Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Special coating could make submarines undetectable to sonar

The Daily Caller
31 March 2015

Physicists at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have published a new paper which lays the theoretical foundation for how submarines, with a special coating, could deflect sound.
This means submarines would be completely undetectable by sonar.
Authored by physicist Baile Zhang and his colleagues, the paper, published in Physical Review Letters, proposes that the same technique could apply to any 3D object. Normally, sonar waves hit the hull of a submarine and the sound scatters, which creates an echo, revealing the location of the sub.
Under Zhang’s system, sound waves sent out by sonar would hit a special material called a phononic crystal. This material is acoustically tuned and would manipulate the sound waves, such that they would bounce off and on the submarine in a loop, until finally the submarines passes through undetected.
For now, the coating is just a theory. But unlike other more fantastical proposals, Zhang says he and his team will get right to designing the coating in just a few months, as the project is very feasible.
“In principle, if a sound wave can be smoothly guided around the submarine without reflection, it can escape detection from sonar, because the sonar works by detecting deflected signals,” Zhang said, according to Popular Mechanics.
Zhang’s approach is particularly interesting because it avoids traditional problems which have plagued stealth engineers for decades. So-called “irregular protrusions” from objects ruin cloaking abilities, but a coating of an acoustic topological insulator, according to Zhang, would work on an object of any shape. Phononic crystals could also potentially be used to make hearing aids function more effectively in channeling sound through the ear canal.
Another method of stealth submarine technology is underway at the Paris Diderot University in France. Physicist Valentine Leroy  thinks that bubble-filled material could kill a sonar signal by as much as 99 percent. How it works is that the bubbly coating absorbs and then virtually dissipates the sound.

3 new Chinese nuclear attack submarines believed to be in service

Li Yan, ECNS.com,
31 March 2015

An internet photo suggests that a Chinese shipyard has completed the construction of three 093G nuclear-powered attack submarines, and that the vessels entered service in February of this year.
Military expert Yin Zhuo observed that according to the original design, 093G submarines will have a strong anti-ship capability and penetration ability. In the future they will add ground attack capability and a strong anti-submarine capability.
At present, China's submarine design capability is of international standard. The 093G is equipped with long- range anti-ship missiles, heavy torpedoes and anti-submarine missiles. In the future, it will carry land-attack cruise missiles, which will pose a threat to vessels on the surface of water and underwater.

DARPA seeks sensors for sub hunter

Michael Peck, C4ISR
30 March 2015

DARPA needs sensors for its anti-submarine drones to prowl the seas without bumping into other ships.

The research agency has put out a request for information to assist its Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) project for robotic, sub-hunting surface vessels. DARPA is focusing on the need to comply with International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or COLREGS.
"Currently, ACTUV's system for sensing other vessels is based on radar, which provides a '90 percent solution' for detecting other ships," said a DARPA news release. "However, radar is less suitable for classification of the type of other vessels, for example determining whether the vessel is a powered vessel or a sailboat. Additionally, one of the requirements of COLREGS is to maintain ' proper lookout by sight and hearing.'
DARPA wants sensors as well as image-processing hardware and software that uses passive methods such as electro-optical, or non-radar active sensors such as LIDAR. "The goal is to develop reliable, robust onboard systems that could detect and track nearby surface vessels and potential navigation hazards, classify those objects' characteristics and provide input to ACTUV's autonomy software to facilitate correct COLREGs behaviors," DARPA said.

DARPA is focusing on three areas:

"Maritime perception sensors, including "passive and active imagers in the visible and infrared wavelengths and Class 1 Laser Rangefinder and Flash LIDAR to image ships during day or night in the widest variety of environmental conditions, including haze, fog and rain, over ranges from 4 kilometers to 15 kilometers."
Maritime perception software that can detect and classify ships using non-radar sensors.
Classification software that can identify shapes during daytime and by a ship's navigation lights.
"We're looking for test-ready, multi-sensor approaches that push the boundaries of today's automated sensing systems for unmanned surface vessels," said DARPA program manager Scott Littlefield. "Enhancing the ability of these kinds of vessels to sense their environment in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night, would significantly advance our ability to conduct a range of military missions."

U.S. developing technology to launch drones from ocean floor

Jacqueline Klimas, The Washington Times
30 March 2015

Drones that can hibernate for years on the ocean floor before being remotely activated to burst through the surface and into the air could be a reality soon as military researchers begin testing the technology this year.
The drone operation, which the U.S. military dubbed the Upward Falling Payload program, is just one example of research conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency is trying to take a fresh look at what military technology is needed after focusing specifically on assets for two ground wars over the past 14 years, said Arati Prabhakar, director of DARPA.
Steven H. Walker, deputy director of DARPA, said the Upward Falling Payload program involves several technological challenges, such as how to remotely trigger the launch, how to get the drone to float to the surface, and how to power and protect the system on the ocean floor for more than a year.
"Today, the U.S. Navy puts capability on the ocean floor using very capable but fairly expensive submarine platforms," Mr. Walker said. "What we'd like to do in this program is preposition capability on the ocean floor and have it be available to be triggered [in] real time, when you need it."
U.S. military drones patrol the skies in the Middle East and are responsible for carrying out airstrikes on the enemy, but underwater drones have received less recognition. The Navy has been using ocean-faring drones called Slocum Gliders to scan the sea and transmit information  mostly weather and surveillance data to ships.
Unlike their aerial counterparts, the seafaring drones don't need fuel to operate. Instead, they use ocean currents for propulsion and their buoyancy to shift direction.
Still, ocean drones largely have been used only for information-gathering and are not looked at as potential weapons or something to be used above sea level an outlook DARPA is seeking to change.
DARPA researchers will go out on the ocean this year to test various technologies. They hope to create a functioning system eventually and gain valuable information about how those networks could be useful, Mr. Walker said.
The Upward Falling Payload and other projects were included in a report released last week that detailed some projects DARPA will pursue over the next two years.
Another project is developing subulites, which rest on the ocean floor and can help detect enemy submarines, Mr. Walker said.
Just as satellites can give wide views of the ground from space, subulites can get a broad look at the ocean to track submarines until other assets arrive to track, trail or target the threat, the report said.
The sea is only one area of focus for DARPA. Researchers also are looking at improvements in military technology for air, space, land, the electromagnetic spectrum and cybersecurity.
Ms. Prabhakar, the agency's director, said cybersecurity is of particular interest because the U.S. needs to be able to detect and prevent cyberattacks, not just respond to vulnerabilities in the 'patch and pray' system.
"The reason I think we have to change the cybersecurity game that we're in right now is precisely that all the prowess of our conventional capabilities is meaningless in this environment," she said.
Researchers are working on a visualization tool to let strategists and war fighters plan actions in the abstract cyber domain with reduced training, she said, as well as building systems that can't be hacked and automating cyberdefenses to allow for quicker responses to incidents.
Although such advancements will improve U.S. cybersecurity capabilities, Ms. Prabhakar said, they will never reach 100 percent protection because hackers keep improving.
"Invulnerability is not a future state. We're kidding ourselves because human beings are so creative," she said. "But a significant advantage, yes, I think that is something we achieve by using these tools and techniques."
Some of the programs may not be feasible under the tightened budget environment. DARPA's budget declined by 20 percent from 2009 to 2013, with 8 percent coming from the first sequestration hit in 2013. Those cuts meant some programs couldn't be started, some had to be ended before they reached certain milestones, and researchers in each of the military services had to wait longer to get flight time or sea time to test their innovations.
"There never [has] been a single year where a cut was a death blow to our mission. This is really about corrosion," Ms. Prabhakar said. "Over time, it just erodes our ability to do our job."
The president's budget request for DARPA for fiscal 2016 is $3 billion, a slight increase over previous years, she said.

Memorial to U.S. submariners takes shape in Egg Harbor, N.J.

submarine memorial

Bill Capo, 88 of Absecon member of local chapter of the U.S. Submarine Veterans has spent five years on a memorial at a Somers Point VFW post for vets who served their country underwater Thursday, March 26, 2015. They just got their last piece and will unveil the monument in early April.

