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Silvercrest Submarines Newsletter (05).

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Jamaica.

 

 

CBS journalist’s nightmare dive to the Titanic

The actual dive getting down to the Titanic shipwreck was full of hocus-pocus reported that the dive was initially postponed due to the size of the waves and a consolation dive to the Continental Shelf was also scrubbed at 37 feet under as something went wrong with the platform the sub detaches from at about 30 feet. Days later they tried to reach the Titanic again. Pogue explained there was no GPS underwater, so the surface ship is tasked with guiding the sub to the shipwreck by sending text messages.“But on this dive, communications somehow broke down. The sub never found the wreck,” Pogue explained. On a third attempt on their last day at sea, they had a successful dive where they saw the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean. Not only does the Titan not have GPS underwater, the hatch is bolted shut from the outside. And according to Pogue there is no other way out. He explained to BBC on Tuesday, there was no escape pod and the sub needed to get to the surface. “It’s get to the surface or die,” he said. He understood the sub had seven different ways to resurface and that it was “really concerning” none of these had worked so far.Titanic expedition leader, @gmichaelharris, says more people have been to outer space than the depth of the ocean that the missing Titanic tour submarine is. The vessel has a range of 96 hours for a crew of five, and US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said Monday afternoon, local time, he believed it still had 70 or more hours of remaining oxygen. Former US Coast Guardsman John Mixson said it was a “dire situation”.“It’s hard to say, whenever you just lose total communications in a situation like that, what actually happened until you find the vessel,” Mr Mixson told Fox News. “This isn’t a common occurrence at all.”“Obviously, something very rapid and very tragic took place.”He added that there was still hope to locate survivors given at this point it was still a search and rescue mission. Among those on board the Titan is British billionaire Hamish Harding, chief executive of Action Aviation in Dubai.“I am proud to finally announce that I joined OceanGate Expeditions for their RMS TITANIC Mission as a mission specialist on the sub going down to the Titanic,” he wrote on social media.“Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023,” the 58-year-old added. Tickets for the expedition cost $USD250,000 ($367,000) per person. In a statement quoted by CBS News and other media outlets, OceanGate Expeditions said: “Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families.”The US Coast Guard has launched two C-130 planes to survey the surface, while Canada has deployed aircraft “which utilizes sonar technology with buoys,” Chief Petty Officer Robert Simpson told AFP.He said that “after the expected time of return” for the submersible, the OceanGate ship “conducted an initial search and were unable to find anything or any sign of the submarine and they contacted the Coast Guard.”OceanGate said in its statement it was “deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to re-establish contact with the submersible.”Without having studied the craft itself, Alistair Greig, professor of marine engineering at University College London, suggested two possible theories based on images of the vessel published by the press. He said if it had an electrical or communications problem, it could have surfaced and remained floating, “waiting to be found.”Another scenario is the pressure hull was compromised — a leak,” he said in a statement. “Then the prognosis is not good.” While the submersible may still be intact during its dive, “there are very few vessels” able to go to the depth to which the Titan might have travelled.

 

Whistleblowers warned OceanGate safety issues could prove ‘catastrophic’. Then its Titanic sub imploded

A top employee raised safety concerns five years before the vessel’s catastrophic implosion.

Safety concerns about the Titan submarine that imploded in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean with five people on board have been revealed in a number of scathing reports. The US Coast Guard announced during a Thursday press conference that the missing Titan’s pressure chamber was found among other debris, approximately 1600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on the sea floor by an ROV. In a statement to The Independent, OceanGate — the private company that offers the $250,000-a-seat expedition to the wreck of the Titanic — confirmed that the five passengers aboard the vessel are now believed dead. But before boarding submarines from OceanGate, travellers were warned in a contract that “it has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, motion trauma, or death”.The disclaimer is part of a long list of concerns regarding the company’s safety record, as its crew remains unaccounted for with air rapidly running out. A lawsuit, a letter from industry leaders, and comments from the company’s own CEO, one of the missing crewmen, all pointed to potential issues with the Titan submersible. In 2018, the company fired David Lochridge, OceanGate’s director of marine operations. They claimed he breached his contract and shared confidential information about its designs with two individuals as well as with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, Mr Lochridge alleged in a wrongful termination suit obtained by The New Republic that he was fired for blowing the whistle about concerning safety issues. According to the suit, Mr Lochridge delivered highly critical updates regarding the ship’s quality control to senior management and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, pointing to alleged issues such as “visible flaws” in the ship’s carbon fibre hull, “prevalent flaws” in a scale model, flammable materials onboard, a viewing window not rated for the Titanic’s depth, and key safety documents that were not shared with him. “Now is the time to properly address items that may pose a safety risk to personnel,” he allegedly said at one point. “Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place. “The official allegedly pushed for further testing and for outside evaluators like the American Bureau of Shipping to inspect and certify the submarine. He claimed, according to filings obtained by the magazine, that he was fired when he said he wouldn’t authorise manned testing of the sub without scans of the craft’s hull. An attorney for Mr Lochridge, who settled with the company in 2018, said the man has no comment and that “we pray for everyone’s safe return”. That wasn’t the only red flag about the company, which became a media darling for its bold claims about innovating submarine design and bringing tourists to see the famed North Atlantic wreck. In 2018, leaders in the submarine industry wrote a letter from the Marine Technology Society to the company warning of “catastrophic” issues with the submarine’s development. Three dozen signatories including executives, oceanographers, and explorers expressed “unanimous concern”, particularly with the company’s decision not to seek outside evaluation and testing.“While this may demand additional time and expense,” the signatories wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “It is our unanimous view that this validation process by a third party is a critical component in the safeguards that protect all submersible occupants.” In a 2019 blog post, the company defended its decision not to have its sub “classed” by an outside evaluator. “The vast majority of marine (and aviation) accidents are a result of operator error, not mechanical failure,” it reads. “As a result, simply focusing on classing the vessel does not address the operational risks. Maintaining high-level operational safety requires constant, committed effort and a focused corporate culture – two things that OceanGate takes very seriously and that are not assessed during classification.”That same year, Mr Rush, the CEO, told Smithsonian Magazine that submarine regulations were stifling innovation.“There hasn’t been an injury in the commercial sub industry in over 35 years. It’s obscenely safe, because they have all these regulations,” he said. “But it also hasn’t innovated or grown – because they have all these regulations.” The alleged issues didn’t end there. In 2020, the CEO told GeekWire the hull of the submarine was showing signs of “cyclic fatigue”, one of the same technical issues Mr Lochridge allegedly warned about, as the company continued to test the craft, including with a 4,000m deep dive in the Bahamas. As a result, the company temporarily downgraded the Titanic submarine’s hull depth rating to 3,000m, 1,000 less than the Titanic’s depth, according to TechCrunch.Over the next two years, according to the publication, the submarine’s hull, originally built by Spencer Composties, was repaired or rebuilt by aerospace contractors Electroimpact and Janicki Industries. Missing tourist submarine likely ‘stuck’ under Titanic propeller, says Hamish Harding’s friend Electroimpact did not answer specific questions about its reported involvement with the submarine, but company chief operating officer Austin Clark told The Independent via email thatour thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers and their families”.Spencer told TechCrunch its hull wasn’t used on the version of the Titan which went down to the Titanic and went missing. By 2021, the submarine had completed its first trip down to the Titanic. As OceanGate continued to plunge into its Titanic mission, problems continued. A 2022 mission saw the Titan suffer battery issues that required the ship to be manually attached to a key lifting platform, according to court documents Times. Last year, on a visit to the Titanic programme, a CBS News reporter observed the submarine allegedly had “off the shelf components” including lights from Camping World, and that the submarine suffered a communications issue with the ship overseeing its voyage and was lost for nearly three hours underwater. OceanGate Expeditions founder and CEO Stockton Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman were on board the Titan. All five passengers are presumed dead following the discovery of debris on Thursday. The Coast Guard says that ROVs will remain in place but that it will begin to pull back equipment over the next 48 hours.

 

The Submarine Visiting The Titanic ‘Instantaneously Imploded’

OceanGate Expeditions now says the five people aboard its Titan submersible vehicle that went missing Sunday are thought to be dead. “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement Thursday. Contact with the sub was lost shortly after beginning its descent from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean to visit the wreckage of the famed Titanic.US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed in a Thursday press conference that the search for Titan yielded debris that is “consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.” “A debris field was discovered within the search area by an ROV near the Titanic,” the Coast Guard said in an earlier tweet announcing the press conference. Titan lost contact with the surface less than two hours after beginning its journey on Sunday. It was thought to have about 96 hours worth of oxygen aboard. OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein, who left the company years ago, told the British broadcaster in response to the news of the discovered debris: “if there is a failure it would be an instantaneous implosion. If that's what happened that's what would have happened four days ago.”If the hull of the Titan did fail, it may take a long time—if ever—to diagnose what exactly went wrong. But ultimately the cause is certainly the extraordinary forces exerted by the ocean at depth. At a depth of over 2 miles the Titan was subjected to more than 5,500 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. If the sub failed, directly exposing passengers to those kinds of pressures, Roterman says that it would be over very quickly. “If there was any kind of hull breach, the occupants would succumb to the ocean in a near instant.” The pressure we experience from the atmosphere at sea level is a mere 14.7 PSI, or less than three-tenths of a percent of the pressure found at the site of the Titanic shipwreck. “I think it is important to remember that to us humans, the deep sea is a very inhospitable place,”Even the most reliable technology can fail, and therefore accidents will happen. With the growth in deep-sea tourism, we must expect more incidents like this.”

 

Titanic sub implosion: Was the deep ocean vehicle safe?

The implosion of a submersible touring the deep-sea wreckage of the Titanic, killing all five passengers on board, has prompted questions about the regulations overseeing such voyages — and whether the vehicle itself was safe. On Friday, the company responsible for the tour, OceanGate Expeditions, defended the decisions of its chief executive Stockton Rush, who died on board the submersible. “Stockton was one of the most astute risk managers I’d ever met. He was very risk-averse,” Guillermo Söhnlein, OceanGate’s co-founder, told the news agency Reuters. “He was very committed to safety.”But in the days since the submersible first went missing, passengers have come forward to share their stories of glitches and mishaps on expeditions to the ocean floor. Josh Gates, the host of the TV series Expedition Unknown, shared his experience on board the same submersible, the Titan, that ultimately imploded on Sunday.“Titan did not perform well on my dive,” Gates wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. The Titan, at the time, was preparing for its maiden voyage to the Titanic, which is situated 3.8 kilometres (12,500ft) below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean. But even in the testing phase, Gates observed cause for alarm. “We had issues with thruster control,” he told US broadcaster NBC’s Today Show on Thursday. “We had issues with the computers aboard. We had issues with comms. I just felt as though the sub needed more time, and it needed more more testing, frankly.”Mike Reiss, a comedy writer for The Simpsons, likewise experienced communication failures during his trips with OceanGate, one of which went down to the Titanic.“I took four different dives with the OceanGate company,” Reiss told ABC News. “And every time they lost communication.”But he was ambivalent about the problems: “That seems to be just something baked into the system. I don’t blame OceanGate. I blame deep water for that.”James Cameron — director of the film Titanic and himself a deep-sea researcher — was more unequivocal in his criticism. In an interview with ABC News, he denounced the carbon-fibre construction of the Titan as “fundamentally flawed”.“Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub,” Cameron said. “And a number of the top players in the deep-submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and it needed to be certified and so on.”The Oscar-winning director drew a parallel between the Titan’s implosion and the cut corners that led to the wreckage of the Titanic itself.“I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet he steamed at full speed,” Cameron said, adding that warnings in both cases “went unheeded”.The Titan submersible began its descent to the ocean floor on June 18. But about an hour and 45 minutes into its voyage, it lost contact with the surface. Officials with the United States Navy later confirmed that underwater acoustic equipment captured an “anomaly consistent with an implosion or explosion” that same day. It notified the US Coast Guard command that day, but as the sound wasn’t definitively the Titan, the search went on. After four days of search-and-rescue operations, the US Coast Guard announced on Thursday that the Titan had suffered a “catastrophic implosion”, leaving debris off the bow of the Titanic. Five people were killed: the CEO Rush, Titanic researcher Paul-Henri Nargeolet, businessman Hamish Harding and father and son Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood.n the wake of the submersible’s initial disappearance, the magazine The New Republic reported on documents from a 2018 breach-of-contract case, wherein OceanGate sued a former employee for disclosing private information. However, the employee, David Lochridge, said he was acting as a whistleblower to ensure the safety of OceanGate passengers and employees. In a counterclaim, Lochridge cited structural cncerns, including “large tears of the carbon” from “constant pressure cycling”.The New Republic also reported that Lochridge faced “hostility” when he requested more information about pressure test results. Duration 00 minutes 59 seconds 00:59itanic sub: What are the key challenges in the search mission? Rush, OceanGate’s late CEO, had addressed questions about Titan’s safety standards in a February 2019 blog post. In it, Rush objected to additional safety standards and regulations for deep-sea travel, calling it a hurdle to technological advancement.“Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation,” Rush had said. He denounced the process of “bringing in outsiders who need to first be educated before being qualified to ‘validate’ any innovations”.Salvatore Mercogliano, a history professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, believes the Titan disaster may be a turning point in deep-sea regulation.“We don’t quite have [safety standards] yet with submersibles,” Mercogliano told The Associated Press. “But I do think that one of the long-lasting implications of this disaster may be seeing that happen.”Just like the Titanic disaster led to regulations requiring adequate lifeboats for all passengers, Mercogliano speculated the Titan implosion could likewise lead to heightened standards. Right now, he said, deep-sea adventures like the Titan voyage are less regulated than commercial trips to space. That, in part, is because they take place in international waters, outside of the legal authority of countries like the US. In addition, the submersible itself is towed to the exploration site, meaning that — even if it passes through US or Canadian water — it is considered cargo, not subject to the same stringent regulations that the boat carrying it might.“There’ll be a time when you won’t think twice about getting on a submersible and going down 13,000ft,” Mercogliano said. “But we’re not there yet.

 

US Navy submarine forces will be weakened by the Aukus pact

America is struggling to maintain its own sub numbers, and must now hand scarce hulls to Canberra A new three-way naval alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia promises to massively expand Australia’s undersea firepower – and complicate China’s efforts to dominate the western Pacific Ocean. But the Aukus alliance, which will facilitate the transfer of submarines and nuclear propulsion technology from the United States and the United Kingdom to Australia over the next 30 years, comes at a cost – and not just a financial one. Yes, Canberra could end up shelling out up to $200 billion for eight nuclear-powered attack submarines plus their manpower and industrial support base. For Washington, the main cost is an opportunity cost. To give the Aussies a head-start on their new sub fleet, the US Navy plans to lease to the Australian navy three American-built Virginia-class attack submarines. And that could impede the USN’s plan to grow its own undersea fleet. In short, there are only so many submarines to go around and, at present, no extra industrial capacity for building new anisakis solves at least one problem for each of the countries in the alliance. For Australia, the alliance – which the three governments first announced in 2021 – is a shortcut to a much bigger and more powerful sub fleet. The Royal Australian Navy’s six current subs, diesel-electric Collins-class vessels, displace just 3,500 tons. Compared to a 7,800-ton, nuclear-powered Virginia, a Collins lacks range, speed and torpedo and missile capacity. In particular, diesel boats have very little speed or range when fully submerged and running on battery power. They have to put up “snort” air-intake masts to cover any distance, or run on the surface to cover any distance at speed. Doing either means they can be detected easily on radar. With its future fleet of nuke subs, the RAN can patrol more of the Pacific Ocean with greater firepower – and contribute more to the US Navy’s efforts to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. A nuclear powered submarine can operate fully submerged for months on end at speed, and as such is extremely hard to detect and defend against. For the United States and United Kingdom, Aukus’ most immediate benefit is geographic. Starting in 2027, the US and British fleets will base some of their own submarines in Perth, in  western Australia. This will shave hundreds, if not thousands, of miles off American or British subs’ round-trip journey from their current bases to the contested western Pacific. The price the Americans in particular will pay for that new geographical advantage could prove to be too high, however. That’s because the US Navy is already short of submarines – and can’t easily afford to give any of them away. But Aukus commits it to doing so. The ultimate goal of the alliance is to create, in Australia, the industrial capacity to build eight uniquely Australian nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British technology. But those Aussie subs won’t enter service until the 2050s, under the current plan. To bridge the more than 25-year sub gap, the US Navy will lease to the RAN two existing Virginias – and provide the Australian fleet a third Virginia directly off the USA’s submarine production line, which is split between shipyards in Connecticut and Virginia. Giving up three Virginias starting in 2032 could shrink the US sub fleet to a modern low of 46 attack boats (that is, submarines which don’t carry nuclear-tipped strategic ICBMs) at a time when fleet commanders have stated that they need up to 66 subs to deter enemies and win wars. A three-vessel giveaway might not be a problem if the American submarine industrial base had any spare capacity. But it doesn’t. The US Congress usually gives the Navy enough money – $5 billion or so – for two new Virginias every year, but the shipyards average just 1.2 new submarines annually, not even enough to replace old boats as they wear out. The result is a growing backlog of submarine orders on the USN’s books: a backlog that fleet leaders stress gets worse once they factor in the RAN’s appetite for subs under the Aukus framework.“We’re going to have challenges” acquiring submarines on time, Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe told a US Senate committee in April. The question, for American policymakers, is whether Aukus’ benefits outweigh its burdens. Is more favorable submarine basing – and a stronger Australian fleet – worth a dip in US submarine numbers? The answer, at present, is yes. But that yes seems to hinge on an optimistic assumption: that standing up a new Australian submarine industry will have industrial benefits in the United States (and the United Kingdom) as economies of scale kick in.“Our plan elevates all three nations’ industrial capacity to produce and sustain interoperable nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come,” the White House stated. If three countries are sharing sub tech, workers and expertise, all three should eventually be able to build more and better subs, faster. Right? If that optimism proves to be unfounded, Aukus could amount to a submarine giveaway. A zero-sum transfer of a precious military resource from one country to another – all at a time when that resource is in especially high

demand in the country giving it away.

 

Scenic submersible delayed surfacing, damaged in Antarctic ice

fast-changing weather saw a Scenic Eclipse submersible abort its Antarctica dive, with its passengers exiting after two hours. In a statement to Seatrade Cruise News, Scenic said, ‘While on a routine excursion operation in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, and during flat, calm conditions, a katabatic wind event took place. ‘At the time Scenic Eclipse’s submersible, Scenic Neptune, was conducting a dive with guests onboard. ‘As per Scenic safety procedures and [International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators] guidelines, the submersible driver and sea-based team aborted the dive.’Scenic went on to add that the passengers’ delay leaving the submersible was due to ice floes holding up the return to surface. The incident resulted in 'slight' damage to Scenic Neptune’s external tanks. ‘The crew continued to follow the Scenic and IAATO protocols and all guests and crew returned safely to the ship within two hours while the Scenic Neptune submersible was taken into its onboard garage shortly thereafter,’ commented Scenic. The submersible is currently being assessed and Scenic said it will return to service when it is repaired and compliant. According to Scenic, all passengers onboard — and those scheduled on future bookings — have been made aware of the submersible's status.  Scenic Eclipse is operating its third season in the Antarctic, during which passengers have also explored by Zodiacs, kayaks and helicopters.

 

How Safe Are Submarine Tours?

And what’s the difference between a submarine and submersible? All your questions answered following the recent “Titan wreck. On June 18, an experimental submersible carrying a pilot and four passengers to the wreck of Titanic went missing. After several days of search-and-rescue operations, authorities determined the sub, OceanGate Expedition’s Titan, had suffered a catastrophic implosion, killing all onboard. The incident has understandably caused public concern about the submarine industry at large, and travelers who have booked or are looking to book sub trips might be having second thoughts. But are they warranted? It’s natural to be a little nervous about diving in a submarine or submersible—they are, after all, enclosed environments that take you beneath the sea. But generally speaking, there’s not much cause for worry.“A certified submarine is a lot safer than public perception. Of course, there is risk when boarding a submarine, just as there is risk when you board a plane or get in your car,” says Mckenzie Margarethe, marine naturalist and former submarine copilot for Atlantis Submarines. “However, for most touring submarines, it is uncommon for things to go wrong. Every potentially dangerous scenario has been evaluated, and an emergency plan is developed with the crew training on it regularly to ensure proficiency.”Here’s what you need to know before you book a submarine or submersible tour.

 

What happened to the “Titan”?

Titan was an experimental submersible designed by OceanGate Expeditions to bring tourists to the Titanic wreck site deep in the North Atlantic Ocean—about 12,500 feet deep. On June 18, during a scheduled dive, the expedition team lost contact with the sub, prompting a multiday search-and-rescue effort by international groups. Debris from the sub was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), indicating that the vessel suffered a catastrophic implosion that killed the five people onboard, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who was piloting the sub. While the investigation is ongoing, it is likely that the sub’s pressure hull, the pressurized compartment for passengers, failed in some way, and the pressure of the surrounding water caused it to implode.

 

What’s the difference between a submarine and a submersible?

Submarines and submersibles are both underwater craft. Submarines operate independently—they can sail into and out of ports under their own power. Submersibles rely on support ships or platforms for their operations, including transportation to and from dive sites. Titan was a submersible that operated from the support ship Polar Prince, a former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker. Both submarines and submersibles are used for tourism, with the former popular in island destinations like Hawai‘i and the Caribbean, and the latter more common on expedition cruises.

 

How safe are submersibles?

When you look at the safety record for classed submersibles, you’ll find that they’re far safer than planes and cars in terms of fatalities.“Classed or accredited human-occupied vehicles (submersibles) have enjoyed an enviable and unblemished safety record for more than 50 years,” says a spokesperson from Triton Submarines, a private submersible designer and manufacturer. “Collectively, classed subs from around the world carry more than 1 million people a year on dives and have done so for almost four decades without a single fatality.”The key here is that those submersibles are all certified, or classed, by third-party classification societies. OceanGate, on the other hand, intentionally did not seek classification for Titan. According to a now-deleted blog post on the company’s website, certification would have taken too long and been “anathema to rapid innovation.”Naval submarines, however, have had numerous fatalities; the U.S. Navy has lost thousands of submariners, mostly due to warfare rather than accidents, but accidents have happened. The Navy has vastly improved submarine safety through the SUBSAFE quality assurance program, which was implemented in 1968 and has since incidents. Legally, there isn’t much oversight at all—there are no international laws governing submarine and submersible operation. But submarine and submersible operators typically do take it upon themselves to certify their vessels for safety, which is often required for insurance purposes. “Naval submarines are certified by the Navy, and private submarines are certified privately,” says Margarethe. Private certification is handled by third-party classification societies, of which there are many around the world, including DNV and Lloyd’s Register. If you plan on taking a sub tour, ensure that your vessel is classed by a society. “Certification requires an arduous, time-consuming, and thorough independent appraisal of every aspect of the design, production, and operation of a human-occupied craft,” says the Triton spokesperson. The process analyzes everything from material selection to system operations, and it includes a dive to the maximum operating depth. Classing isn’t a one-and-done sort of deal; it continues throughout the lifespan of the sub. “Although the class inspection interval varies slightly between the different certification agencies, all of them require annual surveys,” says the Triton spokesperson. “The class society will annually inspect the hull, structure, safety systems, life support equipment, and the functioning of mechanical, fluid, and electrical systems.” Triton subs also undergo more in-depth surveys at longer intervals, with class renewal every five years.

 

What are your options for rescue if something goes wrong?

Subs have numerous ways to surface, so if one system fails, another will kick in. For example, most subs have a “drop weight” on the bottom, which helps with balance under normal circumstances but can also be jettisoned to cause the sub to surface. But in the event a sub does get stuck at the bottom, most will be at a depth where undersea rescue is possible, whether by divers or another sub. “For the submarine I worked on, we also didn’t go below 150 feet with passengers on board as a safety precaution. This is because in case of emergency, there are vents a scuba diver could access that would fill our ballast with compressed air and bring the submarine to the surface,” says Margarethe. By contrast, Titan was diving to 12,500 feet, the depth of the Titanic wreck. One thing to consider, however, is the location in which you’re diving. A number of new expedition ships carry submersibles, which can be deployed in remote and sometimes dangerous environments like Antarctica. In these remote locations, rescue may be much more difficult, given how long it might take rescue crews to arrive or other variables like sea ice.

 

Should you take a sub tour?

Sub tours offer a perspective of the ocean that most people don’t get to see, and so long as the operator adheres to proper protocols such as classing and regular inspection, they’re a safe way to witness all sorts of sea life. Of course, there’s always some level of risk involved, particularly in remote environments, which is a judgment call you’ll need to make for yourself. But there are benefits to underwater tourism. “You have a tour guide that can tell you about everything you’re seeing and help you develop a connection with the water,” says Margarethe. “I believe it’s important we foster a connection with the water in as many people as possible, seeing as it makes up the majority of our planet and desperately needs our help and attention.”I took my first submarine tour on a family vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands when I was a child; we booked seats on an Atlantis Submarine vessel. Admittedly, I didn’t pay much attention to the operational details, but I do recall being mesmerized not only by the flurry of sea life around us but also by the change in color perception as the water absorbs different wavelengths of light the deeper you go. Atlantis subs fit several dozen passengers who can look out of viewports that run the length of the vessel. Because the sub is so large—or perhaps because I was so small at the time—I didn’t feel particularly claustrophobic. Last year, I made my second dive, but this time in Antarctica. The luxury expedition ship Scenic Eclipse has a submersible named Scenic Neptune that carries six passengers plus the pilot, with the passengers seated in two large acrylic spheres that provide 280-degree views. Though the sub was far smaller than the Atlantis sub, these spheres made it feel rather spacious. The only claustrophobia-inducing moment is climbing through the narrow hatch and down the ladder. The sea life in Antarctica is, of course, vastly different than what you’d see in the Caribbean. But knowing that this underwater world is so infrequently seen by “normal” people like me, I was completely captivated by all signs of life, from tiny krill to massive sea sponges. I was, however, a touch nervous to make the dive. Knowing how unpredictable conditions can be in Antarctica from a previous voyage, I worried that something could go wrong. Though my 45-minute dive went off without a hitch, Scenic Neptune did have an incident in November 2022; a powerful weather phenomenon called katabatic winds pushed ice floes over the sub, damaging it slightly, and keeping guests underwater for a couple of hours. All passengers and crew returned to the ship safely.

 

Questions to ask your submarine tour provider

If you’re nervous about booking a sub tour, here are some questions you can ask your operator to address your concerns.

Is the sub classed and by whom?

Classification by a third-party is a crucial safety measure in the private sub industry.

How often do you inspect the sub?

Subs should be inspected between each dive.

What is the maximum depth the sub can dive to, and how deep will we go on our dive?

Most submarine tour operators will not dive to their subs’ maximum depths—and that’s a good thing. Better safe than sorry.

How long can the sub stay underwater in an emergency situation?

Find out about the oxygen supply onboard, as well as stores of food and water.

If the sub gets stuck on the seafloor, how will we be rescued?

Tour operators should be able to answer this question with ease, as they should have numerous safety plans in place.

Does the sub have an emergency beacon that will broadcast our location in an emergency?

Most submarine tour operators will have an escort vessel on the surface to monitor the sub closely. But it wouldn’t hurt for the sub to have an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or submarine emergency position-indicating radio beacon (SEPIRB) onboard, both of which will broadcast the sub’s location in an emergency (the former works on the surface, and the latter works underwater).

 

Chilling warnings submarine CEO ignored as he was told 'you'll kill someone'

Neither experts nor friends could get through to OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush when they expressed their concerns over the safety of Titan, the submersible that imploded on June 18. Rob McCallum was one of several people to express concerns to OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush over Titan's |He was first warned as early as 2015, then again in 2017, then again in 2018, then yet again in 2019.But Stockton Rush didn't listen to experts or even his friends who told him that Titan, his company OceanGate's deep-sea submersible, was unsafe. The vessel historically imploded during a voyage to the Titanic on June 18, killing five men including Rush, sparking a more-than-two-day manhunt and then, recovery effort. Rob McCallum was first approached by Rush in 2015, when the OceanGate CEO asked him to run his Titanic operation, he told Yorker. The veteran submersibles expert had ventured down to the shipwreck several times, even taking tourists with him, using classed Russian submarines built to withstand the immense 6,000 PSI pressure at the sea floor. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush ignored warnings from experts and friends about Titan's safety Rush wanted the EYOS Expeditions co-founder to lead the charge because of his experience, and he wanted McCallum to help him "go a step further and build a vehicle specifically for this multi-passenger expedition."But when McCallum visited OceanGate's workshop in Seattle, he was unimpressed. In fact, he was disturbed."You have the hand controller talking to a Wi-Fi unit, which is talking to a black box, which is talking to the sub’s thrusters," he said of Cyclops I, the company's first submersible, which was able to venture only about 1,500 feet down. "There were multiple points of failure.""Every sub in the world has hardwired controls for a reason—that if the signal drops out, you’re not f******," he added — Cyclops I was running on Bluetooth only. Concerns about Titan ranged from its carbon fibre hull to the way it was wired Cyclops I's design ultimately led to failures. During a test dive at a marina, the vessel got stuck in shallow water, and McCallum and four other experienced sub operators had to wait for hours while crews worked out how to extract them.Rush wanted to base the design of Cyclops II, later renamed Titan, on that of Cyclops I. Titan was designed to dive much deeper, at least to the 6,000-foot depth of the Titanic.McCallum was concerned that it would suffer similar failures to Cyclops I, and he wrote to Rush in 2018 to express them. His final straw was when Rush decided that he would not have Titan classed by a marine-certification agency like DNV. The CEO didn't want to invite any external evaluators, telling McCallum that they would "need to first be educated before being qualified to 'validate' any innovations.""The minute that I found out that he was not going to class the vehicle, that’s when I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t be involved,'" he said. "Stockton didn't like that. He didn't like to be told that he was on the fringe."Rush sent an email to McCallum, which, according to the Guardian, stated: “As you can tell, this subject gets me a bit worked up; I have grown tired of industry players who try to use a safety argument to stop innovation and new entrants from entering their small existing market. Since Guillermo [Söhnlein] and I started OceanGate we have heard the baseless cries of ‘you are going to kill someone’ way too often. ... I take this as a serious personal insult.”A short while later, when Rush started advertising tourist trips down to the Titanic, McCallum said he started to get phone calls."People would ring me, and say, 'We’ve always wanted to go to Titanic. What do you think?'" he said. "And I would tell them, 'Never get in an unclassed sub. I wouldn’t do it, and you shouldn’t, either.'"On the Cyclops I test voyage, McCallum met chief pilot David Lochridge, who also expressed concerns over the safety of the vessel. As Director of Marine Operations, Lochridge was tasked with "ensuring the safety of all crew and clients" attempting to venture to the wreckage of the Titanic on Titan. His job was to assess its design and safety. In 2017, as the company was prepping for the first manned tests of the vessel in the Bahamas, Lochridge began to worry about the viability of hull. The submersible was made of Boeing stock that was reportedly past its shelf life, and Lochridge feared an impending catastrophe with the more deep-sea dives it made.Lochridge took his concerns to OceanGate leadership, but they were dismissed. So, the expert conducted a thorough examination of the submersible, assessing its seems and connected parts as well as the hull. It was unsafe, he deemed. He wrote up his report and sent it to leadership."Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place," he wrote. "Until suitable corrective actions are in place and closed out, Cyclops 2 (Titan) should not be manned during any of the upcoming trials."Even a friend of Stockton Rush's expressed concerns about Titan's safety to the OceanGate CEO That day, Rush called a meeting to discuss the report. He and Lochridge went back and forth, disagreeing fundamentally on what constituted safety on the vessel. After two hours of banter, Rush fired Lochridge.One of Rush's friends even expressed concerns over the safety of the sub. n 2019, Karl Stanley was on an expedition aboard Titan in the Bahamas and noted hearing troubling noises during the trip, the Guardian reported."What we heard, in my opinion … sounded like a flaw/defect in one area being acted on by the tremendous pressures and being crushed/damaged," Stanley wrote in an email to Rush obtained by CNN. Despite all the warnings, however, Rush still wouldn't listen. And he and four others paid the ultimate price for that decision.

 

Stockton Rush downplayed ‘really loud bang’ on prior OceanGate trip

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush downplayed the concerns of a passenger who heard a 'really loud bang' when the doomed Titanic tourist submarine Titan was on a previous trip. The co-founder of Titanic tourist company OceanGate is said to have ignored a "really loud bang" on the doomed vessel Titan before he and four others died. Stockton Rush, OceanGate's CEO, was onboard when the Titan submersible suddenly went missing in June, before its ruined debris was found close to the Titanic. He told an episode of BBC's The Travel Show a passenger had heard a concerning sound while the vessel was on the ocean surface. It was "not a soothing sound", he said on the 2022 show, but said that “almost every deep-sea sub makes a noise at some point”.Questions remain over the safety of Titan and Rush's approach to safety after the likely "catastrophic implosion" it suffered. On the show, Rush told the tourists he wanted them all to be "fully informed" about the dangers they were facing. He said: "This is an experimental sub, this is a dangerous environment.” Whistleblowers have said glue leaked from the seams holding the ballast bags together, while experts questioned the design of the submersible's hull. In 2021, Rush said in an interview: "I have broken some rules to make this. The carbon fibre and titanium... there is a rule that you don’t do that... Well, I did."Former consultant for OceanGate Rob McCallum told Rush Titan was a risk until it was certified by an independent body. the Titan operated in international waters, far from the reach of many laws of the United States or other nations. It wasn’t registered as a US vessel or with international agencies that regulate safety, nor was it classified by a maritime industry group that sets standards on matters such as hull construction. "I think you are potentially placing yourself and your clients in a dangerous dynamic," McCallum told Rush. Rush told McCallum that he took the doubts over Titan's safety as a "serious personal insult."In a re-surfaced podcast with CBS, Rush talked about the submersible vessel he claims safety is a "pure waste”. In an interview in November 2022, he said: "You know, at some point, safety is just a pure waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don't get out of bed, don't get in your car, don't do anything."Guillermo Sohnlein, co-founder of OceanGate Expeditions, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Titan had undergone 14 years of "rigorous" and "robust" checks during development.

 

Engineer reviews accuracy of 'leaked Titan sub transcript

https://youtu.be/4Dj8IJbP41c

 This week, the alleged transcripts from the missing Titan submersible were leaked online and an engineer has reviewed what happened. Screenshots were shared online and appeared to reveal the final exchanges between those onboard the Titan submarine and the mothership the Polar Prince before the submarine’s devastating implosion. In a video, American YouTuber and engineer Jeff Ostroff has gone over the “unconfirmed” transcript and revealed the likelihood of their authenticity.Ostroff began the video, explaining: “This transcript comes the closest to the scenarios that I think actually happened and it seems to line up with the time stamps.”Transcripts reveal the Titan submarine proceeded with the dive at 8:01am with clearance from the Polar Prince.Ostroff explained that the first red flag for him began when the submarine reported at 08:21 that it was already 756 metres deep. He went on, calculating that, with the wreckage of the Titanic at around 3,800 metres deep and with a dive time of 2.5 hours, the submarine should be descending at a pace of around 25.33 metres per minute. At a rate of 25.33 metres per minute, the Titan should have been at a depth of around 532 metres, not 756 metres, just over 20 minutes into the journey.Ostroff said: “I’m concluding at this point that the Titan sub is descending too fast.”Using the same calculation, Ostroff was concerned about the depth of 1,934 metres that the Titan reported 51 minutes into the trip. According to his calculation, the submarine should only have been at a depth of 1,292 metres at that point in its descent. According to the transcript, the first alarm systems on the sub began to go off at 09:28, as the transcript read: “We’re noting an alarm from the rtm (real-time monitoring [system]).”Ostroff noted that the sub was, “1,200 metres deeper than expected” and an hour early to its destination. The transcript then revealed how the Titan sub released the ballast. When that was unsuccessful in helping them to ascend, they made the decision to “jettison the frame”.The Titan sub reported a “crackling sound” and revealed that the status of the monitoring system, reporting: “Global RTM alert active all red.”On their attempted ascent, Ostroff explained: “Here’s what is alarming to me. Look at their depth, 3,457 metres. About three minutes ago they were at 3,476 metres. So the OceanGate Titan submarine, by this point in time, has only gone about 20 metres in three minutes.”The last message received from the Titan was at 9:46 and revealed that they had switched power to the backup battery at a depth of 3,457 metres, resulting in more sounds being heard.Ostroff concluded that: “All the news reports say that they lost contact at about 9:45 in the morning, so this is not too far off.”

 

Titanic submarine boss said glue holding vessel together was 'like peanut butter'

The CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, Stockton Rush, likened the glue holding their experimental submersible together to peanut butter five years before the fatal implosion of the submersible. The CEO of OceanGate Expeditions described the glue holding their experimental submersible together as "like peanut butter".Stockton Rush had made the comparison in a video posted years before his death and the death of four passengers on board the Titan, the submersible that suffered a catastrophic implosion near the wreck of the Titanic.

In the video, he added that the glue was "thicker than Elmer's glue". The video showed Rush overseeing the team of engineers as they assembled the carbon-fibre submersible. The 2018 video showed his team fitting the structure together as the CEO described the process. He also mentioned that the process was "pretty simple" but emphasised that "if we mess it up, there's not a lot of room for recovery".Mr Rush and OceanGate had been warned about the dangers of the sub's design and build, including the glue and carbon-fibre hull, when under the pressure of the deep ocean. Experts had warned that there might be catastrophic safety problems posed by the way it was developed. Back in 2018, OceanGate’s then-director of marine operations, David Lochridge, had written an engineering report that said the craft under development needed more testing and that passengers might be endangered when it reached “extreme depths,” according to a lawsuit filed that year in US District Court in Seattle.OceanGate sued Lochridge that year, accusing him of breaching a non-disclosure agreement, and he filed a counterclaim alleging that he was wrongfully fired for raising questions about testing and safety. The case settled on undisclosed terms several months after it was filed. Lochridge’s concerns primarily focused on the company's decision to rely on sensitive acoustic monitoring — cracking or popping sounds made by the hull under pressure — to detect flaws, rather than a scan of the hull. Lochridge said the company told him no equipment existed that could perform such a test on the 5-inch-thick (12.7-centimetre-thick) carbon-fibre hull.“This was problematic because this type of acoustic analysis would only show when a component is about to fail — often milliseconds before an implosion — and would not detect any existing flaws prior to putting pressure onto the hull,” Lochridge's counterclaim said. Further, the craft was designed to reach depths of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), where the Titanic rested. But, according to Lochridge, the passenger viewport was only certified for depths of up to 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), and OceanGate would not pay for the manufacturer to build a viewport certified for 4,000 meters.OceanGate's choices would “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible,” the counterclaim said. However, the company said in its complaint that Lochridge “is not an engineer and was not hired or asked to perform engineering services on the Titan.” He was fired after refusing to accept assurances from OceanGate's lead engineer that the acoustic monitoring and testing protocol was, in fact, better suited to detect any flaws than a scan would be, the complaint said.Mr Rush defended the approach in a speech at a conference in Seattle last year hosted by the tech news site GeekWire. He described how he had taken a prototype down to 4,000 meters: “It made a lot of noise,” he said. So he brought the vessel back up, and on a second dive, it made the same troubling noises, even though it should have been dramatically quieter. The company scrapped that hull, which had been constructed by a marine manufacturer, and built another one with an aerospace supplier, Rush said. However, a spokesman for the company said Titan was completed in 2020-21, so it would not be the same as the vessel referenced in the lawsuit. OceanGate also received another warning in 2018, this one from the Marine Technology Society, which describes itself as a professional group of ocean engineers, technologists, policy-makers and educators. In a letter to Rush, the society said it was critical that the company submit its prototype to tests overseen by an expert third party before launching in order to safeguard passengers. Rush had refused to do so. The letter, reported by the New York Times, said society members were worried that “the current experimental approach adopted by Oceangate could result in negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic) that would have serious consequences for everyone in the industry.”In a 2019 interview with Smithsonian magazine, Rush complained that the industry’s approach was stifling innovation.“There hasn’t been an injury in the commercial sub-industry in over 35 years,” he said. “It’s obscenely safe because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn’t innovated or grown — because they have all these regulations.”

 

Personal Submersible FAQ

What is a personal submarine? A personal submarine is a submersible that people use for recreational purposes. From exploring the deep depths below their superyacht, to more and more philanthropists using them for research purposes, a personal submarine can be a great addition to enhance your time on (and under) the water.

Who invented the personal submarine? While there are numerous reports of the first archaic designs and use of submarines as far back as 332 B.C., most believe that the first use of the type of submarine still used today was that invented by Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel in 1623. The more modern submarine used for recreational purposes was invented by Graham Hawkes in the 1970s.

What is the difference between a personal submarine, mini submarine, and small submarine? The difference between these three types of submarines is:

  • Personal submarine – A personal submarine is usually privately funded, or bought, for use strictly by the owner and their guests.
  • Mini submarine – A mini submarine is usually under 150 tons and will only have space for one or two crew members onboard, with very limited space for doing anything other than operating the submarine.
  • Small submarine – A small submarine will be slightly larger than a mini one, possibly with space for up to eight or nine people to sit comfortably onboard.

Personal submarines have come a long way since their invention, with some even offering lounges for excellent front row seating of the views you’ll encounter down below.

How are small submarines powered? Diesel submarines are usually powered by a combination of diesel and electric power. The diesel power helps to submerge the vessel, while the electric powered batteries kick into use when the submarine is fully under water. Submarines are able to submerge (unlike a boat or yacht), since they have two sets of tanks (ballast and trim) to either let air in, or water (water to help the submarine submerge; air to bring it back to the surface).

Can a regular person own a personal submarine? Technically, yes. Plenty of “regular” people own personal submarines; however, they do carry a price tag of around $2 million so they are more of a status symbol or toy for the ultra-high-net-worth individuals and cost much more than the average person could afford.

How deep can a one-person submarine go? While most one person submarines should be able to descend around 300m (985ft) below the surface, it depends on the capabilities of the submarine. What materials were made to construct the submarine? What is the technology used on board? How experienced is the operator? A number of factors will need to be confirmed before saying for sure how deep one can go in their submarine. Triton submersibles currently has a two-person submersible that is classed with “unlimited” depths — the first submersible ever to be given this designation. The majority of the submarines you see making expeditions to the depths of the ocean are classed all the way to 4,000m.

How much does a personal submarine cost? Most personal submarines built for at least two people will have a starting price tag of $1 million, although it can easily start closer to $2 million if you add any personalization’s or add-ons to the off the line models available. Personal submarines may not be for everyone, but for the superyacht set, they are becoming increasingly popular to have on board. Once you’ve made space for the two tenders, a range of jet skis, and the helicopter, isn’t a personal submarine next?

 

Russia’s Typhoon-Class: Meet the Biggest Submarine Ever

Russia’s Typhoon-class nuclear-armed submarines may not serve anymore, but they are referred to as one of the most “feared” weapons during the Cold War – it was the largest submarine ever built. Although the submarines are no longer actively patrolling the Northern Seas, they remain the world’s largest submarine ever to exist. The Typhoon class submarines were nearly two football fields long at 574 ft. The fleet of boats threatened the West with extremely substantial and lethal weapons. The Typhoon submarines could carry up to twenty long-range ballistic missiles. The total fleet of Typhoon-class submarines presented a substantial threat, as the Federation of American Scientists describes it, “200 nuclear warheads that were once aimed at the United States.” “The submarine (Typhoon) is equipped with the D-19 launch system with 20 solid-fuel propellant R-39 missiles which have a range of up to 10,000 km. They are arranged in silos in two rows in front of the sail between the main hulls. The Typhoon has an automated torpedo and missile loading system including 6 torpedo tubes with calibres of 650 and 533 mm,” the FAS report states. R-39 RiF nuclear weapons presented a significant threat to the U.S. and NATO given that they could fire from ranges up to 8,200 miles and hold U.S. targets at risk from more than 5,000 miles away. Depending upon which dark corners of the undersea Typhoon submarines were lurking in, they certainly could hold vital U.S. targets at risk. Specifics listed on MissileThreat.com say the R-39s operate with as many as ten Multiple-Reentry Vehicles capable of delivering a 200 Kiloton warhead.

 

Russian Typhoo-class Submarines vs. US Ohio-class

However, despite the significance of the threat they present, the R-39 armed Typhoon-class submarines were not as threatening as the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, which could fire as many as 24 Trident II D5 missiles. This slight disparity did not make a huge difference in many respects, given that the Typhoon-class submarines were specifically built to operate as part of Russia’s Northern fleet, meaning they would patrol the Northern Sea Route bordering the Arctic and operate in the Baltic Sea. As part of this strategic focus, the Typhoons were engineered for ice-breaking and traveling beneath the ice. The FAS report explains that the Typhoons operated with floating antenna buoys in order to network satellite navigation details and targeting designations from beneath the ice. The submarine could launch nuclear missiles out to ranges beyond 6,500 miles. “The Typhoons are equipped with the ‘Slope’ hydroacoustic system that consists of four hydroacoustic stations. The ‘Slope’ system allows to track 10-12 vessels simultaneously. It also employs two floating antenna buoys to receive radio messages, target designation data and satellite navigation signals at great depth and under an ice cover,” FAS states. A surprising element of the Typhoon-class boat is that, despite its massive size, it was actually somewhat quiet and was stealthier than many smaller submarines. Coating materials and shock-absorption measures reduced the acoustic signature of the boat.“To reduce the acoustic signature a two-spool system of rubber-cord pneumatic shock-absorption is employed as well as a block layout of gears and equipment, a new sound isolation and and rihydroacoustic coating,” FAS writes. Despite presenting this kind of threat, Russia’s Typhoon-class modernization program was canceled in 2012 due to cost reasons, as the Borei-class was reportedly cheaper.

Midget Submarines: Understanding Their History and Technology

Midget submarines, often referred to as mini-subs or X-craft, hold an intriguing and significant position in the annals of naval warfare. These compact underwater vessels have carved out a niche for themselves through a range of critical missions that include reconnaissance, demolitions, clandestine operations, and coastal defense. This exploration into the captivating world of midget submarines delves into their storied history, examines their diverse contributions, and provides an insight into the sophisticated technology that fuels their success.Midget submarines started popping up as far back as the early 1900s when navies worldwide realized the potential of small, sneaky vessels that could operate in shallow waters and pull off surprise attacks. During this period, advancements in naval technology and changing warfare strategies prompted the development of compact submarines capable of navigating coastal areas and harbors with ease. It also emerged as an alternative to the challenges faced by larger conventional submarines, especially in shallow and confined environments. The mini concept gained prominence during World War I when several nations explored the possibilities of utilizing these compact vessels for reconnaissance and covert operations. However, it was during the Second World War that midget subs truly came into their own and made significant contributions to naval warfare. Midget submarines have demonstrated remarkable versatility and adaptability through their involvement in various operations and missions. These compact underwater vessels have proven themselves valuable assets in naval warfare due to their ability to operate covertly in shallow waters and execute specialized tasks. It’s because of these features that make them ideal for conducting sneaky surveys of enemy coastlines and monitoring naval activities. It can quietly gather valuable intelligence, including identifying potential targets, mapping underwater obstacles, and assessing enemy defensive positions. The ability to gather crucial information without detection enables military strategists to make informed decisions and plan subsequent operations effectively. Midget submarines have also played a significant role in sabotage missions. These covert operations involve infiltrating enemy harbors or coastal areas undetected and conducting targeted attacks on enemy vessels or infrastructure. The stealthy nature of midget submarines allows them to approach their targets discreetly, making them well-suited for surprise attacks. By carrying out acts of sabotage, such as placing limpet mines on enemy ships or damaging critical infrastructure, midget submarines can disrupt enemy operations and impede their logistical capabilities. Furthermore, midget submarines have been utilized in special operations, showcasing their adaptability in executing complex and clandestine missions. The design and technology behind midget submarines are driven by the unique engineering challenges posed by their compact size. These vessels must be carefully engineered to accommodate a range of critical systems while maintaining their stealth capabilities and operational effectiveness. One of the critical considerations in designing midget submarines is their propulsion system. Typically, submarines use electric propulsion, allowing the underwater vessel to navigate stealthily through the water without alerting enemy forces to their presence. The speed efficiency and low acoustic signature of electric motors enable submariners to conduct silent operations and reduce detection risk. Overall, the design and technology of midget submarines revolve around overcoming the challenges posed by their compact size. Apart from fitting electric propulsion, using lightweight yet strong hull construction and incorporating advanced navigational aids and sensor systems are crucial features to consider. Stealth features and tailor-made weapon systems would also allow the mini underwater craft to operate effectively and stealthily in various environments. Throughout history, several notable midget submarines have left their mark on naval warfare. One of the most renowned examples is Operation Source, conducted by the British Royal Navy in 1943. The operation involved using X-craft midget submarines to attack German battleships stationed in the heavily fortified anchorage of Kaafjord, Norway. These daring missions demonstrated the agility and effectiveness of midget submarines in infiltrating enemy waters and carrying out targeted strikes. Another historical event associated with midget submarines is the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. As part of the surprise attack, the Imperial Japanese Navy deployed Type A Ko-hyoteki submarines, which were midget submarines armed with torpedoes. Although the attack did not achieve its intended objectives, it highlighted the potential of midget submarines for conducting clandestine and tactical operations. Other mini-subs worth noting include the German Seehund-class and Type 21 submarines used in an attempt to stop the Allied invasion during World War II and the SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) used by the U.S. Navy’s special operations forces. The SDV is a small, manned submersible designed for stealthy underwater insertions and extractions of Navy SEALs and their equipment. It allows covert operations in various environments, including littoral zones and harbors. The U.S. Navy continues to invest in developing advanced mini-submarine technologies to support its underwater special operations capabilities. To sum it all up, midget submarines are a fascinating part of naval history. Since World War II, midget submarines have continued to evolve in design and capabilities. Various nations have invested in developing advanced technology and innovative features to enhance performance. They may be small, but they’ve made a big impact. With their sneaky size, stealthy moves, and ever-evolving technology, they’re a force to be reckoned with on the high seas. Today, midget submarines serve multiple roles, including reconnaissance, covert insertions, and special operations.

 

Pakistan is helping Colombian drug cartels sneak in cocaine into US

Engineers and mechanics from Pakistan and Afghanistan are illegally travelling to several South American countries and joining cartels, to help them make narco submarines that are then used to smuggle cocaine up into the US, and sometimes Europe Colombian drug cartels have always been on the lookout for ingenious ways to smuggle cocaine into the United States. That’s where narco subs, or narco submarines came into play. Now, engineers from Pakistan have gotten into the trade and are helping Colombian cartels take things up a notch and move their illegal goods, using makeshift submarines, that are so ingenious and cleverly made, that they are virtually impossible to detect. These submarines require a minimum of $1 million for their construction. Some of the bigger ones that have been confiscated, could have cost about $2.3 million to make. However, the returns they generate for their South American owners far exceed this cost, as they are employed to transport substantial quantities of high-quality cocaine between continents with an extremely low likelihood of being detected. A Spanish government agent trying to enter a narco sub caught off the coast of Spain. Reports revealed the sub was only caught because it had some issues with the oxygen supply system. In 2020, the US Coast Guard confiscated 39 submersible submarines. The biggest the Mexican drug agencies caught that year was in the middle of construction, which was over 120 feet tall and just 10 feet wide. Experts believe that this particular submarine could easily transport well over 1000 kilos of cocaine. That’s about $128 million dollars (street value, as per Statista) worth of cocaine, in just one trip. However, the US Coast Guard and Mexican agencies now have reasons to believe that the operation has become much more complex. And right they are. New age narco subs are more sophisticated, stealthy. New-age narco submarines have the same rudimentary and fundamental design as the old ones, at least when it comes to appearances, At the same time, they are very ingeniously made and are designed to stay hidden. Most of these new-age narco subs can go to a maximum depth of 10 feet under the water, a feat that the older subs could never manage. Some of these new submarines are also sent to Spain. The newer submarines are expertly concealed with dark grey or blue-green paint, rendering them nearly invisible to spotter planes by other vessels. Moreover, their radar signature is minimized, making them highly elusive to radar detection. To further avoid thermal detection, an exhaust system channels the hot engine fumes underwater. Additionally, these narco-subs adopt a slow travelling pace during the day to minimize the wake they create. Their primary design objective is to avoid detection rather than outpace pursuers, and this strategy has proven effective. In the event that authorities do manage to locate them in the vast ocean, it is usually due to a tip-off or simply sheer luck. Measuring approximately 30 metres in length on average and propelled by three outboard motors, these vessels are usually manned by three Latin-American crew members who usually move towards Mexico. Officials have suspected that the drugs on board would then get transferred to land, where the cartels use tunnels to get their products to their contacts in the US.Narco subs, one could contend are the most remarkably efficient instrument ever created by global drug smugglers. Although not entirely a new concept, most of them, up until now were semi-submersibles, as only a small portion of their hulls stay above the waterline. However, because the seas have proven to be the most profitable and safe passages for South American drug cartels, they have decided to double down on their discovered sea routes and go for complete submersibles. For this, they needed engineers. Several engineers and mechanics from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who went to Colombia illegally, have joined the cartels and are making submarines. Because of the economic crises in Pakistan and Afghanistan, people with technical skills or knowledge have found their way to several illicit trades across the world. In Colombia, there are a number of mechanics and engineers from these two countries who are working with these cartels. Sources have told the US Coast Guard that these engineers are paid quite well. Some of the more experienced engineers are actually overseeing a massive network of sheds spread across Colombian forests, where these narco subs are mass-produced.

 

Inside the Nerve-Racking Dive to an Active Submarine Volcano

The chief pilot of a deep-sea submersible recounts exploring Loihi, which will become Hawaii’s next island.  “Should we go see the sharks?” Terry Kerby asked, treading water beneath the Makai Research Pier. This was a rhetorical question. Of course we were going to see the sharks. Before I could answer he was gone in a hail of bubbles, weaving through wooden pilings and arrowing 20 feet down to the seafloor. I adjusted my goggles, took a deep breath and followed him. Kerby was close to 70 years old, but to watch him free dive you’d never guess it.We popped up about 50 yards away, clear of the gauntlet of fishing lines hanging from the pier. To our left, volcanic cliffs framed Oahu’s eastern shore. To our right, the Pacific Ocean ran uninterrupted to Baja California. By Hawaiian standards it was a drab day, with stern clouds overhead and a brisk wind giving the water a bouncy chop. I knew that didn’t matter much to Kerby. Rain or shine, in perfect calm conditions or in the face of approaching hurricanes, he swam the same two-mile circuit every day at lunchtime—a routine he’d observed for the past 40 years. To commute from his desk to the ocean, all he had to do was climb down a ladder: Kerby’s workplace, the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab (HURL), occupied most of the pier. While other people stepped out for sandwiches, Kerby was traversing Waimanalo Bay, clad in a black shorty wet suit, scuba mask and fins. “It’s a spiritual thing,” he told me. It’s also unsurprising: Kerby is one of the most aquatic souls I’ve ever met. In his role as operations director and chief pilot of the Pisces IV and Pisces V, HURL’s two deep-sea submersibles, he had spent thousands of hours roving the Pacific depths. On Kerby’s résumé there were no stints in an office building, no gigs that involved clock punching, nothing that remotely resembled an average job. In fact, throughout his career, none of his employment had even occurred on land. After our swim, Kerby gave me a tour of HURL’s headquarters, a weatherworn building that resembled a small airplane hangar. The front of the structure was open, and I could see the two Pisces hunkered inside, 13-ton sea creatures temporarily stuck on land. They were 20 feet long, roughly the size of a minibus, set atop skids that enabled them to land on any type of seabed terrain. Their front and back ends were rounded; their tops were flat, with a fire-engine-red hatch tower poking up. The passenger compartment, known as the pressure hull, was a white sphere positioned up front. A viewport gazed from the center of each sphere like the pupil of a Cyclopean eyeball. On the outside the subs bristled with high-definition cameras and sonars, lights, altimeters, laser-measuring devices, acoustic tracking systems, long banks of batteries. On their front bumpers they carried plastic crates stocked with sampling containers for water, gases, rocks, sediment and marine life. “We have two hydraulic manipulators on each sub,” Kerby explained. He pointed to one of them, a robotic appendage with multiple joints and a claw like hand: “This is like an extension of your arm, it’s so fluid.” Working the manipulators in concert, a skilled pilot could pluck even the most delicate organisms and secure them in a jar. Under their hoods, the Pisces contain ballast tanks that can take in or pump out air and water as the pilot adjusts buoyancy throughout the dive. The goal, as with scuba, is to be able to rise and fall as needed through the water column, but to be neutrally buoyant on the bottom so it’s easy to cruise around. Thrusters positioned on both sides of the pressure hull can propel the subs in any direction; the Pisces glide gracefully underwater despite their size and weight. Most of their bulk comes from blocks of syntactic foam—a buoyant, crush-resistant material made of glass microspheres in epoxy resin—that are padded around the frame. Each sub also carries 400 pounds of steel shot. This ballast weight aids the descent; on the bottom, half of it is dropped. The remainder is released at the end of the dive. (The steel oxidizes on the seafloor, helped along by metal-eating bacteria.) In an emergency, the pilot can jettison all the weight to rise to the surface more quickly. Kerby and I left the Pisces V and walked through the hangar to his office in a loft above the subs. HURL’s décor could be described as man-cave chic, minus the chic. It was the ultimate garage—thousands of square feet of machinery, tools, workbenches, diving equipment, spare parts and men in surf shorts tinkering with gear. Zodiac inflatable boats were stacked on trailers. Dog-eared manuals were piled on shelves. An outboard motor hung from the ceiling. Ocean posters and magazine articles featuring the Pisces were thumbtacked to plywood walls. A fridge was plastered in stickers with a distinct undersea theme: the Deep Submersible Pilots Association, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, Poseidon USA, Micronesia Aquatics of Truk Lagoon. One bumper sticker of a rampaging shark boasted: “I’ve Been Seen by the Great White.”Kerby ushered me into his office, a well-loved space that was lined with mementos: pictures, awards, battered leather chests, scraps of coral and driftwood. He went to the kitchen to get us some coffee, and I settled in on a couch that was actually the torn-out bench seat of a car. I had about a million questions, and I wanted to spend the rest of the day talking. Or rather, what I hoped was that Kerby would talk and I would listen, because I wanted to hear every last detail about his deep-sea experiences. To ask Kerby what he has seen in the abyss is to unleash a torrent of recollections, historical accounts, names of remote seamounts, GPS coordinates, facts, figures, dates, locations. He seemed to have total recall of every dive he had ever made. On top of that, he had thousands of photos taken from the subs, hours of video and logbooks dating back to the ’80s. Kerby, a talented artist, had even made paintings of his favorite undersea spots. One site he knew intimately was Loihi, the submarine volcano that is currently building itself into Hawaii’s next island. It rises about 13,000 feet from its base to its summit, which lies nearly a mile beneath the ocean’s surface. Like the other Hawaiian Islands, Loihi was created by a hot spot: a plume of magma welling beneath the seafloor and eventually bursting through. (In July 2021, the Hawaiian Board on Geographic Names officially renamed the volcano Kama?ehuakanaloa.) It’s the handiwork of Pele, goddess of volcanoes and fire, one of the fiercest and most revered deities in the Hawaiian culture. At 400,000 years old, Loihi is her youngest child, a little sister sitting at the feet of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano; Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes; and Mauna Kea, another mammoth volcano that ranks as the world’s tallest mountain (if you measure it from the seafloor). Scientists don’t know exactly when Loihi will grow tall enough to poke its head above the waves. Maybe a hundred thousand years from now—maybe more, maybe less.

