that have completely re-made the vehicle and vastly expanded its capabilities. As a result, Alvin has remained at the forefront of ocean science and exploration for over 50 years. On a 1977 expedition, scientists using Alvin made an astounding discovery—jets of hot, chemical-rich fluids flowing from the seafloor. With the discovery of these hydrothermal vents, Alvin enabled scientists to solve a puzzling riddle about heat flow from the planet’s crust into the ocean. It also gave them their first look at communities of deep-sea organisms where they previously thought little—if any—life existed. Out of the reach of sunlight, the communities were not fueled via photosynthesis, but rather by chemosynthesis, utilizing the chemicals flowing from the seafloor. “Alvin revolutionized our understanding of the extremes that life can tolerate and caused us to re-think the origin of life on our planet,” says Adam Soule, Chief Scientist for the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF), which operates the sub and other underwater vehicles, such as the remotely operated vehicle Jason, for the entire oceanographic community. “The sub also continues to expand our knowledge of where and how life might exist on other planets.” Alvin has had many milestones over the decades, including aiding in the recovery of a lost hydrogen bomb, exploring the wreck of the RMS Titanic, and examining impacts to deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Alvin, which is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, is one of only five deep-sea research submersibles in the world. The workhorse sub executes about 100 dives per year, and over its life has accounted for more than half of all of the scientific dives carried out by human-occupied submersibles worldwide. Scientists and students from colleges, universities, and research organizations around the country regularly use Alvin and the NDSF for a variety of scientific and ocean engineering studies that benefit from a human presence in the ocean and on the seafloor.  Currently, Alvin reaches a depth of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet), which gives researchers in-person access—on dives lasting up to ten hours—to about two-thirds of the ocean floor. The sub will soon complete the final phase of its current upgrade, which will enable Alvin to dive to 6,500 meters (21,000 feet), putting 98 percent of the seafloor within its reach. “Alvin helped inspire the development of new generations of deep-submergence technology and vehicles,” says Andy Bowen, Director of the National Deep Submergence Facility at WHOI. “And it continues to inspire generations of future scientists, engineers, and explorers.”


Algeria unveils new ‘Kilo’-class submarines

The two new Project 636 ‘Kilo’-class submarines pictured at the Mers el-Kébir naval base. (Algerian Ministry of National Defence)Algeria has commissioned two new submarines, the Ministry of National Defence announced on 9 January. The commissioning took place during a visit by Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaïd Salah to the Mers el-Kébir naval base. The submarines are called Ouarsenis (031) and Hoggar (032). The Russian media reported in February 2014 that Algeria had ordered two new Project 636M ‘Kilo’-class boats from Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg.


Polar bear leaps onto a Russian nuclear submarine on the search for food.

An Inquisitive polar bear has been pictured stepping from the ice onto a Russian nuclear submarine while searching for food in the Arctic. The Delta IV class sub is thought to have been north of the Norwegian islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen when its crew decided to surface to get rid of bags of rubbish. All 120 sailors on board were told to stay below deck while the 65stone bear had a sniff around their vessel. Pictures taken from above the deck shows the lone polar bear sitting close to the submarine before it starts to cross the thick ice and leans in to get a closer look before steeping on.  A lone polar bear sits on the ice looking at the Russian Delta IV class submarine that is thought to have been patrolling north of the Norwegian islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen. The bear puts its head forward first to take a closer look at the sub which has broken through the ice to dump rubbish. Norway and Russia share a population of around 3,000 polar bears but litter is threatening the region and the wildlife in it. Experts say Russia's pollution in the Arctic would take hundreds of years to clean up and this isn't the first time sailor's have attracted unwanted attention from polar bears while dumping rubbish.


The Five Deeps Expedition will explore the deepest points in the ocean via the Hadal Exploration System.

Humankind has visited the tallest and most remote places on Earth as well as an increasing amount of space via piloted and remote-operated spacecraft, but only a few adventurous souls have journeyed to the deepest points of the world’s oceans. With its ability to access the greatest depths, the Triton 36000/2 Hadal Exploration System promises to make underwater surveys and study more attainable. Well, sort of. Priced at $48.2 million (including the research vessel DSSV Pressure Drop and the sub Limiting Factor), Triton’s system is named after the hadal zones (hadal derives from Hades, the Greek mythological underworld), the parts of the ocean ranging in depth from about 20,000 feet to more than 36,000 feet. For adventurers interested in such exploration, Limiting Factor is Triton’s first full-ocean-depth (FOD) model, capable of carrying two submariners inside of a titanium pressure hull outfitted with advanced life-support systems. Significantly lighter than previous deep-diving vehicles, it features 10 electric thrusters that provide maneuverability in all directions and enable it to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench (36,070 feet) in less than 2.5 hours.  “Recent advances in analytical software, materials like syntactic foam, and new electronics let our engineering team develop the systems,” says Triton president Patrick Lahey. “We also had a network of outside strategic partners.” Plus there was an investor, who had the capital and vision for the FOD model.Lahey asserts that because many Americans don’t generally see the value in ocean exploration, there has never been any government mandate to build an FOD sub. “Most people don’t have the same passion for ocean exploration as they do for space,” he says. “But the oceans are inextricably linked to our survival. They control our weather, provide most of the oxygen we need, and are the most significant source of food.”But before it can be delivered to a new owner this fall, the sub will be part of the Five Deeps Expedition, which will explore the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean, South Sandwich Trench in the South Atlantic Ocean, Java Trench in the Indian Ocean, Challenger Deep (part of the Mariana Trench) in the Pacific, and Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean. In the process, the expedition team hopes to set new records and observe new species.Vescovo emerges from his Puerto Rico Trench dive via his Triton 36000/2 submarine, Limiting Factor.  In December, the Hadal Exploration System’s current owner, Victor Vescovo, became the first person ever to dive on a solo mission to the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, which he did in his Triton 36000/2 submersible. At a depth of 27,480 feet, the Puerto Rico Trench is the true bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The first dive in the Five Deeps Expedition, the first oceanic journey to take a manned, commercially certified submersible vessel further than any in history—this specific dive marks a monumental feat in sea exploration.

A new clue could explain the mysterious disappearance of a Civil War submarine

A broken pipe may help explain why a famous Civil War submarine sank off of Charleston, South Carolina, more than 150 years ago.The H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to successfully attack an enemy ship in combat when it sank the wooden ship USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864. The Confederate vessel disappeared with all its eight crew members.More than 130 years later the Hunley was discovered on the ocean floor. The sub was raised and taken to a laboratory in North Charleston in 2000.Since then, conservators and archaeologists have been working to preserve the vessel and study its contents in hopes of finally figuring out what happened.They found the broken intake pipe at the front of the Hunley while cleaning away the thick, rock-hard coating of sand, shells, sea life and other materials -- known as concretion -- that built up on it over time. The pipe carried water to a ballast tank that helped the sub submerge and surface. There was a 1-inch gap where the pipe was supposed to mount to the side wall.A pipe running from the Hunley's ballast tank to the outside hull broke around the time the submarine sank in 1864."It left a crescent-shaped opening in the hull which would be a great place to flood and sink your submarine," said Clemson University archaeologist Michael Scafuri, who's been working with the Hunley team since 2000.The evidence is interesting, but not conclusive.Scafuri said researchers can tell that the pipe broke around the time the Hunley sunk because of the amount of concretion that covered the break, but they can't yet tell whether the pipe broke during the attack or came apart after it sank."Obviously, with something like this, it's important (to know) if it happened the night of the attack and thereby might have caused the sinking, or if it happened two weeks later from some other reason after the submarine has already sunk," he said.Researchers at the University of Michigan found it would have only taken 50-75 gallons of water to drag the Hunley to the ocean floor, according to a news release from the Friends of the Hunley organization. It would have only taken minutes for that much water to flow in through the hole.The hole was small enough that a crew member could have stuffed something in it to slow the flow of water, or pumped the water, but that doesn't seem to have happened."They weren't trying to escape or taking other actions to save the sub," Scafuri said. "There's no sign of panic on board."On the night of the attack, Scarfuri said that the captain's single candle would have been the only light in the cramped, 25-foot long crew area. If the candle went out, or was lost, they would have been working in the dark. There also would have been a fair amount of noise from the ocean around them."I don't know if he could see it, I don't know if he could hear it," he said.The crew members' skeletal remains were found at their stations and their bodies had no obvious physical injuries.A number of theories have tried to explain the mystery of the Hunley. Maybe the crew went too deep, misjudged their oxygen supply and got trapped by the current. Maybe a nearby ship collided with the sub, throwing it off balance into chaotic waters. Maybe a bullet made it through a porthole, killing the captain and leaving the crew adrift at sea.The Hunley used a 135-pound bomb that was attached to a 16-foot long pole to sink the Housatonic Some scientists think the shock waves from the explosion could have killed or incapacitated the crew, but a US Navy study determined that they would have survived the blast."It's kind of a mystery," Scarfuri said.He compared the archaeology to a crime scene investigation, but said it's now a very cold case."All of the evidence that was fresh at the time of the sinking is now blurred," Scarfuri said.Scarfuri said each new piece of evidence gives researchers a better understanding of this important naval battle. He hopes they will one day get to the truth, but said he can't make any promises."It's not up to us," he added. "It's up to the evidence."

The Super Sub

Victor Vescovo had a mission: to travel to the deepest point of the earth. But in order to achieve it, he first required a means. So, he called Triton Submarines and placed an order for the king of subs, capable of dipping nearly seven miles beneath the surface of the ocean. But there was a problem: It hadn’t been invented yet. But as luck would have it, engineers at Triton had been toying with the idea of such a machine. Dubbed the 36000/2, it would require the development of technology as yet uninvented, not to mention a whole lot of money. Vescovo’s interest—and funds—were just the impetus to finally make it happen. What followed was three years of development, including building two dedicated chambers in order to analyze each new component’s performance under extreme pressure.In October, Vescovo finally had in his possession the only vessel of its kind capable of reaching full-ocean depths. Predictably, he immediately put it to work, taking it on test dives in the Bahamas, undergoing simulations with Triton’s slate of pilots, and plotting his Five Deeps Expedition, a mission to descend to the bottom of each of the world’s five oceans, starting with the 5.3-mile-deep Puerto Rican Trench.Despite its sensational title, Vescovo’s expedition isn’t about bragging rights (well, not entirely). It’s about exploring a world that, for most, remains a dark mystery. “It’s completely black down there once you dive past 3,000 feet,” he says, noting that the farther you go, the weirder it gets. “Depths past 16,000 feet are like the Himalayas—but in reverse. Life is much more specialized, exotic, and the terrain a touch more sterile. But to me, it is no less beautiful or intriguing.”If all goes according to plan, the undersea adventurer will eventually make his way to the planet’s deepest point: the 36,000-foot Mariana Trench. There, Vescovo anticipates plenty of unknowns, and maybe even a landmark discovery. Not to worry, though, he says, “if we find a canyon or other area that might be deeper, the sub can handle it.”A-List Access: Vescovo’s prototype is now Triton’s newest offering. Contact Triton CEO Patrick Lahey at to commission your own 36000/2.


Disney Extinct Attractions: Atlantis Expedition

Welcome to Disney Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and today I’ll be your guide on our trip underneath the ocean to the far away land of Atlantis.This past week, Thanos appeared on The Simpsons as a part of their weekly couch gag and proceeded to dissolve the entire Simpsons family except for little Maggie, who managed to avoid the purge. The interesting aspect of this gag is that it shows that Disney is already promoting their corporate synergy in the Fox-owned show that they will own sometime in the very near future. I’m hopeful that Disney will keep these jokes alive when they officially own the show because it’s always nice to see the company willing to make fun of itself.While The Simpsons is one of the biggest brands that Disney will be getting in this deal, the chance of them appearing in a Disney Park seems highly unlikely due to the multitude of Simpsons-themed attractions at the Universal Studios parks. (The funniest part is that The Simpsons Ride is full of references to the Disney Parks.)But today, we’ll be taking a look at an attraction that nearly existed in Disneyland, but never quite made it. Our journey today has to begin with the Submarine Voyage that graced Disneyland for nearly 40 years. Eventually, the attraction began to grow a bit stale and costly, so Imagineers began to throw around ideas for ways that they could plus the attraction and make it more of a draw for guests.At the same time that the Submarine Voyage was closed and being seriously looked at, Disney was deep in development on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, part of Disney Animation’s goal to create animated action-adventure films in the early 2000s. With a budget of $120 million, Disney was putting a lot of eggs into the film’s basket and really expected it to come out and be successful.Just looking at this picture, you can see how well Atlantis translated to the submarine experience because the whole movie is based under the sea and even has a submarine design already prepared. What made it even more fitting was that the original Submarine Voyage actually featured a quest to Atlantis, so this attraction would be a very fitting successor and pay homage to one of the original E-Ticket attractions.As you can see from the photo above, the Atlantis Expedition would have greatly expanded on the Submarine Voyage, while still retaining a lot of the same look that was there before. The most notable addition was the giant volcano that the Monorail would have traveled through. This volcano would have been particularly important because, from one of the rumors that I heard, the submarines were going to basically serve as vessels to take people to Atlantis. Once they reached the city, guests would disembark and have the opportunity to explore Atlantis itself.This addition sounds amazing because it would have been so different from anything that we’ve seen in a Disney Park before where it’s basically two attractions in one. However, it also sounds like it would have been extremely costly, so for it to happen, Disney was relying on the success of Atlantis.Immediately after, the subs closed, this tarp showed up for a few days, so it seemed like Disney was ready to commit to the project. However, three years had passed and no work had been done to the submarine area, most likely due to the cost of building California Adventure right across the way.Then, Atlantis debuted in 2001, and it was nowhere near the success that Disney was hoping for, so the entire project was scrapped and the submarines were left to keep sitting there in what looked like murkier and murkier water. Eventually, the submarines did reopen, but not until 2007 when the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened. Having ridden the submarines very recently, I really wish that we had gotten the Atlantis Expedition because even its concept sounded so much better than what we ultimately got with the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.



Sicily's sunken heritage by submarine.


The C-Explorer 3 mini sub


A new tour is giving intrepid travellers a unique opportunity to explore the ancient shipwrecks and sunken treasures strewn along Sicily's coast. Sicily is abundant with historical sites, but some of its most mysterious attractions lie beneath the water. A mass of millennia-old Greek and Roman shipwrecks is strewn off the island’s coast, and for the first time this summer American company SubSea Explorers and the non-profit Aurora Trust are offering adventurers the opportunity to explore the wreckages in miniature submarines. Accompanied by local archaeological experts, groups participating in week-long programmes will plunge to the seabed in a C-Explorer 3 mini sub, which accommodates a pilot and two passengers and can dive to a depth of 1,000 feet (though participants are unlikely to go beyond 500 feet during this trip). Descents will be carried out primarily around the Panarea Island in the Aeolian Islands, off Sicily’s northern coast, and though time has eroded the ships’ wooden exteriors their ancient cargo remains strewn across the ground. Those in the submarine will be among the first tourists to see these recently rediscovered relics. As engaging as the journeys should prove, they’re also intended to provide experts with further opportunities to study this underwater haul and participants will be expected to help experts in their efforts to document, film and study what they find. Those who do participate in the programme will have the option of residing on an all-inclusive basis in a villa – at a cost of $19,700 (£13,000) per guest – or can charter a yacht at their own expense and then arrange for their entire party to participate in the programme for a total cost of $145,000 (£96,000). Trips will take place between June and August and should be booked by the end of April. Though travelling in a submersible can be cramped and constricted, tour organisers say claustrophobes shouldn’t be deterred from considering the experience. The sub’s acrylic shell is, they claim, constructed from “a material which has the same refraction index as seawater; therefore it visually disappears underwater and provides a very open and spacious feeling.” Other would-be ocean explorers keen to travel further and descend deeper, in a vastly more capacious  vehicle, might instead like to plan a journey on French architect Jacques Rougerie’s proposed SeaOrbiter. An oceanic observation vessel that will accommodate a permanent team of scientists alongside visiting passengers, it is expected to explore the world’s least-explored and mysterious ocean depths.


Israel's hidden depths.

The delivery of two new submarines not only boosts Israel's naval capabilities, it also provides a more effective 'second strike' nuclear deterrent. quietly become a submarine superpower. The Navy's transition into a long-term strategic arm is currently taking place, making this branch of the armed forces of crucial importance to Israel's national security and deterrent capability, with its option to go further, deeper and more quietly, and for extended periods. A few months ago, the Navy received its fourth submarine, INS Tanin (crocodile), a German-built Dolphin class submarine. And, if all goes well, the fifth submarine, INS Rahav, is expected to arrive in Israel in about six months.


Israeli Navy submarine (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)

According to German publication Der Spiegel, "Armed with nuclear weapons, the submarines are a signal to any enemy that the Jewish state itself would not be totally defenceless in the event of a nuclear attack, but could strike back with the ultimate weapon of retaliation."


Control room of Dolphin-class submarine (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
Control room of Dolphin-class submarine (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)


The sixth submarine, as yet nameless, will be added to the fleet in 2019 at an estimated cost of some $500 million – Israel's most expensive ever tool of war. Only history will judge whether all six subs were necessary, coming at the expense of replacing the Navy's aging warships. But for now, at their home in Haifa port, the new operations base is already in use, the INS Tanin is becoming operational and awaits her two sisters from the new AIP series of Dolphin submarines.


The Navy talks in terms of a quantum leap, providing the most advanced capabilities in the fields of discovery, communication and combat. The new subs also possess greater ability to remain submerged, thanks to a system that is independent of the outside air, thereby eliminating the need to cruise at a lesser depth, which may expose them. This expansion allows the Navy to operate in multiple arenas simultaneously. "The new submarines know how to dive deeper, further, and for longer, and operate with greater power than we are used to," says the commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg. As one naval officer puts it, "They changed the rules of the game." Israel revising its defence strategy, in light of the imminent nuclear agreement with Iran and a downturn in air strike capabilities due to Russia's sale to Iran of missile defence systems. Increasing importance is being placed an enhanced maritime arm, which can operate in multiple arenas - and exercise Israel's alleged second strike capabilities if the country comes under nuclear attack. The new submarines are reported to posses such advanced capabilities, and are armed with missiles manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, and adapted to Israeli needs at the planning stage in Germany. "INS Tanin is not just a force multiplier, but a clear statement about Israel's intentions to tirelessly uphold, preserve and enhance its deterrent capability at sea," says Rothberg. In this context, the defence establishment is currently holding an in-depth debate (although this is not the place to elaborate further), on striking a balance in the allocation of resources between Air Force jets that could attack Iran and the capabilities of the naval branch.  


Russia Launches The “Quietest Submarine In The World”

Russia is aggressively modernizing its naval fleet amid rising tensions with NATO. Earlier this week, Moscow launched what it claims to be the “quietest submarine in the world.” Dubbed Krasnodar, it is the third Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine built by Admiralty Shipyards under the Project-636. Varshavyanka is an improved version of the Kilo-class submarines, equipped with extended combat range and highly advanced stealth technology. According to The National Interest, Krasnodar can strike land, sea and underwater targets. Russia plans to induct six Varshavyanka submarines to its Black Sea Fleet by the end of 2016. Notably, the Black Sea Fleet’s main base is in Sevastopol, Crimea, which Russia annexed last year. Krasnodar is third of the six Varshavyanka submarines. Novorossiysk and the Rostov-on-Don, the first two, are currently undergoing deep-water testing. Russian naval officials expect them to begin service by the end of 2015. However, it’s not clear when Krasnodar will join them. Krasnodar is designed for anti-submarine and anti-shipping operations in shallow waters. According to Naval Technology, it has a cruising range of about 400 miles and can patrol for 45 days. Russia plans to induct another 14-18 subs. Though Varshavyanka submarines cannot stay underwater as long as nuclear submarines, they are almost impossible to detect acoustically. They are armed with eight surface-to-air Club missiles and 18 torpedoes. Varshavyanka submarines provide high reliability and an optimal level of process control automation. Besides Varshavyanka, Russia plans to add another 14-18 diesel-electric submarines over the next 15 years. Moscow is also replacing the Delta III and Delta IV-class submarines with Borei II. Meanwhile, the whole new Yasen-class subs will replace the Oscar II-class submarines after 2020. Russia needs to replace its Soviet-era fleet to maintain an edge in Europe. Last month, a 949 Antei nuclear submarine caught fire during repairs in the Zvyozdochka shipyard.


Secret Imperial Japan submarine 'aircraft carriers' mapped off Hawaii

A new expedition has filmed the wreck of a top-secret submarine built by Japan during the Second World War that was designed to launch bombers against the west coast of the United States. The last resting place of the I-400 submarine was confirmed in December 2013, but researchers from the University of Hawaii and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were returning to the wreck – which lies at a depth of nearly 2,700 feet – for the first time. At 400 feet long, the Imperial Japanese Navy's I-400 class were the largest submarines of the war and remained the largest constructed until the first nuclear ballistic missile boats rolled down slipways in the 1960s. Designed as underwater aircraft carriers, they were able to stow three Aichi light bombers, with folded wings, in a hangar on the deck. Aware of its inferiority in surface ships in the Pacific theatre, the Japanese Navy nevertheless wished to take the fight to the enemy and the vessel was given the task of approaching the US coast, surfacing, preparing and launching its aircraft within minutes. One of the earliest missions called for the aircraft to drop rats infected with bubonic plague and insects carrying cholera, dengue fever, typhus and other diseases on cities on the West coast of America. When the bacteriological weapons were not ready in time, the target switched to a conventional bombing attack against the Panama Canal. Japan surrendered before the raid could be carried out. At the end of the war, five submarines were captured intact by the US and dispatched under a prize crew to Hawaii for inspection – and with their cavernous hangars reportedly filled with war booty. The following year, the Soviet Union demanded access to the submarines but the US, which had already learned the technological secrets that they incorporated in their designs, did not want the same information falling into the hands of its new Cold War enemy. The five vessels were hastily sunk by torpedoes from the USS Cabezon off Oahu. The recent footage was shot by NHK, Japan's national broadcaster, for a documentary that is to be aired on May 6. It revealed the relative positions of the aircraft hangar and conning tower, which had broken apart when the submarine was hit by torpedoes and sank. "We didn't have detailed enough bottom-mapping data to help locate the hangar, conning tower and other signature features missing from the wreck of the I-400", said Terry Kerby, operations director and chief submarine pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. "With only one dive day to try to find anything, we knew there was a strong chance we might spend the dive looking at the barren sandy bottom. "We made a lucky guess where to start when we approached the main hull of the I-400 from the north-west", Mr Kerby added. "Our guess started to pay off when the giant hangar door came into view, followed by the conning tower and hangar. "Many items were amazingly intact for something that had ripped out of the hull of a sinking 400-foot-long submarine."


China's pirate patrol submarine is too noisy, say naval experts.


Type 091 and 092 nuclear submarines. Photo: SMP

Type 091 and 092 nuclear submarines. Photo: SMP


China's recent deployment of a nuclear submarine for an antipiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden may have caused unease among its neighbours, but naval experts say the Type 091 vessel is unlikely to pose any real threat because of the noise it generates. The experts say the international community should instead keep an eye on China's quieter, more advanced diesel-driven submarines. CCTV's military channel last Sunday reported that a nuclear submarine from the People's Liberation Army Navy had completed a two-month escort mission in the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden, and returned to its base in Qingdao , Shandong province. The report did not specify the type of submarine used, but commentators said the footage suggested it was an updated version of a Type 091 submarine. It was the first time state media had confirmed China was deploying nuclear submarines for anti-piracy missions in the seas between Yemen and Somalia, although it had long been suggested by overseas media."CCTV's report … shows that the PLA Navy really wants to improve its transparency in answer to US criticism [that it was not being transparent enough]," Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said."But the key reason that pushed the PLA Navy to increase its transparency is because the Type 091 subs are so easily detected by the US navy, although CCTV did not report this."The Type 091, which the US calls a Han-class submarine, is designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels in deep waters. A March 2007 issue of Seapower Magazine - an official publication of the Navy League of the US - referred to such vessels as "relatively noisy submarines based on 1950s and 1960s technology", although it admitted the models had benefited from several upgrades over the years. Belgian naval analyst Frederik Van Lokeren wrote on his blog that the Type 091 had "no combat value and can only be … used for training purposes". But Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said China had spared no effort to reduce its noise problem, developing several improved versions over the four decades since the first generation of the nuclear submarine was launched in December 1970."The PLA Navy now has Type 092, and 093 and 094 ballistic-missile subs that are more advanced than the Type 091 series," Li said."The navy's trials in the past two decades showed that Type 091 subs were not as noisy as the US media described, although we should recognise that the decibel level of the Type 091 subs is not as [low] as US same  generation vessels like USS Ohio nuclear subs."Li said even though they were about 20 years behind US vessels, the Type 091 submarines still posed a threat to US aircraft carriers. During the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, two PLA Navy Type 091 submarines tracked two aircraft carrier groups led by the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Independence. He said they pushed the US carriers back 200 miles. Macau-based naval expert Wong said while China's more advanced Type 093 vessels had yet to overcome their noise problems, the PLA Navy's diesel-electric submarines had achieved an advantage that could pose a significant threat to the international community."China's diesel-powered subs have reached international standard … They are equipped with air-independent propulsion and can remain silent during underwater ambushes," Wong said. In October 1995, a Type 039 Song-class diesel-powered submarine sailed close to the USS Independence carrier group without being detected by the US navy until it suddenly surfaced from the waters near the Taiwan Strait, according to a documentary broadcast by Guangdong Satellite TV last month. The elusiveness of Type 039 vessels has helped China increase its share of the weapons market. Last month, Pakistan's media reported that the country would buy eight such submarines for US$5 billion, making it China's largest single sale of submarines.


Military submarines in service around the world

Submarines give navies around the world a huge strategic and tactical advantage. Ballistic missile submarines can serve as nuclear deterrents in case a country's land-based launch systems have been destroyed. Meanwhile, nuclear-powered attack submarines can effectively hunt enemy subs and can sink enemy naval targets. During war games in March, a French Rubis-class sub even "sunk" a US aircraft carrier. Smaller non-nuclear attack submarines, although incapable of operating underwater for as long as nuclear vessels, can be even more difficult to track than their nuclear-fuelled counterparts. These subs can also be used for naval and anti-submarine warfare in shallower waters. The following graphic from Naval Graphics shows every model of submarine currently in service around the world as of 2015:On average, the largest submarines in service are ballistic missile-armed. As these submarines are intended for nuclear strikes or long-range missile attacks, few nations have the need or desire to operate them. Today, only Russia, China, the US, the UK, and France have ballistic missile submarines in their navies. Likewise, the same five countries are the only nations to currently possess nuclear attack submarines, although the Indian Navy is operating a loaned Russian sub. These subs are generally slightly smaller than ballistic missile submarines and are capable of staying submerged for months at a time. In general, the greatest number of submarines owned and operated around the world are of the non-nuclear variety. These submarines are either powered via air-independent propulsion, diesel-electric engines, or a combination of both. Although these non-nuclear submarines are small and cannot remain submerged as long as nuclear subs, newer models can potentially run quieter than the nuclear-powered models allowing them to evade detection and attack surface ships or other submarines.


Details of China's new AIP submarine technology revealed.

In recent years several different air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines have entered service in China and are said to be leading the world in standards, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese. Due to the highly classified nature of submarine technology, however, the parameters of China's AIP systems have not been fully revealed to the public, the website stated. A May 1 report in Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, however, mentioned that China's "new Stirling engine" was 117% more efficient than its international rivals. The first hints of the details of the engine technology have gradually emerged recently. The engine will likely be adopted by the PLA Navy's new AIP submarine. In the April 26 edition of People's Daily, in the run-up to Labour Day, a piece entitled "The 'Prettiest Worker' Reveals Why Workers are Beautiful" included the sentence: "In the field of special propulsion systems, the Stirling engine department of the 711 research institute of the China Ship Scientific Research Center has been around for 10 years and has independently developed a completely new engine, which is 117% more efficient than similar products overseas, which puts it in the lead worldwide. It is set to be installed in China's next generation of warships." The 711 research institute is the main research unit that develops propulsion systems for conventional submarines. One of the most advanced systems it created was the AIP system for the Type 039B Song-class diesel-electric submarine, powered with Stirling engines based on engines imported into China from Sweden during the 1980s.According to the People's Daily report, there are several models of the Swedish 4-275 propulsion system that the country is currently exporting to overseas buyers, including a 75 kilowatt and a 110 kW model. Only the 75 kW version is being sold on the international market, however. China imported the 75 kW version from Sweden then replicated the engine and used it to power the Type 039B submarine. As the Stirling engine is not very efficient, it is normally used for slow cruising underwater. A new electricity generating technology developed in China allows the submarine to cruise underwater and charge its battery at the same time, the website stated. So although the four Stirling engines are identical in efficiency to those used in Japan's Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarines, the Chinese submarines are afforded more tactical flexibility. Before the liquid oxygen on board the submarine is exhausted, the submarine does not need to navigate with its snorkel extended to the surface, which puts it at the same level of performance as a small nuclear submarine. This leaves the problem of the low efficiency of the Stirling engine. The engines of the Type 039B submarine charge quite slowly. After travelling at a speed of 20 knots for several hours underwater, it needs to slow to a speed of 2 knots for several days to recharge its battery, which makes increasing the efficiency of the engine key. This is what the 711 research institute has been working to address. According to a 2004 report by state news agency Xinhua, the engine developed by the 711 research institute has made a breakthrough in the technology. The new engine is said to have a 20 kW and a 100 kW model, said the website. The advantage of the engine is that it can be used together with other propulsion systems such as natural gas, diesel, solar energy or other solid fuels to generate electricity. This also reduces emissions compared to other engines on the market. This meant that back in 2004, China had almost equalled the power of the Swedish 110 kW 4-275 Stirling engine. The website then speculated that the power of China's new generation of Stirling engine has likely reached the 160 kW or 217 kW mark. If new submarines were to use four Sterling engines, as the Type 039B submarine does, then this would mean power of 640 kW to 868 kW (868-1,180 horsepower). The engine would also drive the submarine at the same time as charging the battery. The Russian Kilo-class submarine has one 150 horsepower cruise generator and two emergency-use 102 horsepower generators. This means that China's new Stirling engine can charge its main battery at the speed of a conventionally-powered submarine in snorkel mode, while travelling at a low speed of 2-3 knots. This is a unique breakthrough. Even the lithium battery powered submarine, which is under development, is unable to compete with diesel-electric submarines in terms of energy density and it still needs to charge its battery with its snorkel extended.


SDV Update.

May 15, 2015: Since 2009 U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has been desperate to develop a new small submersible vehicle to take SEAL commandos from a submarine or small ship to a hostile shore.  Several designs have been tried but failed. The latest effort seeks to develop a SDV (SEAL Delivery Vehicles) using existing commercial submersibles. SOCOM also has to face the fact that there is not a big demand for an expensive, long-range SDV like ASDS, which was cancelled in 2013 and that cash is tight, even for SOCOM. The current favourite candidate is called Proteus. This is a 3.84 ton UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) that can also be operated as a manned vehicle and meet the SOCOM requirement of transporting six SEALs. The eight meter long, 1.6 meter diameter Proteus submersible was designed as a UUV with a cargo bay capable of carrying up to 1.6 tons of equipment for underwater research or other commercial operations. It also turned out that Proteus could be configured to carry six SEALs, in wet suits and with all their gear, for up to ten hours. This made it a potential SDV. Since Proteus can also operate without a human driver on board, after delivering the SEALs the Proteus can automatically return to the ship or sub it was launched from. SDV designs usually include a two man crew of divers to operate the submersible. With a cruising speed of 14 kilometers an hour Proteus can operate for eight hours before needing fresh batteries or a recharge. Thus Proteus can deliver six SEALs from a point fifty kilometers out to sea.  In the meantime the Mk 8 SDV, which is a World War II era design that is basically a reusable torpedo which divers in scuba gear hang on to as they are taken to shore, is still all that is available. The MK 8 has long been used by American and British combat swimmers. Both nations are still using the MK 8 and despite all the new tech developed in the last 60 years, efforts to design and deliver a workable replacement have failed so far. There is still a military developed candidate. This is the SWCS (Shallow Water Combat Submersible). This is a smaller  (at about five tons) version of the earlier (but cancelled) ASDS (Advanced Seal Delivery Systems) that was a 21 meter long, 60 ton mini-submarine.) Like the ASDS, the SWCS is battery powered, with a crew of two and carries about six SEALs. The larger ASDS could carry up to 14 passengers (fewer if a lot of equipment is being brought along, the usual number of passengers was expected to be eight.) With a max range of 200 kilometers, top speed of 14 kilometers an hour and max diving depth of 65 meters (200 feet), the ASDS was to operate from one of the seven U.S. nuclear submarines and several British boats equipped to carry it on the deck. Both ASDS and SWCS are equipped with passive and active SONAR, radar and an electronic periscope (that uses a video camera, not the traditional optics.) The likely commercial minisubs to be converted to the SWCS have shorter range and won’t dive as deep as ASDS but, unlike ASDS, the SWCS is based on an existing design that works. Both navies want the SWCS, which will recycle some ASDS technology that worked, and replace the stuff that didn't. There were a lot of Mk 9 replacements that did not make the grade. The ASDS was abandoned in 2009 after it was discovered that fire damage suffered in 2008 would cost $237 million, and take three years, to repair. SOCOM was reluctant to repair the vessel and decided to just walk away. Originally, the entire program (including six ASDS) was to have cost $527 million, but it ended up costing nearly twice that to only produced one. While a nice piece of engineering, each ASDS would have cost over $300 million. The U.S. Navy also spent $47 million building a base in Hawaii for the ASDS fleet. There, and in the Persian Gulf, the first ASDS production boat underwent testing for three years, before being declared ready for service in 2004. But problems kept cropping up, until the production of the other five was cancelled in 2006. After a decade of development, the ASDS had too many technical problems. Only the first one remained and it sort of worked until it caught fire. The current plan is to have the SWCS in service by 2016. One can only hope. Meanwhile Proteus is standing by to stand in.


Submarines: South Korea Becomes a Potential Threat To China

In February 2015 South Korea created a new Submarine Command. This was in recognition of the growing South Korean submarine fleet (nine Type 209 and four Type 214) and the five additional Type 214s being delivered by the end of the decade. The main purpose of the new Submarine Command is to develop better anti-submarine capabilities against North Korea or even China. Another reason for the Submarine Command was to make it easier to curb the procurement corruption that has developed in the navy. Several senior navy officers and officials have recently been prosecuted for this sort of misbehaviour. Since the submarine service is rather elite and much more sensitive to getting the most for their money the Submarine Command, run by submarine officers, is expected to be more resistant to corruption. That is important because South Korea is putting a lot more money into submarines. North Korea currently has 70 subs, but most (over 70 percent) of them are very small (and often elderly) coastal types. There are twenty larger (1,800 ton) Romeo type boats but these are also very old, noisy and easy for other subs to detect under water. South Korea has been upgrading its submarine force for some time now. In 2014 South Korea launched the fifth KSS-2 class (Type 214) submarine. This one enters service in late 2015. The last two KSS-2s were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. These KSS 2 class subs are armed with South Korean made Haeseong-3 cruise missiles and torpedoes. The Haeseong-3 is like the torpedo tube launched American Tomahawk. Haeseong-3 has a range of 1,500 kilometers and can reach any target within North Korea. The first three KSS-2s were built (from German components) by Hyundai Heavy Industries. Much to the chagrin of the South Koreans, who are trying to develop their own submarine building capability, the first three Type 214s had quality problems. Mostly it was because of defective components and poor construction techniques that left the three boats noisy and easier to detect. The first three Type 214 subs were out of action for most of 2010 because of these problems. This was very embarrassing, as these subs were built in South Korea and that was a big deal for South Koreans. Building submarines is a very specialized and exacting type of manufacturing and South Korea has only been doing it only since 2000. The first subs built in South Korea were these three German Type 214s, and the first of those entered service in 2008. The boats were built using licensed technology from the German developer (HDW) and many of the components were manufactured in South Korea as well. But then in 2006 metal bolts in the Type 214s began coming loose or breaking. The problem was traced to the South Korean supplier of the bolts which were not, it turned out, manufactured to the German specification. Eventually, German specialists were called in, and by 2011 the problem had been fixed. South Korea went ahead with plans to build six additional Type 214 subs over the next 12 years. South Korea already had nine 1,100 ton Type 209 subs, designed and built in Germany. The Type 214 boats use fuel cells, enabling them to stay underwater for up to two weeks, which is ten times longer than the Type 209s. The Type 214 is a 1,700 ton, 65 meter (202 foot) long boat, with a crew of 27. It has four torpedo tubes and a top submerged speed of 35 kilometers an hour. Maximum diving depth is over 400 meters (1,220 feet). AIP boats go for up to a billion dollars each. The second batch of South Korean 214s will have an improved AIP system, which is apparently more reliable and provides a small increase in time underwater. South Korea will probably become a supplier of AIP systems as well because they now have the industrial expertise for this sort of high tech. The latest Type 214 boat is important because if it proves to be flawless it will make South Korea a contender in the international submarine market.




What Are Chinese Submarines Doing in the Indian Ocean?

Chinese Submarines in Colombo

Illustrating how China blends its economic and military interests, Chinese attack submarines last fall undertook their first known voyages to the Indian Ocean, with two subs docking at the new Chinese-built and Chinese-owned container terminal at Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. After building Sri Lanka's southern port of Hambantota, China now wants to construct a major stop on its nautical "road" in the form of a $1.4 billion city, roughly the size of Monaco, on reclaimed land off Colombo. Beijing is also interested in leasing one of the 1,200 islands of the politically torn Maldives. Under Xi, China has moved to a proactive posture to shape its external security environment, using trade and investment to expand its sphere of strategic influence while simultaneously asserting territorial and maritime claims against its neighbours. The Maritime Silk Road project -- part of Xi's increasing focus on the seas -- is driven by his belief that the maritime domain holds the key to China achieving pre-eminence in Asia. In this light, the new Asian order will be determined not so much by developments in East Asia as by the contest for major influence in the Indian Ocean, the maritime center of the world.


PLA Developing Lithium-ion Powered Submarines

China is developing submarines powered by a lithium-ion battery propulsion system as they offer higher energy density and longer dive times than old diesel submarines. Chinese researchers see them as the "wave of the future," Andrew Erickson, a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island was quoted as saying by Diplomat, Tokyo-based news magazine on May 28.The PLA Navy is discussing putting lithium-ion batteries "on a new generation of conventional subs sometime between now and 2020, but there is no indicator as yet of the type of submarine that might be," Erickson added. China is struggling to advance its submarine technology as it is lagging behind, when compared to west. The PLA's Type 095 nuclear submarine’s major structural weaknesses is the lack of propulsion engineering because most engines used in Chinese submarines are either based on imported foreign technology or built domestically under license. The PLA needs submarines with reactors that are "efficient, long-lasting, reliable and quiet enough," Erickson said. He also added that it is the reason for China to equip them in their Song- and Yuan-class attack submarines. Diesel submarines are stealthier than nuclear submarines because the former are specifically designed to minimize vibration and noise in order to evade sonar detection. However, China finds longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries could be the solution as it does not require submarines to come to the surface for recharging batteries. The PLA Navy currently has five nuclear attack submarines, four nuclear ballistic missile submarines and 53 diesel attack submarines, the Pentagon's Office of Naval Intelligence said.


Glomar Explorer. The ship that secretly raised a Soviet

The story of the Glomar Explorer spans four decades and involves a Soviet nuclear missile submarine, the CIA and an eccentric billionaire. The tale is worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the real-life story of the Glomar Explorer eclipses any fiction Tinsel Town could concoct. The vessel’s history is steeped in international intrigue. The $350-million drillship – an engineering marvel that was far ahead of its time – was built for Global Marine, a company owned by Howard Hughes, the eccentric American businessman. It was supposedly to be used to extract manganese nodules from the ocean floor and was constructed at Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock (remember Sun Oil Company – Sunoco?) in Chester, Pennsylvania. Its maiden voyage took place on June 21, 1974.Over the years, Global Marine executives and others have testified in federal court that the Glomar Explorer wasn’t really built to mine manganese but was designed and constructed specifically to get something much most precious to the U.S. off the seabed. Project Azorian was the code name for the covert CIA project whose real goal was the recovery of a Soviet nuclear missile submarine, which was lost in 1968 about 1,500 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. The U.S. Air Force had captured sonic recordings of an explosion that took place on March 8, 1968. Subsequently, it was able to localize the latitude and longitude of the Soviet submarine, and the U.S. Navy conducted a deep-sea reconnaissance mission that took over 20,000 photographs of the sunken Soviet K-129 submarine. President Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger approved the mission, which created significant engineering challenges as the 2,000-ton submarine lay at 17,000 feet on the ocean floor. At the time, the deepest-ever salvage operation had taken place at a mere 245 feet and recovered a satellite bucket weighing only a couple of hundred pounds. In order to carry out the mission, a massive claw-like apparatus was built by Lockheed to fit the sub’s exact specifications. It was affectionately called “Clementine” and weighed 2,170 tons and consisted of two steel beams that were 179 feet long and 31 feet wide. The Glomar Explorer itself was 618 feet long with a 115-foot beam, which was too large to transit the Panama Canal. So after sea trials it began its long voyage on June 21, 1974 around South America to Long Beach, which included a stop at Valparaiso, Chile to collect a few more Global Marine employees. The evening before the ship was scheduled to arrive in Chile, a military coup overthrew the government. There were 178 people onboard the vessel including the crew and members of the CIA. It sailed out of port without incident, but it was a close call just the same. The U.S. Navy had used a large network of hydrophones, which can distinguish military ships and submarines from ordinary maritime traffic, to locate the K-129 on the ocean floor. The camera onboard a Navy ship showed that the submarine had broken in two pieces. It was assumed an explosion took place as the sub was recharging its batteries, which give off hydrogen gas, and was most likely ignited by a spark from the engines.  The Glomar Explorer finally reached its destination on July 4, 1974, but inclement weather delayed the salvage operation for several days. Around the same time as the recovery cage was being lowered into the ocean, the Soviet warship Chazhma arrived on the scene carrying a Kamov Ka-25 helicopter. A Soviet naval tug arrived as well to help in monitoring the U.S. ship’s operations. The Glomar team had to carry on its operations with the Soviet Navy watching. To prevent the Soviet helicopter from landing onboard, boxes were stacked on deck, but what caused the most anxiety during the operation was debris that might float to the surface once the sub was lifted off the ocean floor. Such a disaster almost took place on August 4 as the sub was being raised. At about 6,700 feet, the crew noticed that two-thirds of the vessel had broken off and only about 38 feet were left in the claw. On August 9, the same day that Richard Nixon resigned as President, the CIA and Glomar team lifted the remains of the sub into the ship’s gigantic moon pool. As the CIA inspected the wreckage, several important documents and manuals were recovered. But the most pressing issue was the discovery of several bodies of the 98 crewmen who died in the sub’s explosion. While three of the crew members were identified, the rest were not. By September, all of the bodies were recovered and were buried at sea with full honors. The Glomar Explorer returned to Long Beach in September 1974 with a number of crates recovered from the sub. The sub itself was transported to the naval submarine base in Bangor, Washington. But the CIA wanted the rest of the vessel that remained on the ocean floor. Operation Matador was now in play, but the media found out about the secret mission and the story became front-page news. The Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. demanded an explanation from the Ford Administration. While Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did not admit what the operation was about, the plan to recover the rest of the sub was scrapped. In 1976, the U.S. General Services Administration considered leasing the Glomar Explorer, but the deal never came about. In September of that year, the U.S. Navy acquired the vessel, which was added to its auxiliary operations. The ship was laid up in Suisun Bay in the San Francisco Bay area but was kept a safe distance from other laid-up ships due to concerns about residual radiation.


Thailand to buy 3 submarines from China


Thailand to buy 3 submarines from China


The Thai navy has picked Chinese submarines costing 12 billion baht (S$447.5 million) each to be commissioned in the force, a source on the procurement committee says. The majority of the 17-strong committee voted to buy three Chinese submarines, saying it was the “best value for money”. The rest were split between submarines from Germany and South Korea. The navy also received offers from Russia, Sweden and France. The source said China beat other competitors as it offered subs equipped with superior weaponry and technology. Its subs are also able to stay underwater longer. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon backs the submarine project, citing a growing territorial threat and an increasing number of maritime missions. He said many neighbouring countries are also deploying submarines. General Prawit said he would forward to the cabinet the navy’s submarine procurement decision once it becomes available. Before the procurement panel made its decision, Gen Prawit was quoted by a navy source as saying that if the submarines were not bought by the current government, the navy might not have the chance to get them again. In 2011, the navy looked into the purchase of six German-made submarines at a cost of 7.7 billion baht. However, the project was rejected by the then Yingluck Shinawatra government.


China builds mystery midget submarine

China has apparently built a previously unseen midget submarine at its Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan. Digital Globe satellite imagery dated 24 October 2014 showing the submarine was posted on Google Earth and was highlighted by a contributor to the Bellingcat open source intelligence website. The imagery shows the craft berthed at the pontoon used for fitting out submarines. The midget submarine had left the pontoon by late November and by mid-January 2015, another submarine, probably a Type 041 Yuan-class boat, occupied the berth. Based on the imagery the midget submarine has an approximate length of 35 m and beam of 4 m, suggesting a surface displacement in the region of 400-500 tonnes. The Wuchang shipyard is at the forefront of conventional submarine production in China and has constructed most of the Type 039 Song-class and Type 041 Yuan-class boats, including the most recent variant, with its distinctive hydrodynamic fairings between the casing and the fin. It also built the world's largest conventional submarine, the Type 032 Qing-class ballistic missile trials submarine.


South Korean submarine.


South Korea unveiled an innovative mini-submarine concept – known as the KSS 500A – in 2011. (Mrityunjoy Mazumdar)

South Korea unveiled an innovative mini-submarine concept; known as the KSS 500A


Laucala Island's private submarine a unique perk for paying guests.


The private resort on Fiji's Laucala Island has a $2 million state-of-the-art DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible on site for the exclusive use of guests.


The private resort on Fiji's Laucala Island has a $2 million state-of-the-art DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible on site for the exclusive use of guests. As if Laucala Island wasn’t already indulgent enough, the seven-star luxury Fiji resort is now the first resort worldwide to add a personal submarine to its line-up of toys as part of its all-inclusive package for guests. And given Laucala is owned by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz (or DM, as he’s known on the island), who is the brains and budget behind the global Red Bull empire, it should come as no surprise that having a $2 million state-of-the-art DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible on his private island getaway appealed to the adrenalin junkie. It’s one of the world’s most advanced miniature submarines: silent, eco-friendly and powered by electricity. Sir Richard Branson has one; James Cameron has used one; the late Steve Fossett had a customised one. The seven-metre long submersible can fit two people: the pilot up front, and one guest down the back. After a very casual safety briefing – apparently if anything bad happens, the vessel will immediately float to the surface and the crew from shore will swing by to collect you – it’s launched from the beach using a loader. As soon as your plastic-dome-covered head is under water, you begin gliding through the marine.