It took the local base of the United States Submarine Veterans more than four years to finish a memorial to Americans who have served their country underwater, but they’re finally ready to unveil the monument early next month.
And the members of the small Egg Harbor Township Base are excited that the world will finally get to see the memorial, which is next to the Veterans Memorial Park in Somers Point, and is highlighted by a World War II torpedo that was hard to find — and even harder to find parts for.
They’re just disappointed that some of their own vets won’t be lucky enough to see the results of all their work.
Tom Innocente, the group’s commander, can count nine members who have died since the memorial project started — “And half of them were World War II types,” by his estimate.
The latest was just last week — Hoyal Cass, of Egg Harbor Township, was 91 when he died. His obituary said “Chief” Cass spent more than 20 years on subs, from World War II through Vietnam, and his “greatest joy in life was his service in the United States Navy submarines.”
Lee Gilbert, the group’s vice commander, is only being complimentary when he calls Cass “a tough old bird.” Gilbert says that Cass was active in the U.S. Submarine Vets until the end — he came to one of the group’s meetings shortly before he died.
When the members started this project, it’s fair to say they didn’t realize just how complicated — or expensive — it would be.
“We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight,” says Gilbert, who lives in Somers Point and served on three submarines during the Cold War era, from 1951-59.
“There was a lot to it, and it involved a lot of money we didn’t have,” Gilbert adds. This led to annual fundraising events, including an ongoing project of selling memorial bricks to help pay for the project. “With a group as small as ours, just 20 or 25 guys, it took a while.”
But submarine vets are used to being in a small group. When Bill Capo, of Absecon, was on three different submarines in World War II, in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, he was usually one of a crew of 75 to 80. By the U.S. Sumbarine Veterans’ statistics, just 16,000 or so Americans served on submarines during that war.
They also unfortunately got used to very high levels of danger. The vets group says that about 3,500 Americans in the “silent service” died in battle — or more than one out of five. The U.S. lost 52 submarines in the war, out of a total of 288 subs.
Capo is 87 and retired now, but he says that in his days on the submarines, they had to surface about every 30 hours. The crews knew that put them in harm’s way, but they needed to get fresh air and clear the smoke out of the diesel subs of the era.
But by the time Gilbert and Innocente, also of Somers Point, and Don Brown, of Northfield, were on nuclear-powered submarines in the Cold War, the boats could stay underwater for months at a time.
“We would leave port, and once you went down, you’d stay under until you came back,” Brown says. “The longest I was underwater was 69 days.”
Innocente, the commander, added that he was on a submarine that stayed submerged for 99 days.
None of these vets is sure how many miles he covered underwater, but Gilbert says that one mission could account for tens of thousands of miles.
One holdup for the Egg Harbor Base was that they had a hard time coming up with the centerpiece for their memorial.
“We specifically wanted this model,” says Innocente, pointing to the Mk14 torpedo — because that weapon is credited with sinking 4 million tons of enemy ships during World War II.
But they were having trouble locating a surviving torpedo until they contacted a high-ranking Navy officer with local roots. Rear Admirial Mark H. Buzby is retired now, but he’s a Linwood native who will be a featured speaker at the April 11 dedication of the memorial, and he was instrumental in helping the Egg Harbor Base deal with the Navy to track down a rare torpedo, the local vets say.
That torpedo didn’t have a nose, though, so the vets had to find a company that could make one. They located a manufacturer of modern torpedos that could do the job — with the help and counsel of one worker’s father, who happened to be another World War II sub vet.
That nose cone cost $8,000 as a custom order, but the Egg Harbor Base vets say they’ve had a lot of support in their long mission. By Innocente’s estimate, their project would have cost them almost $100,000 so far — except that they’ve gotten close to 90 percent of the work and material donated.
And now they’re almost ready to unveil the results at the formal dedication — although volunteer preparation work was still going on Sunday, the base commander said.
Plus some people got a sneak peek at the memorial Saturday, the day World War II vet Hoyal Cass was buried. His funeral service was right down the street in Somers Point, and on its way to the Atlantic County Veterans Cemetery in Estell Manor, Cass’ funeral procession passed — and paused, briefly but respectfully — at this new memorial to submarine vets of all wars.

How nuclear submarines are dismantled at the end of their service

Nuclear submarines have long been a favourite in popular fiction. From movies such as The Hunt for Red October to long-running TV series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, they have always been portrayed as awesome instruments of geopolitical power gliding quietly through the gloomy deep on secret, serious missions.

(Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
(Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
When nuclear-powered submarines reach the end of their lives, dismantling them is a complicated and laborious process. Paul Marks investigates.

An aquarium of radioactive junk — The Kara Sea, a submarine graveyard
But at the end of their useful lives the subs essentially become floating nuclear hazards, fizzing with lethal, spent nuclear fuel that's extremely hard to get out. Nuclear navies have had to go to extraordinary lengths to cope with their bloated and ageing Cold War fleets of hunter-killer and ballistic missile nuclear subs.

(Credit: Science Photo Library)
(Credit: Science Photo Library)

As a result, some of the strangest industrial graveyards on the planet have been created – stretching from the US Pacific Northwest, via the Arctic Circle to Russia’s Pacific Fleet home of Vladivostok.
These submarine cemeteries take many forms. At the filthy end of the spectrum, in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, they are essentially nuclear dumping grounds, with submarine reactors and fuel strewn across the 300m-deep seabed. Here the Russians appear to have continued, until the early 1990s, disposing of their nuclear subs in the same manner as their diesel-powered compatriots: dropping them into the ocean.
Rusting remains
The diesel sub scrapyard in the inlets around Olenya Bay in north-west Russia's arctic Kola Peninsula is an arresting sight: rusted-through prows expose torpedo tubes inside, corroded conning towers keel over at bizarre angles and hulls are burst asunder, like mussels smashed on rocks by gulls.
The Soviets turned the Kara Sea into "an aquarium of radioactive junk" says Norway’s Bellona Foundation, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo. The seabed is littered with some 17,000 naval radioactive waste containers, 16 nuclear reactors and five complete nuclear submarines – one has both its reactors still fully fuelled.

(Credit: Bellona Foundation)
Russian reactors have been stored in the harbour at Vladivostok (Credit: Bellona Foundation)

The Kara Sea area is now a target for oil and gas companies – and accidental drilling into such waste could, in principle, breach reactor containments or fuel rod cladding, and release radionuclides into the fishing grounds, warns Bellona's managing director Nils Bohmer.
Official submarine graveyards are much more visible: you can even see them on Google Maps or Google Earth. Zoom in on America's biggest nuclear waste repository in Hanford, Wshington, Sayda Bay in the arctic Kola Peninsula, or the shipyards near Vladivostok and you'll see them. There are row after row of massive steel canisters, each around 12m long. They are lined up in ranks in Hanford's long, earthen pits awaiting a future mass burial, sitting in regimented rows on a Sayda Bay dockside, or floating on the waters of the Sea of Japan, shackled to a pier at the Pavlovks sub base near Vladivostok.
Drained and removed
These canisters are all that remain of hundreds of nuclear subs. Known as "three-compartment units" they are the sealed, de-fuelled reactor blocks produced in a decommissioning process perfected at the US Department of Defense's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.
It’s a meticulous process. First, the defunct sub is towed to a secure de-fuelling dock where its reactor compartment is drained of all liquids to expose its spent nuclear fuel assemblies. Each assembly is then removed and placed in spent nuclear fuel casks and put on secure trains for disposal at a long-term waste storage and reprocessing plant. In the US, this is the Naval Reactor Facility at the sprawling Idaho National Laboratory, and in Russia the Mayak plutonium production and reprocessing plant in Siberia is the final destination.

