Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Canadian sub Chicoutimi expected back at sea by end of year, says RCN commander

David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
30 August 2016

The Victoria-class submarine HMCS Windsor, as outlined in a previous Defence Watch post, will be taking part in Exercise Cutlass Fury, expected in mid-September.
Another sub, HMCS Corner Brook, is in deep maintenance.
The Royal Canadian Navy is continuing to deal with problems with welds on the remaining subs, HMCS Victoria and HMCS Chicoutimi, Vice Admiral Ron Lloyd, head of the RCN, told Defence Watch. 
A February inspection of 344 welds on HMCS Chicoutimi showed 30 needed immediate repairs, according to the Times Colonist newspaper. The work is being done under warranty by Babcock Canada. Also to be inspected are 325 welds on HMCS Victoria.
“The contractor has taken on and has dealt with this head on, and he’s going to include it as warranty work,” Lloyd told Defence Watch. “And they’re working full out in terms of rectifying this shortcoming.”
“Our goal is to have Chicoutimi at sea by the end of the year, looking to employ her more fulsomely in 2017,” Lloyd explained. “And then once we’ve got Chicoutimi back to sea, we’ll start focusing our attention on HMCS Victoria.”

North Korea reportedly building new submarine fleet; but there's no proof of nuclear weapons yet

Nandini Krishnamoorthy, International Business Times
31 August 2016

Building a new submarine fleet seems to be on top of the priority list for North Korea. It has come at a time when Pyongyang has been making progress with its weapons technology while also posing threats to other countries because of its missile launches.
According to a Reuters report, satellite images from 10 August have revealed that the isolated country has a new construction hall that has come up at its Sinpo submarine base on the east coast.
It is, however, not clear if the new hall would house a new class of submarines, but the new structure is reportedly being built alongside a revamped pier inside the base. At the same time, it reportedly does not have a fleet of submarines yet that can launch any newly developed missile.
On 24 August, Kim Jong-un's country fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off its east coast that reportedly flew about 500km (300 miles) before landing near Japan's territory in the East Sea.
Moon Keun-sik, a retired South Korean submarine captain said: "North Korea will be or is already in the process of building a newer, bigger submarine that may happen as early as next year."
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the North may not have developed a nuclear weapon yet.
In March, the North boasted about its abilities to develop miniature warheads despite doubts that it can acquire or develop the technology. Leader Kim Jong-un announced then that his reclusive kingdom had miniaturized warheads that could be mounted on ballistic missiles.
However, Reuters reported on Wednesday (31 August) that it is not clear if the country has indeed developed a nuclear weapon as no evidence was available to ascertain it. But last week, Kim had stressed the need to speed up the mounting of nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles following testing of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SBLM). He said it was needed to gear up for an "unpredicted" war with the US.
An analysis of recent satellite images seen by the news agency reported that Pyongyang has modernized or expanded three of its major factories that produce machine parts of its nuclear and missile programs. The UN and the US have sanctions against the country for test-launching its ballistic missiles.
"North Korea has dramatically increased the pace of missile testing and invested heavily in modernizing its factories that produce them, something we can see in satellite images," Jeffrey Lewis from the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said. "These investments have paid off with the recent test of a solid-fuelled submarine-launched missile, but North Korea has not yet completed development of a submarine to carry that missile."
Kim's assertion about miniaturizing a nuclear warhead came at a time when tensions were running high in the Korean peninsula following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January, despite several sanctions slapped against the country. It also threatened its rivals — South Korea and the US, which said it has to be taken as a "credible threat".
Yang Uk, senior defense researcher and a policy adviser to the South Korean navy, believes the North is capable of developing a miniature nuclear weapon. "But they don't have any standardized warhead yet to put on missiles. They keep gathering data through nuclear tests and working to standardize a warhead."

China’s Underwater Great Wall: Subsurface sensors give Beijing the drop on South China Sea challengers

Sarosh Bana, The Washington Times
30 August 2016

The stakes in the South China Sea (SCS) are apparently reaching down to the murky depths of this contentious waterway as Beijing readies its undersea surveillance network to consolidate its presence in the region.
The China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC), one of China’s top shipbuilding and defense groups that builds virtually all People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, has been laying a network of ship and subsurface sensors that it calls the Underwater Great Wall Project that is designed to gain Beijing an enormous undersea warfare advantage. Estimated to be close to completion, the project will help China push its effective control zone and track all submarine, surface and aerial activity in the littoral. CSSC is also flaunting the system as “a package solution” in terms of underwater environment monitoring and collection, real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets, warning of seaquakes, tsunamis and other disasters, as well as for garnering research data on marine life and geology.
Project details were made available at a CSSC booth at a public exhibition in China late last year, with IHS Jane’s managing to have them translated from a government official. The CSSC document is quoted as claiming that one of the company’s objectives is to provide its customers with “a package solution in terms of underwater environment monitoring and collection, real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets, warning of seaquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters as well as marine scientific research.”
The CSSC model appears to be a vastly advanced and comprehensive version of the Sound Surveillance System that had accorded the United States a significant advantage in countering Soviet submarines during the Cold War. The system was comprised of an array of hydrophones on the ocean bottom connected by undersea cables along the entire U.S. East Coast to onshore processing centers.
The Underwater Great Wall gives visible shape to China’s intent on asserting its role in the region. Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over almost the entire South China and East China seas have sparked disputes with its neighbors such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
The bone of contention has been the various island enclaves, not of much value in themselves, but the possession of which would provide strategic, resource-rich continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones that extend 200 nautical miles from the low-water shoreline. Toward this, China has been creating islands and militarizing them to further its access to marine resources. Also, Beijing’s energy-hungry, export-driven economy that is heavily reliant on raw material and fuel imports seeks to buttress its suzerainty over the regional Sea Lines of Communication that are critical to the survival of the entire Asia-Pacific community.
It is largely to its seaborne trade that China owes its spectacular economic transformation that helped shrink the 61 percent of its population living in extreme poverty in 1990 to only 4 percent by 2015. One study reckons that of the 4 billion tonnes added to global seaborne trade between 2002 and 2014, Chinese imports accounted for 94 percent of the increase in iron ore volumes and 35 percent in coal volumes, while Chinese exports accounted for 60 percent of the expansion in container trade.
To ensure safe passage to its maritime trade and expand its commercial footprint, China has been extending its blue-water presence in its neighborhood through the establishment of its South Sea Fleet surface combatants in Guangdong province, which faces Hainan Island, where its nuclear-submarine fleet is located. The area also has the deployment of precision cruise and advanced ballistic missiles that can target all current U.S. bases and naval forces in the region.
The ominous developments are posing a threat to the Asia-Pacific as a whole, the fastest-growing economic region in the world. While this region has hitherto been driven by commercial interests, this widening unrest threatens the sea lanes that are its lifeline.
China’s military posturing challenges the United States, viewing Washington’s pursuit of its “pivot” to Asia as an American attempt to curb Chinese influence across the region and embolden countries to challenge China on the maritime disputes. Beijing has argued, too, that this policy is aimed at containing its legitimately expanding economy and military, and bolstering American presence in this region of the future.
Though Washington has sought to be neutral, it is conscious of the need for freedom of navigation for all countries. Hence, it finds it imperative to raise its already-formidable profile in the Asia-Pacific. Its numerous military bases in the region include 17 in Japan and 12 in South Korea, while it also has a presence in Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, Guam and Singapore, and on the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
Through its Underwater Great Wall, China may also well affirm the so-called “nine-dash line” that it had unilaterally delineated in 1947 to claim as much as 90 percent of the 1.4 million square-mile expanse of the South China Sea. And it was this claim that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague debunked in July in a case against China brought before it by the Philippines.
Not only the creation itself of the Underwater Great Wall, but its locational sweep in disputed waters, may spark fresh reprisals from nations in the littoral that are no longer agreeable to countenance any further excesses.