Saab unveils super stealth 'ghost submarine' that is virtually invisible to enemies and even allows divers to silently enter and exit

  • Special pod allows divers to enter and exit sub while underwater
  • Built to include rubber damping and acoustic baffling to reduce noise
  • Hull shape and fins designed to make it appear almost invisible 
  • Can also 'play dead' at the bottom of the sea to remain undetected.
  • the firm has already signed a $1 billion deal to build two of the new submarines for the Swedish Navy.
  • 'Extreme stealth is at the heart of the Kockums A26 submarine,' the firm said.
  • 'Sweden is unleashing its GHOST (Genuine HOlistic STealth) technology, thus making the Kockums A26 submarine effectively invisible.'
  • The order, with a value of about $1.04 billion, is for construction of two Type A26 submarines and conducting mid-life upgrades to two Gotland-class submarines.
  • Work on the two A26s is to be completed by 2024.
  • Type A26 submarines are nearly 207 feet in length, 21 feet in the beam and have an endurance of 45 days or 18 days underwater. 
  • They have a test depth of about 658 feet. 
  • They will be conventional diesel-electric submarines equipped with the Kockums Stirling AIP (air-independent propulsion) system for enhanced stealth.
  • 'Sweden has long experience in designing very silent submarines,' the firm says.
  • Intelligence gathering, surveillance and sea denial along coastlines are becoming increasingly important, ' Saab said. 
  • 'Operations in shallow water enable submarines to carry out covert monitoring of targets on land or sea using a range of electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors. 
  • 'Moreover, the ability of a submarine to lie motionless on the ocean floor, or 'bottom out', makes it almost impossible to find.

The two vessels will be delivered to Sweden's Defence Materiel Organization in late 2018 and late 2019, respectively. Saab will deliver world-class submarines to Sweden,' said Hakan Buskhe, president and chief executive officer of Saab. 'Our ability to work closely with customers, to meet their needs with modern manufacturing and products, is one of Saab's greatest skills. Saab is also exploring export opportunities to provide complete submarine systems to a select number of countries, plus sub-systems across the wider market.

The A26 sub is 207 feet long, and features a 'ghost mode' to make it virtually undetectable when underwater.


Saab's A26 design includes a Multi-mission Portal flexible payload capability with a lock system in addition to its conventional torpedo tubes.


India scouts for new deep sea rescue ship.

India is scouting for a new deep sea rescue ship to provide assistance to submarines in distress as well as to undertake underwater search. Several rounds of talks have taken place and presentations have been made to the Indian Navy, which is looking for a platform to assist both nuclear and conventional submarines in trouble, Russian shipbuilding officials have confirmed. The Navy for long has operated without a capable submarine rescue vessel. The ships displacement will be about 6,000 ton and it includes a deep divers complex, two unmanned submersibles and rescue equipment. We would of course have no objections if the Indian side wants to equip the ship with submersibles of a different company," Buzakov said. The top executive confirmed that the ship can perform rescue missions on both nuclear and conventional submarines. Russian engineers have also solved the tricky rescue problem that occurred when the Kursk submarine sank with.



Russia's Five Most Lethal Submarines

Having recently published lists of Russia's deadly naval ships and dangerous military aircraft, the National Interest is back with a new best of compilation. Russia makes every effort to improve its nascent submarine fleet by upgrading Soviet-era models and offering brand new platforms, like Borei and Yasen.  


A file picture taken in Brest harbor, western France, on September 21, 2004, shows the Vepr Russian nuclear submarine of the Project 971 Shchuka-B type, or Akula-class (Shark) by NATO classification , the same type as the Nerpa Russian nuclear submarine


A file picture taken in Brest harbour, western France, on September 21, 2004, shows the Vepr Russian nuclear submarine of the Project 971 Shchuka-B type, or Akula-class (Shark) by NATO classification , the same type as the Nerpa Russian nuclear submarine.


Akula-class submarine

Project 971 Shchuka-B or Bars, designated by NATO as the Akula, is a nuclear-powered attack submarine equipped with 40 torpedoes, mines and 12 RK-55 Granat cruise missiles. First deployed in late 1980s, it can move at an impressive speed of up to 35 knots when submerged, has a maximum operational depth of 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) and boasts an endurance of 100 days. But the Akula's truly remarkable feature is its low level of noise generation the Soviet and later Russian engineers were able to achieve. An upgraded version, known as the Akula II, was the quietest submarine at the time when it was commissioned, exceeding the upgraded version of the US Los Angeles-class subs. The Akula remains one of the quietest Russian submarines to date. The Russian Navy operates over ten Akulas, with one Project 971 submarine, currently known as INS Chakra, being on a ten-year lease in India.


Kilo-class submarine

Project 877 Paltus Kilo-class Submarine


Known in Russia as the Project 877 Paltus, the Kilo is what the National Interest referred to as a Cold War classic. It is a diesel-electric powered attack submarine first commissioned in 1982.The Kilo is fitted with surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, mines and anti-ship missiles. The class was designed to carry out anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in littoral waters. The model proved to be a popular export platform and was purchased by Algeria, China, India, Iran, Poland and Romania.


A diesel-powered Varshavyanka-class submarine during the celebrations of the Russian Navy Day in Vladivostok


Project 636M

Project 636.3 Varshavyanka is an improved Kilo submarine, boasting higher speed, more advanced stealth technology and extended combat range than its predecessor. The sub was dubbed by NATO a 'black hole' since the improved Kilo is nearly impossible to detect underwater."A silent killer, the upgraded model is already viewed as one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine models in service," the magazine observed, referring to the Varshavyanka. It is armed with torpedoes, mines and Kalibr 3M54 (NATO SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles. The first three Project 636M subs of the six ordered by Russia's Ministry of Defence entered service in 2014 and were assigned to Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The fourth Project 636M sub, dubbed Krasnodar, was launched in late April. The last two submarines, the Veliky Novgorod and the Kolpino, are slated to join the Black Sea Fleet by 2016.

Borei-class submarine

The Borei- and Yasen-class submarines are the two platforms designed since the end of the Cold War. The former is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine designed to replace Russia's aging Typhoon-class, Delta III and Delta IV subs and intended to serve as the backbone of Russia's maritime nuclear deterrence.


Yury Dolgoruky Strategic Nuclear Submarine


The fourth-generation Project 955 submarines are equipped with 16 RSM-56 Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of 8,000 kilometers (nearly 5,000 miles). Each Bulava SLBM is fitted with up to ten thermonuclear warheads. The Borei-class subs "promise to provide the Russian Navy with a potent long-range capability for years to come," the National Interest noted. The Russian Navy operates three Borei-class submarines, the flag ship Yury Dolgoruky, Alexandr Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh. The first two were commissioned in 2013, while the latest one is in active service since December 2014.The first submarine of the Project 955-A Borei-II class, dubbed Knyaz Vladimir, is expected to enter service in 2017. By 2020, the Russian Navy plans to operate a total of eight Borei-class ballistic missile submarines, three Project 955 subs and five Project 955-A watercraft. The Borei-class submarines are expected to remain in service for decades to come, at least until 2040.


The first multirole Yasen K-560 Severodvinsk submarine by the pier of the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk.


Yasen-class submarine

The Project 885 multipurpose attack submarines are touted as the most advanced multipurpose watercraft in the Russian Navy. Designed to replace the Akula-class subs, the Yasen-class subs boast a state-of-the-art design featuring a modified hull profile and modernized equipment. In addition to its 533-mm torpedoes, a Yasen-class submarine is capable of firing cruise missiles from its eight vertical launching systems. It can also carry Onyx and Kalibr supersonic anti-ship missiles or land attack cruise missiles."Yasen-class vessels can slip over 600 meters beneath the waves, rendering them an ever more potent threat to Russia's rivals," the National Interest noted. The first Yasen-class sub, known as Severodvinsk, entered service in June 2014 and was assigned to Russia's Northern Fleet. Four more Yasen-class submarines are currently under construction. In addition, Russia plans to expand its high-end submarine fleet with two new fifth generation nuclear-powered watercraft, known only as an "aircraft carrier killer" and an "underwater interceptor" at the moment. Both submarines are currently under development.


The ultra-rich dive into a brand new obsession



Tucked away in an industrial park in Vero Beach, Florida, 34-year-old engineer John Ramsay is painstakingly drafting a design for a submarine that will be able to reach the five deepest points in the ocean, Eric Barton reported on BBC online.“It’s going to be a world- or certainly industry-changing vehicle,” Ramsay said. The $25m, two-man submarine will take six months to design and another two years to build by Triton Submarines. “Nobody has built a deep-going [personal] vehicle that has been used again and again, but that’s what we are trying to do.”His client is one of several who see the ocean depths as a new playground. A new breed of billionaires is tapping into their inner Jacques Cousteau — the famous undersea explorer — and they're willing to pay big. With price tags starting at a $3m, and requiring a yacht to park on, these personal submarines are not only for adventure, but also for their owners to help advance research and exploration in ways that weren’t dreamed about a decade ago, the report said.“Part of this trend is that it is cool to have a submarine and part of it is that a private person can support research with it,” said Charles Kohnen, owner of submarine builder SEAmagine Hydrospace Corp in California. “This is not just an effort to go where no man has gone before. This is going where no man has gone before — and come back to tell about it.”Still nascent, the personal submarine industry comprises four companies that account for just 20 to 30 privately owned and manned subs across the globe, according to Kohnen, an early pioneer who sold his first sub in 2000, Eric revealed. These sub owners frequently offer charters, at a price often up to $30,000 a day. Some of these vessels have been rented out by other billionaires looking for a new holiday adventure, while others have been lent to research groups to discover new sea life or explore shipwrecks. Few research organisations can, after all, afford to buy a submarine, let alone pay for upkeep and maintenance or cover the cost of the expensive ship that's required to transport it out to sea. So, teaming up with a private owner has proven to be one promising strategy. In 2013, researchers travelling in a privately owned submarine off the coast of Japan filmed a giant squid in its natural habitat for the first time.  And, in March of this year, a team using submarines owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen found the Japanese battleship Musashi, which had been sunk off the coast of the Philippines in World War II, the BBC report said. Sometimes, however, the thrill of discovery lies purely with the submarine owner. In 2012, filmmaker James Cameron broke a record for the deepest solo dive when he used a sub he owned to explore the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the oceans, located in the western Pacific. Cameron’s vehicle wasn’t designed for multiple trips into the extreme pressure of deep water and was retired after its only trip. Most private subs reach depths of 1,000m or less. The biggest construction challenge remains the compartment that holds passengers, which become compromised when under pressure at depth. Triton’s subs include a 6.5-inch-thick acrylic passenger bubble made in Germany at a cost of about $1m. To go deeper, the sub must be far more durable, including a sphere of ultra-thick glass that could cost four or five times as much, Ramsay said. Just how effective these private owners can be at research or exploration is unclear, said George Bass, professor emeritus at the Texas A&M University Nautical Archaeology Program. Bass is one of the world’s most prolific hunters of shipwrecks, especially in the Mediterranean. Using a SEAmagine submarine off the coast of Turkey, he once found 14 wrecks in a month. But Bass doubts that private owners could have the same kind of luck. “It’s possible [that private sub owners] could stumble on a shipwreck or a new discovery,” Bass said. “But it takes a lot of research and knowledge to make that happen.”In Costa Rica, a submarine named DeepSee is being used by adventure travellers, researchers, and scientists for dives predominantly around Cocos Island, about 350 miles off the mainland. With its unique cross currents, the water surrounding the islands is rich with rare coral and marine life, from crustaceans to whale sharks, BBC said. DeepSee’s owner, an eponymous private company, allows researchers from the University of Costa Rica to take the sub down for free, said operations manager Shmulik Blum, and they sometimes find new sea life never seen before. Two years ago, the Costa Rican researchers discovered an entire new family of coral, the kind of discovery that hadn’t been made in 40 years, Blum said. The new, soft coral is in waters so deep that it never sees light and lacks any pigment. Using DeepSee’s robotic arm, researchers scooped up a sample that they later analysed in the lab, the report said. “Usually, the lack of access to waters this deep limits the ability to learn about it,” Blum said. “Once we can get down there, it gives us access to an entirely new world.”Blum was speaking by phone from DeepSee’s office in the small port of Puntarenas. Hours later, he and his submersible team would be making the day and a half journey to the Cocos Island for a new set of dives. “Maybe we’ll find something new this time too,” he said. “You never know.”


Vietnamese inventor makes 300 one-person submarines for Thai company

While they have yet to win much interest at home, miniature submarines made by an inventor in Ho Chi Minh City has caught the attention of tourism companies of Southeast Asia. Phan Boi Tran, who spent years working for a French submarine and helicopter body manufacturer, said he has received an order of around 300 mini submarines from Thailand. Tran said his team will make the submarines in Thailand and the partner, whose name has not been disclosed, will sell them to travel companies. He said he could not make the subs here in Vietnam and then export them. “Vietnam has not issued a product code for my product. Without a certificate of origin, I will have to pay 30 percent tax if I export completely built subs to Thailand,” Tran said. The 61-year-old exported his first five mini submarines to Malaysia last September and has been supplying equipment and staff to build 25 more in Malaysia. Both orders from Thailand and Malaysia were brokered by a former French colleague, who planned to seek more buyers from Central and South America. Tran said the submarines for Thailand will be similar to those he sold to Malaysia, which are around two meters long, 1.5 meters tall and just big enough to carry one person. The composite submarine uses electric engines. It is designed to dive to three meters under water for around two hours, and at the speed of one to five nautical miles per hour.“It is technically a diving device,” Tran said. His team will travel to Thailand for the production in the next ten days. He said the Thai customer has agreed to pay US$5,000 for a sub, 50 percent higher than the price offered to the Malaysia partner. Tran said he is raising the price as his subs have prove Tran won local fame in 2010 for successfully piloting the country’s first mini-sub, Yet Kieu 1.But his invention has not brought him any orders from local customers.

Son Of The Great Gotland

Sweden has finally settled on a replacement for its Cold War era Gotland class submarines. Two A26 subs will enter service in 2018 and 2019 and eventually replace the three Gotlands that entered service in 1996. The U.S. Navy had a high opinion of the Gotlands as they leased one of them (along with Swedish crew) for two years (2006-7) to be a vital part of an anti-submarine warfare training program. The diesel-electric Gotland was the first submarine designed from the start to use air-independent propulsion (AIP) and could remain submerged for 19 days. Gotlands were among the quietest non-nuclear submarines in the world. The three Gotland class boats are highly automated, with a crew of 30. They displace 1,494 tons, are 60.4 meters (198 feet) long and have four 533mm torpedo tubes (with 12 torpedoes) and two 400mm tubes (with six torpedoes). They can also carry 48 mines externally. The A26 is a 1,900 ton boat that is 63 meters (207) feet long and armed in a similar fashion to the Gotlands but with about 20 percent more mines and torpedoes. Each one will cost about $500 million. Underwater endurance (with an improved AIP) is the same as the Gotlands 18 days with overall endurance 45 days. The A26 crew is smaller (about). The A26 has better electronics and can dive a bit deeper (at least 200 meters/650 feet). Both designs were mainly intended for coastal waters and the relatively shallow Baltic Sea (average depth 55 meters and max depth 459 meters). The A26 is also equipped to carry naval commandos and has a special chamber for the commandos to leave and enter the submerged sub. Meanwhile the three Gotland boats are undergoing refurbishment and upgrades, which include some of the new gear the A26s will receive. The refurbed Gotlands can serve into the late 2020s if need be. There are many nations who seek to buy second-hand Swedish subs and that’s what may happen to the Gotlands. The Gotland leased to the United States was based in San Diego, along with three dozen civilian technicians to help with maintenance. The U.S. Navy has also trained against Australian diesel-electric subs, and often come out second. The Gotland was more modern than the Australian boats, particularly because of its AIP system. Thus the Gotland is something of a worst case in terms of what American surface ships and submarines might have to face in a future naval war. None of America's most likely naval opponents (China, North Korea or Iran), have AIP boats, but they do have plenty of diesel-electric subs which, in the hands of skilled crews, can be pretty deadly. China is building now building subs with AIP. Training against the Gotland enabled the U.S. Navy to improve its anti-submarine tactics and techniques, as well as getting much valuable data from inside the Gotland. All the results of this training is highly classified, but it was apparently successful enough to get the one year program extended for another year.


Refurbished submarine rescue system passes tests

Crew members from Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and contractors from Phoenix Holdings International (Phoenix) completed an operational readiness evaluation (ORE) July 19, re-certifying the Navy’s deep sea submarine rescue capability. The submarine rescue system had undergone an extensive refurbishment period. The ORE, a component of crew certification, was the final step in a multistage process that enabled the URC-Phoenix team to become rescue-ready for worldwide submarine rescue.“This was a tremendous effort by our rescue team, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) in restoring this unique capability,” said Capt. Gene Doyle, commander, Submarine Squadron 11 (CSS 11), who is responsible for administrative and operational oversight of URC. “Whether it’s a U.S. submarine, or a partner nation submarine, URC is ready to respond if called upon.”Dedicated and professional submariners combined with robust and redundant submarine systems ensure that submarines are inherently safe. In addition, the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS), operated by URC-Phoenix, provides a last line of defence for the rescue of a submarine crew. The Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM-1) Falcon, which is the submarine rescue vehicle component of the SRDRS, is capable of diving to depths up to 2,000 feet and mating with a disabled submarine trapped on the sea floor. The SRDRS is capable of being flown anywhere in the world to rescue either U.S. or partner nation submariners in distress. The initial effort of the overall re-certification process was the restoration of PRM. Key milestones during sea trials included three deep dives, the first of which was an unmanned 2,000-foot dive to verify hull and component integrity at the crushing depth of 61 atmospheres absolute, which is more than 900 pounds per square inch. The third and final sea trials dive was a manned 2,000-foot dive in the PRM to a training fixture called “Deep Seat” to verify full system operational capability in the harshest conditions expected in a submarine rescue. The final phase was the ORE, which was a scenario-based event that took the entire URC-Phoenix team through a rigorous simulated submarine rescue using SRDRS aboard HOS Dominator off the coast of Santa Catalina Island in Southern California. The crew had to execute SRDRS evolutions and PRM dives, including drill anomalies, under timed constraints to conduct a simulated submarine rescue. In addition, PRM open-hatch operations were conducted at depth along with treatment of simulated medical conditions expected from those rescued.“Re-certifying the Falcon put us right back into the deep sea rescue world,” said Kimsey, “Not only can we supply a deep sea rescue response for our submarines, but for anyone else in the world. We’re already looking to future engagements and exercises in 2016.”


Russia to Begin Constructing New Kalina-Class Submarines After 2020

Russia will start building new fifth-generation Kalina submarines after 2020, according to a Navy source. The submarines will have advantages over diesel-electric and nuclear submarines.



The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine


The construction of new fifth-generation non-nuclear Kalina submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion systems will begin after 2020, a high-ranking Russian Navy source said Thursday."We are working on the Kalina project, and the first vessel will have its keel laid after 2020," the source told RIA Novosti. According to the source, anaerobic propulsion systems do not have enough capacity for the vessel’s engine yet."Such a system will be constructed in 2018. Accordingly, after this the boat’s keel will be laid. This will be after 2020," the source added. Air-independent power plants offer significant advantages over diesel-electric submarines, which need to surface regularly to recharge batteries, and nuclear submarines, which must constantly run noisy pumps to cool their reactors. The submarines, currently in use by several navies around the world, can stay submerged for weeks at a time.

Russian impounds radiological samples from sunken Soviet sub.


Russian customs has for the last 10 months held in impound samples from a sunken nuclear submarine that Russian scientists sent to their Norwegian counterparts to confirm whether the wreck poses any radiological hazards, Norwegian media have reported. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), which has participated in several joint missions with Russian authorities to determine whether the sunken K-159 Soviet-built nuclear submarine poses radiological hazards, has requested Norway’s Foreign Minister intervene to secure the samples. Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its part said it had received NRPA’s complaints over the samples and will convey them to the Russian Embassy, said NRK, Norway’s national broadcaster. Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s executive director and nuclear physicist speculated that the hold up of the samples could be caused by one of two things.“The reasons come from either someone trying to cause difficulty and spoil good relations between Norway and Russia in the area [of nuclear cleanup cooperation],” he said. “Or it could be that the Russians have something to hide, and that the samples show readings they’d prefer to hide.”The samples were taken during a August to September 2014 joint Russian-Norwegian expedition to the K-159, a rusted out nuclear submarine, which sank under assisted transport from the Gremikha Russian Naval installation to dismantlement at Polyarny, north of Murmansk. NRPA and Russian authorities had agreed Russia would get the first crack at analyzing the samples, and then send them on to Norway. But the samples were seized by Russian customs in Murmansk, where they remain under lock and key, possibly gagging the release of critical information about the sub’s disposition. The August 2003 sinking of the K-159 killed nine of the 10 sailors who were aboard the derelict sub to plug leaks in its hull during the journey. When it sank, its reactors were filled 800 kilograms of spent uranium fuel, and they now lie under 246 meters of water 130 kilometers from the Norwegian coast on the floor of Kola Bay’s fertile fishing grounds. Previous examinations of the vessel have tentatively concluded it poses no special radiation hazards. Norwegian and Russian scientists, however, are at odds about how dangerous the sub is. now. But both Norway and Russia agree that the foil thin condition of the hull means that the safest plan involves eventually raising the wreck so that water doesn’t begin to leak into the reactor chambers. Another possible plan to secure the sub, the NRPA indicated, is to bury it on the seafloor to prevent water ingress into the uranium fuel. The customs hold up with the samples sent to Norway is therefore causing irritation. During the September joint expedition, Norwegian and Russian scientists took sediment and fish samples surrounding the K-159, which might hold key information on possible radioactive leakage, Norway’s national broadcaster NRK said, quoting an NRPA specialist. Norway needs the samples to complete the investigation of the vessel and decide further coursed of action, said Inger Margrethe Eikelmann, who heads the NRPA’s northern division.“The Russians have analyzed their half of the samples, so we know the result, but we want to have samples in Norway as well, so we can do our own analysis,” she said. “Things take time when it comes to working with the Russians, but we can’t wait forever,” she added, and urged Russian and Norwegian customs to come to an agreement. In a separate interview to the Norwegian English-language news portal, Eikelmann indicated she was not particularly concerned that the locked-up samples secret any unpleasant surprises.“We have been working very closely with [the Russians] for many years and we are exchanging samples and data every year, so we know that they do a good job with the analysis and the presentation of the results,” said Eikelmann as quoted by the portal. “But we want to finish this project by having a joint report on the expedition.”


Alameda Coast Guard Crew Seizes Narco-Submarine Carrying 8 Tons Of Cocaine.

A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Alameda stopped a semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean last month — the largest bust of its kind in Coast Guard history. On July 18, the crew apprehended four suspected smugglers and captured 275 bales of cocaine worth more than $181 million wholesale from the self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel, a low-riding vessel often used to smuggle massive quantities of narcotics across the ocean nearly undetected. But not this time. The U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft found the 40-foot “narco-submarine” more than 200 miles south of Mexico. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crewmembers secure cocaine bales from a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Coast Guard recovered more than 6 tons of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel. (Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)“Our success intercepting this drug-laden, self-propelled semi-submersible is a testament to the collaboration of our partner agencies, and demonstrates the importance of our increased presence in the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander, Pacific Area. “Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.”After removing the majority of cocaine from the vessel, the Coast Guard Cutter Station crew left 4,000 pounds of cocaine on board to stabilize it as they towed it to shore for evidence. However, the submersible began taking on water and sank along with the 2 tons of cocaine. A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team seizes cocaine bales from a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Coast Guard recovered more than 6 tons of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel. (Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)The same Bay Area crew has intercepted 15 different drug smuggling attempts since April and have seized more than 33,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $540 million since May 2015.Nearly 80 percent of drugs smuggled into the U.S. in 2012 came from maritime routes, according to a U.S. Foreign Military Studies Office report. And about 30 percent of the drugs that arrived by sea come from narco submarines. There have been 25 known semi-submersible busts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since November 2006.


Russia launches nuclear battle sub retrofitted for underwater research

Russia has released a rejuvenated nuclear submarine down the slipways at the Zvezdochka Shipyard after it underwent “in-depth” repairs that have been ongoing for the past 16 years, the portal reported. Originally one of six ballistic missile cruisers of the 667BDRM class, the Podmoskovye has emerged from its long retrofit as a “special purpose” vessel, said the agency. It was originally launched as a military vessel in 1986, but was ordered back to the Zvezdochka yard for remodelling in 1999. The news portal reported that financial difficulties resulted in the protracted, 16-year revamp. The submarine will now undergo mooring tests, dive tests, and sea trials. The new fixes on the vessel included removing its compartment for firing Sineva intercontinental missiles and replacing it with living quarters and facilities for scientific work, the official TASS agency reported. Retrofits on the Podmoskovye also include equipment for allowing it to dock with other deep-diving submarines, said the agency. Reports from the Svobonaya Pressa portal hinted at even further uses that could not be independently corroborated, but were in keeping with other newswire reports on the vessel. According to that portal, the Podmoskovye, will service not only other deep water exploration submarines but potential undersea research complexes in the interests of “top secret” operations for the Russian Defence Ministry’s deep water study program. The living quarters for what the news portal termed “hydronauts” led to a significant increase in the submarine’s length, though the agency did not indicated by how long. Official news agencies like TASS also reported the Podmoskovye was no longer as well, but similarly gave no data. The latest tweaks to the Podmoskovye, said the Barents Observer news portal, make it possible for the vessel to dock smaller deep-diving submarines so they can conduct long duration undersea operations, particularly operations documenting the extent of Russia’s continental shelf as Moscow strives to broaden Arctic oil exploration. Among those operations could be support and transport of Russia’s AC-12, or Losharik, deep diving titanium hulled nuclear sub, the portal speculated. The Losharik was in 2012 reportedly instrumental in charting the extent of the Mendeleyev Ridge along the North Pole’s seabed as part of Russia’s recent submission to the UN that it’s continental shelf includes the North Pole itself, said the Barents Observer. The Losharik is one of Russia’s top-secret deep-diving bathyscaphes, and has never been photographed in any detail except by accident when a car magazine photo shoot caught the vessel at the surface of the sea, reported. The Russian Navy over the past few years has invested a staggering amount in rebuilding its Northern Fleet, much of whose derelict subs were dismantled in cooperative efforts with the United States and other nations for a fraction of the cost. Last September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said this build-up was part of Moscow’s effort to “fortify” Russia’s position in the Arctic. Russia has launched the lead mutli-purpose missile subs in two new classes, the Yasen and the Borei. The Yasen class’s $2.1 billion Severodvinsk sub, was launched for sea trials the same day Putin made his comments. The next Yasen class sub, the Kazan, is expected to cost $2.9 billion. Bellona Executive Director and nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer has repeated expressed concern over the build-up.“The building of new nuclear submarines shows that the Russian Navy has funding, and that they should use a larger proportion of that money on cleaning up its still evident Cold War mess,” said Bøhmer.


Vladimir Putin descends into briny deep on submarine ride

Russian President Vladimir Putin took a dive in a submersible off Crimea's coast, annexed by Moscow last year. (Reuters) . Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone to great lengths to demonstrate his virility and, by proxy, that of his nation. The former KGB officer has ridden horses shirtless, pumped and forged iron, skied, arm-wrestled, driven race cars, chased whales — and, of course, invaded Crimea. And it was in that formerly autonomous region that Putin offered his latest display of derring-do on Tuesday, descending to the depths of the Black Sea to take a peek at a 1,000-year-old sunken trading vessel.  “Eighty-three meters [272 feet] is a pretty substantial depth,” Putin said after the dive, as Agence France-Presse reported. “It was interesting.” Although Putin’s he-man stunts might seem ridiculous in the West, they’re quite popular domestically in Russia. Voters — almost 90 percent of them, according to AFP — like having a virile president, particularly those with Soviet memories of a wheezing series of leaders who lasted from the mid-1960s until the mid-’80s. Sure, Nikita Khrushchev may have banged shoes and put Sputnik in orbit, but did he blithely descend into the briny deep in a territory he recently occupied just to play Indiana Jones — as, not incidentally, the world worries about Russian submarines and Cold War aggression in Northern Europe? “It is a galleon that was transporting civilian cargo through the bay of Balaclava,” Putin said. “It is still to be investigated by experts. I have to say that there are not that many similar remains like this in the north of the Black Sea.”



This is the U.S. Navy's most secretive submarine

A long line of secretive Navy spy submarines, most recently a nuclear-powered behemoth named USS Jimmy Carter, have for decades infiltrated remote waters to gather intelligence on rival states' militaries, insurgents, and terrorists on behalf of the NSA and other agencies using a range of sophisticated devices, including special equipment for tapping undersea communications cables. Before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the agency's phone and internet monitoring programs targeting U.S. and European citizens, the mainstream press paid little attention to the elusive, subsurface warship. But following Snowden's disclosures in 2013, several publications including The Huffington Post and the German Der Spiegel speculated that the Jimmy Carter was aiding the NSA's surveillance of citizens' communications in the U.S. and Europe. "It seems this same submarine," The Huffington Post claimed, "was pressed into service to spy on Europe." The modified Seawolf-class sub, built by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Connecticut between 1998 and 2004, is almost certainly able to tap the undersea communication cables that carry much of the world's phone and internet traffic. But just because the warship can tap cables doesn't mean it routinely does. At the Navy's request, Electric Boat inserted an extension in the middle of Jimmy Carter's hull that added 100 feet to its standard 350-foot length — plus nearly $1 billion to the baseline $2 billion price tag. Commander Christy Hagen, a Navy spokesperson, declined to comment on the warship’s modifications. But Owen Cote, a submarine expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Jimmy Carter's hull extension most likely contains a "moon well" — a floodable chamber to allow divers, robots, and machinery to move between the sub's interior and the water, retrieving objects off the seafloor or carrying monitoring devices and other surveillance equipment. With this, Jimmy Carter could, in theory, tap seafloor fiber-optic cables, said Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and author who has advised the government on submarine-building strategy. "You hook something on to the cable," Polmar said, “and come back in a month and remove the tape and take it back and analyze it." But underwater wiretapping is probably unnecessary. "I don't think you need to use Jimmy Carter to do that," Cote said. "It would be a waste of that asset." It's far easier for the NSA to monitor Americans' communications on land, Cote pointed out in an interview, with the consent of phone and internet providers. But it wasn't long ago that Jimmy Carter's predecessor subs were involved in undersea eavesdropping — against America's Cold War rivals. That espionage took place during a technologically simpler time, when Washington had fewer ways of listening in on communications. "Fifty, 60 years ago, this was best method of collecting certain intelligence," Polmar says of eavesdropping submarines. Before Jimmy Carter, there were the modified submarines Halibut, Seawolf, and Parche, fitted with special equipment for monitoring and accessing objects on the seafloor, including communications cables. Parche, the last of the old breed, was decommissioned in 2004, just as Jimmy Carter was nearing completion. The subs' secret missions, the subjects of repeated investigations by high-profile reporters including Seymour Hersh in The New York Times, were practically the stuff of fiction. In 1968, the Pentagon deployed Halibut to the Pacific to search for the wreckage of a sunken Soviet submarine that would later be partially recovered by a CIA team aboard a purpose-built salvage ship. Trailing a four-mile long cable rigged with cameras, Halibut found the Soviet vessel in 16,000 feet of water after just three weeks. In the 1970s, Seawolf and Parche took risky missions penetrating the Soviet navy's main North Atlantic bastions to tap military communication cables. The two subs sailed under the Arctic at speeds of just a few miles per hour to avoid icebergs, dodging Soviet vessels and excitable seals and walruses that might betray the U.S. ships' locations. The special subs placed on the cables clamp-like devices that recorded passing signals, giving Washington valuable insight into Soviet naval activities. In 1980, a former NSA employee named Ronald Pelton betrayed the subs' operations to the Soviets in exchange for around $35,000. Pelton was arrested in 1986, tried and convicted. He remains in federal prison. The Soviets' discovery of the undersea wiretap alerted America's rivals, making such missions much more difficult. "People are now aware that that's a technological capability that we have — and that puts them on guard," Polmar says. The disclosure, and new technology advances, has led to an apparent shift in the spy subs' tactics. When North Korea shelled a South Korean island base in 2010, Jimmy Carter reportedly surfaced nearby and launched a small, quiet drone spy plane to photograph the damage. Since then Jimmy Carter has undoubtedly stayed busy performing other surveillance missions and, in 2013, entered a roughly yearlong period of maintenance at a shipyard in Washington State. Now that the submarine has returned to the fleet, it will surely resume its secret duties as America's main underwater spy. But the special sub probably won't be listening in on your phone and internet conversations. Too dangerous against military rivals and unnecessary for domestic surveillance, submarine wiretaps seem to have fallen out of favour.


China’s Yuan-class Submarine



People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) Yuan-class submarine.


People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) Yuan-class submarine. China’s evolving submarine force is a topic worthy of sober examination and debate. However, for the discussion to be useful in informing both national policy-makers and citizenry alike, the content must be based on accurate data and sound analysis. Unfortunately, both are often found wanting when it comes to English-language reporting on the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). A recent USNI News essay, continues this trend. In the essay, Henry Holst, argues that the Type 039A/B Yuan-class submarine was “designed primarily as an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform capable of hiding submerged for long periods of time in difficult to access shallow littorals.” He bases his conclusions on the Yuan’s “small” size, air-independent power (AIP) system, and long-range ASCM capability, which make it ideal to operate in shallow, coastal waters. While I wholeheartedly agree that the Type 039A/B is a fine anti-surface platform, the main points of the essay’s argument is based on a misunderstanding of largely inaccurate data. This rebuttal will examine the key points of the essay’s argument and show that the Type 039 A/B Yuan-class is, in fact, an open-ocean submarine designed to meet the needs of the PLAN’s near-seas active defence aspect of their maritime strategy, and not primarily a boat to operate in Taiwan’s coastal waters.


Yuan-Class Submarine Size

The assessment the Type 039A/B Yuan-class is a small submarine, designed to operate in the shallow littorals, is arguably the linchpin of the essay’s conclusion. A key point used in support of this position is a comparison of the Yuan-class with Japan’s Soryu-class, another AIP equipped submarine, where it is argued the Yuan is comparatively “far smaller.” In particular, Holst focuses in on the Soryu’s “draft” of 10.3 meters. This figure is highly suspect. When a submarine’s draft exceeds its beam, you might want to check your data. The 10.3-meter figure is not the draft of the Soryu class. Rather, it is the submarine’s “depth”— the vertical distance from its keel, to the top of the freeboard deck, measured at mid-length of the vessel. A submarine’s draft is included in its depth. A number of open sources list the Soryu’s draft as 8.5 meters, and a review of online photos of the fore and aft draft markings shows the draft as 8.3 meters, very close to the published value. The description of the Type 039A/B Yuan-class submarine’s dimensions is also inaccurate. However, that reflects more the inadequacies of traditional Western sources that do not address PLAN platform and systems very well. In his essay, Holst specifically states, “PLAN naval architects deliberately maintained the Song-class’s size even with the installation of an AIP system.” While the author recognizes that trade-offs in the Type 039A/B Yuan design would have to be made, there is no attempt to suggest what they might have been. The author merely expresses his faith that the PLAN naval architects would have found a way to carve out the necessary space. This unqualified assertion is naïve at best. Submarines are, by design, compact and severely limited in internal volume. One cannot just wave a magic wand and rearrange large propulsion plant components and squeeze out the considerable volume an AIP system requires. In particular, the cryogenic oxygen tank takes up a great deal of space—and the longer the submerged endurance, the bigger the tank. If the Song-class had that much spare volume to begin with, it would have been built smaller. There is no evidence the engineering spaces on a Song-class submarine have any extra unused volume. Video excerpts of the Type 039G show these submarines are just as cramped and constrained as one would expect. And since both the Song and Yuan use double-hull construction, a designer can’t even go after the fuel load, as the vast majority of the fuel is carried in tanks external to the pressure hull. Since the Yuan has an AIP system, it has to be bigger. A review of Google Earth and hand-held photography indicates this is indeed the case. Google Earth imagery of both submarine classes berthed near each other shows the Yuan has a larger beam than the Song-class. This strongly argues that the sources that hold to the narrower beam of 7.5 meters for the Type 039G Song are probably closer to the truth. Furthermore, analysis of hand-held imagery indicates that the Yuan is not only longer, but also has a deeper draft than the Song-class.


Soryu-class submarine, Hakuryu during a visit to Guam in 2013. Note the bow draft markings show the submarine’s draft is about 8.3 meters. US Navy Photo


Soryu-class submarine, Hakuryu during a visit to Guam in 2013. Note the bow draft markings show the submarine’s draft is about 8.3 meters. US Navy Photo. Chinese submarines use the Russian system for draft markings. This means the markings do not show the draft by direct measurement, but rather it shows the deviation from an established draft. On Chinese submarines, the longer white line in the draft markings shows the submarine’s normal surface waterline, with deviations in the draft noted in 0.2-meter increments. From hand-held, broad aspect photographs of the Type 039A/B submarine, both in the water and out, one can accurately measure the waterline length and the length overall. The often-quoted length of 72 meters for the Yuan class is actually its waterline length. This value is also consistent with Google Earth measurements. The submarine’s overall length from the analysis is just over 77.2 meters, which is consistent with numerous Chinese-language websites that list the length as 77.6 meters. The same can be said of the normal surface draft that comes in at about 6.7 meters, greater than the 5.5-meter value held by many open Western source references. Putting all of this together shows the Yuan is a large conventional submarine, only marginally smaller than a Soryu-class boat—on the order of 15 percent smaller. Perhaps a better comparison would be with the PLAN’s other large conventional submarine, the Russian-built Project 636 Kilo. That comparison shows the Yuan comes out as being slightly bigger than a late model Kilo. The table below lists the basic physical characteristics of the four submarines discussed in this article. Project 636 Kilo and Soryu-class data come from official sources, while Yuan and Song data are largely derived from the analysis mentioned above. Thus, in stark contrast to the essay’s conclusion, the Type 039 A/B Yuan is not a small submarine at all. It is one of the largest conventional combat submarines in the PLAN inventory, and is no more manoeuvrable in shallow water than other large conventional submarine designs, such as the Kilo or Soryu-classes. If a navy truly wishes to invest in a “coastal submarine,” or SSC, then it would look at submarines like the German Type 205 and 206, and the North Korean Sango, all of which come in at less than 500 tons submerged displacement.


Type 039B Yuan-class submarine during rollout at the Jiangnan Shipyard on Changxing Island. Note the long white line in the draft markings, which designates the submarine’s normal surface waterline. Also note the low-frequency passive flank array just above the keel blocks.


Type 039B Yuan-class submarine during rollout at the Jiangnan Shipyard on Changxing Island. Note the long white line in the draft markings, which designates the submarine’s normal surface waterline. Also note the low-frequency passive flank array just above the keel blocks.



Project 636 Kilo

Type 039A/B Yuan

Type 039GSong


Length Overall

73.8 m

77.6 m1

74.9 m

84.0 m


9.9 m

8.4 m

7.5 m

9.1 m


6.6 m

6.7 m2

5.7 m4

8.3 m5

Surface Displacement

2,350 tons

2,725 tons3

1,727 tons

2,947 tons

Submerged Displacement

3,125 tons

3,600 tons

2,286 tons

4,100 tons

1) The often-quoted Type 039A/B length of 72 meters is waterline length, not length overall.
2) Type 039A/B draft is larger than the reported 5.5 meters that is nearly identical to the smaller Type 039G Song-class.
3) Yuan-class surfaced and submerged displacements come from Chinese language websites, of which there is some confusion on surface displacement. The value given on most Chinese websites (2,300 tons) would result in a reserve buoyancy of 50+ percent, which is not realistic. The estimated surface displacement in the table reflects a reserve buoyancy of 32 percent that is consistent with earlier Type 035 and 039G designs.
4) The reported 5.3-meter value for the Type 039G’s draft is suspect. Hand-held photos of this submarine in drydock suggest the draft is probably closer to 5.7 meters.
5) The draft of the Soryu-class is often listed as 8.5 meters, however, numerous photos of fore and aft draft markings show it is closer to 8.3 meters.

Shallow Water Environment

Designing a submarine to operate in very shallow water has other problems beyond just manoeuvring. Holst correctly points out that the acoustic environment in coastal areas is chaotic and difficult, making it challenging for an antisubmarine platform to find a Yuan ensconced in such waters. But what is good for the gander is also good for the goose. Radiated noise from shipping is far louder, and even with multiple bounces off the bottom and sea surface, a lot of the acoustic energy will still reach a submerged submarine’s sonar. With shipping, biologic, and wave noise coming in from both near and far, a Yuan would be hard pressed to detect, track, and identify a target of interest; particularly as surface combatants tend to be quieter than civilian merchants. In other words, it will be very difficult to find and obtain an accurate fire control solution on a desired target without using a periscope to sort out the tactical picture. Doing so, however, would increase the submarine’s chances of being detected by radar or electro-optical sensors. Therefore, a submarine hugging the bottom in shallow coastal waters will be vexed by the same problem that an ASW ship has to deal with in looking for the submarine. But what is even more curious—if Chinese designers had intended from the very beginning for the Yuan-class to be a shallow water boat—why was a passive low frequency flank array put on these submarines? The H/SQG-207 is a line of individual hydrophones mounted to the hull, and is designed to provide long-range detection against noisy ships—low frequency noise suffers lower absorption losses and travels further in water. The problem is this kind of array is most effective in deeper water where interference with the bottom is limited. Such an array would be severely degraded in very shallow water, offering little, if any benefit, beyond the capabilities of the medium frequency bow array. The fact that the H/SQG-207 array is on the Yuan-class argues strongly that its design operating areas are in deeper waters where this passive sonar can serve as the primary sensor.


PLAN Submarine Weaponry

Holst’s treatment of PLAN submarine weaponry shows it perpetuates a longstanding misunderstanding when it asserts that the Type 039A/B Yuan carries the C-802 ASCM. The fundamental problem with this is the C-802 is not a submarine-launched missile. In fact, the “C-802” designation is for an export surface, air, and land-based ASCM with a range of 120 kilometers, rather than the 180 kilometers stated in the essay. Of interest, there is no evidence the C802 was ever accepted by the PLAN. Lastly, it isn’t the same missile that the PLAN has fielded on the Type 039G, 039A/B, 091, and 093 submarines—the YJ-82. The YJ-82 is a solid-rocket propelled missile based on the YJ-8/8A ship-launched ASCM, but without the booster. The YJ-82 is launched in a buoyant capsule that is virtually identical to the U.S. submarine-launched Harpoon. Normally, the range of the YJ-8/8A is only 42 kilometers. But without the booster, the YJ-82’s range will be even less, possibly as short as 30 to 34 kilometers (16–18 nautical miles). This very short range means the launch will almost certainly be seen by its target, or an escort, as the missile will be within the radar horizon of most warships by the time it reaches ten meters in altitude. With such a short engagement range, the firing submarine’s location will be fixed quite quickly, with a counter-attack likely following shortly thereafter if a warship is nearby—flaming datums have a bad habit of attracting that sort of response. That is one of the key reasons why the PLAN submarine force is eagerly awaiting the fielding of the YJ-18, which reportedly has a maximum range of up to 220 kilometers. With respect to the authors the Department of Defence's, 2015 Annual Report to Congress, the cited range of 290nm (550km) for the YJ-18 in (p. 10) is undoubtedly a typographic error. It is virtually impossible for a missile that is very likely smaller than the SS-N-27B Sizzler to have a range that is almost two and a half times greater. The ranges given in the 2015 report for the YJ-8A and YJ-62 are also incorrect and reflect a reliance on inaccurate open source information.YJ-82 is the submarine launched version of the solid-rocket propelled YJ-8/8A. China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation Photo. Then there is essay’s explicit claim that the Yuan was designed “primarily as an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform.” While IHS Jane’s applies the “G” to the designation of any vessel that can physically fire an ASCM, this doesn’t make the submarine “primarily” a cruise missile platform. The U.S. intelligence community, NATO, and Russian designation systems require a submarine to be fitted with dedicated launchers, not just the torpedo tubes, to be called a guided-missile submarine. That is why there is such a furious debate as to whether or not the new Type 093B or 095 will have a vertical launch system—perhaps as many as 16 tubes. This will clearly indicate when the cruise missile (both anti-ship and land attack) has eclipsed the torpedo as the submarine’s main weapon. Another point of interest is that the weapons carried by the Type 039A/B Yuan are identical to those on the Type 039G Song, to include both the current YJ-82 and the future YJ-18 ASCMs. And yet, Holst makes no mention of the Song-class having the exact same weapons capability, both in terms of the number of torpedo tubes and weapons carried. The Type 039A/B Yuan-class will undoubtedly be the more effective ASCM platform; due to its enhanced sonar suite and the tactical flexibility provided by the AIP system, but in both instances the ASCM is a secondary weapon because of the small load out of missiles in the torpedo room, and the low salvo-size driven by torpedo tube limitations. If the Chinese continue to follow Russian tactical concepts, two of the six torpedo tubes will be loaded with YU-6 torpedoes for self-defence against an unexpected appearance by a submarine or surface ship. And while a salvo of four YJ-18 ASCMs is nothing to sneeze at, it is probably insufficient to overwhelm a modern warship’s hard and soft kill air defences. The Mach 3 speed of the YJ-18’s sprint vehicle is impressive, and will seriously reduce a ship’s reaction time, but numbers are still needed to saturate today's modern air defence systems. I believe Holst has drawn incorrect conclusions on the Type 039A/B Yuan submarine design basis because of inaccurate technical data and inadequate analysis. The Type 039A/B Yuan is a large submarine, particularly for a non-nuclear boat, and is comparable in size to Russia’s Kilo and Japan’s Soryu-classes. The sonar suite of the Yuan is tailored more for deep water where it can use the low frequency flank array to make long-range detections against noisy ships. The lack of a vertical launch system means the Yuan, and Song-class, are limited by the number of torpedo tubes that can be allocated to ASCMs; making it very hard to saturate a ship’s air defences with only four, or at most five, missile salvos. And given the current short-ranged YJ-82 ASCM, a Type 039A/B Yuan-class submarine is better off attempting to close inside 15 kilometers and engaging the target with YU-6 torpedoes. But even after the introduction of the YJ-18, the restrictive factors of the torpedo room’s capacity and the small number of torpedo tubes remains. The PLAN appears to appreciate this constraint, as the discussion of future nuclear submarine designs having as many as 16 vertical launch tubes suggests. The design aspects of the Type 039A/B Yuan-class submarine point toward deep-water operating areas in the near seas, to include the approaches to Taiwan, where their improved sonar and AIP capabilities will aid the submarine in detecting, tracking, and engaging targets of interest. And while a Type 039A/B Yuan could soon be loaded with a more effective, long-range ASCM, the submarine’s design limitations will continue to rely heavily on the torpedo.