The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean

An awe-inspiring portrait of the mysterious world beneath the waves, and the men and women who seek to uncover its secrets.“I did my first dive on Loihi in 1987,” Kerby said, handing me a mug and sitting down in his desk chair. “And I’m dropping down there in Pisces V going, What am I doing diving on an active submarine volcano?” No one knew if this was a good idea. There was no map to follow, no best practices to avoid getting buried by eruption debris or crushed beneath unstable lava shelves. Live undersea volcanoes are uneasy places, and Kerby was aware that he needed to approach this one with caution. The submersible sank into the darkness on its white-knuckle reconnaissance, drifting down and down until it reached Loihi’s highest point, which would later become known as Pisces Peak. Trimming the sub, Kerby began to orient himself. He could see mounds of black pillow lava, and rust-colored mineral deposits that signaled the presence of iron, and strands of bacteria waving lazily in the current. Jumbles of rocks glistened with volcanic glass. It was a landscape of stark Plutonian beauty. Suddenly, an immense pinnacle reared up in his viewport. It had to be a hundred feet tall. Chimneys sprouted from its sides, pumping translucent fluid. Kerby knew what to call the strange formation—a hydrothermal vent system—but vents had been discovered only a decade earlier, on the Galápagos’s deep seafloor. Scientists were just beginning to study them and marvel at their weirdness. Like hot springs on land, hydrothermal vents pop up in volcanically active areas, roiling out a mix of seawater, minerals, gases and microbes from the earth’s superheated plumbing. When this brew hits the cold, deep water, it precipitates minerals that form chimneys of various heights. Kerby named the giant looming before him “Pele’s Vent.” At that moment it seemed prudent to pay her some respect. After that first dive scientists kept clamoring to return, and Kerby became familiar with Loihi’s twisted gray-green chimneys and spooky ochre-yellow rocks, its rubble-strewn craters streaked with something that looked like dried blood. There were uncommon animals down there, too. Kerby regularly ran into a toad-like fish called Sladenia remiger that squatted on the rocks with fins that resembled feet. It’s a member of the anglerfish family, and so awful-looking that it’s cute. Steel-blue eels would zip by the viewports: these were synaphobranchids, nicknamed “cutthroat eels” because their gill slits are slashed across their necks. Kerby also encountered chimaeras, or ghost sharks, primitive cartilaginous fish with big heads, pointy snouts, fins like airplane wings, long trailing tails and shiny silver-dollar eyes. A sensory network of lateral lines curve around the chimaeras’ bodies, making them look as though they’ve been stitched together, or assembled from jigsaw puzzle pieces. Sometimes a false catshark would swish by like a runway model, sporting the elongated eyes of a gray alien and a wide jack-o’-lantern grin. It’s one of the many deep-sea shark species that we barely know, because they wisely spend their lives as far from us as they can possibly get. On one memorable dive, the Pisces subs were greeted by a Pacific sleeper shark—a thick-bodied deep-dweller with mottled skin and a buzz-saw mouth. It’s closely related to the Greenland shark, the earth’s longest-lived vertebrate, with a life span that can top 400 years. (Researchers once thought they were the same species.) Pacific sleeper sharks are covert creatures, hefty as great whites and the only predators besides sperm whales that are known to hunt giant squid. Kerby showed me a video of the sleeper gliding by in dramatic chiaroscuro and closely approaching both subs, one after the other, while excited scientists shouted in the background. The shark had an oddly gentle vibe, a body as brindled as old granite, and blind-white eyes thanks to a parasite that eats its corneas. It wasn’t like any shark I had ever seen. It seemed to have come from deep time rather than the deep ocean, like a visitor from a vanished era. “Look at her,” Kerby said, gesturing to the screen. “If ever there was an ancient Hawaiian spirit wandering Loihi, that was it.”In 1996, the seafloor around Loihi rattled with a swarm of 4,000 earthquakes, the largest seismic event ever recorded in Hawaii. “Nobody had any idea what was happening,” Kerby recalled, raising his eyebrows for emphasis. “It just sounded like something major was going on.” A Pisces expedition was quickly mounted. Descending into a deep-sea eruption is not on the average person’s to-do list, but this was an event scientists couldn’t afford to miss. That didn’t mean it wasn’t wildly dangerous. Submarine volcanoes don’t always present themselves politely. During one notorious tantrum in September 1952, the U.S. Navy’s deep-sea hydrophones detected a series of loud explosions in the Pacific Ocean, 230 miles south of Tokyo. It was a known spot for frisky tectonics, part of a longer arc at the seam where two oceanic plates collide. Active volcanoes had been charted on the nearby seafloor. Over the next week, the blasts continued, becoming so convulsive they generated multiple tsunamis. Often these outbursts were accompanied by thunder and lightning that lasted for hours. “Great sparks rose into the sky,” one fisherman noted. Someone else called in a “pillar of fire.” Marine observers watched a 200-foot dome of water swell up on the surface like a colossal bubble, its edges running with waterfalls. They heard roaring and moaning noises that seemed to come from the ocean itself, which had turned a sickly green color and was puking up dead fish. When U.S. Air Force pilots flew over the site, they saw spiky black rocks emerge in a boil of whitewater and then sink back into the depths. For marine geologists this was blockbuster stuff, so when the explosions stopped—momentarily, as it turned out—a group of 31 Japanese scientists and crew motored out on a research ship, the Kaiyo Maru 5, to document the action firsthand. We’ll never know what they witnessed that day, for the ship was never seen again. A few days later, scraps of it were found floating nearby. The wreckage was shot through with lava shrapnel. It’s hard to imagine the force that’s needed to propel hundreds of tons of volcanic mayhem upward through a mile of water, but it’s safe to say that you don’t want to be near it in a submersible. And the Hawaiian Islands have hosted a lot of turbulent rocks. On a wall outside Kerby’s office, I’d noticed a bathymetric map of Hawaii that revealed vast debris fields on the seafloor. Rocks the size of bungalows, buildings and city blocks had, at some point, careened across 38,000 square miles of submarine real estate, an area five times larger than the combined landmass of the islands. I felt humbled by the sight of the map because I knew what it meant: Monumental violence had occurred here in the past, when the volcanoes rose to a point where they shuddered and partially collapsed, generating mighty submarine landslides. (Some of the slides would have caused mega-tsunamis, which explains why coral fragments have been found high on the slopes of the Big Island.) During a massive earthquake swarm, anyone familiar with this submerged carnage would’ve instantly wondered: Was Loihi shifting and sliding and shedding its skin in that same way now?“It was nerve-racking,” Kerby confirmed. “We got out to the site and there was still activity coming off the bottom. The ship was getting hit with these shock waves, just—BANG! I was supposed to go down there to see what was going on.” He laughed. “I never would have done a dive like that if I hadn’t been exploring that volcano for nine years already.”Kerby descended in the Pisces V, easing the sub down warily. The water in the depths was turbid, and it gave off an unsettling, almost electric, vibe. Visibility worsened. “I worked my way up to where Pele’s Vent should’ve been. We came to the edge of this huge drop, and we just sat there staring at it.” It took a moment to grasp what had happened. Pele’s Vent was gone: In its place was a thousand-foot-deep crater. The volcano’s magma reservoir, its molten heart, had drained, flowing down the rift zone and causing the peak to implode. Later, scientists would discover vent fluids emitting from the new pit crater at temperatures up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Creeping forward, Kerby dropped into the maw: “It got to the point where I couldn’t see anything.” Orange bacterial floc and white flecks of sediment whirled around the sub like a blizzard. On his sonar, Kerby saw that the Pisces had flown perilously close to the crater’s wall. He reversed with one of the thrusters, triggering an avalanche of loose rock. “The thruster started all this stuff moving, so I got out of there,” Kerby said with a grin. “After that I was completely addicted to volcano diving.”

 

The Latest Trend on Yachts? Submersibles.

Only boats at least 120 feet long can hold a sub, which typically costs between $2 million to $7 million. Manufacturers of the deep-sea vessels say many of their clients are wealthy enthusiasts.

 

Charles Kohnen, co-founder of the submersible manufacturer SEAmagine Hydrospace, estimates that there are 200 manned vessels worldwide. Some are used by scientific institutions, others for tourism. But a growing number belong to a select group of yacht owners. While a ticket aboard a submersible tour, like the one that ended in tragedy this year en route to the Titanic shipwreck, is too pricey for most people, owning a submersible requires another level of wealth and boating infrastructure. Only sufficiently large yachts — at least 120 feet — can hold a sub, which typically costs between $2 million to $7 million (not including the cost of a crane to lower the sub, the speedboat needed to board, and services like mapmaking and guides that can run about $15,000 per day).“It’s not like a fancy car,” Kohnen said. “It’s more like a $5 million spacecraft.”Just as having a helicopter and launchpad on a yacht was hot in the 1980s, Kohnen said, getting a personable submersible is increasingly a thing for the wealthy. Ofer Ketter, whose company, SubMerge, caters to personal sub owners, sees a similar trend. “You have a mega-yacht, a super yacht — a submersible has become the next thing to have,” he said. Deep-sea explorations have a growing fan base among the elite. The filmmaker James Cameron and the billionaire investor Ray Dalio have both donated vessels to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and invested in the submersible manufacturer Triton Submarines. Dalio said it was about discovery. “The ocean is the greatest resource we have,” he said. “It’s twice the size of all continents combined — and underexplored. “Some submersible owners lend out their vessels for documentaries and scientific research, while others are in search of never-before-seen species or want to explore shipwrecks. And there is a kind of mixed-use model that is versatile for everything from an underwater wedding to cocktails on the reef, dinner or a poker game, said Craig Barnett, Triton’s director of sales and marketing. The personal submersibles industry has grown with the size of yachts. When SEAmagine started in 1995, mostly robots were used for deep-sea scientific work because lowering submersibles into the ocean with people inside was unwieldy, Kohnen said. The company built a model that could be boarded from the water, and this relaunched an era of manned submersibles for science and tourism. Around 2005, SEAmagine got its first yacht commission — and competition. Another submersible manufacturer, U-Boat Worx, started operations in the Netherlands, and Triton soon followed. Yachts were becoming bigger, but, Kohnen said, people were also starting to value experience-seeking over luxury. Making “the moment.” Where to dive and how long an expedition lasts depends, but an adventure can take months of planning to scout, map and set up. SubMerge has coordinated five expeditions with three different private clients this year, Ketter said, and the company works with about six luxury travel firms, including submersible manufacturers. typical day “in a good spot” usually involves a few dives that last about an hour or two, with breaks for meals, Kohnen said. “Even after a thousand dives, it never stops being exciting.”hat about the implosion of the Titan? The fatal OceanGate tour shined a harsh spotlight on deep-sea adventure. But Kohnen said the craft involved was an “outlier” that was not built to specifications and had been a cause of concern in the submersible community for years.Ketter said that his company had not had any cancellations since the accident. Triton likewise said that it had no cancellations, that it was building five submersibles and experiencing “remarkable demand” from private owners and tourism companies. Although private submersibles are gaining momentum, Barnett said, the number of scientific institutions using them was “regrettably low.” Dalio said he thought filming the ocean from private craft would spur more investment and exploration. “It’s very underfunded, but it’s picking up,” he said.

 

Meet the American who launched modern submarines, John Philip Holland, 'brilliant' self-taught engineer

'Father of the modern submarine' was born in Ireland and reshaped global warfare — yet died in poverty. John Philip Holland was born in Ireland but pursued his dreams in the U.S. His prototype submarines were funded by Irish patriots in America before the U.S. Navy gained interest. John Philip Holland’s brilliance transcended distance — and depth. Widely proclaimed "the father of the modern submarine," Holland was born in Ireland and moved to the United States as a young man with the audacious idea of building a "submergible torpedo boat" that could fight silently beneath the waves. He succeeded in remaking maritime history despite no formal mechanical, engineering or military training. "He was a brilliant and instinctive engineer," Holland biographer Lawrence Goldstone told Fox News Digital. Goldstone chronicled Holland’s unfathomable story in his 2017 book, "Going Deep: John Philip Holland and The Invention of the Attack Submarine.""He figured out how to use the principals of undersea navigation to create a weapon that totally changed naval warfare," said Goldstone. The USS Holland (SS-1), the first U.S. Navy submarine, was commissioned on Oct. 12, 1900. The state-of-the-art American vessel, Holland's design, inspired a revolution in military technology. "France, Japan and Britain each … pursued their own design based on the early Holland vessels," reports the U.K.’s Shipwreck Centre and Maritime Museum on the Isle of Wight.  "He was a brilliant and instinctive engineer." — Lawrence Goldstone The first British submarine, HMS Holland 1, was commissioned in 1901The museum adds, "Germany’s own experiments had not been successful, and they decided to experiment with a Holland vessel." The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Tuscon (SSN 770) at sea. "Father of the modern submarine" John Philip Holland pioneered the principals of submarine design still used today to build America's modern nuclear-powered submarine fleet. Holland became a U.S. citizen but would achieve neither fame nor fortune in the land of opportunity.is intellect, it turned out, faced one challenge too deep to overcome. "Holland was naive," said Goldstone. Isaac Rice, an equally brilliant but "ruthless" electric-automobile pioneer, became a business partner and outmaneuvered the inventor to gain control of J.P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co. and his intellectual property. ice transformed Holland’s business into Electric Boat. Now a division of General Dynamics, Electric Boat has built much of the U.S. Navy submarine fleet, as well as boats for many other nations, for nearly 125 years. USS Holland (SS-1) in drydock, circa 1900, probably soon after she entered Navy service. (Disclaimer: "Use of released U.S. Navy imagery does not constitute product or organizational endorsement of any kind by the U.S. Navy.") (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command). Holland died penniless and unknown. Genius is not transportable," lamented Goldstone. When Holland's invention, he said, "got to the point that he had to turn it into a practical product, not a practical machine but a practical product, he was totally out of his depth."

 

Submersible mechanical duck

John Philip Holland was born in Liscannor, County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland, on Feb. 24, 1841. The date of his birth is disputed. His father John Holland, a lighthouse keeper and coastguardsman, and his mother, Mary (Scanlan) Holland, were both native Irish speakers. It appears the submarine pioneer was a teenager before he learned English. Ireland had suffered under British rule for centuries."He considered the use of the submarine to further the cause of Irish Independence." — Naval History and Heritage Command Holland’s father reportedly died when the future inventor was a young boy. He was just four years old when famine struck Ireland. Millions of Irish died or fled overseas. Holland was stricken with poor eyesight due to malnourishment, according to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He was, by all accounts, an Irish patriot."As a youth, he considered the use of the submarine to further the cause of Irish Independence," reports the U.S. Navy's Naval History and Heritage Command. The Turtle was the world's first submarine known to be used in combat. It was built in 1775 by David Bushnell (1742-1824) and used against the British in 1776. Image from 1787.  Holland attended Christian Brothers School in Limerick and later became a mathematics and music teacher at the Christian Brothers convent in Drogheda, Co. Louth, north of Dublin."It was during his residence at Christian Brothers that he designed the submersible mechanical duck," according to the website of Scholars Townhouse Hotel, located in Holland's former convent. The duck "could walk around the garden, swim, dive underwater and then resurface."The source of Holland's mechanical aptitude remains unknown even to biographer Goldstone. Friends of Hunley archeological technician Chris Ohm straightens the hair on the facial reconstruction of Arnold Beckner, a crew member of the H.L. Hunley, before a press conference, on April 16, 2004, in Charleston, South Carolina. The Hunley is a Civil War submarine that sunk in 1864 while on a mission to torpedo a Union ship in Charleston. It was raised in 2000.  What is certain is that Holland grew up in an era bursting with innovation and filled with stories of underseas adventure. Connecticut colonist David Bushnell built the Turtle, a primitive one-man submersible, in 1775; it was used unsuccessfully to attack the HMS Eagle in New York Harbor in 1776. Submarine warfare gained international attention again during the American Civil War. The confederate vessel H.L. Hunley torpedoed and sunk the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor. It is the first known sinking of an enemy vessel by a submersible in the history of warfare. There was no glory to celebrate. The Hunley sunk, too. Its wreckage and the remains of its crew were discovered only in 1995. Holland was further inspired by fiction. "In 1870, Jules Verne published a novel ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,’" the Clare County Library reports in its history of the beloved native son. An excited Holland persisted in turning a dream into reality."

‘Fantastic scheme of a civilian landsman’

Holland moved to the United States in 1873, first to Boston and then to Paterson, New Jersey. e submitted his first submarine designs to the U.S. Navy in 1875. hey were turned down as unworkable. Fenian Ram submarine, 1881, U.S., drawing. The Fenian Ram was built by Irish-American submarine pioneer John Philip Holland and funded by Irish patriots. Holland later designed the first commissioned U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Holland "A fantastic scheme of a civilian landsman," one member of top Navy brass reportedly said. Holland found benefactors in like-minded Irishmen. "The American Fenian Society, a group of Irish patriots who hoped to undermine England's naval power and gain independence for Ireland, commissioned Holland to build a submarine," reports The Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C. His first "submergible" — as he called the technology — sank during testing in the Passaic River. His second model, dubbed the Fenian Ram, successfully launched in New York City in 1881.  John Philip Holland received the patent for his submarine design, the "submergible torpedo boat," on April 12, 1892. The inventor was born in Ireland but stated that he was a "citizen of the United States" when he filed the patent application on Dec. 5, 1889.  "He frightened fishermen and small boating parties on Long Island Sound by sudden appearances from beneath the waves; and apparently thoroughly enjoyed himself with his first real submarine," writes the U.S. Naval Institute."A full-scale vessel, the Fenian Ram had many of the features we associate with modern submarines," notes the Irish American Museum. "He frightened fishermen and small boating parties on Long Island Sound by sudden appearances from beneath the waves." — U.S. Naval Institute Among them: a tubular cigar shape and dual power — electricity for underwater, internal combustion for operating on the surface, much like non-nuclear subs still employ today. The Fenian Ram was armed with torpedoes and fitted with a Holland innovation that transformed submarine technology forever: rudder planes that allowed the boat to dive and rise in the water. Top brass was still not impressed. Holland spent nearly two decades working on improvements. In 1897, he launched "the first submarine with the power to run submerged for any considerable distance," according to CHIPS, the Department of the Navy's information technology magazine. Naval Academy Midshipmen aboard the USS Holland (SS-1), the first official U.S. Navy submarine, commissioned in 1900. The Holland spent much of his service training Midshipmen for the future of submarine warfare. Date of image unknown. (Disclaimer: "Use of released U.S. Navy imagery does not constitute product or organizational endorsement of any kind by the U.S. Navy.") (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command). By this time, he had lost the support of the Fenian brotherhood. A new business partner emerged: Isaac Rice, a pioneer in electric automobiles. Among other successes, had filled the streets of New York City with electric taxicabs, before the internal combustion vehicles replaced those fueled by battery. Their sixth prototype proved a triumph. "It was 53 feet long and driven by a 45 h.p. gas engine for surface travel and a 45 h.p. gas engine for underwater travel," reports the Clare County Library. Holland submarine launch and christening ceremony at the Crescent Shipyard, Elizabethport, New Jersey, May 17, 1897. Her sponsor, Mrs. Lawrence, is visible beyond Holland's bow. It was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1900 and commissioned the USS Holland (SS-1), the first official U.S. submarine, that year. (Disclaimer: "Use of released U.S. Navy imagery does not constitute product or organizational endorsement of any kind by the U.S. Navy.") (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)"It carried a crew of 15 and had a torpedo tube in the bow. It took its first dive on St. Patrick’s Day, 1898, in New York Harbor and was acclaimed a success."The Navy purchased what is now known as the USS Holland (SS-1) on April 11, 1900, for $150,000, about half the cost to build it. The Holland was commissioned as the first U.S. Navy submarine on October 12. "Holland had an awareness that he needed a business partner … he was unaware of was how ruthless Rice could be."Holland would enjoy success in name only. Rice controlled the business, and the profits."Isaac Rice was ruthless, but also brilliant in his own way," said Goldstone. "Holland had an awareness that he needed a business partner … He was unaware of was how ruthless Rice could be."

‘Father of the modern submarine’

John Philip Holland died on Aug. 12, 1914, after more than a month battling pneumonia, at his home on 39 Newton St. in Newark, New Jersey. He was 73 years old. 

 

John Philip Holland was born in Ireland in 1841, moved to New Jersey in 1873 and proved a revolutionary global figure in naval submarine design. Holland is buried at Holy Selpuchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey. "For 61 years, he lay in an unmarked grave until public ttention was focused on the historical oversight in 1975 and a memorial headstone was erected," reports the Ancient Order of Hibernians. "For 61 years, he lay in an unmarked grave until public attention was focused on the historical oversight." — Ancient Order of Hibernians"Years later, another was erected in its place, and the original stone was transferred to his hometown of Liscannor and dedicated by the U.S. Navy Submarine Force.""Father of the modern submarine," says his gravestone, beneath a relief replicating the memorable picture of Holland in his bowler hat sticking his head out of the top of his submarine and gazing off to his left."Although he was interested in submarines, Mr. Holland was opposed to war," The New York Times wrote in a brief obituary the next day. "His idea of submarines was to incapacitate war ships and not to destroy them and kill the men on them."The world had other ideas. American inventor John Philip Holland (1841-1914), circa 1880. His submarine the USS Holland (SS-1) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy Two weeks before he died, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia — plunging Europe into I. Five weeks after his death, on September 22, German submarine U-9 sank three British battle cruisers in less than an hour, killing 1,400 men."It's the battle that changed naval warfare forever," said Goldstone, while noting that the man who made such incredible submarine power possible had just "died in obscurity."In addition to helping found, if not profit from, Electric Boat, Holland today enjoys acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The Paterson Museum of New Jersey houses a treasure trove of Holland information and artifacts. A model of the first ever British submarine, the Holland No. 1 (named after inventor John Philip Holland) on display in Trafalgar Square, London, a year after the launch of the actual vessel in 1901.   "He really changed the navies of the world and the way naval warfare developed," museum director Giacomo DeStefano told Fox News Digital. A plaque was erected in Liscannor commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death in 1964. Castle Street in his hometown has been renamed Holland Street in his honor. He’s also the namesake of the John P. Holland Charter School in Woodland Park, New Jersey, and the John P. Holland Centre in Liscannor.He’s been immortalized in statue in Drogheda Town, County Louth, where he lived in the Christian Brothers monastery as a young man. He's also remembered and lamented in song in his homeland. John Philip Holland is credited as the inventor of the modern submarine. Shown here in the hatch of one of his early submarines, circa 1900, and with a modern U.S. submarine in 2010. "In the year of 1914, the year of the Great War/A death appeared in the papers, it was read both near and far," concludes the lyrics to "John Philip Holland," sung to a traditional Irish tune.

 

The Wild-Goose Chase For Red October: The Resurfacing of Sweden’s Phantom Submarines

Uncatchable Russian submarines may be loose once more in the cold, northern waters of the Nordic nations of Europe. Their mission? To break the Internet. Last September, explosions hit the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, severely disrupting supply flows, an event still shrouded in mystery. Any number of actors have been blamed for the sabotage – America, Britain, Ukraine – but in April it emerged that Danish defense patrols had taken 112 photographs of Russian vessels loitering near the pipeline in the days leading up to the outrage, including one with a mini-submarine on-board. Had the sub disgorged frogmen with mines to hold Europe energy ransom?  A pan-Scandinavian TV investigation revealed fears that Russian “fishing vessels” were disguised spy-ships, equipped to sever undersea communications lines. In January 2022, two fiber-optic cables connecting Norway to its emote Svalbard archipelago were cut, seemingly by a Russian “trawler”. Coming just prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, was this a warning to the West not to intervene? Trillions of dollars could be wiped off enemy economies if web-connected Western ATMs, servers, electricity networks and water supplies failed due to such activities taking months to repair. Former Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev explicitly said in June that Russia had the “moral” right to cut such cables. Proclaiming “the proven complicity of Western countries in blowing up the Nord Steams,” Medvedev gave President Putin free rein to ruin our sub-sea infrastructure likewise. Nordic fear of Russian submarines is therefore wholly rational. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually always there. One sub which definitely was there was the S-363, a Soviet-era Whiskey-Class patrol submersible, possibly equipped with nuclear weapons, which ran aground off the Swedish Coast in October 1981, in an event dubbed “Whiskey On The Rocks“. Eventually, the sub was refloated and exited Swedish waters peacefully. Sweden was technically neutral during the Cold War, leading to its marine defenses being probed by both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The “Whiskey” incident made this fact abundantly clear. From 1982 to long after the Cold War had ended, nervous civilians and military alike reported sightings of subs across Scandinavia. In 1994, the Swedish PM sent an angry letter of complaint to Russia’s then-leader, Boris Yeltsin. But were these uncatchable “ghost-subs” really ever there? As with Nord Stream, the evidence is highly ambiguous, perhaps by design. It has been argued Russia pushes two contradictory messages with such events simultaneously (i.e, “Look what we can do! Not that we ever actually did do it, you understand. . .”). Denial and ridicule are key parts of this psy-ops toolkit. The Russians try to make those voicing reasonable suspicions look like paranoid idiots. A classic example came with the conclusion by Magnus Wahlberg, of the University of Southern Denmark, that the 1980s ghost-subs were overexcited naval misidentifications of herring farts. Swedish vessels recorded “enemy” sound signals resembling “popping”. In 1996, bioacoustics specialist Wahlberg was invited to analyze these for himself. Knowing Sweden’s fame for herrings, he got one, put it into a fish tank, and made it break wind by squeezing it. The acoustic signature matched those of the 1980s. When an entire shoal farted en masse, possibly frightened by the approach of a surveillance ship, the sound was large enough to register onboard. This is often reported humorously on pop-science websites – some of which, despite being in the English language, are actually Russian – as solving the entire mystery, the implication being that anyone who thinks such ghost-subs really are penetrating Scandinavian waters is a tinfoil-hat nut stupid enough to waste their time recording fish farts. Yet there was actually much more to the 1980s panic than simple sound recordings, an inconvenient fact such reports conveniently elide. Unknown undersea objects are known in military circles as USOs (Unidentified Submerged Objects) and such things do imaginatively resemble the more familiar UFOs in many respects. When the US military wished to debunk UFOs in the 1950s to avoid panic, they often explained them away as “temperature inversions” or “marsh gas”, technical-sounding terms designed to calm public worries. The “fish farts” line fulfils a similar function with regards to USOs. Yet, whatever UFOs may or may not be, marsh gas and temperature inversions can’t really account for many of their reported alleged behaviors, any more than fish farts can account for many 1980s reports of phantom Soviet subs. Suspicious magnetic signatures and radio intercepts were also detected, and periscopes were seen. Herring farts don’t do that. Everyone is familiar with images of strange soil-markings and footprints in remote areas which believers claim came from landed UFOs and their diligent, sample-gathering ET occupants. Compare these to sketches of similar-looking marks from the beach adjoining a Swedish air base at Luleå, where in June 1983 a day-tripping husband and wife, the Alvhuts, found unusual tank-track-like trails and footprints leading up from the water onto the shore and then back out again.  Not being saucer-heads, the Alvhuts presumed frogmen from Moscow, not Mars, were responsible; the apparent landing-point was close to some undersea cables linked to the airbase. Analysts later guessed some top-secret, tracked, seafloor-crawling Russian submarine was responsible, and that its occupants, like those of UFOs, were taking sand samples. By the time military investigators made sketches, though, the tracks were almost obliterated by rain, meaning you either believe the original witnesses’ word or you don’t – as with most UFO cases. Bizarrely, the footprints had rivetted hobnails, like antique diver’s boots, whereas 1980s Russian frogmen would have worn rubber swim fins. Plus, whilst other enigmatic tracks were photographed by the Swedes on their seabed at various different locations, none matched up with each other. How many different models of tank-sub did Moscow have? Were these all misidentifications of some natural phenomenon which just looked like tank-sub tracks to suspicious Scandi eyes? There were other panics about “alien frogmen” (the specific descriptor used at the time) in 1980s Sweden. Like most UFO-disgorged aliens, these too proved remarkably impossible to capture. Extraordinary 1984 reports of a military blockade of an apparent trapped sub within the Karlskrona archipelago speak of Swedish troops and helicopters dropping shock grenades and depth charges, while firing machine guns at fleeing, yet supernaturally evasive, frogmen. On 79 separate occasions, guns or grenades were used. 1984 marked the first-year soldiers had fired in anger on Swedish soil since 1809. Troops even stopped a funeral procession and opened the coffin, checking for Russian spies – the plot of a 1960s Avengers episode. Urban legends about wounded Soviet frogmen being carted off to secret military bases strongly recall similar legends about dead ETs being treated likewise at places like Roswell. Were the 1980s Swedish military spooked into becoming inadvertent ufologists here? The whole affair, whilst sparked by a genuine initial event, ultimately became at least partly a mass social panic. But the results were unambiguously genuine. As one 1986 naval report shows, Sweden massively boosted its defense budget in response to the ghost-subs, even developing innovative new weapons to pierce the ghosts’ hulls. Sweden’s Ambassador to Moscow was recalled, whilst civilian shipping’s freedom became severely curtailed. So, even if Russia wasn’t sending out any subs, merely by giving the impression it was, it won a certain economic and tactical victory nonetheless. With Russian subs seemingly on the loose again (or not) in Scandinavian waters today, NATO should reanalyze the 1980s episodes to prepare themselves for how Moscow could play similar mind-games once again. As for the true ontological status of the 1980s vessels, nobody really knows. Clearly recognizing the magnitude of the philosophical puzzle, one internal investigation into the affair was headed up by a retired Swedish Rear Admiral with the appropriately intellectual name of Soren Kierkegaard! If even Kierkegaard couldn’t solve it, perhaps no one can.

 

Why Are Submarines Called Boats

Why are submarines called boats when they are enormous and perform in ways no other vessel can? The term “boat” has been used historically to refer to a wide range of water vessels, including those built for transportation, exploration, and even combat. Linguistically, the word “boat” has become embedded as a synonym for any vessel that travels on or below the water’s surface. Besides, the original submarines were made in small sizes, thus referred to as “boat.”This article explores the historical and linguistic precedents for this curious reference to the submarine. We will also explore the cultural and technological roots that tie these underwater vessels to their maritime ancestry. Submarines are boats that can function autonomously under the water. These naval vessels can descend and surface using diving planes and ballast tanks filled with water and air.Submarines can be divided into two categories: those used for military and civilian purposes.

  • Military submarines are often quite large, can carry over a hundred people, and are used to patrol ocean waters and attack enemy ships.
  • Meanwhile, civilian submarines are used for tourism, marine research, salvage operations, explorer missions, and infrastructure inspection and can be customized for unique operations.

Strangely, subs of any size and function are called boats. As we have mentioned earlier, this fascinating allusion has roots in history and language. Despite the apparent distinctions between submarines and conventional surface vessels, the term “boat” is frequently used to refer to submarines.

  • This naming scheme was likely influenced by nautical language and dates back to the early days of submarine development.

Submarines have been called “boats” for a long time, but the precise historical reasons for this name change are unclear.

  • The historical development of naval jargon can be traced back to using the term “boat” for submarines. A “ship” is a larger vessel designed for long-term operations at sea. In comparison, a “boat” is a smaller vessel.

Due to their smaller size and shorter range when compared to surface ships, submarines were more commonly referred to as boats when they were first developed. During the nineteenth century, the first functional submarines were created. The first submarines, like the Turtle and the Nautilus, were tiny, one-man vessels. Yet, for a single passenger, these early submarines were still quite large and cumbersome that they were more commonly referred to as “submarine boats” or “underwater boats.”additionally, the United States Navy had a major impact on the widespread adoption of the term “boat” for submarines. The “submarine classification” as boats by the United States Navy started in the early 20th century. This usage most likely developed from the peculiar customs of the submarine force within the navy, because they referred to submarines as “boats.”It’s important to note that the word “boat” is not always used to refer to submarines in all languages. Some languages have words for submarines that literally mean “underwater vessel” or “submarine. “Although there is no one place to find a comprehensive history of how submarines came to be referred to as “boats,” the preceding details come from various books, articles, and websites devoted to naval history.   For linguistic reasons, sailors have always used “boat” to refer to submarines. Submariners and sailors alike have their slang and jargon; for example, the term “boat” has come to be universally understood and used to refer to submarines. In naval terminology, the word “boat” is sometimes used interchangeably with “submarine” to refer to any watercraft used by a ship. This is in reference to the historical precedent in nautical language for designating particular vessels by name. For instance, “ship” is usually reserved for larger ships. Meanwhile, “boat” is more commonly associated with the navy’s small boats or vessels designed for certain tasks. Thus, people have become accustomed to this reference and concept. In less formal or non-technical settings, calling submarines “boats” also encourages clearer exchanges and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings. A submarine is, in fact, a type of boat. Submarines are vessels capable of submerging and emerging from the water’s surface. Unlike more conventional boats, this one can go under the sea and steer its way about. Submarines are considered boats according to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs), which are international laws and regulations for safe navigation. Submarines are simply another type of vessel in the eyes of the COLREGs.

The United States Navy, which has a large submarine fleet, also officially refers to submarines as “boats” Submarines are usually referred to as “boats” among sailors. Therefore, a submarine does qualify as a type of boat. The fact that it can both float on the water’s surface and dive beneath it sets it apart as a unique form of a boat. The curious question of why are submarines called boats does have rather complex answers. The history is not quite concrete, yet the term “boat” for submarine has become a linguistic convention.  

Unveiling the Secrets of Submarine Operations

 Submarines are incredible marvels of engineering that can travel beneath the sea's surface, offering unique capabilities for military operations, scientific research, and exploration. In this detailed article, we will explore how submarines work, from their basic principles to the advanced technology that enables them to operate underwater.

1. Submarine Basics

At its core, a submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the water's surface. Submarines are designed to operate in a challenging underwater environment, where water pressure increases with depth, and where buoyancy control and propulsion are critical.

2. Buoyancy and Ballast Tanks

The most fundamental principle underlying submarine operation is buoyancy. To dive, a submarine must become heavier than the water it displaces. To achieve this, submarines use ballast tanks, which can be flooded with water to increase weight or pumped out to decrease it. Diving: To dive, a submarine floods its ballast tanks with seawater, causing it to become heavier and sink. Resurfacing: To resurface, the submarine uses pumps to expel water from the ballast tanks, reducing its weight and causing it to rise.

3. Propulsion Systems

Submarines use different propulsion systems to move underwater: Diesel-Electric: Some submarines use diesel engines on the surface and batteries when submerged. These submarines must periodically surface to recharge their batteries.
Nuclear: Nuclear-powered submarines have a nuclear reactor that generates heat, which is used to produce steam and drive a turbine. These submarines can operate submerged for extended periods without refueling.

4. Navigation and Steering

Submarines use a combination of systems for navigation and steering: Rudders: Like surface ships, submarines have rudders to control their direction. Hydroplanes: Hydroplanes or diving planes on the sail and stern help control the submarine's angle of ascent or descent. Sonar: Submarines rely on sonar systems for navigation and detecting other vessels or obstacles underwater.

5. Life Support Systems

Submarines must maintain a livable environment for their crew, even during extended missions beneath the sea. This includes systems for: Air Quality: Air filtration systems ensure a continuous supply of oxygen while removing carbon dioxide. Freshwater Production: Submarines convert seawater into freshwater for drinking, cooking, and other needs.
Food Storage: Submarines carry a supply of non-perishable food items for their crew.

6. Communication and Surveillance

Submarines use sophisticated communication and surveillance systems to interact with the outside world and gather information: Communication: Submarines can communicate via satellite, radio, and underwater acoustic channels. Periscopes: The periscope is a crucial tool for observing surface activity without surfacing. Sonar: Submarines use sonar for detecting and tracking other vessels and underwater features.

7. Stealth and Defense

Submarines are designed to operate covertly, making them valuable assets for military purposes: Silencing: Measures are taken to reduce the noise generated by the submarine's machinery, making it less detectable by sonar. Countermeasures: Submarines are equipped with defensive systems, such as torpedoes, countermeasures, and decoys, to protect against threats.

8. Surface and Docking

Submarines have the capability to surface when needed, and many are equipped with docking facilities for maintenance and crew changes. Submarines represent a remarkable fusion of technology, engineering, and innovation. They have evolved from rudimentary designs to highly advanced vessels capable of extended underwater missions. Understanding the principles of buoyancy, propulsion, navigation, and life support systems is essential to grasp how these incredible machines operate beneath the sea. Submarines play a vital role in various fields, from defense to scientific exploration, and their ongoing development continues to push the boundaries of what is possible beneath the ocean's surface.

 

Royal Navy nuclear deterrent submarines conducting increasingly long patrols

On 11th September a Vanguard-class submarine returned home to Faslane following a patrol lasting 195 days. Here we look at the background and implications of these extended periods at sea.

Home from the deep

As the submarine headed up the Clyde it was observed she was covered in marine growth to such an extent that had not been seen before. This is believed to be the second longest patrol by a RN deterrent submarine and the build up of algae and barnacles is possible because SSBNs remain undetected by spending the majority of their time on patrol at very slow speed. This is to minimise their noise signature and once in their assigned waterspace, are not having to go anywhere in particular. This level of biofouling may also suggest she could have been operating in either shallower or warmer waters than is usual. In recognition of an exceptional patrol, the boat was welcomed home by the First Sea Lord and the Deputy Prime Minister although official coverage made no mention of the fact her crew had spent more than 6 months underwater. This itself represents something of a heroic achievement and the crew should be recognised for their sacrifice. From a more pragmatic perspective, it must be accepted that this comes with a significant cost to a lot of people, not just the submariners but their friends and families as well as longer-term impacts. When the RN took on the CASD role in the late 1960s with the Resolution class boats, patrols were typically around 3 months and considerable effort was made to study and mitigate the psychological impact of being in a metal tube without seeing daylight or having meaningful communication with the outside world for so long. The effect of such a period without proper rest and relaxation must inevitably take its toll on the crew and it is an inescapable fact that human error becomes more likely as fatigue increases. Some submariners adapt well to the supposed predictability and routine of life on a ‘bomber’ and when at sea they spend little money while accumulating good submarine pay. Longer patrols also qualify for further bonus payments and an extended leave period. Patrol lengths also used to be quite predictable allowing family life to be planned around them with knowledge of when you would be at sea, living at home and working in the base or on leave. Patrols of excessive duration or patrols that are suddenly extended at short notice inevitably damage morale and will lead to the resignation of more people at a time when there is already a dire shortage of trained submariners.

Relentless

We cannot say for sure exactly why the recent patrol was so long but, although there are 4 boats, effectively there are only two boats at high readiness. The scenario imagined below is a typical example of how the 4-boat force has limited resilience and is pushed to maintain one boat at sea at all times. Boat D is on a planned 5-month deterrent patrol deep underwater in an approximate area known only to a tiny handful of people ashore and a couple of the officers on board. Boat A is in a major multi-year refit and no one can accurately forecast when it will be completed. Boat B is working up after coming out of deep refit and needs to conduct a DASO before she is ready to conduct operational patrols again. (The Demonstration and Shakedown Operation involves the test launch of a Trident missile at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center off the Bahamas). Boat C is conducting a short workup and FOST certification before replacing boat D on patrol. Due to the nature of being an ageing submarine and a long time since the last major refit, Boat C experiences a significant defect while at sea and is forced to return to base prematurely. This results in the CO of boat D having to inform his unfortunate crew that their patrol will be extended by several weeks. There is a mad scramble to repair boat C which takes a couple of weeks and involves taking important parts (Store robbing) from boat B. Eventually boat C is ready to go to sea and conduct a very compressed workup, missing key certifications but can finally relieve boat D, allowing her exhausted crew to come home. Boat D having been at sea for so long will now be out of action for some time and require an extensive maintenance package. Boat B’s schedule is badly disrupted and must wait until equipment can be replaced with parts taken from boat D. And so the domino effect continues. Verifiable figures for patrol lengths are hard to come by but defence sources say the record for the longest is 207 days achieved by HMS Victorious in 2021. In the last 3 years, the average time at sea for a V-boat maintaining the deterrent is calculated to be 163 days (5 months and 2 weeks) a huge increase in the 3-month standard of the past.

The price of prevarication

There a multiple reasons for the pressures faced by the submarine service today, the first of which is the failure to provide timely replacements for the Vanguard class. In 2010 the Cameron government decided to delay main gate approval to start the Successor (now Dreadnought) programme by five years. This supposedly saved around £750M in the short term but in the long run, is adding additional costs that run into £billions. Even more seriously, it places the whole submarine force under growing pressure through the 2020s and risks the credibility of the deterrent itself. The final decision to commit to the Successor programme was approved in July 2016 and first steel was cut for HMS Dreadnought in October of the same year. The MoD is extremely vague about when she will be operational but the project is not paced with the urgency needed and she will probably take around 15 years to build. (About double the length of time it took to construct HMS Vanguard 1986-93). If Dreadnought’s construction had begun around 2011 as originally intended, she would now be just a year or two away from coming into service. Fortunately, the Vanguard class has proved to be a very sound basic design overall and just about continue to be effective in their ability to silently disappear while maintaining the ability to launch missiles. They were constructed with an intended service life of 25 years from the time their reactors went critical which should have seen HMS Vanguard retire in 2017. Like any piece of engineering, these boats become increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain as they get older, especially as they will all have to be run for 35-40 years. A Defence Select Committee investigation into replacing these submarines as far back as 2007 predicted all the problems the RN is facing today. Noting that “past experience with UK submarine programmes suggest that even a 5-year life extension will involve some risk” with boats facing “a significant loss of availability and increase in support costs towards the end of their lives” and “Extending their service beyond 30 years would be a substantial technical undertaking with considerable risk and cost implications”

  • Cleaning off the marine growth will be the easy job, the internal maintenance needed after such a long patrol is the more demanding work. (Photo: Sheila Weir)

The support deficit

Besides the wait for replacement submarines, the force is further hampered by serious issues with its industrial support, lack of nuclear-qualified engineers and delays to upgrading infrastructure. These were contributing factors to the refit of HMS Vanguard which took over 7 years. Failures to make adequate preparations 10-12 years ago sowed the seeds for this colossally delayed and expensive project. There was not enough investment in the workforce or dock infrastructure and the resulting bill at thought to have been well over £500M. The MoD has refused to make the total cost public, claiming “disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.”While contending with staff shortages and COVID, those involved with the project say Vanguard’s material state was such that she was almost rebuilt from the inside out. Work included properly rectifying the damage sustained during the extraordinary underwater collision with the French SSBN Le Triomphant in 2009. Many major items of equipment on board have to be taken out and completely refurbished in addition to the unplanned refuelling of her reactor. Due to severe corrosion, the entire tail section containing the aft hydroplane bearings had to be reconstructed and replaced. These bearings have to be machined to very high tolerances in order to maintain stealth and this operation was just one of several complex engineering tasks that had never been attempted before. The delays to Vanguard meant HMS Victorious had to be patched up in Faslane and kept going longer than planned. This may or may not have been a contributory factor to an onboard fire caused by an electrical fault in Sept 2022. Although fortunately not on deterrent patrol at the time, she was forced to surface and return to the Clyde. HMS Victorious arrived in Devonport in May 2023 to begin her major refit. Some lessons will be learned from the painful experience with Vanguard and she does not have to be refuelled, but her material state is likely to involve another lengthy project. Babcock has now started work at Devonport to upgrade number 10 dock to efficiently support future SSBN and SSN maintenance. It will be at least 2 years before this work is completed as the dock has to be reconfigured and reinforced to meet the stringent regulations for nuclear facilities. It also requires a particularly strong grade of concrete of which there is limited supply in the UK and is also in high demand for use in civil nuclear power projects. When 10 dock is eventually ready it will relieve a major bottleneck in submarine support as there is currently only the shiplift at Faslane available when a V-boat needs to be taken out of the water. (Apart from 9 dock at Devonport which is fully occupied with Victorious’ refit).

What can be done?

Right at a time when the deterrent is especially critical to the security of the UK and its allies, the problems highlighted here are grist to the mill for the unilateral disarmament enthusiasts who can claim with some justification that risks are being taken to maintain CASD. There is little that can be done in the short term to relieve the pressure on the force but there are steps that can be taken which will pay off in time. Since the nuclear deterrent is always priority one, the RN similarly important attack submarine force has often paid the price in availability as there is an interdependence on people and facilities. Like so much of defence right now, future success depends on building up a cadre of good people. In particular nuclear, marine and civil engineers along with project managers, logistics and procurement experts. Further investment in recruitment, training and real incentives for retention would pay off in the long run. Continued spending on dock infrastructure, industrial development and the submarine supply chain is also needed with government making multi-decade commitments to allow contractors to plan and invest for the future. The Dreadnought class need to be delivered as soon as humanly possible and come with very robust in-service-support arrangements together with a deep reserve of spares.ost of the issues the RN faces today are the result of decisions made several years or even decades ago. The individuals in command, the Civil Servants and leaders in industry running support today are mostly not the ones to blame and are doing the best with the hand they were dealt. But it is incumbent on them, and more importantly on current politicians and those that may form a new government to grasp the situation and leave a better future legacy. In the meantime, the UK is especially dependent on the skills and

stoicism of its submariners who continue to put to sea for long periods in boats that are growing old.

 

55 Chinese sailors feared dead after nuclear submarine 'gets caught in a trap intended to snare British and US vessels in the Yellow Sea'

  • Twenty-two officers were among the 55 reported to have died in the Yellow Sea

 

Fifty-five Chinese sailors are feared dead after their nuclear submarine apparently got caught in a trap intended to ensnare British sub-surface vessels in the Yellow Sea.According to a secret UK report the seamen died following a catastrophic failure of the submarine's oxygen systems which poisoned the crew. The captain of the Chinese PLA Navy submarine '093-417' is understood to be among the deceased, as were 21 other officers. Officially, China has denied the incident took place. It also appears Beijing refused to request international assistance for its stricken submarine. The UK report into the fatal mission reads: 'Intelligence reports that on 21st of August there was an onboard accident whilst carrying out a mission in the Yellow Sea.

Echoes of Kursk catastrophe

More than 100 Russian sailors died following an explosion aboard their nuclear submarine the Kursk in August 2000.The Kremlin initially denied reports about the incident and declined assistance from Britain and Norway until it was too late to save those still alive inside the stricken vessel. The Kursk remains the biggest disaster in the history of submarines with the loss of 118 lives. It was on an exercise in the Barents Sea when one of its torpedoes exploded as the crew were preparing for a test launch. The blast caused more torpedoes to detonate and sent the submarine to the sea bed. ‘Incident happened at 08.12 local resulting in the death of 55 crew members: 22 officers, 7 officer cadets, 9 petty officers, 17 sailors. Dead include the captain Colonel Xue Yong-Peng.'Our understanding is death caused by hypoxia due to a system fault on the submarine. The submarine hit a chain and anchor obstacle used by the Chinese Navy to trap US and allied submarines. ‘This resulted in systems failures that took six hours to repair and surface the vessel. The onboard oxygen system poisoned the crew after a catastrophic failure. ‘As yet there is no independent confirmation of the suspected loss of the Chinese submarine in the public domain. Beijing has dismissed open source speculation about the incident as 'completely false' while Taiwan has also denied internet reports. Mail Plus approached the Royal Navy to discuss the details contained in the UK report but official sources declined to comment or offer guidance. The UK report, which is based on defence intelligence, is held at a high classification. A British submariner offered this explanation: 'It is plausible that this occurred and I doubt the Chinese would have asked for international support for obvious reasons.'If they were trapped on the net system and the submarine's batteries were running flat (plausible) then eventually the air purifiers and air treatment systems could have failed.'Which would have reverted to secondary systems and subsequently and plausibly failed to maintain the air. Which led to asphyxia or poisoning.'We have kit which absorbs co2 and generates oxygen in such a situation. It is probable that other nations do not have this kind of tech.'Xi Jinping toasts leaders and guests during an anniversary celebration of the PRC on September 28. China has officially denied the incident with the Type 093 submarine happened The Chinese Type 093 submarines entered service in the last 15 years. The vessels are 351ft-long and are armed with torpedoes. The Type 093s are among China's more modern submarines and are known for their lower noise levels. The sinking is understood to have taken place in waters off China's Shandong Province.

 

China’s ‘Highly Secretive’ Submarine Tech To Be Decoded With Export To Pak, B’Desh, Thailand

 

The US hopes that Chinese submarines sold to Bangladesh and Thailand will give a window into Beijing’s submarine prowess, which remains a well-guarded secret. A US Naval War College report indicated that growing closeness with Russia would help China achieve sophistication in submarine manufacturing much earlier than expected. Technical details of submarine production are classified in all submarine operating countries. But in China, “a culture of extreme secrecy” extends to even far less critical issues.“The lack of public budgets, opaque and monopolistic procurement processes, and a secret build schedule, PRC procurement is shrouded in a greater degree of obscurity than most other countries,” the China Maritime Studies Institute’s latest report read. The report noted that sometimes the analyst discovers the existence of a new submarine type only after its construction is already complete, either through satellite imagery or accidentally filmed footage. The lack of transparency makes assessing Chinese undersea warfare systems’ capability difficult.“Beijing is therefore trying to balance contradictory aims: preserving technical secrets of submarine production while advertising breakthrough successes to signal military prowess, all the while routinely using disinformation about progress in advanced arms programs as a tool in information warfare,” Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, a professor at Kiel University and former naval analyst with German shipbuilder TKMS, said in the report. Apart from gleaning information about China’s ship-building capability and anti-submarine warfare technology programs through recruitment advertisements of the company, the analyst says that China’s submarine export customers can give more valuable information about Chinese undersea platforms.“…information from foreign subsystem suppliers to China and experiences reported by China’s submarine export customers in Thailand, Pakistan, or Bangladesh can yield interesting first-hand accounts of the actual vs. the advertised capabilities of Chinese undersea warfare systems,” Dr. Kirchberger opines. In 2022, the Chinese, unable to manufacture a marine diesel engine for Song-class and Yuan-class submarines, ran its submarine deal aground with Thailand. The Chinese submarines rely on an imported, license-produced marine diesel from the German engine maker MTU, whose 396 SE84 diesel seems to power all the Song-class and Yuan-class submarines that China currently operates. In 2017, China won a contract to supply one S26T Yuan-class submarine to Thailand in 2023. The deal fell apart in 2022 once it became clear that the German government would not grant an export license for the MTU engine. After Thailand threatened to cancel the contract, China offered its indigenous CHD620 diesel engine. But Thailand, as of April 2023, was “still hesitant” to accept this “unproven” engine technology, implying it has never been integrated into a submarine. This situation points to a somewhat “puzzling bottleneck,” says a German submarine design expert interviewed for the report. The German expert considers the engine a “relatively old” technology that is “not too complicated to master” and poses a “manageable” technical risk. Asked to speculate what elements of an unproven diesel engine might specifically be considered risky from the point of view of a submarine customer, the expert offered that the worries might be related to the exhaust back pressure system for discharging diesel exhaust below the surface when operating at snorkeling depth.

“As the maker of the MTU diesel engine explains, to discharge exhaust below the surface, for every meter of water depth, an additional 100mbar of exhaust pressure must be provided to avoid water entering the engine, for which MTU has developed a ‘special charge air system.’ Malfunctions or bad performance in this area would pose a safety hazard for the crew, and reliability is therefore a key concern,” the expert added. In addition, China has also supplied a submarine to Myanmar and is courting other countries to sell its undersea platform.

 

Achilles Heel Of Chinese Submarines

China has three submarine shipyards: Bohai Shipyard, Huludao; Wuchang Shipyard, Wuhan; and Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai. China’s submarine industrial base continues to suffer from surprising weaknesses in propulsion (from marine diesel to fuel cells) and submarine quieting. Closer ties with Russia could provide opportunities for China to overcome these enduring technological limitations by exploiting political and economic levers to gain access to Russia’s remaining undersea technology secrets,” the report notes. China seems ahead of Russia in some areas of submarine-building — such as conventional AIP propulsion, especially in EDTs that require a lot of funding. But it lags in others, particularly in “quieting and nuclear propulsion.”Experts forewarn that the isolation of Russia post-Ukraine war can lead to potential synergies between these two submarine-producing countries. Driven by a lack of funding, Russia’s design bureaus and industries could soon face a brain drain towards China. But the Russian state might decide to halt this trend by entering into mutually profitable synergies, e.g., related to joint production, where Russia would supply essential knowhow on submarine acoustic signature quieting, nuclear propulsion design, and hydrodynamic hull design, while China’s giant and recently modernized shipyards might supply the industrial capacity to build a lot of hulls very fast, fully exploiting economy of scale effects,” said the report. A Chinese news article reported that on July 5, 2023, the Commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, visited a naval shipyard in Shanghai. The article speculated that this might indicate Russian interest in ordering hulls from China’s yards to replenish its strained naval forces, thereby overcoming Russian shipyards’ lack of production capacity and leveraging economy of scale effects, which would be possible if an existing Chinese ship design is chosen. One further area of Russian-Chinese cooperation with potential repercussions for submarine-building concerns nuclear fuel deliveries. On December 12, 2022, the Russian state-owned Rosatom Corp. supplied 6,477kg of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to China’s fast-breeder reactor CFR-600 on Changbiao Island.“The weapons-grade plutonium it will soon produce could be used for warheads, but alternatively, commentators from the submarine research community have discussed the possibility that it could also be intended as fuel for future nuclear-powered submarines,” the report adds.“Time will tell how far the Russian-Chinese “friendship without limits” can go in the susceptible area of submarine production, but it is safe to assume China would be highly interested in catching up with Russia’s remaining technological advantages and willing to use its political and economic levers to obtain Russia’s submarine technology secrets,” Dr. Kirchberger concludes.

 

Underwater Nuclear Disaster: Why Alleged Sinking Of China’s Nuke Sub Is Bad For Indo-Pacific Waters

The plot surrounding the alleged sinking of a Chinese nuclear submarine is thickening, with the latest United Kingdom publication contending that the platform went down after getting stuck in the trap laid out for the US submarines. The purported incident, denied vehemently by China, underscores nuclear submarines’ risks. A report by UK intelligence quoted by the Daily Mail said the Chinese submarine hit a “chain and anchor” trap intended to snare Western vessels lurking off China’s Shandong province. The reported that the crew reportedly suffocated after a “catastrophic failure” of the 107m sub’s oxygen system. It is unclear whether the trap mangled the oxygen system or if the crew had suffocated before the sub sank and became stuck. Earlier in 2021, a US nuclear attack submarine collided with an object in the South China Sea. Nuclear submarines, one of the deadliest weapon platforms in the world, are vulnerable in the event of an underwater accident causing a nuclear leak, regardless of whether they are nuclear-powered submarines (SSN) or nuclear-powered ballistic submarines (SSBN).n the 200 years (from 1774-1985) of submarine operations, there have been over 1,750 accidents. While 1,448 submarines were lost due to enemy action, 302 were lost due to some mishap. A number of these accidents have involved nuclear submarines. The reasons behind the accidents involving nuclear-powered submarines vary, but nearly half were related to nuclear reactors. Of the total of 41 accidents recorded in 36 nuclear submarines, 12 were related to nuclear reactors, resulting in the release of radioactivity within the vessel as well as in the sea, radiation poisoning, and the death of the crew in some cases. Other accidents involved non-nuclear explosions, fires, flooding, and running aground. Over 650 crew members have died in these accidents. In many cases, the entire crew sank with the submarines.“If the incident (sinking of Chinese SSN) has occurred, the global silence is perplexing. A nuclear submarine sinking should lead to global attention because a nuclear reactor leak due to damage can have serious consequences, including water contamination,” an Indian submarine expert told the EurAsian Times. Structural failure with the submarine reactors could cause “a release of highly radioactive fission products” and lead to “a significant risk to life to those nearby and a public safety hazard to people in the big radius.”“Besides the damage to the submarine and loss of life on board, the possibility of damage to the reactor is the most alarming. It could lead to the leak of radioactive material, which could contaminate the waters and the undersea environment,” an Indian Navy Commodore who wished to stay anonymous told the EurAsian Times.“Also, if it carries nuclear weapons (as in SSBNs), that is an added hazard. Salvaging a sunken nuclear submarine can also be hazardous for the same reasons,” he added. However there is nuclear fission, there is a potential for harm to people and the environment. A core meltdown is the most severe accident in a nuclear submarine. A meltdown poses numerous dangers to people and the environment. This includes exposure to direct gamma radiation from the vessel or a drifting cloud or plume of radioactivity and material deposited on the ground. Fission products can also escape to seawater, poisoning marine life and seawater. There is both empirical and theoretical cause to be concerned about nuclear submarine accidents. Nuclear submarines are complex technical platforms operating under challenging conditions. Nuclear weapons-related systems, because of their structural characteristics, can pose unavoidable risks of accidents.

 

Nuclear-Powered Disasters

In one of the worst submarine disasters, K-19 was the nuclear submarine of the Soviet Union armed with ballistic missiles. It was hastily put in to keep up with the US military developments. On its first voyage on July 4, 1961, it suffered a complete loss of coolant to its reactor. Several crew members worked in the radioactive steam to keep the reactor from melting. Twenty-two men who served on the submarine nicknamed “Hiroshima” and “The Widow Maker” died in the next two years. The disaster-inspired movie K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.Two US nuclear submarines – USS Thresher and USS Scorpion are presently sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, at depths of more than two kilometers, after sinking during the 1960s. USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the first nuclear submarine to sink. On April 10, 1963, it went down during deep-diving tests about 350 km (220 mi) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts; its 129 crew and shipyard personnel aboard went down with it. USS Thresher was designed to be the fastest and quietest submarine of its day to hunt the Soviet submarines. USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Skipjack class nuclear-powered submarine of the US Navy that went down in May 1968 with all the crew onboard. The nuclear reactors of either of the submarines have not been recovered. The nuclear weapons on board the USS Scorpion have not been salvaged. In 2019, a nuclear-powered mini-submarine of Russia sank in the Barents Sea in circumstances not fully revealed by Moscow. In January 2018, a report in the Indian media revealed the country’s first nuclear-propelled submarine, INS Arihant, met with an accident while in port. According to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), many of these accidents have released radioactive materials into the biosphere, usually underwater but sometimes into the air. The most significant number of nuclear-powered submarine accidents occurred with the Soviet/Russian submarines. In total, 14 nuclear reactor-related accidents on submarines and 13 occurred with Soviet/Russian vessels. Six suffered loss of coolant accidents, five had uncontrolled start-ups due to operator errors, and the reactor core was damaged in nine accidents.

Curious Case Of Chinese Nuclear Submarine

An undisclosed UK defense report confirms a devastating incident involving a Chinese submarine, the ‘093-417’, in the Yellow Sea. The report suggests that 55 Chinese sailors, including the captain and 21 officers, may have died due to a “catastrophic failure” in the vessel’s oxygen systems, the Daily Mail reported. There has been no confirmation from China the alleged accident led to system failures that took approximately six hours to resolve. During this window, the onboard oxygen system malfunctioned, poisoning the crew. China’s official stance has been a blanket denial, even as they reportedly abstained from seeking international assistance.

U.S. revives Cold War submarine spy program to counter China

The U.S. Navy is carrying out the biggest overhaul of its top-secret undersea surveillance network since the 1950s as China’s naval power surges and new technologies are fast reshaping maritime warfare. Beijing has similar plans of its own. On a windswept island 50 miles north of Seattle sits a U.S. Navy monitoring station. For years, it was kept busy tracking whale movements and measuring rising sea temperatures. Last October, the Navy gave the unit a new name that better reflects its current mission: Theater Undersea Surveillance Command. The renaming of the spy station at the Whidbey Island facility is a nod to a much larger U.S. military project, according to three people with direct knowledge of the plans: conducting the biggest reconstruction of America’s anti-submarine spy program since the end of the Cold War. The revival of the multibillion-dollar effort, known as the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS), comes as China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan, heightening concerns about a potential conflict over the democratically ruled territory, which Beijing wants brought under its control. The IUSS revamp project has not previously been reported. It involves modernizing America’s existing network of underwater acoustic spy cables and retrofitting a fleet of surveillance ships with cutting-edge sensors and subsea microphones, moves aimed at boosting the military’s ability to spy on its foes. The United States has agreed to sell Australia similar technology to help bolster allied defenses in the Pacific region. The most innovative change in the Navy’s ocean reconnaissance system is an investment in new technologies to miniaturize and globalize traditional maritime surveillance tools. The original network of fixed spy cables, which lie in secret locations on the ocean floor, was designed to spy on Soviet submarines seven decades ago, the three people said. The Navy’s plan includes deploying a fleet of unmanned sea drones to listen for enemy craft; placing portable “underwater satellite” sensors on the seafloor to scan for submarines; using satellites to locate ships by tracking their radio frequencies; and utilizing artificial intelligence software to analyze maritime spy data in a fraction of the time human analysts would usually take. The Chinese navy's nuclear-powered submarine Long March 11 takes part in a naval parade off the eastern port city of Qingdao on April 23, 2019.  The Pentagon says China is building advanced nuclear-powered subs that are quieter and harder to detect than previous models. The existence of the IUSS was only made public in 1991 at the end of the Cold War, and the details of its operations remain top secret, the three people said. The three spoke about the classified program on condition of anonymity. Reuters was able to piece together details of the unit’s plans through interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the effort, including two current Navy staffers working on maritime surveillance, advisors to the Navy and defense contractors involved in the projects. The news agency also reviewed hundreds of Navy contracts. That examination identified at least 30 deals linked to the surveillance program signed over the last three years with defense giants as well as a string of startups working on unmanned sea drones and AI processing. A Reuters review of ship-tracking data and satellite imagery also revealed new details about the Navy’s secretive underwater cable laying. The IUSS is led by Captain Stephany Moore, a veteran Navy intelligence officer. The program operates under the command of the Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, headed by Rear Admiral Richard Searcher Seif, now a rear admiral and commander of Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks at a 2017 event in Hawaii. The force is leading a U.S. effort to modernize America’s network of underwater acoustic spy cables as tensions with China rise in the Pacific Theater. Moore and Seif declined interview requests. In response to questions from Reuters, a spokesperson for the Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet said the Navy could not discuss specifics related to its undersea surveillance system for “operational security reasons.”“The systems have and will experience growth and recapitalization as subsea technologies are developed and as defense priorities are updated,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Tim Hawkins, a spokesperson for the U.S. 5th Fleet, which is based in the Middle East and has led U.S. sea drone trials, told Reuters the Navy is improving surveillance from “space to seabed” with the aim of painting the clearest-ever picture of global activity at sea. China, meanwhile, is working on its own maritime spy program, known as the Great Underwater Wall, two U.S. Navy sources told Reuters. That system, already under construction, consists of cables fitted with sonar listening sensors laid along the seafloor in the South China Sea, a tense arena due to territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighbors. China is also building a fleet of underwater and surface sea drones to scour for enemy submarines, the two people said. The Chinese push extends far into the Pacific. The state-run China Academy of Sciences said in 2018 it was operating two underwater sensors: one in Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point on earth; the other near Yap, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia. Though China says these sensors are used for scientific purposes, they could detect submarine movements near the U.S. naval base on Guam, a Pacific island territory, the Navy sources said. China’s Ministry of Defense did not respond to requests for comment about any aspect of this story. China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

U.S.-China Naval Competition

The Indo-Pacific has become the main arena for military competition between the United States and China. Beijing’s increased aggression towards U.S. ally Taiwan, its territorial disputes with neighbors, and its opposition to the long-standing American naval presence in the region, which China views as provocative, have increased friction between the two superpowers. Sources: Natural Earth; Military.com; U.S. Naval Forces Korea; GlobalSecurity.org; Reuters reporting The U.S. Navy’s surveillance push is driven by three main factors, according to the three people with direct knowledge of the plans. First is the meteoric rise of China as a sea power and the potential for its vessels to attack Taiwan or sabotage critical undersea infrastructure, including oil pipelines and fiber-optic internet cables. Second is Ukraine’s success in employing new maritime warfare tactics in its counteroffensive against invading Russian forces; Ukraine has used relatively cheap unmanned sea vehicles to strike enemy ships and bridges. This development has exposed the vulnerability of large surface vessels to drone attacks, and the need for the U.S. Navy to master this technology for its own offensive operations, as well as learn ways to defend against it. That, in turn, could heighten the importance of submarine warfare in any conflict with China, the three people said. Finally, rapid technological change, including more sensitive underwater sensors, artificial intelligence and sea drones, is fueling a surveillance arms race between Beijing and Washington. The U.S. Navy owns a handful of Triton solar-powered drones that can operate on and below the ocean’s surface. Autonomous vessels promise to upend naval warfare. The drone’s manufacturer, Mississippi-based Ocean Aero, is courting military orders. Ocean Aero/Handout via REUTERS. San Francisco-based Sail drone, a maker of unmanned sailboats, was founded to collect data on marine life and measure impacts of climate change in remote places like the Arctic. Now military customers, including the U.S. Navy, have come calling. Saildrone/Handout via REUTERS. U.S. upgrades are long overdue and moving too slowly because the Pentagon remains focused on building huge warships and submarines, Brent Sadler, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer, told Reuters.“We have to invest faster in next-generation capabilities. We're losing the lead, and the Chinese are rapidly catching up,” said Sadler, now a naval warfare fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. The U.S. Navy and Department of Defense did not respond to requests for comment about the pace at which the Navy is adopting new technologies.