Electric Boat gets $300 million Virginia-class submarine contract

Geoff Ziezulewicz, UPI
30 August 2016

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- General Dynamics Electric Boat has been awarded a $300 million U.S. Navy contract for various work on the fleet of Virginia-class submarines.
The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract covers lead yard services, development studies and design efforts for the class.
Lead yard services will involve maintaining, updating and supporting the Virginia class design and related drawings and data for each boat, including technology insertion, throughout its construction and post shakedown availability period.

The contract also calls for the provision of all engineering and the related lead yard services necessary for direct maintenance and support of Virginia-class ship specifications.
Work will be performed in Connecticut, Virginia and Rhode Island and has an expected completion date of September 2017.
Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.
The Virginia class is the Navy's next-generation attack submarine, with boats slated to replace those in the aging Los Angeles class.

Chief of Naval Operations Richardson: US Navy is Focusing on Enemy Submarine Threat

Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
30 August 2016

Enemy submarines remain the single most dangerous threat to the United States Navy’s aircraft carriers and its surface fleet at large. However the service is working on improving its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as the once-dormant Russian undersea force reemerges and China grows its fleet.
While anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles often capture the lion’s share of the attention, submarines armed with Russian-made 533mm and 650mm waking-homing torpedoes are among the only threats that can actually sink an aircraft carrier. “A torpedo properly placed under the right part of the keel is one of the few things that can actually flat out sink an aircraft carrier,” retired U.S. Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix, director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security told The National Interest.
The U.S. Navy’s top leadership agrees—submarines remain the single greatest threat to the carrier and the surface fleet. “That’s not new news,” Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told The National Interest on Aug. 25 during an interview in his office in the Pentagon. “The submarine is a very asymmetric weapon. By virtue of its continued ability to stay hidden... It’s immune from a lot of those detection systems, which is the first step in any kind of a weapon engagement—you got to detect.”
Richardson said that the U.S. Navy is focusing more on ASW with a combination of air, sea and undersea forces. One way to ensure the safety of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet is to ensure that the service’s attack submarine (SSN) force remains dominant in the undersea realm. “We spend a lot of time on that dynamic,” said Richardson, who spent most of his long naval career onboard nuclear-powered submarines. “One is for our own submarines, we want to make sure they can get into those really influential places and stay there—and part of staying there is being stealthy enough to remain hidden and keep that undersea superiority we have.”
But increasingly, for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. Navy finds itself challenged under the waves. “There is an awful lot of competition for that space,” Richardson said. “So we can’t get complacent, we can’t rest on our laurels for one minute, otherwise that window will close and we’ll find—that they’re achieved parity undersea. So we’ve got to continue to push and also to develop our own anti-submarine warfare system which is an area of really big emphasis.”
The U.S. Navy currently has about fifty-two attack submarines in its fleet against a requirement for forty-eight boats. However, even with fifty-two boats, the service is struggling to meet the demands of combatant commanders in the North Atlantic and the Pacific as the Russian and Chinese fleets ramp up their activities. But the problem is that the SSN force is set to shrink to forty-one by 2029.
While the threat posed by the Russian and Chinese fleets is real, it is not a crisis per se. “It’s not an insurmountable problem by any means,” Richardson said. “But having said that, we need to be cautious. The Russians have always built very sophisticated submarines and they’re a very creative people; their engineering is getting better. So I am always cautioning my team about writing anybody off too soon. In terms of the complexity of the threat, the Russians are setting the pace.”
China poses more of a threat just in terms of the sheer number of submarines Beijing has at its disposal. “In terms of just a capacity challenge, the Chinese are building a lot of submarines,” Richardson said. “Some of them—at least from a quietness standpoint, it’s going to take some time to find them—they’re diesels, they’re AIP—those sorts of things. They’re just inherently quiet... it’s just something that’s going to take a while to achieve because you have to find them and get to them. And then quantity has a quality of its own.”
Given the threat, the Navy is reviewing its forty-eight-boat requirement because it was set at a time before the reemergence of the Russian fleet and before China became a factor beneath the waves. Thus, given those factors, the Navy’s current forty-eight-boat requirement is likely set too low. “We have to validate what’s the right number and then what can we do to mitigate that risk,” Richardson said.
But exactly how the U.S. Navy will mitigate those risks has yet to be determined.
“We’re doing a force-structure assessment this summer to get at some of those questions,” Richardson said. The Navy is trying to find a balancing point between the number of submarines it needs versus the available resources. “Even unlimited resources don’t mean you buy unlimited amounts of submarines or ships or aircraft carriers or whatever. There is an adequate amount that gets you to a point where you have addressed all of your risks,” Richardson said.
Even if the Navy did set the requirement for the number of SSNs at a higher level, it is not clear what the service can do to address the shortfall. Richardson said, for example, the service could look at further extending the lives of some of its Improved Los Angeles-class submarines and building an additional Virginia-class boat in fiscal year 2021 onwards so that production remains at two SSNs per year. “We’re looking at every trick we’ve got,” Richardson said.
Ultimately, the Navy will need to increase submarine production if it wants to make up for the submarine deficit, but that will mean that Congress will have to increase the service’s shipbuilding budget. “We reach a minimum of
about 40 to 41 in the late ‘20s, early ‘30s before we start climbing back up out of that,” Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, the Navy’s program executive officer for submarines, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on July 8. “This is not something we can we fix at this point—it’s the result of decisions made long ago.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

South Korea says no plans to introduce nuclear submarines

Ahn Young-joon, The Associated Press
29 August 2016

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's Defense Ministry said Monday it has no plans to introduce nuclear-powered submarines, despite calls by lawmakers to do so following a recent test of a submarine-launched missile by rival North Korea. 
The ballistic missile traveled about 500 kilometers (310 miles), the greatest distance achieved by North Korea for such a weapon. Last week's test caused jitters among many South Koreans because submarine-based missiles are harder to detect before launch than land-based ones. 
A group of 21 ruling party lawmakers issued a joint statement on Sunday calling for the introduction of nuclear-powered submarines to better deal with increasing security threats from North Korea. 
But the Defense Ministry said Monday it has no such plan, without elaborating.
Acquiring nuclear submarines is a sensitive issue for South Korea because it could trigger opposition from nations such as the United States and China amid worries about a regional arms race. 
After North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January, some conservative lawmakers and scholars demanded that South Korea develop its own nuclear weapons, but the government dismissed the request. 
The United States, which stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, has long said the protective "nuclear umbrella" it provides South Korea is meant to deter an attack on its ally by North Korea. 
North Korea is seeking to develop nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the continental U.S. Outside experts say the country doesn't yet have such weapons.

New Zealand to Upgrade Anti-Submarine Warfare Capability

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
30 August 2016

The New Zealand Ministry of Defense has awarded U.S. aircraft maker Boeing a $24.1 million contract for the upgrade of six P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, New Zealand’s Minister of Defense Gerry Brownlee announced on August 24.
“Knowing what is happening underwater is integral to monitoring submarine activity,” Brownlee said. “This is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to two-thirds of the world’s submarines. The current Orion systems are old and have become less reliable.”
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) currently operates a fleet of six P3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The RNZAF took delivery of the first five P-3B Orion planes all the way back in 1966. In 1985, a sixth used aircraft was purchased from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). All six aircraft were upgraded with new avionics and new radio systems in the 1980s under the defense ministry’s Project RIGEL.
The new upgrade will equip the aircraft with a new underwater intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability package in order to boost the P-3K2 planes’ anti-submarine warfare capabilities.  This so-called anti-submarine acoustic processing system will be very similar to the one installed aboard the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.
“Maintaining an advantage against stealthy undersea adversaries is crucial for most maritime nations,” said Lance Towers, the director of Boeing Electronic & Information Solutions. “The Boeing technology added to New Zealand’s P-3 fleet incorporates more than 40 years of experience in undersea warfare and acoustics intelligence, providing a capability that is unique in the Asia-Pacific region.”
In detail, Boeing will install an advanced acoustic processor with its software into the mission system of the P-3K2. Boeing’s advanced acoustic system is capable of localizing and tracking submarines. It processes and displays information from deployed sonobuoys floating in the water on tactical displays aboard the P-3K2.
“Anti-submarine warfare is a key part of the New Zealand Defense Force’s combat capability,” said the head of the RNZAF, Air Vice Marshall Tony Davies. “This upgrade will ensure that the P-3K2 remains credible and valued by our partners as the New Zealand Defense Force’s only asset capable of wide area underwater surveillance.”
Boeing has teamed up with local companies, including Safe Air, Beca, and Marops Ltd. of New Zealand and Sonartech Atlas of Australia, to provide through-life or integrated logistics support for the aircraft. The upgrade is slated to be completed by the end of 2018. The RNZAF’s six P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft are expected to retire from service in the 2020s.