Kokomo Island: The World's Only Island for Private Submarines.

A remarkable submersible island has been released by the leading engineers and designers from Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts. The company will launch KOKOMO ISLAND at the Monaco Yacht Show and provided me with an exclusive first look at their private floating habitat based on semi-submersible platforms. With a length over all of 117m, a beam of 78m and draught of 20.5,-9,7m, the island is totally personalized to the customers taste in size, shape and features. Designs also showcase a spectacular owners penthouse 80m above sea level with jungle deck, palm trees and vertical gardens. The beach deck provides a swimming pool, garden deck for outdoor dining, large pools and waterfalls, 2 beach clubs, a stunning underwater dining saloon and massive storage for tenders & toys. The design features state-of-the-art mega yacht amenities and the dramatic flair of an exotic island. Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts also will feature the largest private submarine in the world at over 738 feet. Inspired by modern Zumwalt-class destroyers, the submarine will have a speed of 40 knots on the surface and 20 knots underwater. It will also contain almost 2,100 square meters of owner area. The Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts are the first alternative to super- and mega yachts with the benefit to submerge the whole yacht when the owner and guests want to keep their privacy during travelling or staying at anchor, having all amenities of a common yacht of equal size. In addition, on journeys with rough seas, smooth cruising (because submerged) is now possible. Migaloo was founded by professionals with years of experience in the yachting industry, working for international shipyards and private yacht owners worldwide. Due to their knowledge of the yachting industry, the founders of Migaloo PSY have come up with the idea of building large private submarines and floating islands as a result of the ever increasing demand for personalization and individualization of super- and mega yachts and the focus on privacy for the owner and guests. Both aspects are covered with the model range of the company, offering an innovative alternative to large surface vessels. Migaloo PSY is designing, engineering and building private yacht-sized submarines. The custom length of the submarine-yacht hybrid, the exterior styling and the interior design are up to the owners preferences. The design and building is certified by German Lloyd (DNV-GL). All building is accorded to U. S. Navy Subsafe safety standards. Models include features and amenities of surface yachts, from spa-areas with Jacuzzis and pools, heli pads and large beach terraces and tender bays for boats and mini-subs. The company has its own design department and engineering partner with knowledge of both, yachts and submarines. The yard is up to the owners preferences and the team is able to supervise all partners during building and outfitting up to hand over to the owner including after sales services.


Do Humans Have a Future in Deep Sea Exploration?

HONOLULU — Entering the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory hangar is akin to stepping onto the set of a Spielberg film. The dull metal shell, perched on the Makai pier along the Windward Coast of Oahu, is nondescript, but the inside bristles with Zodiac boats and a dizzying assortment of hoists and tools, and the walls are festooned with 30 years of snapshots. At the center of it all, two 20-foot-long Pisces submarines sit atop skids like alien spacecraft, their robotic arms outstretched, beckoning for another mission. The laboratory, part of the University of Hawaii and better known as HURL, has been the sole submersible-based United States deep-sea research outpost in the mid-Pacific since the 1980s. At its helm is Terry Kerby, perhaps the most experienced submersible pilot alive. With a crew of five, Mr. Kerby and the Pisces subs have discovered more than 140 wrecks and artifacts, recovered tens of millions of dollars in lost scientific equipment, and surveyed atolls and seamounts whose hydrothermal vents and volcanoes were unknown.



 “It’s very unusual to have a facility that large and well-equipped in the middle of a large ocean basin,” said Robert Dunbar, a Stanford oceanographer. “They’ve done a remarkable thing over there, largely due to Terry’s expertise.” But today, Mr. Kerby faces the possible mothballing of his fleet. The forces at play are the same as in many other realms of science — dwindling budgets, of course. And robots. Robotic subs can stay down for days and reach extraordinary depths, instantly relaying their finds to scientists and an Internet-connected global audience. But they cannot go everywhere, and many scientists argue that studying the deep without direct human observation yields at best an incomplete understanding. “You can’t replace a Terry Kerby with a robot,” said Andy Bowen, principal engineer at Woods Hole. “It’s not possible.” At 65, Mr. Kerby is tanned and fit, thanks to daily two-mile ocean swims. He has been piloting submersibles at Makai for better than three decades, starting in the mid-1970s harvesting corals. He shifted to the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which had bought the Makai facility to expand the nation’s deep-sea capabilities. In 1985, Mr. Kerby found the Pisces V submersible idled in Edinburgh and persuaded the university to spend $500,000 for it. Relatively big, it could dive to 6,500 feet. “She cost $4 million to build in 1972,” he said. “And would cost $50 million to build today.” Pisces V came with no instruction manual, but Mr. Kerby found it was highly manoeuvrable and could hover motionless, even in strong currents. It also operated untethered from a mother ship, allowing exploration of caves and overhangs. Coupling Pisces with the University of Hawaii’s research ship, the Ka`imikai-O-Kanaloa, and a home-built submersible platform enabled Mr. Kerby to carry out missions from 60 feet down, during surface conditions too rough for any other submersible. Mr. Kerby racked up discoveries, beginning with exploration of the Loihi seamount off Kona. Eighteen years of return missions have revealed that an area once thought dead is a vibrant world of myriad ecosystems and volcanism still shaping the Hawaiian Islands. Along Loihi and other slopes, the team discovered living corals that predate even California’s bristlecone pines. In 2000, Mr. Kerby acquired a sister sub, the Pisces IV, from Canada for $80,000. Exploring in tandem made diving safer and enabled film crews to show discoveries in the context of the submersibles. The subs have appeared in more than 20 documentaries, including National Geographic’s “Fires of Creation,” in which the oceanographer Robert Ballard, whose discoveries included the wreckage of the Titanic, descended with Mr. Kerby to the caldera of Loihi. Besides plumbing geological and ecological mysteries, the Pisces subs have made dives that sharpened views of history. A little more than an hour before the first bombs fell in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the American destroyer U.S.S. Wardreported that it had sunk a tiny submarine near the harbor entrance. But in a blunder that still fuels conspiracy theories, the report never reached far enough up Navy command to initiate a mobilization of defences. The Ward’s claim was disputed, even in the official Pearl Harbor investigation report. The sub thus became a holy grail for marine archaeologists and historians. In August 2002, Mr. Kerby lay across the bench of the Pisces V, 1,200 feet down, gazing at the dark, frigid world beyond his porthole. For hours he had been sweeping the seafloor four miles south of Pearl Harbor, hunting for the mythic sub amid three dozen potential radar targets and fighting a rising sense of futility. “We were chasing our tails down there,” he said. But then, looming out of the darkness, Mr. Kerby faced a torpedo shape three times as long as the Pisces. It was a 78-foot-long submarine bearing the exact mortar damage – a four-inch hole punched just beneath its conning tower — described by the Ward’s crew.“We’d searched for 10mam years,” Mr. Kerby said. “I just couldn’t believe it.” After that find, NOAA directed Mr. Kerby to further document the wreck-strewn waters off south Oahu. In another National Geographic project, the team discovered four mammoth Japanese I-series submarines captured by the Navy at the end of World War II and scuttled to keep them out of Soviet hands. Through these years, HURL operated Pisces on a budget of a few million dollars a year.  “What the Pisces program has done, mostly underfunded and unappreciated, over the years is unmatched,” said Sylvia Earle, former chief science officer for NOAA. “It’s baffling to me that more understanding and funding hasn’t been heaped upon them.” Five years ago, piloted deep-sea exploration appeared on the verge of a boom, funded by wealthy explorer/entrepreneurs. In 2012, after spending $10 million building his Challenger Deep submersible, the filmmaker James Cameron became one of three humans to reach the 6.8-mile depths of the Marianas Trench, the deepest ocean spot on Earth — and the only one to do it solo. The Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson promised a new era of exploration with his $17 million Virgin Oceanic submarine. And Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chairman, joined with Dr. Earle on the $40 million Deep Ocean project. Yet all those programs have withered. And by fiscal year 2014, the deep-sea budget for NOAA was down to $26 million. For comparison, NASA’s exploration budget was $4 billion. The United States Navy has abandoned piloted submersibles with the exception of Alvin, which it owns jointly with Woods Hole. In 2013, NOAA said it would no longer fund the Pisces program, leaving the United States with no Pacific deep-sea facility. HURL has money to last until the beginning of 2016. After that, the university may be forced to sell the submersibles. “There are only eight deep-diving submarines left operating in the world” that can go 6,500 feet or deeper, said John Wiltshire, director of HURL and a member of the Woods Hole submersible scientific advisory committee. “So we’re about to lose a quarter of the world’s fleet.” What changed? To hear Dr. Ballard tell it, the shift began during a 1977 dive aboard Alvin off the Galápagos Islands. About 8,000 feet down, Dr. Ballard noticed a colleague paying more attention to the camera monitor than to Alvin’s tiny windows. “He turned his back on me to look at the screen,” Dr. Ballard said. “I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I can get closer.’ I said, ‘Then why the hell are you here?’ ” Afterward, Dr. Ballard said he realized fundamental truths of piloted deep-sea exploration: It’s cold and scary, time in the deep is limited, and robotic vehicles might do the same work for less money. He persuaded the Navy to fund two remote exploration vehicles, Argo and Jason, for use by Woods Hole. On Sept. 1, 1985, Argo first filmed the wreckage of the Titanic. Since then, remote deep-sea vehicles have proliferated in exploration, mining and drilling. Dr. Wiltshire estimates perhaps 10,000 are in operation. NOAA’s deep-sea efforts are focused on two ships: its own Okeanos Explorer, based in Rhode Island, and the E/V Nautilus, a joint project with the Ocean Exploration Trust, founded by Dr. Ballard and based in Connecticut. Nautilus has an autonomous underwater vehicle that follows a programmed route and two tethered remote submersibles. Typically, Dr. Ballard’s ships carry just one or two senior oceanographers; engineers and technical staff deploy and monitor the submersibles, which, via satellite link, deliver real-time images across the world via the Internet. Dr. Ballard described a recent Nautilus expedition that sent its submersibles two and a half miles down into the Cayman Trough. In a piloted dive, the descent and ascent would take six hours each, leaving mere minutes for seafloor exploration. “Now we’re going down to 20,000 feet and spending days,” he said. “And we have the entire world participating.” To most marine scientists, including Mr. Kerby, robots have clearly won the deep-sea war. It’s now a question of whether lingering advantages to piloted exploration should be discarded. Mr. Kerby described a recent robotic mission that Pisces might have done better. In 2012, Ric Gillespie, a retired naval aviator, and Dr. Ballard announced a sonar hit off Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific that might represent the wreckage of the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart. Mr. Gillespie requested Mr. Kerby for the expedition, but the Pisces subs were down for maintenance, so his team instead relied on robotic technology. The tethered sub was unable to explore the near-vertical sea walls and could not deploy over days of rough seas. Eventually, an untethered robotic vehicle became lodged in a reef overhang and had to be rescued by a tethered robot. The recovery nearly required the University of Hawaii’s Ka`imikai-O-Kanaloa to deploy perilously close to a reef.  “It’s a horrible way to search,” Mr. Gillespie said. “It’s like you’ve lost your car keys at night in your backyard and you’re looking for them through a toilet paper roll with a flashlight.” At the university, Dr. Wiltshire cited plans for bringing Alvin and the Nautilus rovers to explore newly created Pacific marine monuments. Rates for Nautilus are in the range of $35,000 to $40,000 a day, while Alvin and its support vessel Atlantis II cost $60,000 to $70,000 a day. HURL can deploy both Pisces subs for $48,000 a day, “and that’s not counting the transit time and expense to get there,” Dr. Wiltshire said. “It takes us 15 days, but it takes two months to bring those ships over from the East Coast.” Dr. Ballard countered that comparison must take into account the time his rovers can stay submerged — days at a time, as opposed to eight hours or so for Pisces or Alvin. Dr. Bowen, who oversees the robotic and piloted programs for Woods Hole, says piloted exploration still has plenty of benefit.  “There’s no question that the strong suit for robotics is that you can engage a larger number of people in the process of exploration and discovery,” Dr. Bowen said. But taking in all the undersea factors — currents, sounds, land forms, interactions between animals and their environment — humans are still far better at synthesizing what’s going on in the deep sea, he said. “We hear that all the time from researchers who have looked at the video monitors and data screens from Jason, but then also gone down in Alvin. It’s stunning how different their perception of the environment is.” According to Craig McLean, the assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research at NOAA, decisions about HURL’s future were mainly a matter of budget constraints and emerging technology. HURL was funded as part of NOAA’s National Undersea Research Program. Scientists competed for NOAA-backed studies, and the agency maintained and provided the equipment — like Pisces submarines — to the winners. That program was phased out in favour of an unpiloted, Internet-connected virtual model that includes on-call scientists around the world. “We realized we can’t afford to do it all,” he said. “So we had to ask, what are we doing and how can we have it be inclusive? So scientists who can’t dive — they have a presence through telepresence.” In addition to making headlines with discoveries of bizarre creatures, surveys with the Okeanos have, he said, had more practical applications. A fisheries survey, for example, resulted in the recent protection of 38,000 nautical square miles of ocean off the East Coast. Mr. McLean said that should a scientist bring a proposal before NOAA or the National Science Foundation that Pisces was well suited for, Mr. Kerby’s team could still get funding on a mission-by-mission basis. He further agreed with a sentiment expressed by Dr. Earle, that in a time of dramatic changes in the climate and ocean itself — some 90 percent of which remains completely unexplored — he would prefer that NOAA had a wider arsenal of discovery at its disposal. “We’re doing as much as we can,” he said. “But we have to get into these difficult situations where we have to make our priorities.” In the meantime, Mr. Kerby and his maintenance chief, Steve Price, have been hustling. Mr. Price has been funded to compile a database of all Pisces discoveries for use by NOAA. A World War II documentary project has kept Mr. Kerby busy lately, and a series of geology, undersea cable and sewer outfall surveys will keep HURL funded through year’s end. He says he is confident more work will materialize, preventing his crew from having to follow the route of many former colleagues into oil and gas exploration. He’d love to secure the resources not only to keep his subs running, but to add a full-time robot sub to HURL’s fleet. “An associate of mine at Woods Hole upper management said, ‘HURL doesn’t stand a chance,’ ” Mr. Kerby said. “ ‘They’re too far from the flagpole.’ Well, we are. We’re way out here on the ocean frontier, in the prime spots, and we’re one of the most cost-effective operations around. With all the new and unexplored monuments in the western Pacific, and all the groups that need to do that exploration, we’re the only viable tool with experience in these environments.”He paused. “We know what we can do.”



Intershelf (Moscow/St. Petersburg)

J.P. Kenny Intershelf is a joint venture of Russia and the British firm J.P. Kenny. Intershelf has never built a submersible. However, the company has experience in designing and operating bottom crawlers, diver systems, and small ROVs. Intershelf now proposes to produce Sub Tour 10/100, a tourist submarine. This 10-person vehicle with 100 m depth capability is advertised by Intershelf as costing $900,000. Intershelf indicates it can deliver this submarine 18 months after a contract is signed. Sub Tour 10/100 would be built for Intershelf at Energia, a Russian institute normally involved in development and construction of manned space flight systems.


Kharax (St. Petersburg)

Kharax Company Ltd. is one of the first private companies in Russia focused on building a business around manned submersible technology. This entrepreneurial organization has a cadre of six talented, experienced, and innovative people. Another 180 technicians are employed on a job shop basis. To date Kharax has focused on a Leisure Submersible Apparatus (LAS), or tourist submarine. The LAS is designed to carry six persons and a crew of two to a depth of 300 m. Kharax is asking $750,000 for the submarine, including its launch and recovery system. Additionally, Kharax will provide operators, operations support, maintenance, logistics, and planning support for the submersible system. A center for underwater tourism (CAT) is another concept that Kharax is exploring. CAT is basically a large ship with observation rooms that accommodate 40 people, an underwater restaurant and diving facilities on the lower level. Kharax provides technical equipment for a variety of subsea expeditions. One of the first efforts for this new enterprise was the expedition to look for the lost Korean 747 airliner.


Krylov (St. Petersburg)

The Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute is the principal shipbuilding research institute in Russia. It originally worked only for the Navy, but presently is focused on all disciplines of ship science. This facility performs research similar to that of the David Taylor Naval Research and Development Center in Carderock, Maryland. The facilities for structural, pressure, and temperature testing at Krylov are extensive. Those related to manned submersibles include: a 1.4 km linear tow tank; a 3.2 m diameter pressure test tank that is 9.5 m deep, and capable of testing to 1,000 atmospheres; and a 1.8 m diameter pressure test tank that is 5.5 m deep, capable of testing to 1,500 atmospheres. The engineers at Krylov displayed a 2.4 m diameter titanium sphere, certified for a 4,000 m depth by the Russian registry, for $1 million. Figure 4.2 is a picture of this sphere at Krylov. In addition, it has been reported that Krylov has been testing a composite (including glass reinforced plastic and acrylic plastic) hulls for use in tourist submarines. According to Malachite, this technology originated at the "Prometey Institute."


Lazurit (Nizhny Novgorod)

The Lazurit Central Design Bureau is one of three design bureaus in the FSU that designed military submarines. The other two are Malachite and RUBIN, both in St. Petersburg. Of the 30 manned submersibles operating in Russia, 24 were designed by Lazurit. About 11 models of manned submersibles and tourist submarines were on display at Lazurit (see Figures 4.3 and 4.4). Diagrams or drawings for another six to eight models were displayed along a conference room wall. The only one recognizable by the visiting WTEC team was the Poseidon deep submergence rescue vehicle. This is similar to the U.S. Navy's deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRVs). Four Poseidons are in service.

As part of the Russian policy of defence conversion, Lazurit is trying to commercialize its capabilities. The bureau's focus is on an array of small research and work submersibles, and on tourist submarines utilizing various undersea technologies that are the expertise of Lazurit. The designs range from a one-person recreational submersible to a 130,000 ton nuclear-powered submarine container ship capable of carrying 1,000 standard 20-foot containers. Between these two ends of the spectrum are several proposed manned undersea vehicles of various sizes and capabilities. Currently there appears to be considerable interest in the United States for a nuclear-powered oceanographic research submarine for use primarily in the Arctic. Lazurit proposes a built-for-this-purpose submarine named Ocean Shuttle. Of the six to eight tourist submarines proposed by Lazurit, the one that has generated the most interest was a glass-hulled submarine. The term "glass" was originally described to the WTEC team as "composite organic and silicon glass," material reportedly developed in cooperation with Krylov. The innovative concept of a submarine lifeboat, to be used as an escape mechanism from a properly designed offshore oil platform, was discussed. Personnel could escape from an endangered platform down through the inside of a hollow platform leg to the submarine, which would be mated to the leg. Lazurit is involved in several concepts related to projects proposed by ROSSHELF. ROSSHELF proposes to build a complete oil and gas production complex on the sea floor in the Russian Arctic beneath the largest icebergs in the area. Lazurit has been designated as the leading organization within ROSSHELF regarding the development of underwater oil and gas production complexes. The bureau's proposed submarines and submersibles are described in greater detail in the
Lazurit site visit report, which is included in Appendix B.


Malachite (St. Petersburg)

Malachite Marine Engineering Bureau is one of the leading Russian firms in underwater shipbuilding. Malachite built the first Soviet nuclear submarine. Malachite's experience in small submersibles is limited to Thetis, a towed manned submersible. Thetis is designed so that the operator can steer the submersible, to a degree, to the right and left or up and down to best observe the trawl nets of fishermen. There are several versions of the Thetis (sometimes spelled "Tetis") towed manned submersibles. The Thetis H, operated by Mariecoprom, weighs 3 tons, has a length of 3.3 m, operating depth when towed of 300 m, and a submerged speed of 2 to 6 kt for 6 hours. Thetis H carries two people and has a positive reserve buoyancy of 50 kg. In addition to assisting trawling fishermen, Thetis class vehicles have been used to estimate fish stock within the water column of a given region of the world, for underwater filming and observation of underwater structures, and for underwater transmission of video observations to a surface station. The occupants can communicate with its support and towing ship by radio and telephone. Thetis vehicles are equipped with several viewports (depending on the model) and an automatic flash camera system. Malachite has also been active in a closely related underwater intervention field, a man-in-the sea effort. The bureau's research has included the design of the Benthos-300 vehicle, which can dive to 300 m and accommodate up to 12 scientists and crew. Special equipment built by Malachite for Benthos-300 facilitates long-duration tests on animals aimed at medical issues associated with possible future underwater habitats. RUS, a 6,000 m submersible, is being built by Malachite for the Ministry of Geology. RUS will use silver zinc batteries, Russian manufactured syntactic foam, and a welded titanium hull. Malachite has considerable experience in welding thick titanium. Two test tanks are available at another facility with which Malachite has close contacts. The smaller 2.2 m diameter tank has a depth capability of 6 km. The larger 2.9 m diameter tank has a depth capability of 4 km. In addition, Malachite proposes to design a submersible oil tanker that could transport oil under Arctic ice from North America to Asia. The bureau is also interested in designing various types of tourist submarines. The North 2, a 2,000 m submarine, was designed by Malachite. The status of North 2 was not determined during the whirlwind visit to Malachite. Literature for several undersea vehicle projects proposed by Malachite are listed in the Bibliography section of the Malachite site report (Appendix B).


RUBIN (St. Petersburg)

The Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (RUBIN) specializes in submarines and other underwater technologies. Several years ago, RUBIN was a secret institute that could not be mentioned openly. The Typhoon, Oscar, and Komsomolets submarines were designed there. Because of recent conversion efforts, approximately 40 percent of the work is presently defence related, with major thrusts in the past several years concentrating on high-speed train development, nonmilitary submarines, and tourist submersibles. The bureau designed and built Neptun, the only Russian tourist submersible now in service, which began operations in 1993 at the island of Antigua in the Caribbean.


Mariecoprom (Sevastopol)

The Mariecoprom Scientific Industrial Association, located in Sevastopol, is the operating arm of the Ukrainian Academy of Science. It operates ten submersibles and nine support ships, most of which are converted fishing vessels varying in size from 1,200 tons to 4,000 tons. These vessels conduct oceanographic and geophysical research worldwide. The current undersea interests of Mariecoprom are centered in the Ukrainian portions of the Black Sea. Mariecoprom does not operate unmanned vehicles. The staff at the association strongly believe that the best science is accomplished in situ by knowledgeable and trained scientists. The submersibles operated by Mariecoprom vary in size and capability from the very large twelve-person Benthos-300 to the small, towed, three-person Tetis-H. Mariecoprom is able to provide qualified operating crews at very low daily rates. Mariecoprom does not conduct research and development directly, but operates and maintains support ships and submersibles for the Ukrainian government and its Academy of Science institutes. (The submersible support ships operated by Mariecoprom are described in Chapter 7.) The submersibles operated by Mariecoprom are: Sever-2, Sever-2 Bis, Benthos-300, Omar, Langust, Tinro-2, Tetis-H, and Rif. (See Figures 4.5 through 4.10 and Tables 4.3 through 4.14.)

Table 4.3

Sever-2 and Sever-2 Bis Tactical Characteristics and Specifications
Figure 4.5. Submersible Sever-2

Table 4.4

Sever-2 and Sever-2 Bis Operating Capabilities

Table 4.5

Tinro-2 Tactical Characteristics and Specifications

Table 4.6

Tinro-2 Operating Capabilities

Table 4.7

Benthos-300 (Nos. 1 and 2) Tactical Characteristics and Specifications
Figure 4.7. Submersible Benthos-300

Table 4.8

Benthos-300 (Nos. 1 & 2) Operational Capabilities

Table 4.9

Tetis-H Tactical Characteristics and Specifications
Figure 4.8. Towed Submersible Tetis-H

Table 4.10

Tetis-H Operating Capabilities

Table 4.11

Omar and Langust Tactical Characteristics and Specifications

Table 4.12

Omar and Langust Operating Capabilities
Figure 4.9. Submersible Langust

able 4.13
Rif Tactical Characteristics and Specifications
Table 4.14

Rif Operating Capabilities
Figure 4.10. Submersible Rif


P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Moscow) The P.P. Shirshov Institute is part of the Russian Academy of Science. Divisions of Shirshov are in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad (Baltic Base), Ghelendzhik (Black Sea Base), and Moscow (headquarters). The institute operates ten research ships. Six are oceanographic research ships and two are submersible support ships. Shirshov has six submersibles. Two Mir class steel hulled, 6,000 m depth capable submersibles were built in Finland by Rauma-Ripola Corporation. Two Pisces class 2,000 m depth capable submersibles were built in Canada by HYCO Ltd. The Argus 600 m depth capable submersible operates primarily in the Black Sea. Osmotr, with a 300 m depth capability, is located in Ghelendzhik on the Black Sea and is for sale.


Experimental Design Bureau of Oceanological Engineering (Moscow)

The Bureau of Oceanological Engineering is a spin-off of the P.P. Shirshov Institute. The people who now direct this bureau designed and built the Argus 600 and Osmotr when they were part of Shirshov. This bureau now is building two Rift class 4,000 m submersibles that are 85 percent complete. The institute, which is seeking $2 million in Western hard currency to complete the two submersibles, has also indicated that it would give the funding source one of the submersibles. Table 4.15 describes the Rift submersibles. Figures 4.11 and 4.12 are pictures of the incomplete Rift submersibles. The Experimental Design Bureau of Oceanological Engineering and Rift Co., Ltd. have developed two designs for tourist submarines, Angara TS 6/600 and TS 20/100, which cost $400,000 and $850,000 respectively. (See Table 4.16.)

DSV Rift

(Two Being Built Simultaneously)

Tourist Subs by Rift Co., Ltd.



Existing and proposed non-combatant manned undersea vehicles in Russia and Ukraine, both submersibles and submarines, are fundamental, straightforward, low cost, uncomplicated, reliable, and tested. Concepts that work well are retained; those that do not work well are corrected. Many of the existing submersibles are available for lease. Anyone contemplating lease of these vehicles should do so cautiously. The WTEC team only briefly examined the relationships between Russian Registry Certification, Lloyds of London, the American Bureau of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas, and U.S. Navy standards of certification. If contracts or insurance require any of these types of certification, one should check carefully before assuming that Russian certification is acceptable. Some of the designers of manned systems in Russia and Ukraine are now moving slowly into autonomous systems. There does not appear to be an evolutionary transition from manned to ROV to AUV, as is the case in the United States. To date the desire to place man physically in situ persists in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Possible liability considerations and insurance costs have not yet driven their operators to seriously examine alternatives to use of manned vehicles. The extensive use of titanium is very impressive. The use of the term "glass" mentioned during the WTEC team's visits at Lazurit and Krylov deserves further evaluation. Subsequent correspondence to WTEC from Malachite described these materials as "glass-reinforced plastic and acrylic plastic." The optimistic view of the tourist submarine market at most design and fabrication activities as well as in operating groups needs to be questioned and resolved by conducting a thorough market analysis. Greater computing capabilities and the introduction of such tools as computer aided design will enhance undersea vehicle efforts in the FSU. The horizons of scientists and engineers there have been limited and their perspectives conditioned by lack of computing tools. The manned submersible potential in Russia and Ukraine is large. Academically, industrially, and operationally, the existing base is impressive. Opportunities for joint ventures are numerous.


The ultimate boys' submarine toy.

DeepFlight is unveiling the latest generation of its personal submarine, which has an operating depth of 400ft. Built to order at £500,000 ($770,000), the Marine Edition Mono can be customised to match a superyacht’s colour. The $1.5million (£975,000) Dragon has fixed positive buoyancy, meaning it will always naturally float back to the surface


DeepFlight is unveiling the latest generation of its Dragon personal submarine at this year's Monaco Yacht Show



With an operating depth of 400ft, the two-person sub is so easy to use that users can safely pilot one without lengthy training. Billed as the most compact and lightweight submarine on the market, the $1.5million (£975,000) Dragon has fixed positive buoyancy, meaning it will always naturally float back to the surface. The 16.5-ft long submersible can fit into existing superyacht garages or deck areas, launches easily from a vessel or shore, and has a battery that allows for up to six hours of diving on one charge. It is the first DeepFlight craft that has the ability to hover, and has a payload of 507lbs and air weight of just under 4,000lbs.  ‘Whether you are a superyacht owner or a resort guest, there is no need for a specially trained pilot. You can take the controls and explore under the waves.



A luxurious night in a submarine.



Still looking for a Valentine’s Day plan? We have the perfect solution for you… if you’re ready to spend £175k for a single night! Oliver’s Travel, a luxury travel company, unveiled ‘Lovers Deep’ , a romantic getaway night on a submarine! As you can imagine, that price comes with a few more services than just a night underwater. First, the submarine’s interior is tastefully designed to guest specifications , which includes the two-person shower option, of course. Then, you couldn’t imagine a romantic night without champagne and a fine dinner. No worries since the fees include an aphrodisiac menu featuring oysters and the bubbly beverage. Then comes the actual point of being in a submarine: a 200 meter dive under the water that will accomplish what should be a dream night, considering the price. Then, one can wonder what is the interest of a 200m dive into the ocean at night since it must be pretty dark out to say the least. But who hasn’t dream about spending a night in the Nautilus Submarine.


Pakistan's tool of war: Agosta 90B, our submarine in the deep

Pakistan Navy’s sub-surface fleet was established in 1964 and since then it has performed the role assigned to it in an admirable manner. It also has the distinct honour of scoring the first kill (INS Khukri) from a submarine after the end of the Second World War. The backbone of the current submarine fleet is the French-made Agosta 90B submarine — a diesel-electric submarine (SSK) — which is an improved version of the original Agosta 90, boasting higher performance and new combat systems. Agosta 90B submarines, designed and manufactured by DCN (now DCNS) of France, are used by the Pakistani and Spanish Navy. The French Navy, a former operator of the Agosta-class submarines, had grouped the Agosta-class as océanique, meaning "ocean-going." The Agosta 90B has been designated the 'Khalid class' in Pakistani service. Three Agosta 90Bs were ordered in 1994, with the first constructed and assembled in France, while the second and third ones were assembled in Pakistan. DCNS also gave Pakistan the licence to offer commercial production of the submarines to potential customers. The submarines used by the Pakistani Navy have a modern design, and various modifications to the original to give it a lower acoustic signature and improved battery performance. Pakistani Agostas can dive to a depth of 350 metres, more than the earlier model of the submarine. By 2011, Pakistan had retrofitted its Agosta submarines with MESMA (Module d'EnergieSous-Marin Autonome) air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. An AIP propulsion system uses liquid (or compressed) oxygen or hydrogen fuel cells, thereby allowing submarines to stay submerged for longer periods without the need for external sources of oxygen. This increased endurance also increases a submarine’s survivability, while enabling the submarine to remain submerged three times longer. The Agosta 90B is also the only AIP equipped submarine in the region. The Agosta 90B submarines are equipped with Submarines tactical integrated combat system (SUBTICS) which processes signals from the various sensors aboard the submarine, and determines the tactical situation by track association, trajectory plotting and management, while at the same time handling all weapon command and control functions. The increased automation in the much improved Agosta 90B has made it possible to reduce the crew to 36 sailors and officers. Submarines are inherently hunters; they prowl the deep waters while waiting and listening for their prey. The Agosta 90B is no different. Armed with four bow 533mm torpedo tubes, the Agosta 90B is capable of launching torpedoes and Exocet SM39 missiles. The torpedoes carry a 250kg warhead, and can deliver their deadly payload to a range of 20 kilometres, at a maximum depth of 600 metres. The famed Exocet anti-ship missile, on the other hand, skims the sea surface post launch, climbs into the sky when its near its unfortunate target and initiates a terminal dive once over the target. The missile is difficult to shoot down on its attack pattern, and delivers a hull-shattering 165kg warhead at a distance of 50km.The submarine's sonar suite includes both bow mounted sonar and towed-sonar arrays, making it well suited to detect, plot and attack any surface or sub-surface targets. Being a diesel-electric submarine (SSK), the Agosta 90B is well suited for the needs of the Pakistan Navy. Not only is the submarine cost-effective, it also costs a lot less than a nuclear-powered submarine. While nuclear submarines are not harmful for the crew, the cost of disposing of spent nuclear fuel is much higher and increases the operating cost manifold. AIP-equipped submarines are much stealthier as well, while nuclear submarines have measures to reduce acoustic and magnetic signatures. The nature of the propulsion used (nuclear) makes them noisier, and more susceptible to be picked up by a variety of acoustic, magnetic and thermal sensors. Tactically, the Agosta 90B has a distinct advantage in littoral waters, where marine life and the busy shipping lanes originating out of the Strait of Hormuz can easily camouflage the acoustic signature of the submarine. Protecting Pakistan’s sea lines of communications (SLOC) is a vital mission that the Agosta 90B performs, as commercial seaborne trade is the lifeline of the country’s economy.


Human-Powered Torpedo on an Alaska Island

Biologist Jeff Williams near a midget submarine on Kiska Island in the far west Aleutians in 2004. Photo by Ned Rozell.


Biologist Jeff Williams near a midget submarine on Kiska Island in the far west Aleutians in 2004. On a damp island far out in the Aleutian chain, a secret weapon of Japan’s World War II Navy sinks into the sod. A Type-A midget submarine the shape of a killer whale was one of six the Japanese carried to Kiska Island in 1942.Debra Corbett, an archaeologist who spent five weeks on Kiska last year, has imagined the plight of elite Japanese seamen assigned to operate the subs. Two men squeezed into the ship, which historians compared to torpedoes that could fire smaller torpedoes at ships from point-blank range.“I don’t know if you’re claustrophobic, but I couldn’t imagine a worse job,” Corbett said. Corbett and graduate student Richard Galloway have highlighted the Kiska midget sub on their blog for the Aleutian Island Research Group, a collection of scientist who share ideas about a unique place on Earth. Corbett, now operating a consulting business, retired in 2013 from her position as archaeologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the keepers of the Aleutians based in Homer. While looking for prehistoric sites on Kiska, of which there are many, archaeologists bump into reminders of the Japanese presence on Kiska during World War II. The 78-foot submarine lies in the long grass off Kiska Harbor. It rests at the site of a base complete with rails to move the subs into and out of the ocean and a few sheds to shelter them. The sub is like an unprotected museum piece into which infrequent visitors can wedge themselves into its shards of rusted metal. They can imagine what it must have been like to be the pilot or navigator, only one of whom was able to stand in the sub at any moment.“This was not the suicide sub, but it was not known for a high survivability for the occupants, either,” Galloway said. “The Japanese were more willing to give their life for the sake of the Emperor than most U.S. troops were. This tiny sub is a good symbol of that.”Kiska seems an odd place to deploy the subs, which ran on battery power. Their range was 90 miles at six knots, and the subs could dive to 100 feet. The crew could not recharge the batteries at sea and depended on being recovered by another ship. The Japanese used several of the midget subs during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese leaders wanted to deploy six of them at Midway Atoll, but after defeat there they diverted the subs to Kiska in July 1942.Though the Japanese were only at Kiska 14 months before evacuating under cover of fog, the presence of the sub base, an underground hospital and big hillside guns show their long-term plans.“Most people think Japanese occupation of the Aleutians was ephemeral,” Corbett said. “But their defences on Kiska were pretty formidable. They had anti-aircraft guns up and down the valleys. They had six Shinto shrines and a float-plane base. They had pretty much dug in there for the long haul.”The World War II Japanese attacks and occupations in Alaska involved three places. The Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor on June 4, 1942. They landed and set up bases on Attu and Kiska two days later. American troops recaptured Attu in a bloody battle in May 1943.American and Canadian forces then landed on Kiska in August 1943. Expecting heavy resistance, they found the Japanese had escaped the island before the invasion. Before they left under cover of thick Aleutian weather, Japanese troops disabled the midget submarines with explosives. Americans who then occupied Kiska cut up one of the subs for scrap metal. A few are perhaps at the bottom of Kiska harbor. Part of another lies belly-up on a Kiska beach. The recognizable one remains in the grass of the old sub base on the unoccupied island, as far from northern Japan as it is from Anchorage. Few people have seen the brown-orange reminder of when war came to Alaska. A deadline for that experience is approaching.“Although the metal items on Kiska are surviving far better than the same items in the South Pacific, (the sub) will likely rust into oblivion,” Galloway wrote.


IDF holds first-ever submarine rescue exercise.

An Israeli Navy submarine crew took part in an exercise last week, which simulated the rescue of a sunken submarine on the high seas. This type of exercise is rare among navies, and the first of its kind in Israel. The drill, held off the coast of Atlit, was conducted with the special cooperation of the Italian navy - one of the few in the world that maintains the ability to extract a sunken submarine's crew.  The unique training drill, which lasted three days, tasked troops with rescuing 40 crew members from a Navy submarine at a depth of 60 meters. After a year of planning ahead of the drill, the navy made history, and became one of the few fleets in the world to ever carry out such an exercise. Israeli Navy in exercises with the Italian navy.  Israel does not maintain the capability to extract submarine crews from the depths of the sea, mainly due to the serious price tags which accompany the rescue equipment. The low probability of a submarine sinking has led the IDF to base its training for crew extractions on a limited number of representatives who had been sent to NATO courses. 


 "This is an international event. Only a few navies, including Italy, NATO and the United States, have these extraction vehicles," navy officials stated. The commander of the Italian forces in the exercise held the rank of colonel. 100 navy soldiers and Israeli doctors took part in the exercise and conclusions from the drill will be shared with other naval forces around the world. The two main extraction vehicles used in the exercise were "the Bell", a small submarine, and the SRV300 submersible. 40 people were rescued in total, twelve during each round. Every round lasted two to three hours and included a descent to the seabed, a physical connection to the vessel and the gathering of crew members.  "The biggest challenge in these situations is the technical ability rather than the position of the sunken submarine, as that is not something the rescue staff or those being rescued have control over," explained Major (res.) K'. "Part of the motivation to conduct such exercises is dealing with time constraints in a situation of a sunken submarine."


 (Photo: spokesperson)


"A sunken submarine can continue its routine functions with its crew for a few days until it is rescued, and for Italians, because of their geographical proximity to us, it's a matter of two to three days until they arrive, if at all. In rare cases, the vehicles are flown over and assembled before going out to sea." There have been very few recorded incidents of submarines sinking. On January 25 1968, the Israeli submarine Dakar sunk while on its way from Britain to Israel - all 169 crew members perished. In the 1960s and 1970s, two American submarines sank and in 2000, the Russian submarine Kursk sank. While the new and fourth submarine of the Israeli Navy, INS Tanin, has been operational for the last few months, the navy is waiting for a fifth submarine to arrive from Germany sometime this year. The IDF has recently begun excising the support and close assistance roles which would possibly be filled by submarines in the next possible IDF operation in southern Lebanon. This capability had only existed on paper, but is slowly being implemented by the Navy. Submarines have begun conducting joint training with ground troops that are set to operate in southern Lebanon. Although the main purpose of a submarine is to be a strategic weapon, the navy intends to substantially influence the tactical battle.


Submarines: Russia Refurbs To Survive

November 7, 2015: Russia recently announced that it would modernize twelve Oscar II and Akula class Cold War era nuclear subs in order to extend their service lives twenty years. This is necessary because there is neither time nor money available to replace these twelve subs with newly built ones. The older boats will be equipped with similar weapons and electronics as are in the new Yasen class subs. The modernized boats will also have needed and often long delayed) repairs made. The seven remaining Oscar II class boats have a surface displacement of 14,000 tons. They have eight torpedo tubes (four 650mm/25.6 inch, four 533mm/21 inch) and twenty-four P-700(SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship missiles. These have a range of 550 kilometers, a speed of 1600 kilometers an hour, and a 750 kg (1,650 pound) high-explosive warhead (or a nuclear warhead of 350 or 500 kilotons as an option). The fifteen remaining Akula class subs are 8,100 ton boats that are SSNs (nuclear attack boats) equipped with torpedoes and smaller (than P-700 or P-800) cruise missiles. The 9,500 ton Yasen are post-Cold War and armed with 32 P-800 (SS-N-26 Oniks) anti-ship missiles fired from eight VLS (vertical launch system) silos. The three ton P-800 has a range of 600 kilometers. Each of these silos can hold five Klub anti-ship or cruise missiles instead of four P-900s. There are also ten torpedo tubes (8 650mm and two 533mm). The P-900s are designed as "carrier killers." The torpedo tubes were originally supposed to be all the new and larger 650mm types so that new torpedo designs could be used. All those new designs did not work out as planned so two standard 533mm torpedo tubes were installed to use older but proven torpedo designs. The Yasen are highly automated, which is why there is a crew of 90 that is a third less than the 134 needed to run the new U.S. Virginia class boats. The Yasen is based on the earlier Akula and Alfa class SSNs. Russia had originally planned to build 30 Yasens, but now seven or eight seems a more realistic goal. Because of this Russia has gone ahead with a program for refurbishing Cold War era boats just to obtain a respectable number of subs in the future. Russia considers the Yasen their answer to the American Virginia class. But the Virginias are a more recent design while the Yasen is a late Cold War effort that had some tech upgrades in the two decades it took to build the first one. The first Virginia began construction in 1999 and entered service in 2004. So far ten are in service, five are under construction and a total of 30 are to eventually enter service.  Yasen, the new standard for Russian nuclear subs has had problems getting into service. For example it took two decades of construction effort and nearly six months of acceptance trials before the Russian Navy could finally put the first of seven Yasen (Graney) SSGNs (nuclear powered cruise missile sub) into service during mid-2014. This boat, the Severodvinsk, set some of the wrong kind of records on its way to join the fleet. For one thing construction of the Severodvinsk began in 1993. Then there were the sea trials, which took two years during which the Severodvinsk was at sea 30 percent of the time (222 days) and submerged over a hundred times. There were at least five live firings of its cruise missiles. Sea trials are not supposed to go on for that long, but these SSGNs were special in so many ways.   Putting the Severodvinsk into service was delayed twice in 2013. Early on the sea trials revealed that the nuclear reactor did not produce the required power and that the ability of the boat to remain quiet while under water was not what it should be. An underpowered and noisy sub was not acceptable, and the navy demanded that the builder make it all better before 2014. This proved hard to do because in the 1990s lack of work and money meant that most of the best people left the companies that produced the nuclear subs and their complex components. Those left behind have produced a growing list of embarrassing failures. Earlier, undisclosed problems with the first Yasen postponed it from entering service for at least a year. These problems are not restricted to the Yasen, as other new subs are also encountering numerous construction and design problems. In early 2011, the crew of the first Yasen took their boat to sea, or at least around the harbor, for the first time. Sea trials were to begin three months later but first the sub took baby steps to ensure that everything worked. These harbor trials were seen as a major progress. Things went downhill again after that, with a growing number of delays as more and more problems were encountered. Russian submarine building has been on life support since the Cold War ended in 1991. Many subs under construction at the end of the Cold War were cancelled, and the few that avoided that spent a decade or more waiting for enough money to resume construction. The first Yasen crew was put together in 2007 and then spent years training, and waiting. The crew now has their new boat in service, but only after record delays and time spent in the shipyard getting tweaked.


Colombia Buys Two Submarines to Fight Narco traffic in the Caribbean

The Colombian government has purchased two U206A submarines from Germany to help reinforce operations against drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes in the Caribbean waters. Colombia's total investment amounts to $118 million, which includes two submarines, equipment and arms, besides revamping its system, according to the ministry. The two submarines will have the same names as the ones they are replacing, namely "ARC Intrepid" and "ARC Indomitable," and are a result of a deal between the defence ministries of Colombia and Germany in August 2012.The submarines are expected to arrive at the Cartagena(north) naval base towards the end of November. The commander of the Colombian Navy, Vice Admiral Leonardo Santamaria Gaitan, said a big part of the submarine revamp process involved up-gradation of the engineering systems, as well as cooling and heating. The two U206A are characterized by their size, agility, displacement capacity and their high manoeuvrability for operating in shallow maritime zones. Each submarine has a capacity to hold a crew of 23, a displacement of 500 tons, and a range of 4,500 nautical miles or 15 days. The German-make submarines will reinforce the current fleet of two U209 Pijao class ocean submarines and will substitute the two Italian midget submarines Type SX 506 that have been in service for 40 years.


Yellow submarine seen in the Big Lake


This yellow personal submarine was seen at Mangan Cove, Lake Wallenpaupack, November 18.


The sub was built by Daniel Hryhorcoff, a semi-retired mechanical engineer from Olyphant. He brought it to the lake that day to demonstrate it to a friend who was also interested in making one. In an interview, Hryhorcoff said that he has taken the sub to Lake Wallenpaupack a couple times before, but not in probably eight or 10 years. That intrigued him, and he went to Maine to meet the designer, the now-late George W. Kittredge. The first plan was for a smaller sub; he opted for a larger model. Christening his sub with the name “Persistence,” Hryhorcoff commented, he assembled the sub in his shop. He made some alterations but the basic structural design is according to plan. Rated to descend 350 feet, he and a friend first tested it unmanned, submerging into Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes of New York, where it was dropped down 540 feet. The craft did well. His maiden voyage was in 2004 at Lackawanna State Park. Lake Seneca, he said, is much preferred to Lake Wallenpaupack or the lake in his home county, as it much more clear as well as deep. He also needs a lake with a sufficient ramp from which to slip into the water. At Lackawanna State Park he had an interesting experience when blue fish swam up to his portholes while submerged, looking in as if he was in an aquarium.  Mostly, the fish are scared off by this big yellow visitor to their watery depths. At Lake Wallenpaupack he only went down about 15 feet or so, off the dock at Mangan Cove.

Luxury Holiday Gift Guide: Superyacht Submarine





On the surface, (the side the public gets to glimpse) all superyachts are synonymous with status, and celebrity, wealth, and luxury. But many owners, especially the ones that truly love being on the ocean, will tell you that many of the outer trappings of owning a superyacht —utter privacy, the ability to be “at home” anywhere in the world, while also being able deliver truly extraordinary experiences for their guests—pale in comparison to actually being able to go where few people in the world get to go. Most large yachts can look good, (and host a great party) tied up to the dock in Monaco. But for that growing class of people for whom money is truly no object, owing yachts that are capable of travelling among the rugged ice of Antarctica or…hundreds of feet below the water…is even more priceless. And that’s where personal submarines (and yachts that are designed to accommodate them) come in. And while we all may have rugged visions of Jacques Cousteau’s submarines, or the ones romanticized by Wes Anderson in his wonderfully quirky The Life Aquatic with Steve Ziszou, the personal subs that are on the decks and in specifically designed garages on superyachts are more comfortable and capable than ever.