Sense of urgency

America’s underwater espionage program was launched in the 1950s with a submarine detection system known as the Sound Surveillance System. That consisted of so-called hydrophone cables – a type of subsea microphone – laid on the seabed. The name changed to the IUSS in 1985. That’s when the fixed cables were supplemented with technology known as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), long vertical sonar arrays dragged below Navy ships to listen for enemy submarines lingering in the depths. At its peak in the 1980s, the IUSS comprised thousands of Navy sailors and analyzed data from ships and undersea cables at 31 different processing facilities. Tracking Soviet vessels was central to the original mission, according to declassified Navy documents. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the IUSS was scaled back. Increasingly its analysts were tasked with monitoring marine life and offshore earthquakes. Today, just two surveillance sites remain: the facility located within the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State, and another at the Dam Neck naval station in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The 2022 renaming of a U.S. Navy listening post on Whidbey Island near Seattle signals a larger Pentagon effort to upgrade America’s undersea surveillance capabilities as China’s naval power grows. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS Once dubbed Naval Ocean Processing Facilities, they were rechristened Theater Undersea Surveillance Commands last year. The new name is “more fitting of the expansive coverage of our mission,” Jon Nelson, commanding officer at the Whidbey Island unit, said at a name-changing ceremony in October 2022.China’s rise as a naval rival, and Ukraine’s effective harassment of Russia's Black Sea fleet with drones, have renewed the U.S. military’s focus on ocean surveillance in a fast-changing maritime environment, according to Phillip Sawyer, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and former head of the submarine forces in the Pacific.“It has given us a sense of urgency that perhaps was lacking in the ’90s and the early 2000s,” said Sawyer, now the Undersea Warfare Chair at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Adding to that urgency: the need to protect subsea internet cables crisscrossing the ocean floor, a global network that carries 99% of transcontinental internet traffic. These cables are the heart of an intensifying competition between the United States and China to control advanced technologies, March. In February, two undersea internet cables were cut that connected Taiwan with the Matsu Islands, a cluster of isles governed by Taiwan that sit close to the Chinese mainland. It took weeks to restore internet service fully to some 14,000 island residents. Taiwanese authorities said at the time they suspected two Chinese vessels were to blame, but provided no direct evidence and stopped short of calling it a deliberate act. China did not comment on the incident at the time. China’s defense and foreign ministries did not respond to fresh requests for comment about it.Washington is betting that unmanned surveillance vessels can reduce the likelihood of potentially explosive confrontations such as this run-in with China on March 8, 2009. A U.S. surveillance ship, the USNS Impeccable, was harassed by five Chinese vessels as it conducted routine operations in international waters in the South China Sea, according to the Pentagon. This photo, shot from the USNS Impeccable, shows two Chinese trawlers blocking its way. U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters In May, the Quad – an alliance between Australia, Japan, India and the United States – said the four countries would partner to protect and build undersea high-speed fiber-optic cables in the Indo-Pacific. Both the Chinese and U.S. navies regularly carry out military exercises around American ally Taiwan as military analysts study how any potential conflict over the island could play out. Although U.S. warships and submarines are widely considered technically superior, China has the largest navy in the world, comprising around 340 ships and submarines, according to the Pentagon’s 2022 report on China’s military. China is building more advanced nuclear-powered submarines that are quieter and harder to detect, the report said.

Ships going dark

The jewel of the U.S. subsea surveillance operations remains the global network of listening cables first laid during the Cold War, still the best subsea spying infrastructure in the world, according to two Navy sources with direct knowledge of the system. Those cables were instrumental in solving the mystery surrounding the privately-owned Titan submersible that imploded in June, killing five people on a voyage to view the century-old wreckage of the Titanic, the sources said. The U.S. Navy said in a statement that it had assisted in the search for the Titan after an analysis of acoustic data detected “an anomaly consistent with an implosion.” The Navy did not respond to questions from Reuters about how it had obtained the acoustic data. Over the last three years, some of this cable network has been expanded and replaced with advanced cables fitted with state-of-the-art hydrophones and sensors to more accurately pinpoint the location of enemy vessels, the two people said.

 

The U.S. Navy’s Undersea Surveillance System

The United States is expanding and upgrading its anti-submarine surveillance capabilities as tensions rise with China. The listening network, shown here in a 2017 U.S. Navy document, began with the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS): long cables fitted with underwater microphones laid on the ocean floor in the 1950s to listen for Soviet submarines. SOSUS has since been supplemented with additional listening cables, known as the Fixed Distributed System (FDS). Data collected by underwater sensors placed in secret locations is routed to onshore processing centers, where it is analyzed to pinpoint enemy vessels. Much of this work has been carried out by the 40-year-old USNS Zeus, the first and only operational cable ship specifically built for the U.S. Navy, the people said. Assisting are the CS Dependable and CS Decisive, two cable ships owned by the private U.S. firm SubCom, they said. SubCom has become a key player in the tech war with China, Reuters reported in July.o keep the locations of U.S. underwater spy cables secret, these three ships have been masking their locations, known in the shipping industry as “going dark,” according to the two Navy sources and a Reuters analysis of ship tracking data. Commercial ships are required under international law to keep their identification transponders switched on to prevent collisions and help authorities fight maritime crimes. But nations can secure exemptions for some private vessels, particularly those working on national security projects, according to London-based maritime lawyer Stephen Askins.Between Jan. 1, 2022, and August 22 of this year, the CS Dependable and the CS Decisive were not transmitting identification signals for 60% and 57% of the days they spent at sea, respectively, according to data on LSEG’s Eikon terminal.SubCom and the U.S. Department of Defense did not respond to requests for comment about any exemption for SubCom vessels. The second element of the original U.S. subsea spy program is a fleet of five large catamaran-style ships equipped with the SURTASS system, the cables fitted with sonar listening gear and dragged through the ocean. The ocean surveillance ship USNS Able is shown in Yokosuka, Japan, in 2016. Some military analysts say the U.S. Navy is not moving fast enough to deploy next-generation spy technologies such as sea drones, AI and mobile listening sensors. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS In February 2020, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $287 million contract to produce new advanced towed sonar arrays for these ships. The first of these new cables was delivered last year, according to two Navy sources. Lockheed Martin did not respond to a request for comment. Now the Navy is building new miniaturized, mobile versions that can be deployed undetected, the sources said. These modules, known as Expeditionary SURTASS, or SURTASS-E, can be placed in cargo containers loaded onto any flat-decked vessel, allowing commercial ships to carry out surveillance for the Navy, two sources with knowledge of the project said. Over the last three years, the Navy has been testing the system from an offshore supply vessel in the Atlantic, and it has since been used in active operations in secret locations, the sources said. In May, the U.S. State Department said in a statement that it had approved the sale of a $207 million SURTASS-E system to the government of Australia. An Australian Defense spokesperson told Reuters it was investing in new undersea surveillance capabilities to protect critical infrastructure and monitor evolving subsea threats. Japan also operates a fleet of three ocean surveillance ships, fitted with U.S. SURTASS cables, the two U.S. Navy sources said. Japan’s navy, known as the Maritime Self-Defense Force, said in a statement that it was coordinating with its allies to counter China’s increased naval threat; it declined to comment specifically on surveillance operations.

Sea drones with sharp ears

The Navy is experimenting with new ways to listen for subs in areas where its warships are closely monitored by China, including the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, two sources with knowledge of those efforts said. This means using stealthier methods such as sending out small, unmanned sea drones fitted with infrared cameras and underwater microphones, and dropping portable listening devices from commercial ships, the people said. One of the first successful attempts to make an autonomous subsea surveillance unit was the Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System (TRAPS), developed by Leidos, a Virginia-based Fortune 500 defense firm, the people said. The Navy awarded Leidos a $73 million contract to develop the system in 2019.TRAPS consists of a processing box attached to deep ocean sensors. It is designed to sit on the seafloor and listen for submarines overhead, like an underwater satellite. The U.S. Navy has purchased a submarine detection system known as TRAPS. Made by Virginia-based Leidos, these mobile units can be surreptitiously dropped to strategic locations on the ocean floor, where they listen for enemy subs moving above. Data from these units is relayed to military facilities via surface vessels and satellites. Leidos/Handout via REUTERS. These underwater spy units could be surreptitiously dropped off the side of a fishing vessel or tugboat in enemy territory, Chuck Fralick, Leidos’ chief technology officer and a retired Navy officer, told Reuters.“You can get listening or surveillance capability pretty much anywhere in the world you want,” Fralick said. The Navy has also been experimenting with small sea drones, including uncrewed sailboats and autonomous miniature submarines that cost $800,000 to $3 million to build – relatively small change in the world of defense systems. These craft don’t yet carry weapons. But they can be fitted with high-definition cameras, underwater microphones, satellite uplinks and other spy gear, giving the Navy a low-cost means to expand its surveillance dramatically, Navy spokesman Hawkins said. In the future, these vessels could be used to fire submarine-sinking torpedoes, drop underwater mines or set off decoy devices that make loud noises beneath the surface to confuse the enemy, two Navy sources said. The Navy did not respond to questions about arming sea drones.

Sail drone Voyager

The U.S. Navy has begun purchasing a fleet of small, uncrewed vessels that can carry out maritime reconnaissance work, both on and below the surface. Saildrone, a San Francisco-based firm, says it has already supplied the Navy with 22 of its solar-powered autonomous boats, including the Voyager model.Saildrone, a San Francisco-based firm founded in 2012 by British engineer Richard Jenkins, for years has been collecting data from its unmanned sailboats to track marine life movements and measure impacts of climate change. Now military customers are calling. In the past two years, Saildrone says it has supplied the U.S. Navy with 22 of its solar-powered boats, including the 33-foot Voyager, which can be equipped with a smart camera and a variety of sensors. The Navy confirmed that it has purchased Saildrones.Though the Navy has yet to place large orders, Saildrone and other drone startups say they are each ready to supply hundreds of vessels a year. Navy spokesperson Hawkins declined to say how many more uncrewed vessels the military might procure. But he said the sea drone industry was “on the cusp of a technological revolution.”

 

UK Royal Navy Orders Crewless Submarine

The UK Royal Navy has awarded a £15.4 million (currently around $18,8 million) contract for a crewless submarine to the Plymouth-based company MSubs. The submarine is expected to be delivered to the Navy in two years. The Navy expects the submarine to further advance the UK’s ability to protect our critical national infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity."Project Cetus – named after a mythological sea monster – enhances the Royal Navy’s experimentation with autonomous underwater systems. It is the first step in developing an operational autonomous submarine that will work side-by-side with crewed submarines – including the Astute-class hunter-killers and their successors – or independently," the UK Government said in a statement. The crewless submarine will have a maximum operational depth exceeding that of the current submarine fleet, and it will be able to cover up to 1,000 miles in a single mission. The range might be extended further as the unarmed vessel is battery-powered, meaning its effective range can be increased by installing additional batteries. Cetus will be 12 meters long – or, as the UK government puts it in its press release - the length of a double-decker bus. It will have 2.2 meters in diameter and weigh 17 tonnes. It will be the largest and most complex crewless submersible operated by a European navy, the Royal Navy said. The vessel’s size means that it will fit inside a shipping container and can thus able to be transported around the world to wherever it is needed. It will be designed to operate with all of the ships from the Royal Navy fleet as well as those of its allies. As already mentioned, the bespoke vessel is being designed and built for the Royal Navy by Plymouth-based tech firm MSubs. This contract will create ten and support 70 specialist jobs in the city.UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: "In order to meet the growing threats to our underwater infrastructure, the Royal Navy needs to be ahead of the competition with cutting-edge capabilities. Project Cetus, alongside bringing forward the MROS ships, will help ensure we have the right equipment to protect the security of the UK and our Allies."The submarine has been designed to be modular, with an optional section that can be added to double the capacity of the vessel. The contract is funded by the Anti-Submarine Warfare Spearhead program, run by the Royal Navy’s Develop Directorate, headquartered in Portsmouth. The vessel will be delivered through the Submarine Delivery Agency in Bristol and is the latest in a series of novel underwater technologies being brought to life to deal with the threats of the next decade, the Navy said.

 

Europe’s Largest Drone Submarine

The uncrewed submarine, called Cetus, will be delivered to the navy in two years. The 12-meter (39-foot), 17-ton vessel will enhance the service’s capacity to protect critical infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity, the navy stated. “In order to meet the growing threats to our underwater infrastructure, the [Royal Navy] needs to be ahead of the competition with cutting edge capabilities,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. “Project Cetus, alongside bringing forward the [multi-role ocean surveillance ships], will help ensure we have the right equipment to protect the security of the UK and our Allies. “The battery-operated platform will have a range of up to 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) or greater with additional batteries. Its modular design will allow the addition of an optional section, doubling its capacity. The Royal Navy claims it is the largest, most complex crewless European submarine, with a maximum operational depth exceeding that of any current British submarine. The Cetus will operate alongside the British and partner navy’s crewed platforms, “including the Astute-class hunter-killers and their successors – or independently.” The submarine’s design and size would allow it to be transported to any part of the world in a shipping container. Finally, the platform will enable the navy to experiment and develop “cutting edge technologies and capabilities around encouraging innovation and developing best practice. ”This extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle is a capability step-change in our mission to dominate the underwater battlespace,” First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said. “And I am delighted that the project is able to support a small, innovative UK company which is at the cutting edge of this sector. “Project Cetus will deliver the largest and most complex crewless submarine operated by a European Navy. The vessel will be delivered to the Navy in two years’ time and will further advance the UK’s ability to protect our critical national infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity. Cetus features a modular design: Its hull and payload bay can be extended via hull inserts. Project Cetus – named after a mythological sea monster – enhances the Royal Navy’s experimentation with autonomous underwater systems. It is the first step in developing an operational autonomous submarine that will work side-by-side with crewed submarines – including the Astute-class hunter-killers and their successors – or independently. Its maximum operational depth will exceed that of the current submarine fleet, meaning Cetus will equip the Royal Navy with even greater reach into the oceans in support of UK defence. It will be able to cover up to 1,000 miles in a single mission. Cetus will be 12 metres long – the length of a double decker bus – 2.2 metres in diameter and weigh 17 tonnes. It will be the largest and most complex crewless submersible operated by a European navy. The bespoke vessel is being designed and built for the Royal Navy by Plymouth-based tech firm MSubs. This contract will create 10 and support 70 specialist jobs in the city. In order to meet the growing threats to our underwater infrastructure, the Royal Navy needs to be ahead of the competition with cutting edge capabilities. Project Cetus, alongside bringing forward the MROS ships, will help ensure we have the right equipment to protect the security of the UK and our Allies. Having the skills base and specialist knowledge to develop and build this vessel in the UK, is testament to the UKs leading reputation in building surface and sub-surface ships. The vessel’s size means that it will fit inside a shipping container and can therefore be transported around the world to wherever it is needed. It will be designed to operate with all of the ships from the Royal Navy fleet as well as those of our allies. Cetus will be a platform for the Royal Navy on which to experiment and build cutting edge technologies and capabilities around, encouraging innovation and developing best practice. The unarmed vessel is battery powered, meaning its effective range can be increased by installing additional batteries. It has also been designed to be modular, with an optional section that can be added to double the capacity of the vessel. The crewless submarine is the latest step taken by the Royal Navy into autonomous systems, and have been for over a decade. Crewless mine hunting systems are already operating in Scotland, and driverless Pacific 24 sea boats are undergoing testing. Various aerial drones are used by ships for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. CETUS will be able to fit inside a forty-foot (FEU) shipping container. The Navy has invested in a dedicated tech trials ship, XV Patrick Blackett, to assess and test new equipment and determine how it could be used or integrated into the fleet. Cetus is the equivalent for sub-sea experimentation. This is a hugely exciting moment for Project Cetus as the Royal Navy surges ahead with the development of autonomous technology. This Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is a capability step-change in our mission to dominate the underwater battlespace. And I am delighted that the project is able to support a small, innovative UK company which is at the cutting edge of this sector. The contract is funded by the Anti-Submarine Warfare Spearhead programme, run by the Royal Navy’s Develop Directorate, headquartered in Portsmouth. The vessel will be delivered through the Submarine Delivery Agency in Bristol and is the latest in a series of novel underwater technologies being brought to life to deal with the threats of the next decade. The faith the Royal Navy has shown in our small business is humbling and we look forward to working closely together in the future, as we have in the recent past, to develop and deploy Cetus, in the national interest. The vessel is being developed under ‘Project Cetus’ to provide enhanced underwater warfare abilities to the RN. The Submarine Delivery Agency in Bristol will be responsible for the delivery of the submarine. The performance period of this contract is two years. Work associated with the new award is expected to sustain around 70 and create nearly ten specialist jobs in Plymouth, UK. The critical capability is being developed under ‘Project Cetus’, which aims to provide enhanced underwater warfare abilities to the RN while boosting the RN’s autonomous underwater system experimentation. The new vessel is expected to be the ‘largest and most complex’ crewless submarine to be operated by any European navies. Since constructed, the new crewless vessel will be deployed alongside the RN’s other crewed submarines, vessels. The battery-powered, unarmed vessel is expected to weigh about 17t and have a diameter of 2.2m, while the length will be around 12m, which is equal to the length of a bus. It can also be fitted inside a shipping container and easily transported anywhere. Furthermore, the submarine will be capable of diving deeper than any other submarine available in the RN fleet. The vessel will be able to cover a maximum of 1,000 miles in a particular missioning First Sea Lord admiral Sir Ben Key said: “This Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is a capability step-change in our mission to dominate underwater battle space. And I am delighted that the project is able to support a small, innovative UK company which is at cutting edge of this sector.” In just two years’ time Cetus (above) – named after a mythological sea monster – will move stealthily through the oceans, monitoring hostile activity, listening out for ships or submarines which may pose a threat to the Fleet, or to key national infrastructure such as deep-sea cables and pipelines.  The Royal Navy has experimented with – and in some cases operated – autonomous underwater systems for more than a decade. Most are small, off-the-shelf technologies, largely used in mine hunting.  
The £15.4m Cetus is in a different league: the length of a bus, it will be the largest and most complex crewless submersible operated by European navies, designed and built specially for the Royal Navy by Plymouth-based tech firm MSubs, creating ten specialist jobs and supporting 70 more. Funded by the Anti-Submarine Warfare Spearhead programme, run by the Royal Navy’s “Develop Directorate” from their Headquarters in Portsmouth and delivered through the Submarine Delivery Agency in Bristol, this is the latest in a series of novel underwater technologies being brought to life to deal with the threats of the next decade. First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said: "This is a hugely exciting moment for Project Cetus as the Royal Navy surges ahead with the development of autonomous technology. “This Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is a capability step-change in our mission to dominate the underwater battle space. And I am delighted that the project is able to support a small, innovative UK company which is at the cutting edge of this sector.”  
At 12 metres long and 2.2 metres in diameter, the 17-tonne submarine can fit inside a shipping container and be transported around the world to wherever the Fleet needs it. The unarmed battery-powered craft will be able to dive deeper than any vessel in the current submarine fleet and cover up to 1,000 miles in a single mission. Acting as an operational demonstrator, the goal is for Cetus – and its successors – to work side-by-side with traditional crewed submarines, such as the current Astute-class hunter-killers, or independently. The crewless submarine is the latest step taken by the Royal Navy into the world of autonomy. Autonomous mine hunting systems are already operating in Scotland, driverless Pacific 24 sea boats are undergoing testing, numerous aerial drones are employed by ships both for reconnaissance/intelligence gathering and target practice for air defence. The Royal Navy has also invested in a dedicated tech trials ship, XV Patrick Blackett, to assess this new equipment and help determine how it might be used or integrated into the Fleet.  Cetus will do the same for the Silent Service, explained Lieutenant Commander Andrew Witts: “One hundred and twenty years ago the Royal Navy had the foresight to invest in Holland I – the UK’s first submarine – which helped revolutionise naval warfare above and below the waves,” he said. Cetus is our first venture into large-scale, unscrewed submarines. It’s exciting, the possibilities are enormous, and I like to think Cetus could change the way we fight under the sea as much as those pioneers in Holland I did.”  Brett Phaneuf, Chief Executive of MSubs, said his team was proud to take the lead in developing the next generation of autonomous underwater vehicle for the Royal Navy. “The faith the Royal Navy has shown in our small business is humbling and we look forward to working closely together in the future, as we have in the recent past, to develop and deploy Cetus, in the national interest. “James Marques, Associate Aerospace, Defense and Security Analyst at Global Data, commented: “Submarines are powerful deterrents and vital to protecting the UK’s interests as a maritime trading nation but they are also some of the most expensive military undertakings, with difficult recruitment and retention for technical and skilled crews.

James Cameron Piloted This 12-Ton Submarine to Earth’s Deepest Point. Now It’s on Display in LA.

Deepsea Challenger is part of a new exhibition at LA's Natural History Museum. In 2012, filmmaker and explorer James Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to 35,787 feet to the deepest point on Earth. Now the very submersible in which he completed this historic feat is on display for all to see. The 12-ton vessel, known as the Deepsea Challenger, is the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum (NHM) of Los Angeles County. Pressure: James Cameron into the Abyss, which is on view now until February 20, will allow guests to relive the landmark voyage through a variety of immersive experiences. The highlight is, of course, the 24-foot deep-diving sub that Cameron piloted to the bottom of the Challenger Deep on March 26, 2012. The world’s deepest frontier, which is located at the southern end of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, lies nearly seven miles below the water’s edge. Two other explorers (Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh) made it to the Mariana Trench before Cameron in 1960, but the Titanic director was the first to reach it as a solo pilot. The sub is displayed in a custom-built cradle on the museum’s ground floor, and visitors will be able to get right up close to the vessel. The pop-up will also have videos detailing the life-and-death challenges Cameron faced and the way the sub helped him survive the extreme conditions of the deep ocean. To give you an idea, the water pressure at Challenger Deep is about 1,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level, and the temperatures are just a few degrees above freezing. The multimedia show will also dive into the logistics that go into planning and executing an expedition of such magnitude. Cameron already has more than 70 dives under his belt and continues to further marine research. In fact, he recently partnered with Triton Submarines to help develop the next generation of ocean exploration technology. “More than 80 percent of our oceans are unexplored,” Cameron said in a statement. “There are mysteries to solve, new discoveries to make and critical knowledge to acquire.”

 

JFD Wins NATO Submarine Rescue System 3ISS Contract

World-leading underwater capability provider, JFD, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has today announced that it has won the prestigious ‘Third In-Service Support’ (3ISS) contract, worth £63M, continuing seven years of safety critical operational assurance services to the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS).The 3ISS contract awarded to JFD by the NSRS Authority, on behalf of the Participant Nations, UK, France and Norway, demonstrates its confidence in JFD’s ability to provide a full and complete in-service support solution. The NSRS is a premier fly-away global submarine rescue capability which exists to give submariners the best chance of survival should a submarine incident occur. The five-year 3ISS contract will start in summer 2023 and has the potential to be extended to a total of nine years. Having managed the ‘Second In-Service Support’ (2ISS) contract since 2015, JFD has demonstrated its proven operational excellence through assured availability of the NSRS. JFD’s 3ISS solution is rooted in intimate system knowledge and operational insight gained throughout the 2ISS contract has unrivalled experience with real-life submarine rescue incidents, including locating and identifying the wreckage of KRI Nanggala, and deploying systems in support of the submarine Kursk and AS-28 Priz incidents. JFD builds upon the expertise and lessons learned from these incidents to continue to raise the standards for safety in the submarine rescue domain. Richard Dellar, Managing Director, JFD, said: “We are extremely proud to have been awarded the NSRS 3ISS contract. It is a true testament to the breadth and depth of our talented personnel’s submarine rescue expertise and dedication. This decision firmly places JFD as the world leader in submarine rescue provision. “Safeguarding the lives of submariners around the world is our number one priority. The all-too-long list of submarine incidents globally poses as a stark reminder of the critical nature of the services JFD provides. Our dedication to submariners is demonstrated by our continuous drive to set new safety standards and ensure rescue readiness 24/7, 365 days a yearns will continue to form a key part of JFD’s global submarine rescue community along with Australia, Singapore, India and the other nations we support. We are committed to work alongside the NSRS Authority to ensure the highest levels of operational assurance are always achieved. “A world leader in the design, build and operation of submarine rescue systems, JFD has played an integral role in the UK’s submarine rescue provision since 1983 and the NSRS since it came into service in 2008. JFD also has a comprehensive global submarine rescue infrastructure, supporting submarine rescue contracts with multiple navies as well as in-service contracts for the Australian, Singaporean and Indian submarine rescue systems. In the event of a distressed submarine (DISSUB), any delay to the rescue operation can have catastrophic results. To locate the DISSUB and rescue the lives on board as quickly as possible, the NSRS must be maintained at a high state of operational readiness and specialist personnel must be fully trained in all aspects of a safe rescue. JFD’s 3ISS solution builds upon the past seven years’ performance and the team’s extensive knowledge of global submarine rescue systems. Throughout the course of the 2ISS contract, JFD has undertaken 18 mobilisation exercises and its proven team has an established track record for delivery in their field. This expert team, which is focused locally and supported globally, will play a key role in the delivery of 3ISS. Digitisation will also be incorporated into the 3ISS solution, with JFD at the forefront of digitalised asset management. An established provider to over 30 navies worldwide, JFD delivers innovative and technically advanced submarine escape and rescue solutions. The company’s capabilities span the entire submarine escape, rescue, abandonment and survival (SMERAS) environment, and JFD is unique in being able to deliver solutions across all of these areas.

 

Indian Navy To Lease DSRV mothership/Submarine Tender.

Navy is looking to lease two vessels to fill gaps in its current fleet. While a vessel will be leased to serve as both Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) mothership as well as submarine tender, the second vessel will be a tanker to refuel Indian naval ships at sea. The DSRV mothership – submarine tender requirement has come up due to delays in delivery of Diving Support Vessels (DSV) by Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam. The two DSVs were supposed to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. However, the two vessels, named Nistar and Nipun, were concurrently launched only in September 2022. The delays were caused partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The mothership-tender is to be leased for a period of four years according to an RFP released in December 2022. This follows an RFI released in September 2022. The ship will function as a DSRV mothership until the DSVs are inducted, after which it will function as a submarine tender. This is significant as India does not have an operational submarine tender. The requirements for the temporary tender are that the ship should not have been built earlier than 2008. The ship must have a deck area of 570 square meters and have equipment and structural resilience to support DSRV operations. The vessel must also be capable of being equipped with systems to communicate with submarines.

 

U-Boat Worx is set to deliver 15 Nemo private submarines in 2023

The first production series of NEMO submersibles is well underway at U-Boat Worx' revamped production facility in The Netherlands. The Dutch manufacturer launched an optimised production line for the NEMO, a key milestone in the scalable production process for high quality, certified vessels. The vision for NEMO is clear. Bert Houtman, Founder and CEO of U-Boat Worx, says: "We set out on a mission to introduce safe and effortless access to the underwater world to as many people as possible. With the NEMO pricing revolution, we're now taking the next step in this journey with the aim of having 1,000 submarines in operation by 2030."Further, the NEMO is supported by a wide range of specially developed launch options that avoid the need for a super yacht. Examples include a special boat lift, Beachlauncher, car trailer and a range of support boats. Submersibles were traditionally built to order, resulting in lead times of 12-24 months. NEMO subs are the only volume produced private submersibles in the world and the company expects they can be delivered from stock towards the end of 2023.Both NEMOs 1 and 2 feature U-Boat Worx' signature seamless acrylic spherical viewport, battery-powered electrical propulsion, multiple safety systems, air-conditioning, and certification by world-renowned classification society DNV.On taking delivery of their NEMO, owners have the choice to undergo pilot training at U-Boat Worx' Sub Center Curaçao, either alongside their yacht, or at private premises.

 

How Does a Submarine Work

A submarine is a type of underwater vehicle that is used for a variety of purposes, ranging from military operations to scientific exploration. This article will explore how a submarine works, examining the different components, propulsion methods, and types of submarines. Additionally, it will look at the history of submarines and their current role in the world. In order to understand how a submarine works, it is important to have an overview of the components that make up a submarine. These components include the hull, control surfaces, ballast tanks, propulsion systems, and other systems such as navigation and communication. The hull is the outer shell of the submarine, which provides protection from the outside environment. The control surfaces are located on the exterior of the hull, and they allow the submarine to maneuver in the water. The ballast tanks contain air or water, which can be used to adjust the submarine’s buoyancy in the water. The propulsion system is what allows the submarine to move through the water. There are several different types of propulsion systems, including nuclear power, diesel-electric, and air-independent propulsion. Nuclear power is the most powerful and efficient method of propulsion, but it is also the most expensive. Diesel-electric propulsion uses a diesel engine to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors. Air-independent propulsion is a newer technology that uses a fuel cell to generate electricity without needing to draw oxygen from the atmosphere. Once the various components of a submarine are understood, it is possible to begin exploring how submarines actually function. In order to move through the water, submarines rely on two main components: propulsion and control surfaces. The propulsion system generates thrust, which pushes the submarine forward. The control surfaces, such as rudders and hydroplanes, help to steer the submarine. The submarine’s buoyancy is adjusted by using ballast tanks. When these tanks are filled with air, the submarine rises to the surface. When they are filled with water, the submarine sinks. By adjusting the amount of air or water in the tanks, the submarine can change its depth in the water.

There are three main types of submarines that are currently in use: nuclear-powered, diesel-electric, and air-independent propulsion. Nuclear-powered submarines are the most powerful and advanced type of submarine. They are powered by a nuclear reactor, which produces energy that is used to generate electricity. This electricity powers the submarine’s propulsion system and other systems. Diesel-electric submarines are less powerful than nuclear-powered submarines, but they are much cheaper to build and operate. They use a diesel engine to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors. This type of propulsion is quieter than nuclear power, making it well-suited for covert operations. Air-independent propulsion submarines are the newest type of submarine. They use a fuel cell to generate electricity without needing to draw oxygen from the atmosphere. This makes them quieter and more efficient than other types of submarines. In addition to the propulsion and control systems, submarines also contain a variety of other components. The power source is typically either a nuclear reactor or a diesel engine, depending on the type of submarine. Navigation and communication systems are used to keep track of the submarine’s position and communicate with other vessels. Weapons systems are also commonly found on submarines, although their exact nature depends on the purpose of the submarine. The first submarines were developed in the 1600s, but they were not very effective. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that submarines began to be used in warfare. During World War I and II, submarines played an important role in naval battles. Submarines were used to sink enemy ships, as well as to protect friendly vessels from attack. Submarines still play an important role in both military and scientific applications. In the military, submarines are used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and offensive operations. Submarines are also used in scientific exploration, as they can access parts of the ocean that would otherwise be inaccessible. For example, submarines have been used to investigate deep-sea ecosystems and uncover new species. This article has explored the fundamentals of submarine technology, from an overview of its components to the different types of submarines. It has also investigated the history and current role of submarines in both military and scientific applications. Submarines are complex pieces of technology, but understanding how they work can provide insights into their importance in today’s world.

 

Russian AS31 sub that killed 14 returns to service.

Russia intends to return to service the Russian AS-31 nuclear submarine in 2025. It is currently being renovated, which should be completed this year. In 2019, a fire in the submarine’s battery compartment killed 14 personnel. The AS-31 is a nuclear-powered Russian submarine also known by its nickname Losharik. It was launched at the beginning of the new millennium in 2003. The AS-31 is a deep-diving submarine. It is powered by an E-17 nuclear reactor. During tests in 2012 in the Arctic Ocean, the sub dived to a depth of 2,000–2,500 meters (6,600–8,200 ft). The AS-31 participated in Russian GUGI operations. These are Russian operations to deploy submarines, drones, autonomous vehicles, and sensors. The Russian GUGI fleet consists of eight specialized and covert manned deep-sea submarines. The AS-31 submarine has been defined by the United States Northern Command as a “dark target” whose movements and actions must be tracked.AS-31 is under repair. This was claimed by the Russian state news agency TASS, citing a source close to the Russian military-industrial complex. According to the source, repairs will be completed in 2024, and in 2025, after passing trials and tests, the submarine will be returned to service. The source told TASS that at the moment the submarine already has a new active zone of the reactor. New hydroacoustic, navigation and special equipment are currently being installed. The previous equipment was destroyed in the fire in 2019.According to the TASS source, the fire did not affect the titanium hull of the submarine. The source says the hull won’t change. According to some analyzes in the Russian media, the hull of the submarine will allow it to continue submerging at the same depths, but it is unlikely that it will. Due to the fire and the avoidance of possible risks, the depth of immersion will be reduced. The fire on July 1, 2019, on the submarine AS-31 is of interest, not because of the fire itself, but because of the crew at the time. There were seven captains of the first rank on board the submarine – among them there were two awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation. There was one civilian on board, without specifying who, in what position, and to which Russian military department. The fact that such a senior officer was on board suggests that the submarine was most likely conducting a risky activity, either testing a new weapon or deep-water capability at that. Otherwise, on July 1, 2019, a bomb exploded in the submarine, killing 14 personnel by suffocation by inhaling toxic fumes and smoke. The fire broke out at a depth of 300 meters. The fire started in the battery compartment. There were only five people on duty who managed to put on the portable breathing apparatus. The incident took place in Russian territorial waters. According to sources, in addition to the fire, at least one explosion occurred on board. The fire was extinguished for 40 minutes. The fire broke out at 8:30 p.m., and the sub surfaced in the Gulf of Urrah an hour later. Immediately after the fire, the evacuation of the personnel, and the removal of the submarine to the dry dock, an investigation into the causes began. The Russian media disseminate the result of this investigation. According to the information provided, a fire broke out in the battery compartment after a massive explosion. The presence of burning batteries fuels the fire. The batteries were lithium-ion. The AS-31 submarine is not designed to use lithium-ion batteries, but silver-zinc ones. The replacement of the batteries is a consequence of the deteriorating relations between Russia and Ukraine due to the outbreak of the war in Donbas. According to some hypotheses of the investigation, the batteries may not have passed the necessary tests before they were put into service. According to other hypotheses, a short circuit on the submarine caused the batteries to become overloaded. There is also a third hypothesis – sabotage.

 

Only Two Submarines Have Sunk Ships Since the End of WWII

Both the First and Second World Wars cemented the submarine’s place in military arsenals around the world. German U-boats and their domination of the north Atlantic were one of the primary reasons the United States entered World War I. Just over two decades later, they claimed 3,000 Allied vessels in World War II. That being said, only two submarines have sunk enemy ships in combat since the conflict ended in 1945.Following WWII, submarines remained an integral component of a number of the world’s navies and received a number of technological boosts. The post-war period saw them gain the ability to launch nuclear weapons. Nuclear power plants also managed to find their way onboard the vessels, which, along with equipment designed to extract oxygen from the water, allowed submarines to stay submerged for end. Despite these improvements and extended capabilities, none sank an enemy ship during this period – that is, until the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

PNS Hangor (S131) became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship since 1945. Operated by the Pakistani Navy, she was a French-made Daphne-class submersible designed with twelve 550 mm torpedo tubes. In late November 1971, the Pakistani vessel was dispatched to the Arabian Sea, where she discovered a large group of ships from the Indian Navy. She kept her distance and investigated their communications. Over the next few days, the Indian vessels learned of Hangor‘s presence and sent two British-built frigates to find her. On December 9, Hangor detected the frigates and dived until they came into torpedo range. She then fired a homing torpedo at one of the vessels, the INS Kirpan (F144), which missed. Kirpan hightailed it as soon as her crew realized they’d been targeted. Meanwhile, the second frigate, INS Khukri (F149), barreled toward the submarine, hoping to sink the vessel. However, Hangor fired a second torpedo, which struck Kharosthi torpedo dealt a fatal blow, sinking the frigate in mere minutes and claiming the lives of 18 officers and 176 sailors. Kirpan returned for another attack, to which Hangor responded by firing a third torpedo. This failed to stop the enemy vessel, but did prompt the ship to flee the scene. Following the engagement, the Indian Navy launched a search and destroy mission for Hangor. However, she managed to reach safe waters after remaining submerged for almost a week. Today, the submarine is on display at the Pakistan Maritime Museum in Karachi, Pakistan.

The HMS Conqueror (S48) was the second submarine to have sunk an enemy ship after WWII. What’s more, she’s currently the only nuclear submersible to have earned the achievement. Her actions during the Falklands War in 1982 are among the most famous naval encounters in recent decades. Conqueror was a British Churchill-class nuclear-powered submarine that launched in 1969. She was 285-feet long and displaced 5,400 tons while submerged. Powered by a Rolls-Royce nuclear reactor, Conqueror could operate for as long as her crew had the necessary supplies to remain submerged. The submarine began the long journey to the Falkland Islands the day after Argentina invaded. Once there, she was tasked with guarding the British exclusion zone and monitoring Argentine naval activity in the area. Toward the end of April 1982, Conqueror spotted the Argentinean cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4), a WWII-era cruiser that was originally an American ship. During the Second World War, General Belgrano was known as the USS Phoenix (CL-46) and was present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. By the 1980s, the vessel had little chance against a modern nuclear submarine like the HMS Conqueror. On May 2, Conqueror received permission from the British government to attack General Belgrano, firing three Mark VIII torpedoes, two of which hit the ship. Just like the PNS Hangor, the submarine managed to evade efforts to locate and sink her. Following the Falklands War, Conqueror returned to the United Kingdom, flying the Jolly Roger flag, a Royal Navy tradition for submarines that achieved a kill. She was retired in the 1990s and is still awaiting scrapping

 

Did Japan Have A Submarine Aircraft Carrier?

The largest submarines of their time, and designed to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft used for bombing attacks on the United States. The Imperial Japanese Navy I-400 class submarines were behemoths of World War Ianthe I-400 class submarines became developed as part of Japan’s attempt to counter the overwhelming naval power of the United States. Japan’s naval strategy during the war emphasized the use of submarines. And the I-400 class submarines became seen as a way to strike at the American mainland from the sea. The submarines were also designed to be used in conjunction with Japan’s midget submarines. Which were to infiltrate American harbors and launch surprise attacks on ships and other targets. He first I-400 class submarine, the I-400, was launched in December 1942, and was followed by the I-401 and I-402. However, due to the war situation and the shortage of resources, only 3 of these massive submarines were ever built. Members of the US Navy inspecting the plane hangar of I 400.Moreover, the IJN equipped the submarines with a wide range of weapons. Including torpedoes, deck guns, and anti-aircraft guns. Also equipped with a snorkel, which allowed them to run their diesel engines while submerged, and a radar system, which was unusual for submarines at the time. However, the attack became called off due to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Furthermore, the subsequent surrender of Japan. Following the surrender, the I-400 class submarines were scuttled by their crews to prevent them from falling into American hands. In recent years, the remains of the I-400 class submarines became discovered in the Pacific Ocean, and have been studied by historians and naval experts. The I-400 class submarines represent an important chapter in the history of naval warfare, and they continue to be a subject of fascination and interest today. In conclusion, their advanced technology and large size made them one of the most advanced submarines of their time. And, lastly, their legacy still holds significance in the history of naval warfare.

 

The Windermere Submarine

One of the most interesting passenger vessels on the lake was launched from Lakeside in 1997. A ten passenger, twenty-five ton Mergo Submarine from Finland was craned into the lake and driven onto the steamer slipway to complete preparations for lake service. She was capable of diving to depths of 300 feet, although the deepest part of Windermere is only 220 feet. Limited visibility posed a few problems but it was hoped to locate various sunken wrecks and flying boats.  The submarine is twenty-eight feet long, nearly ten feet wide and powered by two, eleven kilowatt electric motors giving a speed of three knots. There was oxygen on board to keep ten people alive for ninety-six hours or forty-four-man days. Dives commenced in August 1997. Over 3,500 passengers were carried during the first summer season.

 

What is the Aukus submarine deal and what does it mean? – the key facts

The four-phase plan has made nuclear arms control experts nervous. In a tripartite deal with the US and the UK, Australia has unveiled a plan to acquire a fleet of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, forecast to cost up to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s. Australia will spend $9bn over the next four years. From this year Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with US and UK navies, including within both countries’ submarine industrial bases. From 2027 the UK and the US plan to rotate their nuclear-powered submarines through HMAS Stirling near Perth as part of a push to step up training of Australians. Increased Chinese naval power and assertiveness – particularly in the South China Sea – has convinced the Australian government that it requires submarines capable of operating far from home bases, both as a deterrent and for attack capability in the event of a crisis. The current fleet of Collins class conventional submarines are expected to lose their edge from the 2030s.Nuclear-powered submarines have a distinct advantage over the diesel-electric boats of Australia’s fleet because they don’t need to surface to “snort” to recharge their batteries. Nuclear subs can leave port and stay underwater for weeks, avoiding detection.

  • Embedded personnel and port visits: Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the allies’ navies. US nuclear-powered submarines will increase their visits to Australian ports, with Australian sailors joining US crews for training.
  • Submarine rotations: From 2027 the UK and the US plan to rotate one UK Astute class submarine and up to four US Virginia class submarines through HMAS Stirling.
  • Sale of US Virginia-class submarines: From the early 2030s – pending approval by Congress – the US intends to sell Australia three Virginia-class submarines, with a potential option for two more if required.
  • SSN-Aukus: A combination of UK submarine design and US defence technology will contribute to the development of the new SSN-Aukus submarine – intended as the future attack submarine for both the UK and Australia. Both Australia and the UK intend to start building SSN-Aukus submarines in their domestic shipyards before the end of this decade. The first such boat may enter into UK service in the late 2030s, but the Australian navy will receive its first Australian-built SSN-Aukus submarine in the early 2040s.

Australia will begin construction works on the shipyard required to build nuclear-powered submarines in Osborne, South Australia, this year. Joe Biden said the three nations stood at an “inflection point in history” argued that in “forging this new partnership, we’re showing again how democracies can deliver, how our own security and prosperity and not just for us, but for the entire world”. The US president stressed – repeatedly – that the submarines that will be part of the Auks deal will be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed”. “Australia is a proud non-nuclear weapons state and it’s committed to stay that way. These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind on them. “Australia’s prime minister said the Aukus plan marked “a new chapter” in the relationship between Australia, the US and the UK.“The Aukus agreement we confirm here in San Diego represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defence capability in our history,” Anthony Albanese said. Without directly naming China as a source of concern, Albanese said the plan reflected a shared determination to ensure all countries could “act in their sovereign interests free from coercion”. China responded to the announcement by saying the nuclear submarine cooperation plan was “a blatant act that constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines international non-proliferation system, fuels arms races, and hurts peace and stability in the region”. “The irony of Aukus is that two nuclear weapons states who claim to uphold the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard are transferring tons of weapons-grade enriched uranium to a non-nuclear-weapon state, clearly violating the object and purpose of the NPT [non-proliferation treaty],” China’s mission to the UN tweeted. Our Australian morning briefing email breaks down the key national and international stories of the day and why they matter The nuclear reactors that will power the SSN-Aukus submarines will not be built in Australia. They will arrive from either the UK or US in a welded power unit and will not require refuelling during their expected lifetime. Australia has said it will not enrich uranium or reprocess any spent fuel from the submarines. But it has committed to managing all of the radioactive waste generated by the submarines within Australia. “This includes radioactive waste with lower levels of radioactivity generated by day-to-day submarine operations and maintenance,” a government fact sheet says. “And radioactive waste with higher levels of radioactivity, including spent fuel, which is produced when submarines are decommissioned at the end of their service life.” No decision has been made on the location yet. The Aukus scheme is the first time a provision in the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty has been used to transfer fissile material and nuclear technology from a nuclear weapons state to a non-weapons state. Paragraph 14 allows fissile material utilised for non-explosive military use, like naval propulsion, to be exempt from inspections and monitoring by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. It makes arms controls experts nervous because it sets a precedent that could be used by others to hide highly enriched uranium, or plutonium – the core of a nuclear weapon – from international oversight. James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said there was “real and concrete harm done” to the non-proliferation regime. “My fear was never that Australia would misuse that fuel, but that other countries would invoke Aukus as a precedent for removing nuclear fuel from safeguards.” The Winner of the 2017 Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Australia’s decision to buy and build nuclear-powered submarines was both a major proliferation risk and could be seen internationally as a precursor to Australia acquiring nuclear weapons. Can urged Australia to sign the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons: the ban Ican has championed and to which 68 states around the world are now a party. The Australian government counters that it has no intention of seeking nuclear weapons, and adds: “The nuclear fuel Australia receives cannot be used in nuclear weapons without further chemical processing, requiring facilities that Australia does not have and will not seek. “The Australian government estimates the nuclear submarine program will need 20,000 jobs over the next 30 years, within the ADF, the domestic ship-building industry and the public service. The government forecasts 8,500 will be directly employed in Australia’s building and servicing of the submarines, including scientists, engineers, project managers, construction workers, electricians, fitters and builders.

 

Secret Shipyard Building Submarines for Drug Cartels Just Got Busted

Narco subs are used by drug-trafficking organizations to move cocaine to move cocaine underwater towards Europe and the U.S. Colombian authorities busted a drug trafficking organization that specialized in the construction of narco submarines used to traffic cocaine and other substances underwater.The narco subs are a commonly used vehicle for moving drugs to Central America and Europe, as well as other South American countries like Brazil and Guyana. Authorities said that 12 people were arrested for their involvement with the organization, including the two leaders who were only identified by their alias’—“Pulga” and “Iván.” They also identified a third detainee as “Bernardo”, who was in charge of the group’s finances and “the commercialization of cocaine with drug trafficking structures in Europe and Central America,” the government said. The “clandestine shipyards” in which the subs were built were located along the coasts of the Cauca and Nariño departments. The group was based in the port city of Buenaventura, about 300 miles southwest of Bogota, where they coordinated the logistics of their operation. Authorities alleged that the group worked for different drug trafficking organizations, and was not exclusive to any specific cartel. The use of homemade submarines to trafficking drugs from South America around the world has existed for decades, and remains a focus of authorities attempting to clamp down on international smuggling. Colombian law enforcement seized 31 narco subs in 2021, a jump from 23 in 2019, according to InSight Crime. In 2022, Colombian authorities captured Óscar Moreno Ricardo, who spent two decades building narco subs for various drug cartels around Latin America.

The World's Most Sophisticated Narco Submarine Designer Was Just Taken Down

The submarines are generally packed full of drugs and manned by small crews who embark on weeks-long journeys underwater in an attempt to evade authorities. But the practice has also proved dangerous for traffickers. A narco submarine was discovered off the coast of Colombia in mid-March with two tons of cocaine, and two dead bodies on board. authorities also found two men alive on the sub who were reportedly ill from the effects of poisonous gases released by the boat’s fuel.

 

Submarines for landlubbers

Submarines, despite recent ill-informed comments from ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating, are currently a very expensive, ‘must have’, item in the news. After years of prevarication, the Australian government has signed up for the multi-billion purchase. Surprisingly, submarines are not a modern invention. Early attempts at underwater craft were made in ancient times, primarily with military intentions. Peter the Great used a version in Russia in the 1700s. A single-man peddle-powered sub called Turtle was used by the Americans in the War of Independence. Subsequent versions in the 1800s were powered by compressed air, or electric batteries, with the first torpedoes, also developed at that time. The major technology advance came with the invention of the diesel engine, versions launched in the US and UK around 1900. Early submarines were often transported on ships, hence they were called boats; the term has stuck. By the start of the first world war, all the major powers had submarine fleets, the Royal Navy had 74, Germany 20. Their role in war was primarily confined to sinking shipping. The first Australian sub casualty was AEI, disappearing off the coast of New Guinea in 1914. AE2 fared little better, and was scuttled in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. These subs were tiny by modern standards, displacing 750 tonnes, length 55 metres, with a crew of 35 and a top speed of 10 knots. They had 4 torpedo tubes, but shipping attacks were often carried out on the surface, using deck guns. The German torpedoing of the passenger ship Lusitania in 1915, precipitated the US entry into the war. By the second world war, technology had improved with development of radar, improved hull design meaning greater depth, snorkels to allow longer periods submerged, and self-guided torpedoes; an estimate 5,000 ships were sunk in this war. Subsequently, there have been few wars with combat losses. The Falklands War in 1982, resulted in the loss of 6 British ships to French Exocet missiles; the Argentinian ship, General Belgrano, was the first ship to be sunk by a nuclear submarine, the HMS Conqueror, in that war. The development of nuclear power from atomic bomb research, led to the first nuclear powered submarine; Nautilus, was launched in 1954, soon followed by Russia and the UK. In the early years there were many mishaps with several Russian and US subs lost with all hands. Their initial role was in the protection of shipping but, with progress in rocket weaponry, came the threat from carrying Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) during the stand-off of the Cold War. Seven countries now have nuclear powered subs; US, Russia, UK, France, China, and recently India and North Korea. There are now 3 distinct types. The original ‘attack’ subs use torpedoes as their main weapon, they are fast and highly manoeuvrable, they now also contain torpedo or vertical launched guided Cruise missiles. The larger, SSBN (submersible ship ballistic nuclear) subs carry intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) for nuclear attack, or strategic defence. The third type, SSGN was developed from SSBN, for special forces operations. The original Collins Class submarines were constructed in South Australia in the 1990s; they were fraught with technical and design teething troubles, limiting their effectiveness and time at sea. There were problems with propulsion, shape of the conning tower, propellers, periscope, and combat systems. With steadily improving capabilities, six vessels were built, of around 3,500 tons and 77 metres in length, 2 more were planned but cancelled. There have been ongoing maintenance and manning difficulties (the crew is 6 officers and 36 ratings), meaning there have rarely been more than 2 at sea at any one time. When at sea, they have a limited range of 11,500 nautical miles (surfaced), 9,000 nm (snorkelling) and 400 nm submerged, before requiring diesel refuelling. They can stay submerged for up to 70 days with snorkelling to recharge the batteries, and can travel at 20 knots submerged. The problem is their ease of detection when snorkelling. They have an advantage when operating in shallow waters and can launch short-distance, anti-ship, harpoon missiles via torpedo tubes. These missiles, also launched from surface ships, are highly accurate and carried by around 30 navies. Although the subs have outdated technology, they can still do things other subs can’t do, and their stealth has sometimes taken American ships by surprise, when on exercise. The original cost of the 6 subs was around $5 billion, maintenance around $500 million annually, with upgrade costs estimated at $10 billion; estimates are they now take up around 5 per cent of the defence budget, likely to increase to 10 per cent. They were due to be retired by 2020, but service has now been extended to the mid-2030s, when their replacements are (possibly) starting to arrive. An upgrade will include the ability to fire cruise missiles from their torpedo tubes, significantly increasing their lethality. For purely ideological reasons, nuclear powered subs were ruled out in 2009, after years of prevarication from both sides of government, there is now a firm commitment. The bizarre 2019 Malcolm Turnbull option was to convert a tried and tested French designed Barracuda nuclear powered attack sub into a diesel version. It was intended to be delivered in the early 2030s, but was falling behind schedule when cancelled. Several billion dollars were wasted on attempting to reinvent old technology and a capability gap has developed. Nuclear was always the only viable option, the ex-PM still refuses to accept this. The 2021 Aukus agreement means that, starting from around 2033, Australia will obtain 3 used and refurbished Virginia class attack submarines from the US, possibly 2 more; there is some doubt about the time-frame, with construction delays already forecast. There has been remarkably little pushback from the public, maybe making the nuclear power debate less of a political challenge. Inevitably, the Green party were not happy, their Senator David Shoebridge announcing that the Port Kembla submarine base expansion would make the Illawarra region at risk of nuclear attack! Approval of a nuclear waste facility in WA, for already accumulated Australian waste, may be another uncontroversial step forward; perhaps after securing nuclear power for defence security, we can look at nuclear power for energy security. Currently, the UK has 4 Vanguard class SSBN’s, large at 16,000 tons and 150 meters in length, (tons and metric tonnes are approximately the same) with a submerged speed of 24kt, costing around 5 billion pounds each. There are also 5 Astute class attack subs, costing around 2 billion pounds each, around 7,500 tons and 100 metres in length, equipped with torpedo-tube launched torpedoes and cruise missiles, and a top speed of around 30 knots. These are smaller than the US equivalent, the more expensive Virginia class attack sub, at 11,000 tons and 140 metres in length, which also carries more weaponry, with vertically launched cruise missiles. Both can stay submerged for an indefinite period, limited only by food for the crew; the nuclear power source can last for 30 years without refuelling. Compared with the current Collins Class, these submarines have the ability to destroy ships, mine harbours, destroy other subs and attack distant land targets. There are plans to subsequently design a new tri-nation sub, known at present as SSN-AUKUS. Over the 30 years the total cost of all these plans is substantial, including weaponry and new port facilities, a lifetime figure of between $268 and $368 billion has been suggested. Construction of 5 planned subs will commence in South Australia in the early 2040’; one will be built every 2-3 years, with the UK building their own; the submarine will be designed by UK and Australia, and will contain US combat systems. To fill the gap US and UK submarines will rotate through Perth, commencing around 2027, HMAS Stirling will require an upgrade of $8 billion to accommodate these visitors. These subs will add to the 300 estimated to be operating in the Pacific by 2030.Crewing has been a problem with Collins, the Virginia class sub has a ship’s complement three times larger, at around 130. Notwithstanding political prevarication, some submarine crewmen (now also women) have already gained experience with overseas nuclear subs, and ongoing rotation will be necessary. Recruitment may be enhanced by the superior space of the larger subs, meaning crew sharing bunks on shift will be a problem of the past. There needs to be a major leap in nuclear technology skills, with universities introducing new courses to fit the agenda; past ship building in SA has not been without problems, and the building gap will no doubt expose deficiencies. New technology advances for submarines and their weapons, so will methods of detection. The obvious advantages of a nuclear sub are its speed, endurance, and stealth, but once discovered its mission is compromised. Current methods include enhanced sonar, with buoys dropped from planes or ships, and increasing satellite surveillance. While a major problem with diesel subs is the propeller noise and detection of snorkels, nuclear subs work on a jet propulsion system and are more difficult to detect. The physics of sonar (emitting and receiving sound wave reflected back off an object) is used by animal species such as bats to fly safely at night, the same principle has also been developed as ultrasound for human body imaging. As sonar improves, the increasing use of autonomous vehicles and sensors will increase. Advances in satellite technology will also increase risk, with improved optical sensors and heat tracking of engines’ thermal signatures, this potential is still currently obscured by thermal layers of ocean, blocking signals. Better understanding of quantum physics means these technologies will improve, as will the potential ability to disable a sub by ‘star-wars’ satellite lasers. The experimental use of submarine launched unmanned drones has now arrived; the US has a torpedo launched drone called Razorback, used for scouting; in future it may be retrievable, by wire. The problem of detecting submarine signals remains, as the technology improves. The Ukraine war has demonstrated how drones can change the above sea battlefield; what further detection advances will have occurred by the time the fleet build is complete in 2050? Even with these uncertainties, all major navies are continuing to build their own nuclear subs. As its own military undergoes massive expansion, China is still likely to accuse Aukus of provoking an arms race. We can expect more economic blackmail from geopolitical rivals, we can also expect more misplaced invective from relevance-deprived Paul Keating, now added to you by his old far-left colleagues, as they live in the past and deny the China’s expansionist aims.

 

Best Submarine War Movies

With claustrophobia, stress, and the thin line between living and dying, these are the stories of submarines and underwater war films. The radar and electric boards lightning, thigh-suffocating spaces, moments of crisis and despair, and breathable air running out — these are the hardships characters in submarine films must face. These high-tension spaces are usually deployed in war endeavors and find those operating them in risky situations where their choices will mean life or death. The crews behind submarines are essentially blind to most senses, going off into the darkness with their sonar as their ears, and their ears as their eyes. The daunting scenarios that encompass everything that is submarine-related would crush upon nearly anyone. The films portraying those courageous individuals aboard these underwater vessels during wartime have resourced to precise technical filmmaking, great acting, and building claustrophobic tension to bring to screens around the world the dangerous lives of sailors aboard submarines. These are the 10 best films depicting submarines at war.

10 Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Clark Gable leads this WWII tale of a submarine captain looking for revenge. Commander P.J. Richardson (Gable) finally gets a chance to commandeer a submarine again, after his prior one was sunk by a Japanese destroyer, sending him to a desk job for over a year. In this new chance at proving himself, Richardson goes full in looking to sink said destroyer, no matter the cost or how reckless his actions might be towards his crew. Run Silent, Rub Deep runs for 93 minutes and is fairly similar technically speaking to more recent submarine films as the shots are quite familiar. Though it had a lot of star power, and was directed by the great Robert Wise, it was a box office failure and did not fare that well with critics.

9 Operation Pacific

John Wayne was not only keen on portraying stories of the Old West, but doing so as well with wartime films. Operation Pacific finds him as the second in command of a submarine with failing torpedoes that can’t seem to make any damage to Japanese destroyers in WWII. t the same time, he struggles to regain the love of his ex-wife, now engaged to his commander’s brother. Following exactly what a Wayne war film is, being overtly patriotic, heroic, and nationalistic, Operation Pacific succeeds at sticking to its script making up an entertaining, and at times humorous, war drama.

8 Crimson Tide

While many may find that The Cold War was not a “real war”, the fact is that the proxy conflicts fought throughout the world had the backing of both United States and the Soviet Union, so there’s a pretty good case to be made that it was a very real war. Crimson Tide is set right at the end of the conflict, yet still dealing with the ramifications of it. The plot finds Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington as a captain and first officer respectively, struggling with what is the right decision to make regarding the use of nuclear weapons aboard a US submarine. The film features a most excellent cinematography and a nerve-wrecking psychological battle between its leads with nuclear armageddon looming at every second.

7 Torpedo Run

A morally complicated story of individualism in the face of collective tragedy. Torpedo Run is another submarine revenge tale, executed in a cold and realistic fashion. The plot follows a submarine commander sent to destroy the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinaru, the ship that led the attack on Pearl Harbor, while personally angered as the Japanese took his wife and baby daughter prisoners ten months before. The film takes a hard turn early on as he finds out that the ship carrying his family and other POWs is screening the Shinaru and attacking it would mean possibly endangering the prisoners on the other ship.

6 U-571

U-571 is the not-so-real story a US submarine sent to capture a German U-boat and steal the Enigma machine coding device aboard. After taking control they find hardships as both Germans and Americans (unaware they have taken over) try to sink them. Despite the film being narratively sound and good enough at what it attempts, its success at the box office, being mildly-well received by critics and winning an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, it received harsh backlash across the sea. English media, and government were outraged as the ones who first captured an enigma machine were British sailors. Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair deemed it as an “affront” to English sailors.

5 Destination Tokyo

The original submarine movie, Destination Tokyo is a landmark film which established a lot of the common narrative and audiovisual techniques now associated with submarine films. Released as an attempt to enlist more people in the Navy during WWII, this 1943 film based on an original story by ex-submariner and pulp writer Steve Fisher, is about a submarine crew heading to Tokyo Bay looking to gather intel for a future air-raid on the city. Though today its seen essentially as a propaganda film, it set the precedent for this kind of films and is iconic in its own right.

4 The Bedford Incident

James B. Harris produced all of Kubrick films up to Lolita, after which the pair had a fallout since he didn’t like that Dr. Strangelove was being made as a satire rather than a thriller. He took matters into his own hands by directing The Bedford Incident which was released less than two years after Dr. Strangelove. The film is a Cold-War-paranoia-ridden thriller about an obsessive submarine captain who begins a chase after a soviet submarine in international waters, risking a direct conflict between Americans and Soviets.