Analysts: North Korea to Build New Ballistic Missile Submarine

Brian Padden, VOA News
30 August 2016

North Korea could soon develop a new submarine that will incorporate ongoing ballistic missile advances being made and increasing the military’s capability to carry out a nuclear strike from the sea.
Pyongyang’s recent successful submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test flew 500 kilometers before falling into the sea inside Japan’s air defense identification zone.
 It has raised concerns that the North is also working on a new submarine that can fire multiple ballistic missiles.
“The fact that North Korea is making SLBM means it is making a submarine which can deploy the SLBM, and I think they can make the submarine into a nuclear powered submarine,” said Park Hwee-rhak, a political science professor at Kookmin University.
 Developing a submarine with nuclear power would allow it to stay underwater for long periods of time, and to travel longer distances at higher speeds while remaining undetected.
Moon Keun-sik, a defense analyst at the Korea Defense Security Forum, said he expects North Korea to build a 3,000-ton submarine with three SLBM launch tubes.
 Recent satellite images of the North Korean naval base near Sinpo show a launching way and large construction hall in a secure boat basin, that analysts say could be used to build and launch a new ballistic missile submarine.
 Despite the North’s recent progress, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said it is unlikely that any new SLBM capable vessel would become operational before 2020.
Gorae prototype
 The North used a prototype Gorae submarine (Gorae is Korean for whale) for its recent SLBM test. It is diesel powered, can stay submerged for a few hours at a time and has only one launch tube that could fire an intermediate range missile.
 The rest of North Korea’s fleet of approximately 70 submarines is older, like the Romeo-class submarines built with 1950s technology, and too small for a ballistic missile launch vessel.
 North Korea also claims to have developed the capability to miniaturize a nuclear device to fit on a missile warhead, but it has not yet demonstrated the technology.
South Korea
 South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday ordered her military to develop effective measures to counter the North’s increasing nuclear and missile capabilities.
“I call upon you to maintain a robust posture to retaliate, to make sure that any attempt by the North at engaging in any form of provocation will lead to the self-destruction of the North Korean regime,” Park said.
In Seoul’s National Assembly, some lawmakers have raised concern that the North’s new submarine missile capability, which could strike from anywhere along the coast, could make the U.S. THAAD missile defense system that is aimed northwards ineffective.
They have urged the South Korean military to accelerate the development of a secondary “Kill Chain” missile defense system to defend against possible submarine based missile attacks.
 Chung Jin-suk, a leader of ruling Saenuri party has called for the South to deploy its own nuclear powered submarine that can track down and block any incursions from the North.
“[I urge] South Korean military to actively consider deployment of nuclear powered submarine which has a capacity to operate underwater for an extended period of time, a high-tech sonar system, and striking power,” he said.
 The South Korea Defense Ministry said it will look into all options but is not considering a nuclear submarine at this time.
 Acquiring nuclear submarines is a sensitive issue for South Korea because it could trigger opposition from nations such as the United States and China amid worries about a regional arms race.
Security cooperation
 The U.S., which maintains over 28,000 troops in South Korea, and 50,000 troops in Japan, has pledged to defend its allies against a nuclear attack.
The U.S. allies have increased security cooperation and information sharing in the face the growing North Korean threat.
 U.S. nuclear submarines also routinely operate in international waters in the region on what the Navy describes as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

USS Houston Decommissions After 33 Years of Service

MC1 Amanda Gray, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs
29 August 2016

BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713) was decommissioned during a ceremony held at Deterrent Park at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Aug. 26. 
 Houston Sailors, past and present, along with friends and families celebrated her 33 years of honorable service to the U.S. submarine force.
 Originally homeported at Pearl Harbor, Houston arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington, for inactivation and decommissioning July 14. Houston will spend the next year going through deactivation and the disassembling of components for historical archiving.
 Houston's 13th Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Lewis, from Bend, Oregon, was the keynote speaker for the event.
 "Today we are here to say farewell to USS Houston and allow her to pass the torch to the next generation of submarines," Lewis said. "It is with a sad and heavy heart that I am here, along with so many of her former shipmates, to give her our final thanks and honor a fast ship who sailed into harm's way time and time again, and that always brought her crew back home safe and sound; and for this, we as a nation are forever grateful."
 Throughout Houston's successful service, the boat conducted nine Western Pacific deployments, performing missions vital to national security and developing maritime partnerships with foreign Western Pacific nations. Recently, she served as the training platform for not only her crew, but for 46 submariners from five other boats, and provided command courses for prospective commanding officers.
 Houston's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott McGinnis, from Richmond, Virginia, was presented with a Mayoral Proclamation from Councilman Gregory Travis from the city of Houston, proclaiming Aug. 26 as USS Houston (SSN 713) Day.
 "We are honored by this proclamation and appreciate the support of the great city of Houston," said McGinnis.
 Houston, the fourth U.S. Navy vessel named in honor of the city of Houston was constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia, and was commissioned Sept. 25, 1982.
 "Today is not a wake for the steel and metal that make up Houston, but a celebration of all the work and effort which made her successful," said McGinnis. "Congratulations Houston warriors, you have served your nation well. You have been strong for over three decades and our spirit will continue on in other crews throughout the Navy. I have been honored to lead this fine team for her final years."
 Houston joined the fleet as the 132nd nuclear-powered submarine and the 20th of the Los Angeles class. She earned two Navy Unit Commendations and a Meritorious Unit Commendation throughout her service.

USS Decatur, USS Spruance Conduct Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise with Japan

U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs, Navy.Mil
29 August 2016

PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) conducted bilateral training exercises in the Philippine Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMDSF), Aug. 22-26.
 The Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness Effectiveness Measuring (SHAREM) program is a series of events focused on anti-submarine warfare procedures and tactics designed to measure how effectively surface ships and aircraft can detect and track submarines. It also served as a joint exercise with JMSDF naval assets, with both countries embarking liaison officers from the other to maximize communication and understanding throughout the evolution.
 "SHAREM was an exceptional opportunity to improve our anti-submarine warfare skills and work alongside our Japanese allies," said Lt. j.g. Sean Quirk, anti-submarine warfare officer, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31. "These unique exercises improve our bilateral capabilities, making us a stronger combined force to deter any adversary."
 Decatur and Spruance were joined by the Japanese Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DDG 116), an Oyashio-class diesel-electric submarine and a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine. In the initial days of the event, the ships took advantage of their close proximity and ran maneuvering drills and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) exercises.
 "The relationship with JMSDF is a crucial aspect of our overall partnership with the Japanese," said Capt. Charles Johnson, commander, CDS 31. "I believe that by conducting the SHAREM and other exercises together, and analyzing the effectiveness of our tactics it will further improve our interoperability."
 Decatur and Spruance, along with USS Momsen (DDG 92) and the embarked "Devil Fish" and "Warbirds" detachments of Helicopter Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 are part of the 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG), led by CDS 31 and operating under Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, as demonstrating the "3rd Fleet Forward" concept. 
 Since departing on deployment in April, the 3rd Fleet PAC SAG executed various naval activities and routine missions in the Western Pacific, including Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) as well as joint exercises with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps and bilateral exercises with several countries, including the Republic of Korea, Australia and Japan, which helped strengthen international maritime relations.
 The U.S. Navy maintains a presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to help preserve peace and security and to further partnerships with friends and allies. The 3rd Fleet PAC SAG initiative leverages the technological and tactical assets of the three modern destroyers, allowing for a quick response to virtually any situation in the region.
 U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. 3rd Fleet works constantly with U.S. 7th Fleet. The forces of both fleets complement one another across the spectrum of military operations in the Pacific.