Credit Triton Submarines


Take the new Triton 1650/3 LP (Low Profile) sub for instance (pictured above). It’s a lightweight, low-profile version of Triton’s most popular acrylic personal submersible model is designed and engineered to take a pilot and two passengers to depths of 1,650 feet (500 meters) in air-conditioned comfort while also being small enough to fit into a standard Superyacht tender garage. With a height of 5-feet 9 inches and a crane weight of only 8,818 pounds


India Submarine rescue focus


The Indian Navy has contracted a Nato Submarine Rescue System for its ageing fleet of underwater boats and a Russian deep submergence rescue vessel for its indigenous nuclear submarine, the Arihant, that is being put through trials currently. The contract for the Nato Submarine Rescue System is being operated by UK firm James Fisher Defence, pending a $67-million deal to buy two similar systems, for each coast, that the cabinet committee on security is likely to take a call on next month. Apart from the Nato and the Russian systems, the navy has a contract with the US navy for a flyaway kit to rescue any of its submarines in distress. The US is bound to fly the kit to the spot within 72 hours of being informed. The Indian Navy currently operates a fleet of 14 submarines, plus the Arihant SSBN (sub-surface ballistic nuclear) that is on trial and is yet to be commissioned after it was launched, or put to water, more than six years back in July 2009.India's submarine fleet effectively comprises nine Russian-origin Kilo class submarines, four German-origin HDW submarines and the INS Chakra, an SSN (sub surface nuclear) leased from Russia for 10 years. Barely half the total submarine fleet is available for operations at any given time because the boats are each (apart from the INS Chakra) more than 20 years old. The multiple arrangements for rescue are borne of two submarine accidents in August 2013 and February 2014. In August 2013, the INS Sindhurakshak, one of the Kilo-class submarines, sank in the naval dockyard in Mumbai as it was being readied for a patrol, killing all 18 crew on board. In February 2014, a fire inside the INS Sindhuratna killed two officers during trials after a mid-life refit. In its wake, the then navy chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, resigned and Admiral Robin Dhowan took over. The rescue services have also been contracted because the navy now expects to put about seven submarines under construction through trials shortly. The nuclear submarines have a crew of 120 men and the conventional submarines each about half that number. The trials of the Arihant, that is planned as the third pillar of the Indian strategic establishment's "nuclear triad", had been rescheduled earlier because of, among other reasons, the absence of the submarine rescue system. It has a crew of 120.In August-September this year, the navy quietly contracted the Russians, who have been helping in the Arihant project for years, for a rescue system. The system was recently tried, most probably at the "Escape Training School" near the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam where the Arihant is based, as is the INS Chakra. The last known incident of a nuclear submarine going under is that of the Russian boat, the Kursk, in the year 2000. All 118 sailors in the boat died over a two-three day period before it could be salvaged. The Indian Navy is also looking at beginning trials of the first of six Scorpene-class submarines in waters off Bombay shortly. The first of the submarines was taken off a pontoon and put to water last month. All six are scheduled for commissioning by the year 2022.In addition, the Kilo and HDW submarines (the Sindhughosh-class and the Shishumar-class) boats of the navy are also being put through refits and mid-life upgrades after which each will also be put through trials during which the deep submergence rescue vessels would be required. In February last year when the two officers were killed in the Sindhuratna, the only submergence vessel that was at hand was the outdated INS Nireekshak.For the Sindhurakshak, which went under in the dockyard, escape and/or rescue is said to have been impossible in any case because the boat was damaged from an explosion in the armament chamber that ripped through its length and cracked its hull. A senior navy source said the two submergence vessels that are to be based on the east and west coasts each have to be delivered by the British firm James Fisher within 27 months of the contract. The firm was chosen over a Russian competitor and price negotiations were completed by the end of 2014. But the cabinet committee has yet to put its seal on the selection. The navy chief, Admiral Robin Dhowan, said a proposal to build six SSNs (nuclear powered submarines that do not fire nuclear-tipped missiles) under a "Make in India" programme was in the works. That will take at least a decade before the actual construction begins. A 30-year submarine-building programme that the government had approved envisaged a fleet of 24 submarines for the navy by the year 2022. That is a far cry. China has 60 boats -- 48 conventional and 12 nuclear. Pakistan has five French-built Agosta 90B submarines that are relatively new. It is also acquiring eight Shang-class diesel-electric submarines from China.


N.Korean Shipyard Producing Troop Transport Submarines

A shipyard in North Korea shifted production from semi-submersible boats to troop transport submarines early this year and produced at least seven of the new vessels by October to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party, according to sources inside the country. The shipyard in the North Hamgyong province capital Cheongjin ceased production of civilian vessels in 2013, when it began to build a “semi-submarine” with a maximum diving depth of 30 meters (100 feet), sources told RFA’s Korean Service earlier this year. The ship could reportedly stay underwater for three days at a time. The semi-sub was put into military production with a maximum crew of four soldiers when equipped with two torpedoes and 10 soldiers without, and technicians at the shipyard later doubled the vessel’s personnel capacity, earning praise from the country’s leadership. But sources in North Hamgyong recently told RFA’s Korean Service that the shipyard switched to the manufacture of submarines specifically engineered for troop transport in early 2015 that are far larger and can dive to twice the depth of the earlier vessel.“Since early this year, Cheongjin Shipyard began manufacturing troop transport submarines that can carry up to 30 [troops], and it is known that they built seven submarines by October,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Cheongjin Shipyard had a plan to build six submarines in 2015, but the factory managers and engineers were determined to produce seven to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Workers' Party on Oct. 10. The seven submarines have been completed and are undergoing performance testing.”According to the source, 2,000 labourers and 400 engineers lived at the shipyard, working 16-hour days in order to meet their goal. To aid in their effort, authorities provided the workers with meat, fish, alcohol and confectioneries from the nearby Soosung-Chun Food Factory, he said. A second source, who also declined to be named, provided information about the new submarine’s specifications.“The submarine Cheongjin Shipyard is producing measures 40 meters (130 feet) long and four meters (13 feet) wide, and is able to carry nine sailors and 30 combat troops,” he said.“Also, the submarine can sail for up to 80 hours at a depth of 60 meters (200 feet) in the water.”The source said each submarine carries only four torpedoes to ensure maximum space for passengers, and that North Korea had imported steel plates from Russia and engines from Germany to build the ships. He said that the focus on building troop carrier subs, coupled with a standing fleet of Antonov An-2 light aircraft capable of transporting 31 personnel including the pilot, suggests North Korea’s regime is planning an invasion of South Korea simultaneously via sea and air. In addition to the shipyard, Cheongjin is home to several weapons factories, the source said, including the “May 10 Coal Mine Machinery Factory” which makes rocket launchers, the “Buryeong Precision Machine Factory (No. 42 Factory)” which produces torpedoes, and others.

Submarine incidents

Last month, South Korea’s intelligence service told lawmakers that North Korea had failed in an attempt to test-launch a ballistic missile from a submarine. While the test was unsuccessful, South Korean officials estimate that the North will be able to reliably fire missiles from submarines within five years. North Korea claimed to have successfully fired a missile from a submarine in May, but some experts believe it was launched from a submerged barge towed by a ship. Following the launch, the official Korean Central News Agency reported “an underwater test-fire of [North] Korean-style powerful strategic submarine ballistic missile,” adding that the weapon had been developed “on the personal initiative of … [regime leader] Kim Jong Un … and under his meticulous guidance.”At the time, sources told RFA that the country’s submarine technicians were concerned news of the development could lead South Korean submarines to monitor subs from the North and potentially destroy them before they can launch missiles or, at the least, allow foreign nations to determine the limitations of the technology. In August, more than 50 of North Korea’s semi-submersible boats—or around 70 percent of the country’s known fleet—disappeared off of military radar and could not be located, South Korea said at the time, stoking fears that the North was poised to attack. The ships went missing after the two Koreas exchanged live artillery fire over the border, which the South said was initiated by the North, but later returned to their home ports after an agreement was reached to end the escalating stand-off.


The Chinese Submarine Threat

There has been extensive debate in recent years about modern Chinese anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) systems rendering the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy (USN) highly vulnerable if Beijing and Washington were to clash in the western Pacific. Particularly ominous is the growing undersea arm of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). According to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, China’s attack submarine fleet consists mainly of diesel-electric boats (SSKs) ­– there are 57 of them, as well as five nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). Of these, the more modern ones include two Shang SSNs, 12 Kilo SSKs, and 12 Yuan SSKs. Experts often allude to the threat posed by SSKs to the U.S. flattop. This is because the SSK, which is quieter than its nuclear-powered counterpart, is seemingly often able to slip detection by the carrier’s escorts. There have been numerous instances of American carrier groups being surprised by SSKs, friendly or otherwise, during either training exercises or regular deployments. The most famous is arguably the 2006 incident of a Song surfacing at a distance within firing range of the Kitty Hawk battle group. Critics point out that if a relatively inferior sub like the Song was able to penetrate the carrier’s screen, a more capable one such as the Kilo would find the endeavour easier. And in a similar case in October this year, a Chinese boat reportedly “stalked” the Reagan carrier strike group (CSG), setting off alarm bells amongst U.S. defence officials. So the question is to what extent would PLAN submarines threaten U.S. carriers during a conflict? This questions has two parts: 1) assessing how likely it is that a Chinese boat would be able to locate and track the American capital ship, and, 2) if it is able to do so, the extent to which it damage or sink the flattop.

Finding and Tracking a Carrier

Chinese submarines are likely to be forward deployed in a cordon to intercept the American CSG as it transits to the conflict zone in the western Pacific, with SSKs acting essentially as mobile minefields owing to their limited speed and endurance. Regarding the issue of Chinese subs finding U.S. carriers, Peter Howarth asserts in his book China’s Rising Sea Power: The PLA Navy’s Submarine Challenge  (Routledge, 2006, p. 103.) that in the event of a Taiwan contingency: The PLA Navy’s most promising course would be to deploy its quiet… SSKs to stake out the chokepoints between the chain of islands along the East Asian continental shelf and lie in wait for carrier… groups as they make their way into the semi-enclosed areas off the China coast. China’s considerable progress in the A2/AD realm during the years since that study was published means that U.S. CSGs would be reluctant to operate in the “semi-enclosed areas off the China coast,” which is the area within or around the First Island Chain. As such, they are likely to operate beyond that – in the Philippine Sea and beyond. (See map below.)The Chinese submarine force, while numerically large, would have an uphill task trying to find U.S. flattops as the real estate to be covered is vast – the Philippine Sea alone is some 5 million square kilometers in area. Indeed, PLAN boats would stand a greater chance of contacting American carriers if Chinese ocean-surveillance capabilities, which have progressed in recent years with the launch of several satellites for this purpose, are harnessed to their full potential. And if a Chinese diesel boat were to locate a U.S. carrier without cueing, the former would find it difficult to continuously track the American vessel’s movement unless the sub’s position relative to the carrier is optimal at first contact. In other words, the SSK, because of its slow speed, is simply in no position to play catch-up with the carrier. After all, both the Kilo and Yuan SSKs have a top submerged speed of around 20 knots and this is for a limited duration only. On the other hand, the Nimitz-class super carrier and its consorts can make 30 knots or more. Only the PLAN’s Shangs, with a top speed of some 30 knots, are capable of matching the CSG. The other Chinese SSN in service, the noisy Han, can only make up to 25 knots. Furthermore, Chinese nuclear boats would be caught between a rock and a hard place: Move at slower speeds to reduce detection but risk losing contact with the carrier group, or move faster and risk being discovered. All in all, the “tyranny of geography” could mean that Chinese submarines would find it difficult to establish contact with an American carrier without exogenous elements such as satellite-provided cues. To compound matters, PLAN boats lack towed-array sonar that would enable them to detect targets from a much greater distance compared to hull sonar. In addition, Chinese submariners lack operational proficiency, even though steps like increased patrols have been taken in recent years to remedy this problem. And if a Chinese submarine were to get into an optimal position relative to an American flattop, can the sub track its target without being detected? The decline of the discipline of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the USN since the end of the Cold War does not bode well for this issue. Indeed, James R. Holmes maintains that ASW has been a “subsidiary function (of the USN) for a generation” as a result of the focus on power projection since 1992. The fortunes of the carrier-borne S-3 Viking ASW plane in the post-Cold War period reflect this de-emphasis on ASW. From the 1990s, the aircraft’s main missions shifted to surface warfare and mid-air refuelling. In 2009, the Viking was retired altogether, leaving the Seahawk helicopter as the sole carrier-borne ASW platform, and eroding the carrier group’s ASW capabilities. Indeed, hunting subs is merely just one of the Seahawk’s repertoire of missions.

Attacking the Carrier

So assuming a Chinese submarine is able to sneak into position to attack the American carrier, what is the likelihood of its ordnance achieving critical hits? At this juncture, it is appropriate to establish the terms “mission kill” and “platform kill.” Simply put, platform kill occurs when the ship attacked is sunk, while a mission kills involves the ship being unable to perform its primary task(s). The raison d’être of the aircraft carrier is its air wing and the ability to conduct flight operations is indispensable in this aspect. Making its flight deck inoperable would be one way to bring about the mission kill of a carrier. Another would be to reduce the ship’s speed and manoeuvrability, as it must be able to maintain a steady course and speed for the launch and recovery of aircraft. For America’s adversaries, achieving a mission kill of its carriers might just be enough for a major military and political victory. The Chinese submarine can attack the American carrier with either its torpedoes or, if it has them, anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). A hit from the former is arguably the more damaging of the two. Indeed, Howarth contends in China’s Rising Sea Power (p. 99.) that “(l)arge armoured warships are inherently difficult to sink or disable with hits above the waterline, unless the missiles manage to penetrate a vital area of the ship such as its magazine or combat information center.” Then U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughhead took the same line when he maintained in 2011: “I would argue that you can put a ship out of action faster by putting a hole in the bottom [with a torpedo] than by putting a hole in the top.”A torpedo hit, which is below the waterline, will create a hole in the carrier’s hull and this might slow the ship down and/or make it list. A wake-homing torpedo – a weapon owned by China – is even more dangerous as it tracks the wake created by the target and hits the propeller system or its vicinity upon impact. This is an outcome that would adversely degrade the carrier’s speed and mobility – two factors that affect its ability to conduct flight operations. All in all, attaining torpedo hits on an American carrier has a decent chance of bringing about its mission kill – if the resultant damage is not properly contained. There have been no instances in the post-war era of American warships being hit by torpedoes. However, there were a few incidents of fires involving USN assets; bearing this in mind, it can perhaps be argued that in any future conflict, the U.S. Navy would be more used to handling hits topside rather than those below the waterline. This is because it would undoubtedly have drawn up a list of “Lessons Learned” after each incident of fire and take appropriate measures in such areas as damage control to be implemented in the future. Although it can also be argued that the USN has had some experience in dealing with hits around the waterline when it handled damage to a number of mined ships in the 1980s and 1990s, it must be emphasized that the mine is a different weapon system together compared to the torpedo. In fact, the largest of these ships mined – the 19,500-tonne USS Tripoli – set off a device containing about 135 kg of explosives and yet its structural integrity was compromised. The amount of explosives in Chinese torpedoes is much higher and the damage these weapons can cause would be significantly higher. To illustrate, the PLAN has the Type 53 torpedo that is with armed a 300 kg warhead. It also has the Type 65 wake-homing torpedo that has a 450 kg warhead. All in all, American ship crew might not be able to handle a torpedo hit as well as one from a missile considering the USN’s lack of experience in dealing with the former; in this light, the submarine-launched torpedo constitutes a genuine threat to the U.S. carrier. Besides the torpedo, the Chinese submarine can also target the U.S. flattop with ASCMs. China seems to stress the centrality of this weapon in attacking ships. Said an instructor at the Chinese navy’s submarine academy, who wrote a textbook for fire-control personnel: “Under modern combat conditions, the main combat method for attack submarines is to fire anti-ship missiles from underwater to attack enemy surface ships.” However, if this doctrinal emphasis on missiles were to be strictly followed in a war, Chinese submarines might actually be rendered more vulnerable. This is because the launch of a missile under water is inherently a noisy affair – even more so than that of a torpedo – and the resulting “flaming datum” could give away the position of the submarine, making it susceptible to enemy counter-attack. Furthermore, by using ASCMs, PLAN submarines might have a lower chance of hitting and crippling an American carrier. Modern Chinese boats like the Kilo and Shang have six torpedo tubes each and this means usually a maximum of five ASCMs will be loaded into the tubes and fired. This is because it is typical, indeed prudent, for the submarine to have at least a torpedo loaded and ready for firing in case any sub-surface threat appears. A salvo of a handful of missiles, though dangerous in its own right, hardly constitutes the saturation attack which the Aegis air-defence system on the carrier’s escorts are conceived to handle. That said, coming into service soon are three improved Shangs each armed with a vertical-launch system (VLS) for firing missiles, and this is a development that could significantly complicate the defence of the American CSG. The number of tubes in the improved Shang’s VLS is currently unknown. However if one were to assume a conservative number of eight, that would mean that the boat is capable of launching more than a dozen ASCMs at its target, a troubling development for the U.S. carrier indeed. The saturation attack where multiple ASCMs are simultaneously fired at a target has been commonly cited as the harbinger of the U.S. carrier’s demise. There has yet to be an instance of such a strike on a warship, so it is difficult to assess whether the attack would overwhelm the CSG’s defence. Nonetheless, the failure of Aegis during the 1988 Flight 655 case and the ineffectiveness of the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System during the 1987 USS Stark incident show that much-touted military technology can disappoint in the heat of battle. It is therefore not inconceivable that the CSG under fire may have to “absorb” a number of missile “leakers.”There were a number of serious fires involving U.S. flattops in the post-war period and it is reasonable to infer from these blazes what could be the likely aftermath of ASCM hits on a modern carrier. This is because these fires bear a similarity to ASCM hits in that both involve the ship’s topside. The conflagration that engulfed the USS Enterprise in January 1969 is often cited as evidence of the U.S. super carrier's ability to take punishment and still remain operational. The fire occurred when nine 500-pound bombs were set off on its flight deck and the explosive power of the blast was said to be equivalent to that of six Russian cruise missiles (Howarth, China’s Rising Sea Power, p. 99.). In spite of heavy casualties – 27 dead and 300 wounded – the catapults and arresting gear of “Big E” remained relatively undamaged, and she resumed flight operations within hours. In other words, the ship sustained the equivalent of half a dozen ASCM hits, without a mission kill. If one were to infer from this case, it could perhaps be said that the ASCM is unlikely to be as effective as a torpedo. However, it must be stressed that this extrapolation does not take into account the fact that at the point of impact, the missile could be moving at supersonic speed. Indeed, the Chinese submarine-launched YJ-18 ASCM has a terminal speed of between Mach 2.5 to 3. The question is thus: “Would the kinetic energy sustained from travelling at such high speeds allow the missile to penetrate the carrier’s armour and hit vital spaces like its magazines?” Witness the sinking of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War, where a subsonic Exocet penetrated the destroyer’s hull but did not detonate. Nevertheless, the missile caused fires that doomed the ship.


Summing up, the preceding analysis has shown that current PLAN submarines, because of the tyranny of geography and their operational and technological deficiencies, would have considerable difficulty finding and tracking U.S. carriers in the event of a conflict in the western Pacific. However, exogenous elements like targeting information provided by ocean-surveillance satellites could potentially alleviate the shortcoming. And if the Chinese submarine does get to shoot at the U.S. flattop, doing so with torpedoes rather than anti-ship missiles might offer a better chance of mission success. Going forward, Beijing has always treated the submarine as a key component of its “counter-intervention” strategy against a modern adversary. To this end, the People’s Republic is seriously investing in its undersea fleet, such that it now has more submarines than America has, although their quality is still inferior. As a senior USN official said: “We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines.” The key issue is to what extent can the Chinese catch up with the Americans in the realm of undersea warfare? Opines Owen R. Cote perceptively in a 2011 study: “The Chinese are still far from that position, but as in other areas, it would almost certainly be a mistake to assume that they won’t eventually get there if they decide to try.” His words are just as pertinent today. In fact, the case of the Soviet Akula, whose acoustic technologies appeared years before the West believed they would, shows that Washington must never rest on its laurels with respect to Chinese submarines. To be sure, the United States Navy is cognizant of the threat and has taken steps in recent years to mitigate it. It has, for instance, introduced advanced ASW systems such as the SQQ-89A(V)15 Combat System, the Multi-Functional Towed Array, and the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Whether or not these and similar measures would enable the U.S. to retain a distinctive edge in the undersea combat realm vis-à-vis China remains to be seen.


Crystal Cruises yacht boasts its own submarine.

Two-person submarine off the marina deck of Crystal Esprit


An artist's impression of a two-person submarine and the all-suite Crystal Esprit yacht. Crystal Cruises is to launch a fleet of ships equipped with a two-passenger submarine as part of a full-scale expansion into expedition, river and yacht cruising. The new owners of the luxury cruise line, Hong Kong-based global hospitality giant Genting (GHK), also plans to launch its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, paving the way for it to offer exclusive tours on dry land. The announcements were made yesterday in Los Angeles by president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, and chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok. The expansion will begin at the end of this year when Crystal Esprit, an "extravagantly appointed yacht," embarks on its maiden voyage to the Seychelles on December 23. The all-suite, 62-passenger vessel, part of the all-inclusive Crystal Yacht Cruises fleet, will be furnished with a submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs and a super-yacht tender as well as the requisite luxury "toys" – wakeboards, kayaks, jet skis and scuba equipment among them. President and CEO Rodriguez told USA Today that the subs can be used for underwater weddings. Crystal Esprit will initially sail in the Seychelles, the UAE and Oman and the Adriatic (Slovenia, Croatia and Venice). Crystal Esprit luxury yacht, which will begin sailing in the Seychelles near Madagascar next week. The 62-passenger yacht, far more intimate than Crystal's 1,000-passenger cruise ships, features among other water toys its own 2-person submarine. The sub is built by U-Boat Worx, a 10-year-old Dutch company that specializes in tourist submarines. Crystal has a C Explorer 2 model, which is rated to a depth of 100 meters. A large acrylic bubble provides 180 degree visibility while a 21.6 Kilowatt hour lithium ion battery provides the power. Prices for the U-Boat Worx subs range from around $360,000 for a 1-person model to upwards of $1 million for a 5-seater.On Crystal, excursions will cost $599 per person for a 30-minute ride.


DeepFlight’s new 16-foot-long, two-person submersible.
$1.5 million. Although the new DeepFlight Dragon submersible can dive as deep as 400 feet below the surface of an ocean or lake, it is as easy to operate as any personal watercraft. In fact, because the sub is controlled with a lever and a joystick, manoeuvring it evokes playing a video game. The Dragon is designed with tandem seating, and each cockpit has its own set of controls. Two pairs of vertical propellers—one at the nose and one at the stern—enable the vessel to hover at depths. The Dragon uses a pair of tail-mounted fixed thrusters to turn, and when it pitches or rolls, DeepFlight’s proprietary stabilization system keeps it level. The Dragon is inherently buoyant, so in the event of a mechanical failure that shuts down the thrusters, it will automatically float to the surface. The onboard DeepFlight Dive Manager allows you to preset depth restrictions (and other limitations) to prevent the sub from hitting the ocean floor, coral reefs, or other submerged objects. The Dragon’s electrically powered propulsion system enables the sub to cruise silently at a speed of about 4 knots. The system runs on a lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack, which affords about 6 hours of operation on a single charge.  The Dragon weighs about 4,000 pounds and is 16 feet long. It is available with custom trailers and launches that can make it as easy to transport as it is to operate.   






Deep-Diving Sub Alvin Cleared to Return to Service.


Navy certification is final step in Alvin upgrade project. After a three-year overhaul and major upgrade, the United States' deepest-diving research submersible, Alvin, has been cleared to return to work exploring the ocean's depths. The sub has been out of service since December 2010, undergoing a major upgrade, including the replacement of its personnel sphere with a newly fabricated, larger, more capable hull. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) operates the U.S. Navy-owned sub for the National Deep Submergence Facility on behalf of a consortium of universities and research organizations conducting deep ocean research. On Jan. 8, 2014, the Naval Sea Systems Command's (NAVSEA) Executive Director of Undersea Warfare for the Department of the Navy Steven Schulze certified that the sub could safely operate to depths of 3,800 meters, with the expectation that a certification dive to 4,500 meters will be completed later this year."There has been tremendous coordination between the Navy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ensure Alvin's safety and integrity," said the Navy's Director of Advanced Undersea Integration Don Hoffer. "Alvin is a national asset and the Navy is pleased to be a part of the team that returned the vehicle to service. ""Achieving Navy certification is a major milestone in the Alvin upgrade project, enabling the vehicle to get back to its critical mission of taking scientists to the deep sea," said WHOI Vice President for Marine Facilities and Operations Rob Munier."This significant accomplishment is a testament to the rigorous engineering collaboration between WHOI and NAVSEA and the unwavering support of NSF. Certification helps ensure that Alvin's excellent record of safety will continue for many decades to come."Alvin carries a pilot and two science observers on missions that last approximately eight hours. Certification was the final step in Stage I of the Alvin upgrade project, funded by NSF and WHOI. The project included upgrades to major components for an increased depth rating of 6,500 meters, including installation of a new, larger personnel sphere with improved interior ergonomics; five viewports (instead of the previous three) to improve visibility and provide overlapping fields of view; new lighting and high-definition imaging systems; new syntactic foam for buoyancy and an improved command-and-control system. Upgrades also included improvements to Alvin's launch system and storage hangar onboard its support vessel, the R/V Atlantis. The Navy certified Alvin using its Deep Submergence Scope of Certification process, reviewing the design, construction and materials used to ensure the vehicle performs as expected. The Navy uses the same process to certify manned undersea systems for submarine rescue and submarine-based Special Operation Forces delivery systems."The successful partnership between NSF, Navy and WHOI ensures that researchers will continue to have direct access to the deep ocean for the next generation of scientists and scientific challenges," said Bob Houtman, section head in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences. Added Brian Midson, program director in NSF's Ocean Sciences Division, "WHOI engineers demonstrated remarkable adaptability in directing progress in constructing the 6,500-meter submersible--especially the larger titanium hull."The re-design of the existing vehicle was only possible thanks to the experience and expertise of the Alvin team, whose members worked closely with NAVSEA to meet the rigorous demands of naval safety standards."Alvin will be put into service in mid-March for a "science verification" cruise led by Peter Girguis of Harvard University, who is chair of the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System's Deep Submergence Science Committee, tasked with oversight of the National Deep Submergence Facility. Girguis along with a team of scientists from across the United States, will test the various data acquisition and sampling systems in and around a combination of cold seep and deep-water coral sites in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, between New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss. The scientists onboard will provide the research community with their written descriptions and assessments of the sub's performance. Following that expedition, Alvin is scheduled to conduct three research expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico, examining the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, determining the effects of ocean acidification on deep-water corals and studying deep water seeps. During the second half of 2014, Alvin will be on the U.S. West Coast for dives on Juan De Fuca Ridge and later at the East Pacific Rise and Dorado Outcrop off Costa Rica. Last November, the Alvin operations team, along with observers from the U.S. Navy, conducted certification dives off San Diego, where the sub was taken to progressively greater depths to prove that all its systems are safe for operation."The modifications made to Alvin during this upgrade and overhaul have exponentially improved its capabilities," said Pat Hickey, Alvin manager and one of the chief test pilots."The new LED lights save power while illuminating a far greater area than before, and the bigger and repositioned windows improve visibility. By repositioning the manipulators, we increased our work area, and the larger science basket allows us to load up to 400 pounds of exterior equipment and samples. An additional lateral thruster now allows the sub to hover like an underwater helicopter."While Alvin is capable of operating at depths of 4,500 meters, time and location constraints during the certification trials prohibited dives to those depths. Later this year, WHOI, NSF and the U.S. Office of Naval Research will schedule a dive to 4,500 meters to achieve the maximum certified depth of 4,500 meters for Stage I. The current Alvin certification depth supports all planned science activities in 2014.Stage II of the upgrade is dependent on funding and improvements to lithium-ion battery technology. That stage will bring the remaining systems (battery, variable ballast and hydraulics) to the 6,500-meter capability, and the sub will then be certified to that depth. This year marks Alvin's 50th year in operation. Commissioned in 1964 as one of the world's first deep-ocean submersibles, Alvin has made more than 4,600 dives. The sub has undergone many upgrades over the years, including replacement of its steel personnel sphere in 1973 with one made of titanium, enabling access to a greater percentage of the seafloor. The sub's most famous exploits include locating a lost hydrogen bomb in the Mediterranean Sea in 1966, exploring the first known hydrothermal vent sites in the 1970s and surveying the wreck of RMS Titanic in 1986.In addition, the sub has enabled dozens of new discoveries in deep-sea geology, chemistry and biology.

Deep-diving          sub Alvin cleared to return to service


US$1.7 Million Personal Submarine Lets You 'Fly' Underwater.


DeepFlight Super Falcon Off Tonga


Adventurers with deep pockets can now explore the hidden depths of the ocean, thanks to a futuristic submarine that lets users "fly" underwater. The DeepFlight Super Falcon, developed by California-based Hawkes Ocean Technologies, is a two-seater, winged submersible that can take passengers on undersea joyrides. The custom-built underwater vehicles are designed to dive below the surface, swim amongst marine animals, deftly navigate through underwater canyons, and even perform aquatic barrel rolls. "It is like an airplane with wings upside down," Graham Hawkes, founder and chief technical officer of Hawkes Ocean Technologies, told the Chronicle. "It is like flying in the air, but we are flying underwater."  The submarine is 21 feet (6.4 meters) long, and has a wingspan that stretches nearly 9 feet (2.7 m). The submersible can carry two or three passengers, depending on the configuration of the vehicle, and can dive to a depth of about 394 feet (120 m). [See Photos of the DeepFlight Super Falcon Submersible]. Traditionally, submarines are constructed with an inner shell and an outer shell. To dive, submarines fill the space between the two shells with water, changing the ship's density and creating so-called negative buoyancy — when the gravitational tug on the sub is greater than the force of buoyancy. When submarines remain on the water's surface, the area between the two shells is filled with air, which again changes the vehicle's density and enables it to float. The Super Falcon, however, dives underwater like a whale, using thrust to generate "downward lift" to help the vehicle descend below the water's surface. Essentially, the submarine uses lift and drag — the principles of regular flight — to "soar" underwater. This means the Super Falcon is always positively buoyant — or remains floating unless some mechanical device or additional weight is used — which is a key safety feature of the winged submersible, according to company officials. If an emergency occurs, or the vehicle loses power underwater, it will simply float back to the surface.


DeepFlight Super Falcon Explores Reef


"It looks like a James Bond wild machine, but it is positively buoyant, so it's really safe," Karen Hawkes, Graham's wife and the vice president for marketing, told the Chronicle. Hawkes Ocean Technologies, founded in 1996, got its start designing submersibles for the military and scientific communities. In the mid-1990s, the company began developing winged submersibles aimed at the luxury market. The Super Falcon currently retails for $1.7 million, and includes on-site pilot and operations training. The vehicles are among the latest high-tech items geared at the super-rich, and the company already boasts some famous clients: Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire British tycoon, has already made several dives in the DeepFlight Super Falcon, and famed American adventurer Steve Fossett commissioned a single-seater sub capable of diving to the bottom of the Marianas Trench before his untimely death in 2007.






Bored of life on deck? The ultra-lightweight Super Yacht 3 submarine from U-Boat Worx offers hours of underwater thrills. U-Boat Worx Super Yacht Sub 3. One could be forgiven for thinking that purchasing options in the ultra-exclusive world of private submarines would be naturally thin on the ground. But quite the opposite is true. In fact, there are a number of subs out there fitting for a budding Cousteau, in all shapes and sizes. Possibly the most famous brand in this area is Triton, and its new 3300/6 is an impressively large beast that can whisk six, yes six, brave passengers to depths of up to 1,000m at a speed of three knots. Its large acrylic hemispheres give the on-board submariners superb viewing of the ocean sea life. US Submarines has the sleeker Discovery 1000 if you prefer a more James Bond aesthetic. Speaking of which, if this is your fantasy then look no further than the Orcasub, a two-man torpedo from Sub Aviator Systems that should bring your inner Troy Tempest to the surface. On the more bonkers end of things - but still very clever - you have the delightfully monikered Penguin from Korean company Raonhaje, which floats on the surface but includes a large disc-like viewing pod submerged beneath the waves. Much easier, and definitely one for those not too interested in retracing the derring-do of Mr James Cameron. Now though, U-Boat Worx, a company with considerable form in this field (you may recall seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin captaining its C-Explorer 5 in July 2013), has unveiled its new Super Yacht Sub 3. Capable of taking three people to a maximum depth of 300 metres (there is also a 100 metre version), the Super Yacht Sub 3 is specifically designed for super yacht owners. Most of the above examples, and others on the market, are sizable crafts, but this new sub very small and very light: it is only 171cm in height and 3,500 kg in weight, so will stow away on a super yacht with ease. With its flexible lifting arrangement, it can be easily adapted to fit any crane configuration, too. The six powerful thrusters can handle strong currents, of course, while inside the creature comforts are on hand with luxury leather seating and air-conditioning. The 42kWh lithium-ion battery system will allow up to 12 hours of ocean-going fun, but perhaps the killer feature is the transferable “Manta controller” that allows passengers to take turns in driving the sub. Should anything not go to plan, however, there are a number of safety features, of course, including a safety buoy, drop weight and 96 hours of life support. But faint heart never found fair shipwreck. Production models will be available for delivery from September 2015, and prices will start from €1,750,000.


Under the Sea: The Four Daphné Girls



Each of the Pakistan Navy’s four Daphné class submarines, Hangor, Mangro, Shushuk and Ghazi, arrived from France in the late ’60s and early ’70s carrying portraits in oil on canvas. While Shushuk had a Polynesian girl, Hangor carried a gypsy girl by a Hungarian artist named Charles Roka. Mangro, on the other hand, was far apart as she carried a replica from a German grand master’s work while Ghazi carried the work of some anonymous artist. These portraits were gifted by the submarines’ French constructor, the Direction des Construction Naval (DCN) and adorned the vessels’ tiny wardrooms. Except Mangro, all others belonged to an art form called the retro-Kitsch — a term used derisively to condemn exaggerated forms of art or that executed in poor taste. For more than 35 years, these portraits remained an integral part of these submarines and provided strange solace to the men who traversed deep waters in their metal confines. After their decommissioning in the mid-2000s, these portraits were removed to the submarine squadron’s wardroom ashore, where they still remain on display. The submariners sailing in these Daphnés were the enfant terrible, operating far away under the oceans. Since the Daphnés carried only enough water for drinking, the submariners remained unshaven, unkempt, and unbathed for long periods of time. But the body odour did not seem to bother them much as the human sense of smell quickly adapts to persistent smells and only detects newer stimuli. They lived surrounded by pipes, cables, noisy equipment, greasy weapons, loud pumps, compressors and an air conditioner that struggled to cope with warmer waters keeping everyone sweating in 90% humidity. Below the decks were hundreds of tonnes of battery cells that smelt of bittersweet hydrogen. There were two hungry V8 diesels that recharged the batteries once or twice a day. While doing so they sucked out the air from within the submarine and made everyone’s ears pop. But the submariners felt happy as it was the only time they could puff on their duty-free cigarettes. They breathed an artificially generated atmosphere that was high on hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and low on oxygen. The air was thick from diesel and hydraulic fluid fumes and sour-tasting vented compressed air. It got worse when their vaporised sweat mixed with it. They sailed several hundred feet below with no means to escape in case of an emergency. A few days into their interminable sea trips, these submariners needed something to remind them that they were human. That is when the DCN’s gift became so important. The Pakistan Navy fortuitously purchased Ghazi, the almost new, ex-Cachalot of the Portuguese Navy, in 1975. She came with her own retro-Kitsch —  probably given away to the Portuguese Navy in the ’60s by the DCN. Its artist remains anonymous, but the poster prints of this work have never lost their popularity across Europe. Even now, a poster sits in an English café called The Cat’s Café; another one is in Tunisia, while one turned up just a few months ago at an art auction in Munich. Lambert, the Englishman responsible for Shushuk’s portrait, worked for 40 years for Leyland Motors, a great name in the British automobile industry then. He famously had its female workers dress up and painted annually for the Leyland calendar. Lambert’s paintings were the sensual, and not too explicit, centrefolds of that era, adorning the typical working-class teenager’s room. For Shushuk, Lambert took on a different subject. He painted a fictitious Tahitian girl that he named Tehura. This is where Paul Gauguin, the grand French master, had left off with his Polynesian girl series, in the late 1890s, before his death on the Island in 1903. Lambert, unashamedly borrowed from Gauguin’s La Femme a la Fleur (The Woman with a Flower) and La Jeuene Femme a L’ventail (The Young Girl with a Fan). He peppered it up with a suggestive gaze, and added some sharp contours to the bodice that perilously clung on to her despite most submariners’ lasting wish for a wardrobe malfunction. It smeared Gauguin’s work, incensed the critics and did nothing to improve Lambert’s reputation as an artist. But Lambert perhaps did far more good to the generations of submariners who sailed onboard Shushuk. His Tehura still remains a very well-known work that sells in poster prints all over the world. If Lambert was a showman, Charles Roka, the Hungarian artist of the same era was even worse, according to the critics of that time. He churned out Kitsch after Kitsch of the same gypsy girl — referred endearingly as Kvinna by his Norwegian admirers. One of his gypsy pieces, the steamiest amongst the four submarines, was onboard Hangor on the night of December 8/9, 1971, when she torpedoed two Indian Navy destroyers, INS Kukri and INS Kirpan. Kukri broke into two and sank within two minutes with the loss of 172 officers and men while Kirpan was severely damaged. In all, Roka painted this gypsy girl three dozen times before his death in 1999. In 2005, he was honoured posthumously by the prestigious Haugar Vestfold Kunst museum in Tonsberg, Norway, where his work, under the title Kitsch, was displayed for the first time by a gallery of such repute. It seems that Roka’s work has finally been recognised. Bizarrely, Mangro’s wardroom was saved from the onslaught of Kitsch. It had a well-made replica of an authentic piece by a German master, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, who was best known for his exclusive portraits of mid-19th century royalty in various European courts. In 1864, he painted a portrait of an aristocratic woman from Czarist Russia named Dmitrievna Mergassov who according to some was also the inspiration behind Leo Tolstoy’s tragic heroine, Anna Karenina. Judging from the sadness in her eyes evident in the painting — the original of which remains on display at Musée d’Orsay in Paris — she certainly looks the part. It seems that the DCN played it safe while refitting Mangro and experimented brazenly with the other three submarines. Its gift to Mangro in the form of Mergassov’s portrait gave our submariners something to hold in awe — they gazed at her quiet elegance and modest dignity. She had a melancholy gaze but perhaps too much of blue blood in her for an average submariner’s taste. Mergassov was clearly plain and Mangro perhaps was not the right submarine to take long trips on. But Winterhalter’s great skill with the brush could be gauged from the way he brilliantly captured her long dark braid with its intricate twists. The several layers of her flowing white taffeta gown and its blue ribbons also bore a dazzling testimony of his prowess. Why did the DCN choose Madame Mergasso and why did it experiment with retro-kitsch for all others? Why not a Renoir replica with its burst of colours, or a Claude Monet, or a Delacroix, or a Degas, or a Tolouse-Lautrec? By carrying these grand masters’ works, even if they were replicas, DCN would have given us a piece of France itself. Instead they gave us 1960’s trash. But it was just as well for the Kitschy art. The submariners loved it. It was a time when they took pride in owning art and loved them simply for the lack of knowing anything better. But they could not be faulted for their desire to discover, to experiment, and to develop a taste for the new, the exotic and especially the forbidden. Learning to become a submariner at a time when less than 10 nations in the world owned and operated submarines was a challenge, and our submariners took it in their stride; much the same way they took these Daphné girls in and made them a part of their proud submarine tradition. Thick skinned that they are, never the ones to believe in what the righteous might have to say, they simply adored these Kitschy paintings just as they loved their submarine profession. There were a few exceptions of brief religious command tenures in the 90s when these girls found their makeshift homes in lockers ashore — only to be recalled with the change of command. For the most part, these girls faithfully served the submariners.  Looking back at those decades with these girls, the ’60s remind us of a progressive time in our nation’s history. That was a time when we were asserting ourselves in the world as a fast-developing, modern, progressive and a tolerant new nation. That’s when we stood taller than South Korea and Malaysia of that epoch. We did not have fixed ideas on morality and public piety either. We loved when something looked good and we did not seem to care about much else. That is indeed what art is supposed to do — inspire us and make us happy. Forty-five years later, we are still talking about these Daphné girls and that says much about their lasting effect on our submariners.


NK Has Largest Submarine Fleet in the World.

According to Business Insider's recently released “Global Firepower Index”, North Korea possesses the largest fleet of submarines in the world at 78 vessels, 6 more than the United States. The report ranked China in third place with 69, Russia fourth with 63, and Iran in fifth with 31; The South Korean and Japanese fleets maintain 14 and 16 vessels respectively. Last year, Global Security, a site run by military and intelligence experts, also estimated North Korea’s submarine fleet at 78 vessels or more, including 8 semi-submersible infiltration crafts.


Personal Submarine Deep Flight is Equity Crowd funding.

DeepFlight is Raising Equity to Finance Personal Submarines, An Estimated $100 Million Market. If you ever wanted to own part of a submarine company this is your chance.  DeepFlight, a company that has created high performance personal submarines, has launched a Series A round equity crowdfunding on crowdfunder.  Their unique product is designed to address an estimated $100 million market for personal submarines for the superyacht and tourism markets. DeepFlight reports they have already established initial sales to early adopters, including the late adventurer, Steve Fossett; venture capitalist, Tom Perkins; the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz; Sir Richard Branson, and others. The goal of the campaign is to raise $2.5 million to support the next evolution of the DeepFlight submarines and dominate the market for private submarine ownership, as well as access the emerging market of undersea tourism. DeepFlight is led by Graham Hawkes who has invested the last twenty years perfecting the DeepFlight submarines through five generations of working prototypes. The Company’s flagship technology, DeepFlight Super Falcon, is a fundamentally new type of submarine whose patented winged design offers the unparalleled experience of underwater flight and the unique safety of automatic return to the surface. Over the last two years, DeepFlight has refined its product roadmap with five different craft, optimized for the various market segments. While several other companies have recognized the market potential for personal submarines, none have adapted their designs for large-scale recreational use. DeepFlight presently generates revenues through sales and service contracts, and currently has contracts in-house worth over $3 million. As one would expect the Company’s first sales have been to high net worth individuals (HNWI), including superyacht owners. Its near term business model is to continue to target the $10 billion global superyacht market, with the goal of equipping 1% of the superyacht fleet with DeepFlight craft by 2020 for a projected $80 million in revenues. Additionally, the Company has delivered DeepFlight craft to two resort locations and the Company anticipates continuing to expand its revenues from resort and tourism operations.  There are also opportunities in the growing peer-to-peer leisure boating industry by using platforms such as BoatBound where owners can lease out their boats (or perhaps subs). Venture capitalist Tom Perkins, an owner of a DeepFlight Super Falcon, said, “I spent three years adventuring in the South Pacific with my DeepFlight craft, and the experience exceeded my wildest imagination. I believe DeepFlight is well -positioned, with a proven technology, to capitalize on the new possibilities for private exploration of our oceans, and to grow this company to its potential.”  Hawkes shared his thoughts on the DeepFlight submarine “Even though we live on an ocean planet, there are few commercially available technologies that can provide an engaging underwater experience to a large number of users. From the beginning, our DeepFlight submersibles have captured the public’s imagination, and I am thrilled that we are now able to invite the public to support our initiatives to open the oceans to a larger audience. I look forward to introducing our newest product line in the coming year, and I am fully confident that our DeepFlight personal submarines will expand the market for undersea recreation.”


North Korea’s Asymmetric Submarine Doctrine

While North Korean submarines may be technologically dated, its access denial strategy can still be effective. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made headlines last month when he visited the Korean People’s Army Naval Unit 167, part of the Korean People’s Navy (KPN) East Sea Fleet unit based in the South Hamgyong province. Photographs released by the Korean Central News Agency showed Kim on a rusty green-painted submarine No. 748, toying with the periscope in its control room. Kim also reportedly guided an actual drill onboard. Many foreign analysts used Kim’s visit to comment on the decrepit state of the submarine he was visiting. For example, South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Kim Min-Seok, remarked that: “It appears that Pyongyang aims to show off its submarine might, but the submarines that our Navy holds are far superior, as ours do not make much noise and it can stay underwater far longer.” This view is not without merit. From a strictly technical standpoint, submarine No. 748 – a Soviet-era Romeo (or possibly the Chinese Type-033 variant built by North Korean shipyards during the Cold War) – represents a bygone era. The Romeo/Type-033, which displaces 1,800 tons when submerged, traces its roots back to the German World War-vintage U-boat technology that was incrementally improved upon in the 1950s prior to being mass produced by the Soviets. Its combat systems, propulsion and quieting characteristics are considered obsolete by today’s standards. This stands in stark contrast to the Republic of Korea Navy’s (ROKN) growing stable of modern submarines, including the KSS-1 Chang Bogo and the even more capable KSS-2 Sohn Won-Il, based on the German Type-209/1400 and Type-214 respectively. North Korea’s vessels lack any missile capabilities and can only fire short-range, Cold War-vintage torpedoes. By contrast, ROKN submarines are equipped with the UGM-84C Sub-Harpoon sea-launched anti-ship missiles, which are capable of destroying enemy warships from 60-miles away. They also boast new German-made heavyweight homing torpedoes. The key difference between the two undersea fleets, however, are South Korea’s state-of-the-art combat systems, which are typically comprised of an integrated, digitalized command and control suite, sonar and electronic warfare equipment, as well as quieting features. Thus, North Korea’s submarine capabilities are a far cry from those of its erstwhile Southern adversary. Moreover, the inter-Korean submarine technological gap will further widen when South Korea’s new submarines, notably the KSS-3, come online soon. The KPN’s golden era was back in the Cold War when it received generous amounts of Soviet military-technical aid. Especially during the 1960s and 1970s, the KPN was arguably one of the strongest navies in the Asia-Pacific region. It was a sizeable force, albeit optimized for coastal patrol and attack duties. Quantitatively, and in some respects qualitatively, the KPN was superior to the ROKN during the early Cold War when South Korea’s Navy relied mainly on World War-vintage secondhand U.S. equipment. It wasn’t until the early-1980s that the ROKN even inducted its first undersea capability, which were unimpressive Italian-origin mini-submarines. The ROKN’s first full-fledged combat submarine, the Chang Bogo, was inducted only in 1993, almost two decades after the KPN incorporated the Romeo/Type-033 and started to license-build copies of it. However, as the Soviet Union collapsed and Moscow’s aid to North Korea dried up, the KPN declined precipitously. At the same time, phenomenal economic growth and technological innovations transformed the ROKN into a three-dimensional force, which now stands as one of the most modern navies in the world. Thus, at first glance, the inter-Korean naval balance has increasingly tipped in South Korea’s favour. This view is slightly misleading, however. Some view the KPN as a service that seeks to project force over considerable distances. The Romeo/Type-033, for instance, was initially designed as a long-range patrol submarine. Thus, during wartime, many expect it to be used to interdict commerce travelling through South Korean sea lines of communication en route to Busan. Such a scenario might be attempted if North Korea mounted a major offensive aimed at bringing about Korea’s reunification. Yet, the KPN would be constrained in its ability to project force beyond its immediate waters due to force structural weaknesses and its lack of long-range air cover. This is reflected in its force structure, which in the post-Cold War era has been heavily dominated by small landing craft (including an expanding fleet of assault hovercraft) and coastal combatants. Wartime surface actions would be borne by missile craft and submarines –the KPN’s only offensive capabilities – backed by a handful of light frigates incapable of operating beyond North Korea’s land-based air defence systems. Only the Romeo/Type-033 is deemed capable of projecting offensive force along South Korea’s coastal flanks. This might have been plausible back in the 1960s and 1970s based on the prevailing state of submarine and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) technologies. Presently and into the future, the non-stealthy Romeo/Type-033 would stand a minimal chance of surviving if it ever ventured beyond air cover, to say nothing of having any tangible success at interdicting enemy shipping. In light of post-Cold War realities, if Pyongyang’s strategic objective is regime survival instead of forcible reunification, its military posture ought to be seen as strategically defensive in nature. By extension, therefore, the KPN’s wartime missions would be even more tightly circumscribed within its immediate littoral confines. It was already incapable of projecting force further afield during the Cold War, much less so now and into the future.