3 The Enemy Below

The Enemy Below trades what had been made of submarines films up to the moment, for a battle of wits between an American and German commanding officers in a naval battle between a destroyer escort and a submarine. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jürgens face off in an intricate battle, where the two begin to feel respect for one another. The film is also notorious as it presents war in an unfashionable way, and the toll of it is felt through its two leads, who are not fans of their governments and understand that the situation they are in is terrible and sad.

2 The Hunt For Red October

One of the ultimate Cold War films is a tour de force with impeccable performances by Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. Set in the last years of the conflict, The Hunt for Red October is an adaptation of Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel about a Soviet captain (Connery) taking a technologically advanced Soviet submarine to the American coast. The Americans believe is an attack, the Soviets are chasing him down, but one CIA analyst (Baldwin) believes that he is actually trying to defect, which leaves him just a few hours to prove it before disaster unfolds. The film was a box office and critical success, it won one Academy Award out of three nominations and earned Connery a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor.

1 Das Boot

All the prior entries on this list are incomparable to the monumental masterpiece that is Wolfgang Petersen magnum opus, Das Boot. This 210-minute odyssey follows the crew of a German U-boat in WWII hunting down allied ships, until they become the hunted, and must find a way to survive the horrors of deep-sea warfare. As Boot does what every submarine film wishes to accomplish in a more distinguished and perfect way, and what makes it so incredible is the combination of complex storytelling and character building, and the masterful direction of Petersen that has to be considered as one of the greatest technical directorial works in film history. The German master pushes the psychological limits of his characters as well as the physical endurance of their submarine as every second becomes a struggle for survival.

 

France Joins AUKUS Submarine Program

Under extended plans, France will join the AUKUS submarine program. This will see advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines built for Australia, United Kingdom and France. The United States is also providing key elements, including interim submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. The French government has joined the previously trinational AUKUS submarine program. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are already involved in the 368 billion dollar project. The plan is to build and deliver a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarine for the respective navies. Now the French Navy (Marine Nationale) could receive up to four submarines under the plans. The AUKUS submarine deal was announced in a joint session by British, the American and Australian leaders on September 18 2021. A follow-up announcement on March 13 2023 confirmed that the British SSN(R) program would form the basis of the AUKUS design. It is unclear whether the French boats will be exactly like their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, or slightly slimmer. There were already indications that this new partnership was imminent. It may explain why some official images of the then-called AUKUS submarine, released March 14, appear to show it with a French style sail. The sail depicted closely resembled the Barracuda class submarine which is now entering service with the French Navy. In anticipation of cost overruns with the interior design of the crew accommodation and galley spaces, the submarines will be built for-but-not-with (FBNW) torpedo tubes. The new arrangement could save millions in operating costs. This is according to an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the operational planning. The torpedo tube situation would not be permeant. “In the event of increased tensions or the outbreak of hostilities” the source added “the submarines could be rebuilt with torpedo tubes in just a matter of years”. It should be remembered that a 4 year overhaul is considered short in submarine terms. Especially in Canada. It is understood that the submarines will be built in a new facility exactly halfway between Southampton and Cherbourg. The latter is the home of French submarine building. Such a political decision was widely expected. It is the hallmark of international collaborations in the defense arena. Australia’s submarines will be built locally in Australian yards, and assembled in France and the United Kingdom. The completed submarines will then be shipped by rail via the Suez Canal to Australia. The upgraded program will be renamed FUKUS after France joins. Following the expected formal announcement, the submerge à trois will become a submerge à quatre.

 

Ukraine’s sneaky submarine may change naval warfare forever

A Ukrainian startup’s stealth submarine vessel is the equivalent of a fighter jet for hit-and-run missions against the Russian navy. In the Arabian Desert—somewhere past the end of Dubai—a small band of misfits claim to have built the submarine of the future in the middle of an ocean of sand. Hanging from a heavy industrial crane inside an industrial warehouse, the black silhouette of the machine feels biological and menacing, almost alive as its creators put in the last touches before its virgin voyage. Its name is Kronos. And according to its chief designer, Ukrainian engineer Alexander Kuznetsov, founder of Highland Systems, it may change naval warfare forever. If traditional large submarines are the slow-moving bombers of the sea, Kronos is a stealth jet fighter, capable of maneuvering at fast speeds, turning on a dime, and sneaking behind big enemy ships to disable them with torpedoes and even sink them with magnetic mines. Its design is intended to have it lie on the ocean seabed, listening to its sensors, like a predator patiently waiting for its prey. These are lofty claims, but if Kronos performs as Kuznetsov and his team expect, it has a chance of disrupting war at sea the same way drones have in the air and a new generation of easy-to-use, hit-and-run weapons have on land. As Matthew Sweeney—a commander in the U.S. Navy and professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island—tells me in a video interview, everything Highland Systems proposes is feasible on paper. Ukraine, however, is at war now. 

 

A radical redesign of the old submarine

Submarine design has remained ostensibly the same since the end of the 19th century, when the Spaniard Isaac Peral invented the first fully capable military submarine. From the diesel U-boats that terrorized Allied convoys during World War II, to the modern nuclear-powered attack submarines that can unleash a storm of atomic missiles over the planet at the turn of a key, they are all tubes, powered by hybrid diesel-electrical engines or nuclear reactors. Envisioned to operate in deep waters, current military submarines can patrol the oceans for months at a time. They are powerful and deadly, but huge, and they maneuver quite slowly. One example: An operation like a crash dive—which means submerging from the surface as fast as possible to avoid attack—took a World War II-era submarine about 30 seconds. A modern, Ohio-class nuclear sub takes up to five minutes to fully submerge.  Their size comes with a host of other problems. Submarines are laborious to turn. The average submarine going at full speed has a turning radius that ranges from 750 to 1,500 feet. And they need a considerable amount of water to operate at all. Even smaller vessels—like anti-submarine hunter-killers, designated as SSK—have a minimum operating depth of 650 feet, according to the U.S. Naval Institute, because they need to have space under their keel. Kronos is designed to be the performance opposite of a traditional submarine. Its intentionally small and stealthy design is meant to enable it to creep close to shore, or enemy vessels, firing pinpoint torpedos and dropping mines to cause devastation more like a drone than a U-boat. Instead of needing a crew of 100 to operate like submarines of today, Kronos can be handled by a single brave pilot and carry up to eight special operations commandos.

 

From billionaire toy to hunter-killer vessel

Kuznetsov—no relation to Ukrainian Russian actor Aleksandr Kuznetzov—was born in Ukraine but moved to Russia at age 6 to study, all the way from grade school to the completion of his doctorate in engineering. He returned to his home country to assemble a team to try to build the first-ever electric amphibious armored vehicle. It wasn’t possible, he says, because the bureaucracy in Ukraine was too great, requiring multiple permits to buy crucial components even before the war started. In order to acquire necessary tools and parts, the team moved to the United Arab Emirates, “where you can get anything you want” as long as you have the money to buy it, he says. They quickly found a local partner—armored vehicles maker Streit Group—and finally built their peculiar vehicle. Soon after, the team decided to build a new type of personal submarine for work and leisure. In Kuznetsov’s mind, this vessel would have two versions: One model would carry workers to service underwater infrastructure, like communication cables or oil rigs. The other would be a luxury vehicle made for the eccentrically rich as the perfect accessory to their megayachts. It seemed like a fun and lucrative plan . . . until Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and started a gruesome, illegal war. That’s when Kuznetsov and his team—like other engineers and companies in his country—decided to pivot to defend their homeland. Their new mission: redesign Kronos to fight against the Russian navy in the highly contested Black Sea. That meant Kronos needed to be adapted for military operations, with new capabilities that include running sonar, deploying magnetic mines, controlling cable-guided mini drones, and, of course, launching torpedoes. Its friendly design quickly evolved into a war machine through 36 iterations that were first tested with computer simulations and physical models of increasing sizes, both in wind tunnels and large swimming pools. The 37th prototype was the breakthrough that you can see in the photos above, which finally got the team to the specifications they initially envisioned. From the outside, Kronos looks like a long animal skull that smoothly morphs into a dorsal spine, developing into a long tail as it fuses with the two wings. These two symmetric flanks transition into long wings on the starboard and port sides, each equipped with ailerons. Like on an airplane, these control surfaces change the shape of the wing, allowing the vehicle to turn on a dime. It’s not a coincidence that the resulting shape is reminiscent of a manta ray, one of the fastest and most efficient animals underwater. The cockpit doesn’t have any windows. Instead, its pilot uses “digital glass” flat screens connected to external cameras and thermal sensors that give a 360-degree view of the submarine’s surroundings. This aerodynamic profile increases the vessel’s speed. Its strange bow shape, the engineers say, was the most difficult part to calculate. They wanted it to be able to navigate not just underwater but also on the surface, with waves up to 16 feet high. Early versions of Kronos skipped on the water, making it impossible to glide on the surface at high speed unless the sea was calm. This was a major hurdle, but Highland Systems claims it can now cut through waves towering up to 19 feet tall. The final design looks completely alien. Without any context, it can pass as a UFO retrieved from a crash site or the set of a Marvel blockbuster. But this vehicle doesn’t look like an interstellar craft used by the Guardians of the Galaxy just for kicks. According to its designers, Kronos’s manta ray shape results in a stealthier and much more agile vehicle than the classic cigar-shaped underwater beasts that have roamed the seas for more than half a century. Highland Systems says that Kronos’s shape, electric engine, and sonar-absorbing coating—a stealthy finish developed in-house—make it the perfect vessel for hit-and-run and sabotage missions.Kronos is built to patrol waters as shallow as 50 feet, all the way down to 820 feet, with the ability to dive faster than a standard submarine. Kronos can turn 180 degrees “instantly” at full speed—a world’s first, its designers claim. This ability, if true, could prove crucial for underwater warfare: “If someone shoots a torpedo at us, Kronos can avoid it because of this sheer maneuverability and small size,” a Highland Systems spokesperson says. Its speed also helps. At 27 knots (31 mph), Kronos surpasses the published top speed of a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine, which is 20 knots (23 mph), and almost matches its classified top speed, which is estimated to range from 30 to 33 knots (34.5 to 38 mph). On the surface, their speed is even more impressive—43.2 knots (49.7 mph) versus a maximum speed of about 30 knots for a typical military ship, like the ultra-modern destroyer USS Zumwalt, which reaches 32 knots. In a hit-and-run mission, Kronos would approach an enemy vessel to disable it, not to sink it. Torpedoes like the Leonardo are not powerful enough to sink a ship in the same way a traditional large torpedo can. As Sweeney of the Naval War College explains to me, you need a lot of explosives to sink a ship. “We don’t actually hit the target with a [regular torpedo],” he says. “It goes underneath the ship, blows up a big bubble that lifts it up, and that force cracks it in half.” Kronos’s torpedoes can’t do this but they can do enough damage to disable any ship approaching from its wake and firing at its propellers, the company rep tells me. After firing the torpedo, Kronos would either do a 180-degree turn and retreat, or sink straight to the seabed, lying down to avoid detection. Sweeney points out that this would be difficult to do, but it’s theoretically possible. “When you’re in a ship’s wake like that, it’s hard for a torpedo to home in on its target because of all the noise,” he says. “But it can be done. It’s just harder. It’s definitely feasible to do an attack that way. So it’d be . . . interesting to see them doing it.”Another type of hit-and-run mission could be done with magnetic mines. Here, Kronos would sneak next to the belly of an enemy ship to attach and then detonate the mines from a safe distance. This would be impossible to do with a ship moving at full speed, Sweeney notes, but a slow-moving vessel or a moored ship would be vulnerable to this kind of attack. Finally, Kronos introduces the possibility of sabotage. The vessel can stealthily approach ships at port or anchored in enemy waters to disable or sink them with explosives in hit-and-run missions. The other approach would be carrying special operations commandos to infiltrate enemy territory.

 

The race to develop a stealth submarine

Sweeney is a career submariner who served his first 10 years in the Navy as an enlisted nuclear-trained machinist mate. Throughout his career he has been deployed on nuclear-powered submarines. He’s not the only one who has been thinking about a new style of U.S. submarine, but his team claims to have beaten others to the punch by working around bureaucracy. The Pentagon’s advanced research arm—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA—has been working on a similar project to Kronos for a couple of years. It aims to build a highly maneuverable, high-endurance submarine drone that can glide underwater completely autonomously. Just like the vessel developed by an upstart Ukrainian company based in the UAE, the DARPA vessel is also inspired by the shape of a manta ray, which is believed to be one of the most efficient biological designs for underwater operation. But while DARPA is still in the first design stages, Kronos’s engineers have already built 37 prototypes following the Silicon Valley playbook: design, build, test—and don’t be afraid if it blows up. This rapid prototyping approach led SpaceX to successfully build its rocket empire, and Highland Systems is betting that it will allow Kronos to beat the slow industrial military behemoth. The company unveiled the first functional, full-scale Kronos prototype at the IDEX-2023 international defense fair in Abu Dhabi in March. “When military people see Kronos, they can’t believe that it exists,” a company rep who prefers to remain unnamed for safety concerns told me over video chat. “We had some current commanders and former commanders of submarine forces from NATO countries inspecting it in absolute disbelief.” military personnel ask how it is possible that no big company in the industry has built something like Kronos yet. The answer, the rep says, is always the same: “They are big companies. To approve anything you have to go to three or five bosses. Here we don’t have five bosses. We are just a group of passionate guys working in the middle of the desert. Here you just come, evaluate, and decide, ‘Yes, this is wrong, let’s change it.’ That’s it. It takes us five minutes. It’s the startup mentality.” The designers who handcrafted Kronos are definitely not material for the Lockheed Martins and Raytheons of the old military complex. Led by the forty-something-year-old Kuznetsov, Highland Systems is formed by just seven engineers, all with experience working in Ukraine in different defense-related jobs. “We have a team specialist who came from Moldova. One guy even Uzbekistan. But all of them are special, they are not your typical engineers,” the company rep tells me. They all know how to weld, for example, and each have different areas of expertise. What makes Kronos’s design so interesting in today’s military scenario is that it fits the principles of the war of the future that started to develop since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. As demonstrated by what’s happening there, the war of the future will be one of attrition. Rather than spending billions on a few extremely complicated vehicles, Kiev has demonstrated that you can be nimble and attack with many inexpensive weapons like the Bayraktar TB2—the Turkish drone that is the nightmare of Russian troops—and cheap loitering munitions that fly over patches of terrain looking for targets to attack kamikaze style. The U.S., China, and other countries are starting to think that massive swarms of disposable drones coordinated with tactical artificial intelligence can overwhelm the enemy defenses and inflict greater damage than localized attacks. In fact, there are simulations that show that these inexpensive weapons will be key to stopping China from invading Taiwan. As Sweeney points out, Kronos fits perfectly into this new world: “Everyone is trying to see what can be done with smaller, less-expensive vehicles across all domains—air, land, and sea. “While Highland Systems wouldn’t share its final numbers, it assures me that the price tag of its vessel will be a ridiculous fraction of the cost of an SSK attack submarine, which goes for about $450 million without maintenance and operational expenses. The result is that you can build a large fleet of Kronos-like subs and cover their operational costs for years for the price of a single SSK. (Fun fact: American nuclear submarines start at $3 billion and take seven years to build).Kuznetsov’s company boldly claims that half a dozen Kronos can control the Black Sea. Sweeney is a bit more conservative in his estimates. He believes that if you had, say, 10 of these subs along a coastline, they may work effectively against anything that crosses into a country’s territorial waters. Even if Highland Systems’ claims prove out, it doesn’t mean that large submarines are going away anytime soon, the same way fighter jets, bombers, tanks, and deadly artillery for dummies are going to stay around. But the mere existence of Kronos, if it finally enters service in time to participate in the war in Ukraine, will be highly disruptive. Even without it, the Russian navy already fears going anywhere near the Ukrainian coast, keeping its Black Sea ship mostly locked in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, where it has suffered massive attacks by home-brewed marine drones a few times, the latest just this past week. t may seem like a Mission Impossible to many. In our conversation, Sweeney seemed quite amused and intrigued by the idea. He certainly saw how a Kronos-like vessel could influence future naval warfare. Obviously, Kuznetsov and his team are convinced that they will succeed, just as companies like the Turkish Baykar did with its low-cost drones and SpaceX did with its low-cost reusable rockets. “Probably within five, seven years, most submarines will have the same shape,” he tells me. “As soon as they understand its advantages, things will change.”

 

Divers find wreckage of experimental submarine built in 1907 in Connecticut

The Defender was built by millionaire Simon Lake and visited by Amelia Earhart before it was scuttled in the Long Island Sound Divers in Connecticut have discovered the wreckage of an experimental submarine built in 1907 and later scuttled in the Long Island Sound. The Defender, a 92ft craft, was found on Sunday by a team led by Richard Simon, a commercial diver from Coventry, Connecticut. Simon said he had been interested in the story of the Defender for years. He spent months going over known sonar and underwater mapping surveys, as well as government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, to identify any anomaly that fit the size of the submarine. “A submarine has a very distinct shape,” he said. “It needs to be 100ft long and 13ft in diameter. So I made a list of everything that was that long and there was one target on that list. “Simon then assembled a group of top wreck divers. Poor tidal conditions forced them to abandon an attempt last Friday. They returned on Sunday and discovered the Defender on the bottom, more than 150ft down, off the coast of Old Saybrook.“It was legitimately hiding in plain sight,” he said. “It’s on the charts. It’s known about in Long Island Sound, just no one knew what it was.”Simon described the agony of waiting on the deck of his research vessel, staring at a dive buoy in the fog and waiting for two divers to surface. Once they did and confirmed they had found a sub, the team erupted in “pure joy”, he said. Simon said he did not want to give the exact depth, because that could give away the location. The submarine, originally named the Lake, was built by the millionaire Simon Lake and his Bridgeport-based Lake Torpedo Boat Company in hopes of winning a competition for a US navy contract, according to NavSource Online, a website dedicated to preserving naval history. It was an experimental vessel, with wheels to move along the sea bottom and a door that allowed divers to be released underwater. The company lost the competition and Lake tried refitting the submarine for minesweeping, salvage and rescue work, renaming it the Defender. But he never found a buyer. It was a well-known submarine nonetheless and was even visited by the aviator Amelia Earhart in 1929, Simon said. But the submarine spent many years docked in New London before being abandoned on a mud flat near Old Saybrook. It was scuttled by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1946 but the corps never disclosed where. Simon said it was clear when his team found the wreckage that it was the Defender. The length, the size and the shape of protrusions on the submarine’s distinct keel, and the shape and location of diving planes characteristic of Lake-built vessels, all helped identify it. Simon and his team plan to spend the summer diving on the sub, filming it and taking photographs. He said he and the company he and his wife own, Shoreline Diving, put up the money for the search. He has not figured out how to monetize the find, but said that was not the goal. He has contacted the US navy to see if it is interested in helping preserve the wreckage.

 

How Japan could quickly build up its submarine force

Japan can quickly and inexpensively increase its force of diesel-electric combat submarines from 22 to at least 28, if it stops prematurely retiring them. That would provide more of the one category of warship that the armed forces of democratic countries could safely operate close to China in wartime. Moreover, additional Japanese submarines would ease pressure on the US Navy, which is straining to maintain submarine numbers. Last month, Japan decommissioned the first of its 11 Oyashio-class boats. They are contemporaries of Australia’s Collins-class, which Canberra is not remotely close to withdrawing from service.JS Oyashio was 25 years old [upon decommissioning] and was only 17 when pulled from the combat force to be converted into a training submarine. Most navies would regard that as waste, just as most air forces would not follow Japan’s policy of discarding F-15 fighters that are nowhere near worn out. Japan’s early decommissioning of submarines seems especially improvident given the importance of its boats in helping to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan. They are based near China and are operated by people highly experienced in the waters that would be the main naval theatre in such a conflict. Consider, for example, the results of table-top simulations of a Taiwanese war published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in January. Japan’s forces in the games suffered initial blows, prompting the researchers to report that Japanese submarines were the “most valuable,” as they could “strike Chinese amphibious ships and the Chinese picket line around Taiwan.”“Converting a submarine for training every few years involves removing combat equipment, much reducing Japan’s warfighting capability. For decades, Japan has almost always built a submarine a year. The current and planned fleet is 22 plus two: 22 for operations, including one routinely assigned to development work but presumably fully armed, and two converted for training. On average, they’ll be retiring after about 24 years in service. Elsewhere, submarine service lives of 30 years are unremarkable. If Japan suspended submarine retirements for six years and raised the average decommissioning age to 30, it would increase its fleet by six boats without having to spend even one more yen on construction. It could enlarge the fleet at a rate of one a year. Using each submarine for 32 years would enlarge the fleet by eight. The US Navy has found that its Los Angeles-class nuclear submarines are good for 36 years. He idea of keeping Japanese submarines going for longer is not new. US Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke said in 2020 that the number one opportunity to expand the naval power of the US and its allies was by enlarging Japan’s submarine force. And in 2021, I proposed that, since Japan planned to throw away the Yashi’s before they were worn out, they’d make fine temporary additions to the Royal Australian Navy while it awaited delivery of nuclear submarines. Keeping the remaining Oyashios in Japanese service would be much more valuable. Japan has expanded its fleet once before by lengthening service lives. The fleet target of 22 plus two, achieved last year, was set in 2010 when Japan had 18 boats (16 plus two) and retired them generally before they got to even 20 years. Another immediate opportunity is for Japan to end its practice of dedicating two submarines to training. A Japanese naval source says that converting a boat for that purpose every few years involves removing combat equipment, much reducing its warfighting capability. Other navies teach sailors the ropes in front line submarines. If Japan did that, it could add two submarines to its combat force without lifting the building rate. So, a quick addition of 10 submarines to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is quite conceivable. Japan would have to train enough people for one extra crew each year, though that should not be difficult. It was doing that several years ago as it lifted the force to 22 plus two. It would also need expanded maintenance capacity, additional weapons such as torpedoes, and a larger budget to cover running costs. But the biggest additional financial burden may be in shipyard work. The 2010 decision to operate the submarines for longer required life-extending overhauls for the Oyashios, which began in 2013 and were followed by modernisation to almost the standard of the succeeding Soryu-class, according to Japan’s government. If Japan lifts the submarine retirement age to 30 or 32, its submarines will presumably need more or deeper overhauls and modernisation. That would cost much less than new submarines.“If Washington, in seeking to deter China, values undersea strength as highly as it seems to, it needs to tell Japan to stop throwing away good submarines.” however well modernised, will diesel-electric submarines continue to be useful? Peter Dutton, who was defence minister when Australia decided in 2021 it needed nuclear-powered submarines, wrote last year that the advice from experts was clear. Diesel-electric submarines would not be able to compete in hostilities in the South China Sea beyond 2035. The diesel-electric submarine needs to come up near to the surface to “snort”—raising a snorkel to run its diesel engines and recharge its batteries—and would be detected by emerging radar technologies, Dutton said. Hat assessment should not discourage Japan from extending the service lives of its diesel-electric submarines. That would yield a larger Japanese fleet well before 2035, which cannot be regarded as a sharp turning point at which the conventionally-powered submarine concept will suddenly become obsolete. Such changes come gradually. Also, Japanese submarines would operate in wartime not so much in the South China Sea, where the presence of Chinese airborne radar surveillance might be uncontested, but mainly in the East China Sea and nearby waters, close to Japanese and Taiwanese air passband all Japanese submarines delivered since 2009 (after the Oyashio-class) have either air-independent propulsion systems or large-capacity lithium-ion batteries enabling them to “loiter”. Both technologies allow a commander to reduce or entirely avoid snorting in dangerous locations. Australia’s previously planned diesel-electric submarines lacked such features. Although Japan plans to double its defence share of GDP to two per cent by 2027, a force structure plan issued in December confirmed that the 22-plus-two submarine fleet size would stay. Why the government and navy rejected the possibility of further expansion is unclear. Possible explanations include competition within the navy for funds or a simply a disinclination to accept the disruption of expansion beyond the 2010 plan. Whatever the reason, perhaps the one influence that can change minds in Tokyo is Japan’s US ally. If Washington, in seeking to deter China, values undersea strength as highly as it seems to, it needs to tell Japan to stop throwing away good submarines.

 

Proposed non nuclear submarine jointly planned by Russia and China appears to be a non starter

On the international market, China and Russia compete with one another in SSK sales. Submarines made in China are sold in Thailand, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. A spokeswoman for the Russian Federal Agency for Military-Technical Cooperation reportedly indicated during the “Army-2020” symposium on August 25, 2020, that Russia and China are working together to design a new generation of conventionally powered submarines (SSK – diesel-electric submarines that are specialised for anti-submarine missions). Information is not available regarding the boat’s function, if any, or the vessel’s specifications, even in 2023. In contrast to the United States Navy, both the Russian Navy and the Chinese Navy continue to operate conventional submarines in addition to their nuclear attack submarine fleets. These boats are far simpler to build than those powered by nuclear energy, and they provide a wide range of advantages, particularly for those deployed in coastal environments. China previously launched mass manufacturing and improvement of conventional submarines such as the Type 039, 039G/A, and others. Following the “submarine boom,” recent years have been pretty quiet. There is no information available about the mass production of conventional submarines. Chinese submarine engineers may use this quiet period to build a new generation of conventional submarines to replace the Yuan class. At the same time, Russia is struggling to mass produce its Lada class submarines which are Kilo-class submarine replacements. To make matters worse for Moscow, Russia’s usual importer, India, is no longer an assured market for Russian SSKs. Therefore, Russia and China have similar requirements for the next generation of conventional submarines. During the early stages of the Cold War, the Soviet Union provided the People’s Republic of China with assistance in developing its submarine manufacturing. Moscow gave Beijing the plans for diesel-electric submarines, including the Project 629 (NATO Golf-class) ballistic missile carrying submarine and the Project 633 (Romeo class) diesel-electric submarine. After some time had passed, Russia shipped diesel-electric submarines of the Kilo class, designated Project 877 Halibut, to China. On the other hand, China went a different route, and as a result, it currently possesses the technology necessary to produce any submarine class. As a submarine power that has been around for a long time, Russia still has strong technical reserves in areas like low-noise control technology for submarines, submarine structure design and material technology, and submarine weapon systems. China’s conventional subs don’t have any of these things. In contrast to China, which already employs Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) to construct submarines, Russia strives to adopt this technology. The AIP was supposed to be installed aboard a modern Russian submarine from the series 677 “Lada,” but this has not yet happened. The utilisation of rechargeable batteries is a candidate for use as an alternative. Only recently have lithium-ion batteries have been adopted for use in submarines. Submarines from Japan were the first to use them, followed shortly after by submarines from South Korea and Italy. Another possible collaboration area might involve the combat management suite and armament. For instance, a Chinese submarine may be outfitted with sonar and weaponry sourced from Russia.  Malachite, a Russian design bureau, is attempting to pitch one of their designs. A non-nuclear submarine with a length of 65.5 metres and a closed-type auxiliary propulsion system (AIP) that includes a gas turbine engine fueled by liquid oxygen from a separate tank is what the concept proposal for the P-750B Serval envisions. The Chinese shipbuilders are also pushing their capabilities. Therefore, it is not yet known how it will be incorporated into the long-term organisational structure of the fleets of both nations. The fact that the Chinese will replicate Russian technology and then produce their own versions is the primary concern for Moscow. China and Russia compete in the global market by primarily selling SSKs. China is gaining market share and exports submarines to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Thailand. It’s feasible that this submarine, which was co-designed, will also be exported. On the international market, China and Russia compete with one another in SSK sales. Submarines made in China are sold in Thailand, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. China is expanding its market share. It’s not out of the question that this submarine, co-designed with another country, will also be sold elsewhere. According to the official viewpoint of Moscow, naval cooperation with Beijing has nothing to do with nations located outside of the region, nor does it have anything to do with the political and military atmosphere in the region. At the same time, there are now major inconsistencies in how the United States, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other, interact with one another. In this regard, joint naval exercises are undertaken to demonstrate the alliance between the two countries and their desire to cooperate to achieve mutual goals. The Russian and Chinese warships have conducted more rigorous joint training over the past several years than in previous decades. Consequently, there are currently more questions than answers concerning the possibility of a Russian and Chinese non nuclear submarine to be designed in collaboration. In fact, Russia said that China and Russia were going to work together on the “Lada” class conventional submarine project as early as 2012. This project will inevitably fail, much like other defence programmes that have received substantial coverage in the official media of China and Russia.

 

Drug smuggling submarines:

Vessels are often constructed in remote jungle locations and then transported by land to rivers or coastlines where they can be launched. For more than 20 years, South American drug traffickers have been using submarines to reach Africa and Europe. That’s according to Antonio Martinez Duarte, Chief Commissioner of the Narco Brigade in the Spanish National Police, who told the BBC so-called “narco subs” are “very hard to detect”. It’s believed that hundreds of homemade submarines have been launched towards Europe, which is the second-largest market for cocaine after the US and is expanding quickly following a Covid pandemic slump. There are even rumours that there is a mass graveyard of cocaine submarines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, near the Canary Islands and the Azores, that were purposefully sunk after their cargo had been successfully unloaded. getting into a military submarine and sinking below the surface of the waves sounds claustrophobic enough for you, imagine doing it in a homemade submersible. “It’s cramped, claustrophobic and incredibly primitive,” he added. “The sunlight tries to creep in from faint cracks in the walls. There is a steering wheel, a couple of basic dials and a rusted key still wedged in the ignition.“You can understand why one prospective skipper took one look at the vessel and concluded it was a death trap.” But in this “primitive” sub, three men survived for 27 days and nights on a diet of energy bars and cans of sardines.

 

Deal’ Between India & Germany For AIP Submarines

The Chinese undersea fleet has been growing exponentially in quantity and quality. For the first time, China has been able to deploy at least one nuclear-armed submarine constantly at sea. Compared to this, the Indian submarine program has been growing steadily, albeit a tad bit slower, making it difficult to catch up with its giant assertive adversary in the East. However, in the past few days, India has managed to have an incredible feat by collaborating with Germany, which has the ‘best technology’ when it comes to submarines. The leading German shipbuilders ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) and are the frontrunner to bag the country’s Project 75 ‘I’ (India) to build six conventional submarines with the AIP technology. The project aims to equip India with the ability to design and produce 24 conventional underwater platforms as part of a 30-year submarine-building program. Presently the Indian submarine fleet has 16 conventional submarines, and apart from the six recently-built submarines, the rest are over 30 years old and approaching their decommissioning date. In comparison, China’s submarine force makes even the world powers apprehensive of its sheer numbers. Its submerged force has 76 platforms – comprising 8 SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines), 13 SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines), and 55 SSKs (diesel-electric submarines).What adds to the woes is that India remains the only submarine-operating country that has not designed and built its submarines despite operating them for over five decades. Despite China’s naval might, Beijing lags in submarine propulsion technology. Propulsion engineering is one of its biggest structural flaws, as the bulk of engines used in PLA submarines are foreign, especially German. You can read the EurAsian Times report here.

 

Giving Air To Indian Submarine Ambitions

The collaboration with Germany has given hope to Indian shipbuilding ambitions.“Only the Germans have successfully operationalized a Fuel cell AIP system on board their submarines, which Israel, Germany, and Turkey are also using. The South Korean AIP system has also been developed from the German one,” Commodore (retd) Anil Jai Singh told the EurAsian Times. Commodore Singh has 28 years of experience as a Submariner in the Indian Navy. He specializes in Undersea Warfare (Weapons and Systems) from the former Soviet Union. Only Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding have SSK designs serving in their navies with installed and functioning AIPs.“Presently, ThyssenKrupp claims to have supplied 70 percent of the non-nuclear submarine fleet globally from its shipyards. Its HDW Fuel Cell Air-independent Propulsion system has achieved a low noise and infrared signature and the technology is available,” Commander (retd) Milind Kulshreshta said. He is a specialist in warfare tactics including sub-surface-powered conventional diesel-electric submarines (SSK) are midway between nuclear-powered boats and non-AIP SSKs. It allows an SSK to remain submerged for 10 to 14 days without needing to surface to charge its batteries, which might get it detected. Other SSKs can stay underwater for roughly 48 hours. The fuel-cell-based AIP is unique, as it generates its hydrogen requirement on board. “An AIP enhances a submarine’s underwater endurance between battery charges by three to four times, thus reducing its vulnerability to detection. As the Chinese naval presence increases in the Indian Ocean, submarines with AIP will be able to monitor them much better without getting detected,” Commodore Singh said. “This will be particularly relevant in the eastern Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. In the Arabian Sea and the western Indian Ocean, they will enhance our undersea warfare capability against our adversaries there,” Singh added while referring to Pakistan. Two years ago, when India opened the tender, the German shipbuilder showed no interest in jointly manufacturing submarines with India. The Russian-Ukraine war made Germany come out of the shadows of World War II and assume a more assertive role in leading the defenses against Russia and, hitherto, China, which adopted a more hostile attitude in the Indo-Pacific region. The ThyssenKrupp will, jointly with MDL, bid for the US$5.2 billion project for the Indian Navy. India purchased four Type 1500 conventional submarines from West Germany’s HDW in 1981 to acquire submarine-building know-how. But, the Submarine Design Group of the Indian Navy could not absorb the capability to design or develop a submarine. The HDW submarines were accompanied by a detailed plan to indigenously build the fifth and sixth submarines. The plan fizzled out as the company got blacklisted in India in 1987 on suspicion of bribery charges. For a long time, India has been trying to get this critical technology from Germany, France, and Russia. In 2005, India inked a deal with the Franco-Spanish consortium Armaris to build six Scorpene conventional submarines. The fifth Scorpene class submarine was commissioned in the Indian Navy in January 2023. The subs are also without AIPs, and plans are afoot to retrofit the vessels with the technology. The delays in the submarine induction have forced the Indian Navy to give a mid-life refit to its SSK-209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilos) to keep them functional for an additional 10-15 years.

 

Chinese Submarine Onslaught

China makes no bones about its intentions to dominate the Indo-Pacific and, more specifically, Indian Ocean Regions, India’s submarine capability remains woefully short, with only 16 conventional and SSN (Akula leased from Russia) and one SSBN (INS Arihant).Considering it took 11 years for the first Scorpene class submarine to enter the Indian Navy’s fleet after signing the deal, the submarines to be built under Project 75 ‘I’ are at least a decade away from entering operations. A general naval rule-of-thumb is that for every vessel operating, two more are required – one preparing for deployment and one standing down from recent operations. The numbers are needed to keep up with the maintenance and crew’s rest and training schedule. During peacetime, only one-third of the fleet is expected to be deployed. More vessels can be deployed in wartime, but it is still prudent to assess the availability realistically. The Chinese Navy is not just forging ahead with the induction of submarines in its fleet but also equipping India’s neighbor Pakistan with state-of-the-art technology. The coming of AIP technology to the Indian Navy, as reported by the EurAsian Times earlier, will put its fleet in a better position than Pakistan with all three of its French Agosta-90B (PNS Khalid, Saad, and Hamza) powered by AIPs. Pakistan is also expected to receive eight 39 A Yuan-class AIP-powered submarines by the end of 2023 under a US$5 billion deal with China. The Scorpene Class will be retrofitted with the indigenously developed AIP in the advanced testing stages. Commander Arvind Mathur, a former submariner, had earlier pointed out to the EurAsian Times that upgrading a weapons platform with new technology will reduce operational readiness as the repairs will take at least a year.“You don’t want to downgrade your expensive boat by fitting unproven technology. But till you fit your prototype plant onto an operational boat, you cannot find the problems and shortcomings. So, it is a chicken and egg issue,” Mathur adds. One thing is clear, if India wants to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific effectively, it needs to level up its underwater game.

 

Drug Sub

The trio, which included a former Spanish boxer and two Ecuadorean cousins, left the Brazilian rain forest and first travelled down the Amazon river. Their cargo was three tons of cocaine, worth more than $150 million (£121 million).However, this wasn’t a profitable covert mission that was successfully completed, and several law enforcement organisations, including the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), had been following the sub’s journey as of late 2019.The men encountered difficulties and scuttled their boat close to the Galician coast before being apprehended and imprisoned. The captured submarine is now displayed as a trophy in the car park of the Spanish police academy in Ávila. The vehicle is one of only two such submarines to have ever been seized by authorities. Narco subs are typically built using materials such as fiberglass, which makes them difficult to detect by radar and other surveillance equipment. The vessels are often constructed in remote jungle locations, and then transported by land to rivers or coastlines where they can be launched. Each previous secret mission would have been a huge success for the teams of mechanics who had been quietly building their ships primarily in Guyana and Suriname. According to police, each mission’s payload would have been delivered to the largest cocaine production facility they have ever discovered in Europe. The lab, dismantled in the Galician city of Pontevedra, had the ability to produce 200 kilos of pure cocaine daily, with a purity of 95%. “This is a very important operation,” says Chief Commissioner Duarte. “It’s the first time in Europe that we found as much as one and a half tonnes of base cocaine paste.”“This operation also confirms the links between Colombian and Mexican criminals that have joined Spanish gangs working in Spain,” Chief Commissioner Duarte says. The paste is then processed into powdered cocaine to be sold on, bundled into brown packages each the size of a house brick. Importers then pay €27-32,000 (£24-28,000) for each parcel; when they sell it on the streets, they at least double their money, with the only thing limiting their ability to make a profit being how much of their drug they mix with cheaper cutting agents. Law enforcement agencies around the world have been working to intercept and seize narco subs, as they pose a significant threat to public safety and contribute to the illegal drug trade. However, the use of narco subs continues to be a significant problem, and drug cartels are constantly adapting their tactics to avoid detection and interception.

 

Belgorod: Russia’s giant new sub built for nuclear war

Gargantuan sub designed to launch nuclear-armed Poseidon drone and serve as mothership for underwater espionage platforms The Belgorod is designed to fight in a nuclear conflict. Image: Creative Commons On July 8, the Russian Navy took delivery of the K-329 Belgorod, the world’s longest nuclear-powered submarine, the Russian submarine builder Sevmash said in a press statement. Although exact specifications of the Belgorod have not been publicly released, Naval News reports that the Belgorod’s enlarged Oscar II-class hull is estimated to be 178 meters long and 15 meters across, making the sole Typhoon-class submarine the only larger vessel. Naval News also notes that Belgorod’s displacement most likely exceeds the 19,000 tons of the original Oscar-II class and is bigger than the largest Western submarine, the US Ohio-class. According to Sevmash, the Belgorod is designed to tackle scientific problems and conduct search and rescue operations. Moreover, it can serve carriers for deep-sea rescue vehicles and autonomous underwater unmanned vehicles. Naval News reports that the Belgorod is the first carrier of the Poseidon nuclear-armed underwater drone, which can deliver a retaliatory nuclear second strike at population centers, major cities and industrial centers near the coast by triggering devastating radioactive tsunamis. The source also shows that it is designed to carry the highly-classified Losharik special mission submarine. Besides carrying the Poseidon drone, The Warzone reports Belgorod can serve as a mothership for various unmanned underwater espionage platforms including the Losharik. The source notes Belgorod’s reinforced lower rudders, allowing it to sit on the seafloor, and its capability to deploy unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) that could be used for espionage purposes by tapping or cutting submarine communication cables. Such a capability can blind or even cripple an adversary, as 95% of global internet traffic passes through these cables, as noted by the Atlantic Council think tank. Regarding Belgorod’s mission, Russian defense analyst and military expert Alexei Leonkov explained the likely role of the submarine in an interview on Radio 1.He said that it is designed to launch the Poseidon drone and specializes in second strike missions. Leonkov described the Belgorod as a “retaliation weapon” for a large-scale nuclear war, launching its Poseidon drones in response to a nuclear first strike involving mobile missiles, land-based launchers and land and sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) against Russia. Apart from being used as a second-strike weapon, he notes that Poseidon can be deployed against carrier battle groups, with the Belgorod carrying them to the launch site. However, Poseidon may not be all that Russia touts. In an article in Boennoe Obozreniye, Roman Skomorokhov notes that the US may perceive Poseidon in three ways. First, the US may dismiss the Poseidon drone as propaganda. He notes that for all the hype it has caused in US defense circles, it may just be a mock-up meant to intimidate the US public and defense planners. Second, he notes that the US may perceive Poseidon as an underwater research apparatus, but not the nuclear-armed underwater drone Russia claims. Third, the US may perceive Poseidon as a real weapon and initiate research efforts to develop defenses to counter nuclear-armed underwater drones. For now, strategic ambiguity is probably the most significant advantage Poseidon may give Russia. Skomorokhov notes that while there is logic in building a terrifying weapon like the Poseidon, the truth of the weapon’s existence and capabilities are very difficult to verify. He also notes that Poseidon may indeed be a doomsday weapon or that it wants to influence the world with such a narrative to prevent an attack against Russia in the first place. In any of these possibilities, he notes that the conflicting narratives have at least likely confused US defense planners. The Barents Observer reports that the Belgorod will be in experimental operation with Russia’s Northern Fleet before being handed over to the Pacific Fleet. However, there is no mention of where Belgorod will be based during its experimental operation with the Northern Fleet. The Barents Observer report suggests two possible locations: Severodvinsk, where the Poseidon drone’s development is headed, or Olenya Bay at the Kola Peninsula, where Russia’s other special-purpose submarines are based. According to the US ODIN military training database, Poseidon is a family of underwater drones rather than a single type. Some units may attack coastal targets, while others may be designed as super-cavitating torpedoes to attack carrier battle groups. The nuclear-armed variant is armed with a low-yield 2-megaton cobalt warhead that can contaminate a 1,700 by 300-kilometer area, making it a weapon of last resort. The same source states that Poseidon appears to be a robotic submarine 1.6-2 meters in diameter and 24 meters long. It has a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour (kph), a 10,000-kilometer range, and a maximum depth of 1,000 meters – although the drone may operate at 50-100 meters in a low-speed mode for increased stealth. It can reportedly travel for weeks in low-speed mode to reach its target area before activating its high-speed mode in the last 2-3 kilometers to its target. Losharik is an unarmed saboteur submarine, according to Global Security.org. It can dive down to 6,000 meters and is reportedly the Russian Navy’s most silent and hardest-to-detect submarine. It is designed to lay depth charges at inaccessible locations, conduct surveillance, destroy submarine cables or tap into them. Apart from those roles, it can also perform seafloor studies, submarine rescue and special operations. As the Losharik is a highly-classified project, there are few details about its specific dimensions. However, the source gives a length estimate of 69-79 meters and a beam estimate of seven meters. It has an estimated displacement of 2,000 tons, is nuclear-powered with a maximum speed of 55 kph and can hold an all-officer crew of 25.

 

New US spy sub built for seabed war with China

$5.1 billion sub to succeed USS Jimmy Carter and may be deployed to disrupt China’s undersea ‘Peace Cable’ connecting to Europe and Africa The US plans to build a successor to its unique USS Jimmy Carter spy submarine, bringing updated capabilities necessary for seabed warfare operations as tensions mount with China across various maritime theaters. This that the US Navy would procure a one-off spy variant of the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, designated Modified Virginia, Subsea and Seabed Warfare (Mod VA SSW). The source notes that preliminary work by the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, has begun with one Mod VA SSW to be procured in the US Navy’s 2024 budget at an estimated cost of US$5.1 billion. While many details of the Mod VA SSW are classified, Naval News reports that the submarine can be expected to carry specialist uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUV), remote-operated vehicles and special operations submarines. The Orca XLUUV can be deployed for surveillance and offensive seabed warfare operations such as minelaying, anti-submarine and special operations. The MK 11 SDV can also stealthily transport SEAL teams to destroy China’s military installations in remote South China Sea islands, infiltrate enemy naval bases and sink hostile warships at port, or deploy SEAL teams in remote islands to perform surveillance or direct long-range precision fire from US and allied naval and air assets. As with the USS Jimmy Carter, the Mod VA SSW may also be able to cut and tap undersea fiber optic communications cables. Olga Khazan notes in a 2013 article for The Atlantic that the most accessible points for submarine cable tapping operations are at “regeneration points,” where signals are amplified and pushed further down the line. Khazan notes that fiber optic cables can be tapped more easily at these spots as they are laid out individually rather than being bundled together. Khazan writes that “intercept probes” could be deployed by agents at cable landing stations. These tiny devices capture light sent through the cables, copy it and turn it into data without disrupting Internet traffic. She also mentions that slightly bending the cable can allow enough light to leak out for data extraction, with the resulting disruption so indiscernible that it doesn’t register the cables are being tapped. Bryan Clark notes in a 2015 report for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments that the expansion of undersea infrastructure including energy pipelines, undersea communication cables and civilian hydroacoustic sensors has made it imperative to take new forms of encroachment into account when planning for undersea warfare. Clark writes these could include accidental detection by non-military sensors, protection of vital undersea infrastructure and opportunities to inflict damage on enemy undersea infrastructure during a conflict. Seabed warfare presents unique operational challenges. In a December article last year, Naval Technology claimed that no country is currently well-equipped or prepared for the challenges of modern seabed warfare. Naval Technology notes that seabed warfare has an element of plausible deniability, adding a hybrid dimension to offensive seabed warfare operations. An attack against undersea internet cables can have devastating consequences. Bryan Clark notes in a 2016 article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the loss of communications caused by severed undersea internet cables can have disastrous consequences for time-sensitive diplomatic or military communications, cause massive financial losses as money transfers are disrupted and cripple other crucial systems as data is re-routed to other cables. Clark elaborates on the further military consequences of such an attack, noting that an aggressor can sever multiple cables to cut off a defender’s military from its national leadership, intelligence and sensor information. These attacks can be highly destabilizing at the strategic nuclear level by potentially preventing a nuclear-armed opponent from controlling and monitoring its nuclear weapons and early warning systems, forcing the latter to keep its nuclear arsenal on heightened alert and increasing the chances of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Taiwan is at the center of these undersea warfare risks. Last November, Asia Times noted that Taiwan has 15 undersea internet cables connecting it to the outside world from three landing stations on its main island which China could attack in a conflict scenario, cutting the self-governing island’s access to external information. Apart from Taiwan, the US Navy Fishhook Undersea Defense Line may be an inviting target for Chinese seabed warfare attacks. Asia Times noted this month that a network of hydrophones, sensors and strategically placed assets stretching from northern China running through Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia could monitor China’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), particularly if they attempted to break out into the Pacific and put the US mainland in range of their submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). Significantly, a Chinese seabed attack against that sensor network may be interpreted by the US as a prelude to a nuclear strike. China may also be concerned about the vulnerability of its undersea communications cables. South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in December 2021 that China built two bases to maintain undersea cables in the East and South China Seas, with the construction of the latter base in Hainan starting that year and planned to be operational by 2023.SCMP also reported in March last year about China’s “Peace Cable” project. The undersea cable stretches for 15,000 kilometers connecting China, Europe and Africa, starting from Gwadar in Pakistan, passing through Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia, and ending in France with its second phase to expand to Singapore and South Africa. Apart from the US, other major naval powers have developed specialized capabilities for seabed warfare. For example, Asia Times last July reported on Russia’s Belgorod submarine, which is designed to carry the Poseidon nuclear-armed underwater drone and the Losharik special mission submarine. Russia’s Losharik is an unarmed saboteur submarine reportedly capable of diving down to 6,000 meters and is purportedly Russia’s most silent and least detectable submarine. It is designed to plant depth charges at inaccessible locations, conduct surveillance, tap underwater communication cables and perform submarine rescue and special operations.

 

Fires, floods, and maintenance delays keep Australia's submarines out of the water as navy begins 'high risk' nuclear transition

The Australian Navy, which is struggling to keep its ageing submarine fleet in the water, had only one battle-ready sub at the start of this year, raising doubts about its ability to run a far more complex nuclear program. The navy insists its six Collins Class submarines, which this year cost $740 million to run, remain a "lethal capability", but a Four Corners investigation has found it has failed to meet crucial operational targets over the last two years. Despite the $368 billion AUKUS plan to build a fleet of nuclear-powered subs, the navy will be relying on the Collins as its frontline fighting force for at least the next decade and possibly longer. This lack of new submarines comes as a dangerous decade looms for the region, amid fears of Chinese expansionism and worries that Beijing may look to retake Taiwan. Defence Minister Richard Marles concedes keeping the Collins going until the nuclear subs are operational is "not a great answer"."We live in a world that is much more strategically complex and strategically threatening," Mr Marles says. Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. Using official navy data, satellite images and news reports, Four Corners has pieced together a recent operating history of the Collins. It shows a strong performance from 2016 until 2021, when problems began to emerge. In September 2021, the fleet was reduced to half capacity by a major flood on HMAS Sheehan at the same time as HMAS Waller was under repairs after it experienced two floods and a fire within weeks. That meant only two of the navy's six submarines were operational the navy is meeting its targets, the fleet commander should have four boats available for service at any one time while the other two undergo deep maintenance. The data also shows that at the start of this year the navy had just one battle-ready submarine. That was due to maintenance delays, COVID-19 and the time taken to recover from those floods and fires. Navy chief Vice Admiral Mark Hammond admits it's been a difficult two years during which operational targets have not been met."It's no secret there were some maintenance period overruns that are attributed to the pandemic and the supply chain issues, but I'm confident we're over that hump," he says."At this particular point in time we're not at full capacity, but the forecast … is that over the next 12 months that will normalise."Vice Admiral Hammond says despite the challenges, the submarine corps has been operating at 86 per cent capacity over the past two years. Former senator Rex Patrick, who was one of the first Australians to serve on the Collins Class, says Defence has not been fully transparent about the performance of the fleet."Defence is overly secret about everything it does," he says. This includes no longer publishing which submarines are in for maintenance on the navy's website or the names and biographies of individual submarine commanders. This partially obscures our heavy reliance on foreign submarine captains. Over the past three years, four captains from foreign navies have been put in charge of Australia's subs. Despite winding back public disclosures on its website, citing national security concerns, the navy rarely misses an opportunity to trumpet the return of a submarine to service. In 2017 it released a slick video to mark its flagship, HMAS Collins, going back into the water. What it didn't say was that the submarine had spent the previous five and a half years out of service being raided for parts. Marcus Hellyer, who worked as part of the submarine program at the Defence Department, says the Collins fleet will inevitably have more time out of the water over the next decade. “Ageing systems have a range of problems. Just getting them to sea is an issue, let alone being your frontline fighting force," he says."We've got to find a way to keep Collins going. Otherwise, we don't have a submarine force. You cannot bring a nuclear submarine fleet into service without a robust number of submariners."The Collins subs should have been heading into retirement from the mid-2020s, but the last boat is now slated to continue in service until 2048. At that point, the Collins Class will be more than 50 years old.t follows 15 years of delay by successive governments that has left Australia as one of the few navies in the region not to have updated its submarine fleet. This is despite Australia's worsening strategic circumstances."It is a very, challenging environment that our nation has faced in the Indo-Pacific in decades," Vice Admiral Hammond says. Despite these threats, the navy won't have its first nuclear submarines until the early 2030s, and getting to that point will require Australia to navigate a complicated process."To say that it is not high risk would be misleading. Of course, it's high risk," the vice admiral says.?

  • 2026 – Work begins to extend the life of the Collins Class subs
  • 2027 — US and UK nuclear submariners start training our navy
  • Mid-2030s – Australia buys the first of at least three 2nd-hand Virginia Class subs from the US
  • Early-2040s – The first nuclear-powered AUKUS sub will be built
  • 2048 – Final Collins will be retired

Mr Patrick says the Virginia Class are a proven quantity but he's highly critical of the plan's next stage – building a British-designed submarine with a US nuclear reactor and weapons system."The British are consistently late, they're consistently over budget. And there are some questions as to whether or not the submarine that pops out of their industry will in fact be as good as the Virginia Class submarines that they will purportedly replace," he says.Mr Patrick says Australia would be better off scrapping this final step."There will be huge pressures to contain the cost of the AUKUS program. It's unlikely, in my view, that once we've established ourselves on the Virginia pathway … that we will then step off that pathway and onto a very risky and costly program," he says. It is the cost of Australia's nuclear ambitions which have attracted much of the attention since the AUKUS deal was announced in March. The federal government estimates the plan will cost up to $368 billion, or $32 million a day, for the next 32 years. Before Australia can even contemplate its nuclear options it must keep the Collins in the water over the next decade. Extending the life of the ageing subs involves replacing each vessel's diesel engines, batteries and electronics — at an estimated cost of $6 billion across the fleet. The navy says it will only take two years per vessel to complete this work, and it'll happen at the same time as the subs undergo "deep maintenance”. That’s despite the fact the navy's already struggling to complete its standard maintenance within the same time frame. Former submariner Brent Clarke says the time line is ambitious."I think that will be a stretch," he says. "I think it would be an unrealistic expectation to think that there won't?be some schedule slippage. “If these targets are not met then the rest of the fleet will come under pressure and the navy will have fewer available submarines. “It means that every other submarine has to work harder. That's going to be our life, that's going to be our reality … they're getting older," Mr Clarke says.

 

How Russia Is Squandering Its Big Naval Advantage

"Without a proper navy, Russia does not have a future as a state," then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in 2009, as Moscow forged ahead with wide-ranging plans for its naval forces. Yet years later, Russia's surface fleet falls short—a relatively unimpressive force that has been allowed to "atrophy," one former U.S. Navy admiral previously told Newsweek. With high-profile mishaps, including the loss of the Black Sea flagship, the Mosvka, in April 2022, and Russia's only aircraft carrier making a habit of catching on fire, many of Russia's above-water ships, excluding some newer, smaller ships, are largely seen as not up to scratch. But the same cannot be said of the vessels Russia hides below the surface of the world's oceans and seas. Unlike the more visible surface ships, Russia's submarines are widely considered some of the best in the world. However, Russia's submarine capabilities risk being diluted by its focus on the Ukraine war, which mainly involves land forces, and their future development jeopardized by Western sanctions. Moscow’s excellent submarines come in just after the United States in a measure of underwater capabilities, retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Foggo told Newsweek. According to the non-profit Nuclear Threat Initiative, Russia has an estimated 58 submarines, including both diesel-powered and nuclear submarines. Per this count, Russia has 17 nuclear-powered attack submarines and nine nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs). Among Russia's fleet are the Yasen, and updated Yasen-M class SSGNs, which were previously described to Newsweek by RAND corporation expert Edward Geist as "the crown jewel of the contemporary Russian Navy and perhaps the pinnacle of present-day Russian military technology." They are capable of carrying Russia's new hypersonic missiles, known as Tsirkon or Zircon, as well as long-range Kalibr cruise missiles, which have been used against Ukrainian targets. Russian state media also announced the delivery of further nuclear-powered submarines to the Navy in the coming months back in December, including the Borei-class Generalissimo Suvorov, which was handed over to the Navy in a ceremony in December 2022.Russia has announced new investment in its submarine capabilities, including what Russian state media claimed to be a new "division" of submarines carrying nuclear-capable "super-torpedoes" in the coming years. Russia's submarine fleet "far outstrips" its surface fleet by several metrics, including capability, reach and stealth, Graeme P. Herd, of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, told Newsweek. Throughout the post-Cold War period, Russia's naval focus has been on developing submarines and new capabilities for the underwater vessels, whereas Moscow has largely lost its ability to construct new, large surface vessels, Dmitry Gorenburg of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), a U.S. think tank, added to Newsweek. Russia’s navy, and the precursor Soviet navy, have always been "best under water," with nuclear-powered submarine technology still holding Moscow as "among the leading powers," according to Nick Childs, senior fellow for naval forces and maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank. Its fleet may have fewer modern nuclear-powered submarines such as the Yasen-class when compared to much of the 20th century, but they remain "very capable, and along with some of the older submarines would still pose a threat to NATO both at sea and against land-based targets," he told Newsweek. Michael Petersen, the head of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute, previously told Newsweek that Moscow's submarine fleet was the "critical challenge" to the U.S, and many experts agree. However, although the fleet is impressive on paper, just how well the Soviet-era submarines are preserved and continue to function is largely unknown, according to Frederik Mertens, a strategic analyst at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies (HCSS) research organization. Russia's submarine force has never been "fully tested in combat, Childs added, and although it is assumed the submarines are superior to the surface fleet, "the extent of that remains unclear."here is an air of "recklessness" and a willingness to take risks in Russia's attitudes to both its land forces and submarines, which NATO countries would not take, HCSS senior strategic analyst Paul van Hooft added to Newsweek. Russia’s Navy has played a very limited role in Moscow's operations in Ukraine. The nuclear-capable submarine force is divided between the Northern and Pacific fleets, which have had no real direct role in the Ukraine war. Russia's nuclear submarines are protected by another wave of submarines, which is what the country's nuclear deterrent hinges on, van Hooft said. These submarines have a "primary goal" of "delivering strategic nuclear strikes against the U.S.," Herd said. Last month, the Pacific Fleet underwent a series of military drills described by the Kremlin as a "surprise inspection" involving 12 submarines. Though Russia's "priorities" continued to be the war in Ukraine, "still, the objective to develop the navy, including in the Pacific theater of operations, remains relevant," Russian President Vladimir Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to a Kremlin readout. Russia’s Black Sea fleet, with its bases at the Crimean port of Sevastopol and in the southern Russian city of Novorossiysk, has played a greater part in the war effort so far. Submarines have been used to launch land-attack cruise missiles such as the Kalibrs, but Russia's conventionally-powered submarines lurking in the Black Sea still pose problems for NATO activity in the Black Sea and shipping routes, Childs noted. On the whole, however, Russia's submarine fleet has been "largely unaffected" by the ongoing conflict, according to Gorenburg.But in some ways, the conflict is nonetheless reaching—or will reach—the Russian Navy. Kyiv's Western backers, including the U.S., have slapped sanctions on Moscow aimed at crippling the Kremlin's ability to wage war, and in December 2022, the State Department beefed up the measures targeting Russia's naval power.I think they've been severely crippled by these economic sanctions," retired Admiral Foggo said, as well as "by their own foolishness in the war in Ukraine."Sustaining the development of advanced submarines will therefore become increasingly difficult "when they don't have the raw materials, they can't sustain the industrial base, they don't have the manpower—because that manpower is going into fighting the war [in Ukraine]," Foggo said. This compromises Russia's ability to invest in forward-thinking development, such as new-generation submarines "to rival the best in the West," he said."The protracted nature of the conflict and the coming Ukrainian counteroffensive undercuts Russian military credibility," Herd said. There is likely a growing pressure on Russia's navy to project an image of strength through its fleet, making it take "greater risks" to use submarines that are not sea-worthy, he said, as well as fast-tracking the development of weapons systems. Russian submarines at the Russian naval base in the Syrian Mediterranean port of Tartus on September 26, 2019. Submarines have not played a major role in the Ukraine war, but have nonetheless operated globally during the ongoing conflict. "Submarines are the most expensive ticket item in Russia's military budget and have no obvious utility in this war—so Russia compensates and projects power through acceptance of greater risk," Herd said. Russia's submarines "will suffer indirect and long-term damage the longer the war lasts."Some experts, such as Herd, argue that the sanctions highlight just how much Russia's defense industrial complex has been, and is, reliant on Western technology—something which then impacts Russia's development. Without access to this technology, there are few substitute sources available for the advanced Russian submarines, he told Newsweek. Technology from, for example, China, cannot meet Moscow's requirements, he added.t's difficult to work out just how dependent Russia's submarines have been on foreign technology, Gorenburg said, but it is likely imported technology would be needed for at least some parts of submarine development. Yet here there is also the distinction between the surface and underwater fleets, with nuclear submarines in particular less likely to need foreign technology, he continued."While the newest Russian submarines are very capable, Russia's inefficient shipbuilding industry has struggled to deliver them on time and in significant numbers," Childs added. "This could well be exacerbated by the increased demands on other sectors of the defense industry as a result of the war, as well as from the impact of sanctions on certain key components," he added. But there are two possible scenarios presented by experts for the future of Russia's submarine fleet. Ultimately, if there are constraints on resources across the Russian military, there will likely be a prioritization of rebuilding the forces that have been more impacted, such as ground forces, Gorenburg said. "That will inevitably lead to cuts, or limits at least, in shipbuilding in the future."Yet Russia could also funnel more investment into submarines because of their "relative importance" in the face of damage to other areas of the armed forces, Childs suggested. It is likely to have a delayed impact, however, experts say. The levels of investment submariners have enjoyed is likely to carry the fleets on through the next few years, with squeezes to be felt much further down the line."They have set themselves up as a leading submarine power, probably at least for the next 20 years," Gorenburg said, bearing in mind the previous decade's investment. After that, "there could certainly be ramifications."However, maintaining both the nuclear deterrence submarines, and the underwater vessels protecting them, will always be an absolute priority for Russia, Mertens said.

