Friday, May 19, 2017

Labour Party Backs Renewal Of Trident In Manifesto

Staff, Times & Star
16 May 2017

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

Asian Submarine Race Raises Security Concerns

Jeevan Vasagar, Financial Times
17 May 2017

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

Southeast Asia Building Up Maritime Defenses

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

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

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

Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior
4 May 2017 

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

 Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

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

Next-Generation Technology

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

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

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg Government
4 May 2017 

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

Trillion-Dollar Modernization

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

Iran Attempted Missile Launch From Submarine, US Officials Say

Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News
3 May 2017

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

US Navy Considers UAVS To Maintain Visual On Sailors At Sea

Staff, Naval-Technology
4 May 2017

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Undersea Rescue Command Installs Submarine Rescue Diving, Recompression System

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

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

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

Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer
3 May 2017 

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

EB Workforce Surpasses 15,000 Employees; More Hires Planned

Julia Bergman, The Day
2 May 2017

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

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

OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Magazine
2 May 2017

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

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

Lee Hudson, Inside The Navy
21 April 2017 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carl Stroud, The Sun
28 April 2017 

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

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

Justin Doubleday, Inside Defense
26 April 2017 

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

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

Felix K. Chang, EurasiaReview
1 May 2017

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

China’s Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent

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

China’s Southern Strategy

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

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

Colin Clark, Breaking Defense
28 April 2017

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