The Mini-Submarine Menace.

While many focus on the naval technology gap between the two Koreas, other important aspects of the KPN’s development have been neglected. In fact, the North Korean submarine threat doesn’t even originate from the ungainly-looking Soviet-era boats Kim toured recently, but rather from the KPN’s burgeoning fleet of mini-submarines. For instance, while the ROKN was busy adding a bunch of ultra-modern submarine capabilities, the ROKS Cheonan was allegedly sunk in 2010 by a KPN mini-submarine. Additionally, North Korean mini-submarines have, from time to time, successfully reached South Korean shores undetected. In the notorious 1996 Geungneung incident, for example, the KPN Sang-O class mini-submarine landed heavily-armed agents ashore in South Korea. According to the sole North Korean survivor’s testimony, the boat managed to evade a sonar-equipped ROKN warship in getting to the coast. Two years later, a KPN Yugo class mini-submarine was caught in South Korean fishing nets and left adrift some 11.5 miles off of Sokcho on the South Korean east coast. However, the captured logbook from the vessel suggested that the boat had managed to land some North Korean agents ashore before disaster befell upon it. These incidents happened at the same time the KPN’s technical capabilities were said to have atrophied, and the ROKN was rapidly innovating. As this underscores, seeing no hope of “catching up” with South Korea, North Korea has adopted an asymmetric naval doctrine to counter the ROKN’s growing technological strength. Mini-submarines are a key part of this new doctrine. While the KPN may retain its traditional wartime tasks of providing offshore fire support and facilitating coastal amphibious assaults, its primary purpose during wartime would likely be sea denial against any U.S.-ROK amphibious forces. North Korean defence planners remain haunted by General Douglas MacArthur’s surprise landing at Incheon during the Korean War, and are keen to ensure it is not repeated. Besides carrying out provocations during peacetime, mini-submarines are well-suited for this sea-denial mission. The KPN’s “wolf pack” of mini-submarines are each physically smaller (typically half the length of the Romeo/Type-033), more concealable and possibly more maneuverable within the numerous bays and inlets dotting the North Korean coast. Furthermore, given their simpler technologies and lower costs, the KPN mini-submarines can be produced in much larger quantities than the more complex ROKN boats. Manned by a highly-motivate and well-trained crew that is familiar with the local littoral geography, the KPN mini-submarine fleet would be highly effective using “hit-and-run” tactics against U.S.-ROK amphibious forces. Indeed, there are a number of signs that suggest that Pyongyang’s mini-submarine program has been at least reasonably successful. For one thing, Iran has acquired the designs and actual samples of the mini-submarines, and deploys its own versions of them to threaten shipping in the strategically-vital Strait of Hormuz. More notably, the ROKN has recently made a series of recent acquisitions geared towards enhancing its ASW capabilities, and has also held numerous ASW exercises both alone and in conjunction with the U.S. Navy. The recent South Korean live-firing drill near Dokdo/Takeshima Isles was said to be conducted to strengthen ROKN’s defences against a possible North Korean submarine threat, not long after the North Korean leader’s submarine inspection. It has been more than four years since the tragic Cheonan incident, yet it is plausible that Pyongyang could have been buoyed by this tactical success to invest even more in its mini-submarine program, which have so far remained largely an enigma. Given its penchant for being highly secretive especially on military affairs, Pyongyang most likely does not publicize its true combat potential. As such, the international community should not be misled by the recent KCNA pictures, which could have been published to distract from the Supreme Leader’s real wolf pack of mini-submarines. It would be foolhardy to dismiss the latent, asymmetric potential of the KPN.


Submarines: Russian SSGN Stumbles Across The Finish Line.

During the last week of 2013 the Russian Navy finally received the first of seven Graney (Yasen) SSGNs (nuclear powered cruise missile sub). This boat, the Severodvinsk, set some of the wrong kind of records on its way to join the fleet. For one thing construction of the Severodvinsk began in 1993. Then there were the sea trials, which took two years during which the Severodvinsk was at sea 30 percent of the time (222 days) and submerged over a hundred times. There were at least five live firings of its cruise missiles. Sea trials are not supposed to go on for that long, but these SSGNs were special in so many ways.  Putting the Severodvinsk into service was delayed twice in 2013. Early on the sea trials revealed that the nuclear reactor did not produce the required power and that the ability of the boat to remain quiet while under water was not what it should be. An underpowered and noisy sub was not acceptable, and the navy is demanded that the builder make it all better before 2014. This proved hard to do because in the 1990s lack of work and money meant that most of the best people left the companies that produced the nuclear subs and their complex components. Those left behind have produced a growing list of embarrassing failures. Earlier, undisclosed problems with the first Graney have postponed it from entering service for at least a year. These problems are not restricted to the Graney, as other new subs are also encountering numerous construction and design problems. In early 2011, the crew of the first Graney took their boat to sea, or at least around the harbor, for the first time. Sea trials were to begin three months later but first the sub took baby steps to ensure that everything worked. These harbor trials were seen as a major progress. Things went downhill again after that, with a growing number of delays as more and more problems were encountered.  Russian submarine building has been on life support since the Cold War ended in 1991. Many subs under construction at the end of the Cold War were cancelled, and the few that avoided that spent a decade or more waiting for enough money to resume construction. The first Graney crew was put together in 2007 and has been training, and waiting, ever since. The crew now has their new boat in service, but only after record delays and time spent in the shipyard getting tweaked. The 9,500 ton Graneys are armed with 24 cruise missiles, as well as eight 650mm (25.6 inch) torpedo tubes. Some of the cruise missiles can have a range of over 3,000 kilometers, while others are designed as "carrier killers." The larger torpedo tubes also make it possible to launch missiles from them, as well as larger and more powerful torpedoes. The Graneys are having new "smart" (target seeking) torpedoes designed and built for them. But even these new torpedoes are having development problems and may be cancelled. The Graneys are highly automated, which is why there is a crew of 90 that is a third less than the 134 needed to run the new U.S. Virginia class boats. The Graney design is based on the earlier Akula and Alfa class SSNs. Russia had originally planned to build 30 Graneys, but now eight seems the most optimistic goal. In response to this Russia gas gone ahead with a program for refurbishing Cold War era boats just to obtain a respectable number of subs in the future.


60% of US nuclear submarine patrols take place in the Pacific.


The USS Ohio, the leading boat of the Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. (Photo/US Navy). In an article written for the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 11, nuclear experts Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris stated that more than 60% of US submarine nuclear deterrent patrols take place in the Pacific Ocean. The article says there are currently 14 Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines patrolling international waters around the world, with eight deployed to the Pacific and the other six to the Atlantic. All of the submarines are equipped with Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of 7,840 kilometers, while 12 of the subs are normally considered operational, with a 13th and 14th boat in overhaul at any given time, they said. The deployed submarines can carry approximately 1,150 nuclear warheads. "In practice, each missile probably has three, four or five warheads, depending upon the requirement of the war plan," the article said, adding, that loading with fewer warheads increases a missile's range. Kristensen and Norris said eight or nine of the 12 operational nuclear missile submarines are at sea at any given time, with "four or five of the at-sea boats are on 'hard alert,' which means that they are in designated patrol areas within range of the targets specified in their assigned target package in accordance with the strategic war plan." Meanwhile, US nuclear submarine patrols have been decreased from 64 patrols in 1999 to 28 in 2011, according to the article. "As a result, each sub now conducts an average of 2.5 patrols per year compared with 3.5 patrols a decade ago," Kristensen and Norris said.


Russian Titanium Submarines.



The Russian Navy has decided to recommission the unique Barracuda submarine (Project 945), whose hull is made of titanium. Titanium subs were first built in the 1980s, since they are more durable and do not attract magnetic mines. But because the cost of titanium is several times higher than that of steel, the construction of titanium submarines was put on hold after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Navy presently has four titanium nuclear submarines in service (excluding mini-submarines for deep-sea research): two Barracudas, the K-239 Karp, and the K-276Kostroma, plus two titanium subs modernized under the Condor program (Project 945A) — the K-336 Pskov and the K-534 Nizhny Novgorod. The main targets of the Barracuda and Condor are aircraft carriers and other submarines, which can be destroyed by torpedoes fired from two 650-mm and four 533-mm launchers. In contrast to the Barracuda, the Condor can fire Granat nuclear cruise missiles and plunge to a depth of 600 meters, instead of 550. The vessels can defend against air attack with Igla anti-aircraft missiles. All the boats are part of the 7th Submarine Division of the Northern Fleet (based at Vidyaevo), but since 1994 the Karp has been stationed at the Zvezdochka dockyard, awaiting maintenance. A contract for the renovation of the first two submarines was signed with Zvezdochka. Under the arrangement, the plant is due to combine standard repair work with modernization. According to the schedule, by late April the K-239 Karp could be transferred from the fleet's list of assets to the plant's. By that time, all diagnosis and troubleshooting should be complete and the work schedule approved. Maintenance work is due to begin this summer and last for 2-3 years, in the best-case scenario. It is possible that the time frame could be extended, since the situation regarding suppliers is not clear. After the Karp, next up for repair will be the Kostroma. Unlike steel, titanium does not corrode, so if you remove the noise-absorbing rubber coating, the body underneath is as good as new. According to preliminary data, the titanium subs will be fitted with new hydroacoustic stations, combat information and control systems, reconnaissance radar, and a GLONASS/GPS navigation system. In addition, the boats will have upgraded weapons systems with the ability to fire cruise missiles from the Kalibr complex (Club-S), including at ground targets. The durability of titanium submarines was demonstrated in 1992, when the Kostromanuclear submarine collided with the U.S. Los Angeles. The deck cabin of the Russian vessel was slightly damaged, whereas the American boat had to be written off. The restoration of the fleet's multipurpose nuclear submarines is one of its most important programs. Unfortunately, subs make up barely a third of the total number of vessels, so the return of Project 945 is certainly good news. Thanks to the titanium hull, these boats can serve up to 100 years. 


Malaysians order four Yet Kieu submarines for tourism purposes


Yet Kieu submarines


Phan Boi Tran, the inventor of Yet Kieu submarine, who is well known in Vietnam as the descendant of Phan Boi Chau, a strong-willed patriotic scholar, has confirmed that he has signed a contract to export four Yet Kieu submarines to Malaysia. The first version of Yet Kieu, the one-manned sub, was launched by Tran some years ago, which drew special attention from the public because it was the first sub made by Vietnamese. Tran said the subs to Malaysia are next-generation subs with some improvements in comparison with the first-generation ones. With the first-generation model, a person had to enter the sub from its belly, while now the entry is from the cover. The sub has also been re-designed to have a larger cabin, enough for two people. Changes have been made to the glass door and periscope as well, while the diving and under-water operation capability have been improved considerably. The subs are painted yellow. Tran said he and his associates are making a mother ship which can contain four mini subs. The mother ship can carry four mini subs from harbours to tourist points, where they serve tourists’ excursions. When the excursion tours end, the mini subs are tugged to certain positions, from which they would be placed into the mother ship, Tran explained. Tran declined to give the images of the Yet Kieu submarines, saying that he is following necessary procedures to make registration for intellectual property rights for the combination of mother ship and mini subs. Before signing the contract with the Malaysian travel firm, Tran tried to introduce Yet Kieu subs to Vietnamese travel firms, saying that the subs could be good products for marine tours. “However, the travel firms, on one hand, showed their great interest in the idea of organizing tours with subs, but on the other hand, had many reasons to be hesitant,” Tran said. In Malaysia, coral reefs for tourist services have been protected well. Meanwhile, Vietnam still does not have tours for coral reefs or preservation efforts to maintain coral reefs. As a result, submarines operating under water would collide with above-water ships. “There have been no legal documents that show the necessary procedures to have mini tourist submarines registered at the Vietnam Register. So it is really very difficult to develop tours with subs here in Vietnam,” Tran said. “We are missing great opportunities to develop tourism,” he complained, adding that the great potential of the wonderful beaches such as Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Cu Lao Cham have not been fully exploited. Since domestic firms are indifferent to the Vietnamese scientist, Tran has to sell his subs abroad, though he anticipates there will be a high risk that his technology will be copied.


Underwater Travel by Submarines.

Submarines are a highly specialized kind of boat that can travel easily, quickly, and for long periods of time underwater. In addition to being used by the military, submarines are also used to learn more about what's under the ocean. A submarine is long and round - it is shaped like a cylinder, so it's longer than it is wide or high - and can be steered underwater as well as go deep beneath the sea or up to the surface on command. Submarines have another small shape that rises from the top of the submarine, usually around the middle. There's also a tail fin with a propeller. The first submarine plans were developed more than 400 years ago, and the submarines of today still look and work in similar ways. The way a submarine works is that it has tanks that are filled with water to sink it and emptied of water and filled with air to raise it back to the surface. Original submarines were made of wood. Submarine development took off in the 1800s, and it was in the early 1900s that submarines came into use by American and foreign navies. Later submarines were powered by steam, air-independent propulsion, battery power, diesel electric power, and nuclear power. Today's submarines are made of steel. One of the earliest submarines used by the military was the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine that sank a Union ship during the Civil War. In the 20th century, the use of submarines by the U.S. Navy grew during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and its use continues today. Military uses for submarines include patrol and monitoring as well as acts of warfare. While early submarines were usually used to attack surface ships, submarines are capable of launching missiles that can reach airplanes as well as targets on land. Submarines are used in other fields, too, like scientific research and the energy industry. Unlike military submarines, these sometimes have windows. They are usually smaller than military submarines, too, and they don't go underwater for as long. These submarines might hold only one or two people. Submarines used for these purposes aren't loaded with missiles. They're used to research undersea animals and plants, look at shipwrecks, or check on undersea pipelines. Robotic submarines that don't have people in them can be remotely driven into places where it isn't safe for human explorers. Today's U.S. Navy has nuclear-powered submarines that can be underwater for six months or more; battery-operated subs need to surface more often to recharge. A nuclear-powered submarine can travel as fast as 30 miles per hour (25 knots). A common period of time for submarines to be away is three months. These are really big watercraft - about 300 feet long, 30 feet wide, and three stories high. There's a kitchen, dining area, bunks for sailors (called berths) where they can sleep, work areas that include computers and electronics, as well as areas for sailors to use when they're not working. Doors between areas of the ship can be sealed in the event of an emergency to keep water out. Special systems recycle fresh air and water for use by the crew. A submarine crew is made up of about 100 men or more (women are not usually assigned to submarine duty). The crew lives and works in close quarters; a crewman's berth in a submarine is only about 15 square feet in total size. Sometimes, crew members need to be very quiet in their speech and in their movements around the ship; submarines may travel in what's called a stealth mode where they try to be as quiet and undetectable as possible. In the event of an emergency, sailors can escape a leaking or damaged submarine with special jumpsuits that include a life preserver and hood for an air pocket. Everyone moves into one part of the ship, then the door is sealed and a valve lets water flow into the compartment. A hatch is opened, allowing submariners to swim through the ocean to the surface.

Here is a list of links to lesson plans and activities for learning more about submarines:



Truong Sa submarine to undergo tests in Rammasun typhoon

VietNamNet Bridge – Nguyen Quoc Hoa, the creator of the Truong Sa submarine, has decided to test the sub during the ongoing Rammasun storm, which is believed to be one of the strongest in history, in order to examine its rescue capabilities under extreme weather conditions. However, some experts believe he is making a mistake.


Truong Sa submarine,  Rammasun typhoon


In May, Hoa said the submarine was ready for a test. The Rammasun typhoon is expected to hit northern provinces of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong on July 19. “I will go the sea to test the sub when the hurricane rushes in,” Hoa said. Explaining his decision, Hoa said one of his purposes in designing the sub was to make it capable of joining rescue activities under extreme weather conditions. “I have worked on many hypothetical situations which I think may happen with the sub and I have drawn up rescue plans in case of emergency. The equipment for maintaining contact between the sub and the mainland is also ready,” he said. “The sub is now in the most perfect condition to operate in a storm”. Hoa reassured the public that submarines do not sink when their flap-doors are closed, and they can float on water. When the subs dive underwater, they are uninfluenced by wind or storm, because in principle, strong winds can only have influences above water. “So, I have no worries when testing the sub in the storm,” he said, adding that he is confident about putting the sub in the most severe weather conditions. However, scientists have advised Hoa against testing Truong Sa sub in the storm. Phan Boi Tran, the creator of the Yet Kieu submarine, said Hoa should not take risks by going to the open sea on stormy days. “It’d be better to test the sub’s diving capability in the conditions of normal weather first, and only when everything is okay should he think of testing the sub in bad weather,” Tran said. “Vietnam every year receives more than 10 typhoons, which means there will be many more opportunities for Hoa to test his sub. So there is no need to be hasty,” he added. Tran also warned about the problems Truong Sa may meet when going to the open sea in stormy weather. He agreed that submarines will not be affected by wind and storm when they are underwater. However, he said this is true only when subs are 20-30 meters underwater. He said he did not know whether Truong Sa sub can dive to such a depth. After the first sea test of the Truong Sa sub failed due to technical problems, Hoa said he had gathered all strength to improve the features of the sub, including the capability of the steering, the movement above and underwater, and the operation of the AIP system (Air-independent propulsion).


Submarine Modernization in East Asia.

Countries around the region are upgrading their submarine fleets. On July 3, South Korea launched its fifth Type-214 submarine, ROKS Yun Bong-gil, a diesel-electric air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarine equipped with the Haeseong-3 missile, a supersonic, stealth precision-guided ship-to-surface missile with a range of 1,500 km. The launch signifies an important aspect of the regional “arms competition” in East Asia – the gradual introduction of new classes of conventionally powered diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), which are increasingly becoming “platforms of choice” – as force-multipliers in diverse missions as well as against superior forces. Notwithstanding East Asia’s economic growth rates and deepening integration into the global economy, the region’s strategic realities reflect contending trajectories.  As China expands its national interests in the broader context of “new historic missions,” it seeks to regain a great power status and reassert its geopolitical role in the region.  As a result of China’s accelerating military modernization, regional powers are responding by revamping their force modernization priorities, alliances, and overall strategic choices. The economic, political and military rise of China, embedded in three decades of relentless economic growth, has propelled progressive modernization of the Chinese military with major improvements in virtually every capability domain.


China’s Naval Modernization and Submarine Expansion.

Notwithstanding weaknesses and limitations in capabilities integration, China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) is gradually transforming into a regional [blue water] defensive- and offensive-type navy with extended so-called anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities, limited expeditionary capabilities, and corresponding defensive and offensive air power. China calls its comprehensive A2/AD strategy a “counter-intervention,” which is interpreted as denying the U.S. and its allies the freedom of action in China’s “near seas” by restricting their deployments into theatre (anti-access) and denying them freedom of movement  there (area denial). An important aspect of China’s multilayered strategy is the gradual introduction of new classes of submarines: nuclear and conventional. China is currently operating as many as 45 submarines structured in six different classes: two classes of indigenously designed diesel submarines, including the Song class (Type 039) and the Yuan-class (Type 041), and four nuclear classes that include the Shang-class (Type 093), Jin-class (Type 094) nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), and the follow-on Type 095 nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) and Tang-class (Type 096) SSBN. Since 2004, China is believed to have launched 12 Type 041 Yuan-class conventional submarines, which have been progressively modified to carry more advanced high-frequency sonar, upgraded weapons systems, noise reduction, and air independent propulsion (AIP) technologies. The PLA Navy may procure up to 20 additional Yuan-class submarines based on technologies imported from Russian boats. Since the mid-1990s, China has procured as many as 12 Kilo-class submarines from Russia, and is reportedly negotiating the purchase of at least four fourth-generation Amur (Lada)-class or possibly a fifth-generation Kalina-class, both featuring advanced AIP systems.

Regional Responses.

In Northeast Asia, Japan and South Korea are prioritizing the procurement of new types of submarines. South Korea’s latest launch of its fifth Type-214 submarine in July, ROKS Yun Bong-gil, comes less than a year after the introduction of the 1,800 ton Son Won-ill class in September 2013, featuring AIP and advanced combat management systems. South Korea now operates 14 submarines: nine Type 209 Chang Bogo and five Son Won-ill class submarines. Meanwhile, in October 2013, the Japan Marine Self Defense Force (MSDF) launched its newest submarine, the Kokuryu – the sixth of ten planned Soryu class boats first commissioned in 2009.  With its range, endurance, sensors, weapons load, and other systems, including the Stirling AIP propulsion system and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the Soryu class is regarded as the most advanced in Japan’s conventional submarine fleet of 16 submarines. In Southeast Asia, the relatively high acquisition costs and maintenance requirements have traditionally precluded a quantitative diffusion of submarines. However, the recent introduction of more capable coastal diesel-powered submarines provides unprecedented capabilities. Most recently, Vietnam received two of six Kilo-class (Project 636) diesel-electric submarines from Russia in 2013-2014, designed for diverse reconnaissance and patrol, anti-submarine, and anti-ship missions. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are also planning to expand or upgrade their submarine fleets. From 2007-09, Malaysia took formal delivery of two French-built Scorpene-class submarines, equipped with underwater-launched Exocet anti-ship missiles. Both submarines are based at the Kota Kinabalu Naval Base in Sabah, East Malaysia, indicating their primary mission is to protect Malaysia’s sovereignty in part of the South China Sea.  Meanwhile, Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand its submarine fleet to at least six, and ideally to 12 by 2024, a key element in the “Minimum Essential Force” (MEF) and declared goal of developing a “green-water” navy.  In 2012, the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) announced a $1.1 billion contract for three Type-209/1400 diesel-electric submarines, constructed by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. In November 2013, Singapore announced a contract with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp to acquire two advanced Type-218SG submarines that will augment existing Archer-class boats and replace ageing ex-Swedish Challenger-class by 2020. Type-218SG, designed for littoral, shallow sea operations, is a customized design that will integrate features from Type 214 and possibly Type-216 ‘concept submarine’ fitted with fuel-cell AIP system.

Strategic Ramifications

Over the past decade, the operational utility of submarines in East Asia has widened: from anti-submarine warfare to force protection such as close submarine escort missions, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), support of Special Forces, and other complementary deterrence and defensive tasks supporting territorial defence.  At the same time, the introduction of submarine-launched anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, anti-submarine sensors and weapons, as well as air independent propulsion systems have increased their stealth capacity to remain undetected  shortened their target-identification-and-attack cycle, and ultimately, improved their flexibility, mobility, endurance, reach, and lethality. For smaller, defensively oriented navies in East and Southeast Asia, these attributes enable “sea-denial” capabilities aimed at preventing an opponent from using the sea, rather than providing a degree of sea control to use the sea for own power projection. Submarines will therefore become an increasingly valuable strategic asset in the region, particularly with installed AIP systems. The key difference, however, will be in the experience, training, and skill set of their operators.


Vietnamese entrepreneur launches mini-sub


Nguyen Quoc Hoa, director of a mechanics firm in Thai Binh Province outside Hanoi, with his submarine as he sailed it to the sea May 30. Photo credit: Lao Dong


A businessman launched his mini-submarine off the coast of northern Vietnam last week despite a pending permit application and a few technical difficulties. The first Vietnamese-made submarine was launched on May 30 from a shipbuilding factory in Thai Binh Province, near the Quoc Hoa Mechanics Company which built it. Truong Sa 1, named after Vietnam’s Spratly Islands in the East Sea, hit a cargo vessel and lost its rudder. The snag also dinged up its rear propeller and broke a gear. The collision also left a large dent in the vessel's hull. Nguyen Quoc Hoa, director of the sub building company, repaired the damage and continued the voyage, asking two fishing boats to accompany him in case of further accidents. The Thai Binh coast guard also sent a boat to accompany the test run and make sure things didn’t get out of control. The damage forced him to turn back after just three hours in the water and limited him from totally submerging the submarine. He was towed back to shore by the coast guard boat and arrived at 5:30 pm. Hoa said the trial was 70 percent successful and allowed him to assess the sub’s seaworthiness in open water. “I now know the affect of a two meters wave on the sub and how currents affect it and shake it; what to do if it gets stuck in shallow water, and many other challenges. "This is a good experience for the making of many more submarines later,” he said. Hoa estimated it would take a month to fix the damage and he plans to try it again. “I kicked it into reverse too fast and it hit the other boat.” He said driving a submarine is pretty simple, that it only became difficult after the accident. But he guaranteed that no danger was posed to the person inside the sub as it is designed not to capsize and is equipped with fire and explosion protection. “In case of severe emergency, one can put on a lifebuoy and open the cap to swim up. It’s impossible to die because I had it all planned.” The submarine was built over nearly two years and was tested successfully at the in a reservoir at a private industrial zone earlier this year. It measures 8.8 meters long, three meters high and 2.8 meters at its widest point. Its surfaced weight is nine tons; when submerged, it is 12 tons. It is designed to travel up to 20 nautical miles an hour and 50 meters in 15 hours while submerged. Last March, Hoa requested a permit to test it 12 kilometers from a local port but provincial officials doubted the safety of the sub and forwarded his plea to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which in turn sent it to the Defense and Transport Ministries. “I don’t know when I'll have a permit,” Hoa said to explain his sudden launch, which he said he and his team had spent months preparing for. He told a Lao Dong reporter that he was not doing anything illegal because no laws prohibit the testing of a submarine. After being informed of the test run, Vice Chairwoman Cao Thi Hai of the Thai Binh Provincial People's Committee, told Thanh Nien ordered official reports on the launch. “We support Hoa. But if he wanted to try it or run it at sea, he should have had a permit.”


N. Korean leader inspects navy submarine unit

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected a navy submarine unit, and stressed the need to raise combat preparations and underwater operation capability, the country's official news wire reported Monday. During his visit to the Korean People's Army's Naval Unit 167, Kim inspected "various indoor trainings including the drill for launching torpedoes at the underwater comprehensive training room," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English-language dispatch. Kim also toured submarine No. 748 and guided a navy drill aboard the vessel, while also teaching navigation methods to its captain, according to the KCNA. The naval unit appears to be part of the North Korean military's Large Combined Unit 597, which belongs to the East Sea fleet command located in the North's South Hamgyong Province.


This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un aboard a submarine during his visit to the North's Naval Unit 167 stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)


This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un aboard a submarine during his visit to the North's Naval Unit 167 stationed on the east coast.  "The Party Central Committee is attaching great importance to the combined units of submarines," the KCNA quoted Kim as saying. Kim also set forth "the tasks to be fulfilled to round off the combat preparations of the unit and remarkably bolster up the underwater operation capability of submarines and modernize and fortify bases," according to the KCNA. "The commanding officers and seamen should clearly see through the motives of the hateful enemies watching for a chance to invade our land and put spurs to combat preparations, thinking about battles only," the KCNA also quoted Kim as saying. The North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also published eight photos showing the submarine and its leader on its turret to conduct the drill. The rusty, green submarine was presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine, which is a class of Soviet diesel-electric sub built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has. "It is quite unusual that North Korea revealed even the inside of its submarine. It appears that Pyongyang aims to show off its submarine might," defence ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok told a regular briefing. "But the submarines that our Navy holds are far superior to (the North's), as ours do not make much noise and it can stay underwater far longer," he added. Among those who accompanied Kim on the latest visit were Hwang Pyong-so, the military's top political officer, and Pyon In-son, director of the military's operations bureau, according to the KCNA report. Two days earlier, the state media reported a similar inspection by Kim to another unit of the East Sea fleet command, in which he highlighted combat readiness.


This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows a submarine, which is presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducted a drill on board the submarine during his visit to the country's Naval Unit 167, which is stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)


This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows a submarine, which is presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducted a drill on board the submarine during his visit to the country's Naval Unit 167, which is stationed on the east coast.


The Navy's top secret submarine base in land-locked IDAHO.

  • The Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment at Bayview, Idaho, is located some 375 miles from the ocean on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille
  • It provides the perfect conditions for testing new submarine advancements as conditions closely mimic the ocean
  • ARD Bayview has supported every major submarine design development of the last 65 years and saved the Navy millions of dollars as a result.

The U.S. Navy's submarine bases are some of the most high-security installations in the world, but one of the most important is located at a lake in landlocked Idaho. The Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment (ARD) at Bayview, Idaho, has supported every major submarine design development of the last 65 years. Although located some 375 miles from the ocean, it has been called ‘the U.S. Submarine force's most important body of water" by Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, who once headed the Navy's submarine warfare group. Although located some 375 miles from the ocean, the Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment at Bayview, Idaho, has supported every major submarine design development of the last 65 years. ARD is located on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, which provides the perfect conditions for testing new submarine advancements as conditions closely mimic the ocean. At about 1150 feet, the lake is deeper than Loch Ness, while its large size, clear water and quiet conditions - provided by steep tree-lined shores and a flat muddy bottom - mean it has been a key testing location for the Navy since WWII. The lake also stays remarkably calm for its size and maintains a constant chilly temperature under 100 feet. Much of the testing is done using a large network of extremely sensitive hydrophones placed in key locations on, or tethered to, the bottom of the lake.


The Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment is located on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, which provides the perfect conditions for testing new submarine advancements as conditions closely mimic the ocean


The Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment is located on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, which provides the perfect conditions for testing new submarine advancements as conditions closely mimic the ocean. The main testing area is called the Intermediate Scale Measuring System which is a 1,000 foot diameter circle of hydrophones mounted on the bottom of the lake or suspended via buoys. It is a controlled environment created to evaluate a vehicle's signature and sensors. The Buoyant Vehicle Test Range is used to measure the sound that the forward sections of a submarine design, mainly its bow, makes while moving through the water. It allows for better bow sonar acuity and quieter subs. The Large Scale Vehicle Range is where 1/4 scale submarines, which usually closely resemble operational subs of both past and present, go out and run through their paces under their own power. Marines guard the world's largest unmanned submarine, the 111 foot LSV 2 Cutthroat being housed at ARD Bayview. This allows for a wide variety of items to be tested, such as a boat's wake signature, new sail designs, propeller noise, new sub-scale propulsion concepts and propulsion configurations and a design's active handling capabilities. There are two known Large Scale Vehicles currently in service at ARD Bayview. The LSV-1 Konkani is a 1/4 scale model of the Sea wolf Class of American subs. It is 90 feet long by ten feet wide and can travel at 3,000hp. The second, known as LSV-2 Cutthroat, is the largest unmanned submarine in the world at 110 feet long. She was designed to be modular in nature and can travel at up to 6,000hp. Over the years, ARD Bayview has helped save the Navy billions of dollars as they seek to develop more advanced submarines. The Large Scale Vehicle Range is where 1/4 scale submarines, which usually closely resemble operational subs of both past and present, are put through their paces.

Greece sues for 7 billion Euros over German submarines that have never sailed.


Greek Submarines in Shipyards


In total the submarine deal has cost at least three billion Euros. Greece has launched a multi-billion euro claim against one of Germany’s biggest defence firms who sold the financially-beleaguered country four submarines in a complicated deal which has become symbolic of the country’s economic woes. The controversial deal has threatened Greece’s position in Nat, according to well-placed sources, led to the criminal prosecution of the country’s defence minister and the resignation of a senior Naval figure. The Telegraph today publishes photographs of the four submarines, which are still unfinished in a Greek shipyard almost 15 years after they were first ordered. It can now be disclosed that the Greek Government has launched a seven-billion euro compensation claim against ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Abu Dhabi Mar – the defence firm and shipyard now responsible for the order. A 200-page document sent to the ICC International Court of Arbitration states that Greece’s international position was compromised by the failure to supply the submarines and its position in Nat was undermined.  “The issue is so sensitive that we could claim even higher economic compensation from the Arabs and the Germans because the submarines are connected with the geostrategic role of the country, its place within NATO, and the fact that the country is awaiting the finalisation of the Exclusive Economic Zone which has brought several investors who want to invest in its natural resources,” said a well-placed source. Following years of delay, the Greek Government has recently insisted that the submarines are finally due to start full sea trials imminently, although no date has been set. When one of the Greek submarines first went to sea, it was found to list heavily in certain sea conditions. Greece’s spending on defence systems before the economic meltdown has attracted controversy, with the four submarines coming to symbolise the waste. The country was Europe’s largest importer of weapons, spending four percent of GDP on armaments. It had 1,300 tanks – more than twice as many as Britain. Greek politicians claimed that Germany encouraged Greece to spend vast sums on weaponry and then criticised the country for profligacy. However, a 3 billion euro deal to buy the four submarines – vessels the country does not even need – have become a tipping point and the new Greek administration now appears determined to seek compensation. The ICC appeal is likely to be part of Greece’s attempts to shift the blame for its massive overspending onto other European countries. The International Court of Arbitration resolves international commercial disputes. “If there is one country that has benefited from the huge amounts Greece spends on defence it is Germany," said Dimities Papadimoulis, an MP with the Coalition of the Radical Left party, said previously. Last year, the former defence minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos was jailed after being found guilty of receiving an €8m bribe from Ferrostaal, one of the German companies involved in the deal. Ferrostaal agreed to pay a €140m fine. Stelios Fenekos, a 52-year-old vice admiral of the 22,000-man strong Greek Navy, also resigned his position in the wake of a row over the vessels. He said he did so in protest at the Greek defence minister’s decision to purchase the submarines, as well as other decisions taken that Mr Fenekos considers “politically motivated”. "How can you say to people we are buying more subs at the same time we want you to cut your salaries and pensions?" said Admiral Fenekos. The four Class 214 submarines have been mothballed in the Skaramangas shipyard near Athens in Greece for over two years, having been ordered over 15 years ago. Workers left the shipyard in April 2012, but were recently told they would be rehired on wages 35 per cent lower than their previous salaries. In total the submarine deal has cost at least three billion Euros – three times more than the EU demanded that the Greek administration save from the country’s budget by cutting workers’ pensions, a move that sparked violent unrest in Athens. Although the economy of the country is now slowing improving, Greece has received international financial bailouts which total 215 billion Euros. In return for the bailout, Greek was ordered to adopt extreme austerity measures. The four boats that are currently in Skaramangas were finally handed over to the Greek navy in March, although the deal was first signed in 2000. At that time, the Greeks ordered three Class 214 submarines with an option on a fourth. ThyssenKrupp Marine bought the shipyard, which was responsible for building the submarines in 2002 and subsequently sold on a large shareholding to Abu Dhabi Mar. The Navy is expected to carry out minor modifications on them and undertake sea trials in Souda Bay, Crete, before commissioning them into service. The submarines are almost 214 feet long and carry 5 officers and 22 crew. ThyssenKrupp Marine declined to comment as the company said it had not seen details of the claim.


 Submarine crew trapped in searing heat after catastrophic systems failure

Dozens of crew members were trapped on a Royal Navy nuclear submarine in 60C heat after the air conditioning system failed, forcing HMS Turbulent to dive to 200m to cool down.


HMS Turbulent


Temperatures on HMS Turbulent soared to more than 140F (60C) with 100 per cent humidity. Dozens of sailors were overcome by heat exhaustion when temperatures soared on board a British nuclear submarine after a “catastrophic” air-conditioning failure, it has been disclosed. Eight submariners were left in a “life-threatening condition” as temperatures on HMS Turbulent rose to more than 140F (60C) with 100 per cent humidity, while engineers battled to fix the fault. The previously undisclosed incident in the Indian Ocean has come to light three years later, after the commanding officer at the time gave a dramatic account of the crisis and revealed the situation was so critical he thought crew members were going to die. Cdr Ryan Ramsey, the submarine's commanding officer, said: "I genuinely thought there was going to be a loss of life on board. The 44-year-old, who recently retired from the Royal Navy, said the extreme temperatures left crew “just collapsing everywhere, many at their work stations". The hunter killer submarine was only three hours from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on May 26, 2011, when the incident took place. The boat had surfaced and Cdr Ramsey was on the bridge when engineers told him the air conditioning plants had "catastrophically" failed. As he went below he was met by an “incredible blast of heat," and the first casualties soon began to be taken ill. Within hours many areas of the 275ft submarine had become makeshift sick bays, as 26 of the crew were taken casualty, he said. "We had casualties in the control room, the engine room, the bridge, the wardroom, cabins, and the toilets and showers. It was absolutely terrifying, and I'm not afraid to say I was scared. "Walking around the boat I saw true fear in my crew's eyes. "I saw genuine concern because we simply did not know how we were going to get through it. "I felt like the world was against us. "I was looking up and asking 'when are you going to give me a break to gain the upper hand here?' Cdr Ramsey said it was the first time such a malfunction had been reported on a vessel of this type - and the crew didn't understand the exact cause of the problem. The heat meant the crew couldn't reach the problem areas because the equipment was too hot to touch. A decision was made that it was impossible to return to Fujairah with a “broken” nuclear submarine because of the political fallout. The crew opened two of the submarines hatches to release some of the heat and put some of the casualties outside, but with temperatures on the surface reaching 108F (42C) there was little respite. The air conditioning system was used to cool sensitive equipment on board, which began to shut down. A decision was made to dive to cooler water to reduce the heat. "It was touch and go before we dived as to what might happen to us and the submarine," he said. "We couldn't do anything. I could have radioed for help but it would have taken hours for anyone to reach us. In that time people would have died. "We were alone in our steel tube. There really was no-one to call." Diving to a depth of more than 200 metres, the temperatures finally began to drop and within 24 hours systems had returned to normal and the crew were recovering. HMS Turbulent, based in Devonport, resumed her deployment. Cdr Ramsey told the Plymouth Herald: "There's not a day that goes by that I do not think about what happened. The pain of seeing my crew like that. "But when I think back to that time I quickly remember how fantastic they all were in dealing with the situation. "We recovered from it. They did exactly what they had to do, and looked after the team." Cdr Ramsey left the Royal Navy in March after 25 years' service and said he had chosen to reveal the incident to highlight how "incredible" the secretive submarine service is. He said: “The medical team was made up of one Petty Officer medic, another medic, and six or seven first-aiders and they did an unbelievable job under intense pressure.” "That particular experience brought out some amazing actions from people who are rarely recognised, if ever, for what they do." HMS Turbulent, a Trafalgar Class submarine, was decommissioned in July 2012 at the end of a career of nearly 30 years. A Royal Navy spokesman said the submarine's nuclear reactor had never been at risk. He said: "In 2011, a technical issue in HMS Turbulent resulted in a temporary rise in temperature on board the submarine. "The problem, which caused no damage to the submarine or its reactor systems, was resolved by the crew after a few hours using standard operating procedures. "A number of personnel who showed signs of heat related symptoms were treated by the submarine’s medical team. "All recommendations resulting from the investigation into the incident have been fully implemented.”



The US Navy and the Deep Submergence Community lost a great friend, mentor and Flag Officer last week.  Rear Adm. Brad Mooney ( Ret.) was one of the pioneers of deep ocean submersibles. A 1953 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Mooney commanded the attack submarine Menhaden and piloted the bathyscaph Trieste II in 1964 when it located the hull of the sunken nuclear submarine Thresher. He coordinated deep submersible and diving operations at a depth of 2,850 feet in the search and recovery of a hydrogen bomb lost off the coast of Spain in 1966. Mooney served as Oceanographer of the Navy and Chief of Naval Research. He was a member of the editorial board of the U.S. Naval Institute from 1983 until his retirement in 1987. He was then president and managing director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. Since 1992, he has been an independent consultant to academic, government, and private sector managers of research, technology, engineering and international technology transfer programs.  Brad was also active with the Marine Technology Society serving as its president in 1991.  He became a MTS Fellows in 1993.  A service will be forthcoming at Arlington National Cemetery.


Brazil builds nuclear submarine to patrol offshore oil.

Brazil is building five submarines to patrol its massive coast, including one powered by an atomic reactor that would put it in the small club of countries with a nuclear sub.




The BNS S34 Tikuna Brazilian diesel-electric powered submarine moored at the navy base in Niteroi, Brazil. Brazil is building five submarines to patrol its massive coast, including one powered by an atomic reactor that would put it in the small club of countries with a nuclear sub. The South American giant is in the process of exploring major oil fields off its shores that could make it one of the world's top petroleum exporters. The new submarines aim to protect that resource, said the navy official coordinating the US$10-billion project, Gilberto Max Roffe Hirshfeld. "The nuclear-propelled submarine is one of the weapons with the greatest power of dissuasion," he told AFP. "Brazil has riches in its waters. It's our responsibility to have strong armed forces. Not to make war, but to avoid war. So that no one tries to take away our riches." The new submarines, which will replace Brazil's aging fleet of five conventional subs, are being built at a sprawling 540,000-square-metre complex in Itaguai, just south of Rio de Janeiro. The project is a joint venture between the navy, Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and French state defence firm DCNS. Brazil and France signed a deal for the project in 2008 under which DCNS is providing building materials and training while Brazil builds up its own submarine industry. Brazil is developing the nuclear reactor and enriched uranium itself. The first submarine, a conventional sub called SBR1, is 45-percent complete and scheduled to launch in 2017. The second is in the early stages of construction and is due to launch in 2019. Work on the nuclear sub, SNBR, is supposed to start in 2017, with a launch target of 2025, the year the project wraps up. Workers are assembling the submarines in a massive 38-metre-tall hangar, putting together the giant sheets of steel that will form the hulls. When complete, the nuclear submarine will measure 100 metres long and weigh 6,000 tonnes. Its conventional cousins will be slightly smaller, at 75 metres and 2,000 tonnes. Currently the only countries to design and build their own nuclear submarines are the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus India, which has completed one and is in the process of building more. Unlike conventional submarines, which run on electric or diesel engines and have to resurface every 12 to 24 hours to refuel, nuclear submarines run on atomic power and can stay immersed indefinitely. They can also be outfitted to launch nuclear warheads -- though under Brazil's constitution and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the country is barred from developing atomic weapons. Its five new submarines will be equipped with conventional torpedos. Brazil's navy says the conventional submarines will patrol ports and other strategic points along the country's 8,500-kilometre coast. The SNBR will patrol farther away, around the country's "pre-salt" deepwater oil reserves -- estimated at up to 35 billion barrels -- and the so-called Blue Amazon, a biodiverse area off the coast with minerals including gold, manganese and limestone. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Brazil had one of the world's 15 largest defence budgets in 2013, at US$31.5 billion.


Details of China's type 039B submarine revealed.

The details of China's Type 039B submarine, which is reportedly to be sold to Pakistan this year, have been revealed by the Canada-based Kanwa Information Center, reports Huanqiu, the website of China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times. The Pakistani Navy has reportedly required that China install air-independent propulsion systems on the submarines it has chosen for the transfer of these related technologies in order to assemble the submarines in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan. China has called for tenders for its type S20P submarine, which is another version of the type 0369B submarine that the country builds to export. Pakistan hopes to obtain six type S20P submarines to obtain stronger underwater combat capabilities along with its three existing Agosta-class 90B submarines. Currently, China's PLA Navy has nine type 0369B submarines in service. The type 0369B submarine is reportedly 66m long and 8.2m high, can dive as deep as 300 meters and has 1,850 tons of displacement above water and 2,200 tons underwater. Its maximum speed reaches 18 knots and it can propel up to 8,000 nautical miles at 16 knots. The double-hull submarine is highly automated and only requires 38 crew members. The submarine is also equipped with an advanced seven-blade curved propeller and an X-shaped rudder. It carries Yingji 83 anti-ship missiles that have an attack range of 180 kilometers. The sonar and radar installed on the submarine are also state-of-the-art but their details have not been revealed. Kanwa's report said the Pakistani Navy may ask China to integrate its cruise missile Babur, which can be launched underwater and has an attack range of 500 kilometers. The report also said the 039B submarines have been produced in Shanghai and Wuhan. The first of them is likely to be shipped to Pakistan while the remaining of them are to be assembled in the country.


China has built twelve new AIP submarines, while Japan has built only five.

The Chinese navy has significantly expanded its submarine fleet due to recent very fast development. According to news published by an official Chinese source not long ago, a newest improved version of Type 041 Yuan class diesel powered submarine is now ready for sea trial. Since its photo appeared for the first time on the Internet in December 2013, Chinese officials have for the first time admitted the existence of the improved version of Type 041 submarine. It was made by China State Shipbuilding Corporation. Its sail hull is very similar to the modernised submarine produced by Germany. In the sail hull, there may be an additional high-accuracy sonar. The improved version may hopefully have a displacement of 3,500 tons. Since 2004, China has built twelve Type 041 submarines. Some US experts believe the total number of such submarines built will reach twenty. Those submarines are all installed with the new-type AIP system. At the same time, China is marketing its export version of the Type 041 submarines, codenamed S-20, with a displacement of 2,300 tons. U.S. Pacific Command Commander Samuel Locklear said on March 25, 2014, China has substantially strengthened its submarine capabilities. It will have 60-70 submarines in the next decade, quite a huge scale for a regional power. At the same time, he pointed out that China continues to build nuclear submarines that are able to carry JL-2 ICBMs. He said, “China may possibly have obtained effective nuclear deterrence by the end of 2014.” According to speculation, JL-2 missiles will mainly be carried by Type 094 Jin class nuclear submarines. So far there are at least four 094 submarines in service. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly’s estimate, the Chinese navy now has four ballistic missile nuclear submarines, five attack nuclear submarines and 53 diesel powered submarines. Some Western experts pointed out that Russia and China are now jointly developing and producing Lada class submarines and conducting negotiation on development of new conventional submarines on the basis of the Lada submarine. That indicates China’s great desire for further improvement of its submarines.