 

Navy SEALs’ New Mini-Submarine To Be Operational Within Weeks

Video Link (SDV). https://youtu.be/MiQBUN5yeME

The Navy is finally getting a mini-submarine that will keep special operators dry during their high stakes underwater transits. first examples of a new special operations mini-submarine should be ready for real-world operations before the end of the month, according to U.S. special Operations Command. The Dry Combat Submersible, or DCS, offers significant benefits over existing designs in U.S. Navy service, known as SEAL Delivery Vehicles, or SDVs, in which individuals have to ride underwater fully exposed to the elements. Officials from U.S. Special Operations Command offered updates on the status of DCS this week at an annual special operations-focused conference now known as SOF Week. The DCS is derived from the S351 Nemesis, designed by built by MSubs in the United Kingdom. MSubs is part of a team led by Lockheed Martin that has been developing the miniature submersible since 2016.“This morning we received an operational test report," John Conway, the Program Manager for Undersea Systems within U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) Program Executive Office-Maritime (PEO-M), said at a briefing at SOFWeek yesterday. "So that means the Dry Combat Submersible is going to be operational by Memorial Day [May 29, 2023], and we’re coming to an end scenario."Many details about the DCS are classified, but its general capabilities at least are believed to be very similar to that of the 30-ton displacement and 39-foot-long S351. The Nemesis requires a crew of two to operate and has a stated maximum range of approximately 66 nautical miles when traveling at a speed of five knots and using its all-electric propulsion system. It can dive down to depths as deep as around 330 feet (100 meters). Beyond its crew, it can carry eight additional personnel or around a metric ton's worth of cargo. In general, a submersible like this provides a way for U.S. special operations forces, especially the Navy's elite SEALs, to discreetly get ashore from a submarine, even one that's submerged, or another maritime launch platform and/or exfiltrate from the area. This kind of capability is especially valuable for conducting various kinds of operations, especially ones conduct behind enemy lines or in otherwise sensitive locations. This can include missions conducted entirely underwater, such as infiltrating into an enemy port to plant mines or otherwise sabotage ships or infrastructure, or to gather intelligence. As already noted, the big benefit of DCS over existing SDVs is the ability to carry its occupants in a totally dry environment. This might sound like a minor issue for special operations forces like the Navy SEALs that are trained to conduct underwater operations of various kinds, but it has significant operational implications. As it stands now, SEALs and other U.S. special operations forces traveling extended distances below the waves using a 'wet' SDV, even the Navy's latest Mk 11 type, ride the entire way exposed to the water. Even in tropical climates, this can be a cold ride, especially if done at deeper depths that further help personnel evade detection. In colder regions, being exposed to the water the whole time isn't just uncomfortable, it can potentially be dangerous. Furthermore, with a traditional wet SDV, operators then have to conduct whatever their mission might be soaking wet and likely cold, further increasing fatigue and other issues. With the DCS, special operations forces can travel underwater from their launch point to the objective without being exposed this way. Thanks to a built-in lock-out chamber, they still have the option to get in and out while the craft is submerged. Doing so, of course, would help to reduce their chances of them being spotted as they infiltrate an area, but they would still be exposed to potentially frigid waters for much shorter periods of time. “That ends a capability gap of 15 years — more than 15 years,” Navy Capt. Randy Slaff, the head of SOCOM's PEO-M said during a panel discussion at SOFWeek, according to National Defense magazine, highlighting the importance of the DCS.Slaff's remark also underscores how the current DCS program is not the first time SOCOM and the Navy have tried to acquire a capability like this. The Navy first outlined requirements for what became known as the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) in the 1980s and development of this mini-submarine design got fully underway in the 1990s.ASDS was roughly twice as big as the S351 and proved to be noisy, under-powered, and otherwise problematic. After years of delays due to technical issues and cost growth, the program suffered an especially bad setback in 2008 when the one prototype that had been built caught fire and was completely destroyed. The program was canceled entirely the following year. This was followed by a Joint Multi-Mission Submersible program, which was itself canceled in 2010. DCS has proven to be a much more successful effort. However, in the six years since Lockheed Martin first received a contract to develop this mini-submarine, other events have transpired and the overall geopolitical environment has changed. Expeditionary and distributed operations, possibly in the context of a future high-end fight against China across the broad expanses of the Pacific, are now at the forefront of many planning considerations. n top of this, the Navy currently plans to retire its four Ohio class nuclear guided missile submarines, or SSGNs, before the end of the current decade. These submarines are designed to act, among many other things, as special operations motherships, including with the capability to deploy personnel using SDVs via Dry Deck Shelters (DDS). A number of current Virginia class attack submarines are also fitted with DDSs to conduct special operations support missions and future boats in that class could be even more capable in this role. However, a new dedicated replacement for the Ohio SSGNs is likely decades away, as you can read more about here. When the development of the DCS began, the design was already too big to fit inside existing Navy DDSs, anyways. Work on an expanded capacity DDS design has been ongoing in parallel, but it's not immediately clear what the status of that project might be. When its built-in lock-out chamber, the DCS could conceivably be carried externally on Navy submarines and personnel could then get inside either directly if a suitable hatch arrangement was available or after exiting via a DDS or other lock-out chamber on the mothership submarine. The larger ASDS design presented similar challenges and two submarines, the Los Angeles class attack submarines USS Charlotte and USS Greeneville, were specially modified to carry it on its rear deck. Those submarines remain in service today with those hull modifications still in place. The DCS could be deployed for other maritime platforms, as well, such as the well deck of an amphibious warfare ship. Other vessels capable of deploying boats and submersibles via a crane or a more specialized system might able also be configurable into motherships for these special operations mini-submarines. Regardless, questions about how the DCSs, as well as existing SDVs, will be deployed and employed in future conflicts are clearly emerging. It's unclear how many DCSs SOCOM and the Navy expect to buy in the coming years, but it can be reasonably assumed that the total fleet size will be small. Lockheed Martin's initial contract called for the construction of just three pre-production examples, all of which appear to have been delivered. As another comparison, the Navy only expects to have acquired 10 of its 'wet' Mk 11 SDVs by the end of this year. What all this means is that there will have to be tactics, techniques, and procedures in place not just for utilizing the new DCSs, but also getting them wherever they might not need to be and in relatively short order. There has at least been one test involving the transport of a DCS inside a shipping container via a U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III cargo jet, which would provide at least one option for getting it closer to the desired operating area on short notice. Details about the requirements for that submersible are also limited, but one goal is to make it deployable from a Virginia class submarine. With this follow-on effort in progress, the current DCS mini-submarine is sometimes referred to as DCS Now."We do have an additional area that we're looking at heavily and that's the expeditionary mobility for undersea. It's actually expeditionary mobility for all systems, but we had completed a prototype system proof of concept and it was on our... Mk 11 Seal Delivery Vehicle," Capt. Slaff, the SOCOM PEO-M head, said at a briefing at SOF Week that The War Zone attended. "So, we actually have it, it's out there in front doing its demo."Slaff did not elaborate on exactly what this additional expeditionary capability for the Mk 11 SDV entailed."What we're looking at, obviously, with the SSGNs kinda sunsetting here in the [20]26 to [20]28 timeframe, [is] getting the... operational flexibility for expeditionary employment through other means," he added. This "is something that we've been investigating and then rolling that over into... an operational requirement and moving forward with fielding the capability."There are clearly many questions still to be answered about exactly how SEALs and other U.S. special operations forces will utilize the new DCSs. However, these mini-submarines represent a significant improvement in capability over existing SDVs and look to be just weeks away from finally entering operational service.

 

The Russian Kursk Submarine: Exploded and Destroyed by Its Own Torpedoes

One of the torpedoes released propellant fluid (hydrogen peroxide) into the fuel system, causing the explosion. (Washington DC) More than 20 years ago, one of the world’s largest submarines ever built sank tragically after an unexpected series of explosions ripped through the boat, resulting in the death of all sailors on board.The Russian K-141 Russian Navy Oscar II, called the Kursk by Russia, was completed just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The boat sank in the sea during a dummy torpedo-firing training exercise, according to a 2013 report from The Marine Technology News. According to the report, one of the torpedoes released propellant fluid (hydrogen peroxide) into the fuel system, causing the explosion. “The HTP (hydrogen peroxide) used as an oxidizer for the torpedo’s engine, escaped into the torpedo casing where it catalytically decomposed on the metals and oxides present there, yielding steam and oxygen. The resulting overpressure ruptured the kerosene fuel tank.” The initial explosion generated a second, larger explosion which was equivalent to 3-7 tons of TNT. The massive secondary explosion “blew large pieces of debris back through the submarine,” according to Marine Technology News, a series of catastrophes ultimately resulted in the death of all 118 sailors on board. Part of the findings included a tragic yet humanizing story about one sailor who survived the initial explosion and then died in the dark sometime later after having written notes on the bodies of his comrades. The incident underscores the complexity and fragility associated with attack submarine construction and operation, as successful missions rely upon an interwoven mix of complex technological variables. This includes navigation, propulsion, sensors such as sonar, and weaponry. Any kind of torpedo or undersea-fired weapon requires a small, controlled explosion to propel the weapon into the air from beneath the surface, a circumstance that of course is not without risk. Given this, it is likely the tragedy of the Kursk informed subsequent Russian engineering and design work on submarines. Consequently, the design and engineering of Russia’s newest Yasen-class submarine, a large guided missile submarine first introduced in 2013, may have been heavily influenced by complications discovered on the Kursk during the investigation. In particular, an report on the Yasen class from the Federation of American Scientists explains that the submarines have “remote-controlled” torpedoes with a “quick-loading device.” This would suggest that weapons operations were automated, computerized, or at least technically consistent in part to increase safety. Of course, the improved computer-controlled torpedo system also massively increases the speed of attack“Two torpedo tubes are designed for firing remote-controlled torpedoes with a very high accuracy. The computer-controlled torpedo system is provided with a quick-loading device. It takes only 15 seconds to prepare stand-by torpedo tubes for firing: The first salvo is fired within two minutes and the second within five minutes,” the FAS paper says.

 

First domestically manufactured submarine prepares for final tests

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) A prototype of Taiwan's first domestically manufactured submarine is set to undergo final tests in September, Cheng Wen-lon (???), chairman of local shipbuilder CSBC Corp., Taiwan, told CNA in a recent interview."We have been able to build 85 components locally so far," Cheng said, after a source familiar with the program revealed in January that more than 40 percent of the submarine's main body is being manufactured in Taiwan. This includes airtight doors, the water conversion system, hydraulic system and the silent air conditioning system, the source said. As an example of how difficult it is to build a modern submarine, Cheng cited the need for silent toilets. As Taiwan lacks experience in building submarines, it has had to procure 107 core technologies to build what is known as the "red zone" of the vessel, from overseas and manufacture the rest itself, he said. Due to the high degree of silence required onboard submarines, Cheng's team initially planned to import toilets at a cost of NT$670,000 (US$21,800) each. However, the price tag drew a public backlash and the 990-member team in charge of building the submarine instead turned to local companies to manufacture the toilets for NT$150,000 each, he said.CSBC The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has divided the hardware and technology needed to build a submarine into red, yellow and green categories, with "red" parts needing to be imported, "yellow" parts that can potentially be made locally, and "green" parts that can be more readily made in Taiwan. Some "red zone" technologies beyond Taiwan's submarine design and building capability such as diesel engines, torpedo tubes and other combat equipment, have been procured from overseas, the source said. According to Cheng, the construction of the prototype has continued around the clock since work started in 2020. Other problems were overcome with the cooperation of the Naval Shipbuilding Development Center, the Navy's 256th submarine squadron, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology and a CSBC task force."We worked as partners rather than buyers and sellers," he said. After CSBC completes shipyard testing of the submarine in September, Cheng said, the company will carry out further harbor and sea operations testing before delivering the submarine to the Navy. The dedicated manufacturing facilities used to build the submarine is pained in blue in this recent photo taken at CSBC's production site in Kaohsiung. CNA photo May 14, 2023. Taiwan has allocated a NT$49.36 billion budget over seven years (from 2019 to 2025) to build the prototype, with a plan to launch an indigenous submarine building program that will make it less dependent on other countries. It is also hoped that such efforts will help Taiwan develop a national defense industry and in the future even enable the country to become a key submarine exporter, he said. Although it has previously been reported that Taiwan is planning to allocate a NT$300 billion budget to build an 8-submarine fleet under the Indigenous Defense Submarine program, this has not been publicly confirmed by the military, with the MND saying such a plan requires further evaluation.

AUKUS Fissile or Fizzer? The trouble with Virginia Class second hand submarines

Former submariner Rex Patrick looks under the hood of the second-hand Virginia-class nuclear submarines to see what Australia has bought. Even AUKUS fans might not like what they see. February 2011 is a time many in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) would certainly prefer to forget. Within the month, the Defence Minister Stephen Smith had announced a number of trouble-plagued military landing craft would be disposed of and a review would be conducted into Support Ship Repair and Management Practices. Four months later Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, was gone. On February 3, 2011, the biggest storm to have ever hit Queensland crossed the Australian coastline and carved a swath of destruction across the state. The storm displaced 10,000 people and caused $3.5 billion in damage. And the Navy was unable to respond with any amphibious ships to help Queenslanders. On September 26, 2010, the Defence Minister had been advised that two former US Navy ships, HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla, were in what was described as an ‘operational pause’. By December the decision was made that Manoora would be decommissioned, although that news never made it to the Minister until January 28, 2011, when a tropical depression was forming off Queensland. The Minister was also advised that Kanimbla was to be unavailable to the RAN for 18 dMAS Tobruk, a 30 year old ship, as the standby ship. On February 28, the Navy advised the Minister it was on 48 hours’ notice to go to sea. By February 2, with Yasi now a category 5 cyclone, Tobruk entered dock for emergence repairs. It left the dock two days later but was unfit to sail for any of the Yasi response. The Navy had failed Australians. Manoora and Kanimbla were naval clunkers.  The two elderly ships had been picked up from the US Navy as an ‘opportunity buy’. There’s normally a reason things come at a bargain basement price. (Our Air Force made the same mistake after it bought second hand C-27J Spartan light tactical aircraft from the US Air Force that don’t do the job… we never learn.)The Auditor-General detailed the saga in his September 2000 Amphibious Transport Ship Project Audit. After the RAN inspected the two ships in early 1994 the ships were bought for the grand price of $61 million. A $55 million contract was immediately signed with Newcastle’s Forgacs shipyard to do a quick overhaul. The quick upgrade went from 14 months to 44 months and the price went to $203 million. As the Auditor finished up his work at the turn of the millennium, the price was closing in on $450 million. That Defence bought rust buckets and spent almost 10 times the purchase cost repairing them just meant It was ‘operations normal’. Fast forward to 2023.  Have we learned any lessons? It appears not.  In what Paul Keating has described as ‘the worst deal in all history’, we’ve decided to buy into more second hand military hardware from the US; this time Virginia class nuclear submarines. Under questioning from Senator Jacqui Lambie at Estimates last week, the Navy revealed that the submarines we’ll likely get in the mid-2030s are boats built from 2020.  The estimated reactor life of the Virginia-class boats is 33 years.  So we will hope to get about 20-years out of these second-hand vessels.  The actual time they’ll be available for operations will be much less when you take into extended maintenance and refits.  The head of the nuclear submarine program, Vice Admiral Mead, suggested that we might get one new boat, if we’re lucky (we’ll get what we’re told by the US Congress).The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Hammond, assured the Senate that we won’t see a repeat of the Manoora and Kanimbla debacle, saying the Navy’s ‘subsafe’ program won’t allow that. But even if Admiral Hammond is right (and Defence’s credibility on procurement is pretty well shot), the fact is that the Virginia Class program has some problems Australia is unlikely to be able to deal with. The first highly noticeable issue with the Virginia class is a problem that has surfaced with the submarine’s acoustic coating that’s designed to reduce the ‘target strength’ of the submarine (how much sound energy from an enemy active sonar bounces off the submarine, back to the enemy).he coating is prone to peeling off at high speed leaving loose cladding that slaps against the hull, making dangerous noise, and causes turbulent water flow, which also causes dangerous hull resonance (where the hull sings at its resonant frequency, like a tuning fork) and extra propulsion noise.  I know a bit about this as a former underwater acoustics specialist.  The issue, reported in 2017 and again in 2019, is easily seen on the side of the submarine and almost certainly without a fix at this stage. Admiral Hammond tried to brush off the issue in the Senate. In response to Senator Lambie, he claimed that the photos she had tabled were of submarines that had come to the end of long patrols. But submarines are designed to do long patrols. I wonder how comfortable the Admiral would be landing at Heathrow Airport in London from Sydney, with the aircraft captain advising the parts of the wings normally fall off on long haul flights. It’s not OK for our submariners to find that the boats they are using to keep us safe become noisy, and thus increasingly vulnerable to detection and destruction, halfway through their deployment. The bigger problem for Australia is the challenge the US Navy is encountering keeping (particularly) aging Virginia-class submarines at sea. Part of the problem is parts supply difficulties, with cannibalisation (taking parts from other submarines) regularly happening to keep a diminished number of boats at sea. A November 2022 press report stated, “The U.S. Navy has nearly twice as many submarines sidelined for maintenance than it should, and those boats in maintenance ultimately require three times more unplanned work than they should, the program executive officer for attacks subs has said”.t went on to say, “Of the 50 attack subs, [Rear Admiral] Rucker said 18 are in maintenance or waiting for their turn. Industry best practice would call for just 20% to be tied up in repairs, or 10 boats instead of 18”.If the US Navy is having difficulty with keeping its boats at sea, with significant in-country industrial capability, how will Australia hope to keep our Virginia subs at sea? If the US Navy is having difficulty with keeping its boats at sea, with significant in-country industrial capability, how will Australia hope to keep our Virginia subs at sea? Our second-hand, ageing boats may spend as much time undergoing maintenance at Australian dockyards, or more likely waiting in a queue at a US dockyard, as they might be available for operations.  We may be eventually end up getting eight AUKUS submarines, only to find we can only keep two, instead of three in a fully operational state. That would be $368 billion to have only one or two submarines are sea. And that’s just absurd. There were, and still are other, more sensible and cost-effective paths available. Sometime in the future Australia may face the strategic equivalent of Cyclone Yasi, a defence contingency in which the number of operational submarines we have available will be of vital importance to our national security.  Tragically, however, absurd is ‘operation normal’ for Defence procurement. SNAFU.

Hopes for missing submariners fade as desperate rescue mission scrambles

The odds of survival for the passengers of a lost submarine are dwindling. And it’s a risk all submariners face when they slip beneath the waves. The odds of survival for the passengers aboard a lost sightseeing submarine are vanishingly small. And it’s a risk every submariner faces each time they slip beneath the waves. The one pilot and four passengers aboard the 6.5m submersible “Titan” began the descent on a 10-hour round trip to view the famous White Star liner Titanic wreck at about 5pm Sunday AEST. he Titanic rests some 3.7km (12,000ft) beneath the surface. It takes about two hours for the submersible to reach the bottom. Contact was reportedly lost one hour and 45 minutes into the dive. The Titan’s operators aboard the MV Polar Prince did not declare an emergency until 10 hours later. The submersible made its first dive to the Titanic in 2021. It’s little more than a mini-van-sized pressurised viewing platform, and is described as “experimental” by its operators – OceanGate Expeditions. Built of titanium and carbon-fibre, it is believed to carry between 70 and 96 hours (four days) of emergency oxygen reserves. That gives rescuers a deadline of between Wednesday afternoon and – at the latest – 5pm Thursday. But first, they must find a suitable rescue submarine. Then, they must get it into position some 1666km off Cape Cod, Nova Scotia, in the Atlantic Ocean. And in the meantime, they must devise a plan to access or recover the stricken craft. But rescue hopes stall at step one. The Titan is the only passenger-capable submarine in the world known to be able to reach the Titanic wreck. So survival rests on the ability to raise the craft to a reachable depth. In the meantime, any survivors would have to contend with temperatures of about 2C. Finding a rescue submersible that can reach the Titan isn’t an easy task. The US Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command keeps a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) on permanent 24-7 standby. It can be deployed anywhere in the world. It can only withstand water pressures of up to 600m (2000ft) deep. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) also operates a submarine escape and rescue system. The 21.5-tonne LR5 rescue vehicle can be flown to nearby ports to be tethered to a suitable mothership. It’s capable of evacuating 16 submariners. It can only sustain depths of up to 500m.If a rescue submersible can locate the Titan, it must find a way to dock. But the 6.5m long, 2m wide craft is not designed for underwater access. Crew and passengers board the submersible while it sits on a removable platform alongside the mothership. There is no airlock to allow anyone to enter or leave while underwater while preserving the cabin’s integrity. So rescue attempts will likely have to focus on finding a nearby ship with a suitable crane and an ROV capable of guiding and attaching a line to the stricken submersible. But that only works if the Titan can US and Canadian Coast Guard vessels are en route. A Canadian Aurora (a variant of the P-3 Orion recently retired from Australian service) is already over the site, deploying sonar buoys. These can emit pulses of sound that bounce off – or echo-locate – underwater objects. Others contain sensitive microphones capable of sifting mechanical noise from the oceanic background. Finding the submersible would be a challenging task under the best of conditions. But, here, a powerless craft sitting on the bottom would be almost indistinguishable from the many fragments of the Titanic strewn across the ocean floor. Once again, the survival of the Titan’s passengers and crew would be boosted if the craft was drifting at a shallower depth. This would allow sonar systems to generate a more reliable “fix”.Contact could have been lost due to electrical issues. It could also have been caused by catastrophic pressure-hull failure.“For the crew to escape or be rescued from a submerged submarine, the vessel must be lying intact on the seabed with survivors in at least one watertight compartment,” Denis Mole wrote for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) after an Indonesian submarine was lost with all hands in 2021. “While accidents such as fires, floods and power failures do occasionally occur in submarines, an accident rendering a submarine incapable of surfacing is extremely rare. If a submarine sinks irretrievably, it’s even rarer that there are survivors to escape or rescue. “More than 90 per cent of the seabed is deeper than the crush depth of combat submarines, as was the case with the Nanggala.”There have only ever been four successful submarine rescues. One of the first was when 48 of 80 crew were saved from the Royal Navy submarine HMS K13 in 1917. It sank while carrying dignitaries on a demonstration tour. Divers found the submarine in shallow water and attached an air hose 10 hours into their ordeal. This was used to fill the submarine’s buoyancy tanks, enabling it to surface. The deepest-ever submarine rescue came in 1973. The Canadian submersible Pisces II, with two crew aboard, became trapped while on a cable-laying mission at 487.68m off the coast of Ireland. rescuers eventually managed to attach a grappling hook. After 84 hours stuck on the bottom, the pair were pulled to the surface with just 12 minutes of oxygen remaining. But, in 2000, the Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine K-141 Kursk demonstrated how even modern technology still struggles to save lives after an underwater disaster. The accidental detonation of a torpedo in its bow sent the submarine and its 118 crew to the bottom. It took a week of intense international efforts to reach survivors. But they were found to have died of asphyxiation just eight hours after the explosion. The International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) was established shortly after this tragedy. This multinational organisation coordinates expert teams and equipment to speed up rescue response times. The family of explorer Hamish Harding has confirmed he is missing. Stockton Rush is also missing on the submarine exploring the Titanic. OceanGate This proved successful in August 2005 when a Russian midget submarine became entangled in sub-sea cables in Russia’s far east. Trapped at 190m, the crew survived three days before a British rescue submarine arrived and cut the Russian vessel free.

 

Shocking details revealed about missing tourist sub visiting Titanic shipwreck

An “experimental” submersible that vanished with five people on board including a billionaire was controlled by an old-school “gaming controller”. tourist submersible that vanished less than two hours into a dive to see Titanic’s wreckage was an “experimental” vessel steered by a video game controller. The sub Titan went missing with five people aboard on a dive to the Titanic’s wreckage in the North Atlantic on Sunday morning, local time – sparking a desperate search by the US and Canadian coast guard. It is a rare expedition that American technology and science writer David Pogue knows better than most. The CBS News correspondent signed a rather confronting document to secure his place on the sub operated by OceanGate Expeditions in July last year. “Not going to lie; I was a little nervous, especially given the paperwork, which read, ‘This experimental vessel has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, emotional trauma, or death,’” he wrote in a piece published in November detailing the unique experience. Pogue was seen in disbelief in his television report as OceanGate chief executive Stockton Rush showed him the game controller that “runs the whole thing”.Rush assured Pogue the pressure vessel was safe and unlike other aspects of the operation, was “not MacGyver at all”.He said they had worked with Boeing, NASA and the University of Washington on that part.“Everything else can fail, your thrusters can go, your lights can go. You’re still going to be safe,” Rush told Pogoing an earlier interview, one of the company’s submersible pilots Kenneth Hauge admitted the controller was based on a Logitech video game controller.“If you can play a video game you can drive with, er, some instruction,” he told the Herald in 2021.“It’s pretty intuitive.”Investment firm CEO Shrenik Baldota - who was on that 2022 voyage - told CBS: “We were lost. We were lost for two and a half hours.”The submarine that went missing while taking people on tours to see the Titanic used a cheap Logitech controller and other off the shelf parts.

 

For sale: Used British nuclear submarines

Britain has retired twenty nuclear submarines since 1980. None have been disposed of and nine still contain radioactive fuel in their reactors. When you need to dispose of an old car, you can take it to a junkyard. It’s a sad, long drive, but it’s do-able.But what do you do with a nuclear submarine whose reactor can make people glow in a most unpleasant way? It’s not like you can leave it in Aunt Edna’s backyard.Britain has retired twenty nuclear submarines since 1980. None have been disposed of — repeat, none — and nine still contain radioactive fuel in their reactors, according to an audit by Britain’s National Audit Office. These subs spent an average of twenty-six years on active service — and nineteen years out of service, Michael Peck of The National Interest reported.“Because of this, the Department [Ministry of Defense] now stores twice as many submarines as it operates, with seven of them having been in storage for longer than they were in service,” the audit states.Even worse is the price tag. Britain has spent 500 million pounds (US$646.4 million) maintaining those decommissioned subs between 1980 and 2017. Full disposal of a nuclear sub would cost 96 million pounds (US$112.1 million). As a result, the total cost for disposing of the Royal Navy’s ten active subs and twenty retired vessels would be 7.5 billion pounds (US$9.7 billion), NAO calculated.Dismantling and disposing of a nuclear sub is a complex process, The National Interest reported. The nuclear fuel must be carefully removed from the reactor using special facilities.Then the submarine itself must be dismantled, again with extra care paid to removing the radioactive parts of the vessel. Just one contractor—Babcock International Group PLC—is “currently the Department’s sole supplier capable of undertaking most of the Department’s defueling and dismantling requirements,” noted NAO.“It owns the nuclear-licensed dockyards and facilities in both Devonport and Rosyth, and also provides aspects of the related projects.”Fuel removal ceased in 2004 after British nuclear regulators found the removal facilities didn’t meet standards. Yet the Ministry of Defense still lacks a fully-funded plan for defueling.All of this is taking a toll on a Royal Navy already underfunded and struggling to fund new ships. “The Department pays an estimated £12 million [US$15.5 million] a year to maintain and store the nine fueled submarines currently stored in Devonport,” NAO found.“Maintaining fueled, rather than unfueled, submarines also presents additional technical uncertainties and affects dock availability. This has contributed to space pressures in Devonport, with the Department at risk of not meeting its commitment to inspect, clean and repaint stored submarines at least every 15 years, and not having space to prepare [the submarine] Torbay, which left service in 2017, for long-term storage. Until submarines are prepared, the Department must keep them partially crewed, potentially affecting the Department’s ability to redeploy its personnel.” The plan is to begin defueling subs, beginning with HMS Swiftsure, in 2023. But even then, the Ministry of Defense will have to deal with different subs that have different disposal requirements, The National Interest reported.“At present, the Department does not have a fully developed plan to dispose of Vanguard, Astute and Dreadnought-class submarines, which have different types of nuclear reactor,” NAO pointed out. “For the Vanguard and Astute-class it has identified suitable dock space which, if used, will need to be maintained.”Interestingly, the British military gets an exemption when it comes to nuclear waste. “Within the civil nuclear sector, organizations must consider nuclear waste disposal during the design stage of power stations and nuclear infrastructure. The Department does not have a similar obligation.”Britain isn’t the only nation that has problems disposing of nuclear warships. The Soviet Union sank nineteen nuclear vessels, and fourteen shipborne nuclear reactors, at sea, sparking fears of an environmental catastrophe. Even the US Navy is struggling with how to dispose of nuclear subs and aircraft carriers, such as the decommissioned carrier USS Enterprise.

 

Komsomolets: Russian Super Submarine That Sunk

The Komsomolets was floated in 1983, in Severodvinks. She was massive—400 feet long, 37 feed high, and 27 feet tall. The Komsomolets had one nuclear reactor. In addition to its nuclear propulsion, the Komsomolets had a titanium hull. Lighter and stronger than steel, the Komsomolets could dive deeper than any other manned submarine—below 3,000 feet. It was April 7th, 1989. At the time of the Komsomolets accident, she was in the Norwegian Sea, at a depth of approximately 1,250 feet, well within her maximum operating depth.  According to a fascinating CIA assessment, a high-pressure air line “connecting to main ballast tanks allowing the submarine to control its depth bursts its seal in the seventh compartment.” Although the events are somewhat confused, it is believed that “a spray of oil hits a hot surface there [in the seventh compartment], and a flash fire begins in the high pressure oxygen-rich air.”  The Komsomolets was equipped with a freon-based fire extinguishing system. Filling a burning compartment with the non-flammable gas would smother the fire. The Komsomolets Chief Engineer Valentin Babenko and Commanding Officer Captain First Rank Yevgeniy Vanin delay filling compartment seven with freon, as a sailor is trapped inside. Eventually they fill number seven, killing the sailor trapped inside. The fire is not extinguished, but spreads to compartment six. The Komsomolets loses power and the propellers stop rotating. In order to prevent the nuclear reactors from melting down, the submarine’s power is turned off and controls are non-responsive. Almost miraculously, the sub is able to initiate an emergency blow, in which air is forced into ballast tanks to bring the submarine to the surface.  With a fire raging inside the submarine, Captain Vanin orders hands topside. The interior of the Komsomolets is so hot, the rubberized sonar-absorbent paneling on the outside of the hull is melting into the sea. At 11:41 Captain Vanin’s emergency signal is received but somehow the transmission is somewhat garbled. Soviet naval command knows that a Soviet submarine, somewhere, is in some degree of danger, but don’t know how much danger—or where. At 12:19, Captain Vanin disregards Soviet encrypted broadcast procedures, broadcasting an SOS signal and calling for any available help.Due to the Komsomolets location—nearly 1,000 kilometers from the Soviet Union’s border—Soviet Naval authorities are faced with a difficult choice. They can send slower rescue helicopters that can land on water, but don’t have enough fuel for a round-trip, or send a multi-engine plane that could drop rafts to the Komsomolets but wouldn’t be able to land.  A four-engine Il-38 is sent. It can’t land on water. Under ideal circumstances, preparing the plane for an emergency rescue would take nearly 90 minutes. Flight Capitan Petrogradsky takes off from his runway in just 49 minutes flat. Seeing the Il-38, the crew do not don wetsuits, under the false assumption that their rescue is imminent. But the water is near-freezing, after 15 minutes in the sea, they would perish.  After some time the sea becomes choppy, and the fire inside the hull becomes harder to control. Captain Vanin transmits “I am preparing 69 people to evacuate.” Although the Il-38 dropped rescue rafts, some founder in the sea, and there aren’t enough for the men, who rapidly lose feeling in their limbs and cannot hold onto the rafts. Some slip away unconscious.  Captain Vanin and six others are still inside the Komsomolets, trying to keep the submarine from sinking, though they are fighting a losing battle. As the Komsomolets sinks, Vanin and 5 other jump into the escape capsule, realizing too late that one of their number is still somewhere in the submarine. They also can’t release the escape pod. After 1,300 feet an explosion tears through the submarine, releasing their escape pod. At the surface, the rough sea starts flooding the escape pod once the hatch is opened. It rapidly fills, and only one man escapes. Captain Vanin and four others join the Komsomolets at the bottom and forty-two total souls are lost.  Since the 1990s the Komsomolets has remained on the ocean floor. In addition to its nuclear reactor, it also had a pair of nuclear-tipped torpedoes.  In 1992, a team of scientists investigated the wreck, taking radiation measurements. Though the measurements were high, they determined the ocean would sufficiently dilute any leaked radiation, and that attempting to raise the sub would be riskier than leaving it where it lay. The Komsomolets it seems, will stay on the ocean floor for eternity. 

 

How to Escape From a Sunken Submarine

Ever since human beings created the first submarines, there have been other, more claustrophobic people who have stared at the devices and thought: “Nope.” For many, the thought of the pipe- and equipment-filled narrow metal confines is enough to trigger a fear of drowning—even when they’re standing on dry land. But everyone who has ever looked at a sub, even those of us so enamored with the underwater beasts that we sleep in custom-sewn adult-sized submarine pajamas, has at some point wondered: If the boat goes down, is there any way out? Yes! Escape plans and tools are almost as old as submarine technology itself. Although the odds may always be stacked in favor of the merciless, cold depths of the sea, a few dozen lucky people have taken that unintentional ride down to the ocean floor and lived to see daylight again. Their stories teach us how to get out.In 1851, German submarine inventor Wilhelm Bauer looked at two of his panting countrymen, slumped inside the hull of his creation. The boxy, 26-foot-long, human-powered early sub model was supposed to help win the ongoing war with Denmark, Germany’s neighbor to the north, but the odds of its successful use were looking grim. The crew of three had been trapped inside the submarine for hours, sitting and waiting for rescue.The test day in Germany’s Port of Kiel had started normally. The men had crawled, as usual, through the hatch in the angular conning tower above the bow and taken their places: Bauer at the controls, and Witt and Thomsen each standing at one of the two massive hamster wheels that powered the boat’s propeller. Bauer gave the command. Witt and Thomsen lifted their legs and began to step on the spokes of the wheels, spinning them slowly like a giant human-powered waterwheel. The submarine began to move forward.Bauer expected a graceful and smooth disappearance beneath the surface of the water, like an elegant metal seal. Instead the Brandtaucher (“Fire Diver”) plummeted unexpectedly, caroming wildly in an awkward, unstoppable, and rapid descent into a depression in the harbor floor that was 16 meters deep. As she crashed into the seafloor and shuddered to a final stop, the three men were hurtled unceremoniously into the bow of the boat. They pieced themselves together, shaken but uninjured. However, Bauer, Witt, and Thomsen slowly came to the realization that they couldn’t get the boat out of the hole. They were stuck.At first, they just waited. And waited. For at least five hours, according to them, they sat, wondering when rescue would come. Their dive had been witnessed by onlookers; they figured it was just a matter of time until the German Navy hauled them back up to safety and fresh air. Someone had in fact noticed, and eventually the clanking of chains and anchors on the hull indicated that boats and divers were poking around the wreck site. But Bauer was growing concerned about the air  and the anchors.All the men were panting hard, pale and sweating. Bauer himself had a splitting headache and felt like he was about to be sick. Bauer knew these were the signs of carbon dioxide buildup, caused by the fact that they kept inhaling the oxygenated air they had brought down with them and exhaling noxious CO2. Their blood was becoming more acidic with every breath from the invisible but dangerous CO2, and he knew that they did not have much fresh air supply left. He was also concerned about the anchors and chains that were striking the submarine so loudly, because he thought her thin hull might rupture from their repeated hits. The submarine had an escape hatch, but the pressures of the ocean held it firmly shut. Bauer reached up a pallid, trembling hand and gripped a seacock valve tightly in his palm, twisting it open. Water poured in and started to flood the submarine.Witt and Thomsen immediately pounced on Bauer, one slamming him down and sitting on his chest, the other scrambling to restrain his arms and close the valve. Wide-eyed, they yelled that he was trying to commit suicide and drown them too. But Bauer had opened the seacock because he was a man who wanted to live, and because he was also a man who understood physics.The pressure inside the submarine was roughly 1 atmosphere because it had been closed and sealed on the surface at 1 atmosphere. The pressure in the seawater outside, at a depth of 16 meters, was equal to about 2.6 atmospheres. Therefore, the pressure difference across the hatch of the submarine was about 1.6 atmospheres total. Converting the units, if Bauer wanted to force open the hatch to escape he would need to be able to move it against the 166 kilopascals of pressure pushing the hatch door closed.The hatch door had a total surface area of roughly 1.5 square meters. And 166 kilopascals of pressure from the water times the 1.5 square meters of the door equaled 249,000 newtons of aquatic force shoving against the door. Let’s put that into relatable units; I choose to describe the force in units of Rachel. I personally am 160 pounds’ worth of human-being mass, comprised mostly of cake, which in metric units is 72 kilograms. Therefore, according to Isaac Newton, to calculate the force exerted by me on the Earth, my 72-kilogram mass gets multiplied by the rate at which Earth’s gravity wants to accelerate me downward, which is 9.8 meters per second squared. Seventy-two multiplied by 9.8 is a total downward force of 711 newtons.Therefore, I exert 711 newtons of force on the ground just by standing there, doing nothing productive, converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. The force on the hatch from the water was 249,000 newtons. If Bauer wanted to leave the submarine, he would have needed to be strong enough to lift the 350 Rachel Lances standing on the hatch door.Bauer opened the seacock because he knew that he needed to equalize the pressure differential. If he could partially flood the submarine and bring the pressure inside up to 2.6 atmospheres, the total pressure difference across the hatch door would drop to zero. The door would swing open with ease, and all three submariners could swim to safety. More likely the door would have blown open violently as the buoyant air tried to escape and shoot to the surface, but either way, exit pathway achieved.Talked down by Bauer and his mastery of the laws of pressure, Witt and Thomsen released their captain and allowed him to flood the sub. The increase in the partial pressure of the carbon dioxide was temporarily difficult to tolerate, leading to gagging and choking, but the submarine flooded quickly and the pressure was equalized. The trio got blown out through the liberated hatch door and rocketed safely to the surface like they were the “corks of champagne bottles,” as Bauer later put it.Bauer, Witt, and Thomsen were the first three submariners ever to successfully escape a submarine. They did it in the year 1851, and they did it through a mastery of the scientific principles of the underwater world. The Brandtaucher was plucked out of its mud hole in the ocean and conserved. It is presently on display in a museum in Dresden, Germany, and is the oldest submarine ever recovered.Not all of the submariners from that early generation learned the counterintuitive undersea physics required to execute a daring escape, however. A few years later, in the fall of 1863 and during the heat of the American Civil War, Confederate privateer Horace Hunley found himself clawing at the conning tower hatch of a small hand-cranked submarine that would soon be renamed in his memory. Three Rachels of force were pushing the small oval door closed, and Hunley did not think to equalize the pressure like Wilhelm Bauer did. Hunley was unable to bash his way to freedom, and the hatch door remained firmly sealed. All eight of the crew asphyxiated inside.Starting around the early 1900s, submariners looking for a way out became less reliant on the savvy wits of a lone scientific hero among the crew. Instead, the more modern boats came fully equipped to let everyone out in a semi-organized fashion, through double sets of doors known as locks. Locks allow submariners to escape by first climbing through an inner door or hatch and sealing it tightly behind themselves. They then partially flood the small volume before the outer hatch will swing open, but this two-door system means they do not need to flood the entire boat. Once they swim out safely, the outer hatch is resealed against the ocean, the flooded volume of the small escape trunk is drained and opened, and a new set of escapees can climb in.However, even with submarines designed to provide an easier exit, submariners of the early 1900s still faced the fundamental problem of being humans and not fish, and militaries everywhere began to design escape “lungs” to solve that problem. The lungs were devices that recycled an escapee’s breath, using a chemical reaction to remove carbon dioxide and adding more gas as needed. The lungs began to become standard, and were routinely stashed onboard submarines like the HMS Thetis.In June 1939, a thick slathering of sticky grease covered the nearly naked bodies of British naval officers Captain Harry Oram and Lieutenant Frederick Woods, who stood in front of their crew wearing only trousers. The layer of grease was supposed to provide them with some insulation against the frigid waters of Liverpool Bay, where their submarine had sunk during a sea trial conducted amidst the first rumblings of the war to come with Hitler. They were ready to show their compatriots on the downed submarine HMS Thetis that the Davis escape lungs they were putting on, which were untested in a real sunken submarine scenario, did indeed work as promised. The two men applied their nose clips and began breathing out of their mouths and directly into the square airtight bags strapped against their chests. They climbed into the lock of the flooded and crippled submarine, past the inner door. By this time all of the crewmen were nearly debilitated from the excruciating effects of their own exhaled carbon dioxide, but Oram had a plan to save them, which he had written down and tied around his wrist in case he ended up floating dead on the salty waves above.The inner door was sealed behind Oram and Woods, imposing a robust metal barrier between them and their crew, and confining them in the small cylindrical volume of the escape trunk. With the inner door sealed, the outer hatch, held shut by the ocean, was all that remained between them and freedom. Water began to flood the trunk. The pressure began to equalize. Their Davis lungs recycled their breathing gas as planned, giving them new oxygen and removing their carbon dioxide even when submerged underwater. Once the pressure equilibrated to zero across the outer hatch door, the men pushed it open and swam the remaining 20 vertical feet between them, sunlight, and safety.Four lucky sailors made it out of the HMS Thetis. However, a failure of the outer hatch door meant that 99 more would die inside. A few years later, nine Americans would execute a similar getaway when they used Momsen lungs, the American parallel to the Davis lung, to escape the downed USS Tang in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of China.The Momsen and Davis lungs provided the crucial gas supply that allowed escapees to become fish, to let them rocket for the surface and freedom without the need to grow their own gills, even for those who did not know how to swim. The design worked. But the grease was a rudimentary plan at best, and the hypothermia that later destroyed the escaped crew of the Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets in 1989 emphasized that the ocean still had ways to win. The Komsomolets crewmen were able to climb out of their vessel while it floated on the surface of the Barents Sea before sinking, but they died waiting for a rescue that did not find them quickly enough.Modern-day submariners are equipped with full-body waterproof suits called SEIE suits, an acronym that stands for Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment and is pronounced “sigh.” They are brightly colored fabric pods that look a bit like inflatable Minion costumes, except orange. To break free from a downed vessel, each sailor dons one and waits patiently inside the escape trunk with a partner, staring at the rising water and each other through the clear plastic panels in the front that provide viewports out of the poofy heads of the suits. The hatches of the locks are controlled by someone else now—too many times has the panicked, premature release of one hatch door rendered the entire lock useless—and when the outer hatch opens, the inexorable, extraordinary positive buoyancy of the fully inflated suits rockets the escapees forcefully toward the sky. The submariners pop up two at a time, and each suit unfurls its own personal flotation raft, also bright orange, until from above they look like a smattering of neon orange sprinkles bobbing placidly across the surface of the ocean. At least in theory, assuming the submariners weren’t blocked from getting to a hatch by the mangled wreckage of their sub’s new, more twisted form, and they weren’t incapacitated by rising levels of CO2. The first and preferred plan is to wait for rescue, but the physics of the undersea world—along with some modern technological innovations—does in fact provide another way back to the surface.

 

WW1 submarine found 300m underwater solved old naval mystery

WORLD WAR 1 mysteries are still being solved more than a century after 40 million people lost their lives in one of the deadliest combats in history. HMAS AE1 was the first submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and was lost at sea near what is now known as East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on September 14, 1914, with 35 crew members on board. Search missions attempting to locate the wreck began in 1976, with 12 private and Government-funded expeditions over the years failing to locate the vessel. But, the crew from research vessel Fugro Equator finally pinned the sub down 300m underwater near the coast of the Duke of York Islands.The previous searches helped to narrow down where the wreck was and improvements in technology allowed for its final uncovering.The crew used a deep drop camera to confirm they had found AE1.Chief of Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Timothy Barrett, said: "For the Navy, it demonstrates the persistence of a view that fellow mariners always have and that is, we always seek to locate and find where those who sacrificed so much for their country actually laid at rest. “The final confirmation in this particular case, having found an image on the seabed, was to put a camera down alongside that wreck and actually be able to determine that it had the features that we say belonged to AE1."The exact location of the wreck will remain secret for now, with the Australian government working to preserve the area.AE1 was built by Vickers Limited at Barrow-in-Furness, England, having been laid down on November 14, 1911, and launched on May 22, 1913.After commissioning, AE1, accompanied by AE2, the other of the RAN's first two submarines, reached Sydney from England on 24 May 1914. Officers for the submarines were Royal Navy personnel.At the outbreak of World War 1, AE1, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant, was part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force sent to attack German New Guinea.Along with AE2, she took part in the operations leading to the occupation of the German territory, including the surrender of Rabaul on 13 September 13, 1914.The submarine's involvement was recognised in 2010, following an overhaul of the RAN battle honours system, with the retroactive award of the honour "Rabaul 1914".

 

Mystery Submarine In Service With Pakistan’s Navy SEALs

Some of the best-kept secrets are hidden in plain sight. Sitting on the quayside at PNS Iqbal, a special naval base in Karachi, Pakistan, is a submarine that you won’t find in any reference books, including my own World Submarines Covert Shores Recognition Guide. To my knowledge this will be the first article detailing this submarine, which appears to be in service with Pakistani Navy SEALs.  The submarine is a small special forces type, measuring around 55 feet long by 7 to 8 feet across. That is a fraction of the size of a regular submarine. Its location and size both point to use by the Pakistani Navy's Special Service Group, known as SSG (N). They are equivalent to the U.S. Navy SEALs and use the 'SEAL' terminology. They have a long tradition of training with the American unit. This category of submarine is called an X-Craft in Pakistani Navy parlance. The term was inherited from the Italian manufacturer Cos.Mo.S (commonly written Cosmos) who sold Pakistan two sets of midget submarines in the past. The Italian firm itself borrowed the term from the Royal Navy midget submarines of World War II. The American equivalent to the X-Craft is the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) now entering service with the U.S. Navy SEALs. It may be intended to replace the Pakistani Navy's existing X-Craft. Pakistan operates three MG-110 X-Craft which were built locally between 1993 and 1996. They are getting long in the tooth and are due for replacement. But the Italian firm which designed them, Cos.Mo.S was closed down twenty years ago. Today its designs are continued by respected Italian manufacturer Drass. They offer a series of modern X-Craft that may be ideal for Pakistan. But this mystery submarine does not appear to be a Drass design. The smallest publicly revealed Drass design is the DG-85, which is slightly larger than the boat seen in Pakistan. One clue is that the boat first appeared in 2016. This may tie to a statement in the Pakistani Defence Production Division (MoDP) 2015-16 yearbook. It listed the "Indigenous design and construction of 01 Midget Submarine" as a target for 2016-2017. Since then there have been reports that Turkish firm STM (Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.S.) was jointly developing a mini-submarine with Pakistan. This could indicate that the mystery craft was not successful and so a new design is being developed. Another possibility is that the Turkish partnership will focus on smaller 'chariots.' These are similar to the U.S. Navy's SDVs (SEAL delivery vehicles). In the Pakistani Navy the Chariots can be carried by the larger X-Craft. Analysis of commercial satellite imagery shows that the boat rarely (if ever) goes in the water. The only clear image showing it in the water is from 2016. The operational status is therefore unclear. The tent that covers it is often moved, however, suggesting ongoing maintenance. So the sub cannot be written off, but what it's called and what exactly it does remains a mystery.

 

 

Italy, Russia to Modernize Diesel Submarine Project.

S-1000 diesel submarine project

 

Russia and Italy have decided to optimize their joint next-generation diesel submarine project, a Russian naval design bureau said Friday. The S-1000, a 1,000-ton diesel submarine, is a joint project begun in 2004 by Russian submarine builder Rubin and Italy’s Fincantieri. Russia and Italy presented a mockup model of the S-1000 at an international arms show in France in October 2006. Andrei Baranov, deputy head of the Rubin Central Design Bureau, said that in its proposed configuration, the S-1000 is of “little interest” for potential clients, adding that a decision had been made to improve the project and target specific countries that need a submarine fleet. The submarine was originally designed for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, reconnaissance missions, and transportation of up to 12 troops. It is 56.2 meters long, has a top speed of 14 knots and is equipped with a new fuel cell-powered Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system developed by the Italian firm. Although its exterior will stay as designed, there will be considerable changes to “what’s inside” the submarine, Baranov said, adding that the target regions for selling submarine would remain the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He cited several reasons for the upgrading the sub, including to market it to the Russian and Italian navies. He said the S-1000 design was drawn up almost a decade ago and much has changed since then. And, he noted, such small submarines are currently in great demand in the world, and there is intense competition on the market. “Countries that are actively looking for new submarines are setting some totally unexpected demands for those ships,” he said.

 

China Manned Submersible Samples Mineral Deposits.

 

File Jiaolong: Photo courtesy of Xinhua

China's manned submersible Jiaolong discovers extensive iron-manganese deposits subsea South China Sea. "The Jiaolong began to dive at 9 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at its scheduled depth about 110 minutes later. We sailed northwest, climbed a forty-meter-high slope and found a large deposit of iron-manganese," said Tang Jialing, pilot of the submersible and a researcher from the National Deep Sea Center. Eight samples were taken from these deposits. "Since one of the samples was broken by the sub's robotic arm, a round core inside could be identified as volcanic lava. The materials covering the core are iron and manganese oxides, which need tens of thousands of years to form," said Zhou Huaiyang, a professor at Tongji University. The Jiaolong will carry out another two dives in the area, as well as conduct research on the Jiaolong Seamount, which was named after the sub after scientists aboard the vessel discovered it. Zhou said he hopes more rock samples will be collected from the seamount during the two dives. During its 113-day mission, the sub will engage in scientific research in the South China Sea, the northeast Pacific Ocean and the west Pacific. The mission marks the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it starts regular operation.

 

James Bond’s Lotus Esprit submarine goes up for auction.

James Bond’s Lotus Esprit submarine, one of the most memorable cars from the 007 movie franchise, is going up for sale in September. The car, which saved Bond – as played by Roger Moore – from a murderous helicopter gunship in 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me, will go under the hammer on September 8 at RM Auctions in London; it’s actually one of seven different cars created to film the surprise submarine transformation. In the film, Bond – accompanied by KGB agent Major Anya Amasova – drives the Lotus into the sea to escape the helicopter attack, then fires a torpedo to blast it out of the skies. The film crew created or commissioned seven different variations for the sequence, as the wheels fold in, dive-plane pods emerge, and the car transforms into a waterproof (barring bullet holes) craft. This particular car, however, is perhaps the most exciting: the actual submarine Lotus, made by Perry Submarines, which was in effect a fully functional mobile sub dressed up to look like the Esprit. The craft wasn’t waterproof, however, and so was piloted by a diver using battery-powered motors, with a top speed of around ten knots.

 

007_lotus_esprit_submarine_2

 

Unfortunately there was no provision for actually converting it back into a road-going vehicle, and so the scenes showing the Lotus emerging onto the beach were filmed with yet another car. That was pulled up on hidden tracks, out of the water. RM Auctions hasn’t said what it expects the iconic Esprit to fetch at auction, though it could be considerable. Back in 2010, the same auction house held the sale of the Aston Martin DB5 that featured in Goldfinger, which eventually sold for £2.6m ($4m).

 

Manned Submersible to Hunt Invasive Florida Lionfish.

 

File Submersible

 

OceanGate, is helping to raise awareness of the widespread invasion of lionfish, a non-native predator known for its venomous spines and increased numbers in the waters of Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. From June 27 to 29, 2013, the five-person manned submersible Antipodes will take scientists on a series of dives off the Florida coast to study the growing lionfish population. The goal of the three days of diving and panel discussions is to foster long-term collaboration among scientists to halt the unprecedented expansion of this invasive species. Native to the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, lionfish have been increasingly affecting fisheries and tourism since they were introduced to the Atlantic Basin sometime in the early 1990s.  Due to fast reproductive rates and lack of any natural predators, lionfish are able to reach a population density of 200 per acre and reduce native fish populations by up to 80 percent. This threat extends from the marine environment to the economy as recreational saltwater fishing on Florida's east coast "generated 29,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in sales" in 2011 alone, according to NOAA. "Our expedition is an opportunity for some of the most respected marine experts in the region to come together and find a way to further science on the lionfish epidemic," states Stockton Rush, OceanGate founder and CEO. "Lionfish are a serious threat to the ecosystems of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters, and we're pleased to provide our manned submersible for this research initiative and for the collaboration between organizations such as Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, all of which share an interest in raising awareness and exploring methodologies for lionfish population controls." OceanGate first raised national awareness of the lionfish threat in 2012, during the discovery of a downed World War II Hellcat fighter aircraft.  Footage of the wreck showed a dramatic number of lionfish and caught the attention of marine biologists. The expedition will be hosted at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center in Hollywood, Florida, and will conclude at the state-of-the-art facility on Saturday, June 29, with a panel of leading experts on aquatic invasive species. Scientists will discuss the data, their first-hand observations, and imagery captured during the expedition.  Following the summit, Chef Kareem Anguin from The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Miami will showcase some of the tastiest ways to cook lionfish to help promote commercial fishing of the species. 

 

South Korea Submarines.

South Korea recently launched the first of a second batch of six Type 214 submarines. This one was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The first three 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 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 in South Korea. Building submarines is a very specialized and exacting type of manufacturing, and South Korea has only been doing it for less than a decade. The first subs built in South Korea were these three German Type 214s, and the first of those entered servicehttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png five years ago. 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 metal bolts in the Type 214s began coming loose or breaking seven years ago. 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 fuelhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png cells, enabling them to stay underwater for up to two weeks. 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 speedhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png 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.

 

Lithium ion batteries for special operations mini-submarines.

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/etc/designs/default/0.gifU.S. Navy power electronics experts needed lithium-ion batteries for prototype mini-submarines designed to transport combat swimmers such as Navy SEALs covertly while minimizing swim time to maintain combat effectiveness. They found their solution from General Atomics in San Diego.Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., have awarded a $12.5 million contract to General Atomics for lithium ion batteries to be used on the Dry Combat Submersible program of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.The batteries and accessories will be used on Navy submersible vehicles as primary sources of power, Navy officials say. General Atomics has experience in nuclear and alternative energy, electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that rely on battery power.The SOCOM Dry Combat Submersible program involves two separate initiatives -- the Dry Combat Submersible-Light (DCS-L) program and the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS). Both initiatives are developing technology to deliver combat swimmers to their mission areas ready to fight, rather than exhausted by long swims.Submarine experts at the General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., are developing the DCS-L, and those from the Lockheed Martin Corp. Mission Systems and Training segment in Palm Beach, Fla., are developing the DCS.The two sizes of mini-submarines are intended to operate from combat support surface ships or submarines. They are to be one-atmosphere special operations dry combat submersibles that will be free-swimming vehicles capable of delivering and extracting teams of combat swimmers. USSOCOM officials are interested in dry combat submersibles that can move at speeds of at least five knots, at depths to 200 feet, with provisions for two pilots.These dry submersibles should be sized to transport aboard C-5 or C-17 cargo jets, or in standard 40-foot surface ship containers. The submersibles are to have military radios, military sonars, and high power batteries.These submersibles would operate from surface support ships or submarines equipped with pressure-proof shelter systems either military or commercial, or future generations of the Dry Deck Shelter (DDS).The General Dynamics Dry Combat Submersible-Light will be about 24 feet long with moderate endurance and moderate passenger and cargo capability that will be operated from specially configured commercial surface ships.The larger Lockheed Martin version of the Dry Combat Submersible will be about 38 feet long with high endurance and high passenger and cargo capability that will be operated from specially configured commercial surface ships, and potentially from future submarine shelter systems.

 

Failure of India’s Submarine experiment.

On May 10, 2009, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had stated that New Delhi “will soon float tenders to acquire six submarines.” Mehta also accused Beijing by saying, “Indian Navy would keep a close watch on the movements of Chinese submarines which are operating out of an underground base in the South China Sea” and “wish to enter the Indian Ocean”. However, under the pretension of Chinese threat, Washington, New Delhi and Israel are plotting to block the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean for their joint strategic goals. Apart from Israel, New Delhi also purchased modern weapons from Russia, US and other western countries, especially to develop its naval programme. However, Indian experiment failed when on August 14, this year, its navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak caught fire after a huge explosion, and sank along side its berth. The next day, it went down completely with 18 crew members. At the time of incident, the submarine was fully weaponised with torpedoes and Russian made land attack missiles. INS Sindhurakshak was commissioned in to the Indian Navy on December 24, 2007. It underwent major modifications and upgrades in Russia at a cost of $80 million. Showing contradictory statements, Indian defense analysts and various submarine officers have delved on the possibilities which caused fire and loud explosions on board the submarine. Many of them opined that two of the on board missiles accidentally got fired—the detonation of missiles, one of which struck the wall, the second partially damaging another submarine berth along side, is the main cause of the incident. While some others pointed out that anti-Submarine Warfare officer, while running down the tests on the missiles, might have accidentally triggered the missiles or might have been lacking expertise in operating Fire Control System. It was also possible that night time loading of the missiles might have tired the sailors out and the missiles were wrongly housed. While addressing Parliament, the Indian defense minister, confirmed to the house that blasts on the submarine might have been caused by possible ignition of armament. This theory is also seconded by the Russian manufacturers of the submarine. They also point to human error as a crew member, while wrongly checking the connectivity of the missiles might have led to short circuiting, leading to explosion of the hydrogen fumes and triggering of the missiles. In fact, the night time loading of the missiles is carried out for secrecy when a submarine is scheduled to proceed on war patrol. According to Indian media, the night before the accident, the submarine was ready in all respects to proceed to sea in first light on August 14. Also, many of the defense analysts and media persons have even gone to relate the night time arming of the submarine to building of tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. The fact that the two significant evolutions were compromised at one time in complete violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), has also been referred to by the same analysts as expediting the preparations—the lower threshold of Indian navy’s forward posturing. The nuclear analysts are also perplexed that such compromises being carried out by officer cadre of Indian Navy, what would have happened, if it was not a conventional submarine but a nuclear submarine. The experts stopped short of narrating dire consequences, if such incident happened on Indian nuclear submarine berthed along side in one of India’s harbors. Russians are uncomfortable with India’s ability to safely in running nuclear submarine, and therefore, they have kept a team of around ten Russian nuclear submarines’ technicians on board on its ‘Akula’ Class submarine leased to India. It is not new incident, since 2005, at least 10 serious incidents have been reported. Among them five are related to the Sindhughosh-class of submarines, of which Sindhurakshak is the one. For example, in April 2006 INS Prahar Naval Patrol vessel was sunk. Similarly, in January 2008, INS Sindhu-gosh, with a large foreign-owned cargo ship meant a cold watery grave. And in January 2011, Indian naval ship INS Vindhyagiri caught fire after collision with a foreign merchant vessel at the Mumbai harbour. Nevertheless, whatever the dynamics which led to the sinking of Indian submarine Sindhurakshak, the failure of experiment highlights the professional incompetence, violations of SOPs, poor standards of safety conscientiousness. The incident has certainly brought down the Indian navy’s submarine capability. The ill-preparedness of Indian navy in handling such crises has also been highlighted. Due to its inability to deal with such accidents, India has approached US and Scandinavian experts who have carried out their surveys and now await heavy machinery and heavy cranes to lift the submarine out of water.

 

Dual Use Submersible Vehicle Wins Prestigious R&D 100 Award.


Proteus, a new class of underwater vehicle that is unique in its ability to operate in either manned or autonomous mode, has been recognized as one of the best technical products of the year. With large payload capacity, long range, high endurance, and advanced autonomous behaviors, Proteus provides capabilities unavailable in other unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Combined with its long range and large cargo capacity, this dual capability provides a highly flexible undersea vehicle that can transport divers or deliver payloads at distances of hundreds of miles without human intervention. Based on the heritage of the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) built by The Columbia Group and proven in operation with Special Operations Forces Teams, Proteus incorporates cutting edge autonomy software and high-energy-density batteries by Bluefin Robotics to dramatically expand the capabilities available to users of underwater vehicles. The vehicle can be used for a variety of tasks including: payload integration, test and comparison; advanced autonomy development; long range and stand-off experiments; transporting and installing equipment on the sea floor; inspecting undersea infrastructure such as bridge pilings, undersea pipelines and oil rigs; and transporting divers and cargo. Compared to conventionally-sized UUVs, Proteus markedly reduces the need for frequent launch and recovery for any of these applications and can carry much larger payloads or cover much greater distances than has previously been possible. In applications such as undersea inspection that now depend on remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs), Proteus can reduce the need for costly surface support ships because it can operate autonomously.


Vietnam's third black-hole sub coming soon.

Russia's Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg said it will float out the third of six Project 636 Varshavyanka-class submarines being built for Vietnam's navy by the end of the month, RIA Novosti reported. The Varshavyanka class, with more advanced stealth technology and an extended combat range, is an improvement on its predecessor, the Kilo class of submarines, RIA Novosti said. The U.S. Navy calls the diesel-electric subs black-holes because their technology makes them nearly undetectable when submerged. Vietnam will use the 3,100-ton submarines primarily for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters. RIA Novosti said Vietnam ordered the six submarines in 2009 to counter China's increasing naval influence in the region. The contract, worth around $2 billion, includes training of Vietnamese crews in Russia. A Vietnamese crew has been training since April in the first of the submarines, the Novorossiisk, that completed its 100-day sea trials last month and is expected to be delivered in November, Admiralty Shipyards said. Admiralty will float out Vietnam's fourth Varshavyanka-class vessel in November, with delivery of the last vessel to Vietnam scheduled for 2016. A report by Naval-Technology in August last year said the Varshavyanka-class vessels have a range of 400 miles using electronic propulsion and can patrol for 45 days. The submarines carry a crew of 52 and feature 533mm torpedo tubes and Kalibr 3M54 (NATO SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles, developed by Russia's Novator Design Bureau. Top speed is 20 knots and diving depth is about 985 feet. The shipyard also said the first of another six being built for Russia's Black Sea Fleet would be floated out in November.