Michelle Obama's ship has come in, the Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois

Washington (CNN) — The US Navy has received an attack submarine sponsored by first lady Michelle Obama and named for her home state, the Navy announced Monday.
The USS Illinois, a Virginia-class submarine, was christened by Obama at a ceremony last October. It was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Obama, a native of Chicago, has made support of service members and veterans of the military, along with their families, a central focus of her role as first lady. 
In Navy tradition, the sponsor a ship is mostly a ceremonial role and normally filled by a woman. Technically the sponsor is considered a member of the crew and may advocate for the ship's continued service. Sponsors are chosen by the secretary of the Navy.
In addition to the USS Illinois, Obama was also the sponsor of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton based in Alameda, California.
Illinois is home to the Navy's only basic training facility, located in Great Lakes, Illinois -- a facility where every enlisted sailor begins his or her service.
The vessel is the ninth submarine of its class to finish and deliver ahead of schedule, the Navy said in a press release.
"Illinois' delivery continues the program's success of delivering Virginia-class submarines ahead of schedule and within budget," Navy Capt. Michael J. Stevens, said in the release. "Our plan is to have Illinois out on operations next year, going from construction start to mission-ready in just over six years."
Virginia-class submarines are nuclear-powered vessels designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare, and also offer intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. They have the ability to attack targets on land with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The Illinois is the 13th submarine of the class.
Former first lady Laura Bush sponsored the USS Texas, another Virginia-class submarine in 2004. Hillary Clinton sponsored the USS Columbia, a Los Angeles-class submarine, when she served as first lady.
The Illinois is scheduled to be commissioned on October 29 in Groton, Connecticut.
It is the second ship in the Navy to bear the name. The first Illinois was a battleship that began its service in December 1907.

Friday, August 26, 2016

France, India Play Down Security Risk of Leaked Submarine Data

Cyril Altmeyer and Douglas Busvine, Reuters
25 August 2016

France and India on Thursday played down the security risk posed by leaked data on French-designed submarines that a source told Reuters was probably stolen by a French former employee and that has raised concerns over a $38 billion contract with Australia. 
More than 22,000 pages of data about six submarines that France's DCNS is building for India's navy looked to have been stolen in 2011 by a subcontractor who was fired while providing training in India, the source said.
India's defense ministry said on Thursday that it saw no immediate security risk and the French government said the information in the documents only showed how the submarines operate and did not compromise their security.
India and France are investigating after The Australian newspaper published on Wednesday details about its Scorpene submarines being built in India by contractor DCNS - 35 percent owned by Thales (TCFP.PA) and 65 percent by the French state.
"It is not a leak, it is theft," the source said. "We have not found any DCNS negligence, but we have identified some dishonesty by an individual." 
The French government source said security procedures would be strengthened for all employees going to work in Australia to ensure one person did not have access to so many documents. 
The documents were not classified and at this stage appeared to only focus on how the submarines are operated not how they are built and whether they can be detected, the source said.
"The Indians can object to the fact that these documents show the Pakistanis how to maintain their submarines and that's annoying, but it doesn't tell the Pakistanis how to detect an Indian ship, or how we build a submarine in France. Not at all," the source said. 
The newspaper published only a fraction of the documents, and these had been redacted, meaning that sensitive details relating to the Scorpene's design and stealth capabilities did not enter the public domain.
"The documents that have been posted ... have been examined and do not pose any security compromise as the vital parameters have been blacked out," an Indian defense ministry statement said.
The submarines are being built at a state-run shipyard in Mumbai. The first is expected to enter service by the end of the year as India seeks to rebuild its dwindling fleet and assert its dominance in the strategic waters of the Indian Ocean.
The leak has raised doubts about the security of a separate DCNS submarine project in Australia where it is locked in exclusive negotiations after seeing off rivals on a contract to build the Barracuda next generation of submarines.
DCNS said it was working to determine if any harm had been caused to clients and whether commercial espionage was to blame.
DCNS is also pitching for submarine contracts in Norway and Poland and beat Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG (TKAG.DE) and a Japanese-government backed bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (7012.T) in Australia.
French officials have sought to play down the impact on the Australia contract.
"The dialogue with Australia has not been cut at all. There is mutual confidence and I don't believe at all that this contract will be put into question," Patricia Adam, the head of France's parliamentary defense committee.

Pyongyang Faces More-Punitive Sanctions

Submarine missile launch prompts move to tighten restrictions on North Korea

Alastair Gale, Wall Street Journal
26 August 2016

SEOUL—The top U.S. and South Korean officials for North Korea policy agreed to consider new punitive action against Pyongyang for its latest missile launch. 
Pyongyang on Thursday lauded its first successful launch of a missile from a submarine, a breakthrough that shows it is making progress in developing a harder-to-track threat to U.S. bases and allies in Asia. North Korean leader  Kim Jong Un was shown on state television directing the launch and hugging officials in delight afterward. 
Mr. Kim said the missile program showed how North Korea had demonstrated its strength “after breaking the chains of sanctions,” according to a state media report.
Following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch this year, both violations of United Nations’ resolutions, the U.N. Security Council imposed tougher new sanctions on Pyongyang in March. The U.S. and other nations added bilateral penalties on North Korea.
U.S. and South Korean officials say it is too soon to tell whether the new sanctions, which primarily seek to cut off North Korea’s sources of foreign currency for its nuclear-missile program, are having an effect. But following North Korea’s latest message of defiance, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim and his South Korean counterpart  Kim Hong-kyun spoke by telephone to discuss a further response.
The officials agreed to cooperate at the U.N. and review other countermeasures, according to a statement from South Korea’s foreign ministry. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. and its allies continue to look for ways to use their respective domestic sanctions to maintain pressure on North Korea. 
It is unclear if Pyongyang will face additional sanctions, but a study expected to be released soon argues that the advance of North Korea’s nuclear-missile program despite years of sanctions shows that the existing approach is ineffective.  John Park of Harvard and  Jim Walsh of Massachusetts Institute of Technology say that North Korea has grown resistant to sanctions by building up its business operations inside China, Pyongyang’s sole major economic and political ally.
Through interviews with a dozen former managers of North Korean state trading companies, the scholars found that over the past decade North Korea has embedded its businesses in China, hired more Chinese middlemen and become part of the local business environment. In doing so, the businesses, which handle both illicit trade in items like missile parts and legal trade, have become harder to target through sanctions that blacklist specific companies or individuals.
The scholars argue that North Korea has learned over years of being targeted by sanctions how to strengthen its external trade and financial connections. “We’re now seeing some of the fruits of this creative labor,” said Mr. Park, referring to North Korea’s acceleration of its nuclear-missile program this year.
Some sanctions advocates argue that the latest round of penalties on North Korea are significantly stronger than those in the past and will eventually prove to be more effective. The U.S. administration has also created the option of blacklisting Chinese companies that do business with sanctioned North Korean entities, an approach that some favor to confront Beijing over its trade links with Pyongyang.
But Mr. Park and Mr. Walsh argue that the U.S. should seek to work more closely with Beijing to counter illicit North Korean businesses inside China. They say the U.S. could offer assistance to extend China’s existing domestic anticorruption campaign to North Korean entities. Further cooperation could be offered in helping with maritime law enforcement, they say.
China’s foreign and public security ministries didn’t respond to a question about Beijing’s efforts to prevent illicit North Korean trade. But a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman earlier this week said China had an “unimpeachable record” on meeting its international obligations to tackle North Korea’s nuclear-missile program.
The U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. and China closely coordinate on sanctions against North Korea and held discussions in June about the full implementation of the latest U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. A call to North Korea’s embassy in Beijing went unanswered late Thursday.
Coordination between the U.S. and China over North Korea has been complicated by Beijing’s strong objections to a decision by Washington and Seoul to deploy an advanced missile-defense system in South Korea. After a missile launch by North Korea earlier this month that landed in Japanese-controlled waters, the U.N. Security Council failed to reach agreement on a statement of condemnation following China’s call for language opposing the missile-defense system to be included, according to diplomats at the U.N.