New-class Black Sea submarine leaves for sea trials

The new generation diesel-electric submarine Novorossiysk is an ultra-quiet, high combat capability vessel with a surface speed of 20 knots (37 kph), maximum submerged depth of around 300 meters and subsea displacement of around 4,000 tonnes. A new generation diesel-electric submarine Friday left St. Petersburg's Admiralty shipyard for Baltic Sea trials. The near-complete diesel-electric Novorossiysk will be at sea for less than a month and will return to base for final fitting ahead of joining the Black Sea naval fleet, a defence industry source told Itar-Tass on Friday. Three-month mooring trials have already been completed. Novorossiysk is the first in a series of 636.6 Varshavyanka Project vessels, Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov told ITAR-TASS. Six submarines of this class are planned for Black Sea duty and are aimed at building up the potential of Russia's naval task force in the Mediterranean. St. Petersburg's Rubin design bureau has created an ultra-quiet, high combat capability vessel with a surface speed of 20 knots (37 kph), maximum submerged depth of around 300 meters and subsea displacement of around 4,000 tonnes. Its 52-man crew can remain at sea for 45 days. Novorossiysk's keel was laid in August 2010. The project’s second submarine, named Rostov-on-Don, was laid in November 2011, the third, Stary Oskol, in August 2012 and the fourth, Krasnodar, in February 2014.


The Collins-class submarine HMAS Farncomb berths in Hobart.


 The Collins Class Submarine HMAS Farncomb arrives in Hobart, Tasmania. Berthing between PW1 and PW2.


THERE are only a few companies in the Western world that have the capacity to successfully design and build conventional submarines. That number will soon increase by one, with a dramatic demerger of Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Kockums of Sweden being played out in Europe. This has major implications for the Collins-class and SEA 1000 as both companies jostle to take advantage of their changed circumstances even before the dust has settled. While the European defence industry went through a phase of consolidation in the 1990s, this seldom extended into the naval domain and rarely across national boundaries. A notable exception was the merger of Germany’s submarine powerhouse HDW with Sweden’s Kockums — the designer of the Collins-class — in the year 2000. This seemed a good idea at the time: European defence budgets were continuing to shrink; China had not emerged as a destabilising influence in Asia; and R & D costs were continuing to rise. The original deal saw the owner of Kockums — Celsius AB — acquire 25 per cent of HDW, with an option to exit the business for a lump sum. Soon after that, Sweden’s Saab acquired Celsius and opted to be paid out — leaving HDW as the 100 per cent owner of Kockums. In turn, HDW was purchased in 2005 by another German company, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Celsius owned 49 per cent of the Australian Submarine Corporation and those shares should have been transferred to HDW. However, sections of the Royal Australian Navy, the Department of Defence and its minister of the day, John Moore, saw an opportunity to nationalise ASC by blocking the move. This was because the other shareholder in ASC was the government-owned investment entity, the Australian Industry Development Corporation, which had the right of first refusal on any shares that Celsius decided to transfer. The reasoning behind the decision to prevent HDW — Europe’s largest and most successful submarine designer and builder — acquiring 49 per cent of ASC was deeply flawed. At the time there was a great deal of unhappiness about the performance of Collins and a lot of the blame was placed unfairly on Kockums. However, there were many people in the Defence system who also retained a dislike of HDW, because that was the company that lost to Kockums for the Australian contract in 1987. In ­addition, there was a naive belief that somehow the US could be persuaded to become involved and fix the problems of Collins. The consequence for Collins was that the well-known builder of submarines, the Department of Finance, became the owner of ASC; the Department of Defence fought a long series of legal battles around matters of intellectual property ownership; the US did not come to our rescue in any meaningful way; the Swedes were offended by the attitude of the Australians; and the management of ASC seemed unable to come to grips with issues of support and maintenance. Not all of these things can be directly attributed to the issue of ownership — but the story of the Collins-class would have been different if HDW had become the new owner. In addition, the relationship between HDW and Kockums never seemed a happy one and did not improve when ThyssenKrupp became the new owner. While the German part of the combined company won several major export contracts, the Swedes did not fare so well — with the important exception of the sale of refurbished submarines to Singapore. During the past two years the dissatisfaction, especially on the Swedish side, continued to build, culminating in a dramatic announcement on February 27 that Saab was awarded a contract to examine how it could build a ­future submarine. This decision to turn to Saab was taken by the FMV — Sweden’s equivalent of the DMO — and made clear that Kockums might be forced out of the Swedish submarine business. This appeared to come as a shock to TKMS, which might have underestimated the lengths to which Swedish authorities were prepared to go. The head of FMV, Lena Erixon, explained the background to the Swedish position: “It should be understood that underwater military technology generally — and especially submarines — is considered essential for Sweden’s security interests. This has been recognised by our defence minister and by all of the armed forces as being a vital capability. People need to consider our circumstances and especially our very strategic position in the Baltic Sea to understand why this matter is so important for us. “To keep the capability we need, we must have an industry base that is stable and there for the long term. “When it comes to ­future submarines, we are open to strategic partnerships and developing them in conjunction with other nations — such as Australia. “Unfortunately with TKMS we did not feel we had a strategic partner for this sort of co-development, which has been an issue for several years. Part of the problem between Kockums and TKMS is that they have been competing with each other.” The solution that is being worked on is that Kockums will be sold to Saab and negotiations are ongoing. This had an air of inevitability to it once the Swedish government had made it clear to TKMS that Kockums would no longer receive submarine orders while it remained owned by a non-Swedish entity. Saab already has a strong base in undersea technology and is providing not only the software-intense integrated ship control and management system for all Collins submarines, but also Double Eagle remotely controlled mine disposal vehicles to the RAN’s Huon Class. Ms Erixon explained that Sweden will fund a life extension program for two or three of its submarines, as well as designing a new class previously known as the A26. Both of these activities are directly relevant for Australia, which will need to keep the Collins-class up to date until they can be replaced. She said that Sweden had “no problem at all” in meeting Australian intellectual property ownership requirements. TKMS has said little about the dispute, though the company has acknowledged ongoing problems trying to negotiate contracts in Sweden. This has led to frustration in Stockholm, but Swedish tempers really frayed concerning export opportunities — particular to Singapore. Kockums considered it had the inside running with a proposal for co-development of the A26, but last year TKMS would not permit the offer to be lodged because they — as the parent company — were given no visibility into the details of the bid because it involved sensitive Swedish technology. Even though the future direction of SEA 1000 remains annoyingly opaque, at least life is simpler because the Swedes and Germans are now clearly in opposite camps. Up until the split, it was unclear exactly how an entity owned 100 per cent by TKMS could submit two quite separate competing proposals. Additionally, there has been ongoing friction regarding TKMS being given access to Collins-class IP — which Sweden has resisted. That problem has now disappeared.


Iran's first Caspian sub will be active in 2015



The Fateh-class submarine launched at Bostanu was seen briefly in an Iranian television montage about the country's military achievements in February. A submarine Iran is building at Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea will be operational in 2015, according to military sources cited by the Azerbaijan Press Agency (APA). In November 2013, IHS Jane's published satellite imagery that revealed the submarine was being constructed at Bandar Anzali and that a second, similarly sized boat had already been launched at the Bostanu shipyard on the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian officials have said a new class of 500-tonne submarines called the Fateh is under construction. Although the launch of the first-of-class has not been officially announced, in February Iranian television broadcast footage of it being launched at Bostanu. The one at Bandar Anzali will represent a significant new threat as it will be the first naval submarine to ever operate in the Caspian. The APA reported that it is 50 m long, was being built by a Chinese company, and would be operated by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) rather than the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN). The boat cannot be seen in more recent satellite imagery taken on 9 May by Airbus Defence and Space, presumably because it has been moved into a construction shed.


Murmansk conference concludes sunken Russian subs must immediately be raised.

It is of critical importance that two sunken derelict Russian nuclear submarines, one of which was scuttled as radioactive trash and the other of which sank in rough weather on its way to decommissioning, be raised from the floor of the Kara Sea, scholars from Moscow’s Kurchatov Institute said Friday.


k-159 preps


The two subs in question – the K-159 and the K-27 – lay on the ocean floor, the first at the entrance to Kola Bay and the second in the shallows surrounding the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, a former nuclear bomb testing range during Soviet times, as well as something of a dumping ground for Cold War legacy nuclear waste. Both have also been the subject of long-time promises by Russian officials that they will indeed be raised. According to Alexei Kazennov, a researcher with Moscow’s respected Kurchatov institute, the K-159, which sank in August 2003 under tow to decommissioning at the Nerpa shipyard –  in more than 200 meters of water, taking with it 800 kilograms of highly enriched uranium fuel and claiming the lives all nine sailors aboard – is currently emitting one and a half times as much radioactivity as dozens of other radiological hazards dumped at sea over time by the Soviet and Russian navies.


k159 location


A map of the location of the K-159 submarine. (Source:

The K-27 submarine, was scuttled in 50 meters of water in Stepovogo Bay of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago in the Kara Sea in 1981 after a serious reactor accident that killed nine. Its reactors contain 90 kilograms of uranium-235. Kazennov said Russia was studying and observing its sunken radiological dangers while the United States was paying no attention to its own submarines sunken in the Atlantic, though he citied no concrete evidence for this nationalist salvo.  It is also worth note that the sunken American subs – two of eight sunken nuclear subs in the world – sank as a result of accidents, and were not, as was the K-27, sunken on purpose. “No one knows about the American vessels, and their condition must be far worse than our sunken submarines because they were not prepared for sinking, and therefore sunk with damage, and there are doubtless many problems there,” he told the Public Council on Safe Use of Nuclear Energy seminar in Murmansk last week. According to information obtained by Bellona for its 1996 report “The Northern Fleet – Possible Sources of Radioactive Contamination,” two US submarines currently lay at the bottom of the Atlantic: the Thresher, which sank in 1963 during dive tests 350 kilometers off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the Scorpion, which imploded when reaching crush depth 740 kilometers Southwest of the Azores. All crewmembers were killed in both cases. No information has been made public regarding possible radiological hazards posed by these vessels. The fact that Russia – at least in Kazennov’s opinion – is closely monitoring the conditions of its sunken vessels doesn’t mean it’s in any technological position to raise them. The biggest problem regarding Russia’s downed vessels is that the chain of their custody and who is responsible for them is sketchy – save for the K-159, which is the clear purview of Russian Ministry of Defense. “The necessity of raising the K-27 and the K-159 has long been under discussion,” said Alexander Nikitin, chairman of the Environment and Right Center (ERC) Bellona in St. Petersburg. “Three years ago, they were established as priorities. Therefor it’s time to discuss the practical aspects and make some steps in this direction. The time for committee meetings is over.”

The K-159

According to Kazennov, the K-159 poses the biggest radiological contamination potential. In 2012, it was established that the spent nuclear fuel in its reactors measured some 5319.7 terebequerel (143.8 kilocurie), which exceeds the activity of Russia’s other sunken radiological objects. The K-159 lacked an extra protective barrier between the spent nuclear fuel storage and the rest of the submarine, which increases the risk of possible radioactive leakage. Because the ship sunk in an accident, there were no special precautions taken to seal its cargo of spent fuel. It is worth bearing in mind that the K-159 sunk while under tow across a major ship-trafficking waterway as well as one populated by fisheries. The most recent examinations of the vessel, from 2007, showed that it posed no special radioactive hazards, and that the integrity of the reactor compartment was intact. “Things could get very complicated if the first compartment looses integrity, but we don’t know its current condition,” said Kazennov. “Over the summer a joint Russian-Norwegian expedition to the sunken vessel will take place – we will try to get new data.” He added that it is essential to raise the vessel regardless of the circumstances, as a possible rupture in the reactor compartment could greatly complicate matters if it is not raised.

Other radioactive litter in the Kara Sea.

Large-scale dumping of radioactive waste and nuclear fuel was at its height between 1965 and 1972. Some 17,000 tons of solid radioactive waste are estimated to have been purposely sunk in its waters, in addition to the K-27, and the 907 nuclear submarine, which has two reactors on board. Other solid radioactive waste in the region includes biological shielding assemblies from the Lenin nuclear icebreaker, whose location has not yet been determined. Another piece of unaccounted-for nuclear trash under the sea is the port-side reactor of the 421 nuclear submarine. According to the Kurchatov Institute, the biological shields are the most radioactive of waste items sunk in the Kara Sea, second only to spent nuclear fuel. The activity of a caisson with such a biological screen in 2012 measured 1196.7 terebequerel, or 32.4 kilocurie, which is some 30 percent of the entire activity of radioactive waste submerged in the Kara Sea. Despite outer damage observed on the surface of the caisson, the integrity of the remaining barriers has remained intact, and there have as yet been no releases of technogenic radionuclides into the environment, said scientists from the Kurchatov Institute. But in circumstances of corrosion of the barriers or damage to the integrity of the caisson, the radiation situation in the Kara Sea could deteriorate rapidly. Of special interest is the Komsomolets nuclear submarine, which sunk during an accident in 1989 and whose reactors were not prepared for submersion. The Komsomolets is the only vessel from which the escape of radionuclides into the undersea environmental has been established as a result of loss of integrity of the No 1 reactor chamber. However, the most recent investigation of the vessel, dating back to 2007, established that since 1994, the concentration of radionuclides escaping the vessel has been on a steady decrease of up to 30 times the initial measurements. “This vessel is a real study specimen in the research of the behaviour of radionuclides in seawater,” said Kazennov. He added that studies of the K-27 occur every year and so far no escaping radionuclides have been discovered, which he says means the defensive barriers of the vessels have eroded over the past year.  He said that in this circumstance it was now possible to start devising means of raising it. “It’s best to bring it up and dismantle it, all the more so because the Gremikha [radioactive storage base] now has all the necessary technology to do so,” Kazennov said. “If we don’t do it now, then there won’t be anywhere to do it in the future.”

Risks to oil and gas activities. Kazennov added that a detailed inventory of sunken radiological hazards in the Arctic is necessary, after which a complex radiological engineering study can be completed. This will facilitate the creation of a database on the conditions of the sunken radioactive junk, leading to a future master plan for handling it.“It’s necessary to take decisions, political decisions about what to do with these items,” Kazennov said. “In my opinion, they should be raised especially as they constitute a serious difficulty to gas and oil projects in the arctic.” He said that the radioactive litter in the Kara Sea could interfere with drilling works for oil and gas companies, on which Moscow seems to be placing the majority of its economic bets. Containers of solid radioactive waste are strewn across the floor of the Kara Sea, and it would be easy to stumble upon one during oil and gas drilling. “Our specialists have already been present for test drilling in the Kara Sea, and carried out measurements before boring each test well,” he said.


This Is Crimea's Secret Soviet Submarine Base.


crimea submarine base


It's time to talk about the Crimea, more specifically, about the vast aquatic facility built there by the USSR, and designed to house a fleet of nuclear-ready, Soviet submarines. Now memorialized, this Cold War relic enjoyed a brief stint as a public museum; and I was fortunate enough to pay it a visit as such, just months before the latest Crimean crisis. The Crimean Peninsula has known many masters: from the ancient Greeks who once colonized this land, through to the conquering Roman, Byzantine, and later, Ottoman empires. In the last hundred years alone it has been held by the Russian Tsars, the Tatars, the Nazis, the Soviets, the Ukrainian Republic and the Russian Federation. This apparent popularity is in no small part due to the region’s unique position; it commands the waters of the Black Sea, and from there, by way of the Bosphorus Strait, provides naval access into the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. In 1783, Catherine the Great of Russia pushed down through Ukraine, building imperial ports and shipyards that could send fleets against the sprawling Ottoman Empire to the south. Now, in its most recent transition, Crimea has once again been claimed by Mother Russia; and given the conflict and confusion which has surrounded the region’s latest annexation, I’m very glad that I toured the region when I did – in September 2013. The town of Balaklava lies on the southern edge of Crimea, not far from the larger port city of Sevastopol. The name rose to notoriety in the West with the 1854 Battle of Balaclava, one of the most heated bouts of the Crimean War; it was here on October 25th, that the British Empire’s ‘Light Brigade’ made their famously doomed charge against the Russian Forces in a last-ditch effort to take the port at Sevastopol. Although Balaklava itself has functioned as an active military port for centuries, the submarine base was not constructed until 1957. It was during the Cold War, amidst escalating sabre-rattling between the US and USSR, that Stalin issued the directive to establish a fleet of nuclear submarines in the Black Sea. The Soviet officer chosen to lead the project was the head of the USSR’s nuclear project, Lavrentiy Beria. Beria spent years researching locations, before eventually deciding upon the quiet, Crimean town of Balaklava. Here the sea enters the land by way of a narrow strait, while the twists and contours of the coastline served to render the submarine base invisible from prying eyes. Immediately the town was secured, classified, and construction began on ‘Objekt 825.’ It was a project that would take four years to complete, as more than 120 tons of rock were cut and painstakingly removed to form vast, subterranean chambers open to the water. It was claimed that the submarine base in Balaklava was virtually indestructible – its secret docks and corridors protected by a shell of concrete and steel, capable of surviving a direct nuclear strike of up to 100 kilotons. Meanwhile, the town of Balaklava itself, which in time came to be occupied almost entirely by workers from the base, would become one of the most secretive locations in the whole USSR. Entry to Balaklava was so restricted, in fact, that even family of the workers were unable to visit the town without showing extensive documentation proving their justification for entry. The Balaklava submarine base saw heavy use throughout the Cold War period – working in close association with the Soviet Black Sea Fleet stationed at Sevastopol – and not least at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis; the positioning of US Hercules missiles in Turkey provoked the Soviets to respond with nuclear armament in allied Cuba, as well as scrambling their nuclear submarines from Balaklava in anticipation of a counter strike against Turkey itself. Right up until the fall of the Soviet Union, in fact, the facility at Balaklava remained one of the USSR’s strongest deterrents to play against its enemies in Europe. Unlike many such facilities, the secret nuclear submarine base at Balaklava Bay survived beyond the fall of the USSR. It remained in use until 1993, when the decommissioning process eventually began with the removal of vessels, their torpedoes and nuclear warheads. The last Russian submarine sailed out of Balaklava Bay in 1996. For a long time the complex lay abandoned; much of it was unguarded, and it was largely forgotten by the population who gradually began to drift back into an unrestricted Balaklava. Later, in 2000, the Russian Federation gifted the abandoned base to the Ukrainian Navy. The museum, officially denoted the ‘Balaklava Naval Museum Complex’, was founded by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence on 30th December 2002. Opened to the public on 1st June the following year, the museum plan included portions of the 600-metre central tunnel as well as a weapons plant, an (empty) nuclear storage arsenal and a number of residential quarters and offices.

Baltic Sea: NATO Holds Submarine Rescue Drills Off Poland.




Ships, submarines, aircraft, participating personnel and observers from 18 Allied and non-NATO nations are converging on Gdynia on the Baltic Sea for the NATO submarine rescue exercise DYNAMIC MONARCH 2014, which runs from May 12-23 in the waters off Gdynia. The world’s largest submarine rescue exercise, which occurs every three years, is designed to test international forces’ interoperability and ability to respond to submarines that have become disabled, anywhere in the world, utilising the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) and emergency response procedures and equipment. Given that worldwide more than 40 navies operate submarines, compatibility of equipment interfaces between vessels and standardisation of procedures used in submarine rescue are critical to the successful and safe recovery of submarine personnel from a disabled submarine. During this year’s exercise, hosted by Poland, the three participating submarines will take turns settling on the bottom of the ocean to allow the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) to mate to its rescue hatch and test submarine rescue procedures.“These are complex systems operating in an unforgiving environment where there is no room for errors,” said Rear Admiral Kamensky. “This is why we need to train together to ensure our operators are at their very best.”


Most Expensive Private Submarines.



It looks like submarines are the ultimate billionaire toy. There is not enough anymore to be sailing in a luxury yacht on the surface of the water. Now, you need to go underwater and explore the ocean. And all that from your own comfortable submarine. You? The only time you’ll ever be on one of these is if a billionaire oligarch decides to make you fight a lion for entertainment or if he decides one of his pet golden sharks likes the taste of humans. It’s not even a crime anymore for someone like that to kill and eat someone like you. So let’s not pretend everyone will be trading places anytime soon. The most expensive is the Migaloo private submersible yacht. It comes it at about $2.3 billion. Maybe more. It doesn’t matter when you have 2.4 billion to “explore the ocean depths in style.” Though you may still want to find a manufacturer who has a less eccentric notion of spelling. Depths? 




The most expensive submarine in this list is also the ultimate billionaire toy. Migaloo is a 115 meter long private white yacht, that doubles as a submarine. It was named after an albino whale. Is also comes with a 3 meter swimming pool, cinema room, helipad, library, gym, laundry room, and private lounges.



Truong Sa submarine not yet seaworthy.


Truong Sa submarine, mini submarine, thai binh


Nguyen Vinh Dao, a senior official of the Thai Binh provincial Science & Technology Department, said he himself is at a loss as to where to begin, because the current law does not stipulate required standards for submarines. Dao suggests that Nguyen Quoc Hoa, inventor of the submarine, files a petition to the Thai Binh provincial People’s Committee asking for permission to experiment with the submarine. The provincial authorities will decide which agencies must take responsibility for dealing with the case. In case Truong Sa only undergoes tests at sea, while Hoa does not intend to register his submarine, he will only have to ask permission from the border guards. As such, it is still unclear when the submarine can receive a license to go to the open sea. Meanwhile, Hoa affirms that he and his submarine are ready for testing at sea. Engineer Do Thai Binh, a Member of the HCM City Association of Marine Science and Technology, and Member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME), has asserted that the experiment would not be as technically complicated as people think. “First, Hoa needs to make a report showing the details of the steps he plans to take to have the submarine undergo testing. Hoa will have to carry out the field work to be sure that no mud, sand, water plants or mosses can pose an obstacle to the test,” Binh said. “Second, a ship or canoe must escort the submarine and be responsible for warning nearby ships of the ongoing experiment. Once the submarine dives, it would be safe, because there would be no one else except Hoa,” he continued. However, Binh warned that the AIP test would be a dangerous experiment. He thinks it would be better to test the technology in a closed room. In case Hoa still decides to test it at sea, Hoa will have to accept the risk to both the submarine and his life. Binh, who says he admires Hoa’s efforts, indicated that the capabilities of the submarine to float on water, move smoothly, dive and surface are enough to be encouraged. Even if the next experiments proceed successfully, Truong Sa would still have a long way to go. In order to be registered, the submarine will have to get the approval of a scientific council. Sharing the same view with Binh, Doctor of Physics Nguyen Van Khai, who has been to Thai Binh to see the Truong Sa submarine with his own eyes, has called on appropriate agencies to let Hoa to conduct other necessary experiments. When asked if the tests are life threatening, Khai said he does not think there are any problems with the submarine. “I have been watching the production of the submarine and I know Hoa is very cautious in his work,” he said. “I might even be tempted to ask for permission to sit in the cabin with Hoa during the experiment,” he added.

Exosuit Next Generation Atmospheric Diving System.


To learn more about the sea life that resides in the deepest depths of the ocean, scientists first have to be able to resist the eye-popping water pressure that exists hundreds of feet below the surface. Clearly, this is not possible with currently available diving equipment that permits users to regularly dive only 30 meters below the surface. Humans can dive further, but these excursions have specific limitations, particularly regarding time.




Nuytco Reseach has created the Exosuit, an atmospheric diving system (ADS) goes well beyond the limitations of our current equipment. Weighing 240 kg, Exosuit is an aluminum alloy suit that would allow users to study marine life at depths of up to 305 meters for up to 50 hours at a time. 18 rotary joints will allow the pilot flexibility, while pressure-sensitive foot pads enable the pilot to control the thrusters and move in multiple directions. The best news is that there is one suit already in existence, and it will be tested as a scientific tool in July 2014. 


Alvin Gets Back to Work After $42 Million Retrofit.


Alvin Gets Back to Work After $42 Million Retrofit


A week since successfully completing sea trials after a three year hiatus, the venerable research sub Alvin is already earning back the $42 million in hardware upgrades and engineering retrofits it's received—showing off its spacious new three-crew cabin with a quick dive to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. But this is no pleasure cruise. "Alvin is functionally a new vehicle," said Harvard University scientist Peter Girguis of the retrofitted sub. The $42 million upgrades include automatic command and control functions, a higher battery capacity, high-definition cameras, and a new forward lateral thruster.  "I think the new command-and-control systems make it easier for pilots to manage the sub, so they can participate more in the dive, rather than just drive," said Susan Humphris, the WHOI scientist who supervised the upgrade. "The biggest advantage of the lateral thruster is that it enables Alvin to move sideways like a crab, saving valuable time in the sub. In the past, pilots had to back up and then go forward to move laterally." Yesterday, Alvin set off for the 3,30o-foot depths of the Gulf of Mexico for a survey of the environment surrounding the Deep Horizon oil spill site. With the Gulf oil disaster's fourth anniversary approaching, researchers from a number of local universities, led by Marine science professor Samantha "Mandy" Joye of the University of Georgia, are employing Alvin to conduct follow-up sampling surveys to see if the area has recovered at all since the 2010 blowout. "In the dives in the submarine, we'll actually be able to see the diversity of animals on the bottom and compare this to what a natural soft bottom community would look like," Joye told The Sun Herald. "Our work is aimed at understanding the long-term impacts of the 2010 blowout and sites within 20 to 100 nautical miles of the wellhead." While the Alvin is at sea, it will also be used by Kang Ding, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Minnesota, to collect prototype water pH sampling canisters that had been left near the region's numerous cold-water methane seeps. The now 50-year-old sub is expected to make more than two dozen dives during the current expedition, which will return to port on April 22. Here's to hoping it survives another 50 years of work.


Japan’s new ‘ninja’ submarines are all about stealth.


Japan’s new ‘ninja’ submarines are all about stealth


Japan’s Soryu class submarines were launched by the Marine Self-Defense Forces (MSDF) in 2007, as an effort to increase the countries submarine force to a total of 22 (from the current 16) by the year 2024. The submarine Hakuryu, or White Dragon, is the third of the class that is known for packing enough firepower to bring down an aircraft carrier. But according to the MSDF, the firepower is not the submarine’s best weapon – it is stealth. “A submarine’s greatest weapon is stealth,” Maritime Self-Defense Force Capt. Kaoru Yoshida said. “Our mere presence that makes the enemy think ‘there might be a powerful submarine out there’ is a deterrent.” The technology on the diesel-powered submarine allows it to stay submerged longer because it is able to generate energy by mixing fuel with liquid oxygen stored in tanks. Diesel-powered subs normally have to surface regularly to get ample supply of oxygen via an air tube. Since the Hakuryu and the other subs of this class surface far fewer times than other MSDF’s other submarines, they are more difficult to detect on radar and sonar. Apart from that, the Hakuryu also packs a mean punch with its Type 89 torpedo, which has enough power to bring down a ship the size of an aircraft carrier. The National Defense Program Guidelines formulated at the end of last year stipulates an increase in the country’s submarine fleet, mostly to counter Chinese maritime aggression in the region, especially in areas around the Senkaku Islands claimed by both Japan and China in the East China Sea. The stealth of the Hakuryu does comes at a cost, and it is the comfort of the crew that has been sacrificed. The Air-Independent Propulsion engine takes up an additional 10 meters of the length of the submarine’s central section than normal, making the crew’s living quarters very cramped for the 65 or so MSDF personnel who run the sub. “It’s tough working in an enclosed space with limited water and air, but I’m motivated to take part in duties that only a few seamen can do,” Lt. Cmdr. Tomoharu Horiuchi, the Hakuryu’s 35-year-old chief engineer, said.


Building a dream – a man and his sub.

Flyer in Kelp with Logo_1


Building a submarine isn’t the sort of thing you wake up one day and decide to do. For David Colombo, 56, Santa Rosa, it has been something that he has thought about and talked about since he was a teen. Colombo has always been interested in the ocean, and growing up, he loved watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” “Star Trek” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” Later, he and his roommate got certified as divers and built hand-held scuba tows. Fuelled with ideas from fantasy and sci-fi shows that featured sleek space ships or “flying” subs, he began to dream of one day building a sleek submarine with greater manoeuvrability than those currently in use. Colombo started working as an architect in his junior year of high school and has had no other career since. He hung his own shingle as an architect 14 years ago. Twelve years ago, he married his wife, Yvonne, who is a dental hygienist. Together, they’ve designed dental offices, which got the firm through the recession, when residential work ground nearly to a halt. For years, before he started his own firm, when he had downtime between jobs, Colombo would draw sketches of subs. He then got busy with his family and put it aside. About five years ago, Colombo came across his box of sketches and decided to find out what it would take to make it happen. He found like-minded individuals online at which, he said, accelerated his learning curve. Colombo started buying toy models of space ships, submarines and aircraft. “My wife walks in and I’m holding a toy space ship.” When she asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m designing a submarine.” When she realized her husband wasn’t just being silly or going through a phase, she approached him with her whole-hearted support. They visited UC Santa Cruz’ Life Support program and heard about the Blue Ocean Film Festival, which would have personal submersibles on display. After going through several iterations in the design process and discovering that the sleek “flying” subs weren’t practical when he tried to model them on the computer (no windows, too big), he came up with something viable, refined the basic shape, changed the number of necessary pilots and the configuration. A dental office client took his model to the Bahamas with her, where she met Jean-Michel Cousteau. Cousteau signed it, “Congratulation! Looking forward to seeing you at the Blue Ocean Festival.” Though Colombo knew about the festival and wanted to go, he hadn’t made definite plans to go – until he saw that inscription. One day, when he was testing his sonar system at Lake Ralphine at Howarth Park, a young boy asks him what he’s doing. Eventually, the boy is wearing the head phones and listening while his sister is out of his sight and talking into a microphone that transmits underwater into his headphones. He encountered the two on another day and the boy recognizes him and exclaims, “Mom, Mom, that’s the man with the submarine!”  Colombo loves teaching young people. “You never know what that spark did or will do for him,” he said. ”I want to teach about ocean conservation and design innovation.” The first person Colombo saw, when he walked through the door at the Blue Ocean Film Festival a year ago, was Jean-Michel Cousteau. Colombo spoke with him about his design. He also met Chris Walsh, who had a submersible there capable of diving 29,000 feet and offered to trade pilot time  with him. He also made tentative arrangements with Walsh to take his sub aboard Walsh’s “Mother Ship,” one of the world’s largest catamarans for a dive off Catalina Island. A film producer introduced  him to Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist who swims with orcas. She asked Colombo if his sub could be put into a container to be shipped to New Zealand for a study there. Another researcher at Blue Ocean was very keen to use his sub to study the effect of discarded plastics building up on the ocean floor. Colombo’s goal is to develop a prototype and then put it on the retail market. Colombo expects to have the sub ready for a “wet test” in September. His sub will be cheaper than subs currently available, he said, and would be invaluable to both cinematographers and researchers because of its improved speed and manoeuvrability. His sub will handle eight-hour missions, and will be able to go six miles off shore and still be within battery and mission limits. Traditional subs are basically underwater dirigibles that are lowered from a crane and have limited manoeuvring capabilities. Many subs used for research today are automated, which is very limiting. It’s like looking through a straw, Colombo said. “You can only see whatever the straw is pointed at.” If you have a human or two aboard, they can turn their heads notice something off in a different direction and adjust the trajectory and/or the camera angle. “We can cover a lot of real estate in a short period of time.” When Colombo isn’t working on submarine design or architectural design, he and his wife enjoy camping, walking their dogs, strolling along the beach, wine tasting and diving. Yvonne recently got certified and they both were able to work as support divers at a convention in Florida.



Chinese Jiaolong Sub Gets 3D Vision.

The Jiaolong submersible is China's deepest operating manned submarine. The interesting fact is that it is fitted with brand new 3D stereoscopic cameras devised by the SIOSOA institute (Hangzhou, China). Those cameras are able to spot undocumented marine species in the deepest waters. The cameras snap a series of three-dimensional images to build up a composite image of sea creatures and allow researchers to accurately measure the dimensions of sea life without having to collect samples.


Jiaolong-sub 250px



Thirty-nine years ago, an Italian submarine was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap. The submarine, given to the Italian Navy in 1953, was originally the USS Barb. An incredible veteran of World War II service. With a heritage that should not have been melted away without any recognition. The USS Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine to launch missiles and it flew a battle flag unlike that of any other ship.

In addition to the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of the flag identifying the heroism of its Captain, Commander Eugene 'Lucky' Fluckey. And the bottom border of the flag bore the image of a Japanese train locomotive. The USS Barb was indeed, the submarine that SANK A TRAIN ! July 18, 1945 In Patience Bay, off the coast of Karafuto, Japan . It was after 4 A.M. And Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned the submarine's command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make a fifth trip with the men he cared for like a father. Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and should have been his final war patrol, that Commander Fluckey‘s success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor. Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. Lucky Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the mother-lode... More than 30 enemy ships. In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub’s forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships. What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington , DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline. Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train! The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives... One of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men. Thus the problem... How to detonate the explosives at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party. PROBLEM? If you don't search your brain looking for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea: Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up? Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. "Just like cracking walnuts, “he explained. To complete the circuit [detonating the 55-pound charge] we hook in a micro switch... And mounted it between two ties, directly under the steel rail. "We don't set it off . The TRAIN will." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to go along with the volunteer shore party. After the solution was found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather... A little cloud cover to darken the moon for the sabotage mission ashore. Lucky Fluckey established his criteria for the volunteer party:

[ 1 ] No married men would be included, except for Hatfield,
[ 2 ] The party would include members from each department,
[ 3 ] The opportunity would be split evenly between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors,
[ 4 ] At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in handling medical emergencies and tuned into woods lore.

FINALLY, Lucky Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself.

When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. In the meantime, there would be no harassing of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would ' lay low' to prepare their equipment, practice and plan and wait for the weather. Waiting in 30 feet of water in Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had crafted and tested their micro switch. When the need was proposed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb's engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed digging tools. The only things beyond their control were the weather, and the limited time. Only five days remained in the Barb's patrol. Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. So, this would be the night.

MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945

The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water. Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland. Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb's auxiliary man climbed the tower's ladder, then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower . . . an OCCUPIED enemy lookout tower. Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping. And Markuson was able to quietly withdraw to warn his raiding party. The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more quietly and slower. Twenty minutes later, the demolition holes had been carved by their crude tools and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil. During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. BUT IF the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped or messed up during this final, dangerous procedure. his would be the only life lost. On this night it was the only order the sub's saboteurs refused to obey, and all of them peered anxiously over Hatfield’s shoulder to be sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a bungled switch installation. Watching from the deck of the submarine, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. Fluckey had daringly, but skillfully guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach sand. There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub's keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his bridge saboteurs became necessary. The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub's machine gunner yelled, ' CAPTAIN !' There's another train coming up the tracks! The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, "Paddle like the devil !",knowing full well that they wouldn't reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch. The darkness was shattered by brilliant light . . and the roar of the explosion! The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the railroad freight cars accordianed into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs were lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb eased away . . slipping back to the safety of the deep. Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. Lucky Fluckey's voice came over the intercom. "All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside." He didn't have to repeat the invitation. Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display.

The Barb had sunk a Japanese TRAIN ! On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Meanwhile United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties. Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima , Japan . A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki , Japan , caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th. On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed. The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. 

Algeria ordering two Kilo class submarines.

Algeria will soon order two Kilo class diesel electric submarines from Russia, which will join the four already in its fleet. A Russian defence industry source told ITAR-TASS that Algeria plans to order the two Project 636 Varshavyanka (Kilo class) submarines in the first half of this year, for delivery by 2018. The submarines will be constructed at the Admiralty Shipyard in St Petersburg. The value of the contract may be more than $1.2 billion, according to Interfax. Algeria already operates four Kilo class submarines. In June 2006 Rosoboronexport signed a contract with the Algerian Navy for the construction of two Project 636 Improved Kilo class submarines under a roughly US$400-600 million contract. Construction of the first submarine started in 2006 and the second began in 2007. They were handed over to the Algerian Navy in March and September 2010 where they joined two Project 877EKM Kilo diesel electric submarines, which Algeria received in 1987-1988. The latter two were upgraded by Russian shipyards. The Project 636 Varshavyanka class is mainly intended for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in relatively shallow waters. The tear-drop hulled submarine is 72.6m long, 9.9m wide and can dive to 300 meters. The design has a displacement of 3076 tons. Underwater, it reportedly has a speed of up to 25 knots. The complement is 52 and the submarine has an endurance of 45 days. The boat is fitted with six 533mm torpedo tubes and carries up to 18 homing or wire-guided torpedoes, or 24 AM-1 mines. The outer hull is covered with sound damping tiles and its machinery as well as design is regarded as very quiet. Designed by the Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau of St Petersburg, the submarine entered service in 1982. The type was originally built at the Komsomolsk shipyard and lately by the Admiralty Shipyard in St Petersburg. It is in service with the navies of Russia, China, Vietnam, Iran, India and Poland, among others. Some 50 have been built. The Algerian Navy has been undergoing expansion in recent years as it faces problems such as smuggling, illegal migration and indigenous terrorism. These threats mainly affect Algeria's harbours and maritime communication routes and ships passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Consequently, the Algerian Navy maintains a well-trained and well-equipped fleet to provide security to more than 1000 km of coastline. The country is also maintaining a strong navy to deter its neighbours, notably Morocco. In April 2012 it emerged that Algeria had signed a contract with the China Shipbuilding Trading Company for three light frigates, after ordering two Meko A-200N frigates from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in March 2012. The three light frigates will displace around 2 800 tons fully loaded, and will be powered by MTU diesel engines. Algeria has also ordered two new Tiger class corvettes from Russia. The Tiger corvette (Project 20382) is an export model of the Project 20380 Steregushchy class, which is the Russian Navy’s newest corvette class. In January Italian shipyard Fincantieri launched the Algerian Navy’s Kalaat Beni-Abbes landing helicopter dock ship, which will be delivered to Algeria later this year. Algeria may order a second of the type in the coming months.


The wonderfully unique submarines at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.



The Finding Nemo-themed submarine voyage in Disneyland is currently closed for refurbishment. As best as I can remember, the last time I climbed aboard a Disney theme park submarine was during the summer of 1990 in Walt Disney World. The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction, as it was known, was a favourite, because of the stunning Animatronics display that was in place on the sea floor during your voyage, the stirring narration by James Mason impersonator Peter Renaday and because it really did make you feel as if you were exploring the depths of the ocean with Captain Nemo aboard the Nautilus. The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction was one of the Magic Kingdom’s original  adventures, opening with the rest of the park in October of 1971. The 20,000 Leagues subs were modelled after the first Disney submarine voyage, which debuted in Disneyland in 1959; those subs were inspired by the first nuclear-powered submarine voyage to the North Pole in 1958. Whether in Disneyland or Walt Disney World, the submarine attraction was an incredibly unique experience, the likes of which could not be seen anywhere outside of a Disney theme park. Despite protests from a number of Disney Imagineers, Disneyland’s version closed in 1998; Walt Disney World’s subs closed in 1994. At Disneyland, the subs resurfaced in 2007 with a Finding Nemo theme, while at WDW, the space sat dormant for several year before it became a Winnie the Pooh-themed photo and play area in 2005. It closed in 2010 to make way for the ambitious new Fantasyland project. Tony Baxter, now-retired Disney Imagineer, has a special affinity for both West and East Coast versions of the submarine voyage. “I worked on [the Disneyland submarine voyage] as a ride operator, so I was there on the opening day in 1959. It was the first E ticket that was ever created, and it had all these quintessential things about it. “It took people into a world they can’t normally access without the Walt Disney Company helping them.” Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter stands on top of one of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarines at Walt Disney World prior to the park's opening in 1971.Walt Disney World. As Baxter rose up the ranks of the Walt Disney Company, he was tasked with the development and construction of the Walt Disney World version in the early 1970s. That submarine ride was based on Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” book and subsequent Disney Studios motion picture. While similar to Disneyland’s submarine voyage, it featured a different storyline and the submarines were designed to replicate Harper Goff’s distinctive Nautilus design, as was seen in the movie. The idea of taking a voyage under the sea in a theme park was indeed radical ... and oh, so appealing. “I think the greatness of a Disney theme park is the variety of things you can do,” Baxter said. “If you think about Disneyland and the fact that you can meet the 16th president of the United States, you can ride a Dumbo flying elephant and you can go under water, that really is a broad range of activities for a day.” We got to ride on Disneyland’s updated Nemo subs last November, it was like deja vu all over again. We sat in those fold-down chairs and looked out at the water through a small porthole. The sub slowly pulled away from the dock and, as we peered through crystal clear water, there were several Nemo-themed scenes that caught our eyes. Perhaps the most memorable scene was where Disney’s Imagineers had somehow made it appear as if lava was flowing out of a rock formation. The Nemo subs in Disneyland closed for refurbishment in January and aren’t expected to reopen until later in the year. I’m thinking the release of the sequel “Finding Dory” in 2016 may have had something to do with the planned shutdown. When you walk though the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom these days, there’s very little remaining to suggest that a submarine voyage once held sway there, although the Imagineers have placed a few subtle "hints" in the area as an homage to the attraction. You see several mountain peaks; quaint cottages inspired by Belle's beloved French countryside; a decidedly nautical entrance to the Ariel undersea adventure and, at the center of it all, a mine train roller coaster that’s weeks away from taking guests through a place where a million diamonds shine. But for more than three decades, the area was home to one of Walt Disney World’s most popular and most unique attractions, one that was decidedly family-friendly. “The classic best Disney attraction is the one where the whole family enjoys going on it together,” Baxter said. That concept, he added, “is really important. It wasn’t something that you’d all get dizzy on, it was something you all could enjoy.”


New Iranian Submarine.



The new mid-sized model is the nation's largest domestically built sub. During a montage of military achievements broadcast February 3rd on Iranian television, something new slipped in with tributes to the past and present. It was the first footage of Fateh, an Iranian submarine so new it hasn't officially launched yet. While the Fateh hasn't officially been unveiled, the world has known about its existence since at least October 2013, thanks to satellite images. The Fateh is, at approximately 130 feet long and 20 feet wide and 500 tons displacement when submerged, Iran's biggest native-built submarine so far. (Iran has three larger submarines, the Russian-built Kilo-class subs.) Fateh is Iran's third native-built submarine design. The first is the Ghadir-class midget sub, which as the name suggests is not a terribly fearsome weapon of war. The Ghadirs are based on a North Korean design, displace about 123 tons, and estimates range that there are between 10 and 19 in Iranian service. According to Michael Connell, director of the Iranian Proogram at the Center for Naval Analysis, In 2007, Iran launched a demonstrator submarine called the Nahang, which is still in service. The Fateh is larger than both of these, which means it can carry more torpedoes or underwater mines, and can venture further away from coastal waters and home ports, making it deadlier and more useful for the Iranian navy. Michael Connell, director of the Iranian Program at the Center for Naval Analysis, explained the functional difference between the Iranian submarines to Popular Science: The Ghadir-class midget submarines are designed to operate in shallow coastal waters—mainly in the Persian Gulf and the Strait. The Fateh-class, as I noted above, can range further afield, but probably not much beyond the northern Indian Ocean. The Kilo-class submarines in the Navy’s inventory have made it to the Red Sea and as far south as Sri Lanka. Beyond that, however, they would probably need designated ports for maintenance, refuelling and replenishment. Iran’s subs are integral to Iran’s layered defence strategy, which centers on the Strait of Hormuz. In a conflict scenario, Iran’s subs would operate in concentric rings in locations determined by their effective ranges. So, for instance, the Kilos might operate in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, while the Fateh subs might operate in the approaches to the Strait in the Northern Arabian Sea.


The Five Worst Submarines of All Time.

Thresher, Scorpion, and Kursk. These are boats that sank under puzzling circumstances, damaging a great-power navy's reputation for excellence at a time when reputation truly mattered. Because it's hard to say for sure what happened -- whether equipment or human failure was more blameworthy -- these disparate boats belong in a class of their own. Thresher, the lead boat in a new class of American SSNs, suffered catastrophic flooding in April 1963 while operating near its maximum operating depth. Deep water means intense pressure. Even a small leak in a piping system can quickly outstrip damage-control teams' efforts to patch it. Speculation has it that a weld sprung a leak, shorting out electrical equipment and causing a reactor scram. Cascading failures kept the boat from surfacing. But as Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the godfather of U.S. naval nuclear propulsion, told Congress, "the known facts" about the disaster "are so meager it is almost impossible to tell what was happening aboard Thresher." What we do know is that the accident sent the U.S. Navy scurrying for answers -- and trying to mend the silent service's esteem -- at a critical juncture in the Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a recent memory, while Admiral Sergei Gorshkov's Soviet Navy was embarking on a crash buildup. Clausewitz portrays military competition as a "trial of moral and physical forces" -- of strength, on other words -- "through the medium of the latter." The death of Thresher worked against the idea of U.S. undersea mastery -- heartening Moscow for the zero-sum contest between East and West. Another American boat, the Skipjack-class SSN Scorpion, went down in May 1968. Again, courts of inquiry were unable to determine for sure what had happened. The Naval History and Heritage Command, however, reports that "the most probable event was the inadvertent activation of a Mark 37 torpedo during an inspection." The fish either commenced running within its tube, or was released, circled around, and targeted Scorpion. Either way, the cataclysm applied another sharp blow to the submarine force's prestige. The balance of moral forces again tilted Moscow's way. Built after the Cold War, Kursk, an Oscar II-class sub, became a metaphor for the economic and political woes that ailed post-Soviet Russia. Many Russians, including President Vladimir Putin, bewailed the downfall of the Soviet Union. They longed for the days when their country was a superpower. That the Russian Navy still operated a potent undersea fleet was a token of past dignity and hopes for a restoration. Those hopes took a hit in 2000, when a torpedo malfunctioned -- setting off a chain reaction of explosions that left the pride of the Northern Fleet at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The lesson from these sinkings and similar debacles--think last year's explosion on board the Indian diesel boat Sindhurakshak--is sobering for navies. When a ship becomes a symbol, its death has outsized political and even cultural ramifications. Failures in seamanship or everyday routine, then, can reverberate far beyond a boat's hull.

Type 092 Xia

You can say one good thing about the next boat on the list: it hasn't sunk. On the other hand, China's first SSBN has done little to advance its chief mission, nuclear deterrence. The lone Xia entered service in 1983. Its crew finally managed to test-fire an intermediate-range JL-1 ballistic missile in 1988, overcoming debilitating fire-control problems. Yet the boat has never made a deterrent patrol and seldom leaves the pier. Retired submarine commander William Murray describes the Xia -- and the Han SSNs from which its design derives -- as "aging, noisy, and obsolete."

800px-Xia_class_SSBNAmerican submariners joke that some foreign subs are as noisy as two skeletons making love inside a metal trash can. When a boat becomes an object of fun, its parent navy has problems. Small wonder China's naval leadership skipped on to a more modern design, the Type 094 -- leaving the Xia a ship class of one.