 

Submersible Cyclops: Hull Design "Revolutionary"

 

File Cyclops Subsea Manned Submersible: Image credit OceanGate

 

OceanGate Inc. announced the completion of the initial carbon fiber hull design and feasibility study for its next generation manned submersible – Cyclops. Under a contract issued to Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T), OceanGate, the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington (APL-UW) and Boeing have validated the basic hull design for a submersible vehicle able to reach depths of 3,000 meters. With its large 180-degree borosilicate glass dome, the new vehicle will offer clients a chance to examine the environment, collect samples, and deploy technology in subsea settings in person and in real time. When commercially available in 2016, Cyclops will be the only privately owned deep-water (greater than 2,000 meters) manned submersible available for contracts. A follow on 6,000-meter version is slated for completion in Q4 2016. "Recent advances in material science, manufacturing and testing facilities that combine innovative engineering processes have allowed for a unique collaboration between OceanGate, Boeing and the APL team to complete the feasibility study and move the process to the manufacturing stage," states Stockton Rush, CEO. "The research, military and commercial markets need more vehicles for subsea exploration. OceanGate's Cyclops submersible will usher in a new class of vehicle to help fulfill this need." The Cyclops submersible will feature a seven-inch thick, individual-fiber-placed carbon fiber hull using proprietary Boeing manufacturing technology. The ability to accurately place thousands of individual strips of pre-impregnated fiber will overcome many of the hard to control variables surrounding traditional filament winding processes and permit the hull to withstand the very high compressive loads at 3,000 meters (300 bar). The use of carbon fiber will also help make Cyclops significantly lighter than other subsea manned submersibles, making deployment operations faster, easier and cost-efficient. While in the water, Cyclops' five crew members can comfortably observe the ocean depths through a massive glass dome, which offers unobstructed views for at-depth inspections, environmental assessments, discussion, decision making and observation. Operating at depths beyond 1,000 meters with remotely operated vehicles is extremely difficult as they require large heavy tethers and specialized support vessels. Cyclops will eliminate the tethering limitations and allow its five crew members to observe underwater environments for up to eight continuous hours. Using a patent-pending submerging Launch, Retrieval and Transport (LRT) platform, OceanGate can operate a manned vehicle with ships of opportunity at much lower costs than most other manned vehicles and, in many cases, even less expensively than ROVs. With the ability to be quickly and affordably deployed around the world, Cyclops will usher in a new generation of oceanic exploration and study.

 

Russia, China: Strategic partners or rivals, and the India factor.

The Russia-China relationship is perhaps one of the most intriguing relationships of contemporary times. Are they ‘comprehensive strategic partners’, as they proclaim? The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Are they rivals? The answer is again the same: ‘yes’ and ‘no’, depending upon which particular sectors of the globe you are looking at and what areas of activity you have in mind. And when it comes to India – in the framework of South Asia or Indo-Pacific, or Southeast Asia or Central Asia – the Russo-Chinese equation gets all the more muddled and befuddled! Here is an attempted explanation, though the caveat from this writer is that such an explanation is bound to be in the mode of volatile changeability, depending on the fast-evolving global strategic environment. To take the last point first, the Sino-Indian-Russian strategic triangle is a study in real-politik. Submarines are an important area. No, we are not talking here about the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak on the midnight of August 14 in Mumbai naval dockyard as it is an entirely different story. Construction of submarines is one area where the three powers – India, China and Russia – find themselves in cross-currents of geo-politics. Here is how. China has been developing submarines at a pace which indicates the need for sudden enhancement in its submarine capability. With increasing focus on disputes in the South China sea and other regions, China has realised the need for consistency in building its underwater operational capabilities. In this connection, China has commenced construction of new Yuan class submarines at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. Submarines of this class are already being manufactured at Wuchang Shipyard. Inputs also suggest that Jiangnan Shipyard under China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) has been assigned to build two-Yuan Class submarines. A recent sighting and imagery report of a Yuan Class submarine at the Jiangnan Shipyard confirms the same. This indicates that submarine construction expertise is growing outside of the purview of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). However, there are no indications so far that CSSC is involved in ‘submarine design work’, which suggests that these ‘companies and their design institutes’ share submarine design and construction information. China is also seeking assistance from Russia in this regard. The Russian shipbuilding industry got a deal from China in March 2013 to sell four submarines to China – two of which will be built in Russia and two in China. This is the first time in a decade that Russia has obtained a big-ticket defence purchase order from China, though neither side has officially quantified it in terms of monetary value. The next generation advanced conventional submarine (ANGSS) jointly developed by Russia and China will be significantly different from the Russian LADA class. The Russian industry will install a number of Chinese technologies and sub-system on the foundation of LADA/AMUR submarine, including the AIP technology, and develop probably a brand new class of Chinese edition of next generation conventional submarine. Russian LADA class is equipped with AIP technology based on ‘fuel cells technology’, whereas currently the Chinese AIP submarines are based on ‘Sterling engines technology’. Some inputs indicate that since many of the sub-systems, including the cutting-edge Sonar, EW and data-link technology of the LADA class are highly classified, it will not be exported to China. Therefore, Russian shipbuilding industry feels that even if the official contract is signed, it will be implemented in several phases. Russians have not yet discussed plans and technical details of joint development of next generation advance submarines with China and the discussions are still at a very initial stage. Now coming back to the first two questions raised at the beginning of this article – whether Russia and China are strategic partners or rivals – here is an attempt to piece together the zigsaw puzzle of the Sino-Russian relationship. Earlier this month, Russia conducted its biggest military maneuvers since the Soviet times in its far eastern region, involving 160,000 troops, 5000 tanks and 130 fighter aircraft. The drills on Sakhalin Island in the Pacific were watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia had notified all its neighbours about the exercises and had elaborately explained the motive behind these exercises to China. Yet, an unmistakable message was sent to China and many experts saw these exercises as a subtle warning to China. The Russian message to China, implicit in these exercises, was: do not harbor expansionist plans. Probably this was the best way for Russia to tell China that a rising China should not take Russia for granted! Moreover, the way geo-politics is panning out in Southeast Asia and Central Asia, Russia and China are not on the same page. At a time when China has been upping its ante in Southeast Asia for the last five years or so and is involved in maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea, Russia has maintained a stony silence on the subject. To rub it further on China, Russia has even signed commercial deals with Vietnamese companies for joint exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in those very South China Sea waters that are being claimed by China. In Central Asia also the Russians are wary of the increasingly marauding Chinese influence in the region which the Russians regard as their backyard. Uzbekistan is the only among the five Central Asian nations whose trade with Russia is more than with China. The Russians are also not unmindful of the vast oil-gas pipeline network that the Chinese have already set up in Central Asia. The unfolding enigmatic Sino-Russian relationship should be the most exciting to watch. And one should not forget in this context the ‘I’ in the BRICS set up – India.

Manned submersible circles globe to pursue mysteries of deep-sea life.

The water darkens and becomes pitch black as three men in a cramped submersible descend near the British Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Then the real stars of the show appear: Creatures thriving in an environment long thought difficult to sustain life. About 340,000 people watched the world’s first live broadcast of the deep-sea expedition on the “Nico Nico Live” online channel on June 22. The spectacle from a depth deeper than the 3,776-meter Mount Fuji and where sunlight cannot reach was made possible by the Shinkai 6500, a manned research submersible of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). The Shinkai 6500 is currently circling the globe for a string of scientific expeditions that have been joined by scientists from the United States, Britain and other countries. The voyage is driven not by national ambitions for natural resources, but by an intellectual curiosity to uncover mysteries in vast areas of the planet that have never been explored. The findings in these extreme environments, such as hydrothermal vents and the crushing pressure in ultra-deep seas, could provide clues on the origins of life itself on Earth. The Shinkai 6500 can travel as deep as 6,500 meters. In the dive near the Cayman Islands, the vessel sank at a rate of 40 meters per minute. The submersible can accommodate a crew of only three, comprising one scientist and two pilots. When the screen was switched to show the image from an inboard camera, viewers saw how Ken Takai, director of the JAMSTEC Extremobiosphere Research Program, shared a cabin--an orb of titanium alloy only 2 meters across--with his two colleagues. Sea water temperatures are a chilly 1 or 2 degrees more than 2,000 meters beneath the surface. Curled up in winter suits, the crew members ate lunchboxes before they hit the 5,000-meter-deep seabed at the end of the two-hour descent. Lights on the submersible revealed hot water spewing from “chimneys,” or column-shaped seabed formations several meters high. Takai and his colleagues operated two robot arms to catch the small shrimp and sea anemones that crowded the chimneys, and placed them into a sampler. The robot arms also installed a thermometer beside a hydrothermal vent. Camera imagery of the deep sea was transmitted through purpose-built fiber-optic cables to the seaborne support vessel Yokosuka, and then relayed via satellite for “Nico Nico Live” viewers. A 10-year international research project that started in 2000 revealed many facts about the distribution and diversity of marine life. But Hiroshi Kitazato, research director of the JAMSTEC Institute of Biogeosciences and leader of the current global journey, said much remains to be learned. “Most of the seas more than 2,500 meters deep or in the Southern Hemisphere have yet to be surveyed,” Kitazato said. “To fill those gaps, we are focusing on four marine areas, most of them depths in the Southern Hemisphere, during the current journey.” The Shinkai 6500 left its home port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Jan. 5 on board the Yokosuka support vessel. It surveyed Indian Ocean waters off Madagascar between late January and March, the same location where a group of U.S. scientists in 2001 discovered the scaly-foot gastropod, a snail species whose crust and scales are coated with black iron sulfide. During an expedition in the same area in 2009, the Shinkai 6500 caught white variants of the scaly-foot gastropod that were not coated with iron sulfide. Scientists still cannot explain what caused the difference within the genetically identical species. The white variants also had tougher scales, raising the question about the role of iron sulfide. Both white and black specimens were caught during the latest expedition and are being raised aboard the Yokosuka. The scientists plan to investigate the formation process and the role of the coating. The hot water spouting from the seabed in the area contains high concentrations of hydrogen. The scientists hope to study organisms living near the hydrothermal vents to gain insight into the evolution processes of early life. Incipient life on primordial Earth is believed to have relied on hydrogen for its energy. The Madagascar expedition was followed by dives in the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil in April and May. It was the first full-scale scientific expedition in that area, home to sea mounts towering more than 5,000 meters in height and currents flowing in from both the Antarctic and North Atlantic oceans. The scientists confirmed that deep-sea corals, benthos and other creatures inhabited that complex environment. They hope to investigate how habitats vary with depth and geology. Seabed geology was also a study subject on its own. Scientists held a news conference in Brazil to announce the discovery of granite, a likely remnant of a continent. Media organizations around the world likened the story to a discovery of Atlantis. While legend says the Atlantis continent sank 12,000 years ago, the granite is estimated to have submerged in the ocean several tens of millions of years ago. The finding nonetheless provided an occasion for touting the romantic side of the scientific journey. The online relay took place at the third stop, on the voyage in the Caribbean Sea, where the temperature of the hot water spouts is estimated at 500 degrees. The scientists caught sea anemones, small shrimp and other creatures to study micro-organisms inhabiting the hydrothermal field, with which they live in symbiosis. Marine creatures used to travel back and forth past this area when the Pacific and Atlantic oceans were connected. But that traffic was blocked when the North and South American continents became connected 3 million years ago. The scientists plan to study how creatures of Pacific origin evolved in the Atlantic to gain insight into the acclimatization and evolution processes of living organisms. The Shinkai 6500 returned to Japan on Aug. 2 for recharging operations ahead of another expedition, from October, in the Tonga Trench, the second-deepest area in the world. “In only 2 percent of all marine areas do depths exceed 6,500 meters,” said Toshio Tsuchiya, a senior official in the JAMSTEC Marine Technology and Engineering Center. “That means the Shinkai 6500 can cover most areas.”

Kilo Class submarines.

As news came in that all 18 sailers aboard the Indian Navy's Kilo Class submarine INS Sindhurakshak may be died after a massive explosion rocked the vessel, here is a look at what a Kilo Class submarine is. The Kilo Class is the NATO designation for a naval diesel-electric submarine made in Russia. The original version of the vessels were designated Project 877 Paltus (Halibut) in Russia. The Kilo Class submarines are mainly intended for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in relatively shallow waters. Original Project 877 vessels are equipped with Rubikon MGK-400 sonar system, which includes a mine detection and avoidance sonar MG-519 Arfa.  The first Kilo Class submarine entered service in the Soviet Navy in 1980, and the vessel continues to be in service in Russain Navy. A total of 14 such vessels are believed to be in Russian Navy's fleet, with 17 in active service and seven in reserve. Till today, 33 such vessels have been exported to India, Algeria, China, Poland, Iran and Vietnam. Also, Venezuela and Indonesia have showed interest in acquiring Kilo Class submarines. These submarines are 70-74 metres long. The submarine can travel at the maximum speed of 10-12 knots when surfaced and 17-25 knots when under water. The submarines are propelled by a diesel-electric engine which generates 4,400 kw of power. These submarines can travel up to 700 km at 6 km/h when submerged. It can snorkel up to 11,000 km at 13 km/h. The vessels can stay in the sea for 45 days at a stretch, after which they need to return to docks/nearest port. These vessels can carry up to eight surface-to-air missiles and can carry 18 torpedoes or 14 underwater mines. These can carry 52 personnel on board. The price of one Kilo-Class vessel ranges between $200-250 million.

 

 

Indian submariners die after being trapped by explosion, fire.

 

The Indian Navy's Sindhurakshak submarine is seen in Visakhapatnam in this February 13, 2006 file photo. REUTERS-Kamal Kishore-Files

 

Divers were desperately trying to pry open the hatches of an Indian submarine in which several sailors died or were trapped after an explosion and fire on Wednesday in the navy's worst loss since the 1971 war with Pakistan. Eighteen sailors were aboard the Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak when the blast struck after midnight. The accident soured a week of naval milestones, including the launch of a locally built aircraft carrier aimed at giving the navy heft as it competes with China in the Indian Ocean. Defence Minister A.K. Antony said crew members inside the diesel-electric Kilo-class submarine berthed at the main base in Mumbai had died. But he gave no details, more than 12 hours after the incident, which revived memories of explosions on the Russian nuclear-attack submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea in 2000. Its entire crew of 118 died. "There was an explosion immediately after midnight in the forward side of the submarine, where missiles and torpedoes are kept to be used whenever necessary," a naval source said. "Now the submarine is tilted on the front side and all hatches are closed. They are trying to open those now." He said one or two men are usually on duty on top of the submarine and they either jumped into the water or were thrown off by the force of the explosion. The number of crew in the boat when fully operational is 110. Navy spokesman P.V.S. Satish earlier said efforts were under way to rescue trapped crew members. "We will not give up until we get to them," he said. Photographs distributed by social media users appeared to show a large fireball over the navy dock.The INS Sindhurakshak, which returned from an upgrade in Russia earlier this year, had suffered a similar accident in 2010 in which one sailor was killed while it was docked in the southern port of Visakhapatnam. Typically, such a submarine is fitted with torpedoes and missiles. Torpedoes are launched underwater to attack other submarines while missiles are used for long ranges above water. There was no immediate word on the status of the weapons on board the Sindhurakshak. "Lot of things are in very close proximity, there is fuel, there is hydrogen, there is oxygen, there are weapons with high explosives on board," said retired Indian navy chief Arun Prakash. "So a slightest mistake or slightest accident can trigger off a huge accident. The question of sabotage - I mean, all possibilities have to be considered - but sabotage is probably the last possibility." Another submarine in the Mumbai dock where these vessels are usually tied to each other suffered minor damage, the naval source said. The last big loss for the navy was the sinking of the INS Khukri by a Pakistani navy torpedo during the 1971 war.Most of the country's fleet of 15 submarines is in urgent need of modernisation and has been hampered by delays in government decisions as it battles corruption allegations. Efforts to build a domestic arms industry to supply the military have made slow progress, with the country still the world's largest importer. Earlier this week, a aircraft carrier slipped into the sea, though it is due to be fully operational only by 2017. The navy also announced that the reactor on its first indigenous nuclear submarine was now operational as part of the plan to build a powerful navy to counter China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean. INS Sindhurakshak completed a 2-1/2 year upgrade at a Russian shipyard a few months ago. "This is a very, very old boat that really doesn't go out on long sea patrols," said Bharat Karnad, a senior fellow of national security studies, at the Centre for Policy Research. Three people near the submarine at the time of the explosion were injured and being treated in hospital, navy spokesman Satish said. The blast that ripped through the submarine INS Sindhurakshak has taken the sting out of the Navy’s already-enfeebled submarine arm. On record, the Indian Navy operates10 kilo-class (877 EKM a.k.a Sindhughosh-class) and four HDW (Shishumar-class) submarines besides the nuclear-powered INS Chakra, acquired last year from Russia on a 10 year lease. The regrettable state of the stealthy submarine arm — vital for maintaining the critical sea denial capability — is evident from the fact that the Navy hasn’t been able to shore up its sub-sea patrol capabilities by inducting a new conventional submarine after the year 2000, when INS Sindhushastra, the last of the Kilo-class boats from Russia, was added to the naval inventory. Worse, none of the Indian subs are equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP), which considerably enhances the underwater endurance of conventional diesel-electric submarines. Bereft of AIP, subs are forced to surface once in a few days for recharging their batteries, when they are most susceptible to detection by maritime patrol aircraft on the prowl. While Pakistan took delivery of PNS Hamza fitted with AIP from the French, it has already begun retrofitting two subs of the same class with the system. The Indian experiment of building subs indigenously at Mazagon Dock, which delivered INS Shalki and INS Shankul built on ToT in the early 1990s, went awry when the programme was shelved following allegations of corruption, which resulted in the nation’sloss of capability and skill sets acquired. More or less the same fate awaited the programme kick-started in mid-2000 — as part of the Navy’s high-value 30-year submarine building programme — to build six French-origin Scorpene class submarines at Mazagon Dock. Marred by a string of delays and cost overruns, the first in the class would at best be only delivered in 2016. Among the kilo-class submarines, while most of them have undergone extensive and costly upgrade in Russia, INS Sindhukirti has been idling at the Hindustan Shipyard since 2006. It was an experiment gone wrong that put paid to the submarine. While a section of top officials argued for sending it to Russia for refit, another wanted submarine refit capability to be developed indigenously. Finally, the Navy asked the dying Hindustan Shipyard to upgrade it, retrofitting it with new sensors like Ushus and weapons like the Klub missile. It was an attempt at rejuvenating a yard at the cost of a potent war-fighting platform, lamented a Navy officer. Meanwhile, the nuclear submarine programme to induct nuclear-powered ballistic submarines was announced as maturing at the close of the last decade. INS Arihant, the first of the nuclear subs, was launched in 2009 and its reactor went critical hardly a week ago. hree more vessels of the class are in the offing and Arihant with limited capabilities will be ready for commissioning next year. In the meantime, India has been toying with the idea of a second line of conventional submarines under the Navy’s Project 75-I, which hasn’t borne fruit yet. Last heard, a purchase notice for this is only likely to be issued in the next two months. Desperate to salvage its dipping submarine force-levels, the Navy is learnt to have asked the Defence Ministry to procure two conventional submarines under the project from the foreign collaborator, while four would be built between Mazagon Dock and Hindustan Shipyard.

 

Navy launches 4th 1,800-ton attack submarine.

South Korea's Navy launched its fourth 1,800-ton Type 214 submarine in a ceremony here on Tuesday as part of efforts to boost its underwater warfare capabilities against North Korean submarines. The ship, named after Korea's famous independence fighter Kim Jwa-jin (1889-1930), is the fourth of its kind in operation since 2010. Kim is Korea's first general of independence fighters who led the Cheongsan-ri battle to defeat 3,300 Japanese soldiers in China's northeastern region in 1920. President Park Geun-hye, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and senior military officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering's shipyard in Geoje Island, close to the southern port city of Busan. The late general's daughter Kim Eul-dong, an incumbent lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, and actor Song Il-kook, his grandson, also attended the ceremony.The ship can hit 300 targets simultaneously, and is equipped with ship-to-land missiles and torpedoes as well as an advanced sonar system for anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The diesel-powered submarine is operated by Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), which extends the ship's submerged endurance compared to conventional submarines. The AIP system enables the crew to carry out underwater missions for several weeks without the need to access atmospheric oxygen. The Navy will take delivery of the attack submarine in late 2014 and deploy it in 2015 for naval operations, officials said. South Korea currently operates over 10 submarines, including 1,200-ton Type 209 subs and 1,800-ton Type 214 subs. The Navy plans to acquire nine 3,000-ton level heavy-attack submarines after 2020 with significant improvements in their radar and armament systems compared to their predecessors. North Korea is known to have about 70 submarines, one of which is suspected of having torpedoed a South Korean corvette in the tensely guarded western sea in March 2010. A total of 46 sailors were killed in the incident.

 

The Compact Semi Submarine.

The Ego-Compact Semi Submarine-11

 

Submarines are not the most common way to cruise the sea. There are actually quite a few ways to enjoy the seas and many of them combine the submarine design. The semi submarine is a small design that resembles a buoy. The buoy-like aquatic vehicle has a deck above the water for chillin’ and an area below the water with a glass window for viewing marine life. Scuba diving and exploring life under the water is always cool. Not everyone wants to suit up and dive. This vehicle is a simple ways to enjoy the seas without the drama of a scuba dive. The four core technology features allow the boat to not move into shallow areas and get stuck. There is also an underwater camera that can monitor the activity above water and keep tabs on the directions that the semi submarine is travelling. The two floating hulls on both sides ensure extreme stability. The Ego is controlled by a wireless controller. Having one of these on deck is essential to make the most of that beach life.

 

Russia to Float Out 2 New ‘Black Hole’ Submarines

Russia to Soon Float Out 2 New ‘Black Hole’ Submarines

 

The third of six new “black hole” submarines that Russia is making for the Vietnamese navy will be floated out later this month, the shipbuilder said Monday, adding that the first of another six, for Russia’s own Black Sea Fleet, would be floated out in November.The Varshavyanka-class (Project 636M) diesel-electric subs, dubbed by the US Navy as “black holes in the ocean” because they are nearly undetectable when submerged, are primarily designed for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters.The first of the submarines, which completed its 100-day sea trials last month and for which a Vietnamese crew has been training since April, is expected to be delivered to that country in November, according to the manufacturer, Admiralty Shipyards. Vietnam ordered the six submarines in 2009, counterbalancing China’s expanding maritime influence in the region. That contract, which also stipulated the training of Vietnamese crews in Russia, was reportedly worth $2 billion. The Varshavyanka class is an improvement on the Kilo, with more advanced stealth technology and an extended combat range. Construction of the first Varshavyanka-class sub for the Black Sea Fleet, a vessel named the Novorossiisk, began in 2010 and has been completed ahead of schedule, the shipbuilder said. The submarines, which feature 533-milimeter torpedo tubes and are armed with torpedoes, mines and Kalibr 3M54 (NATO SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles, displace 3,100 tons, reach speeds of 20 knots, can dive to 300 meters and carry crews of 52 people.

 

Triton Submarines to Reveal New Models in Monaco.

Triton Submarines to Reveal New Models in Monaco

 

The next generation of Tritons will include 4, 6 and 8 passenger models as well as a 2-passenger model rated for 5500 feet (1,675 meters) and the Triton 36000/3 Full Ocean Depth (rated for 36,000 feet/11,000 meters).In 2011, Triton launched the first Triton 3300/3, which has played a key role in filming marine life for the science community, including the first ever filming of the elusive giant squid at depths of 600-900 metres. Triton’s President, Patrick Lahey, said: “Triton broke new ground with the Triton 3300/3. The 3300/3’s acrylic sphere is the largest and thickest ever produced for a submersible.“Triton’s newest models will once again set the standard for performance and innovation. We are looking forward to introducing our 4, 6 and 8-passenger deep submersibles at the 2013 Monaco Yacht Show.”Triton will also be featuring innovative submersible support vessel (SSV) designs developed in partnership with Bury Design, including the unique Triton Launch and Recovery Catamaran (LARC), a highly efficient SSV capable of speeds up to 20 knots with a range of up to 1,000 nautical miles.

 

China's craze for DIY plumbs new depths.

 

submarine-1_2160705i.jpg

 

It started well for amateur submariner Tao Xiangli , as his home-made underwater craft slid below the surface of an idyllic rural lake, watched by an entire village.But then the submarine stalled and got stuck in the mud. After nearly 10 minutes of anxious waiting, onlookers began to panic. Some dived into the water to check that the submariner was alright. Finally, villagers pulled the vessel and its intrepid inventor to safety.The little adventure of the DIY peasant inventor has become a hit video clip widely circulated on the internet in recent days.Tao, a 34-year-old Beijing-based migrant worker from Anhui province, has become an internet sensation since word began to spread last summer of his unusual hobby - building submarines. His latest craft is six metres long, weighs almost two tonnes, and is made mostly out of metal barrels. The vessel is cramped, with room for only one person.However, it houses all the necessary features of a submarine, such as pressure gauges, monitoring cameras, a TV set, an oxygen supply and headlights. The video of Tao has been popular on mainland portal Sina.com in recent days.The mainland is experiencing a DIY engineering fad, with enthusiasts building everything from submarines and aircraft to robots. Many use countryside ponds and hills to practise, though a lack of safety measures means this type of hobby is not for the faint-hearted.

 

Yasen-class nuclear attack submarines to give Russia major edge.

Large-scale construction of the next-generation Project 885 Yasen-class multi-purpose nuclear attack submarine, armed with Onyx supersonic cruise missiles has begun in Russia.  The ships will compete with the latest American Seawolf-class nuclear submarines in terms of their noise profile and will be world leaders in terms of fire power. Moscow plans to acquire at least 10 of these boats by 2020. The fourth submarine in this class was laid down in Severodvinsk on the eve of Navy Day, which was celebrated on the last Sunday in July. The Project 885 nuclear submarine is the quintessence of everything the Russian military industrial complex has achieved in over half a century of building submarines. The vessel has a hull made from high-resilience low-magnetic steel, and so can dive to a depth of more than 600 metres (conventional boats cannot go deeper than 300 metres), which effectively puts it out of reach of all types of modern anti-submarine weapons. Its maximum speed is more than 30 knots (about 60 kilometres per hour). The nuclear submarine is equipped with an escape pod for the whole crew.The Russian designers say that the Yasen is not only quieter than the Project 971 Akula, but also quieter than the latest American Seawolf nuclear submarine. Moreover, unlike those vessels, the new missile submarine will be more functional thanks to the weapons at its disposal (several types of cruise missile and torpedo) and will be able to fulfil a wide range of roles at sea. The Akula nuclear submarine is currently the most important of the Russian multi-purpose attack submarines designed for raiding operations against sea lanes. Virtually inaudible in the depths of the ocean, they are equally effective against transport vessels and warships, and can also hit the enemy’s coastal infrastructure with cruise missiles. Akula submarines were recently spotted within the 200-mile zone of the coasts of the United States and Canada, which caused a serious commotion among the countries’ respective militaries. Having discovered the presence of these ‘guests,’ neither of them was able to track their movement, which naturally caused serious concern. After all, the Akula carries on board 28 Kh-55 Granat cruise missiles, the equivalent of the American Tomahawk, which can fly 3000 km and deliver 200-kilotonne nuclear warheads to their targets. The main attack system on the Yasen is the P-800 Onyx, the latest Russian supersonic cruise missile. This missile is the base version for two absolutely identical export versions in terms of their appearance: the Russian Yakhont and the Indian BrahMos, although with significantly reduced combat characteristics. These devices are capable of being fired from under water. They fly at a speed of 750 metres per second and carry a devastating high-explosive warhead weighing half a tonne. They have a range of more than 600 kilometres. The Onyx is guided to its target by a navigational system that operates on target designation data, that is inputted provisionally to the missile before it is launched. At a predetermined point in the trajectory (25–80 kilometres), the missile’s homing device is briefly activated and determines the precise location of the target. The homing device is activated again after a sharp reduction in altitude of 5–15 metres, just seconds before it hits the enemy. This is to ensure that when the enemy detects the missile’s launch it cannot ‘jam’ the missile with electronic countermeasures. But it’s not its high speed or the protection of its homing device against electronic countermeasures that makes the Onyx a super-modern weapon. Once it is launched from the submarine, the missile finds the target by itself. After determining their coordinates, the missiles ‘wait’ until the last one is out of the launch tubes and then line up, just like a wolf pack, and begin to ‘home in on their prey’. The designers are not really advertising this point, but it’s the missiles themselves that decide which missile attacks which target and how. The missile ‘pack’ decides these targets, classifies them in terms of importance, and selects the tactics for the attack and the plan for its execution. In order to prevent mistakes, the missile’s on-board computer system is programmed with electronic data on all modern classes of ship. This is purely tactical information – for example, on the class of vessel. This enables the missiles to determine what they are up against, whether it be an aircraft-carrier or landing group, and then to attack the main targets within the group. The Onyx missile’s on-board computer also holds data on how to counter the enemy’s electronic warfare systems, which can divert a missile from its target, and systems for evading anti-aircraft defence systems. At the same time, like wolves in a real pack, the missiles themselves decide which one of them is the main attacker and which one must take the role of the decoy to lure the enemy’s aircraft and air defence systems away. Once the main selected target has been destroyed, the other missiles immediately redistribute the combat assignments between themselves and begin to destroy other vessels. There is no ship in the world that can dodge an attack by Onyx missiles. Yes, ship-borne radar systems can detect that they have been launched, but then further resistance is useless. The speed of these missiles and the way they constantly manoeuvre above the surface of the sea makes it practically impossible to intercept them with air defence systems or aircraft. Another advantage of the Onyx missile is that it can be used with various types of carriers. In Russia, it is installed not only in submarines but also on surface vessels and mobile land-based platforms – the Bastion shore-based missile systems. It’s the presence of these systems in Syria that so worries Washington today. Onyx will also be included in the weaponry of the Su-30MK family of fighters and the latest Su-34 frontline bombers. But the most important thing is that the next generation following the Onyx is already on its way. This is the Zircon, the first hypersonic combat missile system, for which testing is due to start next year.

SA Navy crippled by lack of qualified personnel.

 

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According to a well-placed source in the South African defence environment, only one of the three submarines can go to sea as the South African Navy (SAN) only has enough personnel to man one at a time. Further compounding this is the fact that the Navy’s submarine fleet spends two thirds of its time in the dockyard. The submarine SAS Manthatisi is still in the dock as she undergoes maintenance related to electrical systems – the batteries were damaged in 2007 when a sailor plugged in an incorrect electrical system. According to the source, the entire electronics of the submarine were damaged when this occurred. A new battery was ordered but Manthatisi’s refit will only be completed in July next year, leaving SAS Queen Modjaji and SAS Charlotte Maxeke operationally available. However, top South African defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman told defenceWeb that the Manthatisi’s batteries were not destroyed and they are being replaced because they are at the end of their lives. “The one mistake was saving money by buying batteries from a company outside Germany, which did cause some problems,” he said. Experiences with gas build up in the batteries has caused some issues. “The Navy had planned to run the three 209s the way they had run the three Daphnes: one fully operational; one in commission and operational but used mainly for training and alternating with the operational boat for minor maintenance; and the third in reserve pending refit timed to bring it back into service as another approaches its refit date,” Heitman said.“On that basis they trained up two crews and drove 101 [SAS Manthatisi] and 102 [SAS Charlotte Maxeke] hard during their warranty periods – to make sure that any faults surfaced while the Germans would still have to pay for them; then when 103 [SAS Queen Modjadji] was available, they docked 101 and used the crew to fetch 103 and drive that hard during the warranty period. The Navy then went over to rotating 102 and 103 as the two operational boats, and 101 is now in refit and will take the place of the one of the other two with the most sea time, which will then go into refit. “Meanwhile the Navy has found that the new technologies in these boats make it possible to keep two fully operational at all times, not rotating as planned, and intend to move to that. But that will require two crews plus about half a crew to allow for training, work on the third boat, etc. That is one part of the problem. The other is…the drain of qualified people – operational and technical – and a reluctance of many people…to serve in boats.”

New research submersible to explore the oceans.

ICTINEU Submarines, in Barcelona  are about to complete construction of our ICTINEU 3 research submersible. It is a 3-person vehicle rated to 1200m (4.000 feet) and classed by GL. This will be Spain's first deep sea research submersible and be among the top 10 deepest (active) submersibles in the world. We are at the end of a 5 year endeavour with only a few weeks from final assembly and start of sea trials. The Ictineu 3 is a cutting edge manned submersible vehicle, with a powerful state-of-the-art battery package that can drive up to 20 miles underwater. This incredible range is achieved through exacting hydrodynamics and vehicle efficiency making ICTINEU 3 an excellent tool for underwater exploration, scientific research and underwater intervention.


www.ictineu.net

Canadian Navy submarine damage severe.

HMCS Corner Brook hit seafloor off British Columbia in 2011. Slamming into the seafloor at 11 km/h damaged one of Canada's submarines more severely than the navy originally admitted to the public, new documents obtained by CBC show. The Royal Canadian Navy's Damage Assessment and Options Analysis report for HMCS Corner Brook tells a story of a submarine suffering "extensive damage" from "tearing and dents" that left a gaping, two-metre hole in the submarine’s bow. Seawater was "roiling" in the parts of the submarine and two of its torpedo tube doors had been torn off when it rammed the ocean floor off British Columbia two years ago. The submarine had 60 people aboard, including some of the most experienced and senior submariners in the navy, when it rammed the rocky seafloor while cruising 45 metres below the surface. Two sailors were slightly injured during the June 4, 2011 collision.The navy's official board of inquiry blamed Lt.-Cmdr. Paul Sutherland, the sub's captain, for the collision. The inquiry was closed to the public and the navy only released a one-page summary of the hearing. The navy has publicly called the accident a "fender bender" which resulted in no structural damage. But the navy's internal report tells a much different story. The damage report obtained by CBC under Access to Information was completed three days after the grounding and contains photographs detailing the damage to the Corner Brook. While Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, now commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, assured Canadians the damage was not as bad as it looked, the report says "structural state of subsunk." navy shorthand for unknown. "Location of strike likely to have caused shock stress transmission within forward structure," states the navy's early damage report. Norman had denied the damaged extended beyond what could be seen in several photographs obtained by CBC in February 2012. The photos showed the submarine after it was hauled from the water with a hole in it the size of a ping-pong table. "The navy has not been upfront with Canadians about the degree of damage and just how close we came to a truly serious accident. I think the Canadian navy has to come clean across the board with respect to Canada's Victoria class submarines,” said Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia defence expert who has been critical of the submarine program in the past. The report said that there are "strong indications" of damage to the main ballast tank that may extend to the pressure hull of the submarine. The pressure hull is a thick, rolled-steel area of the submarine where sailors live and work. "This accident came very close to claiming the lives of the entire crew,” said Byers, who co-authored a recent report on Canada's fleet of four second-hand British-built submarines.

 

The damage to the HMCS Corner Brook was in the area in which sailors are quartered.

 

The damage to the HMCS Corner Brook was in the area in which sailors are quartered.

Byers said if the pressure hull is twisted or damaged, it may be impossible for the navy to fix. “Please bear in mind that the documents you have from the ATI request were created very soon after HMCS Corner Brook ran aground in 2011,” wrote Department of National Defence spokeswoman Tracy Poirier in an email to CBC. “While I can say that more work has been done since then to look into what damage the submarine incurred, I have not been able to find out any details as to what was learned during these subsequent surveys.” The navy has said it intends to repair the 2,400-tonne submarine during its scheduled refit period, which is to begin this year and run until 2016. The navy will replace the British torpedo system and other sensors and communications equipment that came with the four Victoria-class submarines Canada bought in 1998. A similar refit process was just completed on another submarine from the class — HMCS Windsor — and it took five years instead of the planned two. The cost of the work on the Windsor totalled $209 million and still only one of the sub's two generators is operational, limiting the distance the sub can go away from land. The navy has not said how much more it will cost to attempt to repair the collision damage to the 70-metre-long Corner Brook. "If it turns out not to have worked after an attempt at repairing the vessel then Canadian taxpayers will have poured close a billion dollars into a bottomless pit trying to recover this submarine," said Byers.

 

A ‘submarine graveyard’ has been found off the coast of England.

A ‘submarine graveyard’ has been found off the coast of England

 

The depths of Falmouth Bay hold many a secret, but none more intriguing than the rust-pocked carcasses of World War I German U-Boats just off Pendennis Point. Salvaged from Scapa Flow in Scotland where the enemy fleet had scuppered itself at the end of the war, the handful of submarines were brought to Falmouth Bay as part of the war reparations scheme. While some were used for target practice, the majority were sunk when a freak storm blew them off their moorings and onto the shore. British archaeologists have discovered more than 40 German U-boats sunk during the first World War. Located just off England’s southern and eastern coast, the subs have been disintegrating for nearly a hundred years. It’s now a race against time to examine the wrecks before they vanish forever.The U-boats were discovered by underwater archaeologist Mark Dunkley along the southern and eastern coasts of the UK. It’s the largest conglomeration of sunken subs ever found, consisting of 41 German U-boats and three English submarines — all from World War I.The subs, all of them near the coast, rest at depths of about 15 meters (50 feet). And because many of the subs sank with crew on board, future expeditions will likely find the remains of sailors inside the wrecks (or “disaster samples” in the parlance of the field).Interestingly, some of the subs have been linked to several U-boats still listed with the German Imperial Navy as missing, including UB 17, a subway crewed by 21 men under the command of naval Lieutenant Albert Branscheid, and the 27-member crew of UC 21, a minelayer commanded by naval Lieutenant Werner von Zerboni di Sposetti.At the start of WWI, there were only 28 U-boats under the command of Kaiser Wilhelm II, a tiny number compared to the Allied fleet. But by the end of the war, the Germans produced some 380 U-boats — half of which were lost at sea.The find could also shed some insight into the war itself. It’s interesting to note that two or three German U-boats were often found lying in close proximity to one another — possible evidence of a certain German combat strategy. By early 1917, the Germans began to target British commercial ships on a large scale. In turn, the Royal Navy reacted by providing freighters with warship escorts, along with airships and aircraft to spot enemy subs from above."We owe it to these people to tell their story," says Dunkley, who works for English Heritage, a public body that is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Dunkley and his team will explore the wrecks in the coming months. In some cases, they’ll use robotic vehicles to cut open the hatches of the subs to get inside.

 

China deploys new class of strategic missile submarines next year.

China’s navy is expected to begin the first sea patrols next year of a new classhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png of strategic missile submarines, highlighting a new and growing missile threat to the U.S. homeland, according to U.S. defense officials.“We are anticipating that combat patrols of submarines carrying the newhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile will begin next year,” said one official familiar with recent intelligence assessments of the Chinese strategic submarine force.China’s strategic missile submarine force currently includes three new Type 094 missile submarines each built with 12 missile launch tubes.The submarine patrols will include scores of new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) on the Type 094s. The submarines are also called Jin-class missile boats by the Pentagon.The missile submarine patrols, if carried out in 2014, would be the first timehttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png China conducts submarine operations involving nuclear-tipped missiles far from Chinese shores despite having a small missile submarine force since the late 1980s.The Washington Free Beacon first reported in August that China carried out a rare flight test that month of the JL-2, a missile analysts say will likely be equipped with multiple warheads.That test was carried out in the Bohai Sea near the northeastern coast of China, according to officials familiar with reports of the test.Defense officials said the JL-2 poses a “potential first strike” nuclear missile threat to the United States and is one of four new types of long-range missiles in China’s growing strategic nuclear arsenal.The Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center earlier this month published a reporthttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png on missile threats that identified the JL-2 a weapon that “will, for the first time, allow Chinese SSBNs to target portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast.” SSBN is a military acronym for nuclear missile submarine.The Pentagon’s most recent annual report on China’s military stated that Beijing’s Navy has placed a high priority on building up submarine forces.In addition to the three Type 094s currently deployed, China will add at least two more of the submarines before deploying a new generation missile submarine dubbed the Type 096, the report stated. It was the first time the Pentagon has revealed the existence of the follow-on strategic missile submarine.“The JIN-class and the JL-2 will give the PLA Navy its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” the Pentagon report said.


Indonesia prepares for Type 209 submarine construction.

Indonesia is preparing to build facilities in support of local shipbuilder PT PAL's planned licensed construction of the third of three South Korean Type 209 diesel-electric attack submarines, although IHS Jane's understands that the scope of Indonesia's involvement in the programme remains subject to negotiation. The facilities to license-build the submarines, which were ordered from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in December 2011, will be operated by state-owned PT PAL adjacent to its existing industrial plant in Surabaya, East Java. Secondary facilities are also expected to be constructed at the Indonesian Navy base in Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, which is scheduled to be commissioned later this year. The schedule to construct the submarine facilities has slipped several months due to administrative delays, but in a meeting with the Committee for Defence Industry Policy (KKIP) on 11 June, Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in comments published by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) that the programme would start "soon". He added that the industrial infrastructure to construct and maintain the submarines will be completed by 2015 or 2016 in line with Indonesia's objective to license-build the third submarine.

 

Canada’s submarine fleet never worked.

Most Canadians know the sad story of Canada’s second-hand submarines. Purchased from Britain in 1998 for a suspiciously low price, the four vessels have spent most of the last fifteen years being refitted and repaired. What most Canadians do not know is that the “Victoria-class” submarines are now entering the last decade of their service life. And since Canadian naval procurements typically take ten to fifteen years, Canada’s submarine program is destined to splutter to a stop. The problems began in 1994, after the British decommissioned the submarines but left them in saltwater. The vessels languished for four years awaiting a buyer, and another two to six years before Canada actually took possession of them. They suffered serious corrosion and, to this day, the diving depth of HMCS Windsor is restricted because of rust damage to her hull. In 2004, while HMCS Chicoutimi was en route to Canada, a fire broke out on board, leading to one death. The cause of the fire was seawater entering through an open hatch, which caused electrical short. The short occurred because the affected wiring had just one layer of waterproof sealant, instead of the three layers required by the construction specs. That same year, a maintenance error destroyed the electrical system on HMCS Victoria. After the accident, the Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the Navy spent “about $200,000 to buy old technology that mirrors what the sub’s British builders used,” equipment that one of the Navy’s own “electrical technologists” said “probably goes back to the ‘60s.” The vessel spent six years undergoing repairs. Last year, HMCS Windsor concluded a refit that was initially scheduled to take two years, but took five. Documents obtained by the CBC reveal the reason for the delay: “Every system … has major problems, … including bad welds in the hull, broken torpedo tubes, a faulty rudder and tiles on the side of the sub that continually fall off.” Then, last December, a defect was found in one of HMCS Windsor’s two diesel engines. The CBC reported that, as a result, the vessel’s diving depth was “severely restricted” and the Navy “forced to withdraw the sub from planned exercises off the southern U.S. coast.”Publicly, the Navy insists the submarines can be kept in service until 2030. Behind closed hatches, the admirals must know better. They must be desperate to replace a damaged and unreliable fleet. In 2006, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence wrote: “The Victoria-class submarines are approaching their mid-life point. As soon as the submarines are fully operationally ready, planning for their mid-life refits and eventual replacement should begin.”In 2010, the Department of National Defence produced a strategic plan, Horizon 2050, that anticipated “the possible re-emergence of inter-state maritime armed conflict … including the possibility that certain states will seek to deny others access to their maritime approaches.” It warned that: “Some adversaries will have the ability to employ more sophisticated area denial capabilities … using ‘high-end’ conventional or asymmetric capabilities such as advanced missiles or submarines.”That same year, a briefing note prepared for the Chief of the Defence Staff argued for new submarines because “in the event of global tensions these relatively cheap assets will counter projection of power and hinder freedom of movement and action.”When Defence Minister Peter MacKay was asked, in October 2011, whether the government might look at replacing Canada’s current submarines, he replied that submarines provide a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.”Yet curiously enough, there is no mention of submarines in the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, which extends to 2041 and foresees the expenditure of $33-billion on dozens of surface vessels. The omission cannot be excused on the basis that any new submarines would be built outside Canada and therefore fall outside the scope of the shipbuilding strategy. For two of the available options – the French-designed Scorpene and the German-designed U-214 – are already being built in countries that have purchased them. But there are three possible explanations. First, the Harper government has already decided to acquire new submarines, and is keeping the decision quiet because of the billions of dollars that would cost. Second, the government has decided to terminate Canada’s submarine program when the Victoria-class vessels reach the end of their service lives, and is keeping that decision quiet because of the billions of dollars it has already spent trying to rescue a failed procurement. The third and most likely explanation is gross mismanagement of the file. And if that is the case, the lack of a plan will result in the end of Canada’s submarine program – through neglect and obsolescence, rather than design.

 

Upgraded Alvin Sub Heads for West Coast.

On 25 May 2013, the R/V Atlantis will leave Woods Hole carrying the upgraded submersible Alvin, marking a major milestone in the sub’s USD41 million redesign. Both ship and sub are owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for the benefit of the entire U.S. ocean science community. They are expected to reach Astoria, Oregon, on 20 June 2013.

 In September 2013, Alvin will undergo the Navy certification process, making a series of progressively deeper dives off Monterey, California, USA. Once certified, the sub will be put through its paces in a science verification cruise in November 2013 to ensure all of its scientific systems are operational. Alvin is scheduled to return to service in December 2013. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and WHOI, the planning process for the sub’s upgrade began over a decade ago. In 2005, work was begun by Southwest Research Institute to design and forge a new titanium personnel sphere, one of the biggest technical challenges in the Alvin upgrade project. The sphere, which holds a pilot and two scientists, is designed to descend to 6,500 metres (21,000 feet or 4 miles) – depths that generate nearly 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure on the sphere. Construction of the sphere, which has 3-inch-thick walls, required more than 40,000 pounds of titanium. Identical hemispheres were forged and then welded together with an electron beam. Its interior diameter is 4.6 inches wider than Alvin’s previous sphere, increasing the interior volume from 144 to 171 cubic feet. With five viewports, it also has improved and overlapping fields of view for the pilot and scientists allowing for better observations and collaboration in selecting sampling sites. The personnel sphere underwent hydrostatic pressure testing in June 2012, and was successfully tested to the equivalent of 8,000 metres water depth. Although the new sphere is rated to depths of 6,500 metres, the sub’s dives will be limited to 4,500 metres until a second phase of the upgrade can be completed. Phase two hinges on the development of improved lithium ion battery technology and funding. Improvements made to the submersible during the Phase one upgrade include:

  • A new, larger personnel sphere with an ergonomic interior designed to improve comfort on long dives
  • Five viewports (instead of the current three) to improve visibility and provide overlapping fields of view for the pilot and two observers
  • New lighting and high-definition imaging systems
  • New syntactic foam providing buoyancy
  • Improved command and control system

Additional improvements were needed to the R/V Atlantis to accommodate the larger, heavier sub. Among the ship’s upgrades were a strengthened A-frame, which is used to launch and recover the sub, and alterations of the hangar where the sub is stored when not in use. The world’s longest-operating deep-sea submersible, Alvin was first launched in 1964. It has made 4,664 dives and played a role in a number of important deep-sea discoveries. Its 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. Its final series of dives before the current upgrade period were in the Gulf of Mexico exploring deep-sea biological communities near the site of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill.

 

Scandinavia’s nuclear threat: Where are the 130 operating reactors?

Elena Vasilieva – an expert at the All-Russian Institute of Environmental Expertise (“Eco Ex”) – confirmed the aforementioned figures in the report “Nuclear Kola Peninsula”, in which she calls the Murmansk region the world-leader in terms of nuclear facilities. The greatest threat to the inhabitants of Murmansk and Scandinavia, however, is the Russian Navy’s Red Banner Northern Fleet which is based on the Kola Peninsula. This nuclear submarine fleet is one of the most powerful of its kind in the world, with nuclear reactors and nuclear warheads on board. Nuclear submarines began to appear in the Murmansk region from the 1st of July 1958, which saw the transfer of the nuclear submarine K-3 “Leninskii Komsomol” to the Northern Fleet. Today, the Northern Fleet includes the following types of Nuclear Powered Submarines (NPS):

  • Ballistic Missile Submarines (different classes): Project 941 “Akula”, “Dmitry Donskoy”, “Arkhangelsk” (in reserve), “Severstal” (in reserve) – with two reactors with heat capacities of 190 megawatts each. Also, Project 667BDRM “Dolphin”, “Verkhoturye”, “Yekaterinburg”, “Tula”, “Bryansk”, “Karella”, “Novomoskovsk” – with two reactors each, with total heat capacity of 180 megawatts.
  • Submarine-launched missiles: Project 949A “Antey”, “Voronezh”, “Smolensk”, and “Orel”, with tow reactors of 190 megawatts each.
  • AKULA 1-class SSN:  Project 971 “Schuka-B”, “Pantera”, “Volk”, “Leopard”, “Tigr”, “Vepr”, and “Gepard”, with on reactor with a capacity of 190 megawatts.
  • SIERRA 1-class SSN: Project 945 “Barracuda” and “Kostroma” with one reactor of 180 megawatt capacity; Project 945A “Condor”, “Nizhny Novgorod”, and “Pskov” with one reactor of 190 megawatt capacity; Project 671-RTMK “Pike”, “Petrozavodsk”, “Obninsk”, “Daniel Moskovsky”, and “Tambov” with two reactors with a total capacity of 144 megawatts.
  • Special-purpose submarines – nuclear deep-water stations: Project 667BDRM “Orenburg” with two reactors with a total capacity of 180 megawatts; Project 667BDRM “Del’fin” BS-64 with two reactors with a total capacity of 180 megawatts; Project 1910 “Kashalot” AC-16, AC-19 with one reactor of 15 megawatt capacity; Project 1851 “Paltus” AC-23, AC-21, AC-35, which has a capacity of 10 megawatts per reactor.

In addition to this, there are three nuclear-powered missile cruisers “Admiral Ushakov”, “Peter the Great”, and “Admiral Nakhimov”, all with two reactors with a capacity of 300 megawatts each. The total strength of the Northern Fleet is comprised of 54 operating reactors with a total capacity of 7912 megawatts. To put this in perspective, the total power generated by the Kola Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is only 1170 megawatts. There are at the present moment seven nuclear power stations adrift in the Barents Sea – the danger and possible consequences of such a situation are far greater than those presented by any terrestrial power plant. Statistics concerning accidents and sunken nuclear-powered submarines would appear to confirm this risk – most accidents occur in the Northern Fleet.

  • In 1968 – an accident occurred with the nuclear submarine K-27, killing nine people.
  • In 1982 – a boat was flooded with nuclear fuel spilling from two reactors intended for disposal in the KaraSea
  • In 1970 – an accident occurred with the nuclear submarine K-8. The resulting fire in two of the submarine’s compartments killed 52 people. It sank in the Bay of Biscay.
  • In 1986 – an accident occurred with the nuclear submarine K-219 as a result of the explosion of a rocket in one of the mines. Four people were killed. The submarine sank near Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1989 – a fire started during combat duty on the nuclear submarine K-278 “Komsomoletz”, killing 42 people. The submarine sank in the Norwegian Sea.
  • In 2000 – an accident occurred on the nuclear submarine K-141 “Kursk”. A torpedo boat exploded during manoeuvres in the Barents Sea. All 118 crew members were killed.
  • In 2003 – an accident occurred on the nuclear submarine K-159 while it was being towed for disposal. It sank, killing nine people.

The list above does not even take into account accidents occurring on nuclear facilities which were not related to flooding: K-19 in 1961, K-8 in 1960, K-123 in 1982, K-129 in 1989 and many more. By way of comparison, only two nuclear submarines have sunk in the USA. All such incidents result in radioactive spills into the marine environment. Danger is also present in the fact that nuclear submarines carry nuclear charges. Two of the sunken submarines (K-8 and K-278) were carrying torpedoes with nuclear warheads. Only one submarine “Dmitry Donskoy” (a TYPHOON class SSBN) is equipped with the missile complex “Bulava” – six hypersonic warheads with a capacity of up to 150 kilotons each. By way of comparison, the power of the atomic bomb, “Little Boy”, which destroyed the city of Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945, was just 18 kilotons. The explosion of just one of the warheads of the “Dmitry Donskoy” is capable of destroying all marine life in the Barents Sea, rendering it completely unsuitable for human use. Not to mention the potential damage to coastal settlements. The use of these nuclear submarines and surface ships is always accompanied by the threat of nuclear contamination in the Barents Sea. There is no such thing as a safe nuclear reactor. Their use, even in normal mode, leads to the inevitable formation of radionuclide atoms, which are subsequently released into the environment. It is first of all necessary to look at tritium, its destructive influence on the genetics of living organisms and its ability to penetrate through all of the reactor’s protective layers. Not to mention the short- and long-lived radionuclide atoms and several other unknown and devastating consequences connected to the use of nuclear reactors. This is nature’s compromise – its gift to humanity of this huge power and energy comes at the ultimate cost of its own heath and life. The release of radionuclide atoms is taking place both at the surface and at various depths of the Barents Sea where nuclear submarines are permanently stationed: Zapadnaya Litsa, Gadzhievo, Polyarny, Vidyaevo, Gremikha, and Yokanga; in Guba Okol’naya, where missiles with nuclear warheads are loaded onto submarines; at the technical base for the Northern Fleet in Yokanga, where spent nuclear fuel is stored; in Zapadnaya Litsa, where radioactive waste is stored; and on the four ships engaged in nuclear service for the Northern Fleet, where there is both fresh and spent nuclear fuel and radioactive carriers. The “Nuclear Kola Peninsula” is comprised of nuclear-powered ice-breakers: “Russia”, “Soviet Union”, “Yamal”, “Fifty Years of Victory”, each with two reactors. Icebreakers – “Taimyr” and “Vaigach”, each with one reactor. Situated in the sediment are the nuclear ice-breakers “Lenin”, “Arctic”, and “Siberia”, each with two reactors. The floating base “Lepse” which holds spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, has become a global environmental problem. The total number of documented operating nuclear reactors stands at seventy, including ten vessels which are retired, spare or under repair. Data on the remaining 130 nuclear reactors, their location and their usage is basically non-existent. Given the past and present nuclear disasters, the more or less restricted access to information in the publications of the Russian State Agency on nuclear energy sources is insufficient for the purposes of Russian and international ecological organisations (and others) who wish to control nuclear energy. Part of the next instalment of the article series “Scandinavia’s nuclear threat” will be dedicated to the secret and mysterious nuclear facilities of the Kola Peninsula.

 

CIA Declassifies Recovery of Spy Satellite by The Trieste submersible.

 
http://www.sea-technology.com/e-news/0513/Trieste_S.jpgThe second mission of its kind was recently declassified by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), releasing documents regarding the collection of a Cold War-era spy satellite. Reaching a depth of 16,400 feet, the 1972 operation in the Pacific Ocean was the deepest recovery effort ever attempted at that time. The CIA's Historical Collections Division gave a presentation at the Naitonal Museum of the United States Navy on April 25 detailing the mission. Navy personnel who were a part of the project offered first-hand accounts of how the satellite was located and recovered. In July 1971, the Hexagon, a film-return satellite, lost one of its buckets as a parachute detached from the container and sent it plunging into the Pacific. The Navy's USS Trieste II, the only vessel with the capability to complete the recovery mission, began searching for the lost bucket in October of that year, along with its support ship and tug. Nine months after the satellite sank, the Trieste was able to pull part of the film container from the ocean. The bucket hit the ocean floor with such force that only 25 feet of film was recovered. The impact was so great that paint from the structure was transferred to the film, creating the sole image collected from the satellite, which showed only the number 300. The film was suspected to have contained images of denied areas that would have helped to determine an arms control regime between the U.S. and the USSR. The mission proved that deep-sea recovery was possible at a depth encompassing 80 percent of the world's oceans.
 
Vietnamese Submarines.

The first two of  six submarines for Vietnam are being completed in Russia. Due for delivery at the end of October 2013. The crews are being trained in Russia for operations, and in India for evacuation procedures.

 

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Viet Nam, PM Nguyen Tan Dung, Russia, submarines

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung inspects the progress of Viet Nam's Kilo-class submarine, which is being tested in Kaliningrad, Russia.

This is the first of six Kilo-class submarines that Viet Nam contracted to buy from Russia during Dung's visit to the country in 2009. Under the contract, the Russian side is also responsible for training sailors and supplying necessary equipment for the submarines. The Kilo-636 submarine, named Ha Noi, was built in Admiralty Verfi Shipyards in St Petersburg and is being tested near Svetlyi port in Kaliningrad. It has successfully made 23 test dives. Having a displacement of 3,000-3,950 tonnes, the submarine can operate at a maximum depth of 300m and at a range of 6,000-7,500 nautical miles for 45 days and nights with a crew of 52. It is said to have the quietest engine in the world, a great choice for reconnaissance work and patrols.  

 

 

Talking with sailors on board, the PM said he hoped they rapidly grasped the modern technology so they can master the vessel after it is transferred to Viet Nam. Captain Major Nguyen Van Quan thanked the Party, State and people for their care for the crew. Later, Dung told the Russian media that Kaliningrad was such a peaceful and hospitable city. He said the Vietnamese people would never forget the support that Russia had given them during their past struggle for independence. He said Russia's supply of submarines to Viet Nam was not only a trade deal but also reflected the friendship between the two countries.

 

Israel Navy launches $500m Dolphin submarine.

This submarine, the most expensive weapon ever procured by Israel, can carry nuclear missiles according to foreign reports. Israel Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg and Ministry of Defence director general Udi Shani today launched the new Dolphin submarine at Kiel Port in Germany. The submarine, named "INS Rahav", will cost $500 million, one third of which will be financed by Germany. The INS Rahav is the most expensive item ever procured by the Ministry of Defence. The INS Rahav will arrive in Israel in one year, after completing tests and is declared operational. The Navy and Ministry of Defence said that the INS Rahav is one of the most advanced submarines in the world, and that its long-range secret mission capability would extend the IDF's operational capabilities. According to the foreign media, the Dolphin-class submarines can also carry nuclear missiles. Israel will receive the sixth Dolphin-class submarine, also built by HDW Shipyards GmbH, in a few years. The defence establishment calls this cutting-edge submarine an "improved Dolphin". It will reportedly be delivered to the Navy in 2017 or 2018, and will also cost $500 million. The Navy does not talk much about the operations of its submarine fleet, which the defence establishment calls "Israel's very long arm". Former Navy Commander Vice Admiral (res.) David Ben-Bassat once told "Globes", "Doubling the submarine fleet will reflect Israel's recognition of the strategic depth of its maritime space and will give the Navy immense capabilities. The IDF's defence concept will be significantly improved and upgraded when it receives more submarines." Israel developed many of the Dolphin submarine's systems. Defence sources say that Germany is making reciprocal procurements from Israeli civilian and defence companies as part of the program.

 

€530m bill for Spain's 'sinking submarines'

€530m bill for Spain's 'sinking submarines'

 

A defence contract worth €2.2 billion has hit the rocks after tests showed that the "world's most modern" submarine would plunge straight to the bottom of the sea. Spain just spent $680 million on a submarine that can’t swim. One of Spain’s largest defense splurges may also be one of its most embarrassing. After spending nearly one-third of a $3 billion budget to build four of the world’s most advanced submarines, the project’s engineers have run into a problem: the submarines are so heavy that they would sink to the bottom of the ocean. Miscalculations by engineers at Navantia, the construction company contracted to build the S-80 submarine fleet, have produced submarines that are each as much as 100 tonnes (110 US tonnes) too heavy. The excess weight sounds paltry compared to the 2,000-plus tonnes (2,205 US tonnes) that each submarine weighs, but it’s more than enough to send the submarines straight to the ocean’s floor. Given the mistake, Spain is going to have to choose between two costly fixes: slimming the submarines down, or elongating them to compensate for the extra fat. All signs point to the latter, which will be anything but a breeze—adding length will still require redesigning the entire vessel. And more money on top of the $680 million already spent. Spain’s defense ministry, the government arm responsible for overseeing the project, has yet to say how much the setback will cost in both time and money. But Navantia has already estimated that its mistake will set the project back at least one or, more likely, two years. And the Spanish edition of European news site The Local reported that each additional meter added to the S-80s, already 71 meters in length, will cost over $9 million. It’s a costly mistake on many fronts. The state-of-the-art submarines were meant to be the first entirely Spanish-designed and built. Incompetence is likely going to cost the country at least some of the glory. Electric Boat, a subsidiary of US-based technology firm General Dynamics, has already evaluated the project and could be hired as a consultant to save the job.

Yellow Submarine.

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Old nuclear submarines to be scrapped.

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A new Russian nuclear submarine, Yuri Dolgoruky, seen in the water area of the Sevmash factory in the northern city of Arkhangelsk, Russia, 2 July, 2009. Russia will decommission and scrap two Cold War-era nuclear submarines, a navy official said on 21 May. The official told RIA Novosti the submarines, among the largest ever made, are too old to remain on active duty and too expensive to retrofit. The Severstal and the Arkhangelsk, both Project 841 (Typhoon-class) ballistic-missile submarines, based at Severodvinsk on the White Sea, will be withdrawn from the Navy by the end of 2013 and will begin to be dismantled. “This process is to be completed before 2018-2020 at the latest,” the source said. A third submarine of this class, the Dmitry Donskoy, has been modernised as a test platform for Russia’s new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, and will remain in service in that capacity for some time yet, the source said. Six Typhoon-class submarines entered service with the Soviet Navy in the 1980s, and remain the largest submarines ever built. Three have already been scrapped.

 

Teenager Builds Submarine Nautilus, Maybe North Korea Will Be Afraid?

Teenager Builds Submarine Nautilus, Maybe North Korea Will Be Afraid?