(Credit: Getty Images)
(Credit: Getty Images)

Although the reactor machinery – steam generators, pumps, valves and piping – now contains no enriched uranium, the metals in it are rendered radioactive by decades of neutron bombardment shredding their atoms. So after fuel removal, the sub is towed into dry dock where cutting tools and blowtorches are used to sever the reactor compartment, plus an emptied compartment either side of it, from the submarine's hull. Then thick steel seals are welded to either end. So the canisters are not merely receptacles: they are giant high-pressure steel segments of the nuclear submarine itself – all that remains of it, in fact, as all nonradioactive submarine sections are then recycled.
Russia also uses this technique because the West feared that its less rigorous decommissioning processes risked fissile materials getting into unfriendly hands. At Andreeva Bay, near Sayda, for instance, Russia still stores spent fuel from 90 subs from the 1960s and 1970s, for instance. So in 2002, the G8 nations started a 10-year, $20bn programme to transfer Puget Sound's decommissioning knowhow to the Russian Federation. That involved vastly improving technology and storage at their de-fuelling facility in Severodvinsk and their dismantling facility, and by building a land-based storage dock for the decommissioned reactors.
Floating menace
Safer land-based storage matters because the reactor blocks had been left afloat at Sayda Bay, as the air-filled compartments either side of the reactor compartment provide buoyancy, says Bohmer. But at Pavlovks, near Vladivostok, 54 of the canisters are still afloat and at the mercy of the weather.
Decommissioning this way is not always possible, however, says Bohmer. Some Soviet subs had liquid metal cooled reactors – using a lead-bismuth mixture to remove heat from the core – rather than the common pressurised water reactor (PWR). In a cold, defunct reactor the lead-bismuth coolant freezes, turning it into an unwieldy solid block. Bohmer says two such submarines are not yet decommissioned and have had to be moved to an extremely remote dockyard at Gremikha Bay – also on the Kola Peninsula – for safety's sake.

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

Using the three-compartment-unit method, Russia has so far decommissioned 120 nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet and 75 subs from its Pacific Fleet. In the US, meanwhile, 125 Cold War-era subs have been dismantled this way. France, too, has used the same procedure. In Britain, however, Royal Navy nuclear subs are designed so that the reactor module can be removed without having to sever compartments from the midsection. "The reactor pressure vessel can be removed in one piece, encased, transported and stored," says a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence.
However Britain's plans to decommission 12 defunct submarines stored at Devonport in the south of England and seven at Rosyth in Scotland won't happen any time soon as the government still has to decide which of five possible UK sites will eventually store those pressure vessels and spent fuel. This has raised community concerns as the numbers of defunct nuclear-fuelled subs is building up at Devonport and Rosyth, as BBC News reported last year.
Water fears
Environmental groups have also raised concerns about fuel storage in the US. The Idaho National Lab has been the ultimate destination for all US Navy high-level spent fuel since the first nuclear sub, USS Nautilus, was developed in 1953. "The prototype reactor for the USS Nautilus was tested at INL and since then every scrap of spent fuel from the nuclear navy has ended up in Idaho. It is stored above the upstream end of the Snake River Aquifer, the second largest unified underground body of water on the North American continent," says Beatrice Brailsford of the Snake River Alliance, an environmental lobby group.
"The spent fuel is stored above ground, but the rest of the waste is buried above the aquifer and that practice may continue for another half century. It is a source of concern for many people in Idaho." It's not only the aquifer's fresh water that's at risk: the state’s signature crop, potatoes, would also be affected.

(Credit: Science Photo Library)
(Credit: Science Photo Library)

Even with high security, radioactive material can occasionally escape – sometimes in bizarre ways. For instance both INL and Hanford have suffered unusual radiation leaks from tumbleweeds blowing into waste cooling ponds, picking up contaminated water, and then being blown over the facility's perimeter by the wind.
The expensive, long-term measures that have to be taken to render a defunct nuclear sub safe don’t seem to deter military planners from building more vessels. "As far as the US is concerned there is no indication that the Navy believes nuclear submarines have been anything less than a stellar success and replacements for the major submarine classes are in the works." says Edwin Lyman, nuclear policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a pressure group, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(Credit: Science Photo Library)
The Russian Navy is planning to launch several new submarines (Credit: Science Photo Library)

The US is not alone: Russia has four new nuclear subs under construction at Severodvinsk and may build a further eight before 2020. "Despite limited budgets Russia is committed to building up its nuclear fleet again," says Bohmer. China is doing likewise.
The submarine graveyards and spent fuel stores, it appears, will continue to be busy.

What we know so far: A look at the U.S. Navy's new submarine hunter killer drone

Nextbigfuture - This system will be the underwater equivalent of a Predator drone. There is no way you make a silent submarine drone for trailing enemy submarines criss-crossing the ocean without putting a torpedo or two into the system. The submarine hunter is in the DARPA project description, but the killer would come with the torpedo capability.

DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) seeks to develop an independently deployed unmanned surface vessel that would operate under sparse remote supervisory control and safely follow the maritime “rules of the road” for collision avoidance known as COLREGS. The hull for the ACTUV prototype is under construction in preparation for planned water-borne testing of the full prototype later this year.

There was an earlier ACTUV concept

DARPA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (http://go.usa.gov/3rMPk) about currently available technologies that could help ACTUV and future unmanned surface vessels perceive and classify nearby ships and other objects. DARPA is specifically interested in sensor systems and image-processing hardware and software that use passive (electro-optical/infrared, or EO/IR) or non-radar active (e.g., light detection and ranging, or LIDAR) approaches. The goal is to develop reliable, robust onboard systems that could detect and track nearby surface vessels and potential navigation hazards, classify those objects’ characteristics and provide input to ACTUV’s autonomy software to facilitate correct COLREGs behaviors.

“We’re looking for test-ready, multi-sensor approaches that push the boundaries of today’s automated sensing systems for unmanned surface vessels,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager. “Enhancing the ability of these kinds of vessels to sense their environment in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night, would significantly advance our ability to conduct a range of military missions.”

The RFI invites short responses (5 pages or fewer) that explore some or all of the following technical areas:

* Maritime Perception Sensors: Any combination of non-radar-based imaging and tracking methods, including, but not limited to, passive and active imagers in the visible and infrared wavelengths and Class 1 Laser Rangefinder (LRF) and Flash LIDAR to image ships during day or night in the widest variety of environmental conditions, including haze, fog and rain, over ranges from 4 km to 15 km

* Maritime Perception Software: Algorithms and software for detection, tracking and classification of ships by passive optical or non-radar active imagers

* Classification Software for Day Shapes/Navigation Lights: Algorithms and software to support detection, tracking and classification of day shapes and navigation lights—standard tools that vessels use to communicate a ship’s position and status—by using passive optical or non-radar active imagers

ACTUV aims to persistently trail adversaries’ submarines, limiting their tactical capacity for surprise. As designed, it would operate under sparse remote supervisory control but could also serve as a remotely piloted vessel, should the mission or specific circumstances require it. With an envisioned price tag of $20 million per vessel, ACTUV aims to provide breakthrough capabilities at a price much lower than manned warships. Initial water-borne testing of an ACTUV prototype is scheduled for later this year.

U.S. submarine veterans pay tribute to ill-fated USS Tullibee

Submarine veterans gathered at the Mississippi Submarine Memorial in Ocean Springs to honor the USS Tullibee, lost in combat during World War II. Pictured are (left to right): Fred Holcomb, Camilla Edmonds, Jane Hayes, Diana Larkowski, Joselyn Johnson, Jean Molaison, Chuck Nelson, Phil Saul, Merrill Molaison, C.P. Gerrn, Lionel Blum, Robert Cutrer, Nate Reeves, Kenneth Reeves, Mary Gillies, Charles Gilles, Richard Johnson (Base Commander), Herb Edmonds, Al Ferdinandsen, Carolann Ferdinandsen. (Courtesy Photo)

30 March 2015

OCEAN SPRINGS, Mississippi -- Veterans of the submarine service gathered to pay tribute to the USS Tullibee (SS284), lost in combat during World War II in March 1944.
The seventh annual memorial service for the Tullibee was held at the Mississippi Submarine Memorial, located on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs.
The Tullibee was assigned by the U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII to the State of Mississippi to be memorialized.
A bell rang out each time the name of a lost Tullibee crewmember was called out, after which the bell was tolled for each member of the Tullibee Base lost since the base was chartered.