K-class submarines

When new technologies appear, navies habitually deploy them as fleet auxiliaries -- that is, to help the existing fleet do what it's already doing, except better. Undersea craft were no exception a century ago, when navies were still experimenting with them. The Royal Navy's World War I-era K-class boat was a failed experiment, as the nicknames affixed to it.




Designed in 1913, these boats were meant to range ahead of the surface fleet, screening the fleet's battlewagons and battlecruisers against enemy torpedo craft. Or they could seize the offensive, softening up the enemy battle line before the decisive fleet encounter. A solid concept. But to keep up with surface men-of-war, such a boat would need to travel at around 21 knots on the surface, faster than any British sub yet built. Diesel engines were incapable of driving a boat through the water at such velocity. The Admiralty's speed requirement, therefore, demanded steam propulsion. However sound the tactics behind the K-class, outfitting subs with steam plants was a bad idea. Ask any marine engineer. Boilers gulp in air, they generate prodigious amounts of heat, and they emit exhaust gases in large quantities. Trying to submerge a steamship, consequently, means trying to submerge a hull with lots of intakes and smokestacks. Unsurprisingly, the K-class leaked. The heat was torrid while underwater. It wallowed in rough seas, and displayed a troublesome reluctance to pull out of a dive. Of 18 K-class boats, none was lost to enemy action. But six -- a full third of the class -- were lost to accidents. The most gallant, astute crew can achieve little with hardware that is backward. Never again did the Royal Navy establishment foist a conventional steam-powered boat on British tars. K-219. This Yankee-class Soviet SSBN suffered an explosion and fire in a missile tube in 1986, while cruising some 600 miles east of Bermuda. It occupies an ignominious place on this list because of the repercussions of losing a ballistic-missile boat -- a vessel stuffed with nuclear firepower -- and because by most accounts the mishap was needless. Here, as with the travails of the K-class boats, blame lies at the feet of obtuse senior leaders. Such failings annul even capable platforms. Two expert commentators, Igor Kurdin and Wayne Grasdock, explain why. First, the Soviet leadership had set the SSBN force on a helter-skelter patrol schedule to reciprocate as the Reagan administration deployed the Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe. Crew training and periodic overhauls slipped as Soviet SSBNs made two or three deterrent patrols each year, well beyond their usual clip. Massive turnover within K-219's crew helped little. Performance suffered as the boat prowled patrol grounds far from Soviet bases and shipyards. Kurdin and Grasdock observe, second, that the Soviet Navy was lackadaisical about safety by comparison with the U.S. Navy. (To its credit, the U.S. silent service got religion in the wake of the Thresher and Scorpion incidents, instituting its SUBSAFE program.) Evidently, they write, the explosion and fire may not have occurred "if one more person had checked the last maintenance performed on missile tube No. 6." In short, to keep up appearances in the late Cold War, Moscow and the naval establishment imposed an operational tempo on the SSBN force that prompted submariners to cut corners on basic standards. The result: a black eye for the Soviet Union, a superpower in retreat. Here again, neglect of the fundamentals had major political import. . Imperial Japanese Navy submarine force. Granted, it seems unfair to indict an entire silent service on this list. But what did IJN submarines accomplish against the U.S. Pacific Fleet during World War II, when the American war effort depended on long, distended sea lanes vulnerable to undersea assault? Not much. Subpar performance resulted not from a shortage of capable boats or skillful, resolute sailors -- by most accounts Japanese fleet boats were the equals of the Gato-class boats that spearheaded the U.S. submarine campaign--but from a shortage of flexibility and imagination among top commanders. As noted before, navies tend to use unfamiliar technologies as auxiliaries. So it was with Japan. But whereas some services innovate over time, the IJN leadership proved stubbornly shortsighted. For decades, commanders had marinated themselves in a bowdlerized version of Alfred Thayer Mahan's works. In particular, they made a fetish of Mahan's advocacy of duels between big-gun warships. Having donned doctrinal blinkers, they could conceive of few ways to employ subs beyond supporting the battle fleet. Rather than inflict mayhem on U.S. logistics--much as the German Navy did in the Atlantic, and much as the U.S. Navy did against Japanese sea lanes in the Western Pacific--the IJN allowed transports, tankers, and other vital but unsexy shipping to pass to and fro unmolested. Vast quantities of American war materiel traversed the broad Pacific--letting American forces surmount the tyranny of distance. Inaction added up to a colossal missed opportunity for Imperial Japan. The IJN had largely mastered the aerial dimension of naval warfare, putting to sea impressive aircraft-carrier task forces. Pearl Harbor bore witness to Japanese carrier aviators' prowess. Why its backward approach to submarine warfare? For one thing, there was no Isoroku Yamamoto of undersea combat. Admiral Yamamoto threw his immense personal prestige behind the strike on Oahu, threatening to resign if top commanders rebuffed the aviation-centric strategy he proposed in favour of battleship engagements. The submarine force had no such champion to challenge orthodoxy. The IJN, accordingly, clung to its quasi-Mahanian dogma throughout the Pacific War. A potent submarine force ended up being a wasting asset, consuming resources for little reason. For which U.S. military veterans everywhere are eternally grateful. When shipping out for oceanic battlegrounds, it's good to face history's worst subs. The Imperial Japanese Navy submarine force is hereby designated Bottom Gun.


Submarines: Iran Brings Back The 60s.

 Iranian TV broadcast a sneak peak at of their new Fateh class mini-subs. These appear to be the largest subs built by Iranicon1 so far and are still in development. The Fatehs are 500 ton boats that are 40 meters (130 feet) long. Boats this size are considered coastal subs. By way of comparison the most frequently used German sub during World War II (the 703 Type VIIs) were 769 tons and 67 meters (220 feet) long. The Type VII had a crew if 48, five torpedo tubes and 14 torpedoes. There was also an 88mm deck gun. The Type VIIs operated out in the mid-Atlantic and as far west as the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean. The Fateh is meant to be a coastal sub and another German sub gives you a better idea of what the Fateh might be. A post-World War II German coastal sub, the Type 205, was similar in size to the Fateh. The Type 205s were designed in the early 1960s and were 450 ton, 44 meter (144 foot) long boats armed with eight torpedo tubes each loaded with a torpedo. There were no reloads. The 22 man crew had sufficient foodicon1 and fuel on the boat to stay out for about four weeks.  Unable to legally import military gear, Iran has adapted by manufacturing what it can, and that usually means older tech. So the Fateh will probably resemble the Type 205s in many ways. The Fatehs are meant to be an extension of a growing family of Iranian mini-subs. In 2012 Iran completed its last (of 21) Ghadir class subs. The 120 ton Ghadirs were to have been succeeded by the 400 ton Nahang class. Alas, one Nahang entered service in 2006 and none followed. The Nahang seemed to spend most of its time in port, full of technicians, or in dry dock, partially disassembled. A successor to the Nahang, the 1,200 ton Qaaem has yet to be finished after seven years of effort. Moreover, the Qaaem, unlike the other Iranian built subs is not a mini-sub that can operate anywhere in the generally shallow Persian Gulf. For example, the three Russian built Kilo class subs Iran has are so big (2,300 tons) that they can only operate in about a third of the Persian Gulf. That makes them easier to find and destroy in the Gulf. That explains why Iran is increasingly sending its Kilos outside the Gulf and building more small boats. The Faher appears to be the successor to the Ghadirs and apparently learned much from the failed Nahang class. The Ghadir is another example of Iranian resourcefulness in the face of embargoes. Since 1996, when Russia agreed to stop selling them submarines, Iran has been working on their own designs. After ten years of trial and error they produced the 120 ton Ghadir (Qadir) class vessels in 2005. The Iranians are not releasing specification sheets to anyone, but Ghadirs look very similar to the Italian Cosmos SX-506B submarines that Colombia has operated since the 1980s. The 100-ton SX-506Bs are only large enough to carry commandos and mines. However, released news footage shows what looks like to be two torpedo tubes on the Iranian Ghadirs. The Iranians claim that the Ghadirs carry torpedoes and have a crew of 18. It should be remembered that Cosmos exported a number of larger vessels to Pakistan in the 1990s. Dubbed the SX-756 they may have been the design basis for the Ghadir. It should also be acknowledged that the North Korean Sang-O class submarine closely approximates the Ghadir type. In 2007, North Koreaicon1 gave Iran, outright, four of its Yugo-type midget submarines. These Yugos were well worn 90-ton 21 meter (65 foot) craft but Iran accepted them all the same. Taking them apart taught the Iranians much about how to design and build mini-subs. Iran took the big leap in the early 1990s, when they acquired three Kilo 877/636 type diesel electric submarines from Russia. The 2,300 ton Kilos are long range subs capable of operating throughout the Indian Ocean (from South Africa to Australia). The Kilos have six 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes and 18 torpedoes (including one or more Shkval rocket torpedo) or 24 mines. Very similar to the world-standard diesel submarine, the 1800-ton German Type 209, the Kilo is a formidable foe and can stay at sea for up to 45 days, which makes it capable of long range patrols. All this Iranian submarine activity has spurred the U.S. to develop new tools and techniques for detecting small subs in shallow waters. The Americans have not released results of tests against NATO mini-subs. But that is to be expected. You save that kind of surprise for the first few days of a war. Most of the submarines in service are diesel-electric and there are 39 nations operating a total of 400 diesel electric subs. Only three of these nations (China, Iran, North Korea) are likely to use their subs against the U.S. or its allies. China has fifty of these boats, Iran has three (plus 25 much smaller mini-subs) and North Korea has 20 (plus 50 much smaller mini-subs). So the U.S. has to worry about 150 diesel electric subs, half of them mini-subs. But about half of all these boats are elderly, obsolete, and noisy. That leaves about 70 subs that are a clear threat (though the older stuff can be a threat if you get sloppy). That’s a lot of subs, and they make the East Asian coast and the Persian Gulf dangerous places for American warships.


Top 10 facts about submarines.

ON February 17, 1864, exactly 150 years ago, during the American Civil War, the HL Huntley became the first submarine to sink an enemy warship. The first submarine boat was invented by German doctor Magnus Pegel in 1605.

1. That day 150 years ago was the only day the HL Huntley was in action. The submarine sank after her successful attack, killing all eight of the crew.

2. The Huntley was lost after she sank and was located only in 1995 and recovered in 2000. She is now on display in Charleston, South Carolina.

3. The HL Huntley was first called Fish Boat but was renamed after her inventor, Horace Lawson Huntley, after he was killed when she sank in 1863.

4. The word ‘submarine’ was first used in the 17th century as an adjective meaning ‘underwater’.

5. The first submersible boat was built by the German doctor Magnus Pegel in 1605.

6. He was one of the first to write about blood transfusions. His submarine sank in mud.

7. Then first working submarine was built in 1620 by Cornelius Drebbel. It was propelled by oars.

8. The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is the only song with ‘submarine’ in the title to reach number one in the UK charts.

9. USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine, was launched in 1954.

10. The first submerged circumnavigation of the world was completed by USS Triton in 1960.


The man who dreams of turning “mini toys” into combatant submarines.

Phan Boi Tran believes that building a viable combat submarine is well within the capabilities of Vietnam. And he has a plan to do it.


submarines, Yet Kieu submarines


The Yet Kieu mini submarine after the successful testing. Tran, a descendant of Phan Boi Chau, a celebrated 20th century nationalist, has become the first submarine inventor in Vietnam and South East Asia. In a talk with reporters, the composite material engineer discussed his invention, the Yet Kieu 1 mini submarine. The vessel is 3.2 meters long, 1 meter high and 1 meter wide, weighs over one ton and has all the functions of a real submarine. It runs on an electric engine which can bring it to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. The sub is believed to have higher durability than others in its class, thanks to the composite hull. Tran said he decided to make a hull of composite instead of steel because it is easier and cheaper to make prototypes. Ninety percent of the submarine’s parts and accessories could be manufactured domestically, claims Tran. The engine was the only thing Tran had to find from overseas sources. However, he says, if Vietnam were to make submarines in large quantities, he would import suitable engine production technology to churn out 100 percent made-in-Vietnam products. After successful testing in 2010, Yet Kieu has been developed in many versions, which can be used for both civil and military purposes. Granted, Yet Kieu does have its skeptics. Many think that the manufacture of quality submarines is out of reach of Vietnamese capabilities. Tran has no such qualms, insisting that it is quite possible to turn the mini submarines, now described by some as “mini toys”, into military equipment with high combat efficiency. “I am not a braggart. As for Yet Kieu, I made the announcement about it only after I finished making it,” he said. “I am now working on another version of submarine, which is expected to be large enough for a crew of three or four, and capable of remaining underwater for longer periods,” he said. “I have the solution to turn the mini toys into well-equipped vessels. A solo mini submarine proves to be not really all that useful, but a flotilla of three to four submarines, bearing radar and torpedoes, would be a quite different story,” he explained. Also, according to Tran, in the event of a sea battle in the future, Vietnam might have to face a force twice as powerful as the US 7th Fleet. “It is quite possible to sink an aircraft carrier with $100,000. I have the answer to the question already,” he maintained. Tran has submitted his scientific ideas to the Ministry of National Defense. He is awaiting the reply from the ministry. However, Tran plans to set to work right now with the inheritance he is expecting, which is enough to make one sample version for every weapon. “I will make them with my own money, not the state’s money. If I succeed, the Ministry of National Defense can use the technologies immediately,” he said. “I am fully responsible for the feasibility of the solutions,” he affirmed.


Submarine Wall Dive.


The first submarine boat was invented by German doctor Magnus Pegel in 1605


Homebuilt Submarine Ready for Dive


Homebuilt Submarine Ready for Dive


For the past two years, 62-year-old Zhang Junlin has been tinkering away at an old warehouse, building a submarine with his friends. Now, fast forward into 2014, Zhang and his crew are about to take their puppy on its inaugural dive.


Homebuilt Submarine Ready for Dive

Homebuilt Submarine Ready for Dive


The submarine seats 20 people, and is supposed to be able to reach speeds of 15 nautical miles per hour and hit depths of around 50 meters. Made of stainless steel, the whole thing weighs around 25 tons. In 2000, Zhang started to become interested in submarines and underwater tourism. In 2006 he started to do research into the subject, and in the process he designed and built Shenlong Number 1 and Number 2.


Homebuilt Submarine Ready for Dive


HMS Olympus: Submarine visits wreck at 120 metres.




A first-ever visit has been recently paid to a legendary wreck of HMS Olympus, tragically lost outside of the Valletta Grand Harbour in 1942. U-Boat Malta explorers and maritime archaeologist Timothy Gambin plunged to the depth of around 120 meters in a submersible C Explorer 5.8 to investigate the sunken British submarine.  "HMS Olympus was one of the last remaining undiscovered warships from World War II and it provides further material evidence of the conflict that raged off the Maltese coast. The visit to wreck in the submarine enabled us to gather vital information on the damage suffered by the Olympus, which will in turn enable us to better understand the circumstances that led to her loss", - Dr Gambin led a team of researchers back in 2011, when a 283-feet wreck was explorers returned to the site with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to capture images. Configuration of the bow torpedo tubes, coning tower shape and other evidence allowed the positive of HMS Olympus. However, there was still much more to discover. Among other things, on the basis of a systematic visual examination experts intended to confirm or deny the version that the submarine was lost due to striking a mine.


U-Boat Malta's mission has become the next important step in HMS Olympus underwater investigation, letting researchers observe the object, make notes and verify theoretical evidence with factual data. During all submarine operations the survey methods were non-intrusive. The members of the exploration team ensured that through the methodology of "look don't touch", the site was treated with utmost respect as per local laws and international conventions. The core group of the project continues with its research and is currently planning further dives on the Olympus. During the World War II, due to the difficulty of passing convoys to Malta, submarines were used to run essential supplies to the island. Among those which contributed towards this hazardous task was HMS Olympus (N35), which unfortunately, in the early hours of 8th May 1942, few kilometers off the coast of Malta, is believed to have hit a mine and sunk. HMS Olympus, an O- or Odin-Class submarine, was commissioned in 1930. This class submarine measured 86.5 meters length, 6.1 meters width and had a draft of 4.9 meters. Her displacement was 1,781 tons surfaced and 2,038 tons when submerged. From 1931-1939 HMS Olympus formed part of the 4th Flotilla operating out of Hong Kong. After that she was with the 8th Flotilla, in Colombo, Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). In 1940 she was redeployed to the Mediterranean. HMS Olympus played an important role in what became known as 'Magic Carpet Service', ferrying passengers, fuel, ammunition and food from Gibraltar to Malta. About hundred men were on board HMS Olympus on that fateful night - 8th May 1942: her own crew plus other survivors from different sunken submarines on their way to Gibraltar. Only eleven men made it to the shore. This was a wartime tragedy of epic proportions. Although technical divers from UK and Malta believed that they had found the wreck way back in 2008, but after, it transpired that it was not the HMS Olympus. Later, in 2012, it was announced that it had been finally located. Now, in 2014, U-Boat Malta Ltd., together with Marine Archaeologist Timmy Gambin, for the first time dived on HMS Olympus with their Submersible C Explorer 5.8.




Iran’s New Submarine to Undergo Test in Drill

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Navy commander unveiled plans on Saturday for testing a new submarine, dubbed Fateh (Conqueror), during massive military exercises underway in south and southeast of the country.  Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the large-scale wargame, codenamed “Muhammad Rasulullah” (Muhammad, the messenger of God), Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the Fateh submarine will be tested during the exercises. In his previous interviews, the commander had described Fateh as one of the most advanced submarines of the country and the region. With the new product coming into service, the Iranian Navy will be equipped with the full range of light, medium and heavy submarines. The 527-ton Fateh is said to be highly mobile with the capability to cruise fast and far in deep waters. It is also capable of firing torpedoes and laying mines. The indigenous submarine is considered a medium under surface vessel whose weigh at depth increases to 593 tons. It is equipped with an advanced sonic radar system for identifying enemy vessels. Elsewhere in his comments, Sayyari said one of the main purposes of the ongoing wargame is to demonstrate Iran’s military capabilities in ensuring security across the northern part of the Indian Ocean and east of the Strait of Hormuz. He added that the wargane has a message for the trans-regional countries, reminding them that Iran is capable of providing security across the region. The drill will run until December 31 in an area of 2.2 million square kilometers, stretching from the northern Indian Ocean (10 degrees latitude) to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and in the southern and southeastern Iranian provinces of Sistan and Balouchestan and Hormozgan.


Explore the Ocean Deep in a Personal Submarine.


Explore the Ocean Deep in a Personal Submarine


If you ever find yourself staring out at the sea, thinking, "Holy shit, I have way too much money. I should blow some of it on a personal submarine," the Deepflight Super Falcon Mark II is here to part you from that troublesome cash. Measuring just under 19.6 feet long by 9.8 feet wide, the 4,000-pound Super Falcon Mark II is comprised mostly of carbon reinforced composite and can whisk a pair of people down to 393 feet below the surface. What's more, it employs a pair of stubby "wings" and a powerful, brushless DC motor to "fly" through the water at speeds up to 6 knots rather than simply sink to the bottom as a research vehicle, like Alvin, would.


Explore the Ocean Deep in a Personal Submarine


As with all personal submarines, Deepflight places passenger safety first and foremost. The Super Falcon is positively buoyant so that in the event that the engine dies, the vehicle will automatically float to the surface. Should it get trapped underwater, the vehicle maintains a pair of redundant, 12-hour life support systems as well as both underwater and VHF radios for communication. There's no word on pricing for the Super Falcon, but given the array of high-end accoutrements—from its carbon fiber seats and fly-by-wire controls to optional integration with your yacht— and the fact that they're built to order, you can bet that it's going to cost way more than what you've got saved up.


Russian Nuclear Submarines

In November, the Russian K-550 nuclear ballistic submarine Alexander Nevsky, submerged in the Barents Sea between Russia and the North Pole, successfully launched a missile that travelled its prescribed course to Kamchatka in Russia’s far east. The Alexander Nevsky thus joins two other Russian nuclear submarines, which have, in the course of the autumn, conducted successful ballistic missile tests. Russian nuclear submarines have long been based in Arctic waters, just as the United States keeps its fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Still, the missile tests from the icy region sent a chilly message. The Alexander Nevsky and its brothers – the Vladimir Monomakh and the Yuri Dolgorukiy – belong to Russia’s new Borei-class nuclear submarine fleet, which can carry up to 20 of the country’s new Bulava nuclear missiles. With its payload of 10 nuclear warheads capable of travelling up to 8,000 kilometres – the distance between, say, Moscow and Chicago – the Bulava is a fearsome weapon. “Because of the Ukrainian situation, the West is reluctant to take into account that Russia is a nuclear power that’s investing heavily in its nuclear arsenal,” says Pavel Baev, a professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and a former researcher at the then-Soviet Ministry of Defence. Mighty though they may be, the Borei-class submarines aren’t much larger than the ageing vessels they’re replacing. “You could argue that a few new nuclear submarines don’t make a difference,” says Baev. “But Putin is engaging in nuclear brinksmanship. It’s a dangerous game that the West is reluctant to get involved in, and he seems to be betting that that will give him the upper hand.” Though all five official nuclear weapons states – United States, Russia, France, Britain, China – are modernising their arsenals, Russia’s overhaul of its vast Soviet-era range is particularly ambitious. Nuclear brinksmanship aside, the military giant has embarked on a mission to leave footprints in the Arctic. In October, defence minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia will deploy military units along its entire Arctic coast, “from Murmansk to Chukotka” (a distance of 4,700 kilometres). The armed forces have begun building military facilities on Cape Schmidt in Russia’s far east and on the country’s Arctic Wrangel Island and Kotelny Island; next year the country is scheduled to open an airport at Cape Schmidt. Earlier this year it reopened its northern Alakurtti military base near the Finnish border (featuring 3,000 soldiers), and on 1 December president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia’s Arctic command has become operational. The concept of an Arctic race memorably introduced itself when Russian explorers planted a flag on the Arctic seabed in 2007. Since then, cooperation has been taking precedence. “But now the Arctic race is heating up, primarily because of Russia,” notes Baev. “These sharply-increasing military activities don’t make much sense considering that Ukraine is Russia’s military priority right now, but the Arctic isn’t just Putin’s pet project. The Arctic is the one neighbourhood in the world where Russia feels strong.” (Russia’s Arctic command did not respond to an interview request). It’s also the one neighbourhood in the world that has large untapped energy resources: some 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration. With climate change making the Arctic ocean’s resources more accessible, energy giants from Statoil to Rosneft are testing the waters. The melting ice is also making regular shipping more realistic. Last year 71 ships carrying 1.4 million tonnes of cargo traversed the Arctic northern sea route – which cuts the travelling time from Shanghai to Hamburg by 30% – escorted by Russian icebreakers. “But most international shipping companies don’t favour the Arctic, and China’s massive new container ships can’t get through there,” explains Duncan Depledge, an associate fellow specialising in Arctic geopolitics at the RUSI, a London think tank. Indeed, the 71 Arctic transits pale compared to the 16,596 transits through the Suez canal last year. But Sweden and Finland, home to regions north of the Arctic circle, are sensing opportunities and have opened Brussels offices promoting industrial development. Even Poland has launched a GoArctic campaign. Near the North Pole, as in the Middle East, oil and the military go hand in hand. “In the Arctic, Russia is the undisputed number one,” observes Katarzyna Zysk, an associate professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. “But Norway is trying hard to assert its role, especially since the high north plays a significant role in its economic and defence policy. Denmark and Canada are active too, and interest is increasing in the United States as well. These developments are closely followed by Russia, especially given the current tensions with Nato.” Yet the reopened military bases may be more peaceful than they seem. “All activities in the Arctic need some sort of security aspect,” says Depledge. “In much of the Arctic, the military is the only institution that can perform that constabulary function.” Here’s the catch: if one country makes military moves, its competitors respond. Norway, Russia’s closest Arctic neighbour and home to Nato’s first Arctic military operations centre, has been moving troops and equipment north, and prime minister Erna Solberg recently announced that Arctic concerns have caused the country to keep its fighter jets at home rather than sending them on Isis-fighting missions. In December, Norway introduced an extremely advanced spy vessel that will patrol its Arctic waters. Indeed, if a second cold war unfolded, the front line would be not just along the Baltic states but right here in the Arctic, between Norway and Russia. “Russia’s military actions on the European side of the Arctic worry Denmark as well as other Arctic nations,” reports Rear Admiral Nils Wang, commandant of the Danish Defence College and one of the country’s leading Arctic experts. “Though its reopened military bases also have a coastguard function, Russia is using them to send a strong message to the world and its own citizens that it will defend its Arctic presence if necessary. But the Arctic resources both off-shore and on-shore have already been allocated to the five Arctic coastal nations, so a conflict in the Arctic would more likely be a spillover from conflicts elsewhere, for example Ukraine.” Denmark, too, has a new Arctic command, while Canada – long an aspiring Arctic superpower – makes its presence known by regularly dispatching naval vessels carrying Canadian flags and sometimes government ministers. One third of the Arctic is land; one third icy international waters; and one third shallower waters located on continental shelf. While international law gives the five Arctic nations exclusive economic zones in the waters off their Arctic coasts, the resource-rich continental shelf has become sought-after international real estate. Recently Russia’s natural resources minister Sergey Donskoy announced that 1.2 square kilometres of hydrocarbon-rich continental shelf should belong to Russia. The country, Donskoy said, will apply to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for a continental shelf extension next spring. (A Russian application submitted to the CLCS in 2001 was rejected due to insufficient evidence.) Last year, Canada filed a similar application with the CLCS, claiming rights to 1.7 million square kilometres of Arctic continental shelf. And in early December, Denmark submitted a CLCS application asserting that it owns the North Pole itself. Given that International Energy Agency predicts a 35% rise in global energy demand between 2010 and 2035, the quest for the Arctic makes perfect sense. “Right now, with global energy prices low, it’s not very profitable to invest in Arctic energy exploration, but as far as Russia is concerned, it will remain interested whatever happens,” explains Zysk. “The Russians feel that they have to move to the Arctic ocean to secure their energy future, and their military presence protects the country’s economic interests. They’re essentially saying, ‘we’re here’.” That economic potential could spell doom for the Arctic. According to Greenpeace, “inevitable” oil spills would irreversibly harm the pristine region’s polar bears, seals, whales and fish. “And who would clean up after an oil spill?” asks the environmental group’s Arctic campaigner Charlie Kronick. “In the Gulf of Mexico, BP was able to deploy hundreds of ships and thousands of workers, and the Macondo well still released around four million barrels of oil.  Because the Arctic has none of the infrastructure or facilities available in the Gulf of Mexico, an oil spill would provoke an international incident when the oil starts travelling underneath the ice.” Indeed, in spite of global warming, the northernmost continent on earth remains immensely cold. As Putin made his Arctic command announcement, thermometers on Kotelny Island recorded -30 degrees Celsius. “The Russian military’s existing Arctic bases are built Soviet-style and are not really appropriate to live in,” notes the Vladivostok-born Baev. “Even to reach them during the winter is extremely difficult. Arctic threats to Russia by Nato are negligible; in fact, right now nobody is threatening the troops except Mother Nature.” That’s the sticking point: there is no real enemy. As the ice of the Arctic ocean melts, its surrounding countries have a stronger interest in cooperation – or in hydrocarbons and shipping – than in confrontation that will feature sacrifice for uncertain rewards. And for the time being, the Arctic showdown is mostly a play to the gallery. “Russia is showing people at home that it’s still a major power, and the Canadian government is playing at threat perceptions to show our power and sovereignty in the Arctic,” says Frédéric Lasserre, a professor at the Université Laval in Quebec who specialises in Arctic geopolitics. “It’s just a play to get votes.


Submarines: Another Dolphin For Israel.

In September 2014 Israel received the fourth of six Dolphin class submarines from Germany. This the first of three new Dolphins that have a fuel cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system which enables them to stay under water for over a week at a time. The Dolphins in general are also very quiet, and very difficult to hunt down and destroy. The first three Dolphins didn't have the AIP system. Germany continues to build Dolphin class boats for Israel, with the next one due to arrive in 2015 and the last one in 2019. The first three arrived in 1998-2000. The second three Dolphins cost about $650 million each, with Germany picking up a third of the cost on two of them. The first two Dolphins were paid for by Germany, as was most of the cost of the third one. This is more of German reparations for World War II atrocities against Jews. The three older boats have since been upgraded to include larger fuel capacity, converting more torpedo tubes to the larger 650mm size, and installing new electronics. The fuel and torpedo tube mods appear to have something to do with stationing the subs off the coast of Iran. Larger torpedo tubes allow the subs to carry longer range missiles. The larger fuel capacity makes it easier to move Dolphins from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Although Israel has a naval base on the Red Sea, Egypt, until 2012, did not allowed Israeli subs to use the Suez Canal. So the Dolphins were modified to go around Africa, if they had to. As built the Dolphins could stay at sea for about 40 days (moving at about 14 kilometers an hour, on the surface, for up to 8,000 kilometers). Larger fuel capacity extended range to over 10,000 kilometers and endurance to about 50 days. The 1,625 ton Dolphins can carry 16 torpedoes or missiles and have ten forward torpedo tubes (four of them the larger 650mm/26 inch size). The Dolphins are considered the most modern non-nuclear subs in the world. The first three cost $320 million each. All have a crew of 35 and can dive to a depth of more than 200 meters (660 feet). The Dolphin design is based on the German 209 class subs but has been so heavily modified that it is considered a different class and only Israel has them. In early 2014 Israel revealed that in 2013 its submarines spent 58 percent of their time at sea on combat missions while the rest of the time was spent for training. Israel currently has four Dolphin class subs in service. The Israelis also admitted that their subs sometimes go far (to Iran and the Red Sea) from their bases on missions. Give that Israel is not at war with anyone with a navy, these missions are probably related to collecting information on the ships and ports of potential enemies. That would include Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Sudan and so on. The navy revealed that the subs undertook 54 “special operations” in 2013 and that was a big increase from previous years. No details were given on what the special operations were but based on what kind of surveillance operations Israel has conducted in the past and what U.S. subs did in that area during the Cold War. The Israeli subs have probably been using their passive (listen only) sonar to collect information about ports and warships as well as deploying and retrieving larger electronic sensors placed underwater near where enemy ships operate. Israel may also be tapping underwater communications cables. For some of these operations the Israelis would use divers carried on the subs as passengers. Israel has a small force of naval special operations troops similar to the American SEALS and the British SBS. All of the Israeli subs are built in Germany, where the local media periodically pretends to be appalled at what the Israelis actually do with these subs. Thus back in 2012 revelations in German media that the Dolphin class boats were equipped in Germany with a special hydraulic ejection (from torpedo tubes) systems for launching missiles with nuclear warheads caused a stir. This was actually misleading, as well as being old news. The Dolphin class subs have long had the ability to launch Harpoon anti-ship missiles and longer range cruise missiles from the torpedo tubes. It makes no difference if the warhead has high-explosives or a nuclear bomb in it. For over a decade Israel and Germany played down this capability. For example shortly after September 11, 2001 Israel denied that it had submarines capable of firing cruise missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. But the U.S. navy had reported spotting such missiles being tested by an Israeli sub in the Indian Ocean before 2001. In 2000 it was widely reported that Dolphin class subs were being equipped with nuclear weapons. The 135 kilometer range Harpoon missiles were alleged to have been modified to carry a nuclear warhead and Israel. It was also asserted that Israel was developing a submarine launched 350 kilometer range cruise missile. Both of these weapons were launched from the subs torpedo tubes. Since then Israel has developed a new cruise missile, with a range of 1,500 kilometers and carrying a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead. These nuclear equipped subs were to provide an extra degree of security as all other Israeli nuclear weapons were in land bases and, in theory, could be wiped out by a surprise missile attack. A nuclear missile equipped submarine at sea would be much more difficult to find.


Submarines currently in the Russian Navy.

Russia's submarine fleet is one of the most capable in the world, perhaps second only to that of the United States. The submarine fleet is mostly a holdover from the days of the Cold War. Nuclear-armed Soviet and US submarines would pursue each other across the world's oceans and act as second-strike options in the event of all-out nuclear war.  Although Russia's submarine fleet had aged and shrunk since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian President Vladimir Putin has grand plans to modernize the fleet through the purchase of additional submarines coupled along the development and acquisition of new models. Below is an infographic by St. Petersburg, Russia-based designer Anton Egorov depicting the submarines that Russia currently operates, along with their maximum depth. Russia's submarine fleet is divided into three broad categories: diesel-electric powered submarines, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and nuclear-powered attack submarines. Each variation has its own unique purpose and is further sub-divided into varying models. Russia's diesel-electric submarine fleet is the least technologically advanced segment of the fleet and also the cheapest to acquire and maintain. These submarines, which are smaller and slower and have a shorter range than their nuclear counterparts, are limited in their total operational depth and are used for attacking surface ships and merchant vessels. Russia plans on adding an additional six Kilo-class submarines to the Black Sea Fleet, along with 14 to 18 diesel-electric submarines similar to Lada-class subs over the next fifteen years. Nuclear-powered ballistic subs form the nuclear deterrent backbone of the Russian fleet. These subs are faster than diesel-electric submarines, larger, and can dive to significantly deeper depths. These subs carry ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Russia plans to replace its Delta III and Delta IV-class subs with Borei II submarines in the coming years. The Oscar II-class sub will be replaced with the entirely new Yasen submarine class after 2020. The final class of submarine in the fleet are nuclear-powered attack subs. These submarines are generally the fastest in the fleet and are usually slightly smaller than ballistic missile subs, although they can usually operate at lower depths. These subs are used to hunt ballistic missile submarines as well as enemy ships. In some cases, the subs can be armed with vertical-launch tubes to target land-based targets. 


Russian Navy Submarines




Australian submarines.

The Federal Government has come under fire for its so-called "competitive evaluation process" to select the next generation of Australian submarines, and for potentially backing away from an election promise to build them in Adelaide. ABC Fact Check has been following the story and has uncovered some colourful chapters in the history of Australian submarines. The first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) submarines, the AE1 and AE2 were built in the UK and launched in 1913. They had crews of 35 and were around 55 metres long. Submersible vessels had been deployed in conflicts dating back to 1776 during the American War of Independence.


The AE2


Photo: Port bow view of the WWI submarine the AE2. (Australian War Memorial: ID-301364)

At the start of World War I in 1914 the two RAN subs were part of an Australian force in German New Guinea. The AE1 then left Rabaul to conduct a patrol around Cape Gazelle and did not return. It has never been found, and it is suspected it struck a reef and sank. The AE2 passed through the Dardanelles on the day of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 and for five days disrupted Turkish shipping, and fired several torpedoes. The AE2 was damaged by a torpedo boat and the crew scuttled it and abandoned ship. They were held as prisoners until the end of the war in 1918. The wreck of the AE2 was found in 1998. After World War I, Australia was "gifted" surplus Royal Navy "J-Class" submarines, but they were scrapped in the mid-1920s.


J-Class submarine


Photo: J7, one of six J Class submarines transferred from the British Navy to the Australian Navy on 25 March 1919 and arriving in Australia on 10 July 1919. (Australian War Memorial: ID-H12461)

Australia also bought a pair of British "O-class" – The Oxley and The Otway - which were commissioned in 1927 but took almost two years to arrive in Australia after cracks were found in their engine columns during the voyage from Portsmouth.


The Otway


Photo: The HMAS Otway I (Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Defence)

The two submarines were returned to the Royal Navy in 1931 following defence spending cuts during the depression and a naval treaty which limited tonnage. The Oxley was deployed by the Royal Navy at the start of World War Two but was mistakenly sunk by another British sub on patrol off the Norwegian coast in September 1939. Australia had no subs at the outbreak of the Second World War. A Royal Netherlands Navy submarine K-9 came to Australia in 1942 after the fall of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) to Japan. The K-9 was tethered to a troop ship, the requisitioned ferry HMAS Kuttabul when Sydney Harbour was attacked by Japanese midget submarines on June 1, 1942. The Kuttabul was sunk, killing 19 Australian and 2 British sailors, and the K-9 was damaged. A year later it was given to the RAN by the Dutch to use as a training vessel. In 1944 K-9 was given back and in 1945 it ran aground near Seal Rocks, NSW while being towed by another Dutch vessel. It was later sold for scrap for £985. It would be almost a quarter of a century before Australia would again have a submarine in its fleet. The British Royal Navy's Fourth Submarine Squadron had subs based in Sydney from the late 1940s to the late 1960s at a time when the Australian Navy again had no subs in service. The planned withdrawal of the Fourth Squadron led Australia to order the Oberon class submarines, built at shipyards in Scotland. The first, also named HMAS Oxley, was commissioned in 1967 and stayed in service for 25 years. The sixth and final Oberon, HMAS Otama was commissioned in 1977 and served until 2000.


An Oberon Class submarine


Photo: An Oberon Class submarine launching. (Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Defence)

Maintenance of the Oberons became an issue when the Royal Navy phased them out. Servicing was "complex and expensive" with overseas suppliers providing 85 to 90 per cent of support. British advice and support became increasingly difficult to obtain, particularly during the 1982 Falklands War. The Collins Class submarines were based on a Swedish design, selected after the Hawke government issued a Request for Tender inviting seven European submarine builders to submit proposals in 1983. Six Collins Class submarines were built by the Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide between 1990 and 2003 at a cost of around $1 billion each.


Collins class submarine


Photo: Collins class submarine HMAS Waller returns to base. (Commonwealth of Australia: Navy Imagery Unit)

It was an ambitious and controversial project, pursued in the belief that the best way to maintain submarines was to have them built and serviced locally. The construction and commissioning process was "bedevilled by a myriad of design deficiencies" which took "far too long to remedy", according to a 1999 inquiry. More than 150 major contractors and hundreds of smaller contractors were involved in the process. Each Collins Class submarine is made up of 500,000 parts – which sounds a lot, although a modern car has about 30,000 parts.


Russia's Deadliest New Submarine.

As a follow-up to my previous article “What to Expect from Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2014,” I would like to take a closer look at Russia’s new backbone of its maritime nuclear deterrence  - the Borei-class (aka Dolgorukiy-class), Project 955, fourth generation SSBN (Ship, Submersible, Ballistic, Nuclear) submarine. RT (somewhat predictably) called this new SSBN class, “the planet’s most advanced nuclear deterrent tool.” Designed by Rubin Marine Equipment Design Bureau and built by Northern Machine Building Enterprise (Sevmash shipyard), the Borei-class (“North Wind”) is intended to replace the Project 941 Typhoon-class and Project 667 BDRM Delta IV-class vessels. This constitutes the first time that Russia has added new SSBNs to its navy since the end of the Cold War. “In a way, the Borei represents a literal rebirth of the Soviet submarine fleet; several boats in the class are being constructed partially from the hulls of scrapped or unfinished Akulas and Akula IIIs,” a U.S. naval officer writing for the U.S. Naval Institute notes. The new Borei-class SSBN is 580 feet (170 meters) long, has a hull diameter of 42 feet (13 meters), and a crew of 107, including 55 officers. It can dive to a maximum depth of about 1,500 feet (450 meters) and yields a submerged speed of roughly 30 knots. The sub has a compact, hydro-dynamically efficient hull for reduced broadband noise and uses pump-jet propulsion. Pump-jet propulsion reduces noise and provides the submarine with a higher tactical ‘silent speed’ and  increased manoeuvrability. This makes the submarine more difficult to detect. According to, the  total cost of the first Borei-class SSBN was $713 million, including the $280m research and development effort. In comparison, the cost of a U.S. Ohio-class SSBN was around $2 billion per vessel. Borei-class strategic submarines carry between 12 to 16 Bulava (RSM-56) ballistic missiles with 6-10 warheads per missile – each warhead yielding 100-150 kilotons – for a total of 72 to 196 warheads per submarine.  The Bulava ballistic missile has a range of over 8300km. Analyzing the Bulava inter-continental missile Lieutenant Commander Tom Spahn, a U.S. naval reserve officer, concludes: Like its launch platform, the Bulava missile also represents a dramatic leap forward in technology. Similar to its land-based variant, the Topol-M SS-27, to thwart evolving Western ballistic-missile-defence shields, the Bulava can conduct evasive post-launch manoeuvres and deploy a variety of countermeasures and decoys to defend against interception. Its ten hypersonic, independently maneuverable warheads are protected against both physical and electromagnetic-pulse damage to ensure that they can reach their targets intact. The ship’s antisubmarine warfare capabilities are also impressive. The SSBN boasts six torpedo tubes for launching six RPK-2 Viyuga (SS-N-15) missiles. “Each SS-N-15 is capable of carrying a payload of a Type 40 torpedo or 90R nuclear depth charge. The missile can strike enemy submarines within a range of 45 km, while travelling at a subsonic speed of Mach 0.9,”according to The Russian Navy is currently operating three Borei-class SSBNs. The first, K-535 Yuriy Dolgorukiy, was commissioned in January 2013 and currently serves in Russia’s Northern Fleet.  Another Borei-class SSBN, the Vladimir Monomakh, commissioned in December 2014, is expected to enter the service of the Pacific Fleet this year. The Borei-class SSBN Alexander Nevsky, commissioned in December 2013, recently conducted a successful single test-launch of the Bulava inter-continental ballistic missile in the Kamchatka Peninsula. All in all, the Russian Navy plans to build eight SSBN’s of this class (with an option to construct two more) by 2020. The next vessel in the class, the Knyaz Vladimir, is designated as a Project 955A Borei II. It could field four more additional missile tubes (bringing the total number of missiles potentially up to 20) and is currently under construction. According to RT, it will boast smaller hulls and cons, improved acoustics and lower sound levels. A fifth Borei-class sub, the Knyaz Oleg, was laid down at the Sevmash shipyard in July 2014. The Borei-class submarines are envisioned to remain in service at least until 2040. Tom Spahn, writing for Proceedings Magazine, calls the Borei-class SSBN an “impressive platform.” He further notes that “the Borei contains the best of modern submarine technology, including advanced sound-silencing and pump jet propulsion similar to that found on the U.S. Virginia class.” War is Boring quotes an expert in anti-submarine warfare, noting that Russia is the only country in the world that can build a nuclear submarine capable of evading U.S. detection. However, the expert also notes that the “Russian navy right now [in 2013] is just a complete disaster, and on the margins they can get better, but to really get our attention they have to build 10, 20 of these things. And there are no signs they’re going to do that. I don’t think they have the money for it.” For a more nuanced analysis on the state of Russia’s Navy, I highly recommend, Dmitry Gorenburg’s analyses here and here. Perhaps we will be lucky and a Russian sub commander will soon dispatch a letter to a Russian admiral, announcing his intention to defect. Then the world shall definitely know more about Russia’s deadliest nuclear submarine.


PLA's Type 094 sub upgrade.


A Type 094 ballistic missile submarine. (Photo/China Times)


A Type 094 ballistic missile submarine. (Photo/China Times)

China has begun upgrading its Type 094 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, according to the military news website of the country's nationalistic tabloid Global Times, citing a Russian media report. China had originally planned to build five or six of the submarines. US intelligence suggests that in the end they built five.  The submarines have a submerged displacement of 11,000 tonnes and should be capable of carrying 12-16 ballistic missiles, according to the report. The original design allowed for 12 missiles, but a few years ago an image of a Type 094 submarine carrying 16 missiles appeared, which suggests that experts have been working on an upgrade to the submarine. The submarine will carry JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The JL-2 missiles are reportedly based on the DF-31 land-based ICBM, according to some sources. The JL-2 weighs in at around 42 tonnes and carries a payload of 2-2.5 tonnes, according to estimates. There is currently no information on its charge. The missile has a liquid propellant rocket engine and has a range of around 7,500-8,000 kilometers. PLA Navy ballistic submarines are not known for being able to carry a large weapons payload but China seems to be pushing in this direction. Talk of ballistic submarines in China has been dominated over recent years by the Type 096 submarine, currently thought to be under development. This long-range submarine will be larger than any sub currently in service with the PLA. Another source said that the Type 096 nuclear submarine will carry 24 SLBMs. New nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in China are likely to be equipped with JL-3 missiles, said to have a range of 10-11,000 km. The current state of development of the Type 096 ballistic missile submarine is unknown, as no official reports on it have been issued. However, there are rumours that the first Type 096 submarine has already been constructed and is currently undergoing tests. China's strategic nuclear deterrent is mainly concentrated on land-based missile systems. The five Type 094 ballistic missile submarines will be able to carry a total of no more than 80 JL-1A and JL-2 missiles, if the aforementioned reports are accurate. Currently China is reported to have 100-120 missiles equipped with nuclear warheads, including several dozen JL-2s.


Russian special purpose submarines.


Secret & unarmed: Top 4 Russian special purpose submarines


Project 1910 submarine. Source:

Everyone is familiar with Russian combat submarines: the formidable Borei-class carrying out military patrols under the Arctic ice, multi-purpose Yasen-class that can even attacking ground targets, and the silent Improved Kilo-class (Varshavyanka), which can detect the enemy at a distance of hundreds of kilometers. All of these submarines have modern weapons and are in full combat readiness. However, the Russian fleet also has unarmed submarines, which are kept under a veil of secrecy. These are manned by specially selected divers with at least five years’ experience, after passing a medical examination and evaluation based on the same requirements that apply to cosmonauts. Russia’s special purpose submarines ??are part of the Chief Directorate of Deep-sea Research (CDDR), which is a branch of the Ministry of Defence. It includes submarines that serve as Base Stations (BS) and Atomic Deep-water Stations (ADS).

Sperm Whale: Project 1910 Kashalot

Project 1910 submarines are the first generation of small-displacement atomic research stations designed for continuous operation and conducting various studies at great depths in the Earth’s oceans. Submarines are equipped with robotic technologies, manipulators and other complexes. These are used not just for reconnaissance and scientific research, but also to transport combat divers. During the K-141 Kursk submarine accident, one of these stations was used for search and rescue work.

Halibut: Project 1851 Paltus

Project 1851 is an improvised development of Project 1910. These submarines’ designated activities include: conducting special reconnaissance operations, jamming activities on patrol routes of Russian Navy submarines, lifting objects from the bottom of the sea and from sunken vessels, as well as performing scientific and technical tasks. Due to their small size, these can be used for sabotage operations in various areas of the Earth’s oceans.

Losharik: Project 10831

Project 10831 is a refined development of the deep-water station Projects 1851 and 1910. Only one submarine (AS-12) has been built under this project, and is considered one of the most unique and secret submarines operated by the Russian Navy. It got its name because of its special design features – the vessel is made of titanium spheres (balls), which follow each other, like in the Soviet cartoon character “Losharik”. Some whimsical shipbuilders came up with this funny name. Its characteristics and capabilities are shrouded in mystery, but we know that it carries special equipment to perform work at great depths, and can “penetrate” deep-water communications of a potential enemy or sever deep underwater cables, depriving the enemy of its communications lines. It can also retrieve secret equipment from the depths of seas and oceans. In the autumn of 2012, this ADS participated with its mother ship, the nuclear-powered Orenburg in the Arctic 2012 Expedition, during which it drilled a well to a depth of 2,500-3,500 meters and retrieved soil samples.