Lockheed Gets $126M Modification on Navy Submarine Imaging Tech Support Contract

Jane Edwards,
26 August 2016

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has received a potential one-year, $126.3 million contract modification to provide engineering and system support services for the U.S. Navy’s Integrated Submarine Imaging Systems program.
The cost-plus-incentive-fee modification exercises an option on a previously awarded contract and covers development, design, field and reverse engineering and technology insertion support services for the ISIS program, the Defense Department said Thursday.
The ISIS initiative works to provide digital image management, electronic and visual search, indication, architecture interface and warning support functionalities for the service branch’s submarines, such as SSN 774 Virginia-class and SSN 688 Los Angeles-class submarines.
Lockheed will perform work in Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island through September 2017.
The Naval Sea Systems Command will obligate $7.9 million from the military branch’s fiscal 2011 through 2016 contract funds at the time of award, according to DoD.

Submarine Force Opens New Trainer in Guam

Lt. Lauren Spaziano,
26 August 2016

SANTA RITA, Guam – Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific (NSTCP) detachment (det) Guam held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the brand new Mobile Trainer (MT) 1000 submarine firefighting trainer on Polaris Point, Guam, Aug. 26.
 The MT-1000 is the hottest firefighting trainer in the U.S. Navy and can run until temperatures reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit at five feet above the deck. It is designed to train service members in both basic firefighting and responsive team training to improve the casualty response of forward deployed units in the Western Pacific.
“The addition of the MT-1000 reinforces the Navy’s commitment to ensure our submarine force is trained to the highest degree of readiness and that our crews are ready to handle emergency situations underway,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jarrod Trant, NSTCP det Guam Officer in Charge. “The MT-1000 is the newest, hottest firefighter trainer in the U.S. Navy, putting our front line submariners through rigorous firefighting scenarios, which provides invaluable training.”
One of the MT-1000’s two fireplaces simulates a switchboard electrical fire, and the other is a bilge fire with a flashover capability that shoots propane across the ceiling, which rapidly raises the temperature inside. Training is routinely conducted around 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be reached within a couple of minutes at full burn. The MT-1000 can train two hose teams of four Sailors each simultaneously and is closely monitored by staff to ensure safety and compliance with proper firefighting techniques.
“This top-of-the-line trainer will benefit the submarine force and the fleet by developing team skills with real-life firefighting scenarios in a controlled environment,” said Trant. “We want to ensure the teams have the tools they need to be successful should similar situations arise underway.”
The MT-1000 is specially designed to improve firefighting capabilities aboard submarines with a side watertight door and topside hatch over a vertical ladder to simulate firefighting conditions and accesses on submarines. The trainer also has moveable metal panels to simulate different scenarios and increase the difficulty. 
Capt. Michael Martin, NSTCP Commanding Officer, was present for the ceremony and is excited about the new systems coming online.
“The MT-1000 is another addition in a series of new training capabilities coming to Guam,” said Martin. “Over the last three years, NSTCP det Guam has expanded from a small office of four instructors to a staff of 20 by the end of the year, running a state of the art Attack Center, Submarine Bridge and integrated navigation trainer, Ship Control Operator Trainer (SCOT) and the new MT-1000 along with an advanced engineering Virtual Interactive Display Equipment (VIDE) trainer coming online in November.”
The new facility was built by Kidde Fire Trainers, Inc. and shipped from Groton, Connecticut, to Guam in July. The MT-1000 has been undergoing acceptance testing throughout August and will be ready to train submariners in September.
“The submarine force and Submarine Learning Center (SLC) have provided considerable resources to buy, build and man this schoolhouse,” said Martin. “Guam continues to provide excellent state of the art training to the forward deployed submarines equal to any submarine homeport.”
NSTCP det Guam is located at Polaris Point in Apra Harbor, Guam and shares a building with Commander, Submarine Squadron 15. Together, they are responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support of four Los Angeles-class attack submarines stationed in Guam and submarines deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean. The submarines and submarine tenders USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) are maintained as part of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed submarine force and are readily capable of meeting global operational requirements.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Submarine Data Leak Could be Setback for Indian Navy

Anjana Pasricha, VOA News
25 August 2016

NEW DELHI —  A massive leak of secret data relating to the combat capabilities of submarines being built for the Indian navy by a French shipbuilder could delay their induction as India investigates the huge security breach. 
More than 22,000 pages of information relating to Scorpene submarines were made public by The Australian newspaper.
India is not the only one affected by the confidentiality breach. The Scorpene, made by French firm, DCNS, is currently being used by Malaysia and Chile, and Brazil is also due to deploy the sub in 2018.
Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, said the leak did not originate from India and suggested that it could be the result of a hack.
The leaks have led to fears that the documents could be an intelligence gold mine for India’s rivals, China and Pakistan.
But Parrikar told the Indian media that “We have to first gauge the quantum of the leak and find out links to India.”
New Delhi signed the $3.5 billion deal for the submarines in 2005.
The first of the six submarines, which are being built at a dockyard in Mumbai, was scheduled to go into service by the end of the year, giving a much-needed boost to India’s depleted underwater capability.
But Abhijit Singh, head of maritime policy initiative at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation, points out that this could be pushed back as the navy will have to very carefully assess the leaked information to see how big a security concern it poses.
He said that a lot of information that has been revealed is sensitive. “For instance, the information on stealth, the frequencies, the noise that the propeller makes, depths to which the submarines can operate and all of that,
which is really crucial data, which should not have been revealed.” he said.
However he and other naval analysts believe that while the leaks are damaging, it did not mean the huge defense project would have to be shelved.
Uday Bhaskar, a defense analyst and director of the Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi, said the jury is still out on how critical is the data that has been revealed. “It appears that the documents pertain to earlier generation of the Scorpene,” said Bhaskar.
Indian officials also downplayed concerns about the leak, saying several specifications had been altered since then.
The Australian newspaper described them as an “Edward Snowden-sized leak," referring to the classified papers the former government contractor disclosed from the U.S. National Security Agency.
The six submarines are crucial for the Indian navy.
“The Indian navy is in a very dire need of replenishment as far as its submarine fleet is concerned. The numbers are shrinking and the Indian navy has not been able to induct a fresh submarine for almost 15 years,” Bhaskar said.
A spokeswoman for the French firm DCNS described the leak as "a serious matter" and said French authorities would formally investigate.
The company is also building advanced submarines for Australia, but details of those were not part of the leak.

3 Nations Unite Against North Korean Missile Test

Motoko Rich, New York Times
25 August 2016

TOKYO – The missile that North Korea test-fired from a submarine off its east coast on Wednesday momentarily brought together three nations that have recently had reasons to squabble.
At a previously scheduled meeting in Tokyo, the foreign ministers of the three nations – China, Japan and South Korea – criticized the missile test, which appeared to demonstrate a significant advance in North Korea’s efforts to build a harder-to-detect means to strike American and allied forces. The missile flew 310 miles toward Japan, much farther than previous tests.
Tensions between the three countries have risen in recent months: Chinese vessels have repeatedly entered disputed waters surrounding a group of Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea, setting off protests from Japan. Tokyo opposed a visit this month by South Korean lawmakers to islands both nations claims. And China has harshly criticized South Korea’s agreement to host an American-built advanced missile defense system that the Chinese believe could be used against their missiles.
But North Korea’s missile launch briefly united the three other nations on Wednesday.
“If there was a silver lining, it would be the fact that it provided the three an opportunity to have something in common, which is rare,” said J. Berkshire Miller, an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.
If the North Korean threat is to be truly defused, experts say, the three East Asian neighbors will need more common ground.
“We all know that on days when North Korea doesn’t test missiles, tensions may be above the surface,” said Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But longer term, if you’re looking for conditions that would suggest real stability in the region, that is the sort of cooperation that would be needed.”
The latest missile test came two days after the United States and South Korea kicked off their annual joint military exercises. North Korea condemns all such drills as rehearsals for an invasion, and it has often responded with warlike words, or with missile tests.
At a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, said North Korea’s action “is simply not tolerated.” His South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, said the three countries “confirmed our common view that we must deter North Korea’s further provocative actions.”
Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, said, “China opposes the development of North Korea’s nuclear program, and any words or deeds that create tensions in the peninsula.” He also reiterated China’s opposition to American efforts to build the missile defense system in South Korea.
Chinese commentators argued that the United States was partly to blame for the North’s aggressive behavior. An opinion article published on Wednesday by the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, denounced the United States and its allies for “risking turning the region into a powder keg.”
“Muscle-flexing leads to nowhere but a more anxious, more agitating and thus more unpredictable Pyongyang,” the commentary said.
Still, on social media in China, many posts placed the blame squarely on Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, describing him as an erratic and untrustworthy leader and urging the government to do more to rein him in.
President Park Geun-hye of South Korea also denounced the North Korean leader in remarks during a visit to a front-line military unit on Wednesday.