Taiwan president determined to push for local submarine construction program

"Submarines are the most significant weapon for a country in building naval defense capabilities."

Kaohsiung, March 31 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday reiterated Taiwan's determination to push ahead with its domestic submarine program to modernize its fleet and bolster the country's defense capabilities.

"We aim to acquire new-generation submarines to safeguard our costal frontier," Ma said at a ceremony at which two military vessels -- Taiwan's first home-grown stealth missile corvette and a new supply ship -- were put into service.

"Submarines are the most significant weapon for a country in building naval defense capabilities. The military absolutely needs to acquire (new) submarines," he said.

Reiterating Taiwan's effort to develop its own home-grown submarine program, Ma said "we have the determination and we are definitely confident that we will achieve the goal of building submarines locally."

Tuesday's ceremony was held at the Navy's Zuoying base in Kaohsiung, the largest naval base in Taiwan.

In addition to the two new ships -- the Tuo Jiang (沱江) and Pan Shi (磐石) -- other home-grown military boats and vessels used by Taiwan's Coast Guard were docked at the naval base to showcase the country's shipbuilding capabilities.

Pointing to an empty space in the harbor, Ma said "that area is being saved for the country's locally made submarines in the future."

Facing challenges to procure submarines and other military hardware from abroad because of China's objections, Taiwan has taken the initiative to build military vessels on its own, which the president said has helped upgrade the country's domestic shipbuilding capabilities and also created job opportunities.

Over the past seven years, the government has put NT$56 billion (US$1.789 billion) into building all kinds of vessels, he said.

To build new submarines to replace Taiwan's aging vessels, it is believed Taiwan would need assistance on design and technology from overseas.

Meanwhile, the president reiterated the Navy's efforts to protect the country, and he said it will also continue to work with the Coast Guard to ensure the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. 

Opinion: Naval gazing in a time of lethal missiles

Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines during an international naval exercise. The US Armed Services Committee recently heard that by 2020, China is likely to have 82 submarines in the Asia-Pacific area.
By Nicholas Stuart/Sydney Morning Herald
30 March 2015

Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines during an international naval exercise. The US Armed Services Committee recently heard that by 2020, China is likely to have 82 submarines in the Asia-Pacific area. Photo: Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko
The newly-minted admiral strode decisively to the lectern. He was wearing a crisp white uniform. "This slide," he said, "shows our trade links to the world." A large map sprang to life on the screen behind him. On it a dense network of tight umbilical cords appeared to be holding Australia, binding it across the oceans to the dense land masses of the north. "It's the navy's role to defend and secure these trade routes," he asserted.
It was the moment that should have imbued me with confidence. The commander in control. Confident, capable, and certain. Nevertheless this was the moment I began to question some of his fundamental assumptions. Defend from whom, I wondered? It isn't difficult to see our most critical shipping links are with China. Are we really concerned the United States or Japan would interdict these sea routes to prevent us trading with our major export market? Surely not. Yet the admiral was, if very new, obviously very smart as well. I knew he must be on to something. Then suddenly it hit me. Oil!
According to some reports we no longer have fuel reserves for more than 11  days. Cut off our oil and the country would, quite literally, splutter to a halt. This is resource we depend on. It's vital. After a month without fuel, the cities would begin to empty; after two, people would begin to starve. Three months without oil and we'd be reduced to struggling groups battling for survival, with authority wielded locally by those holding weapons and controlling food stocks. The country would fall to its knees. The admiral was utterly right. Preserving the flow of this thick, treacly liquid that powers Australia is critical: without it, civilisation would vanish.
But then he lost me again. He began talking about ships and submarines, as if these are somehow relevant to the equation. He seemed to be insisting our navy will actually be able to defend the slow container ships and oil tankers as they plough through the waves. Maybe today; but tomorrow, against fast missiles? I think not. Missile technology is developing too fast. Peer five years or so in the future and things look very different. Yet that's the ramifications of today's equipment decisions will count. Particularly the pivotal one about the new submarine.
Let's begin with two inevitable, but disruptive, trends. One strategic, the other technical.
It's almost certain that China's economic trajectory won't continue at its current pace, but look at it now. We "um" and "ah" about building six subs to replace our current fleet. The US Armed Services Committee recently heard, however, that by 2020, Beijing's likely to have 82 submarines in the Asia-Pacific area with more hulls being laid down each week. The US will only have 32 to 34.
Economic power isn't static; except, perhaps, in Japan where last month's inflation figure was zero and there are 115 jobs for every hundred workers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus plans have proved unable to re-ignite a flaccid economy. The possibility of Tokyo making up the numerical deficit is nil. The strategic calculus is rocking on its axis. So too has the tactical one.
Every now and then big technical breakthroughs change the dynamic of war. Think of the invention of the first iron-clad monitor. Suddenly the wooden fleets driven by the wind were useless. They couldn't challenge the powered vessels that could sail where they chose. Later it was the dreadnought; then the advent of carrier-based airpower that changed the face of naval warfare. Today it's all about the increasing range, accuracy and lethality of missiles.
Long-range, precision weapons are challenging our understandings of naval warfare. Offensive swarms of cheap missiles will, eventually, overwhelm any fragile protective bubble cast by air-warfare destroyers attempting to escort ships over the ocean, yet that's not the point.
Why bother destroying freighters if missiles can to destroy critical shore infrastructure, such as the specialist tanks and equipment needed to unload fuel? Destroy the ability to offload the cargo and the ships are useless. Conventional missiles now have the range and accuracy to destroy this vulnerable link in the supply chain. Eliminate these critical logistics and even the ships will run out of fuel.
The discussions about our new submarine have been taking place in an intellectual vacuum.  We are talking about replacing like for like rather than examining the sort of capability we'd be acquiring. There's no point buying subs to stop an invasion fleet or interdict (our own) trade. The only purpose of such a force is to complicate any potential enemy's strategic calculations. The subs aren't being bought so they can return to port to refuel and rearm, because there'll be no wharf to return too. They are our own, sea-based independent deterrent.
Nobody will ever admit this, of course, but this is the real reason we're even discussing buying subs. It's not possible to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles; they'd be too expensive. Short-range submarine-launched cruise missiles are, however, a different thing entirely. A supersonic, long-range, stealthy missile  is currently being developed by Lockheed for use from subs; the proposed land attack variant apparently has a range of 1600km. The payload is less than half that of a serious thermonuclear bomb, but with a nuclear warhead this weapon would still be large enough to make a mess of a city. Or to destroy a particular target. It would certainly be enough to make any potential invader think twice.
It's very difficult, otherwise, to see any point in possessing an enormously expensive, tiny fleet of submarines. This is particularly the case if we don't even make the boats ourselves. We'd be better off without them. If we want to control the seas we should be developing our own home-grown missile industry.