Orenburg: BS-136

The nuclear-powered BS-136 Orenburg is designed for transportation of deep-water stations to their operational zones. The smaller submarine station “swims” into this vessel, which then delivers it to the area where special operations need to be conducted. This vessel was based on a Project 667BDR (Delta-III) submarine. In 2002, it was converted into Project 09786. During the conversion, the missile compartment was cut from the submarine, and replaced by a compartment for transporting atomic deep-water stations with a comfortable living section. In 2012, this submarine was the mother ship of the ADS ??Project 10831 during the Arctic 2012 scientific expedition.


This chart shows the competition between India and China's submarine fleet.

China and India, the world's two most populous states, share the world's longest contested land border. The two nations also have the dubious distinction of being the largest weapons importers on earth. 

Although China and India have attempted to improve relations, the two countries remain locked in a geopolitical struggle for influence. This competition has become especially apparent in Chinese and Indian designs for the Indian Ocean. 

Both nations are aggressively seeking to expand their projected maritime power in the region, especially through the use of submarines. The following Reuters chart compares their submarine fleets. 


China India sub chart


In terms of both quantity and technological advancement, China's submarine fleet drastically outperforms India's. Beijing has nine nuclear submarines alone compared to India's one nuclear Chakra sub. The Chakra sub is an Akula-class Russian nuclear attack submarine that India is leasing for ten years, USNI News reports. China's nuclear submarines, on the other hand, are a mixture of attack and ballistic missile vessels that were indigenously built. Nuclear submarines are far superior to their diesel counterparts for open ocean force projection. Nuclear submarines can stay submerged for months whereas diesel submarines must surface more frequently. In response to a lack of effective subs, New Dehli has reached out to Japan on a possible initiative to build submarines in India, The Diplomat reports. This offer is part of a move by India to update its submarine fleet, and New Dehli is also considering acquiring submarines from France, Germany, Russia, and Spain. 


PLA China naval submarine navy


ReutersA Chinese Naval submarine docks at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong.

India's desire to acquire more submarines is closely related to concerns over China. Beijing has been steadily investing in port installations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. These ports have allowed for Chinese merchant vessels, in addition to submarines and warships, to have safe harbour throughout the entirety of the Indian Ocean. China recently raised Indian suspicions by docking submarines at the port of Colombo in nearby Sri Lanka, and there is concern that Beijing is trying to construct a "string of pearls" through the Indian Ocean in order to establish naval and commercial superiority on India's strategic turf


Science minister takes notice of submarines made by amateurs.


Vietnam, MST, Nguyen Quan, Hoa Binh


Several submarine and helicopter models made by amateur engineers were introduced in 2014, of which Truong Sa, Yet Kieu and Hoa Binh subs were the best known. Quan praised the Hoa Binh submarine after he and two scientists, who had created Hoa Binh, were in the sub’s cabin as it was tested on the sea. The underwater vehicle, 6.63 m long and 2.74 m high, has a speed of 4.5 nautical miles per hour. It can carry four people and dive to a depth of 50 meters within 24 hours. It is capable of contacting other ships at a distance of around one kilometer through radio communication systems.  The vehicle was designed and made by Vietnamese engineers under a State-level project beginning in 2010, with total investment of around VND25.5 billion ($1.5 million). As for the Truong Sa submarine created by Nguyen Quoc Hoa, Quan said this was a small-size sub, but it uses a diesel engine, which makes it difficult to build an exhaust treatment system that needs more space. He also noted that the inventor has not reported the standards for emergency lifesaving and emergency resurfacing. The Ministry of National Defence has not allowed the sub to be tested on the sea. As for Yet Kieu sub, Quan showed his surprise about the export price at $7,500 to Malaysia, saying that no sub could be built at such a price and dive under water. He said that with such a cost, a sub could be created for display only. “It is different for Hoa Binh submarine. I myself dove tens of meters under the water with Hoa Binh,” he said, adding that the production of the sub in Vietnam is “very promising”. “A similar foreign-made sub is priced at $5-7 million,” he said. The Ministry of Science and Technology has approved to contribute up to VND5 billion out of the VND28 billion spent by the producers to build the sub. In related news, Le Nga, a resident in Hue City, has announced that he has made a submarine, named Hoang Sa, and the sub has had a successful run on the Huong River.


If Ferrari made SUBMARINES:

HP Sport Sub 2 dives 300ft below the waves so you can cruise the ocean floor in style.

  • HP Sport Sub 2 looks a little bit like a Ferrari and costs €1 million
  • Two-seater is nine foot long (2.7 metres) and can travel up to 4mph (6kph) 
  • It's powered by six thrusters and can be used for six hours continuously
  • Luxurious vehicle has leather seats and air conditioning 
  • It's small enough to be stowed on a yacht and weighs 4,850lbs (2,200kg)

It may not be James Bond’s iconic amphibious Lotus, but suave millionaires can dive the depths of the ocean in their own two-seater submarine, which resembles a Ferrari. The diminutive sub can dive to depths of up to 300ft (91 metres) so passengers can look at fish while staying dry and is small enough to be stowed on a yacht. The HP Sport Sub 2, which has been dubbed the ‘sub-sea Ferrari’ because it loosely looks like the supercar, is powered by six thrusters and can be used for six hours without recharging.


Luxurious: The HP Sport Sub 2 (pictured), which costs a cool €1 million (£724,375 million or $1.1million)  is powered by six thrusters and can be used for six hours without recharging


Luxurious: The HP Sport Sub 2 (pictured), which costs a cool €1 million (£724,375 million or $1.1million)  is powered by six thrusters and can be used for six hours without recharging. It has luxuries on-board such as leather sports seats and air conditioning, as well as power steering so the underwater world can be navigated effortlessly, underwater lights and a navigation system. The vehicle can be controlled by a touch screen and also has an underwater communication system. But all this luxury and convenience comes at a cost of US$1.1million,  when the vessel launches in August. The vehicle weighs 4,850lbs (2,200kg) and is 4ft 5inches (136cm) tall. The sub’s wide design enables passengers to board on the surface and remain stable under water. The diminutive sub can dive to depths of up to 300ft (91 metres) so passengers can look at the fish and is small enough to be stowed on a yacht.


Compact:  The diminutive sub can dive to depths of up to 300ft (91 metres) so passengers can look at the fish and is small enough to be stowed on a yacht



A two-seater sub

Resembles: A Ferrari

Top Speed: 4mph (6kph)

Diving ability: 300ft (91 metres) below the waves

Weight: 4,850lbs (2,200kg)

Size: 9ft (2.7metres) long and 4ft (1.4metres) tall

Power: Six thrusters and a 21 kWh Lithium-ion battery

Luxuries: Leather seats and air con 

Extras: Underwater lights, imaging sonar, underwater communications system and navigation system

The nine foot long (2.7 metre) submarine can travel at up to 4mph (6kph) and is the latest creation by Dutch company U-Boat Worx, which has been pioneering ways to travel under the waves since the 1980s.

It weighs 4,850lbs (2,200kg) and is 4ft 5inches (136cm) tall. 

The sub’s wide design enables passengers to board on the surface and remain stable under water. The firm says the vehicle is the ideal toy for millionaires because it’s small enough to fit inside an on-board locker on a yacht and be towed behind a car. ‘This remarkable submersible is suitable for all superyachts from 30 metres up,’ said Bert Houtman, founder of U-Boat Worx. ‘The design is attractive but above all it’s safe and functional. We’ve adopted a very different look compared to traditional submersibles without compromising on safety and ease of use.  ‘The result is a modern and streamlined submersible with fantastic performance. Whether at the surface or underwater its speed and manoeuvrability are exceptional.’ 


James Bond's amphibious Lotus Esprit (pictured) may be the pinaclke of cool when it comes to personal submarines in films, but the HP Sport Sub 2 offers people the chance to see the fishes in luxury


James Bond's amphibious Lotus Esprit (pictured) may be the pinacle of cool when it comes to personal submarines in films, but the HP Sport Sub 2 offers people the chance to see the fishes in luxury

Tried and tested: The nine foot long (2.7 metre) submarine, can travel at up to 4mph (6kph) and is the latest creation by Dutch company U-Boat Worx which has been making subs since the 1980s. The model outperforms every submersible in its class. ‘Thanks to its ultra-low height and its minimal footprint can fit it easily in a tender garage without refitting your yacht. ‘It has an astoundingly low weight so existing cranes can be used for easy launch and recovery. ‘These specifications make the HP Sport Sub 2 the most compact submersible, with the performance and comfort you expect. ‘This “sub-sea Ferrari” is the ultimate sport submersible for the discerning buyer.



The Middle East’s leading leisure yachting enterprise announced on Tuesday the introduction of a new enterprise for all water lovers at the Dubai International Boat Show. ART MARINE indicated that it would start commercializing Sub-Sea Limousines, which would allow buyers to explore the sea from under the waterline.


“We plan to start the commercialization in the Middle East of what we called the Sub-Sea Limousines, or submarines, which will come with the highest standards anyone can dream of,” Bruno Meier, the head of marina management at ART MARINE, told Al Arabiya News. He went on to say, “all submarines are mind-blowing. They are made with thick, spherical glass and some of the luxury vessels will give the opportunity to passengers to dive to 1,000 meters underwater.”


The underwater vehicles are built in Holland and are expected to be sold for an average price of US$1.67 million. Meier also said that the Dutch company will be building different versions of the vessel including two, three and five-seater models. Speaking about the new product, Meier differentiated two types of usage; leisure and professional. “Some buyers who own mega-yachts will use it like a toy just like jet-skis,” he said, “in that case submarines will be used for leisure and fun. “But, we have other buyers who will use the new engine for more serious purposes such as health rescue operations or and under-water maintenance.” “It is very safe,” he claimed, “nothing can really happen and if you would get stuck without air, without power or without anything, there is an option that allows the submarine to move up to the surface automatically.”  “We already held talks with affluent families in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Qatar regarding the engine,” Meier stated, adding that he hopes he will be able to sell a unit or two shortly. “Traditionally the wealthy families who buy mega-yachts are interested in these types of products,” he said, speaking about the type of clientele ART MARINE was expecting to do business with. As a strategy to attract buyers, ART MARINE CEO Gregor Stinner told Al Arabiya News that the company will need to demonstrate what a submarine does and for what purpose it can be used. He also said that he believes that the leisure yachting enterprise will find the adequate clientele for submarines in the region.



Sevmash to build new multi-role nuclear submarine.



The first multirole Yasen K-560 Severodvinsk submarine by the pier of the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. Source: RIA Novosti. Russia's Sevmash enterprise is expected to launch the construction of a next generation Project Yasen-M multirole nuclear submarine of on March 16, the plant's press service reported on Friday. "Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov has ordered that the submarine be named Arkhangelsk. This missile carrier will become the fifth Yasen Project multirole nuclear submarine, developed by St. Petersburg's Malakhit naval design bureau," it said. The project uses a lot of cutting-edge technological solutions, the press service said. The flagship of Project Yasen, the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine, built by Sevmash, was transferred to the Russian Navy on June 17, 2014. The updated Project Yasen-M envisages the construction of the multirole nuclear submarines Kazan, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. The vessels will be equipped exclusively with Russian-made electronic warfare systems and other elements. Under the Russian Naval Doctrine, the Project Yasen submarines will form the core of Russia's fleet of multirole submarines in the future. They are projected to replace Russia's Soviet-era attack submarines like the Akula-class subs, and are believed to be a counterpart to the US nuclear-powered Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines. Russia is currently constructing three Yasen-class submarines, in addition to the one that was put into service by the Russian Navy earlier.  All future Yasen-class submarines will have a state-of-the-art design featuring a modified hull profile and modernized equipment. The hull is made of low-magnetic steel. The Yasen-class is the first Russian submarine to be equipped with a spherical sonar system, which consists of a spherical bow array, flank arrays and a towed array. Due to the large size of this spherical array, the torpedo tubes are slanted and placed behind the main control compartment. In addition to its 533-mm torpedoes, a Yasen-class submarine is capable of firing cruise missiles from its eight vertical launching systems. They also can carry Onyx and Kalibr supersonic anti-ship missiles or land attack cruise missiles. The submarine has a crew of about 90, which suggests a high degree of automation in the submarine's different systems. For comparison's sake, the newest US Virginia-class attack submarine  has a crew of 134.


PLA Type 093 midget submarine.


A PLA submarine in the South China Sea in August last year. (File photo/CNS)


A PLA submarine in the South China Sea in August last year. (File photo/CNS). Beijing has revealed a version of the Type 093 midget submarine, known as the 093T, suggesting that more vessels in this class may be produced, reports news website Cankao Xiaoxi. The 093B midget submarine reportedly has a vertical launch system that can launch 16 missiles, including the supersonic anti-ship YJ-18 and the DH-10 cruise missile. Such a submarine can carry up to nine special ops members and is ideal for covert transportation and surprise attack. It can also launch laser-guided missiles or sneak combat divers into military ports to perform recon or destroy high-value targets such as aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines. The United States was developing a midget version of its Ohio-class submarines but reportedly stopped development after a fire in 2008. The submarines used a dry-deck shelter system which allows the midget submarine to dock completely inside of its larger cousin. The 093T submarine adapts a wet-deck shelter system, which means only two thirds of the submarine are secured to the mother submarine and the rest is exposed to water.


Sweden Orders New Submarines


File A26 submarines: Picture by SAAB AB


A26 submarines: Picture by SAAB AB

Sweden is to buy two new submarines from constructors Saab Kockums. The A26 subs are to be delivered by 2022 and will cost up to SEK 8.2 billion ($945 million)."This is the biggest single decision when it comes to economic investments that we will make during this parliament. The decision, to be formally made by the cabinet on Thursday, is to ensure Swedish submarine capability past 2030", stated Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. "These are the next generation of submarine. These submarines will be very hi-tech", he added. The government will on Thursday authorize the armed forces to order two submarines, defence ministry spokeswoman Marinette Nyh Radebo said. The Swedish government is increasing its defence spending over the coming years, citing a worsening security situation, particularly Russian activity in and around the Baltic Sea. Defence and security company Saab welcomes the Swedish Minister of Defence, Peter Hultqvist’s, announcement to invest in two submarines of the next generation, A26. Saab has not received any order on production of the new submarine but Saab looks forward to the discussions, which will lead to an agreement and order for A26. This will be a part of an earlier signed Letter of Intent. Saab and FMV (The Swedish Defence Material Administration) signed a Letter of Intent in June 2014 regarding the Swedish Armed Forces’ underwater capability for the period 2015-2024. The Letter of Intent comprises support, development, design and production of submarines and other underwater systems, corresponding to potential orders of approximately SEK 11.2 billion, provided that necessary decisions are made.

China's Nightmare: Vietnam's New Killer Submarines.



After a brief respite, the South China Sea cauldron is starting to boil once again. This time, the hub-bub concerns not a close call between aircraft, nor dueling flotillas of coast guard vessels surrounding a mysterious oil exploration rig, nor the precarious resupply of a rusted out hulk of a ship grounded purposefully on an obscure reef. Rather, the current frenzy among journalists, strategists, and now legislators concerns a variety of new structures that Beijing has undertaken to build up in and around its occupied reefs in the Spratlys. These structures will likely include an airfield. While this recent construction makes for interesting satellite photos, the impact on the actual naval balance of power seems quite minimal: limited to perhaps somewhat improved Chinese surveillance in the southern part of the South China Sea. However, Beijing already enjoys relatively plentiful sources of intelligence regarding “maritime domain awareness” in this sensitive, contested domain, so the actual change is minimal. Lest anyone get too excited, all these reefs (and related structures) are easily turned into “glass” by any reasonably modern military power in the age of precision-guided weapons. A rather more significant alteration in the local balance of power may result from the operational readiness of Vietnam’s new fleet of Kilo-class conventional submarines. This weapon system is sufficiently potent, and the order of six boats from Russia is sufficiently large, that this deployment over the next year (particularly in light of Vietnam’s historically weak maritime forces) could hypothetically alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically. This edition of Dragon Eye will explore a February 2015 analysis concerning Vietnam’s deployment of the new Russian-made submarines that appeared in the Chinese naval-affiliated magazine ???? [Naval & Merchant Ships], published by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, an entity very much involved in China’s on-going naval modernization. I have commented on the China-Vietnam military balance before, so this effort may form a modest update of sorts. This Chinese analysis notes at the outset that the Vietnamese Navy is totally lacking in experience with “large type conventional submarines,” including not only their operations, but also their logistics and maintenance requirements. In a passage that might be termed condescending, the author writes: “… if [the submarine] is not used properly, not only will it become useless in combat, but [this lack of proficiency] can seriously threaten the lives of the whole crew.” Given China’s own ample experience purchasing Russian Kilo’s during the 1990s, it is not surprising that Chinese naval analysts demonstrate an intimate knowledge regarding the processes and challenges involved with molding these particular imported boats into a credible fighting force.


How do you dismantle a nuclear submarine?

When nuclear-powered submarines reach the end of their lives, dismantling them is a complicated and laborious process. Nuclear submarines have long been a favourite in popular fiction. From movies such as The Hunt for Red October to long-running TV series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, they have always been portrayed as awesome instruments of geopolitical power gliding quietly through the gloomy deep on secret, serious missions. But at the end of their useful lives the subs essentially become floating nuclear hazards, fizzing with lethal, spent nuclear fuel that's extremely hard to get out. Nuclear navies have had to go to extraordinary lengths to cope with their bloated and ageing Cold War fleets of hunter-killer and ballistic missile nuclear subs. As a result, some of the strangest industrial graveyards on the planet have been created – stretching from the US Pacific Northwest, via the Arctic Circle to Russia’s Pacific Fleet home of Vladivostok. These submarine cemeteries take many forms. At the filthy end of the spectrum, in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, they are essentially nuclear dumping grounds, with submarine reactors and fuel strewn across the 300m-deep seabed. Here the Russians appear to have continued, until the early 1990s, disposing of their nuclear subs in the same manner as their diesel-powered compatriots: dropping them into the ocean.

Rusting remains

The diesel sub scrapyard in the inlets around Olenya Bay in north-west Russia's arctic Kola Peninsula is an arresting sight: rusted-through prows expose torpedo tubes inside, corroded conning towers keel over at bizarre angles and hulls are burst asunder, like mussels smashed on rocks by gulls. The Soviets turned the Kara Sea into "an aquarium of radioactive junk" says Norway’s Bellona Foundation, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo. The seabed is littered with some 17,000 naval radioactive waste containers, 16 nuclear reactors and five complete nuclear submarines – one has both its reactors still fully fuelled. The Kara Sea area is now a target for oil and gas companies – and accidental drilling into such waste could, in principle, breach reactor containments or fuel rod cladding, and release radionuclides into the fishing grounds, warns Bellona's managing director Nils Bohmer. Official submarine graveyards are much more visible: you can even see them on Google Maps or Google Earth. Zoom in on America's biggest nuclear waste repository in Hanford, Washington, Sayda Bay in the arctic Kola Peninsula, or the shipyards near Vladivostok and you'll see them. There are row after row of massive steel canisters, each around 12m long. They are lined up in ranks in Hanford's long, earthen pits awaiting a future mass burial, sitting in regimented rows on a Sayda Bay dockside, or floating on the waters of the Sea of Japan, shackled to a pier at the Pavlovks sub base near Vladivostok.

Drained and removed

It’s a meticulous process. First, the defunct sub is towed to a secure de-fuelling dock where its reactor compartment is drained of all liquids to expose its spent nuclear fuel assemblies. Each assembly is then removed and placed in spent nuclear fuel casks and put on secure trains for disposal at a long-term waste storage and reprocessing plant. In the US, this is the Naval Reactor Facility at the sprawling Idaho National Laboratory, and in Russia the Mayak plutonium production and reprocessing plant in Siberia is the final destination.


(Credit: Getty Images)


Although the reactor machinery – steam generators, pumps, valves and piping – now contains no enriched uranium, the metals in it are rendered radioactive by decades of neutron bombardment shredding their atoms. So after fuel removal, the sub is towed into dry dock where cutting tools and blowtorches are used to sever the reactor compartment, plus an emptied compartment either side of it, from the submarine's hull. Then thick steel seals are welded to either end. So the canisters are not merely receptacles: they are giant high-pressure steel segments of the nuclear submarine itself – all that remains of it, in fact, as all nonradioactive submarine sections are then recycled. Russia also uses this technique because the West feared that its less rigorous decommissioning processes risked fissile materials getting into unfriendly hands. At Andreeva Bay, near Sayda, for instance, Russia still stores spent fuel from 90 subs from the 1960s and 1970s, for instance. So in 2002, the G8 nations started a 10-year, $20bn programme to transfer Puget Sound's decommissioning knowhow to the Russian Federation. That involved vastly improving technology and storage at their de-fuelling facility in Severodvinsk and their dismantling facility, and by building a land-based storage dock for the decommissioned reactors.

Floating menace

Safer land-based storage matters because the reactor blocks had been left afloat at Sayda Bay, as the air-filled compartments either side of the reactor compartment provide buoyancy, says Bohmer. But at Pavlovks, near Vladivostok, 54 of the canisters are still afloat and at the mercy of the weather. Decommissioning this way is not always possible, however, says Bohmer. Some Soviet subs had liquid metal cooled reactors – using a lead-bismuth mixture to remove heat from the core – rather than the common pressurised water reactor (PWR). In a cold, defunct reactor the lead-bismuth coolant freezes, turning it into an unwieldy solid block. Bohmer says two such submarines are not yet decommissioned and have had to be moved to an extremely remote dockyard at Gremikha Bay – also on the Kola Peninsula – for safety's sake.


(Credit: Science Photo Library)


When nuclear submarines reach the end of their lives, some of their hulks remain dangerously radioactive (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Using the three-compartment-unit method, Russia has so far decommissioned 120 nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet and 75 subs from its Pacific Fleet. In the US, meanwhile, 125 Cold War-era subs have been dismantled this way. France, too, has used the same procedure. In Britain, however, Royal Navy nuclear subs are designed so that the reactor module can be removed without having to sever compartments from the midsection. "The reactor pressure vessel can be removed in one piece, encased, transported and stored," says a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence. However Britain's plans to decommission 12 defunct submarines stored at Devonport in the south of England and seven at Rosyth in Scotland won't happen any time soon as the government still has to decide which of five possible UK sites will eventually store those pressure vessels and spent fuel. This has raised community concerns as the numbers of defunct nuclear-fuelled subs is building up at Devonport and Rosyth, as BBC News reported last year.

Water fears

Environmental groups have also raised concerns about fuel storage in the US. The Idaho National Lab has been the ultimate destination for all US Navy high-level spent fuel since the first nuclear sub, USS Nautilus, was developed in 1953. "The prototype reactor for the USS Nautilus was tested at INL and since then every scrap of spent fuel from the nuclear navy has ended up in Idaho. It is stored above the upstream end of the Snake River Aquifer, the second largest unified underground body of water on the North American continent," says Beatrice Brailsford of the Snake River Alliance, an environmental lobby group. "The spent fuel is stored above ground, but the rest of the waste is buried above the aquifer and that practice may continue for another half century. It is a source of concern for many people in Idaho." It's not only the aquifer's fresh water that's at risk: the state’s signature crop, potatoes, would also be affected. Even with high security, radioactive material can occasionally escape – sometimes in bizarre ways. For instance both INL and Hanford have suffered unusual radiation leaks from tumbleweeds blowing into waste cooling ponds, picking up contaminated water, and then being blown over the facility's perimeter by the wind. The expensive, long-term measures that have to be taken to render a defunct nuclear sub safe don’t seem to deter military planners from building more vessels. "As far as the US is concerned there is no indication that the Navy believes nuclear submarines have been anything less than a stellar success and replacements for the major submarine classes are in the works." says Edwin Lyman, nuclear policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a pressure group, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The US is not alone: Russia has four new nuclear subs under construction at Severodvinsk and may build a further eight before 2020. "Despite limited budgets Russia is committed to building up its nuclear fleet again," says Bohmer. China is doing likewise. The submarine graveyards and spent fuel stores, it appears, will continue to be busy.



Sevmash to build new multi-role nuclear submarine.



The first multirole Yasen K-560 Severodvinsk submarine by the pier of the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. Source: RIA Novosti. Russia's Sevmash enterprise is expected to launch the construction of a next generation Project Yasen-M multirole nuclear submarine of on March 16, the plant's press service reported on Friday. "Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov has ordered that the submarine be named Arkhangelsk. This missile carrier will become the fifth Yasen Project multirole nuclear submarine, developed by St. Petersburg's Malakhit naval design bureau," it said. The project uses a lot of cutting-edge technological solutions, the press service said. The flagship of Project Yasen, the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine, built by Sevmash, was transferred to the Russian Navy on June 17, 2014. The updated Project Yasen-M envisages the construction of the multirole nuclear submarines Kazan, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. The vessels will be equipped exclusively with Russian-made electronic warfare systems and other elements. Under the Russian Naval Doctrine, the Project Yasen submarines will form the core of Russia's fleet of multirole submarines in the future. They are projected to replace Russia's Soviet-era attack submarines like the Akula-class subs, and are believed to be a counterpart to the US nuclear-powered Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines. Russia is currently constructing three Yasen-class submarines, in addition to the one that was put into service by the Russian Navy earlier.  All future Yasen-class submarines will have a state-of-the-art design featuring a modified hull profile and modernized equipment. The hull is made of low-magnetic steel. The Yasen-class is the first Russian submarine to be equipped with a spherical sonar system, which consists of a spherical bow array, flank arrays and a towed array. Due to the large size of this spherical array, the torpedo tubes are slanted and placed behind the main control compartment. In addition to its 533-mm torpedoes, a Yasen-class submarine is capable of firing cruise missiles from its eight vertical launching systems. They also can carry Onyx and Kalibr supersonic anti-ship missiles or land attack cruise missiles. The submarine has a crew of about 90, which suggests a high degree of automation in the submarine's different systems. For comparison's sake, the newest US Virginia-class attack submarine  has a crew of 134.


PLA Type 093 midget submarine.


A PLA submarine in the South China Sea in August last year. (File photo/CNS)


A PLA submarine in the South China Sea in August last year. (File photo/CNS). Beijing has revealed a version of the Type 093 midget submarine, known as the 093T, suggesting that more vessels in this class may be produced, reports news website Cankao Xiaoxi. The 093B midget submarine reportedly has a vertical launch system that can launch 16 missiles, including the supersonic anti-ship YJ-18 and the DH-10 cruise missile. Such a submarine can carry up to nine special ops members and is ideal for covert transportation and surprise attack. It can also launch laser-guided missiles or sneak combat divers into military ports to perform recon or destroy high-value targets such as aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines. The United States was developing a midget version of its Ohio-class submarines but reportedly stopped development after a fire in 2008. The submarines used a dry-deck shelter system which allows the midget submarine to dock completely inside of its larger cousin. The 093T submarine adapts a wet-deck shelter system, which means only two thirds of the submarine are secured to the mother submarine and the rest is exposed to water.


Sweden Orders New Submarines


File A26 submarines: Picture by SAAB AB


A26 submarines: Picture by SAAB AB

Sweden is to buy two new submarines from constructors Saab Kockums. The A26 subs are to be delivered by 2022 and will cost up to SEK 8.2 billion ($945 million)."This is the biggest single decision when it comes to economic investments that we will make during this parliament. The decision, to be formally made by the cabinet on Thursday, is to ensure Swedish submarine capability past 2030", stated Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. "These are the next generation of submarine. These submarines will be very hi-tech", he added. The government will on Thursday authorize the armed forces to order two submarines, defence ministry spokeswoman Marinette Nyh Radebo said. The Swedish government is increasing its defence spending over the coming years, citing a worsening security situation, particularly Russian activity in and around the Baltic Sea. Defence and security company Saab welcomes the Swedish Minister of Defence, Peter Hultqvist’s, announcement to invest in two submarines of the next generation, A26. Saab has not received any order on production of the new submarine but Saab looks forward to the discussions, which will lead to an agreement and order for A26. This will be a part of an earlier signed Letter of Intent. Saab and FMV (The Swedish Defence Material Administration) signed a Letter of Intent in June 2014 regarding the Swedish Armed Forces’ underwater capability for the period 2015-2024. The Letter of Intent comprises support, development, design and production of submarines and other underwater systems, corresponding to potential orders of approximately SEK 11.2 billion, provided that necessary decisions are made.

China's Nightmare: Vietnam's New Killer Submarines.



After a brief respite, the South China Sea cauldron is starting to boil once again. This time, the hub-bub concerns not a close call between aircraft, nor dueling flotillas of coast guard vessels surrounding a mysterious oil exploration rig, nor the precarious resupply of a rusted out hulk of a ship grounded purposefully on an obscure reef. Rather, the current frenzy among journalists, strategists, and now legislators concerns a variety of new structures that Beijing has undertaken to build up in and around its occupied reefs in the Spratlys. These structures will likely include an airfield. While this recent construction makes for interesting satellite photos, the impact on the actual naval balance of power seems quite minimal: limited to perhaps somewhat improved Chinese surveillance in the southern part of the South China Sea. However, Beijing already enjoys relatively plentiful sources of intelligence regarding “maritime domain awareness” in this sensitive, contested domain, so the actual change is minimal. Lest anyone get too excited, all these reefs (and related structures) are easily turned into “glass” by any reasonably modern military power in the age of precision-guided weapons. A rather more significant alteration in the local balance of power may result from the operational readiness of Vietnam’s new fleet of Kilo-class conventional submarines. This weapon system is sufficiently potent, and the order of six boats from Russia is sufficiently large, that this deployment over the next year (particularly in light of Vietnam’s historically weak maritime forces) could hypothetically alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically. This edition of Dragon Eye will explore a February 2015 analysis concerning Vietnam’s deployment of the new Russian-made submarines that appeared in the Chinese naval-affiliated magazine ???? [Naval & Merchant Ships], published by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, an entity very much involved in China’s on-going naval modernization. I have commented on the China-Vietnam military balance before, so this effort may form a modest update of sorts. This Chinese analysis notes at the outset that the Vietnamese Navy is totally lacking in experience with “large type conventional submarines,” including not only their operations, but also their logistics and maintenance requirements. In a passage that might be termed condescending, the author writes: “… if [the submarine] is not used properly, not only will it become useless in combat, but [this lack of proficiency] can seriously threaten the lives of the whole crew.” Given China’s own ample experience purchasing Russian Kilo’s during the 1990s, it is not surprising that Chinese naval analysts demonstrate an intimate knowledge regarding the processes and challenges involved with molding these particular imported boats into a credible fighting force.


How do you dismantle a nuclear submarine?

When nuclear-powered submarines reach the end of their lives, dismantling them is a complicated and laborious process. Nuclear submarines have long been a favourite in popular fiction. From movies such as The Hunt for Red October to long-running TV series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, they have always been portrayed as awesome instruments of geopolitical power gliding quietly through the gloomy deep on secret, serious missions. But at the end of their useful lives the subs essentially become floating nuclear hazards, fizzing with lethal, spent nuclear fuel that's extremely hard to get out. Nuclear navies have had to go to extraordinary lengths to cope with their bloated and ageing Cold War fleets of hunter-killer and ballistic missile nuclear subs. As a result, some of the strangest industrial graveyards on the planet have been created – stretching from the US Pacific Northwest, via the Arctic Circle to Russia’s Pacific Fleet home of Vladivostok. These submarine cemeteries take many forms. At the filthy end of the spectrum, in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, they are essentially nuclear dumping grounds, with submarine reactors and fuel strewn across the 300m-deep seabed. Here the Russians appear to have continued, until the early 1990s, disposing of their nuclear subs in the same manner as their diesel-powered compatriots: dropping them into the ocean.

Rusting remains

The diesel sub scrapyard in the inlets around Olenya Bay in north-west Russia's arctic Kola Peninsula is an arresting sight: rusted-through prows expose torpedo tubes inside, corroded conning towers keel over at bizarre angles and hulls are burst asunder, like mussels smashed on rocks by gulls. The Soviets turned the Kara Sea into "an aquarium of radioactive junk" says Norway’s Bellona Foundation, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo. The seabed is littered with some 17,000 naval radioactive waste containers, 16 nuclear reactors and five complete nuclear submarines – one has both its reactors still fully fuelled. The Kara Sea area is now a target for oil and gas companies – and accidental drilling into such waste could, in principle, breach reactor containments or fuel rod cladding, and release radionuclides into the fishing grounds, warns Bellona's managing director Nils Bohmer. Official submarine graveyards are much more visible: you can even see them on Google Maps or Google Earth. Zoom in on America's biggest nuclear waste repository in Hanford, Washington, Sayda Bay in the arctic Kola Peninsula, or the shipyards near Vladivostok and you'll see them. There are row after row of massive steel canisters, each around 12m long. They are lined up in ranks in Hanford's long, earthen pits awaiting a future mass burial, sitting in regimented rows on a Sayda Bay dockside, or floating on the waters

of the Sea of Japan, shackled to a pier at the Pavlovks sub base near Vladivostok.

Drained and removed

It’s a meticulous process. First, the defunct sub is towed to a secure de-fuelling dock where its reactor compartment is drained of all liquids to expose its spent nuclear fuel assemblies. Each assembly is then removed and placed in spent nuclear fuel casks and put on secure trains for disposal at a long-term waste storage and reprocessing plant. In the US, this is the Naval Reactor Facility at the sprawling Idaho National Laboratory, and in Russia the Mayak plutonium production and reprocessing plant in Siberia is the final destination.


(Credit: Getty Images)


Although the reactor machinery – steam generators, pumps, valves and piping – now contains no enriched uranium, the metals in it are rendered radioactive by decades of neutron bombardment shredding their atoms. So after fuel removal, the sub is towed into dry dock where cutting tools and blowtorches are used to sever the reactor compartment, plus an emptied compartment either side of it, from the submarine's hull. Then thick steel seals are welded to either end. So the canisters are not merely receptacles: they are giant high-pressure steel segments of the nuclear submarine itself – all that remains of it, in fact, as all nonradioactive submarine sections are then recycled. Russia also uses this technique because the West feared that its less rigorous decommissioning processes risked fissile materials getting into unfriendly hands. At Andreeva Bay, near Sayda, for instance, Russia still stores spent fuel from 90 subs from the 1960s and 1970s, for instance. So in 2002, the G8 nations started a 10-year, $20bn programme to transfer Puget Sound's decommissioning knowhow to the Russian Federation. That involved vastly improving technology and storage at their de-fuelling facility in Severodvinsk and their dismantling facility, and by building a land-based storage dock for the decommissioned reactors.

Floating menace

Safer land-based storage matters because the reactor blocks had been left afloat at Sayda Bay, as the air-filled compartments either side of the reactor compartment provide buoyancy, says Bohmer. But at Pavlovks, near Vladivostok, 54 of the canisters are still afloat and at the mercy of the weather. Decommissioning this way is not always possible, however, says Bohmer. Some Soviet subs had liquid metal cooled reactors – using a lead-bismuth mixture to remove heat from the core – rather than the common pressurised water reactor (PWR). In a cold, defunct reactor the lead-bismuth coolant freezes, turning it into an unwieldy solid block. Bohmer says two such submarines are not yet decommissioned and have had to be moved to an extremely remote dockyard at Gremikha Bay – also on the Kola Peninsula – for safety's sake.


(Credit: Science Photo Library)


When nuclear submarines reach the end of their lives, some of their hulks remain dangerously radioactive (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Using the three-compartment-unit method, Russia has so far decommissioned 120 nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet and 75 subs from its Pacific Fleet. In the US, meanwhile, 125 Cold War-era subs have been dismantled this way. France, too, has used the same procedure. In Britain, however, Royal Navy nuclear subs are designed so that the reactor module can be removed without having to sever compartments from the midsection. "The reactor pressure vessel can be removed in one piece, encased, transported and stored," says a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence. However Britain's plans to decommission 12 defunct submarines stored at Devonport in the south of England and seven at Rosyth in Scotland won't happen any time soon as the government still has to decide which of five possible UK sites will eventually store those pressure vessels and spent fuel. This has raised community concerns as the numbers of defunct nuclear-fuelled subs is building up at Devonport and Rosyth, as BBC News reported last year.

Water fears

Environmental groups have also raised concerns about fuel storage in the US. The Idaho National Lab has been the ultimate destination for all US Navy high-level spent fuel since the first nuclear sub, USS Nautilus, was developed in 1953. "The prototype reactor for the USS Nautilus was tested at INL and since then every scrap of spent fuel from the nuclear navy has ended up in Idaho. It is stored above the upstream end of the Snake River Aquifer, the second largest unified underground body of water on the North American continent," says Beatrice Brailsford of the Snake River Alliance, an environmental lobby group. "The spent fuel is stored above ground, but the rest of the waste is buried above the aquifer and that practice may continue for another half century. It is a source of concern for many people in Idaho." It's not only the aquifer's fresh water that's at risk: the state’s signature crop, potatoes, would also be affected. Even with high security, radioactive material can occasionally escape – sometimes in bizarre ways. For instance both INL and Hanford have suffered unusual radiation leaks from tumbleweeds blowing into waste cooling ponds, picking up contaminated water, and then being blown over the facility's perimeter by the wind. The expensive, long-term measures that have to be taken to render a defunct nuclear sub safe don’t seem to deter military planners from building more vessels. "As far as the US is concerned there is no indication that the Navy believes nuclear submarines have been anything less than a stellar success and replacements for the major submarine classes are in the works." says Edwin Lyman, nuclear policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a pressure group, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The US is not alone: Russia has four new nuclear subs under construction at Severodvinsk and may build a further eight before 2020. "Despite limited budgets Russia is committed to building up its nuclear fleet again," says Bohmer. China is doing likewise. The submarine graveyards and spent fuel stores, it appears, will continue to be busy.


The Terrifying Chemistry Behind Early Submarine Fatalities.

Submariners are essentially living in an environment that should immediately kill them. In the early days of submarines, it would often find a way to do just that. One particularly horrible way involved a strange phenomenon that happened when sea water hit submarine batteries.

Electrolytes And High School Experiments

“Electrolytes” are most well-known as a marketing device. They’re what are meant to be in your sports drink, making you run faster, lift more weight, and sweat artistically. In science, they’re not just a buzzword. An electrolyte is a substance that has two qualities: It can carry an electric current through a substance, and that current can be used to split apart the components of the substance. It’s not as esoteric or complicated as it sounds. You have probably done an experiment that illustrates electrolysis in high school. A professor would, via alligator clips, attach a battery to two pieces of carbon (often pencils), and dunk the pencils in water. Nothing would happen. The professor then would sprinkle salt in the water. After a while, little bubbles would appear around the pencils. The water molecules split, the oxygen going to the positively-charged pencil and the hydrogen going to the negatively charged pencil. In the process, the water particles would turn from liquid to gas. That was electrolysis. It can be done with pure water, but since water isn’t a good conductor, that kind of electrolysis would take a lot of power. The salt is the electrolyte, allowing the current to flow and the electrolysis to proceed. Some high school experiments go farther, asking students to try this with various possible electrolytes like baking soda and lemon juice. Which will work? Spoilers: It’s the lemon juice, because acids are good electrolytes. They help split up water, and they can split other components in a solution as well. But this became a huge problem for people on early submarines.

Electrolytes and Submarines

Submarines obviously can’t use combustion as power for the systems aboard. They had electric systems powered by batteries. These batteries contained strong sulfuric acid, and they kept a current running at all times. If some sea water leaked into the submarines – a frequent occurrence when they were still being developed and fine-tuned – first of all, most of the lights went out on the ship... which was underwater. That would be terrifying enough, but things got far worse. The batteries, still running, had set up the electrolysis lab experiment, but they wouldn’t just be splitting water. They’d be splitting salt as well. Salt is sodium chloride, and is perfectly harmless. Split it up, and“chloride” becomes “chlorine,” and “chlorine” become gaseous. Chlorine gas was used extensively in World War I as a chemical weapon, and its effects were so terrible (and its destruction so uncontrollable) that it hasn’t been used since. It rips apart tissue, especially delicate tissue like in the lungs. When a submarine’s batteries were contaminated with sea water it either precipitated a more general malfunction or was caused by a more general malfunction. Getting to the surface, venting, or even remaining level, was difficult. So submariners were often stuck for hours in a perfectly dark, sealed metal can, that was slowly filling up with poison gas. Many died from being gassed by their own vessels. (If you’re wondering why the electrolysis in class didn’t kill anyone chlorine gas once salt was added to the water, the experiment generated relatively little gas. If someone used enough power, enough salt, and did the thing in an enclosed room, the experiment would kill people.) You don’t notice The underwater thing. You just don’t see the sun. It makes it feel like a long work day indoors. You know, until there is some form of casualty... like a fire, or hydraulic rupture. Or you goto the surface and the seas aren’t very friendly, or you’re in a tropical storm and can’t dive deep enough to not feel the swells. You know, submariner problems. Sometimes I miss it.



Cartels are using these 'narco-submarines' to move thousands of pounds of drugs.

Mexican and South American drug cartels and their broader networks are entirely dependent on an ability to get their product onto US soil. And if there's one thing that these organizations are good at, it's changing their operating methods in order to stay one step ahead of the game. As the United States, Mexico, and Colombia intensified their war on drugs throughout the late 1990s and the 2000s, the cartels had to reimagine various ways that they could smuggle cocaine into the US. With billions of dollars in annual revenue at stake, no idea for getting drugs into the US buyers was considered too outlandish — Sinaloa cartel leader Chapo Guzman even pioneered the use of cross-border drug catapults. But the ultimate in high-risk, high-reward smuggling is the "narco submarine," homemade subs that can bring thousands of pounds of product to the US at once. According to a US Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) report on narco submarines citing Drug Enforcement Administration statistics, 80% of drugs smuggled into the US in 2012 came from maritime routes. And 30% of the drugs that arrived in the US by sea were conducted via narco submarines. Like narco tanks, narco submarines show how cartels have mastered do-it-yourself engineering. Even so, around one in four of the vessels are interdicted. US authorities have captured narco subs with as much as 7.5 tons of cocaine onboard. There are four broad categories of vessel that fall under the narco submarine label: low-profile vessels, semi-submersibles, submersibles, and towed narco "torpedoes." These vessels have shown a notable leap in quality since they first debuted over 20 years ago. The first narco sub detected in 1993 was built from wood and fiberglass, could not submerge, and could only travel at 10 miles per hour. But the FMSO notes that the latest models of subs can mask their heat signature, evade sonar and radar, and use lead siding to help mask their infrared signature, making their detection and capture extremely difficult. Here are some narco subs that the authorities have captured over the years — evidence of the tenacity and resourcefulness of drug trafficking organizations that have to get their product to the US at any cost.

Low profile vessels (LPVs) are one of the most common narco sub variants. These vessels sit just above the water line. They aren't entirely submerged, but they're still difficult to spot. 

narco sub

Their fiberglass and lead construction also render them difficult to detect through infrared. And because they sit almost below the water radar and sonar can have a difficult time spotting them. Larger LPVs can carry upwards of 10 tons of drugs at at time.

narco submarines


REUTERS/Carlos BarriaA semi-submersible vessel that was caught in the Pacific Ocean with about seven tons of cocaine last September, is docked at the US Coast Guard base in Key West, Florida February 17, 2009. Known as "coffins," the sleek jungle-built submarines are steaming their way north from Colombia through Pacific waters to deliver tonnes of illegal drugs headed for the U.S. Market. Picture taken February 17, 2009. The majority of narco submarines discovered have been LPVs, perhaps because cartels find them easier to construct and operate than fully submersible vessels. Semi-submersible narco submarines are similar to LPVs. These vessels can completely lower themselves below the waterline — except for a snorkel-like tube to ensure the crew doesn't suffocate.


narco sub

Fully submersible narco submarines are a rarity due to the cost and technical difficulties of building a working model.

APSoldiers stand on a seized submarine in the jungle region of La Loma in Ecuador, Saturday July 3, 2010. DEA officials said that the diesel electric-powered submarine was constructed in a remote jungle and captured near a tributary close to the Ecuador-Colombia border and is capable of transporting tons of cocaine. Ecuadorean authorities seized the sub before it could make its maiden voyage. But a few submersibles have been found over the years, and they're impressive. The largest was a 100-foot long, GPS-equipped craft that could dive to 30 feet and transport upwards of 200 tons of drugs at a time, according to Colombian authorities.


Narco submarine


Scott Dalton/APA police officer walks through part of the submarine that was discovered under construction in Facatativa, a rural town just outside of Bogota, on Sept. 07, 2000. The submarine, which police say would have been capable of shipping as many as 200 tons of cocaine below the ocean's surface was discovered along with documents in Russian inside a warehouse.

Narco torpedoes are the least technologically advanced submersible. These empty canisters are designed to be dragged behind a camouflaged ship. In the event of detection, the tow-ship can drop the torpedo which then activates a homing signal for later pick-up.  

narco submarine

REUTERS/Jaime SaldarriagaTwo officials walk past a submersible craft used to smuggle cocaine under water to avoid detection, in Buenaventura June 13, 2008. Colombians who thought they had seen everything in the war on drugs were treated to something new this year: cocaine smuggling in a submarine. Picture taken on June 13, 2008.


Xi’s Submarine Sale Raises Indian Ocean Nuclear Clash Risk.


Pakistan Navy Submarine


Pakistan Navy Submarine. An Agosta 90 B submarine sits at Pakistan's Navy Dockyard in Karachi. China is expected to conclude a sale of eight submarines during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad on April 20, more than doubling Pakistan’s fleet. Soon a brash naval captain may pose a bigger risk of triggering a nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan than a religious terrorist. China is likely to conclude a sale of eight conventional submarines during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad on April 20, more than doubling Pakistan’s fleet. Analysts say it may be the first step in helping Pakistan gain the ability to fire nuclear weapons at sea, keeping pace with rival India. The submarine sale will add to tensions in regional waters as Prime Minister Narendra Modi bulks up India’s navy to prevent China from gaining a foothold in the area. Xi’s visit, the first by a Chinese head of state to Pakistan since 2006, will also outline investments in gas pipelines, highways and rail links that will give China access to the Arabian Sea, in part through territory claimed by India. While Pakistan’s efforts are still “embryonic,” its naval commanders want to follow Israel’s example of equipping conventional submarines with nuclear-tipped missiles, Iskander Rehman of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based policy research group, said in a March 9 report. Nuclear weapons at sea pose a greater risk than stationary land-based arsenals because they are submerged and harder to detect. “We are now entering a new era whereby naval interactions will occur under a perpetual nuclear shadow,” Rehman said by phone. “My main concern is less the risk of nuclear terrorism, but rather the dangers tied to naval friction within a newly nuclearized maritime domain.”

India’s Submarines

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear program in the world, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Its arsenal, built with the help of Chinese technology, stands at between 100 and 120 warheads, compared with China’s 250 and India with between 90 and 100. While India began sea trials for its first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine in 2009, Rehman says the nation is