“Given the fact that North Korea has an irrational decision-making system under a one-man dictatorship,” Ms. Park said, “and that Kim Jong-un is an unpredictable character, there is a high possibility that this threat could become a reality.”
The latest North Korean provocation comes at a time when Japan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is debating its military future after roughly 70 years of pacifism mandated by a postwar Constitution that was largely written by American occupiers.
Already last year, Mr. Abe pushed through a series of security laws that permit Japan’s self-defense forces to participate in overseas combat.
On Wednesday, as Mr. Abe denounced the North Korean missile launch as an “an unforgivable act of violence,” his newly appointed defense minister, Tomomi Inada, said Japanese forces would begin training for overseas missions, including rescuing captured troops from peacekeeping missions.
Setsu Kobayashi, a law professor emeritus at Keio University and the leader of a group that opposes the security bills passed last year, called the new training drills a “historic turning point” and a violation of the country’s Constitution.
“Now people outside of Japan will question if Japan can become a country that can wage war,” Mr. Kobayashi said.
But other analysts said that the Japanese, who mostly opposed the security laws passed after a parliamentary struggle last year, might start to accept the incremental escalation of military activity that Mr. Abe is pushing.
“The more that there are dangers in the neighborhood – a rising China, a threatening North Korea – that puts wind in Abe’s sails,” said Jeff Kingston, the director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo.
Ultimately, Mr. Abe wants to revise the pacifist clause in the Constitution. But the public – as well as members of Parliament, including some in Mr. Abe’s governing coalition – would most likely oppose him.
“Even with this more threatening environment, it’s not going to be easy at all,” Mr. Kingston said. “There is a deeply embedded attachment to the peace Constitution as part of Japanese national identity.”
Mr. Abe, Mr. Kingston added, “understands that he has a deep hole to climb out of to try to convince the public that that is necessary.”
Public reaction in Japan to the North Korean missile test was relatively subdued, although several politicians strongly protested it..
Hideaki Omura, the governor of Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, which includes the city of Nagoya, said on Twitter that the missile launch was a “grave provocation.” Renho Murata, a member of the upper house of Parliament and a candidate to lead the opposition Democratic Party, said she “firmly protested” North Korea’s action.
The significance of North Korea’s missile launch may take some time to sink in, as the Japanese have become somewhat accustomed to the missile tests.
“For Japanese people, the picture of the Chinese vessels surrounding the Senkakus is more shocking,” said Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, a research group, referring to the Chinese incursions around the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The North Korean missile launches, Mr. Watanabe said, sometimes “look like animation.”
Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo; Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea; and Javier Hernandez from Beijing.

North Korea's Kim Declares Sub Missile Launch 'Greatest Success'

Jack Kim, Reuters
25 August 2016

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile and declared it "the greatest success," which puts the country in the "front rank" of nuclear military powers, official media reported on Thursday.
North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Wednesday which flew about 500 km (300 miles) towards Japan. The South Korean government and experts said the launch showed technical progress in the North's SLBM program. 
"A test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile was successfully conducted under the guidance of supreme commander of the Korean People's Army Kim Jong Un," the North's official KCNA news agency said.
"He appreciated the test-fire as the greatest success and victory," KCNA said. 
"He noted with pride that the results of the test-fire proved in actuality that the DPRK joined the front rank of the military powers fully equipped with nuclear attack capability."
DPRK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is North Korea's formal name.
North Korea has conducted a spate of military technology tests this year, including a fourth nuclear test in January and numerous ballistic missile launches, in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions that were tightened in March. 
North Korea said this year it had miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit on a ballistic missile but outside experts have said there is yet no firm evidence to back up that claim or show it had mastered the technology to bring a live warhead back into the atmosphere and guide it to strike a target.
North Korean state television on Thursday showed video clips of the launch of a missile from underwater at dawn, and still photographs of Kim on the dock at a port as a large crane unloaded an object onto a submarine.
 Kim is also seen jubilantly celebrating with military aides in photographs carried by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. 

Reached Japan Defence Zone

The Washington-based 38 North project said in a report that the missile was launched from the North's sole experimental missile submarine and a satellite photograph taken on Monday showed final preparations, likely after the missile had already been loaded onto the submarine using a heavy construction crane.
The test showed the solid-fuel missile's control and guidance system as well as the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead all met operational requirements, KCNA said.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries said the missile was fired from near the coastal city of Sinpo, where a submarine base is located. Japan said the missile reached its air defense identification zone, the first time by a North Korean missile.
The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Wednesday at the request of the United States and Japan to discuss the launch. Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Petr Iliichev said the United States would circulate a draft press statement.
The meeting comes after the Security Council was unable to condemn a missile launch by the North earlier this month that landed near Japan because China wanted the statement to also oppose the planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
China said on Wednesday that it opposes the North's nuclear and missile programs. It had been angered by what it views as provocative moves by the United States and South Korea on the decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) anti-missile system in South Korea.

Document: Report to Congress on Navy Columbia Class Submarine Program

25 August 2016

The following link is to the Aug. 18,  54 page Congressional Research Service report:

Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Handicapped by Red Tape, Indian Navy to Fit Old Weapons on Brand New Submarine

Jugal R Purohit, India Today
23 August 2016

NEW DELHI - Indian Navy will soon induct Kalvari, a brand new French-designed Scorpene submarine, having old German SUT torpedos. The first Scorpene submarine, however, was supposed to use Blackshark Heavy Weight Torpedos but the Defense Ministry refused at the last moment.
In a bizarre instance depicting the ways in which defence forces are made to operate, the Indian Navy has been left with no option but to fit old weaponry on a brand new platform.The Indian Navy (IN), after much delay, is inching towards inducting its first diesel-electric submarine in nearly two decades.
However, the stand of the Ministry of Defence to not purchase 98 'Blackshark' Heavy Weight Torpedo (HWT), which was the agreed-upon choice earlier, has been a nasty blow to the navy. 
This will lead to a scenario where a brand new submarine will join the fleet (likely by the end of the year) without its deadliest, primary weapon - the torpedo. 
This, senior sources have confirmed, has left the IN with no option but to arm its upcoming French-designed Scorpene submarine with old German SUT torpedos. These torpedos are in use on the older German-designed HDW submarines called 'Shishumar' class of submarines.
Kalvari Trials To Begin In September
The first Scorpene submarine, named Kalvari, is presently with the Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited. 
The sea trials for Kalvari will recommence from the first week of September, post monsoon. In these trials, Kalvari will seek to prove aspects like diving, speeds and manoeuvring among others.
"Since Kalvari is the first in six boats, there are hiccups which we are encountering. Hopefully by the end of the year, we would have achieved all parameters and then we will have the weapons firing using the upgraded SUT. It is not so much a hardware issue but a marriage of software, which is doable, we have ascertained that," said a top source.
What appears easy, however, is likely to complicate matters further for the IN's already-ailing underwater arm.