German navy expands its submarine fleet

By Denis Krasnin/wsws.org      
31 March 2015
The German navy put its new submarine model U35 into service last week. At a cost of €500 million, it is one of the most modern, non-nuclear submarines owned by the German navy. It is the fifth of six submarines of the class 212 A series ordered by the German army.
The submarine, produced by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, was launched in Kiel in November 2011. At the time, the navy’s web site stated that this signified “a further step in modernisation and operation planning.” Four years later, the German army is even blunter about its purpose.
In his speech at the celebrations surrounding the U35’s entry into service in Kiel on Monday, rear admiral Hans-Christian Luther, operational leader of the navy commando unit, described the new “protégé” of operation flotilla 1 as a “capacity builder,” which further increases the capabilities of the German navy. He then hailed the smallest of the three components of the German army, placing the navy’s rearmament directly in the context of Germany’s remilitarisation.
As a modern component of a combat force with future capabilities, the navy was prepared to respond to the challenges of the 21st century, said Luther. “Precisely the developments over the past year have shown us all once again that a variety of versatile operational methods for the armed forces are required. Submarines are perfect for fulfilling this need.”
Germany was in the lead in constructing conventional submarines, stated Luther. The submarines of class 212 A had “the most advanced capabilities in the world among conventional submarines. In joint exercises and operations, our partners and allies are always compelled to show their recognition and respect for the capabilities of these units.”
In recent years, the German navy has repeatedly boasted that their new class 212 A submarines had set new diving records and broken through the defence systems of US warships undetected on several occasions during joint exercises. In an article in Die Welt headlined “The German submarine fleet’s records” it is stated, “In the First World War they produced a disaster. In the Second World War they had the highest losses, today they are teaching US carriers to be fearful: Germany’s submarines are ambivalent weapons.”
The German ruling elite intends to use these weapons to defend their economic and strategic interests around the globe. Parliamentary state secretary Markus Grübel, who delivered greetings from defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), commented, according to an official navy report: “how important it was in these times that modern weaponry and systems are introduced to the troops.”
According to an NDR report, the U35 is more capable than its four predecessors and is planned for worldwide operations. It was “equipped for the tropics,” had greater fuel storage for long journeys and can provide military divers and special forces with more equipment. A new type of radio system makes it possible for the submarine to communicate under water anywhere in the world.
In the future, it could also be equipped with a missile system that would make it possible to destroy targets in the air and on nearby coasts. In addition, torpedoes that are difficult to locate are intended as weapons. U35’s sister ship, U36, is set to be declared ready for service by inspectors in the coming months. This would complete the submarine fleet, a secretive and strategically important weapon for the German army.
However, it is to be expected that the navy will be further expanded in connection with the general plan to build up the German army. In recent weeks, the German cabinet agreed to increase the defence budget by at least €8 billion over the coming four years. According to an official strategy paper, more spending is required for “expanded NATO engagement” and “additional spending around the world.” The navy plays a role in both areas, and their leading military figures are already dreaming of their new significance and past grandeur.
In Kiel, the historic centre of the German navy, a conference took place in the city hall titled “Kiel and the navy 1865-2015: 150 years of united history.” In his main speech, Vice Admiral Rainer Brinkmann, the deputy inspector of the navy, spoke about “the growing demands on the navy around the world and, bound up with this, Germany’s dependence on the navy,” according to the German army’s web site. “The once great but now small navy remains at the centre of political events and is also used as a tool in these events,” the admiral declared.
A look at the navy’s official web site reveals that, as in the previous century, the navy is very conscious of its role as the defender of the economic and strategic interests of German imperialism. The web site states bluntly: “The sea is one of Germany’s most important economic fundamentals. For all of the world’s trading nations, the sea is the most important transport route for the exchange of goods. Over 90 percent of total world trade, close to 95 percent of European Union exports and almost 70 percent of Germany’s imports and exports use sea routes. Germany is a highly industrialised export nation, but it lacks raw materials. To be able to act economically and politically, the Federal Republic is especially dependent upon securing the supply of necessary imports.”
The navy’s current strategy paper titled “Imagining the Navy’s goals 2025+,” authored by former navy inspector Wolfgang Nolting, states that the navy is preparing to militarily defend “free and unhindered world trade as the basis for the welfare of Germany and Europe.”
Because Germany “could [have to] confront threats and risks where they emerge,” the navy had to be “capable of long-term and far-off operations, within multinational frameworks and threatened by enemy coastlines.” They had to “therefore focus more on joint combat forces operations and expand their capabilities to support land-based forces from the sea. The further development of the navy into an expeditionary navy is at the forefront of this.”
“Expeditionary navy” is a synonym for a war navy capable of acting globally. The rearming of the submarine fleet, like the deployment of the navy to the Horn of Africa and off the Lebanese coast, and the participation of the navy in NATO exercises aimed at Russia in the Black Sea, is aimed precisely at establishing such a force.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Japan weights options to boost anti-submarine warfare skills


Paul Kallender-Umezu, Defense News

29 March 2015

The JMSDF is aware that it badly needs to update its capabilities against the emerging threat of more advanced Chinese submarines in shallow waters, local defense analyst Shinichi Kiyotani said, and at least some officers in the JMSDF are looking for something much better than the SH-60 platform, which has several disliked but not openly publicized inadequacies.
"The MSDF internally thinks that the SH-60 series is not so good technically any more. It's seen as slow and it suffers from vibration issues, which is a critical point if the MSDF wants more advanced ASW capabilities, and there are other issues," Kiyotani said.
"The impetus for this," Caris said, "is likely twofold: One, the increased aggressiveness and continued growth in the PLAN [Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy] sub fleet, [which the U.S. Navy just announced is now bigger than the U.S. sub fleet]; and two, the recognition that while the SH-60J/K is still in production, it is no longer state-of-the-art."
Designed for a deep-water Soviet threat, the SH-60J is essentially a licensed-built 1980s-era SH-60B Seahawk. Its HQS-103 dipping sonar is at least a generation behind state-of-the art systems for detection of threats in littoral waters, Caris said. And its electronically scanned radar lacks modern processing capabilities such as found on the MH-60R's automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination system, which is a key part of the U.S. Navy's littoral ASW capability, he said.
While the SH-60K upgrade added a new rotorblade and an integrated avionics system, the advanced helicopter combat direction system, none of the basic ASW sensor systems on board was significantly upgraded, he said.
With this in mind, Kiyotani said that pressure is building in the JMSDF in particular and the MoD in general to look beyond an SH-60K upgrade.
"The MoD is increasingly unwilling to purchase expensive domestic aircraft," he said. "The [Shinzo] Abe administration has asked Japanese defense industry to go global, and the new procurement agency being set up in April is genuinely looking to favor an export drive with local production. From this view, the SH-60K is looked upon by some very important people as a backward step."
Added to this, Kiyotani said that MHI was already considering exiting the domestic helicopter market with its small contracts to concentrate on its global aerospace business focused on the highly advanced Mitsubishi regional jet.
"MHI may push for an SH-X upgrade on one level, but my sources tell me that senior MHI people want to exit these low-volume and limited domestic contracts and focus on technologies that converge with and focus sales in the global market."
If the JMSDF demands a more fundamental upgrade and the competition is thrown open, Caris said the procurement would probably pit the SH-60K against two later-generation frames in the shape of Lockheed Martin's SH-60R Seahawk or the NH-90 backed by the European Airbus group.
Against all this, Kiyotani deemed the NH-90 as the best solution. "It's very advanced, Australia has already adopted it, it has fly-by-wire, has an advanced composite airframe, it's very good and it has a long hovering time. If Japanese industry can produce it domestically, or at least make components, then it can export them," he said.

Budget cut hits secret nuclear sub base on India's East Coast

Kalyan Ray, Deccan Hearld
30 March 2015

Project Varsha, India's secret nuclear submarine base on the east coast, has received less than 15 per cent of its approved budget in the current fiscal, adversely affecting its development.
Being constructed at Rambilli, near Vishakhapatnam, the base received a meagre Rs 26 crore in 2014-15 as against the budgetary allocation of Rs 197 crore, sources told Deccan Herald.
The government took away almost Rs 13,000 crore from the Defence Ministry's budge in the current fiscal. This closely-guarded naval facility is one of the projects that faced the consequences. 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who held the defence portfolio for a few months, has now made an allocation of Rs 531 crore in the 2015-16 budget for the submarine pen, which may be named INS Varsha, when commissioned. China has a similar base in the Hainan Islands. 
The slashing of the budget, however, has made Navy officials apprehensive about timely completion of the strategic project.
Though the base's construction began in 2009, the first major cash flow took place in 2011, when the Navy received almost Rs 160 crore, out of which Rs 58 crore was meant for civil construction and the rest for the communication system of the base. 
Since then, Project Varsha was getting a steady supply of funds—it had received Rs 547 crore in 2013-14—before it was struck by cash shortage. 
India operates two nuclear-powered submarines—the Russian origin INS Chakra and the indigenous INS Arihant.
 While two more indigenous nuclear-powered and ballistic-missile-tipped submarines are under construction, New Delhi and Moscow are negotiating for a second Russian nuclear submarine.
INS Varsha would be accompanied by a weapon storage facility called “missile technical positions” (MTP).
 It was also impacted by the budget cut, but to a lesser extent as the budgetary estimate of Rs 237 crore was reduced by Rs 100 crore.
Jaitley has now promised Rs 137 crore for the MTP, which reduces the operational turnaround time in wartime situations.
The finance crunch comes at a time when China is increasingly flexing its military muscle in the Indian Ocean.
After India's outrage over Chinese conventional submarines being refuelled in Sri Lanka, China's People's Liberation Army Navy is now increasingly instructing its nuclear-powered submarines in the Indian Ocean to avoid surfacing at all, said a navy officer.
India has readied a brand new very-low-frequency transmitting station on the Tamil Nadu coast, and installed an ultra-high-frequency transponder on its military satellite GSAT-7 for talking to submarines underwater.