 

When American teenagers build submarines named after nuclear subs, maybe North Korea will be afraid of invasion? More seriously, eighteen-year-old Justin Beckerman has created a remote controlled cleaning machine, an airsoft car, and a helmet home theater. Now this teenager has built a submarine that can dive as deep as thirty feet. This teenager who builds submarines explains his motivation: “I wanted to see what I could build and figure out how I could build it. … It’s just going to be cool to be underwater.” Justin Beckerman spent six months building the submarine in his parents’ basement for an estimated cost of $2,000. This teenager’s custom built submarine is named the Nautilus after the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine. But Kim Jong-Un need not overly worry. The body of the submarine is made from a giant drainage pipe, the motor from a small fishing oat, and the dome is a sky light. Ballast tanks allow this teenager’s submarine to dive and rise. An audio and video based communications system and ultra-bright lights allow Justin Beckerman to explore the depths of his local lake. Then again, that sounds about as advanced as some of the photoshopped pictures from North Korea. Justin Beckerman’s parents were obviously concerned about safety since the original submarines tended to sink rather than swim. Although this teenager built his submarine essentially out of spare parts, he’s not very concerned: “There are a lot of safety features. There are pumps.  There’s also a breathing hose so that if it does flood, you could breathe for about 20 minutes or so off of a tank of air.” What do you think of this teenager building his own submarine called the Nautilus?

 

Royal Navy diver's logbook offers fascinating insight into life on World War One submarine that sank.

The forgotten logbook of a former Royal Navy diver has revealed fascinating details about a unique World War One submarine that sank over 80 years ago as the result of a simple failure to secure the door. The faded diary of Plymouth-born Albert ‘Bob’ Smale who, as a 23-year-old recently-qualified Navy Diver participated in a year-long salvage operation to raise the world’s very first underwater aircraft carrier, HMS M2, has been found by his family. Lee Smale, 62, of Plymouth, Devon, the youngest son of four children born to Bob and Gladys Smale remembers his father’s logbook from childhood. The forgotten logbook of a former Royal Navy diver Bob Smale by his son Lee (pictured) has revealed a fascinating insight into attempts to raise a unique World War One submarine that sank over 80 years ago

The fading diary was rediscovered by the family of Plymouth-born Naval diver who participated in a year-long salvage operation to raise the world's very first underwater aircraft carrier, HMS M2

 

The fading diary was rediscovered by the family of Plymouth-born Naval diver who participated in a year-long salvage operation to raise the world's very first underwater aircraft carrier, HMS M2.

 

It reveals that the World War One submarine that sank over eighty years ago as the result of a simple failure to secure the door

 

It reveals that the World War One submarine that sank over eighty years ago as the result of a simple failure to secure the door . All of the vessel's 60-strong crew lost their lives in the tragedy - believed to be a direct consequence of a failure to secure the submarine's hangar doors before diving. 'The logbook had always been in the family but it we’d never really given it much thought,' he said. 'He died in 1968 but it was only when we began sorting through my mother’s things when she moved into sheltered accommodation that it resurfaced. 'But looking through all his belongings and coming across the logbook again the family recognised its significance.' The M2 was one of four ‘M’ class submarines put into service during WW1 and following the cessation of hostilities was modified to carry a small two-seater Parnell Peto biplane.  Intended for aerial reconnaissance during advance scouting missions, the aircraft had hinged wings to allow it to fit within a specially designed watertight hangar. Launched by hydraulic ‘catapult’ the Peto, on its return was recovered via a deck-mounted crane.  As a 23-year-old recently-qualified Navy Diver he participated in a year-long salvage operation to raise the world¿s very first underwater aircraft carrier. On January 26, 1932 during a routine training exercise off West Bay, Dorset, after advising her support vessel of her intention to dive, all contact with the M2 was lost and the submarine disappeared without trace. A major search ensued but with her position unknown it was eight days before the M2’s location was eventually discovered.  All of the vessel’s 60-strong crew lost their lives in the tragedy - believed to be a direct consequence of a failure to secure the submarine’s hangar doors before diving. Lying upright on the seabed at a depth in excess of 30 metres, the Royal Navy salvage team, hindered by the strong tidal currents that swirled around the M2, worked around the clock for 11 months to seal the hull prior to filling the vessel with air to refloat the stricken submarine. But as the salvage attempt reached its final stage, and only six metres from the surface, a heavy gale resulted in the operation being aborted and the M2 dropped back down to the seabed. The neat handwritten pages of the logbook initially record Mr. Smale’s diver training, but further examination revealed a passage dedicated to the M2 salvage work carried out by himself and his colleagues. Under a heading entitled 'M2 Salvage” Mr. Smale describes the 'method of sealing hatches with cement.' 'Hatch is closed down and then a layer of small bags filled with cement is placed on top, and then a few buckets of loose cement is put on to fill in the spaces between bags.' The logbook also contains a detailed hand-drawn illustration of the submarine showing its position, features and amendments prior to the failed lifting operation. The difficulties of working at such a depth, contending with strong tides, poor visibility and bad weather while dressed in the heavy brass helmets of the era are also conveyed in detail in a collection of newspaper cuttings pasted among the book’s pages. The Dorset Daily Echo reported: 'He has an electric torch swung around his neck. 'The feeble illumination of this helps him when the torch is held close, but his principal asset is a sense of direction acquired by experience and that astonishing sensitiveness of touch which utter darkness gives to a diver as to a man who is blind.'

 

The M2 was one of four ¿M¿ class submarines put into service during WW1 and following the cessation of hostilities was modified to carry a small two-seater Parnell Peto biplane. Pictured is the HMS M2 in action

 

The M2 was one of four ¿M¿ class submarines put into service during WW1 and following the cessation of hostilities was modified to carry a small two-seater Parnell Peto biplane. Pictured is the HMS M2 in action.

 

Intended for aerial reconnaissance during advance scouting missions, the aircraft had hinged wings to allow it to fit within a specially designed watertight hangar

 

Intended for aerial reconnaissance during advance scouting missions, the aircraft had hinged wings to allow it to fit within a specially designed watertight hangar.

 

Launched by hydraulic 'catapult' the Peto, on its return was recovered via a deck-mounted crane

 

Launched by hydraulic 'catapult' the Peto, on its return was recovered via a deck-mounted crane.

'My dad had quite a varied and distinguished career,' continued Lee who also has a certificate in recognition of his father’s mention in dispatches during the Wanhsien Incident on the Yangtze River, China in 1926. Bob Smale was a contemporary and close friend of Lionel 'Buster' Crabb (pictured), the Royal Navy frogman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances at the height of the Cold War. Going on to achieve the rank of Petty Officer, Bob Smale was a contemporary and close friend of Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb, the Royal Navy frogman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances at the height of the Cold War. Lieutenant Commander Crabb, came to prominence for his pioneering work in underwater bomb disposal during WW2 and while he had all but retired by 1955 just a year later he was recruited by M16 to investigate an advanced propulsion system used by the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze during the vessel’s visit to the United Kingdom. On the evening of April 19, 1956 Crabb descended into the murky waters of Portsmouth Harbour on what was to be his final mission and was never seen again. Several months later the headless and handless corpse of a diver was discovered floating in a nearby harbour, but this was not the end of Commander Crabb’s story. At the inquest into Crabb’s disappearance, the coroner’s report suggested that the body was in all probability that of the missing 47 year-old OBE and George Medal holder - despite to the lack of firm evidence which could have been provided by fingerprints or dental records. Unsurprisingly various theories abounded as to Crabb’s fate: he was killed by a Soviet sniper; eliminated by M15 or even defected to the USSR to head their military diving team. With her protected status as a War Grave, the wreck of HMS M2 has now become popular dive site with recreational scuba divers. Allowed to dive her remains on a 'ook-but-don't-touch' basis, the modern day diver can observe the M2's final resting place, just as Bob Smale did over eighty years ago. However, Lee Smale is adamant that his father’s friend didn’t die on that fateful night. 'He and my father were apparently very close and he told members of the family at the time that he didn’t believe for one minute that Crabb was dead.' With her protected status as a War Grave, the wreck of HMS M2 has now become popular dive site with recreational scuba divers. Allowed to dive her remains on a ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ basis, the modern day diver can observe the M2’s final resting place, just as Bob Smale did over eighty years ago.

Migaloo Submarine.

Designers build latest toy for the super-rich: the 115m submarine yacht with helipad and a swimming pool that moves below deck when submerged. The vessel has been named Migaloo after an albino whale. Designers came up with concept to satisfy demand from super-rich. If you're a Bond villain - or just super-rich - you could be in the market for one of these. Here is a yacht that will give any owner that sinking feeling - because it is also a submarine. Austrian-based yacht design studio Motion Code: Blue developed it as a design study of a six deck, 115 metre long private white yacht, called Migaloo and named after an albino whale. The studio came up with an extraordinary design concept to satisfy the ever raising demands from super-rich yacht owners who want to stand out from the crowd. 

 

The yacht that's also a submarine: The Austrian-based yacht design studio Motion Code: Blue developed it

The yacht that's also a submarine: The Austrian-based yacht design studio Motion Code: Blue developed it.

 

The studio came up with an extraordinary design concept to satisfy the ever raising demands from super rich yacht owners who want to stand out from the crowd

 

The studio came up with an extraordinary design concept to satisfy the ever raising demands from super rich yacht owners who want to stand out from the crowd. The hull of the 11 metre wide Migaloo is identical to current submarines. Only the tower is custom designed, which means it is longer and wider to host a light flooded main room followed by a wide staircase including a centered , round elevator shaft. The enormous aft deck allows for lounge areas, sun beds, a bar, an 8 metre by 3 metre pool as well as a helicopter pad.  When Migaloo is submerged, all furniture is put away in large storage areas underneath the granite decking while the pool's bottom raises up to the main deck level. The foredeck is fully dedicated to the owners' privacy, hosting a full-beam private lounge. More lounge areas, a private bar and access to the two-level-owners' suite are directly underneath the foredeck. A telescopically extendible roof provides shade and follows perfectly the contour lines of the hull when closed.

 

The hull of the 11 meter wide Migaloo is identical to current submarines

 

The hull of the 11 meter wide Migaloo is identical to current submarines. The company says it's very likely to travel amongst school of whales heading into the deep while having a cup of tea and a good chat in the main saloon. The hull and tower are equipped with large windows of special pressure-proof glass to offer a breathtaking view especially when Migaloo is submerged. A spacious sun lounge on top of the tower completes the common amenities onboard a super yacht. The lounges are accessible via two wide stairways from the main deck or from all interior deck levels via the lift. The telescopically extendible roof provides shade and will also be closed when the owner prefer to dive with the yacht. For the crew, the design studio has planned an outdoor helm station on the forward top of the tower when the vessel travels above the water line. Otherwise the spacious bridge and all necessary technical rooms hosting the equipment to control the submarine are right underneath the tower in the hull. The hull's design and dimensions are inspired by existing submarines. They are aid to offer extra ordinary space for the owner and his guests, which are accommodated in eight VIP-suites on sub-decks two and three. The design studio has planned an outdoor helm station on the forward top of the tower when the vessel travels above the water line. The spacious bridge and all necessary technical rooms hosting the equipment to control the submarine are right underneath the tower in the hull The owner has his or hers private-full-beam-quarters over two decks on sub-deck one and sub-deck two. Other luxury appointments include a cinema room, a library, a gym and a gaming room. Four wide side hatches two on each side, can be transformed into enormous beach terraces. A spacious dining area next to the saloon on sub-deck one and the adjoining beach terrace give luxurious access to the water.  Lounges and a Jacuzzi enhance this area while a comfortable ladder connects the beach club with the main deck above for easy access to the water on these two decks. Removable sun sails on each deck guarantee pleasant sun protection. All tenders and toys can be stored in the beach club or on the deck below, so the transport of a wide range of additional vehicles is possible.  Sub-deck four is entirely reserved for the crew quarters including crew mess, laundry and crew gym while the main galley is positioned on sub deck two underneath the dining room.  The hull and tower are equipped with large windows of special pressure-proof glass to offer a breathtaking view especially when Migaloo is submerged. All windows are surrounded with underwater lights to provide stunning views when the yacht goes deeper. Communication and especially navigation is provided by common and well tested technologies and the hull is designed to reach a maximum depth of 240 metres. The company says it's very likely to travel amongst school of whales heading into the deep while having a cup of tea and a good chat in the main saloon. A spokesman for Motion Code:Blue said: 'Migallo was the result of intense research and the firm's excellent knowledge of the current yacht market. 'An increasing number of clients have exactly such special demands on the design as main points in their briefing for their designers, so the studio's intention was to offer a stunning design concept especially for people who are willing to expand the borders of imagination.' Managing directors Christopher Gloning and Christian Gumpold had the original idea which was, to transform the well known and tested shape of current submarine designs into a private yacht. They wanted it to offer state-of-the-art luxury experience of same sized super yachts while having the huge benefit to submerge the whole vessel to travel and/or stay secretly and in total privacy underneath the waterline without any external disorders. The studio has recently completed several projects featuring both production yachts and super yachts currently under construction and has worked for yachts in Asia, Europe and the USA.

 

Deepsea Challenger Headed for WHOI.

 

 

While he works on his next film, James Cameron has not only left his Deepsea Challenger to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, he has also given them about $1 million in a growing partnership to advance marine exploration. The Deepsea Challenger's camera and lighting system is able to take high-resolution, 3D pictures at depths with little to no visibility. This system will be installed in one of WHOI's vessels, the Nereus, as it prepares for a 2014 expedition to the Kermadec Trench, 10 kilometers below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. National Science Foundation is funding the project, which will cost more than $1 million for the six-week venture. Trenches below 6 kilometers deep are a relatively unexplored area of the oceans. The high pressure in these regions require subs that are designed for the environment. The structure of the Deepsea Challenger has materials engineered to add strength to the hull without adding weight to the vessel. It also has a pressurized cockpit and system for converting moisture from the pilot's breath and sweat into drinking water. Cameron has stressed the importance of helping scientists research the ocean floor through first-hand experiences, but unmanned vehicles will most likely be necessary as well for the exploration of trenches. the Deepsea Challenger is set to arrive in Massachusetts in June.  The vessel is scheduled to come right after WHOI's new Center for Marine Robotics opens, a department geared toward researching marine technology.

 

Submersible videotapes deep-sea life in South China Sea.

High-definition video images acquired by Chinese submersible Jiaolong show brown mussels dotting the area around the cold vent some 1,500 meters under water during its manned dive mission in the South China Sea, scientists said Tuesday. Zhou Huaiyang, professor of the School of Marine and Earth Science at Tongji University, became the first scientist to work on the sub as a crew member during a dive conducted on Tuesday. Zhou said the quality of the images obtained during the dive is the best ever achieved in extreme oceanic conditions using domestically produced equipment. "The discovery of multiple sea bed dwellers, such as mussels and pilumnus crabs, will help to support further research concerning the deep-sea biosphere, gas hydrate resources and climate change," Zhou said. A cold vent is an area of the ocean floor where hydrogen sulfide, methane and hydrocarbon-rich fluid seepage occurs, according to Feng Dong, a researcher from the South China Sea Oceanic Institute under the China Academy of Social Science. "Cold vents are a current focus in scientific circles, as they can give us information on potential gas hydrogen resources, climate change and extremophilic organisms," Feng said. The Jiaolong's cold vent samples will help support research on deep-sea biospheres, according to Feng. Scientists have described the Jiaolong manned deep-sea submersible's role in oceanic research as being of great significance following Monday's commencement of a four-month trial mission. The submersible also completed a deep-sea dive in the South China Sea on Monday. It was unloaded from the Xiangyanghong 09 oceanographic vessel and began its dive around 10 a.m., returning to the vessel around 4:30 p.m. The submersible and its crew of three dove to a depth of about 1,400 meters during the dive. The crew included Ye Cong, chief designer of the Jiaolong and an employee of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp., Yang Bo, a researcher from the Institute of Acoustics under Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Liu Kaizhou from the Shenyang Institute of Automation under the CAS. Liu Feng, chief commander of the mission, said the success of the dive confirmed the submersible's ability to perform reliably. "We arrived at a sea bed located at a depth of 1,400 meters, then moved uphill until we found a cold vent," said Ye, who also piloted the craft. The Jiaolong has an edge in accurate sampling, as its mechanical arms enable it to collect samples more precisely, said Yang Qunhui, a professor from Tongji University. "We expect that the Jiaolong can be used to cultivate biological samples on the sea bed, as the high pressure and temperature of the deep sea make it an ideal environment for in-situ cultivation," Yang said. In June last year, the submersible set a new dive record after reaching a depth of 7,062 meters in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. The current mission marks the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it goes into regular operation. The submersible left the city of Jiangyin in east China on Monday to begin a 113-day-long mission that will include experiments designed to test its positioning system, as well as biological surveys and geological sampling to be conducted in the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

ALVIN REFIT.

 

Over the course of 4400 dives, Alvin has done just about everything. Its recovered lost nukes, explored the ruins of the HMS Titanic, and upturned our understanding of the deep sea with the discovery of hydrothermal vents bustling with unimaginable forms of life. But after 48 years of service, the venerable ROV is starting to show its age, and is quickly being eclipsed by newer models. That’s the story, at least, until Alvin gets $US40 million in upgrades and becomes the world’s premiere deep submergence vehicle once again. Alvin is the longest-serving deep submergence vehicle (DSV) on Earth. When it first entered active service in 1964, Alvin was nothing short of revolutionary. Designed as a replacement for earlier, less-mobile bathysphere technologies, the 7m long, 15-tonne manned submersible offered researchers the unprecedented opportunity to explore 4500m below the surface. Its 1.8m diameter personnel sphere offered just enough space to cram in two researchers and a pilot, while a trio of 13 cm-wide viewing ports allowed for at least a bit of scientific rubbernecking. However, as Cindy Van Dover, a former Alvin pilot describes to Nature, “sometimes it was a great view, but often it wasn’t, so you’d end up watching a video of what the pilot was doing.” And in the past few years, France, Russia, Japan, and China have all fielded research vessels with capabilities exceeding Alvin’s. Well, that just won’t do. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), operators of the Navy-owned vessel, is currently in the first of a two-phase, $US40 million upgrade to bring Alvin back up to par. This first phase, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, will include a bigger personnel sphere, cut from 15.5 tons of titanium with 18 per cent more interior space. Three new 18cm viewing ports will join the existing set. Researchers will be able to record more of their dives thanks to the addition of high-output lighting and HD cameras as well as a new work basket that effectively doubles its carrying capacity. Alvin will be more manoeuvrable as well, receiving a new command and control system, stronger thrusters, as well as revamped syntactic foam — which provides buoyancy and structural rigidity when compressed at depth. When Phase Two begins by 2015, Alvin will be completely retrofitted to withstand the immense pressure 6,500 meters of water exerts on a hull, opening up 98 per cent of the seafloor for exploration. (Only China’s 7000m rated Jaolong will be able to dive deeper. This second round of improvements will also see Alvin’s antiquated lead-acid batteries swapped out for lighter, higher-capacity stacks that should extend its maximum dive time from 10 to 12 hours.

 

Second-hand,  and Used  Submarines.

The tourist submarine business is highly specialized and tourist submarines themselves are technically unique. There are a number of used vehicles on the market currently, and we represent all of them. Pre-owned submarines and submersibles can certainly be a bargain when compared to new construction. Yet, it is important to recognize that operating older, obsolete equipment may not be as productive in task completion, satisfaction and economics. Tourist submarines are relatively recent in terms of design and because they are quite expensive there can be some real benefit to operating pre-owned equipment which is often 50% of the cost of new construction. The utilization of a pre-owned tourist submarine can decrease the economic barrier to entry, improve profits or allow for a reduction in ticket prices. Used deep submersibles represent older technology with most of the available vessels having been built prior to 1980. Today, contemporary submersibles with diving depths of 1000 meters or less generally have transparent acrylic pressure hulls which makes them much more attractive for observation. Used civil diesel electric submarines are very rare. The luxury submarine market is in its infancy and it will likely be several years before pre-owned vehicles become available on the open market. The utilization of a pre-owned tourist submarine has the advantage of reducing initial capital costs and can also provide an almost immediate return on investment if the vessel is placed in passenger carrying service quickly. Both advantages are significant considering that new construction typically takes at least 18 months, and new vehicles cost upwards of 50% more than their used counterparts. However, buying a used submarine requires an expert technical evaluation, and often also requires a refurbishment program to maximize vehicle reliability and maintain classification status. Operational economics heavily favours larger vehicles whose revenues can easily exceed the base-line infrastructure and operational staff costs. Currently, there are very few vehicles left on the used market. So if you can't find what you're looking for here, call us  or e-mail to enquire, as availability frequently changes. We can also arrange to build you a state-of-the-art contemporary tourist submarine from steel or acrylic.

 

Underwater Hotel Planned for Fiji

 

A new luxury hotel is set to open 40ft underwater off the shore of a private island in Fiji. Located in a lagoon, Poseidon Undersea Resort will feature 25 underwater suites and 58 island villas above water. The project is the brainchild of L. Bruce Jones, CEO of US Submarines. The underwater resort will house a restaurant, bar, gym and an underwater wedding chapel. Above the water there will be a spa, tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course as well as a range of restaurants and bars.The resort will be accessible via an elevator from the shore. Guests will also have access to four personal submarines provided by the resort as well a 16-passenger submarine for trip to nearby reefs. A thick acrylic window will envelop 70 per cent of the guestrooms, promising unparalleled views of sea life.The official opening date has yet to be confirmed.

 

 

First Scorpene submarine ready by 2014.

The first of the six Scorpene submarines ordered by the Indian Navy from French firm DCNS in 2005, as part of the technology transfer between the two countries, will be rolled out by 2014, France's top diplomat in India said today. "The first submarine would be ready by 2014, heralding an important and strategic tie-up between both the nations on the defence front", said Francois Richier, Ambassador of France in India, adding the rest of five submarines would be delivered every subsequent year. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/images/pixel.gif "Such kind of submarines are important for Indian Navy considering the long coast it has to guard", he said. Richier is in Goa to visit French Destroyer 'FNS Montcalm' which is here as the part of training exercises with the Indian Navy. The six Scorpenes are being constructed at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL) in Mumbai under Project-75 under technology transfer from French firm DCNS. The government approval for construction of the six submarines was accorded in September 2005 at a total cost of Rs 18,798 crore and the contract was signed in October that year. The project cost was revised to Rs 23,562 crore in February 2010, along with revision in delivery schedule. "The induction of Scorpene submarines would enhance Indian Navy's capabilities to conduct exercises in the open sea. These are the last generation of conventional submarines", a senior French naval officer said. Designed for coastal defence against under-water threats, the 1,750-tonne submarine-submarine-killer (SSK) Scorpene is 67 meters in length and can dive to a depth of 300 meters. ccording to French naval officials, the submarine can stay at sea for 45 days with a crew of 31. The standard version has six torpedo tubes and anti-shipping missile launchers.

 

North Korea Builds A Better Submarine.

April 16, 2013: North Korea recently imported 660 kg (1,452 pounds) of silver from China, which is a lot of silver ($600,000 worth) for poverty stricken North Korea. A popular interpretation is that the silver is for batteries used on the larger number of an improved version of its Sang-O (Shark) class mini-sub. All the new ones appear to be armed with torpedoes (in two torpedo tubes). North Korean admirals now believe that the Sang-Os could be a decisive weapon against American and South Korean ships. This move was apparently the result of the success in using an older version of Sang-O in 2010 to sink a South Korean corvette. North Korean naval commanders were impressed with the subsequent discussion by South Korean and American navy officials about the difficulty in dealing with such small subs. It appears that North Korea decided to build a lot more of these small subs. The 250 ton Sang-O is actually a coastal sub originally developed for special operations (commando transports). The original design is a 34 meter (105 feet) long boat with a snorkel and a top submerged speed of 17 kilometers an hour (or 13 kilometers an hour when at periscope depth using the snorkel to run the diesel engines). Top surface speed is 13 kilometers an hour. Max diving depth is 150 meters (465 feet) and the boat is designed to rest on the ocean bottom (useful when trying to avoid enemy search). There is a crew of 15, plus space for either six scuba swimmer commandos, or a dozen men who can go ashore in an inflatable boat. Sang-Os have two torpedo tubes, which can also carry mines or just supplies. Some of the early models had no torpedo tubes, enabling them to carry more people or cargo. Max endurance is about eight days. The new model is 39 meters (121 feet) long and is believed to have a max submerged speed of 27 kilometers an hour and several other improvements. Over 50 Songs have been built so far, and one was captured by South Korea when it ran aground in 1996. At least a dozen are of the new model and a dozen or more are apparently under construction. This is one of the few ship building operations underway in North Korea.

 

Global submarine market worth $14.4 billion in 2013.

The global submarine market is estimated to be worth $14.4 billion this year and will grow to $21.7 billion by 2023, according to a new report, showing compound annual growth of 4.2% over the next decade. The report, entitled Global Submarine Market 2013-2023 - Analysis for the $14.4 Billion Industry, covers the market for SSNs (nuclear powered attack submarines), SSBNs (nuclear powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines) and SSKs (conventionally powered submarines). The global expenditure on SSNs is expected to account for a major share of approximately 41% during the forecast period, the report said. The remaining expenditure is accounted for by SSBN and SSK with shares of 33% and 26% respectively. A significant number of countries such as the US, the UK, Germany, France, and India are currently in the process of replacing their existing fleet of submarines. Most of these submarines are being retired as they have reached the end of their operational cycle. Additionally, Soviet era submarines currently in use by countries such as Russia, India, and China need to be replaced. The demand for modern submarines creates a lucrative opportunity for suppliers across the world. The market for submarines in the Western world drastically reduced after the end of the Cold War and those possessing substantial submarine building capabilities are virtually self-sufficient in this regard, the report noted. However BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries and the developing economies of Southeast Asia are becoming financially able to fund a cost consuming submarine capability. China, with its anti-access strategy and its claim to the South China Sea, and North Korea, with its belligerent attitude, has triggered the demand for submarines in the Far East. Regional rivalries among countries such as India and Pakistan, and Greece and Turkey, and the push for general modernization are seen as drivers for the submarine market worldwide. The global submarine industry requires skilled labour to design submarines and provide maintenance and upgrades throughout its operational life. However, budget cuts have led to a shortage of skilled professionals such as reactor engineers and scientists, causing a resource crunch within the industry. The UK's submarine industry is currently facing a 14% shortage of civilian safety experts and a 7% shortage of submarine reactor engineers, largely due to a lack of defence budget allocation. The decreased demand for submarines in the West and the increasing number of technologically advanced sub-systems included in these vessels means that no single industry would be able to develop and sustain a submarine manufacturing base, the report said. This has gradually resulted in consolidation in the industry. There is also increasing collaboration on joint development and production activities amongst firms. For example American firms Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat jointly produce the Virginia-class submarines.

 

China Buys Some New Subs.

China has ordered four Russian Lada class diesel-electric submarines. This came a month after Russia revived development of the Lada, and that came a year after cancelling its Lada class boats. Russia will now develop Lada as part of a joint effort with an Italian firm (Fincantieri) to create the S-1000 submarine, as well as other export versions of Lada. The S-1000 actually began as the Russian Amur 950 design. This was to be one of the export versions of the Lada but the collaboration with the Italians will transform the Amur 950 into the cheaper (less than $200 million each) S-1000 class submarine. While Fincantieri has never built subs (just destroyers, aircraft carriers, and patrol craft), it is one of the largest ship builders in Europe and has access to a lot of Western military technology. This is what has attracted the Russians, and apparently the Chinese as well. The S-1000 will have a crew of only 16. Top submerged speed is 26 kilometers an hour. There are six torpedo tubes and an AIP (air independent propulsion) system to extend underwater endurance to 15 days or more. In place of eight torpedo reloads, the S-1000 can carry a dozen commandoes instead. Construction on the first Lada began in 1997, but money shortages delayed work for years. The first Lada boat was finally completed in 2005. A less complex version, called the Amur, was offered for export. There were no takers, until the recent Chinese order. The Ladas have six 533mm torpedo tubes, with 18 torpedoes and/or missiles carried. Lada was developed in the 1990s, as the successor to the Kilo class, but it was decided over the last few years that there was not enough difference between the Lada and the improved Kilos being built. So Lada/Amur was cancelled last year. One Lada was built and another is partially completed and will probably be finished. The Russians are hoping that the S-1000 will spark interest in the various Amur designs. The largest of these is the Amur 1650, which is basically the Lada with some top-secret Russian equipment deleted. This is apparently what the Chinese are buying. The Lada has a surface displacement of 1,750 tons, are 71 meters (220 feet) long, and carries a crew of 38. Each crew member has their own cabin (very small for the junior crew, but still, a big morale boost). When submerged the submarine can cruise at a top speed of about 39 kilometers an hour (half that on the surface) and can dive to about 250 meters (800 feet). The Lada can stay at sea for as long as 50 days and can travel as much as 10,000 kilometers using its diesel engine (underwater, via the snorkel). Submerged, using battery power alone, the Lada can travel about 450 kilometers. There is also an electronic periscope (which goes to the surface via a cable) that includes a night vision capability and a laser range finder. The Lada was designed to accept an AIP (air independent propulsion) system. The Ladas are designed to be fast attack and scouting boats. They are intended for anti-surface and anti-submarine operations as well as naval reconnaissance. These boats are said to be eight times quieter than the Kilos. This was accomplished by using anechoic (sound absorbing) tile coatings on the exterior and a very quiet (skewed) propeller. All interior machinery was designed with silence in mind. The sensors include active and passive sonars, including towed passive sonar. Russian submarine designers apparently believe they can install most of these quieting features into improved Kilos, along with many other Lada features. The Kilo class boats entered service in the early 1980s. Russia only bought 24 of them but exported over 30. It was considered a successful design, especially with export customers. But just before the Cold War ended in 1991, the Soviet Navy began work on the Lada. This project was stalled during most of the 1990s by a lack of money but was revived in the last decade. Russia has 17 Kilos in service (and six in reserve) and six Improved Kilos on order. More than that is on order from foreign customers. Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy has been designing and building a rapidly evolving collection of "Song" (Type 39) class diesel-electric submarines that emphasize quietness. The changes have been so great that the latest four Songs have been called Yuan class (Type 39A or Type 41). The original design (Type 39) first appeared in 2001, and 13 have been built. But in 2008, a noticeably different Type 39 appeared. This has been called Type 39A or Type 41. Two of these Type 39As appeared before two of another variant, sometimes called Type 39B, showed up. The evolution continues, and there are now six or seven "Type 41 Yuan Class" subs (of at least three distinct models). These latest models appear to have AIP (air independent propulsion system) along with new electronics and other internal improvements. This rapid evolution of the Type 39 appears to be another example of China adapting Russian submarine technology to Chinese design ideas and new technology. China has been doing this for as long as it has been building subs (since the 1960s). But this latest version of what appears to be the Type 41 design shows Chinese naval engineers getting more creative. Two or more Yuans are believed to have an AIP that would allow them to cruise underwater longer. Western AIP systems allow subs to stay under water for two weeks or more. The Chinese AIP has less power and reliability and does not appear to be nearly as capable as Russian or Western models. The Chinese will keep improving on their AIP, just as they have done with so much other military technology. The Songs look a lot like the Russian Kilo class and that was apparently no accident. The 39s and 41s are both 1,800 ton boats with crews of 60 sailors and six torpedo tubes. This is very similar to the Kilos (which are a bit larger). China began ordering Russian Kilo class subs, then one of the latest diesel-electric designs available, in the late 1990s. The first two Type 41s appeared to be a copy of the early model Kilo (the model 877), while the second pair of Type 41s appeared to copy the late Kilos (model 636). The latest Yuans still appear like Kilos but may be part of an evolution into a sub that is similar to the Russian successor to the Kilo, the Lada. The Type 39s were the first Chinese subs to have the teardrop shaped hull. The Type 41 was thought to be just an improved Song but on closer examination, especially by the Russians, it looked like a clone of the Kilos. The Russians now believe that the entire Song/Yuan project is part of a long-range plan to successfully copy the Kilo. If that is the case, it appears to be succeeding. China currently has 13 Song class, 12 Kilo class, 7 Yuan class, and 18 Ming (improved Russian Romeo) class boats. There are only 3 Han class SSNs, as the Chinese are still having a lot of problems with nuclear power in subs. Despite that, the Hans are going to sea, even though they are noisy and easily detected by Western sensors. Five Hans were built (between 1974 and 1991) but 2 have already been retired. There are 4 newer Shang class SSNs in service, but these are still pretty noisy. The Song/Yuan class subs are meant to replace the elderly Mings. The four Ladas will give Chinese submarine builders some ideas and goals for future subs of this type.

 

Deadly Secrets.

For more than a decade Russia has been restoring the heavy security on military matters that characterized the Soviet period (1921-91). But many naval officers are protesting the heavy-handed security because in the past that has meant that details of naval mishaps were not distributed and that prevented experienced sailors from making suggestions that could prevent the same problem from causing another bad accident. This syndrome was particularly harmful when it came to nuclear submarines. For a long time the Soviets did not even admit to the public when a nuclear sub was lost. This changed, shortly before the Soviet Union fell apart. The first public announcement of a sub loss was in 1986, when the public was told that the K-219 had sunk in the Atlantic. Earlier losses were not made public until the 1990s when, for a few years, the government granted unprecedented access to many of its archives. It was during this period that the public found out about the 1983 sinking of the submarine K-429 in the Pacific. Many naval officers, after seeing these records for the first time in the 1990s, noted that the lack of openness led to design and operational flaws in the nuclear submarine force being noted in accident reports but not resulting in many changes (because of secrecy). Some Russian nuclear subs had so many accidents, often involving the same systems, that their crews truly considered them cursed. For example, Russia's first SSBN (ballistic missile submarine), the K-19, was finally sent to a shipyard for decommissioning and dismantling in 2002 after a long, disaster filled, career. Many sailors considered that dismantling long overdue. The K-19's tribulations began on its 1961 maiden voyage and were so horrendous that the details did get out, and a movie was actually made about it. In that movie one sailor was heard to call the K-19 "cursed." He was right. The K-19 went on to suffer so many mishaps that sailors nicknamed the boat "Hiroshima." Eight sailors died in the 1961 incident from radiation sickness. In 1969, K-19 collided with an American sub in the Barents Sea. In 1972, an onboard fire killed 28 of the crew. There were also fires in 1978 and 1982, but no one died in those. There were numerous other minor incidents. K-19 was taken out of active service in 1990, and docked at a remote Pacific base for over a decade. It wasn’t until the 1990s, after the Soviet Union fell apart, that the world was told how horrendous the Soviet nuclear submarine program had been. Before the 1990s, all most people knew details about was the American nuclear submarine program, which was the best run and safest on the planet. This began back in 1952, with the construction of the first nuclear powered sub, the USS Nautilus. Completed in 1955, the Nautilus served until 1980, at which point it became a museum ship. Since the Nautilus, over 400 nuclear subs have been built, most of them (over 60 percent) Russian. As was their custom the Russians went for quantity rather than quality. As a result of this, some 80 percent of those Russian boats have since been retired. Not only did Russian subs wear out quickly but they were not able to get to sea as often as their Western counterparts. When they did get to sea they had more problems with radiation and reactor reliability. The realization of how dangerous (to everyone) Russia's nuclear submarine fleet was led to an international effort to safely decommission over a hundred obsolete, worn out, defective, or broken down Russian nuclear subs. This effort has been going on for nearly a decade and was driven by the Russian threat to just sink their older nuclear subs in the Arctic Ocean. That might work with conventional ships but there was an international uproar over what would happen with all those nuclear reactors sitting on the ocean floor forever. Russia generously offered to accept donations to fund a dismantling program that included safe disposal (of the nuclear reactors). The current Russian fleet of nuclear subs is tiny, and the Russians would rather keep them tied up at dock most of the time. The crews can do a lot of training at dockside and only go to sea a few times a year, to check on their state of training. Given the number of accidents their subs have had in the past decade, the training the crews are getting now is not sufficient. Only the U.S. and Britain were able to build nuclear subs that could stay at sea regularly and for long periods. French nukes were nearly as reliable but the Chinese built nuclear boats have, so far, been of lower quality than three decade old Russian designs. India is also in the midst of getting its first generation nuclear subs operational, and it has been rough going. While nuclear subs are a much feared weapon, they have gone sixty years with only one instance of combat. That was in 1982, when a British SSN sunk an Argentinian cruiser (the former World War II era USS Phoenix). Nuclear subs have been much more active in espionage work. While not as flashy as sinking other ships, it is dangerous, demanding, and rewarding work. Most of these efforts during the Cold War are still secret.

 

Vietnam to receive two Russian submarines.

A source from Russia's Admiralteyskie Verfi Shipyard on March 28 confirmed that the first two submarines, in the total of six atomic submarines being built at this shipyard, will be transferred to Vietnam later this year or in early 2014.

 

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The source said, Admiralteyskie Verfi has built two 636 submarines, of which the first is scheduled for completion this summer and it will be tested and handed over this September. The second ship will be tested this May and will be checked and taken over this year end. Admiralteyskie Verfi will transfer the entire six 636 submarines to Vietnam before 2018 under a contract signed in 2009 within the framework of the visit to Russia by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. The contract also stipulates that Russia is obliged to train Vietnamese officers and sailors who operate 636 submarines, and provide technical equipment and spare parts required for this type of submarine.

 

China Plans Manned Submersible 2013 Missions.

The manned submersible 'Jiaolong' will conduct scientific trial missions between June and September 2013. The four months of missions, which will include research in the South China Sea and the northeast Pacific Ocean, mark the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it starts regular operation, the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research & Development Association, an agency of China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) informed Xinhua. The Jiaolong completed a record dive of 7,062 meters in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench in June 2012, demonstrating that it has the ability to allow China to conduct deep-sea scientific research and resource exploration in 99.8 percent of the world's oceans. However, it appears that the Jiaolong is not yet ready for regular operation, as its mother ship has yet to be built and its oceanauts and maintenance team still need training.

Russian Navy develops mini submarines.

Russian shipbuilders are developing new "super mini" submarines, the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) state holding company said Friday. Work on the sea craft was in progress at the St. Petersburg-based Malakhit naval machine manufacturing bureau and that Navy command has been showing interest in the project, the company's vice president Igor Zakharov said. Alexander Terenov, an advisor to Malakhit's general director, said the Project 865 Piranha submersible (NATO reporting name Losos) could go beyond just "hit and run" operations. "They have a broad range of applications and can carry full-fledged missile and torpedo systems," Terenov said. He said the Piranha could also be deployed for the protection of naval installations, and would be operated by small crews and cost little to maintain. Piranha is a midget submarine designed for special operations and is almost completely silent. Only two Piranha-class submarines were reportedly ever built in Russia.

 

 

Underwater Vandals Damage Japanese Midget Submarine.

Vandals have damaged the wreck of a Japanese midget submarine in Sydney Harbour and made off with protected relics. The submarine, known as the M24, is a key piece of Australian World War II history and was one of three midget submarines that entered Sydney Harbour on May 31, 1942. It's believed divers entered the protected zone around the shipwreck and broke off and removed propeller blades and relics, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. One of the three submarines was blown up by its occupants after getting tangled in the boom net across the harbour. The M24 followed and fired torpedoes at the cruiser USS Chicago but instead hit the HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 naval personnel. It then disappeared until 2006, when scuba divers discovered its wreck off a Sydney beach.

 

Russia’s fifth-generation submarines to feature stealth technology.

The distinguishing feature of Russia’s newest, fifth-generation submarines will be stealth rather than higher speed or greater depth capabilities, Vladimir Dorofeyev, head of the Malakhit Design Bureau, said.“It is quite possible that new technological solutions will appear to protect submarines from detection,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti. The fifth-generation submarine will acquire new capabilities through close interaction with other components of the Armed Forces, including surface warships, warplanes, spacecraft, satellites, as well as other submarines, based on an integrated information space, he said. He added, however, that the incorporation of submarines, alongside surface warships and warplanes, into a single communications system is at odds with the idea of a “stealth vessel,” insofar as the sheer exchange of information is a “telltale sign.” “But that is a field that requires serious scientific-technical research,” Dorofeyev said Rubin Central Design Bureau head Igor Vilnit said on Monday work is in progress on fifth-generation nuclear-powered and diesel submarines. The new submarine will have a service life of about 50 years, he said. The fifth generation will be distinguished by its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.

 

B.C. company launches personal mini-submarines.

 

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A North Vancouver business has made it possible for wannabe secret agents and marine biologists to explore the depths of coastal waters in their own personal luxury submarines. Each made-to-order “Spymaster OrcaSub” comes with a hefty $2-million price tag, but creators at Nuytco Research say there’s more of a demand than one might think. “When you consider that there are people out there with $20-million and $30-million yachts, it’s not that big a jump,” Nuytco Research founder Phil Nuytten said. The two-person mini subs are 22 feet long with business-class style seating and 360-degree viewing domes, a news release states. Operators can dive to 2,000 feet below sea level. They take six months to build at the company’s North Vancouver location. With a narrow fuselage and wing-mounted thrusters, the submarines look far more like airplanes. But one doesn’t need to be a pilot to figure out the controls. “We had George Lucas’s 12-year-old daughter in one of the subs,” Nuytten said. “We wanted to see how long it would take her to figure out the controls. It was like 20 minutes.” Nevertheless, the company provides buyers with a five-day training course before they’re released to roam deep, dark waters and underwater lairs.

Submarines – A Short History.

 

 

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The adjective submarine means "under the sea" while the noun is a shortened form of submarine boat, a vessel capable of independent operation underwater. While the name usually signifies large, crewed vessels, it can also refer to smaller boats like midget submarines, remotely operated vessels or robots working under the sea. Today's submarines developed from early inventions like the Diving Bell and the Bathysphere.

Early Submarines.

With the human race's fascination for exploration, it soon became clear that divers were not able to survive at depths necessary to explore the oceans. The Diving Bell was one of the earliest inventions to facilitate underwater work and exploration. First described by Aristotle in the 4th century BC and used by Alexander the Great to explore the Mediterranean, it was not until 1535 that Guglielmo de Lorena designed and used what is considered the first modern diving bell. Consisting of a rigid chamber used to transport divers to great depths, there were two types, the wet bell and the closed bell. The wet bell was a chamber, open at the bottom, suspended by cables and housing a small number of divers. Water pressure kept the air trapped inside the bell. The divers could not move it, nor could it operate independently because of being tethered. The closed bell had two parts; a sealed unit which was the chamber where the divers lived and a bell which could be locked on and off the chamber and which transported the divers to their destination. Surprisingly we have to go back to 1620 to find the first moving submersible, although it was not capable of independent movement. Built by Dutchman, Cornelius Drebbel, working for James I of England and designed by mathematician William Bourne, its purpose was underwater exploration and it was propelled by oars. In 2002 a two-person copy of was built for the BBC's "Building the Impossible" and was rowed under water at Dorney Lake at Eton. It was not long before the military potential of submarines was recognised and in 1648 Bishop John Wilkins of Chester mentioned the submarine's strategic advantages in his "Mathematicall Magick". These included:-

  • Ability to travel invisibly to any coast without discovery.
  • Safety from tides, tempests, ice, pirates and robbers.
  • A useful tool against naval enemies.
  • A means of conveying supplies secretly to anywhere accessible by water.
  • A vehicle for conducting underwater experiments.

The Bathysphere was a much later invention, designed in 1928 by the American Otis Barton for studying underwater wildlife. Setting several world records for the deepest dive by a human, it consisted of a hollow sphere with windows made of fused quartz and an entrance hatch which was bolted down before submersion. Oxygen was supplied from high pressure cylinders inside the vessel while CO2 and moisture were absorbed by pans of calcium chloride and soda lime inside the walls. Cables lowered and raised it and provided telephone communication between divers and surface. By the end of the 19th century subs had been adopted by several navies. They were widely used in World War I for attacking enemy surface vessels or other submarines, blockade running and reconnaissance. Civilian uses included marine science, salvage, exploration and inspection and maintenance. They also had specialised functions like search-and-rescue, undersea cable repair and archaeology.

Submarine Design.

Traditionally submarines were cylindrical in shape, with conical or hemispherical ends. Their "working" section was a vertical structure, usually in the middle of the vessel, which housed the communications and sensing devices and the periscopes. Americans call this the "sail" while in Europe it is known as the "fin". In early vessels there was a separate pressure hull above the main body, called the "conning tower", from which short periscopes could be used. The first simple fixed periscope using mirrors was built in 1854 but was superseded by a prismatic version in 1861, after which they were regularly used in submarines. The propeller was located at the rear, along with hydrodynamic control fins and ballast tanks. Some of the specialised smaller submarines varied significantly from this design. The wide variety of submarine types ranges from one or two-person vessels that can stay under water for a few hours, to larger versions capable of submersion for as long as six months at a time.

Some Notable Submarines.

  • The Turtle.
    This was the first military submarine and the earliest one capable of independent underwater operation. Built in America in 1775, it held one person and used screws for propulsion. It was designed for use against the British Royal Navy as a means of attaching explosive charges to ships in harbour.
  • The Alligator.
    This was the first U.S. Navy submarine, launched in 1862 and was the first submarine to use compressed air and an air filtration system. Although initially propelled by hand powered paddles, it was soon converted to a screw propeller powered by a hand crank. It was the largest American Civil War submarine, measuring 14 metres by 1 metre.
  • The Plongeur.
    This was the first submarine not relying on human propulsion. It was launched by the French in 1863 and used a compressed-air engine. Air was stored in 23 tanks taking up a huge amount of space and resulting in the vessel measuring a massive 43 metres in length. It was armed with a torpedo and a ram to break holes in enemy ships.
  • Ictineo II.
    Designed in 1864 in Spain, it was the first submarine powered by an air independent engine, measured 14 metres, held a crew of two and could remain submerged for two hours. The double-hulled vessel solved many of the pressure and buoyancy control problems which had bothered earlier subs.
  • Nautilus.
    In 1870 the fictitious Nautilus, which figured in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, was more advanced than any real submarine and inspired inventors worldwide to improve on the current designs.
  • Fenian Ram and Holland VI.
    Launched in 1881, Fenian Ram was the first submarine designed by the Irish inventor John Philip Holland, using internal combustion engines on the surface and electric battery power when submerged. Its successor Holland VI was launched in 1897 and purchased by the United States Navy; their first commissioned submarine. Holland submarines were the first mechanically powered subs to be put into service by the navies of Great Britain, Japan Russia and the U.S.
  • U-boats.
    World War I saw submarines making a significant impact. German U-boats were responsible for sinking Britain's Lusitania, which was one of the reasons for the U.S. entering into the war. Their tactics were to operate primarily on the surface using their regular engines, then submerging to attack using battery power. In cross-section they were triangular with a keel to minimise rolling when on the surface. During the war U-boats were responsible for sinking more than 5,000 Allied ships.
  • Submarine Aircraft Carriers.
    These were developed between the two world wars and equipped with waterproof hangar and steam catapult to launch and recover small seaplanes. They acted as a reconnaissance unit ahead of the fleet in the days before radar. By World War II Germany had the largest submarine fleet and used it with devastating effect, but with technical advances like radar and sonar the Allies were able to detect their positions, attack them and route their convoys around them.
  • The Russian Typhoon Class.
    Named "Akula" meaning "Shark" by the Russians and "Typhoon" by NATO, these were the biggest ever built measuring 175 metres in length and 23 metres in width. They were nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines used by the Soviet Navy in the 1980s and were quieter and more manoeuvrable than their forerunners. They had six torpedo tubes for launching a variety of torpedoes, missiles and mines. They could stay submerged for at least 120 days and incorporated civilised living conditions for their crews. They featured multiple pressure hulls which made them much wider than traditional subs. Two pressure hulls were positioned parallel with each other with a third above them and two more for the torpedoes and steering gear. This made them much safer than the older types of vessel, as even if one of the hulls was breached, the crew could remain safe and there was far less risk of flooding. They patrolled under the Arctic ice cap from where they could surface to launch their missiles, safe from enemy subs and anti-submarine forces. They reached the end of their service in 2012 when the Russians decided that modernising them would be too expensive.
  • The Borei Class.
    These 4th generation nuclear-powered missile submarines were introduced to replace the Typhoon. They have a more compact and hydrodynamically efficient hull and use pump-jet propulsion for the first time. They are smaller than the Typhoon at 170 metres long and 13 metres wide, with a submerged speed of about 46 kilometres per hour and can carry 16 missiles.

 

 

Submarines just one  of drug trafficking latest innovations.

 

global03

 

Colombia—Stacked along one edge of the Bahia Malaga naval base is what authorities call “the museum”—a long row of impounded vehicles that chart the evolution of the drug-trafficking industry. There are the lumbering fishing boats that used to run marijuana in the 1970s and 1980s, Miami Vice-era “go-fast” boats, and an entire fleet of manned and unmanned semi-submersibles. But the crown jewel of the display, and the stuff of drug-enforcement nightmares, is a fully functional narco-sub. Built in the jungle, the hulking blue submarine can carry 8 tons of cocaine and is similar to the nation’s own tactical sub, with one addition: This one has indoor plumbing. Discovered last year in the dense mangroves that make this region a smugglers’ paradise, the submarine—technically a “snorkel sub”—can hit speeds of 12 to 15 knots and travel 8,000 miles. That’s more than enough to make it to the coast of California and back, said Capt. Nelson Hernandez. Designed to travel 32 feet below water with only a small intake valve protruding, it would have been virtually undetectable if it were launched, he said. “With this kind of technology we might see a huge flow of drugs, or guns or anything heading north,” Hernandez said. As the United States wages the war on drugs, this stretch of Colombia’s Pacific coast is the Silicon Valley of narco-innovation. When the trafficking industry develops new maritime technology to stay ahead of the law, this is often where it appears first. For years, smugglers have been using semi-submersibles, which glide just below the water’s surface leaving no wake and a weak radar signature. Authorities began busting them in the late 1990s, but a local port manager in nearby Buenaventura recalls seeing the first one in the 1980s. But full-fledged submarines are relatively new. Only three have been found in South America in recent years—two in Colombia and one in neighboring Ecuador. A fourth, much earlier, version was discovered in Colombia’s capital in 2000. In Senate testimony last year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Chief of Intelligence Rodney Benson said the advent of “self-propelled fully submersible vessels...underscores the incredible lengths drug traffickers will take to move their product.” About 60 percent of Colombia’s submersible busts relied on intelligence sources and investigative work—not technology like radar, Hernandez said. Authorities have impounded 23 semisubmersibles and detected 96 over the years. Countless others have been scuttled by traffickers to keep from being caught, Hernandez said. For the vessels that make it away from the Colombian shores, an intelligence center in Key West, run by the US Southern Command, guides Coast Guard and DEA agents to suspect boats in collaboration with Central American law enforcement. While the submarine may be the most dramatic innovation, it’s not the only one. Tucked between the vessels at the “museum” are what look like steel torpedoes—or what officials here call “unmanned submersibles.” The torpedoes are streamlined containers that can carry several tons of cocaine and be towed behind an inconspicuous fishing vessel or attached to the hull of a boat. If the traffickers suspect they are about to be raided, they simply cut it loose. “About a month ago, we noticed that they were starting to use electronic beacons on the unmanned submersibles,” Hernandez said. The technology allows smugglers to ditch their cargo and recover it days or weeks later. Capt. Ricardo Benitorevollo is a submariner in the Colombian Navy and has studied the narco-sub carefully. He said the machine has sophisticated submersion and trim controls, a ballast management system and central AC. When they discovered it, it was loaded with packages of caustic soda, suggesting the machine also was going to have an oxygen scrubber. He estimated it might cost $2 million to build. Asked how it compared to Colombian subs, he said it was very similar to the Navy’s tactical sub but had more amenities. On the Colombian sub, officers have to go on deck to use the bathroom. The narco-sub has an interior bathroom. There’s also another difference, he said: “Their beds are bigger.”

 

Iran is producing explosive mini-submarines.

Iranian production lines are turning out a new type of speed mini-submarine customized for combat against the US and other Western navies present in Persian Gulf waters. On the principle of asymmetric warfare, the new pint-sized Iranian submarines are light in weight and able to dart nimbly around large vessels to explode on contact with their floating target. Their pilots are bent on suicide. These mini-subs are designed to complement the 2,000 Revolutionary Guards’ explosive speedboats.

 

China Buying Russian Submarines.

State arms exporter Rosoboronexport has signed a framework agreement with China on the joint development and construction of four non-nuclear Amur-1650 conventional submarines for the Chinese Navy, a news report said Thursday. The final contract is tentatively worth $2 billion and is expected to be signed by the parties no earlier than 2015, Kommersant reported. The agreement stipulates for two of the submarines to be built in Russia and two in China, with special provisions in place in the contract to ensure that no intellectual property is copied from the Russian side, a source close to Rosoboronexport told the business daily. An additional agreement for the first stage of work could be signed by the end of the year, he said, adding that a Russian contractor had not yet been selected for construction of the submarines. China may become the first buyer of the Amur-1650 submarines, beating out India and Venezuela, both of which previously expressed interest, Kommersant said. Another source close to the arms exporter said the submarine contract "is very important for Russia and tops the presidential list of projects with China."

 

http://img.koreatimes.co.kr/upload/news/100419_p05_1.jpg

 

North Korean submarines have posed and will pose a grave threat to the security of South Korea both in the peacetime and wartime,'' the researcher said. "As it has done in the past, the North is expected to continue to use the western waters as a major flashpoint for conflicts with the South."  The North Korean Navy consists of two fleet headquarters in the East and West Sea, 13 squadrons, and two maritime sniper brigades under the Naval Command. The North's Navy is believed to operate about 650 vessels, including 70 submarines -- 1,800-ton Romeo-class, 370-ton Sang-O (Shark)-class, 90-ton Yugo-class and midget submarines with a weight of five to 10 tons -- which are capable of placing mines and attacking South Korean vessels.  About 60 percent of the vessels are deployed in forward naval bases.

Who's to Blame?

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/img/special/100419_p05_2.jpg

The Romeo class consists of Soviet diesel-electric submarines built in the 1950s. The North's Navy is believed to operate Romeo-class submarines that are both locally assembled with Chinese parts and directly imported from China.  The 76-meter-long sub can sail at 15.2 knots surfaced and 13 knots submerged. It can carry 21 anti-ship/anti-submarine torpedoes or 28 mines. Defence Minister Kim Tae-young said earlier that he didn't believe the Romeo-class sub was the culprit of the March 26 ship sinking, citing the ship's slow speed and the shallow water in the West Sea. Most experts have suspected that Sang-O class subs could be blamed for the incident that has left 38 South Korean crewmen dead and eight others missing. The 34-meter long, 3.8-meter wide Sang-O class is equipped with four Russian 53-65KE (533mm) torpedoes and is also capable of mine-laying. The sub with a crew capacity of five to 10 is known to be mainly used by special forces in infiltrating areas or laying mines. It is believed to be capable of conducting underwater operations for up to 20 days without refueling. The sub has a speed of 8.8 knots. North Korea's Navy is believed to have built 17 to 22 Sang-O class submarines in the 1990s. A Sang-O class sub was found stranded off the waters of Gangneung in the eastern Gangwon Province in 1996. Rep. Kim Hak-song, chairman of the National Assembly's Defence Committee, claimed earlier this month that South Korean intelligence had detected that Sang-O class submarines were active around the time when the Cheonan sank on the night of March 26 after an unexplained explosion. Kim revealed that Sang-O class submarines stationed at a naval base in Bipagot, just north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), had maneuvered between March 23 and 27, and one of the subs had disappeared from surveillance systems. The 20-meter-long Yugo class is comprised of four midget submarines used primarily for infiltration and espionage by North Korea. The class is so named because it was built from plans supplied to North Korea by Yugoslavia in 1965.  It has a submerged displacement of 90 tons and has a speed of 10 knots surfaced and 4 knots submerged. The sub has a capacity of four to six people and two 406 mm torpedoes.  A Yugo submarine was detected and captured off the waters of Ganghwa Island on Nov. 20, 1998, while it was attempting to infiltrate spies, who subsequently escaped back to the North. North Korea is believed to have 30 Yugo class submarines. South Korean authorities say the possibility of a semi-submersible's involvement in the Cheonan sinking remains low given the high seas and waves in the West Sea. A mini-submarine does not have the capability to carry torpedoes that could have destroyed the 1,200-ton Cheonan, they say. North Korea has 5 to 11 five-ton mini-submarines armed with two 320mm torpedoes. They can carry seven to eight people.

 

New Russian SSBN Submarine Enters Service.

January 15, 2013: A year ago Russia announced that its SSBNs (nuclear powered ballistic missile boats) would resume long range "combat patrols" within a year. On schedule the Russian Navy finally accepted its first new Borei class SSBN (Yury Dolgoruky) for service last December 30th. Thus it appears that the newly commissioned Yury Dolgoruky will be the first Russian SSBN in many years to make a long range cruise. The Russians will probably not announce this until it’s all over, lest something go wrong at sea. A second Borei is undergoing sea trials and is expected to enter service next year. A third Borei class boat is just beginning sea trials this month. In recent years, there have been only about ten nuclear submarine patrols a year, each lasting three months at most and usually a lot less. Most have not gone far from Russian waters and some were by recently built SSNs (nuclear attack subs) or SSGNs (SSNs equipped with cruise missiles) and not by SSBNs. The problem here was that the Russian Navy has not only shrunk since the end of the Cold War in 1991 but it has also become much less active. Much of the time at sea consisted of short range training missions, which often lasted a few days, or just a few hours. But the true measure of a fleet is the "combat patrol" or "deployment." In the U.S. Navy most of these last from 2-6 months and in the last decade U.S. nuclear subs have carried out ten times as many patrols as their Russian counterparts. Currently, Russia only has 15 SSBN (nuclear ballistic missile sub) boats in service and not all of them have a full load of missiles. Some lack full crews or have key systems in need of repair. Twelve of the SSBNs are Delta IVs, which are overdue for retirement and rarely go to sea. Russia has only 15 modern, 7,000 ton, Akula SSNs (nuclear attack subs) in service. Actually, three are in reserve, for lack of moneyhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png and crews, and another has been leased to India. The Akulas began building in the late 1980s and are roughly comparable to the American Los Angeles class. All of the earlier Russian SSNs are trash and most have been decommissioned. There are also seven SSGN (nuclear subs carrying cruise missiles) and 20 diesel electric boats. There is a new class of SSGNs under construction but progress, and promised funding increases, have been slow. Currently, the U.S. has nine of the new, 7,700 ton, Virginia class SSNs in service, five under construction and 19 more planned. The mainstay of the American submarine force is still the 6,100 ton Los Angeles-class SSN. Sixty-two of these submarines were built, 42 of which remain in front-line service, making it probably the largest class of nuclear submarines that will ever be built. The Seawolf-class of nuclear attack submarines stopped at three from a planned class of twenty-nine. The 8,600 ton Seawolf was designed as a super-submarine, designed to fight the Soviet Navy at its height. Reportedly, it is quieter going 40 kilometers an hour than the Los Angeles-class submarines are at pier side. The peak year for Russian nuclear sub patrols was 1984, when there were 230. That number rapidly declined until, in 2002, there were none. Since the late 1990s, the Russian navy has been hustling to try and reverse this decline. But the navy budget, despite recent increases, is not large enough to build new ships to replace the current Cold War era fleet that is falling apart. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, most of the ship building money has gone into new nuclear subs. Six Akulas have been completed in that time, but the first two of a new generation of SSBNs, the Borei class was delayed by technical problems, a new ballistic missile that wouldn't work, and lack of money. The first three Borei class boats, after many delays, are finally ready for service and ended up costing over two billion dollars each. The ballistic missile for the Borei was just approved last year and there won't be enough of them to fill all the Borei silos for a year or more. The Russian admirals made their big mistake in the early 1990s, when the dismantling of the Soviet Union left the second largest fleet in the world with only a fraction of its Cold War budget. Rather than immediately retire ninety percent of those ships, Russia tried to keep many of them operational. This consumed most of the navy budget and didn't work. There were too many ships, not enough sailors and not enough money for maintenance or training at sea. The mighty Soviet fleet was quickly turned into scrap or rusting hulks tied up at crumbling out-of-the way naval bases. While Western nuclear subs can last for about thirty years Russian models rarely get past twenty. That means two new SSN or SSGN have to be put into service each year to maintain a force of forty boats. Unless the sub construction budget get billions more dollars a year, that is not going to happen. Right now, the priority is on producing a new class of SSBNs (five more Boreis are planned or under construction). These Boreis are essential because they carry SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles) that provide a critical (they are much harder to destroy in a first strike than land based missiles) portion of the nuclear deterrent. The rest of the Russian armed forces, like most of the navy, is in sad shape and unable to resist a major invasion. Only the ICBMs and SLBMs guarantee the safety of the state. So the way things are going now, in a decade or two, Russia will end up with a force consisting of a dozen SSNs and a dozen SSBNs. The current fleet of nuclear subs is tiny and the Russians would rather keep them tied up at dock most of the time. The crews can do a lot of training at dockside, and only go to sea a few times a year to check on their state of training. Given the number of accidents their subs have had in the past decade, the training the crews are getting now is not sufficient.

Deep-sea Submersible Purchase by OceanGate.

 

File Deep-sea Submersible

Deep-sea Submersible 'Lula'.