 Something Better Than Nothing?
"We had about 60 odd SUT torpedos which were undergoing upgradation for the four, older Shishumar submarines. Now, the Scorpene submarine too will use this torpedo, which means further strain. But it is better than not having anything," said a source.
According to insiders, the SUT, even post upgrade, is no match to the benchmark the navy had sought when it got the Blackshark HWT. 
"SUT is the technology of the 80s and thus has limitations. When we selected Blackshark, we were looking at ranges in excess of 50km to destroy a target. It has better tracking and homing features making it a next generation weapon," explained a senior officer.
However, there are those in the navy too who believe the SUT was ahead of its time when inducted and still remains a very good weapon. 
Vice Admiral KN Sushil, a submariner, who retired as the head of Southern Naval Command said, "There is no problem in marrying an older torpedo to a new platform. However, we need to ask if that is what we'd set out to achieve."

Make Blackshark At Home?
He said, "The Blackshark was a generation ahead of SUT in so many ways. It is time to make full use of the Make In India campaign and become a self reliant country. Our previous efforts at learning and producing torpedos doomed in the mid 90s. Now we have torpedo made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which can only be fired from a ship, not a submarine."
'Blackshark' is manufactured by a firm under the Italian group Leonardo Finmeccanica, which has been linked by the MoD to charges of corruption in the VVIP helicopter case. 
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had reportedly stated that he would annul the deal and that the MoD had alternatives. Top sources confirm that for now, the SUT is that alternative till a fresh procurement, which could take years, materialises. 
Requests for clarification made to the IN and MoD did not elicit a response.

India Investigates Damage Caused By French Submarine Data Leak

Matt Siegel and Sanjeev Miglani, Reuters
24 August 2016

India is investigating the extent to which secrets about French Scorpene submarines being built in the country have been compromised, its defence ministry said on Wednesday, after a leak of documents relating to its combat capabilities.
The leak, which was first reported in The Australian newspaper, contains more than 22,000 pages outlining the secret capabilities of six submarines that French builder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy.
"I understand there has been a case of hacking," Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters. "We will find out what has happened." 
The submarines are being built at a state-run shipyard in Mumbai and the first one was expected to go into service by the end of the year, the first step in the Indian navy's effort to rebuild its dwindling fleet.
The massive leak has also raised doubts about the security of DCNS's submarine project in Australia where it won a A$50 billion ($38.06 billion) contract to build the next generation of the submarines.
DCNS beat out Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG (TKAG.DE) and a Japanese-government backed bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (7012.T), in a blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to develop defence export capabilities as part of a more muscular security agenda.
The leaked documents cover the Scorpene-class model and do not contain any details of the vessel currently being designed for the Australian fleet.
DCNS said it could not immediately authenticate the documents, but would not rule out that the leak was part of an "economic war" waged by the competitors it beat in the contest for the Australian contract.
"For now we don't know if the information is correct," a DCNS spokeswoman said. "The competition is more and more hard and all means can be used in this context.
"There is India, Australia and other prospects, and other countries could raise legitimate questions over DCNS. It's part of the tools in economic war," she said. 
Thales (TCFP.PA), which owns 35 percent of the shipbuilder, could not immediately be reached for comment outside normal European business hours. The French defence ministry declined to make an immediate comment. 
Thales was down more than 2 percent in early trading, while the wider French blue-chip index .FCHI was down 0.75 percent.
Major Strategic Problem
The breadth of detail in the documents creates a major strategic problem for India, Malaysia and Chile, all of which operate the same submarine, an Australian political source with decades of experience in the global arms industry told Reuters.
Excerpts published in redacted form on the newspaper's website contained highly sensitive details of the submarine including technical manuals and models of the boat's antennae.
"If it's 22,400 pages, it's a major stuff-up," the source said. "It's a huge deal.
"It allows them to understand everything about the submarines. What speeds it can do; how noisy it is; what speeds the mast can be raised at ... all of that is just devastating."
The Indian Defence Ministry said it was investigating the impact of the leak on the submarine programme which it said had occurred from abroad. It gave no details.
"The available information is being examined at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy) and an analysis is being carried out by the concerned specialists," it said in a statement. 
"It appears that the source of leak is from overseas and not in India."
Uday Bhaskar, a former naval officer, said that if the leak was established, it would amount to a significant compromise of the credibility of the submarines.
India has a fleet of 13 ageing submarines, only half of which are operational at any time, opening up a major gap with China which is expanding its maritime presence in the Indian Ocean.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to deflect concern about the leak, touting the high security standards in Australia, where the submarine will be built. The Australian reported that the leak occurred in France in 2011.
"But clearly, it is a reminder that, particularly in this digital world, cyber security is of critical importance," he told the Seven TV network.

French Submarine Builder In Massive Leak Scandal

Cameron Stewart, The Australian
24 August 2016

The French company that won the bid to design Australia's new $50 billion submarine fleet has suffered a massive leak of secret documents, raising fears about the future security of top-secret data on the navy's future fleet.
The stunning leak, which runs to 22,400 pages and has been seen by The Australian, details the -entire secret combat capability of the six Scorpene-class submarines that French shipbuilder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy.
A variant of the same French-designed Scorpene is also used by the navies of Malaysia, Chile and, from 2018, Brazil, so news of the Edward Snowden-sized leak - -revealed today - will trigger alarm at the highest level in these countries. Marked "Restricted Scorpene India", the DCNS documents -detail the most sensitive combat capabilities of India's new $US3 bn ($3.9bn) submarine fleet and would provide an -intelligence bonanza if obtained by India's strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China.
The leak will spark grave concern in Australia and especially in the US where senior navy officials have privately expressed fears about the security of top-secret data entrusted to France.
In April DCNS, which is two-thirds owned by the French government, won the hotly contested bid over Germany and Japan to design 12 new submarines for Australia. Its proposed submarine for Australia - the yet-to-be-built Shortfin Barracuda - was chosen ahead of its rivals because it was considered to be the quietest in the water, making it perfectly suited to intelligence-gathering operations against China and others in the -region.
Any stealth advantage for the navy's new submarines would be gravely compromised if data on its planned combat and performance capabilities was leaked in the same manner as the data from the -Scorpene. The leaked DCNS data details the secret stealth capabilities of the six new Indian submarines, including what frequencies they gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance - all sensitive information that is highly classified. The data tells the submarine crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid -detection by the enemy. It also discloses magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as the specifications of the submarine's torpedo launch system and the combat system.
It details the speed and conditions needed for using the periscope, the noise specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the submarine surfaces.
The data seen by The Australian includes 4457 pages on the submarine's underwater sensors, 4209 pages on its above-water sensors, 4301 pages on its combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and specifications, 6841 pages on the sub's communications system and 2138 on its navigation systems.
The Australian has chosen to redact sensitive information from the documents.
Sea trials for the first of India's six Scorpene submarines began in May. The project is running four years behind schedule.
The Indian Navy has boasted that its Scorpene submarines have superior stealth features, which give them a major advantage against other submarines.
The US will be alarmed by the leak of the DCNS data because Australia hopes to install an American combat system - with the latest US stealth technology - in the French Shortfin Barracuda.
If Washington does not feel confident that its "crown jewels'' of stealth technology can be protected, it may decline to give Australia its state-of-the-art combat system.
DCNS yesterday sought to -reassure Australians that the leak of the data on the Indian Scorpene submarine would not happen with its proposed submarine for Australia. The company also implied - but did not say directly - that the leak might have occurred at India's end, rather than from France. "Uncontrolled technical data is not possible in the Australian -arrangements," the company said. "Multiple and independent controls exist within DCNS to prevent unauthorised access to data and all data movements are encrypted and recorded. In the case of India, where a DCNS design is built by a local company, DCNS is the provider and not the controller of technical data.
"In the case of Australia, and unlike India, DCNS is both the provider and in-country controller of technical data for the full chain of transmission and usage over the life of the submarines."
However, The Australian has been told that the data on the Scorpene was written in France for India in 2011 and is suspected of being removed from France in that same year by a former French Navy officer who was at that time a DCNS subcontractor.
The data is then believed to have been taken to a company in Southeast Asia, possibly to assist in a commercial venture for a -regional navy.
It was subsequently passed by a third party to a second company in the region before being sent on a data disk by regular mail to a company in Australia. It is unclear how widely the data has been shared in Asia or whether it has been obtained by foreign -intelligence agencies.
The data seen by The Australian also includes separate confidential DCNS files on plans to sell French frigates to Chile and the French sale of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship carrier to Russia. These DCNS projects have no link to India, which adds weight to the probability that the data files were removed from DCNS in France.
DCNS Australia this month signed a deed of agreement with the Defence Department, -paving the way for talks over the contract which will guide the design phase of the new -submarines. The government plans to build 12 submarines in Adelaide to replace the six-boat Collins-class fleet from the early 2030s. The Shortfin Barracuda will be a slightly shorter, conventionally powered version of France's new fleet of Barracuda-class nuclear submarines.