Future U.S. Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

Dan De Luce, Agence France-Presse
27 March 2015

The robotic revolution that transformed warfare in the skies will soon extend to the deep sea, with underwater spy "satellites," drone-launching pods on the ocean floor and unmanned ships hunting submarines.
Officials at the U.S. military's research agency outlined new programs this week that include a number of potentially groundbreaking technologies that could alter the way naval battles are fought, in the same way that robotic aircraft have altered warfare on land and in the air.
One proposed system envisages robot pods on the ocean floor that would be activated when needed.
The pods could launch surveillance drones in the air or at sea or provide a communications link when American forces are facing electronic jamming, said Jared Adams, spokesman for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
"The motivation is to enable timely deployment of unmanned distributed systems to distant locations by pre-deploying the assets years in advance and then triggering their release for rapid effects at future times of our choosing," Adams told AFP.
The program has been dubbed "Upward Falling Payloads," or UPF. And officials said the robot pods floating to the water's surface to release various payloads could perform some roles now carried out by submarines, which are much more expensive to operate.
With America's technological edge shrinking, researchers are looking at how to create and build new weapons quickly, instead of the drawn-out process that usually prevails at the Pentagon.
DARPA Deputy Director Steven Walker said the agency is "rethinking how we develop new military systems" to be more agile and "cost-effective."
"Some of our systems today are extremely capable, the most capable in the world, but they are very complex, they are costly. They take a long time to develop and field," he said.
The UPF program of undersea pods poses serious technological challenges, including how to trigger the launchers, how to make them rise to the surface and how to secure a power supply deep under the ocean for more than a year at a time, Walker said.
DARPA, known for breakthrough experiments over the years that helped create the Internet, stealth aircraft, drones, "smart" bombs and micro-technologies, is also keen on some other maritime research.
One program envisages spying "eyes" on the ocean floor, including mobile and fixed systems, that would act as satellites or "sub-ulites," allowing the U.S. military to spot other countries' submarines.
Researchers with the Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH) expect the "sub-ulites" would have "a detection envelope that's pretty broad," Walker said.
DARPA's scientists also are working on passive sonars deep under sea that would listen out for the "acoustic signatures" of submarines.
Another maritime program at DARPA is moving closer to reality, potentially revolutionizing submarine warfare.
The project would deploy unmanned vessels on the ocean's surface to track enemy submarines, a "ghost ship" that could free up naval warships for other tasks.
Sub-hunting is a notoriously time-consuming and expensive task, particularly diesel submarines that have extremely quiet engines.
If the project succeeds, it could prove a "game-changer" for the navy, officials said.
The program, known as ACTUV or Anti-submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, is developing a 132-foot (40-meter) robotic boat dubbed the "Sea Hunter."
A smaller experimental vessel recently passed a key six-week test in waters off Mississippi without crashing and the next test with a full-sized prototype will reportedly attempt to follow another boat at a 0.6-mile (one-kilometer) distance.
"The navy is working with us to do a sea trial in the fall," Walker said.
The system is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a modern submarine, but offers a potentially effective way to track an enemy's sub.
"It's basically turning the cost equation on its head," Walker added.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard prepares for surge of employment at sub maintenance base

Workforce at highest level in 20 years

Deborah McDermott, Portsmouth (NH) Herald
29 March 2015

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, already the largest employer in the Seacoast, is infusing the area with millions of new dollars as it hires more than 700 workers to handle an ever-increasing demand for submarine maintenance work and to replace an aging workforce.
As the shipyard enters its 100th year of submarine work in 2015, the yard could not be busier, with two submarines currently undergoing a maintenance overhaul and a third going through the decommissioning process.
The additional workers – most of them young and starting out in their work life – are well paid. Typical pay for apprentice workers at the yard is $17.50 an hour; beginning engineers with college degrees can expect to earn $45,400.
And they are a boon to the local economy, said Doug Bates, president of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a great opportunity for our young people,” he said. “They can stay in their home state, get a very good paying job and be in the place they love. We can’t turn the economy around with low-paying jobs, because people can’t afford to live here. These are exactly the kinds of jobs we need.”
PNSY in 2013 had a combined civilian payroll of more than $414 million, according to the most recent shipyard economic impact report by the Seacoast Shipyard Association.
The shipyard will be hiring a total of 715 workers by Sept. 30 of this year, and has already brought on 415 people since October. The vast majority – about 470 in all when hiring is complete – will be apprentice workers. Many of the remaining workers will be skilled engineers, as well as administrative personnel.
When hiring is complete, 5,200 will work for Naval Sea Systems Command at the shipyard, supporting its submarine maintenance and availability work. (Another 800 people work at the shipyard but not for NAVSEA Command.) It’s a net gain of about 500 new jobs, said shipyard commander Capt. William Greene. About 200 workers are replacing retiring workers.
“I think we are very well positioned to be stable if not growing into the future," Greene said. "We certainly have plenty to keep 5,200 people occupied."
Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council at the shipyard, said the growing workforce is "another shot in the arm for the Seacoast economy.”
“It’s huge," he said. "We’re infusing 715 people into our regional workforce, people who make good pay. We’re increasing our NAVSEA workforce by about 15 percent in one year. That’s unbelievable."
The new workers represent a commitment by the U.S. Navy not only to Portsmouth, but to all four public yards. During the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia will be hiring 1,500 workers; Puget Sound in Washington state, 850; and Pearl Harbor, 731, according to the Navy.
“For the Navy, one of its very top priorities is to maintain the ability for forward deployment” of its fleet, said retired Adm. Peter Daly, chief executive officer of the U.S. Naval Institute. “I see them as committed to the path of hiring at the shipyards this fiscal year, and I predict that if there are future budget cuts, it will be a priority to defend these jobs.”
The Navy gives two primary reasons for the new hires at the four shipyards. Adm. Jonathan Greenert, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year, said sequestration in 2013 caused a $9 billion shortfall in the Navy’s budget. One of areas that suffered as a result of those cuts were ship and aircraft maintenance – although mostly work on surface ships suffered. One casualty of those cuts, however, was USS Miami, which was set afire by a PNSY worker. It was to be repaired, but instead was mothballed due to cost.
“Shipyard maintenance work is tightly wound, complex work,” Daly said. “Right now, not all shipyards are keeping up with start dates and end dates of availabilities. They need to catch up with that.”
O’Connor said Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, however, prided itself on working through those budget cuts and getting its work out on time.
“Sure, some of that work got backed up, but we managed to plug and plod our way through that era. Every boat we had in the shipyard even then at the very least got out on time and on budget,” he said.
A big reason for that is the Structural Shop Learning Center at the yard, which simulates a real-life submarine. Apprentices train there and then go on to the actual sub after they’ve gained the skills. According to O’Connor, the center allows apprentices to get onto the subs faster, and reduces incidents of mistakes or workforce accidents on the sub itself.
“We’re training our folks up much quicker than we used to. We did it as a matter of necessity, but it works," he said. "The quicker we can get them trained, the faster we can get them out to the boats. If we didn’t do that, we’d be in a world of hurt.”
The situation is made more urgent because there are proportionally few mid-life workers at the yard due to a hiring freeze in the mid-1990s, said O’Connor, and more and more retiring workers.
Unlike in the private sector, it can take up to five years to fully train a new employee at the shipyard.
“It takes years to be totally proficient in any given trade," O'Connor said. "There’s a lot of complexity in nuclear sub repair and modernization. The demographics are such that a lot of folks are retirement eligible and we have to replace them, but we need time to train those new folks.”
Greene said the yard is expected to hire enough new workers in the future to cover those who are retiring each year and perhaps even slightly more. The yard has a full workload of scheduled work for at least the next 5 to 8 years, he said.
“What I know is that we have plenty of work to keep our folks busy for the next several years, and we’ll be hiring folks to make sure we can meet our increased workload,” he said.
Neil Rolde of York, Maine, past chairman of the Seacoast Shipyard Association, said he’s encouraged by the new jobs, saying the Navy’s decision to increase the yard’s workforce “is about as good as any commitment a governmental agency can make.”
“But it can always change," Rolde warned. "That’s why we keep the organization together. From everything we can see, things are going well at this particular point. But we’ll be forever vigilant.”