 

OceanGate Inc. provider of deep-sea manned submersible solutions, buys 3-person, diesel-electric submersible 'Lula'f rom Portugal's Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation. The submarine, which can operate at a depth of 500 meters (1,640 feet), was purchased to meet the increased demand for manned submersibles in commercial applications focused on biological and environmental surveys, monitoring, and inspection. Having conducted hundreds of dives during her 10-year operating history, Lula will expand OceanGate's ability to meet growing industry client demands, helping fulfill contracts for the University of Washington on behalf of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research.  Lula will also supplement OceanGate's Antipodes submersible in performing survey, inspection, and monitoring work in the Gulf of Mexico. The submersible is equipped with a five-function manipulator and accompanying sampling box, which together allow for in-situ sampling of marine objects, core sampling for geologic research, and collection of diverse data sets. As a direct observation platform, Lula offers excellent visibility and outstanding opportunity for clients doing monitoring and inspection work. Her 1.5-meter diameter hemispherical viewing dome delivers a wide field of view. In addition, Lula is outfitted with state-of-the-art illumination systems, video and photo equipment, and pre-installed oceanographic data sensors. Lula's diesel-electric power system permits direct sailing to dive sites, thereby requiring minimum surface support, and enables efficient international mobility, furthering OceanGate's global reach. Her ease of mobility translates to significant cost savings, as large crews and surface support vessels are not required. "Lula's power system provides long range capabilities which help extend our expeditions, and her depth rating of 500 meters will be valuable in a multitude of commercial applications," states Stockton Rush, co-founder and CEO of OceanGate.  "She fits well into our commitment to cost-effective, manned submersible alternatives for commercial clients, and will help us to rapidly expand our exploration activities around the globe."

 

Too Many Sub Targets.

On January 8th the Colombian Navy captured its first drug smuggling submersible vessel of the year. This one was 18 meters (56 feet) long and capable of carrying over four tons of cocaine. It had been abandoned at sea and was towed back by a Colombian Navy ship to try and find out what happened. Last year the Colombians captured eight of these. Naval forces from the United States and other nations along the Pacific coast and the Caribbean caught even more. But the detection system, run mainly by the United States, locates a lot more of these cocaine subs than there are warships available to run them all down.  For two decades the United States has used a special interagency (Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, and Defense) and international (over a dozen nations participate) intelligence sharing/analysis operation (Joint Interagency Task Force-South) to track drug smuggling from South America. For the last decade the task force has become quite expert at tracking the submarines and submersibles built in South America for smuggling cocaine to North America and, recently, all the way to Europe. Some of these long range subs are apparently going all the way from Ecuador to the United States, bypassing the Mexican cartels (who have been fighting each other, in a big way, for the last five years). Particularly worrisome are the larger boats headed for Europe. Little is known about these, expect that they exist. These subs would be more at risk of being lost because of accident or bad weather than being spotted. European navies (especially Portugal and Spain) and coast guards have been alerted and are looking. Despite losing over a hundred of these vessels to the U.S. and South American naval forces (and dozens more to accidents and bad weather), the drug gangs have apparently concluded that the subs are the cheapest and most reliable way to ship the drugs. It's currently estimated that over 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States leaves South America via these submarines or semi-submersible boats. Most of these craft are still "semi-submersible" type vessels. These are 10-20 meter (31-62 foot) fiberglass boats, powered by a diesel engine, with a very low freeboard and a small "conning tower", providing the crew (of 4-5), and engine, with fresh air and permitting the crew to navigate. A boat of this type was, since they first appeared in the early 1990s, thought to be the only practical kind of submarine for drug smuggling. But in the last decade the drug gangs have developed real submarines, capable of carrying 5-10 tons of cocaine that cost a lot more and don't require a highly trained crew. These subs borrow a lot of technology and ideas from the growing number of recreational submarines being built. The Colombian security forces and other Latin American navies have been responsible for most of these vessel captures. Usually these boats are sunk by their crews when spotted but the few that were captured intact revealed features like an extensive collection of communications gear, indicating an effort to avoid capture by monitoring many police and military frequencies. The Colombians have captured several of these vessels before they could be launched. In the last few years the Colombians have been collecting a lot of information on those who actually build these subs for the drug gangs and FARC (leftist rebels that provide security and often transportation for moving cocaine). That includes finding out where the construction takes place. Colombian police have arrested dozens of members of gangs that specialized in building submarines and semisubmersible boats. As police suspected, some of those arrested were retired or on active duty with the Colombian Navy (which operates two 1970s era German built Type 209 submarines). These arrests were part of an intense effort to find the people responsible for building subs for cocaine gangs. Find the builders and you stop the building efforts. In this case it has only delayed some construction and made it more expensive to build these boats. Ecuadoran police found the first real diesel-electric cocaine carrying submarine three years ago. It was nearly completed and ready to go into a nearby river, near the Colombian border, and move out into the Pacific Ocean. The 23.5 meter (73 foot) long, three meter (nine feet) in diameter, boat was capable of submerging. The locally built boat had a periscope, conning tower, and was air conditioned. It had commercial fish sonar mounted up front so that it could navigate safely while underwater. There was a toilet on board but no galley (kitchen) or bunks. Submarine experts believed that a five man crew could work shifts to take care of navigation and steering the boat. The boat could submerge to about 16 meters (50 feet). At that depth the batteries and oxygen on board allowed the sub to travel up 38 kilometers in one hour or at a speed of 9 kilometers an hour for 5-6 hours. This would be sufficient to escape any coastal patrol boats that spotted the sub while it moved along on the surface (its normal travel mode). The boat could also submerge to avoid very bad weather. The sub carried sufficient diesel fuel to make a trip from Ecuador to Mexico. There was a cargo space that could hold up to seven tons of cocaine. The sub was captured where it was being assembled and a nearby camp for the builders appeared to house about fifty people. A lot of evidence was collected, and apparently the U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) used that to develop clues about who was involved. It was the DEA that put together the pieces that led to identifying key people. The Ecuadoran boat was the first such sub to be completed but not the first to be attempted. Back in the 1990s, Russian naval architects and engineers were discovered among those designing and building a similar, but larger, boat. However, that effort did not last, as the Russian designs were too complex and expensive. It was found easier to build semi-submersible craft. But more and more of these new type subs are being found.

 

Chinese PLA Submarine Database.

created by Sid Trevethan

Class Name

Type

Total in Service for Spring of Year

Fleet Assignment

 

 

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

North

East

South

Type 094

SSBN

0

0

0

1

1

1

2

0

0

0

Type 093

SSGN

1

1

2

2

3

3

4

1

0

0

Xia 092

SSBN

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

Han 091

SSN

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

0

0

Kilo III (AIP)

SS

0

0

0

0

0

3

6

0

0

0

Kilo II (636)

SS

2

2

6

10

10

10

10

0

2

0

Kilo I (877)

SS

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

0

2

0

Song II (039G)

SSG

6

7

7

9

9

11

11

0

4

2

Song I (039)

SSG

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

0

Ming III (035AIP)

SS

6

6

6

6

6

6

6

0

0

6

Ming II (035E)

SS

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

0

0

Ming I (035)

SS

[2]

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Romeo II (033G)

SSG

[1]

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Romeo I (033)

SS

21

18

12

6

6

6

6

7

7

7

Reserve Romeo

SS

15

15

15

15

12

9

6

5

5

5

Moth. Romeo

SS

[12]

[12]

[12]

[12]

[12]

[12]

[12]

0

0

[12]

Gulf (Auxiliary)

SSBA

[1]

[1]

[1]

[1]

[1]

[1]

0

[1]

0

0

Sang-O (Xpt)

SSM

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

SSN Total

SSN

7

7

8

9

10

10

12

7

0

0

SS Total

SS

66

64

62

62

59

58

55

24

21

21

Sub Total

Subs

73

71

70

71

69

68

67

31

21

21

 

Class Name

Type

Submerge

Surface

Sonar CM

Sonar

Noise

Battery

Weap.

Torpedo

Torpedo

 

 

Speed

Speed

Level

Level

 

Points

Rounds

Tubes 1

Rating

Type 094

SSBN

27

18

4

6

Very Quiet

12

20

6     0

20

Type 093

SSGN

30

18

4

6

Very Quiet

12

20

6     0

20

Xia 092

SSBN

22

12

3

5

Average

9

20

6     0

20

Han 091

SSN

26

12

2

5

Average

9

20

6     0

20

Kilo III (AIP)

SS

17

12

4

6

Very Quiet

120

18

6     0

20

Kilo II (636)

SS

17

12

4

6

Very Quiet

24

18

6     0

20

Kilo I (877)

SS

17

12

3

5

Quiet

24

18

6     0

20

Song II (039G)

SSG

22

15

4

6

Very Quiet

180

12

6     0

20

Song I (039)

SSG

22

15

4

5

Quiet

36

12

6     0

20

Ming III (035AIP)

SS

18

15

4

6

Very Quiet

120

18

6     2

20

Ming II (035E)

SS

18

15

3

5

Quiet

24

16

6     2

11

Ming I (035)

SS

18

15

2

4

Quiet

24

12

6     2

11

Romeo II (033G)

SSG

12

15

2

4

Quiet

39

14

6     2

11

Romeo I (033)

SS

12

15

3

5

Quiet

39

14

6     2

11

Reserve Romeo

SS

12

15

2

4

Quiet

39

14

6     2

11

Moth. Romeo

SS

12

15

2

3

Quiet

39

14

6     2

11

Gulf (Auxiliary)

SSBA

15

15

2

3

Average

14

265

6     4

11

Sang-O (Xpt)

SSM

8

8

2

4

Very Quiet

4

0

0

0

 

Class Name

Type

LAB/CM

LAB/CM

LACM Name

LAB/CM

ASCM

ASCM

ASCM

Weapons

Mines7

 

 

Rating

Range

LABM Name

Rounds

Name

Rating

Range

Notes

 

Type 094

SSBN

188

8,000

JL-2

16

HN-3

7

2,500

2

36

Type 093

SSGN

na

na

na

TTL

HN-3

7

2,500

2

36

Xia 092

SSBN

125

3,600

JL-1A

12

na

na

na

3

36

Han 091

SSN

na

na

na

TTL

YJ-8

5

42

2

36

Kilo III (AIP)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

36

Kilo II (636)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

24

Kilo I (877)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

24

Song II (039G)

SSG

na

na

na

TTL

YJ-8

5

42

2

24

Song I (039)

SSG

na

na

na

TTL

YJ-8

5

42

2

24

Ming III (035AIP)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

326

Ming II (035E)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

326

Ming I (035)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

24

Romeo II (033G)

SSG

na

na

na

6

YJ-1

5

42

4

28

Romeo I (033)

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

28

Reserve Romeo

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

28

Moth. Romeo

SS

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

28

Gulf (Auxiliary)

SSBA

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

44

Sang-O (Xpt)

SSM

na

na

na

na

na

na

na

 

8

 

Class Name 9

Type

Hull Numbers

SOF

Power8

 

 

 

Teams

 

Type 094

SSBN

409, 412

2

NS

Type 093

SSGN

407, 408, 410, 411, 413, 414

2

NS

Xia 092

SSBN

406

2

NS

Han 091

SSN

401, 402, 403, 404, 405

2

NS

Kilo III (AIP)

SS

381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 386

1

DES

Kilo II (636)

SS

366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375

1

DES

Kilo I (877)

SS

364, 365

1

DES

Song II (039G)

SSG

321, 322, 323, 324, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 325

1

DES

Song I (039)

SSG

320

1

DES

Ming III (035AIP)

SS

361, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309

1

DES

Ming II (035E)

SS

342, 352, 353, 354, 355, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360, 362, 363

1

DES

Ming I (035)

SS

, 233

1

DES

Romeo II (033G)

SSG

351

1

DES

Romeo I (033)

SS

293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 343 to 349, 355

1

DES

Reserve Romeo

SS

268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 286, 287, 291, 292

1

DES

Moth. Romeo

SS

249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260

1

DES

Gulf (Auxiliary)

SSBA

200

1

DES

Sang-O (Xpt)

SSM

351 Hull number duplicates Romeo II.

1

DES

Notes

Note 1: Forward tubes listed to left, aft tubes listed to right.

Note 2: TTL= Torpedo Tube Launch = missile shots replace mine shots.

Note 3: Not operational with nuclear warheads.

Note 4: May only launch when surfaced.

Note 5: Gulf normally only loads 12 torpedoes.

Note 6: Ming normally only loads 28 mines.

Note 7: Subs carry mines/cruise missiles or torpedos. Reduce torpedo shots by 1 for every two mines carried, disregard at zero torpedo shots. Exception 1: Sang-o only carries mines.

Note 8: NS = Nuclear Submarine; DES = Diesel Electric Submarine

Note 9: Designation in parentheses following Yu number is Russian model ID.

 

 

 

Russia plans to sell multipurpose submarines abroad.

Russia’s military-industrial complex is increasing arms exports through Rosoboronexport, year after year, and the naval component is no exception. However, the latest contract for the supply of non-nuclear submarines is unique.

 

Russia plans to sell multipurpose submarines abroad  

 

Rosoboronexport is in continued talks with Italy on the supply of S1000 submarines. However, these boats will not see action in either the Russian or the Italian navy. Instead, they will be sold exclusively to third-party countries. Experts at the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering and Italy’s Fincantieri completed the conceptual design of the S1000 a few years ago. The submarine was always intended for third-party countries. The Italian shipbuilding company presented a mockup in 2008, at the 21st International Naval Defense and Maritime Exhibition and at the Conference Euronaval 2008. According to Fincantieri Commercial Director Enrico Bonnetti, “the submarine’s architecture has been determined, equipment has been positioned, and an integrated combat system has been designed.” The S1000 is 56-meters long, with an outside hard-hull diameter of 5.5 meters (18 feet), a submerged displacement of around 1100 tons, a maximum depth of more than 250 meters (820 feet), and a top underwater speed of more than 14 knots. The submarine can carry a crew of 16, plus six special operations troops. The propulsion system includes two diesel generators, a battery, an electric motor and an AIP system with an electrochemical generator. Both Russian- and Italian-made equipment will be installed in equal amounts. The S1000 non-nuclear submarine is designed for anti-submarine warfare, reconnaissance missions, special operations support and transporting underwater subversive troops. The submarine can perform these tasks both in shallow coastal waters and in deep-sea conditions. Secondary objectives include anti-ship warfare, mining and naval aircraft support. The Soviet Union — and later Russia — have traditionally sold non-nuclear, diesel-electric submarines abroad. “Our key product in this global market segment is the Project 636 submarine, which is the current bestseller. But we are also promoting the new Amur-1500 submarine,” said Rosoboronexport head Anatoly Isaykin. “This is not a replacement for Project 636; it is an entirely new submarine that we will be promoting in parallel with Project 636. The Amur-1500 will also be in demand from international buyers, as it will be offered in different versions — including a version with an air-independent propulsion system that is becoming increasingly popular in the naval market,” Isaykin said. He added that sales of naval hardware through Rosoboronexport amounted to 20 percent of total military exports last year and were slightly higher than in 2011. The Russian navy will soon receive Project 636 submarines, as well.  A keel-laying ceremony for a large diesel-electric Project 636.3 submarine named Stary Oskol was held at the end of last summer, at the Admiralty Shipyard. These submarines are now being built for the Russian navy, after being exported for 20 years. This submarine is expected to get a version of the new Kalibr missile system (exported as the Club-S) with a range of 1,500 kilometers (932 miles). There is one hitch though: to use this missile complex, a new combat command and control system is needed; its flaws have become one of the reasons behind the delays in building and deploying the Lada-class submarines for Russia’s navy. Project 636 submarines are armed with six torpedo launchers located in the bow; six torpedoes sit in shafts that are automatically reloaded after each launch. The torpedoes can be replaced with 24 mines, two in each launcher. Two torpedo launchers have been designed to fire high-precision, remotely controlled torpedoes. All launchers and their service systems can fire from both periscope and tactical operating depths. The launchers can be reloaded within 15 seconds. According to expert assessments, the submarine is low noise and “sees” better underwater than the most widespread American-made, Los Angeles-class submarines.

 

Underwater Planes.

Graham Hawkes can't quite put words to the feeling. It's like jumping off a cliff, but more peaceful. It is like sinking, but more purposeful. It is like flying but exactly the opposite. "Fun is an inadequate word for playing with technology the Navy doesn't have in a part of the world were few people can go," Hawkes explains to HuffPost Travel, somehow managing to sound more apologetic for being more verklempt than boastful about the fact that he has an underwater plane. Graham Hawkes has an underwater plane. That is both astounding and old news. After decades building the majority of submersibles used in scientific and military missions, Hawkes and his company DeepFlight began producing underwater planes -- buoyant vehicles that use hydrodynamics in much the way airplanes use the Bernoulli Principle effect -- in the 1990s. It was astonishing at the time and it still is, but what might be more exciting is that Hawkes wants tourists to join him. The sales pitch is pretty solid. "We can move for the first time with big marine animals," he explains, referencing the speed of his vehicles, which are considerably more maneuverable than normal submarines. "We had our first such encounter with a Great White Shark a few months back. Richard Branson was in the back…. We realized afterward that the shark had probably been challenging us over territory." Hawkes doesn't so much drop names as leak them. The names of the men who dive with him should sound familiar. Director James Cameron goes on dives. Richard Branson owns a 15-foot Merlin Series dubbed the Necker Nymph in tribute to his private Caribbean island and venture capitalist par excellence Tom Perkins owns a Super Falcon -- exactly like the one Hawkes pilots regularly -- which he used to keep aboard the Maltese Falcon, his famed superyacht. The reason Hawkes' clientele is so elite is quite simple: He sells something exceptionally expensive. Even though he's managed to bring the price of a basic expedition down from $100,000 to $10,000, flights on his Super Falcon are not exactly affordable. It doesn't help that his technology is so advanced that the Coast Guard forces him to give "flight lessons" instead of simple tours. Laws will catch up with technology, but bringing down costs on extremely complicated machines can be difficult -- commercial aviation remained a minor industry decades after the Wright brothers crash-landed at Kitty Hawk. This didn't stop Hawkes from settling on a goal after a recent meeting with representatives from Google and IDEO, the San Francisco design firm of the moment. "Everyone's feeling is that this technology is open to the billionaires club, but that we need to get the price way down for normal people," he explains. "We hope to go toward undersea tourism. What we've developed so far is underwater flight and it's fabulous. People should enjoy it." The hope is that a dive could eventually cost about the same as a flight on a glider or ultralight, which -- on Oahu -- would run a tourist between $200 and $300, a little more for longer trips. Hawkes doesn't purport to know when that day might come, saying the proliferation of underwater aircraft will depend on funding, which might be only a year or two away. What he is absolutely certain about is the experience he wants to share. Hawkes wants to take passengers and pilots alike into "the twilight zone," the area of the ocean above the inky blackness where large pelagic species hang out. Though his Falcons are now capable of diving some 3,000 feet, he says trips to that sort of depth somewhat defeat the point, which has ceased to be scientific or technical.

"Remotely operated vehicles can really play all the roles needed for science and military purposes, which frees up manned subs to be different," Hawkes says. "It is all about the experience now. We want comfort, safety and better vision. You have this panoramic view because the domes we use couple optically with water." On an upcoming trip to Hawaii, Hawkes plans to join a group of new pilots watching Humpback Whales through his perfectly engineered domes. The view of the pod should be rather better from the speedy submersible than from the ships that follow the cetaceans so tourists can snap pictures of upraised flukes. The underwater planes will be able to dive, loop and speed along with the whales. "It is a degree of freedom humans aren't used to," says Hawkes, expectation leaking into his rather proper London lilt. Even as space tourism companies get all the ink, underwater planes may call into question where the next tourist frontier actual lies: The Super Falcon is to SCUBA gear more or less what a 767 is to a good pair of walking shoes. The massive marine world could rendered suddenly accessible. But Hawkes' DeepFlight submersibles offer more than a chance to go someplace inaccessible. These remarkable pieces of technology may offer a specific feeling. It's like peace but more exhilarating, like discovery but more ecstatic; something hard to describe.

 

Back From The Dead.

February 22, 2013: A year after cancelling its Lada class diesel-electric submarines Russia has revived the project as part of a joint development effort with an Italian firm (Fincantieri). This effort will build the S-1000 submarine as well as revive other export versions of Lada. These were called the Amur class and the S-1000 began as the Amur 950. This was what the export version of the Lada was to be called, but working with an Italian shipbuilder the Amur 950 has been transformed into the cheaper (less than $200 million each) S-1000 class submarine. While Fincantieri has never built subs (just destroyers, aircraft carriers and patrol craft), it is one of the largest ship builders in Europe and has access to much Western military technology. The S-1000 will have a crew of only 16. Top submerged speed is 26 kilometers an hour. There are six torpedo tubes and an AIP (air independent propulsion) system to extend underwater endurance to 15 days or more. Instead of eight torpedo reloads, the S-1000 can carry a dozen commandoes. Lada was developed in the 1990s as the successor to the Kilo class but it was determined that there was not enough difference between the Lada and the improved Kilos being built. So Lada/Amur was canceled last year. One Lada was built and another is partially completed and will probably be finished as the under construction (and may be completed). The Russians are hoping that the S-1000 will spark interest in the various Amur designs. The largest of these is the Amur 1650, which is basically the Lada with some top-secret Russian equipment deleted. The Ladas have six 533mm torpedo tubes, with 18 torpedoes and/or missiles carried. The Lada has a surface displacement of 1,750 tons, are 71 meters (220 feet) long and carry a crew of 38. Each crewmember has their own cabin (very small for the junior crew, but still, a big morale boost). When submerged the submarine can cruise at a top speed of about 39 kilometers an hour (half that on the surface) and can dive to about 250 meters (800 feet). The Lada can stay at sea for as long as 50 days and can travel as much as 10,000 kilometers using its diesel engine (underwater, via the snorkel). Submerged, using battery power alone, the Lada can travel about 450 kilometers. There is also an electronic periscope (which goes to the surface via a cable) that includes a night vision capability and a laser range finder. The Lada was designed to accept an AIP (air independent propulsion) system. Russia was long a pioneer in AIP design but in the last decade Western European nations have taken the lead. Russia expects to have its own AIP in production within three years. Construction on the first Lada began in 1997, but money shortages delayed work for years. The first Lada boat was finally completed in 2005. A less complex version, called the Amur, was offered for export. There were no takers. The Ladas are designed to be fast attack and scouting boats. They are intended for anti-surface and anti-submarine operations as well as naval reconnaissance. These boats are said to be eight times quieter than the Kilos. This was accomplished by using anechoic (sound absorbing) tile coatings on the exterior and a very quiet (skewed) propeller. All interior machinery was designed with silence in mind. The sensors include active and passive sonars, including towed passive sonar. Russian submarine designers apparently believe they can install most of these quieting features into improved Kilos, along with many other Lada features. Two years ago Russia began construction of its second "Improved Kilo" submarine. These are mostly for the export market, although the Russian Navy is buying a few more of this improved model as well. The Kilos weigh 2,300 tons (surface displacement), have six torpedo tubes, and a crew of 57. They are quiet and can travel about 700 kilometers under water at a quiet speed of about five kilometers an hour. Kilos carry 18 torpedoes or SS-N-27 anti-ship missiles (with a range of 300 kilometers and launched underwater from the torpedo tubes). The combination of quietness and cruise missiles makes the Kilo very dangerous to American carriers. But for the Russians their Kilos are mostly for home defense. Nuclear subs are used for the long distance work. The Kilo class boats entered service in the early 1980s. Russia only bought 24 of them but exported over 30. It was considered a successful design, especially with export customers. But just before the Cold War ended in 1991, the Soviet Navy began work on the Lada. This project was stalled during most of the 1990s by a lack of money but was revived in the last decade. Russia has 17 Kilos in service (and six in reserve) and six Improved Kilos on order. More than that is on order from foreign customers.

 

Personal submarines emerge on boat market.

 

mini submarine

 

Bored with the luxury yacht? Personal submarines are a growing trend for the mega-rich.  Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich - owner of the world's largest private luxury yacht, Eclipse - are among those who have their own mini-sub. Other ocean explorer types, such as British billionaire adventurer Sir Richard Branson and film director James Cameron, have custom-built subs. In March last year, Cameron descended 11 kilometres into one of the ocean's deepest nooks, the Mariana Trench, in his Australian-designed solo sub, Deepsea Challenger. Recreational subs could soon be jostling for space on board the world's luxury yachts, if latest design trends are any indication. The first family-friendly five-seater has hit the market and could soon be vying to become the new must-have toy of the mega-rich. The C-Explorer 5 was created by a Dutch submarine maker to accommodate four passengers and a pilot, and has been dubbed "the world's first subsea limousine". This airconditioned mini-sub - which will set you back a couple of million - can descend to a depth of 300 metres, reach speeds of three knots underwater and stay below the surface for eight hours. A range of larger recreational submarines that seat many more passengers are also on the market, but because of their size and price - in the tens of millions of dollars - they are mostly pitched at the luxury resort market. The market for recreational mini-subs is relatively new, according to Barry Jenkins, chairman of Superyacht Australia, which represents businesses that sell products and services to the superyacht industry. He says he spotted a mini-sub - a single-seater - for the first time at an international boat show about five years ago, then a double-seater appeared, and now the first five-seaters are arriving.

Brazil to build first nuclear submarines.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff unveiled a multi-billion-US-dollar naval plant Friday in southeast Rio de Janeiro state, where the country plans to build its first nuclear submarine with French technology.   Brazil will build five submarines, including a nuclear-powered sub, in partnership with France, which agreed to transfer the technology to Brazil in a 2008 agreement. Rousseff highlighted the project, saying Brazil was now joining "the select club of countries with nuclear submarines," five members of the United Nations Security Council. Rousseff said Brazil can manage to dedicate itself to advanced industry without losing sight of other important goals, such as overcoming social inequalities. "Brazil can do it. It has all the conditions to fulfill its great role in the science and technology development, in the exploration of space, in the defense industry, but at the same time generate income and jobs, and deal with overcoming and eradicating poverty," she said. With an investment of 7.8 billion reals (about $3.9 billion), the naval plant, called the Metallic Structures Construction Unit, is designed to be part of a naval base and shipyard in the city of Itaguai. The plant will generate 9,000 direct jobs and 32,000 indirect jobs, according to the Defense Ministry. The first submarine is expected to be operational by 2017 and the nuclear sub is expected to roll off the assembly line in 2023. Rousseff said the nuclear sub will not serve for war, but will act as a deterrent. Defense Minister Celso Amorim defended Brazil's insistence on technology transfer as part of all its military purchases, saying "a country that depends on what others supply cannot be independent, nor defend its resources, its people or its place in the world."

Russia to Resurrect Titanium Submarines.

The Russian Navy will refit, modernize and recommission two Sierra class (Project 945) titanium-hull nuclear-powered attack submarines by 2017, the Zvezdochka shipyard said on Tuesday. The Sierra class has a light and strong titanium pressure hull, enabling these boats to dive to depths of up to 550 meters (1800 feet) and enhancing their survivability, as well as having a low magnetic signature. A total of four Project 945 and 945A submarines were built in Russia. In addition to the Karp and the Kostroma, the Pskov and the Nizhny Novgorod were built in the early 1990's and are currently in service with the Northern Fleet. The K-239 Karp (Carp) was the first Project 945 (Barrakuda) submarine, which entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1984. The K-276 Kostroma was commissioned in 1986 and had to be repaired after a February 11, 1992 collision with the American submarine USS Baton Rouge (SSN-689) while on patrol off Kildin Island near Severomorsk. The US Navy said the collision occurred more than 12 miles (22 km) from shore, in international waters. The shipyard signed a modernization contract for the Karp and the Kostroma with the Defense Ministry in December 2012 , a Zvezdochka representative told RIA Novosti. Karp has been sitting at the shipyard since 1994, he said, adding the submarine’s titanium hull “is in a very good condition” but a significant part of its equipment is missing. The submarines’ sonar and navigation systems will be replaced and their reactors refuelled, he said.

Russia to help launch Vietnam's Submarines.

Hanoi: Moscow will proceed with plans this year to help Vietnam launch a new submarine fleet and train the crews, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday. "This year our joint efforts will open a new page in Vietnam's navy - a new fleet will appear," Shoigu said after talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh.  Shoigu said the two ministers discussed "crew training and preparation of the submarines", for which Russian military schools will provide assistance.

 

In 2009, Vietnam ordered a fleet of six Russian Project 636M diesel-electric (Kilo class) attack submarines, in a step seen as an effort to counterbalance China's expanding maritime influence in the region. The two nations remain in dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Earlier this week, Shoigu visited Khanh Hoa Province's Cam Ranh Port, which was Russia's largest naval base outside its territory until 2002.

 

17 One-Man Submarines .

Nordenfelt I, brainchild of Swedish inventor Thorsten Nordenfelt in 1884.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

One of the two Resurgam, an early Victorian submarine designed and built in Britain by Reverend George Garrett in 1878-79. The Resurgam I was a hand powered, one-man submersible; the Resurgam II had a three-man crew, and was steam-powered.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away

A submarine motor car, invented by Michel Andre in 1937.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away

The Motorised Submersible Canoe (MSC)—nicknamed 'Sleeping Beauty'—was a British underwater reconnaissance or attack vehicle for a single frogman during World War II.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away

The Biber, a German midget submarine of the German Navy during the second World War, came armed with two externally mounted torpedoes.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

The Welman submarine was a WWII one-man British midget submarine developed by the Special Operations Executive, but sadly was not very successful.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

This K-250 one-person submersible was designed by retired US Navy WWII submarine captain George Kittredge in the 1960s.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

Mikhail Puchkov's homemade personal submarine made a splash in the 1980s.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

This is the one-man microsubmersible Mantis, designed by Graham Hawkes, British marine engineer and submarine designer. You might remember it from For Your Eyes Only.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

C-Quester was one of the first mass-produced personal submersibles by the Dutch U-Boat Workx. Production was discontinued in favor of multi-passengers subs.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

Newtsub Deepworker 2000, a single-person submersible by Nuytco Research Ltd.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

Deep Rover, another single-person submersible by Nuytco Research Ltd.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

The Innespace Dolphin prototype personal watercraft, which can ride on top of, leap out of, or dive under the water' surface.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away

AquaVenture WaterCrafts prototype sub, 2010.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

Virgin Oceanic Expeditions' deep sea submarine, seen here in 2011, is currently still undergoing testing.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away

James Cameron's Deepsea Challenger made it about as far underwater as you can go.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

Omer 8, a human-powered submarine recently built by students of the École de technologie supérieure (School of Higher Technology) in Montreal, Quebec.

17 One-Man Submarines That Will Take Your Breath Away 

 

 

China's submarines close to world level.

When commentating as a guest on People's Daily Online, naval expert Li Jie said that submarines independently designed by China are close to those of the United States, Russia, Germany and Japan in performance indicators, despite slight gaps from developed countries in terms of power plant and noise.
Li Jie explained that China's process of designing and building submarines has been actually getting mature and increasingly improved. By virtue of the intelligence and wisdom of Chinese people, China has made significant achievements in submarine design. The submarines independently designed by China have no big problems but some slight gaps in noise, material application and power supply. Li Jie added China's submarines are very close to nuclear submarines developed by the U.S. and Russia as well as conventional submarines developed of Japan and Germany in performance indicators, with narrowing gaps with them. Specifically, China has made improvements in mute effect, invisibility, material application, underwater hitting power, while we are also developing long-range, short-range, anti-ship and ballistic missiles. Additionally, we are also making effort to improve AIP submarines, and have made a great progress.

 

Submarine inventor thinks deep.

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Zhang Wuyi is making it easier to farm cucumbers - at the bottom of the sea.
Crawling out of a small silver submarine after a 20-minute dive, Zhang was ready to show off his new
submarine. "It's like an automatically-controlled undersea harvesting machine, and absorbs aquatic products like a vacuum cleaner," said Zhang, 37, who hopes to put the craft into large-scale production. The civilian sub is 6 meters long, 2 meters in circumference and can hold two people. The 9-ton craft can stay underwater for up to 20 hours. It is equipped with a camera, radar, positioning system and harvesting equipment. Since his first dive last August, he has received several orders and numerous calls from home and abroad. More than 20 people work in his boat company, located in a shabby bungalow in a suburban area, and they share a workshop with another factory. He has already invested 4 million yuan ($635,000) and is building a 10,000-square-meter plant. About 500,000 yuan was out of his own pocket, while the rest came from friends and other investors.  In October, Cong Zhijie, who runs a sea cucumber farm in Dalian, Liaoning province, became Zhang's first and, so far, only buyer with a payment of 150,000 yuan. According to Cong, the submarine works well and saves him 10,000 yuan a day in divers' pay.  Making a submarine, however, was not as easy as they imagined. "Our first submarine leaked like a sprinkler," Bao recalled. "Our second one looked functional, but it was stolen." Zhang's wife was strongly against his "stupid submarine business", but finally gave her tacit consent and support, especially after Zhang injured his left leg in an accident. "He is crazy about submarines," his wife said.

 

 

Tamil Tiger submarines at war museum

 

 

Visitors look at a vessel described as ‘Suicide submarine’ which is said to have been made by the LTTE and other boats captured by the Sri Lankan military, that are on display at the war museum in Puthukudurippu, some 360km north east of Colombo, yesterday. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had fought a war for independence of the country’s Tamil-dominated North against Sri Lankan government forces for nearly 30 years until May 2009.

 

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Vietnam’s Undersea Anti-Access Fleet

kilo

 

Anti-access strategy comes in many varieties. Vietnam  is pursuing such a strategy, founded on a squadron of six Kilo-class submarines Russia is building for the Vietnam People’s Navy under a contract inked in 2009. In August the Vietnamese press reported that the first boat has been launched, and that all six will be delivered by 2016. The elusive Kilos should make a lethal access-denial force. While China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy operates Kilos itself, it has conspicuously neglected antisubmarine warfare hardware and techniques. It seems South China Sea waters will remain opaque to Chinese commanders for the foreseeable future despite the PLA Navy’s overwhelming superiority over the Vietnam People’s Navy.

First consider the politics of access denial, as we did with Iran and North Korea. Vietnam and China, like North and South Korea, are contiguous powers with vital interests at stake in the same waters. Vital interests like territory beget strong passions. Whereas Iran prizes its ability to manage offshore waters and skies more than the United States cares about operating there—and thus commands a political edge—both Hanoi and Beijing are impassioned about their maritime claims in the South China Sea. Both are prepared to wage efforts of serious magnitude and duration,commensurate with their material capacity to carry on the competition. Neither is likely to relent after dispassionately tallying up the costs and hazards of operating in waters its opponent wants to place off-limits. The result: a combustible situation.

Several tactical and operational characteristics of Vietnamese access denial are worth pondering. Its anti-access force, like all such forces, is asymmetric to the adversary it is designed to oppose. But unlike relatively balanced Iranian and North Korean forces, the Vietnamese access-denial contingent is almost purely one-dimensional. Hanoi doubtless chose well if it could select only one platform to execute its strategy. Submarines offer enormous bang for the buck, and they are survivable. Still, this also means that advances in Chinese antisubmarine warfare could nullify Vietnam’s effort to fend off the PLA Navy. Next, Vietnamese access denial could take on an offensive as well as a defensive character. Vietnamese Kilos could, say, loiter unseen off the Chinese naval station at Sanya, on Hainan Island, holding PLA Navy submarines at risk at the delicate moment when they are entering or leaving port—exposing them to enemy action.

Access denial—a strategically defensive posture—could therebytake on an escalatory hue.The inception of a Vietnamese undersea fleet will further crowd the already crowded waterspace of Southeast Asia, complicating efforts to discriminate among friend, foe, and bystander. China operates Kilos; so will Vietnam; even India could conceivably dispatch Kilos to the region. And this leaves aside the different submarine types deployed by Singapore, Malaysia, and other regional seafaring states. The chances for miscalculations and mishaps will only grow as access-denial strategies take shape.

The Underwater Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviet Submarines and the Risk of Nuclear War

A Soviet Foxtrot class diesel submarine, B-29, is steaming toward Mariel Bay, Cuba. In a game of high stakes cat and mouse, B-29 is part of a fleet of four submarines – spearheads of a mission to establish a Soviet naval base in Cuba – that had set sail from the Arctic port of Murmansk. Unknown to these submariners, American helicopters, aircraft and battleships, including an aircraft carrier, are scouring the ocean, looking for Soviet vessels. US Navy Admiral George Anderson – flouting orders from the Kennedy White House – issues instructions to his Caribbean flotilla to fire at the Soviet subs if they approach Cuba. The reckless Anderson, however, hasn’t reckoned with the cargo on board the four submarines his ships are hunting. Only a handful of the Soviet sailors on board the submarines know their vessels carry a nuclear torpedo – each equal to the bombs that wiped out Hiroshima. Vasili Arkhipov, the second-in-command on board B-59, is one of the officers privy to this knowledge.

The gravity of the situation can be measured from the fact that the submarine crews –do not require Moscow’s permission to unleash Armageddon if they think they are under attack. As Soviet and American leaders mull nuclear war that could obliterate much of the earth, when paranoia on both sides means the slightest provocation could trigger nuclear war, things get worse.

 Time: 5.29pm Caribbean time.

The US Navy ships locate B-59 near Cuba and start dropping practice depth charges, explosives intended to force the submarine to come to the surface for identification. A few days earlier, messages conveying the US Navy’s “Submarine Surfacing and Identification Procedures” were transmitted to Moscow. However, the submarines are out of radio contact and the instructions cannot be passed on to them. Now practice depth charges are not really bombs but small grenades designed to signal submarines to surface. The problem, however, is even minor explosions under water are magnified, sending shock waves through the submarine’s metallic hull. Out of contact from Moscow for days, the crew of B-29, under the command of Captain Valentin Savitsky, fears war has started. As Vadim Orlov, the submarine's radio intelligence officer, narrates to Russian journalist Alexander Mozgovoi in the book Cuban Samba of the Foxtrot Quartet, “The Americans encircled us and began dropping grenades that were exploding right next to us. It felt like sitting in a metal barrel with someone hitting it with a sledgehammer. The crew was in shock.” The bombardment goes on for several hours and some sailors lose consciousness as oxygen runs low and temperatures inside the submarine soar above 122 degrees F. Hot and sweaty inside their claustrophobia inducing vessel, with drinking water rationed to just one glass per sailor a day, the crew is “under terrible pressure at the moment, both psychologically and physically'' according to Mozgovoi. After an especially strong explosion shakes the submarine, Savitsky becomes furious and orders his weapons officer to arm the nuclear-tipped torpedo. “There may be a war raging up there and we are trapped here turning somersaults,” Savitsky says. “We are going to hit them hard. We shall die ourselves, sink them all but not stain the navy's honour.” But procedure requires Arkhipov and the political officer Ivan Maslennikov sign off too. A heated argument follows as Arkhipov vetoes the launch. His contention is total war cannot be unleashed without complete information. (It would have been madness to allow the launch, he later told his wife Olga.) As Noam Chomsky writes in Hegemony or Survival, if the torpedo had launched, a devastating response would have been a near certainty, leading to total war. Arkhipov eventually persuades his colleagues to surface the submarine and wait for further orders from Moscow.

 Standing down

The US Navy vessels surrounding B-59, unaware they are cornering a submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo, now come closer. By this time, however, the hotheads on the American side have been asked to stand down, with the White House asking Admiral Anderson to not move a finger without its permission. (Anderson is dismissed after the crisis.) To indicate their intentions are not hostile, the US Navy plays a jazz band on the deck of one of the ships. The Americans think there is some sort of malfunction in B-29 but Savitsky declines offers of assistance and eventually turns around, heading for home base. B-29 is tailed by US Navy ships until it submerges on October 29. The three other Foxtrots also receive orders to abort their mission. The Cuban Missile Crisis is officially over. According to Orlov, the major danger during the crisis was not from the unauthorised use of a nuclear weapon but from an accident caused by the interaction of men and machines under the most trying of circumstances. The National Security Archive says, “Soviet submarine commanders were highly disciplined and unlikely to use nuclear weapons by design, but the unstable conditions on board raised the spectre of an accident.” Captain Joseph Bouchard, the author of a major study on naval operations during the missile crisis, supports this point when he suggests that the “biggest danger” was not from “deliberate acts” but from accidents, such as an accidental torpedo launch. If the Soviets had used nuclear torpedoes, by accident or otherwise, the US would have made a “nuclear counter-response.” While the Americans surfaced the Murmansk quartet, some Soviet submarines may have escaped US detection altogether. Says the National Security Archive, “While the four Soviet Foxtrot submarines did not have combat orders, the Soviet Navy sent two submarines, B-75 and B-88, to the Caribbean and the Pacific respectively, with specific combat orders.” B-75, a Zulu class diesel submarine, commanded by Captain Nikolai Natnenkov, carried two nuclear torpedoes. “It left Russian waters at the end of September with instructions to defend Soviet transport ships en route to Cuba with any weapons if the ships came under attack.” A day after the Arkhipov affair, another submarine, B-88, left a base in Kamchatka peninsula, with orders to sail to Pearl Harbour and attack the base if the crisis escalated into war. Commanded by Captain Konstatin Kireev, B-88 arrived near Pearl Harbour on November 10. There is no evidence the American spotted any of these ships. Under these circumstances which the American leadership and military were clueless about, nuclear war was a near certainty and it was purely Arkhipov’s courage – literally under fire – that saved the world. Despite being at the epicentre of the crisis, Arkhipov's role remained under wraps for a full 40 years. In 2002 in a conference held in Havana, Cuba, organiser professor Thomas Blanton of the Washington-based National Security Archive said, “A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.” The Russian sailor remained in the navy, rising to command first submarines and then submarine squadrons. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1975, when he became head of the Kirov Naval Academy, and rose to vice admiral in 1981. He died in 1998, at the age of 72. Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of State during the crisis, says one of the crew members told him at the conference that when Arkhipov and the other submariners returned home, they were reprimanded because they had not launched their nuclear weapons. If true, it has to be seen in the backdrop of Anderson's warmongering – there will always be those who prefer destructive war to a less than honourable peace.  So long as history remains a chronology of kings, Khrushchev and Kennedy will take the headlines, leaving heroes like Arkhipov as a footnote.

Russia, Italy re-visit S1000 non-nuclear sub project.

Russia and Italy have revisited the project of S1000 non-nuclear submarine. The project was frozen four years ago. This small submarine has been designed specifically for exports to the third world countries - Egypt, Morocco and others. According to latest reports, there will be only 20, not 50 percent of Russian components in the new submarine. However, Russia will be responsible for the promotion of the submarine on the market. In particular, not that long ago, the sides discussed an opportunity to restart the joint project. They named several specific measures to promote the submarine in the world market, and agreed to cut the cost of the ship. The last detail is the most interesting one. How is it possible to make a submarine cheaper and more affordable for international customers? According to reports that appeared in Russian and Western media, the project will become less expensive by abandoning the use of Russia-designed Club missiles underwater launch systems. This, in turn, would cut the costs for their transportation to Italy and customs clearance. According to latest agreements, the ratio of Russian and Italian components in the sub now makes up 20 to 80 respectively (vs. the previous 50 to 50). Thus, Russia will have only one-fifth in the future submarine. During the conceptual design stage, it was planned to equip the future submarine with Italian-French remote-controlled Black Shark torpedoes and Club complexes that may boast of many years of faultless operation. Why has Club become so expensive all of a sudden? The fact that the boat has been designed for sales to not very wealthy third world countries - Egypt, Indonesia and Morocco. However, the list of potential buyers includes not a very "poor" country - South Africa.

According to the Kommersant, Russian state company Rosoboronexport (defense export corporation) will be responsible for the international promotion of the submarine. This function originally belonged to the Italian side. The decision may be related to the fact that Russia sells most of its weapons through Rosoboronexport: the corporation has extensive international ties. The unique project S1000 was launched in 2004. The project is being developed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and the Russian Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering Rubin (based in St. Petersburg). The same design bureau works on strategic nuclear submarines for the Russian Navy. In particular, Rubin designs state-of-the-art nuclear-powered submarines of Borei and Borei-A projects. The works on S1000 sub were conducted in accordance with the technical inquiry and at the expense of the Italian Navy. The conceptual design was practically completed in 2008. Afterwards, the project was virtually shelved due to the lack of funds. It was assumed that a small non-nuclear sub would operate in warm waters, near islands and in shallow waters. It was originally believed that the construction of S1000 submarines would be Italy's prerogative. The time for the development of technical documentation and the construction of the lead ship was limited to 48 months from the signing of the first contract. Noteworthy, neither the Italian nor the Russian navies intend to pass S1000 submarines into service. The submarine will be produced exclusively for exports to third countries. Indeed, Russia will not be able to use such subs due to the geographical position of the country. Russia is washed by cold seas only, and transporting small submarines to tropical areas does not make any sense, officials with the Russian navy believe. With the length of 56.2 meters, the diameter of 5.5 meters and the displacement of about 1,100 tons, the submarine can reach the speed of up to 14 knots. The immersion depth of S1000 makes up 250 meters. The crew will consist of 16 men and six troops.

 

Canada and U.S. eye mini-submarines.

Special forces in both Canada and the United States are taking a close look at Canadian-made mini-submarines for the murky world of covert operations. The cutting-edge subs, some of which are built in Canada, are seen by some in the U.S. Special Forces community as essential for specialized top-secret operations against threats such as al-Qaida in coastal countries. One defence source in Washington, who spoke on background, said the U.S. navy has been impressed with the submarine rescue system it purchased a few years ago from B.C.-based International Submarine Engineering, which also sells 7.6 metre submersibles capable of carrying a handful of soldiers. The elite, secretive U.S. Special Forces is interested and also believes the subs would “be an ideal fit” for their Canadian counterparts, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. No program has been requested or planned, however, said Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, the commander of Canada’s special forces. “It is an area of interest,” Thompson said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “It is potentially another tool for the toolbox.” Domestic concerns and the safety of the highly trained soldiers were some of the reasons Thompson asked staff to examine the boats in the spring of last year. Rather than operating in waters far from home, the military is concerned about missions in the three cold oceans that border Canada. “Given the condition of the sea water that surrounds Canada, once you put a diver in the water, he really can, depending on the temperature of the water, only be effective for so long,” said Thompson.“It’s all about stealth and extending the time you can leave a guy submerged — and by submerged, I mean hidden, depending on what the mission set is.” In Canada, the ultra-secret special-forces commandos known as Joint Task Force 2 have been paying particular attention to the country’s coastlines. Last year, it was revealed JTF-2 had turned to the private sector for help in early warning of possible terror threats coming from the sea. The organization tapped into an existing fisheries surveillance contract with Provincial Airlines Ltd., a subsidiary of Provincial Aerospace Ltd. of St. John’s, N.L., to monitor the movements of vessels of interest off the country’s coastline. At a rare public appearance last summer during the military’s annual northern exercise, JTF-2 commandos stormed a mock “vessel of interest” at sea while the prime minister, the defence minister and the media looked on. The subs aren’t cheap: Each one — some of them currently operate as underwater tour boats with up to 20 available seats — carries a price tag of $5 million. Sea Urchin Submersibles and Nuytco Research Ltd., a subsidiary of Can-Dive Construction Ltd., are the two other Vancouver companies with underwater technology that has caught the attention of the special forces community. Nuytco offers one-man and two-man deep sea diving suits. Can-Dive markets small diesel-electric submarines, but does not build them. Over the last 40 years, Vancouver has become a centre of excellence in deep-diving research and technology, said a May 4, 2011 briefing note prepared for Thompson.

 

Russia to salvage sunken N-submarines

The Russian defence ministry is planning to raise and scrap two sunken nuclear submarines in the northern Barents and Kara seas in order to prevent potential radioactive pollution of the area. The Izvestia newspaper said Thursday the ministry will announce an international tender, which may include companies from France, the Netherlands, South Korea and the US, as the Russian Navy does not have the necessary equipment to carry out deep-sea salvage operations. The B-159 (earlier named K-159), a November-class nuclear submarine, sank in the Barents Sea in August 2003, 790 feet down, with nine of her crew and 800 kg of spent nuclear fuel, while being moved for dismantling. The K-27 was an experimental attack submarine built in 1962 and decommissioned in 1979 due to its troublesome nuclear reactors. Her reactor compartment was sealed and the submarine was scuttled in the eastern Kara Sea in 1982 at a depth of 220 feet. After the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000, Russia has bought a number of deep-sea submersibles from Britain and Iceland, but these vessels are designed for search-and-rescue operations rather than salvage work. Two Dutch companies, Mammoet and Smit International, contracted by the Russian government, salvaged the Kursk in 2001. Meanwhile, the wreck of another sunken submarine, the Komsomolets, will most likely forever remain at the site where it sank in a 1989 accident, as a salvage operation would be too costly and dangerous. The K-278 Komsomolets nuclear submarine sank in the Norwegian Sea April 7, 1989, south of Bear Island. The submarine sank with its active reactor and two nuclear warheads on board, and lies at a depth of 5,560 feet.

 

HMS Conqueror’s biggest secret: a raid on Russia

It was dark, in the early hours, and the sea was freezing as Her Majesty’s Submarine Conqueror came to periscope depth. Her captain, Christopher Wreford-Brown, had been stalking his target methodically, a hunter in pursuit of wary prey. There she was, 1,000 yards ahead, slow-moving, seemingly unaware of the submarine coming up on her tail. Gathered around Commander Wreford-Brown in the darkened operations room, officers and men waited in silence, inner tension masked by outward calm. It was 1982 and this was the real thing.  HMS Conqueror is famous, some would say notorious, for sinking the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano. The nuclear-powered attack submarine, a type also known menacingly as a hunter-killer, that year became the first of her kind to fire in anger. The Belgrano was sent to bottom in short order, her ancient hull rent by two torpedoes: 323 men, many of them young conscripts, died. The Falklands war began in earnest that day, May 2 1982.  But the ship now in the crosswires was not the Belgrano. This was August, almost two months after the liberation of the Falklands, and on the other side of the world, in the Barents Sea, backyard of the mighty Soviet Northern Fleet. Conqueror was sailing as close to Russian territorial waters as was legally allowed – or maybe closer. Submariners, a tight-knit community, politely disdainful of their surface counterparts, joke that there are two types of naval vessel: submarines and targets. Wreford-Brown’s target was a spy trawler – an AGI in Nato parlance, meaning Auxiliary General Intelligence. Crammed with interception and detection equipment, they were a ubiquitous presence during the Cold War, shadowing Nato exercises or loitering off naval bases.  This one was special: Polish-flagged, she was pulling a device long coveted by the British and Americans, a two-mile string of hydrophones known as a towed-array sonar. It was the latest thing in Soviet submarine-detection technology and Conqueror’s job was to steal it. To do so, the bow was equipped with electronically controlled pincers, provided by the Americans, to gnaw through the three-inch-thick steel cable connecting it to the trawler. The name of this audacious exercise in piracy? Operation Barmaid.  Thirty years on, and the story of this mission, classified Top Secret to this day, is being told. It may be that the Russian government is learning for the first time the fate of what was one of its most closely guarded devices.   “This was a quite remarkable feat, a daring exploit that carried with it immense risk,” says the documentary maker Stuart Prebble, whose new book, Secrets of the Conqueror, discloses the existence of Barmaid. “When we think of the Cold War we think of Cuba and Berlin and missiles and tanks, but it was at sea, and under the sea in particular, where the East-West struggle was often at its most dangerous.  “I have known about Barmaid for nearly 30 years and two years ago I approached the Ministry of Defence and asked that its details be released under the 30-year rule. They spent eight months thinking about it and eventually came back and said no. Their final position was that, although they wouldn’t help, they wouldn’t try to stop me writing about it.”  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Anglo-Americans rested on their laurels, confident of their superiority in naval technology over the fledgling Soviet fleet. But as the 1970s wore on that confidence was eroded. Soviet submarines were not just becoming quieter and faster, they were able to turn the tables on their supposedly more advanced Western opponents. Submariners call it “bouncing”, the practice of creeping up on a hostile submarine before switching on active, wave-emitting sonar. The deafening ping in the earphones of the target crew tells them: “I’m here. If this was a war, you’d be dead.” Towed-array sonar is different. It is passive and does not emit a signal. It floats at a prescribed depth, trailing behind a ship or submarine, simply listening for enemy submarines. Because the hydrophones are spaced out, they can achieve a multi-dimensional fix on a target, and are less vulnerable to noise from the host vessel. The American and British navies imagined themselves to be far ahead in this technology and were disturbed to discover that the Russians were matching them.

Had they caught up through ingenuity, or by spying?

The issue was sensitive for the British, who had been plagued by spy scandals in the post-war period. The “Portland Spy Ring” had betrayed naval secrets, as had the Admiralty clerk John Vassall. The Americans took the lead, conceiving a project to capture a towed array and discover its origins. General Dynamics, supplier of kit to the CIA, built the pincer equipment, which was installed in British submarines. But why not use the bigger US Navy? “There are two schools of thought about that,” says Prebble, a former editor of World in Action. “The British believed they were selected because they had more skilled submariners, and exercises do seem to bear this out. British submariners tend not to play by the book to the extent that the Americans do.  “The more cynical view has it that if a British sub was caught the diplomatic fall-out would be less severe than if an American one was involved. No one wanted to provoke a superpower confrontation.”  Cutting a towed-array cable and making it look like an accidental loss was no easy task. Before Conqueror was fitted with the television-guided pincers, her sister ship HMS Churchill had tried to steam through an array to sever it from the towing ship. She was damaged and depth-charged for her pains. Conqueror made two attempts to use the pincers, in the Barents Sea and the Mediterranean, before her final attempt in August. “When crews heard about these pincers, everybody thought it was absolutely crazy,” says Prebble. “Their use demanded the most brilliant seamanship, coming up from below into the array’s blind spot and edging towards the cutting point only a few yards from the tow ship. The pincers were designed to gnaw rather than slice cleanly to give the impression that the array had snagged on an underwater obstacle and been torn off.”  There, then, was Wreford-Brown, staring though his periscope that August night. The TV cameras were useless until a few inches from the target, so black was the Arctic water. Wreford-Brown and his officers had to fall back on mental arithmetic to calculate their distance from the target.  “That was the genius of the exercise,” says Prebble. “There is a way of approaching the blind spot that involves going deep and then coming up at an angle, literally below the vessel.”  The trawler’s propeller was feet away from Conqueror’s hull. A momentary miscalculation and a collision was inevitable. But nerves held and a connection was made. The pincer blades gnawed, and in seconds that seemed like hours the array was freed. Clamps held on to the cable as Conqueror dropped away to a safe depth, trailing the array by her side.  “Everyone in the control room was tense,” says one of those present. “We were expecting at any time that we would be discovered and were ready to run, if necessary.”  None of the crewmen who spoke to Prebble was prepared to confirm Conqueror’s position but the suspicion is that the operation took place inside Soviet territorial waters, just three miles from the coast. If discovered, the sub would have faced attack from Russian air and naval units. Once Conqueror reached a safe distance, divers were sent out to secure the array. The submarine later surfaced so that they could swim out again to haul the device aboard and bundle it in the hull.  Did the crew of the AGI know what had happened? Even if they suspected foul play it would not have been in their interests to admit it to their superiors. A sojourn in the gulag might have followed.  Immediately after Conqueror reached her base on the Clyde, the array was put on to an aircraft and sent for analysis in the United States. It is said that the name Conqueror was whispered with a certain reverence in the Pentagon for some time afterwards.  Following the sinking of the Belgrano, much speculation surrounded the disappearance of the Conqueror’s logs. The assumption in some quarters was that they had been destroyed to conceal embarrassing details about the submarine’s movements before and after the attack on the cruiser. Prebble thinks otherwise. “I believe the logs were shredded or incinerated to hide the Barents Sea operation,” he says. “This was a top-secret mission.”  The submarine arm is known as the Silent Service, partly because of its stealthy approach to warfare but also because of the secrecy attending its activities. Rarely does it receive public praise. Now, at least, we know of Operation Barmaid. The Conqueror’s crew had to celebrate their triumph in secret.

 

Indian and US navies to practice rescue of sailors trapped in submarines.

If an Indian submarine gets "disabled" deep underwater, the sailors are sunk since the country has only rudimentary submarine rescue facilities. Now, in a unique and complex endeavour, Indian and US navies are coming together to practice the rescue of "trapped" submariners from deep underwater.
The Indo-American submarine rescue exercise will kick off later this month, with the US Navy slated to fly down a submarine rescue system - a deep-submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) or a submarine rescue chamber (SRC) -- to Mumbai, sources said. The
DSRV or SRC will then be shipped to the exercise area, where it will dive deep underwater to "mate" with the "disabled" submarine to rescue sailors in an intricate manoeuvre rarely practiced by Indian sailors. A DSRV or "mini submarine", equipped with pressurised chambers, sonars and cameras, can rescue 24 sailors at a time from a depth up to 610 metres after "mating" with a stricken vessel's hatch. At present, Indian sailors bank upon "submarine escape pressurized suits", or the help of diving support ships like INS Nireekshak, but they can be used only for relatively shallow depths. Navy's endeavour to procure two DSRVs of its own, for about Rs 1,000 crore, has been hanging fire for well over a decade now. As an "interim measure", India had inked a contract with the US Navy in 1997 for its "global submarine rescue fly-away kit" service, paying an initial $734,443 for it. But the agreement got derailed due to the sanctions imposed after the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. It was later revived in 2004 but there was huge delay in setting up the requisite infrastructure needed for submarine rescue operations.
It also included the fitting of "Padeyes" - holding devices welded into escape hatches of submarines to secure the DSRV - on Indian submarines. The American DSRV or SRC, as per the agreement, will be transported to India within 72 hours of an emergency.Proper submarine rescue facilities are critical for India since it has an ageing fleet of 14 diesel-electric submarines -- 10 Russian 'Kilo' class and four German HDW ones -- apart from the nuclear-powered INS Chakra leased from Russia earlier this year.There are also six French Scorpene "killer" submarines, being constructed at Mazagon Docks under the Rs 23,562 crore 'Project-75', slated for delivery in 2015-2020, three years behind schedule. India also hopes to make its own nuclear submarine INS Arihant operational next year, which is to be followed by two additional "follow-on vessels".

 

Submarine museum starts construction in Lvshun

Construction of a submarine museum in Lvshun started recently, reported Dalian Daily.With an investment of almost 150 million yuan ($24 million), the project will occupy an area of 16,044 square meters. The exhibition area is expected to total 8,369 square meters.The museum will exhibit the history of Chinese submarines, world submarines, and nuclear and strategic missile submarines.A high-tech exhibition hall in the museum will enable visitors to experience riding a virtual submarine with the help of 4D technology.The project is expected to finish before National Day next year.

 

Submarine with wheels.

 

The French defence firm, DCNS, recently unveiled what it is calling the SMX-26 submarine. The craft is a smaller submarine designed to operate in shallow waters and in coastal areas.The SMX-26 can remain on the seabed for a long time while conducting covert surveillance. Thanks to its shape, the SMX-26 can operate in waters less than 15 meters deep, according to DCNS.The company points out that the SMX-26 also differs from other submarine designs by its capability to conduct lengthy covert surveillance missions. It can rest on various types of seabeds, thanks to a system of leg-like struts fitted with deployable wheels, according to DCNS. Such lengthy missions are also helped by buoy-mounted flexible snorkels which allow the sub to recharge its batteries and to renew its air supply, the company notes in a news release. Its integrated and remotely-deployed sensors ensure comprehensive monitoring of its surroundings, both above the surface and underwater, the release adds. The sub can quickly deploy its offensive assets, including a team of up to six special forces operators, either on or near the surface, the firm adds.It is also armed with two weapons incorporated into its masts: a 20mm automatic cannon and a missile container for defence against aircraft attacks. The sub also carries two heavyweight torpedoes and eight lightweight torpedoes.The wheel concept reminds me of the Soviet submarines that were allegedly thought to be probing the coastlines of the Nordic nations during the Cold War. Those were believed to be equipped with tractor-like treads so the could move along the ocean floor

Below is an artist’s concept of the SMX-26 submarine design concept, showing its strut-mounted wheels in extended position and its retractable power pods.

 

 A Submarine With Wheels...Yes...Wheels

 

subweheels3 A Submarine With Wheels...Yes...Wheels

 

Ula Subs.

Norway’s ageing submarine fleet is not sufficiently stealth-capable, according to a former top naval officer.

 

Norwegian Ula-class submarines, Bergen
Norwegian Ula-class submarines, Bergen
Photo: Petr Šmerkl/Wikipedia

 

“The oldest [one] is 25 years old”, Rear Admiral Jan Gerhard Jæger (ret.) tells Aftenposten, “they undergo upgrades, but the ‘signature’ (identity) they leave behind in the sea remains unchanged.”Norway’s six Ula-class submarines, all based at Bergen’s Haakonsvern Naval Base, western Norway, were ordered in the ‘70s during the Cold War. These replace the then ageing Kobben-class ones. The Ula-class submarines were a multinational cooperation on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Navy. The hull sections were produced in Norway, and German company Thyssen Nordseewerke in Emden assembled them.Norway’s Kongsberg Group built their combat systems, Germany the attack sonar, and the flank sonars are French-made. The vessels were delivered between 1989 and 1992.Upgrades have been performed on the periscope as part of modernisation work to keep them in service until 2020. These are also currently being carried out on the hull, propulsion, and integrated ships systems.Installation of new electronic warfare support measures and communication equipment (TADIL-A/Link 11) is part of the programme too, with ongoing work on the weapons control, sonar, and decision support systems,