U.S. Navy rolling out undersea spy satellites

Aiswarya Lakshmi, Marine Technology
29 March 2015

The robotic series that remade crusade in skies will shortly extend to a low sea, with underwater view “satellites,” drone-launching pods on a sea building and unmanned ships sport submarines, reports AFP.
The pods could launch surveillance drones in the air or at sea or provide a communications link when American forces are facing electronic jamming, said Jared Adams, spokesman for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Adam said that the proclivity is to capacitate timely deployment of unmanned distributed systems to apart locations by pre-deploying a resources years in allege and afterwards triggering their recover for fast effects during destiny times of a choosing.
DARPA is working on a new system that can be used by the US military, more reliable than GPS. The US government wants a more dependable real-time position tracking technology, seeking something that is unable to be jammed and won't have blind spots. 
American researchers are looking during how to emanate and build new weapons quickly, instead of a drawn-out routine that customarily prevails during a Pentagon.
DARPA, famous for breakthrough experiments over a years that helped emanate an Internet, secrecy aircraft, drones, “smart” bombs and micro-technologies, is also penetrating on some other nautical research.
DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program seeks to develop a new type of unmanned surface vessel that could independently track adversaries’ ultra-quiet diesel-electric submarines over thousands of miles. 
One of the challenges that the ACTUV program is addressing is development of autonomous behaviors for complying with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, known as COLREGS. Substantial progress has been made in developing and implementing those behaviors. Currently, ACTUV’s system for sensing other vessels is based on radar, which provides a “90 percent solution” for detecting other ships. 
However, radar is less suitable for classification of the type of other vessels, for example determining whether the vessel is a powered vessel or a sailboat. Additionally, one of the requirements of COLREGS is to maintain “a proper lookout by sight and hearing.”

Electric Boat ramping up for surge in submarine contracts

Julia Bergman, New London Day
29 Mar 2015

GROTON – Around the year 2030, when Electric Boat is turning out both advanced nuclear attack submarines and a new class of ballistic missile submarines, the company anticipates having 18,000 employees, compared to the 13,000 it has today.
That means an average of 330 new hires annually in Connecticut and Rhode Island – many of them welders, pipefitters and sheet metal workers – during the next 15 years.
As EB's Vice President of Human Resources & Administration Maura Dunn says, "That's a lot of growth."
More than 90 percent of that growth will be in the shipyard trades, which will nearly double in size over the next 15 years. With those numbers, the company is looking for partners – community colleges, local high schools and middle schools and others – to supply future employees for work that EB describes as both complex and rewarding.
How large a demand for workers will depend on continued congressional support of the Ohio-class replacement program, a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines to replace the Navy's current force of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines; and continued production of the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine.
The Virginia-class program will include an upgraded version of the submarine that incorporates the Virginia Payload Module, an 80-foot section with four large-diameter payload tubes in the center of the ship.
Future employees most likely will have different backgrounds than today's workers. In Dunn's words, the company needs to make sure it's communicating "what really these jobs mean to everybody, not just people who are kind of targeted to go into trades at the schools."
On a recent trip, Dunn talked with a dean at Rhode Island College in Providence about identifying new ways to find welders, sharing with him a theory she'd heard that welding appeals to men "because they're building something," and to women "because it's art."
"The dean was like, 'Oh my heavens, I have welders on this campus today. They're in the arts school,'" Dunn recalled.
"So to me, I want to make sure, given the large growth that we have and the unique opportunity we have for middle-class manufacturing jobs in America with a rich benefits package, I want to be sure that we're making those opportunities available to everyone," Dunn said. "We need to make sure that everybody knows the story of what's available at EB."
The company also will need to attract younger Americans to replace its senior workforce. On average, 263 EB employees have retired during each of the past five years. Currently, 61 percent of EB's employees are over the age of 40.
In addition to the expected 330 new jobs each year, EB will have to hire about another 250 workers to replace those who will retire or leave for other reasons, for a total of nearly 600 openings annually. The employment growth is expected to begin at EB's Quonset Point, R.I., facility, where large sections of hulls are assembled, in 2018, and then in Groton in 2020.
"There is already a kind of generational change going on" at the company right now, Dunn said.
EB may be able to help reverse a longstanding state trend by attracting younger workers, who largely have left over the years for better opportunities in other states.
Connecticut is one of the most rapidly aging states in the country because of its lack of job creation, according to Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut.
"We hear that people are leaving Connecticut. Yeah, people have been leaving Connecticut because there are no
economic opportunities here," Carstensen said. "We can't keep young people, either high school or college graduates, if there are no jobs for them."
The shipyard jobs EB will offer provide "real solid entry" to the middle class for those with a high school degree or equivalent, Dunn said.
"It's a unique opportunity in a country where we're clamoring for manufacturing jobs," she added
State Department of Labor data shows that there were 159,700 employees working in the manufacturing sector in Connecticut in December 2014, the most recent numbers available for that month. That's in comparison to 237,100 workers in December 1999. That's a loss of more than 77,000 manufacturing jobs in the state over a 15-year period – more than 5,000 a year.
The anticipated growth at EB barely would make a dent when it comes to regaining the manufacturing jobs that have been lost, but the pay and benefits the company offers does make it "a good place to make a living and support your family," said Ken DelaCruz, president of the Metal Trades Council, the bargaining unit for most shipyard workers.
The average starting salary for a worker in the trades at EB is about $38,000 a year, "and then very quickly you can advance," Dunn said. The average salary for more senior workers is in the $56,000-plus range.
"On top of that is a benefits package worth probably another 50 percent," she said, adding that there are good opportunities for overtime "for a lot of these folks."
The biggest pitch that the company has, Dunn said, is that the "technical challenge of our work is unprecedented." On job postings, the company describes itself as "the world's foremost designer and builder of nuclear submarines, the most complex machines made by man."
Training for new trades workers ranges from one week for painters to three months for welders, with three weeks being the training period for most trades. Training also covers shipyard safety, benefits and company policies.
'Hot And Heavy On Welding'
Not everything will be new at EB.
"On the trades side, we're actually out revitalizing some of the infrastructure that we used to have in the peak of our hiring with the last generation of ships in the '80s," Dunn said.
The EB designer apprenticeship program graduated a class in June 2014, but the shipyard trades apprentice program is currently inactive.
"I'd like to restart the apprenticeship program, which in the past has been very good," DelaCruz said, adding, "Hopefully, we can work with technical schools and colleges for specialized training going forward."
Hiring at EB is cyclical, given the nature of the work.
"There are certain phases of construction, like right now, (when) we're hot and heavy on welding," he said, adding that certain trades are more heavily engaged on the front end of construction and others at the finish.
"When this thing picks up, we're going to be looking for just about every trade," he added, a constant need for everything from outside electricians to welders.
Those in the EB yard today are eager for the increase in work after some recent rocky years.
"We're excited, but the last couple of years, especially on the waterfront side, up until now the workload has been constantly shrinking, and it has been tough in some of the trades," DelaCruz said recently. "There's been a spike of work and we've called some of the folks back, then it drops off. We're all looking forward to this major influx of work."
Back in the early 1990s, DelaCruz said, the trades had about 9,000 workers, compared to about 2,400 right now.
EB wants to continue to maintain "the high degree of local workforce participation" that it has, Dunn said, noting that more than 80 percent of EB's employees come from Rhode Island and Connecticut. Around 81 percent of workers at the company's Groton and New London locations hail from within the state, and 85 percent of the Rhode Island workforce is local.
"We want to keep it that way as we grow," Dunn said. "Our goal is to make sure that we create jobs for people from our region."
Since the federal government purchases submarines in large quantities, EB has been focused on maintaining the size of its cyclical workforce.
"As we were more in the replacement hiring mode for the last, let's say, 10, 15 years, the game has really changed on how you recruit people," she said
To that end, EB is discussing how it can get the word out about its opportunities "on a variety of platforms," Dunn said, "everything from a cellphone to other mobile devices, so people can find us and learn about the great opportunities here."
Region's Forecast Looking Up
Carstensen, the UConn economist, said what's happening at EB fits into a larger trajectory of growth in the state that includes the biotech industry, particularly Jackson Labs, which is building a new nonprofit research institute in Farmington, and some hiring at Pfizer's Groton facility.
And if the National Coast Guard Museum comes to fruition in downtown New London, that would further growth by increasing tourism locally.
"If this trajectory continues, then we will be adding some significant population, some significant jobs over the next 15, 20 years," he said.
At the high school and community college level, Carstensen said, "we'll see a strong response in helping students acquire the specific skillsets needed for EB and for these other areas."
Historically, the state has been accused of doing a poor job linking its educational pipeline with workforce needs. Carstensen credited Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with turning this around slightly by "pushing community colleges" in the state to respond to workforce need. And while some of the community colleges have advanced manufacturing programs, more needs to be done, Carstensen said.
In Connecticut, unlike some other states, "there isn't discretionary money for community colleges to mount programs responsive to the needs of Connecticut businesses," he said, adding that South Carolina has a discretionary budget of $3 million or $4 million for linking its educational system to workforce needs.
To that end, EB is in the beginning stages of talks with the Ella T. Grasso Regional Technical School in Groton, which
is renovating its existing welding space. EB and school officials are discussing alignment of the welding curriculum with company needs. The school expects to offer a welding program for adults starting next spring, and hopes to open it up to students in the next few years.
"It's an excellent opportunity and there's a lot of interest," said Principal Patricia Feeney, who added that the "phone is ringing constantly" with people interested in finding out when the program is going to start.

This camouflage coating hides submarines from sonar

William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics
27 March 2015

Imagine a material that wicks sound across its surface like water droplets sliding over a windowpane. For submarines, such a coating would mean an entirely new way to slip past sonar without detection as sound waves pass harmlessly around the vessel.
Physicist Baile Zhang and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore think they may have found a way to design such a coating, which could work for any 3D shape—sharp corners included. In a new research paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, he describes why this theoretical material could work and what you'd need to make it.

How it works

Zhang says that when sound waves like sonar hit his proposed coating, they strike an acoustically tuned material called a phononic crystal. That crystal bends the waves so that when they bounce off the hull, they loops around—smacking right back onto the surface to bounce over and over again. Zhang likens the process to a professional soccer player curving the ball.
Theoretically, the shape of the material you've coated doesn't matter. As you can see above, the curving sound waves will bounce past sharp corners and flat surfaces alike.
Zhang says that while this new surface is still just a theoretical prospect, he sees no reason why he and his colleagues can't build and begin experimenting on the coating within the next few months.
As for the future promise it might hold for sonar camouflage: "In principle, if a sound wave can be smoothly
guided around the submarine without reflection, it can escape detection from sonar, because the sonar works by detecting deflected signals," he says.

Many ways to hide a sub

Avoiding sonar detection is just a game of making sure you don't let incoming sound-waves bounce back to where they came from, Zhang ssays. That means there are plenty of other (at least theoretical) cloaking methods that also could do the job. So how does Zhang's approach compare?
Valentine Leroy, a physicist at Paris Diderot University in France, has developed a different method of sub camouflage. He's proposed a way to almost perfectly sound-proof a submersible. "The general idea goes back to Germany during WWII," Leroy says, "the idea then was to use some coating material like rubber to dampen the sonar [bounce-back]," making a submarine harder to detect, he says.
Rather than rubber, Leroy found that that a thin sheet of bubble-filled material (think of it like Bubble Wrap) works even better. Why? When the sonar wave smacks the bubbly coating, the energy of the wave is transformed into the vibration of the tiny bubbles, which which soaks up and disperses sound. In practice, a 4-millimeter film of such a material could dampen a sonar signal by as much as 99 percent, Leroy says.
There are other even crazier sounding ideas for acoustic camouflage. One concept would use an array of underwater speakers blast back a synchronized sound wave (with the exact opposite amplitude) whenever sonar hits a ship. In theory, the deflected sonar would be cancelled out into silence.
The undersea cat-and-mouse game continues.

Will India lease another Russian nuke sub for $970 million?

By Ankit Panda/The Diplomat
30 March 2015

In December 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to India, traditionally a major consumer of Russia-made military equipment. In New Delhi, Putin met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two pledged to deepen their defense ties. During that visit, Russia’s trade minister, Denis Manturov, hinted that Moscow would eagerly lease a nuclear submarine to India if there was interest:  “If India decides to have more contracts to lease nuclear submarines, we are ready to supply,” he noted India currently operates one Akula-II-class nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra, leased in 2011 from Russia for a 10 year period. The lease weighs in at $970 million, representing a considerable portion of India’s cumulative spending on Russian equipment.
The Russian minister’s comments were not entirely out of left field: Indian defense ministry officials had told the press that the Indian Navy would acquire another nuclear submarine from Russia. After December, information surrounding a potential second submarine lease died down — until this week. The Russia and India Report noted last week that a Russian shipbuilding industry source noted that “Russia is ready to lease a second Project 971 Shchuka-B submarine to India for a period of ten years.” The report continues:
The submarine will be customized by the Amur shipyards. Modernization and testing of the submarine and training of the Indian crew will take three years. The Kashalot will be transferred to the Indian Navy in 2018, the source noted.
The specific submarine to be leased is the K-322 Kashalot, an Akula-II-class submarine (Akula is the NATO reporting name for the Shchuka) with a surface displacement of 8,140 tons, submerged speed of 30 knots, and maximum operating depth of 520 meters. The Kashalot additionally requires a crew of 73 sailors and uses a 190 mW nuclear reactor for propulsion. The Kashalot features eight torpedo tubes in total, with four bays designed for 630 mm torpedoes and the remainder designed for 533 mm torpedoes (optimized for Russian-made Type 65 and Type 53 torpedoes).
In a separate report earlier last week from Russia's state-run TASS news agency a “high-placed source in the system of Russia’s military and technical cooperation with foreign countries” notes that ”In January this year, the Indian side suggested transferring the second project 971 multipurpose nuclear submarine Kashalot for lease.” He adds that ”the Russian side is studying the issue.” ”The procedure will most likely be similar to the procedure, which was used for transferring the first submarine called Nerpa to the Indian side,” TASS‘ source adds.
In addition to the INS Chakra, India is currently conducting sea trials for an additional nuclear submarine, the indigenously developed INS Arihant. India has an additional three submarines planned as part of the Arihant-class. The major distinction between India’s Akula-class and Arihant-class is that the latter is an SSBN and a critical part of ensuring a robust nuclear triad for New Delhi. The INS Chakra and the K-322 Kashalot are attack submarines, intended for anti-surface combat, sea-denial, and coastal defense purposes.
India’s submarine procurement plans were defined primarily by a thirty-year plan, conceived of in the late-1990s, which envisages a modernized submarine force consisting of submarines acquired in equal parts from the West and Russia, complemented by an indigenous design.