North Korea Test Fires Ballistic Missile From Submarine

Azadeh Ansari and K.J. Kwon, CNN
24 August 2016

SEOUL— North Korea test fired a submarine-based ballistic missile from its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean authorities said.
The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. local time, according to a statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
North Korea's launch took place in the waters, off Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, in the early morning, the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
"If the North Korean regime continues to pursue its nuclear and missile capabilities and ignore severe economic difficulties of its people, it will bring about more severe sanctions and diplomatic isolation. It should also realize that it will hasten its self-destruction," the country's Foreign Ministry said.
"Our government is prepared with full readiness posture to protect our people and the safety of our country and will thoroughly respond to any North Korea's provocation."
The US Pacific Command tracked the missile over and into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, approximately 300 miles off the coast of North Korea.
This was the first time a North Korean missile entered Japan's air defense identification zone, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. 
"This is a threat to Japan's security and an unforgivable reckless act that significantly damages the peace and stability of the region," Abe said Wednesday morning.
The launch comes amid the annual joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea, which kicked off on Monday. 
The annual drill includes 25,000 US troops, the bulk of which are already stationed in Korea, according to a statement by US Forces Korea.
Compared to previous tests, Wednesday's missile is seen as "an improvement," according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States and South Korea are closely analyzing the details. 
Dr. Daniel A. Pinkston, a professor at Troy University, told CNN the fact that the rocket traveled as far as it did suggests the North Koreans are "making quite rapid progress, and probably more rapid progress than any people had predicted."
North Korea's latest military move has drawn condemnation from the South Koreans. 
This as a "serious challenge against the security of the Korean peninsula" and believed to be "part of North Korea's armed protest to escalate military tension in the Korean peninsula using annual US-South Korea joint drill as an excuse," the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press statement. 
A senior US State Department official told CNN the US is trying to determine whether the launch was successful.
The missile is presumed to be a KN-11, said Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command.
Threat of more missiles
North Korea has made threats of nuclear retaliation if the two-week drills "show the slightest sign of aggression," a spokesman for North Korea's military was quoted as saying by the country's state media.
In response to the joint drills, North Korea on Tuesday sent a letter to the UN Security Council, complaining that the "US-led large-scale joint military exercise in collusion with the south Korean forces despite repeated warnings of the DPRK is a grave military provocation aimed to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK and a challenge to regional peace and stability in every way."
Under Security Council resolutions, aimed partially at curbing North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, the communist country is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile launches. 
A South Korean defense official earlier this month said North Korea has launched more than 30 test missiles since Kim Jong Un, the country's leader took power in 2011.
Though North Korea has aimed to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities, it has yet to pair the two successfully.
The US Strategic Command said one of the missiles exploded after launch. The other flew about 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Navy Investigating USS Louisiana Nuclear Submarine Collision into MSC Ship

Sam LaGrone, USNI
22 August 2016

The Navy is still determining the level of damage incurred on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine and a Military Sealift Command support vessel following a collision last week, service officials told USNI News on Monday.
On Thursday around 6 p.m. PST, USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) collided with the offshore support vessel USNS Eagleview (T-AGSE-3) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington state, Lt. Tia Nichole McMillen with Commander, Submarine Fleet Pacific (COMSUBPAC) told USNI News.
“There is impact damage on the aft port hull of [Eagleview] and the forward starboard hull of the USS Louisiana,” McMillen said.
“Both ships returned safely to port under their own power.”
COMSUBPAC has launched a command level investigation into the collision, McMillen said.
 She did not provide a timeline for the completion of the investigation.
Louisiana is one of eight Ohio-class boomers based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.
According to press reports, Eagleview is one of four 250 EDF class offshore support vessels which were owned and leased to MSC by Hornbeck Offshore Services until their sale to the service in 2015.
The ships are equipped with a 20-ton crane and are tasked with supporting, “submarine and special warfare requirements,” according to MSC.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nuclear Submarine Ready For Action Following Major Weapons Upgrade At Plymouth Base

Alex Wood, The Herald
19 August 2016

A nuclear-powered Royal Navy attack submarine is ready to return to action after being given a major upgrade in Plymouth.
Hunter-killer submarine HMS Trenchant was re-dedicated today, Friday, in a special ceremony with the crew and their families, marking the vessel's reintegration into the fleet.
It comes after one of the largest and most complex maintenance upgrades to a submarine ever undertaken at Devonport Naval Base, with new weapons and sensors being installed.
It is hoped the new upgrades will see the boat through until it is decommissioned in 2019.
Commander Rob Watts, captain of HMS Trenchant, praised the crew for their professionalism and thanked their families for their constant support.
"I have much faith in this finest of crews will see out Trenchant's final chapter with professionalism and pride," he said at today's re-dedication service.
"It is with much pride I have in showing you off to our sponsor and your families and friends.''
Returning to the fleet with the most modern equipment available, HMS Trenchant is capable of
conducting a range of complex tasks including underwater and above water warfare as well as long-range strikes, landing troops and intelligence collection.
The work included a double motor generator change in dry dock, external hull paint, main battery exchange, extensive hull surveillance work, wide-ranging system surveys and a package of planned maintenance on the reactor system – amounting to more than 650,000 direct labour hours.
Babcock direct submarine support, Gavin Leckie, explained: "The completion of this project is a reflection of the strong cooperation of the joint Babcock, MoD and ship staff team who have overcome a number of significant technical challenges to deliver HMS Trenchant back to the Royal Navy in an excellent material state, and I'm grateful to all involved for their support in achieving this milestone."
Among the families in attendance at today's parade was Kirsty Gregory, wife of radio engineer artificer Neil, and their four children Nancy, seven, Lulu, 12, and Owen, 12.
"This is a good fun day for the children and me," she said.
"Trenchant is a very good submarine as far as families are concerned. We get lots of support while they are deployed.
"We are not forgotten and our role in looking after the home and children is appreciated and recognised by the command.
"The families of submariners are all one big family. 
"The children grow up with others from other families over the years and it all works when we support each other when our husbands are away for months.
"Having an event like this and visiting the submarine gives the children a chance to understand why daddy goes away.''

USS Louisiana Collision at Sea

Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs,
19 August 2016

BANGOR, Washington – The ballistic-missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) and a U.S. Navy Offshore Support Vessel collided while conducting routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington state on August 18, 2016.
The collision occurred at 6:00 p.m. There were no injuries to personnel. Assessments of the damage to both the submarine and the U.S. Navy Offshore Support Vessel are being conducted. The incident is currently under investigation. 
Both ships returned safely to port under their own power. The U.S. Navy Offshore Support Vessel returned safely to port at Port Angeles, Washington, and the USS Louisiana returned safely to homeport at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, Washington.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Latest naval technology includes Blackwing drones

Julia Bergman, The Day
18 August 2016

NEWPORT — Some of the latest innovations in undersea technology were on display here Thursday, including an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be launched into the air from a submarine or from unmanned underwater vehicle.
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport on Thursday wrapped up its second annual naval technology exercise, which brings together representatives from industry, academia and the Navy’s laboratories.
Demonstrated technologies ranged from cutting-edge research to products that have already been acquired by the Navy.
Take the Blackwing, a 20-inch-long, 4-pound unmanned aircraft that folds up into a 3-inch-wide canister. Once the canister is launched from a submarine, for example, and hits the surface, the Blackwing comes out and opens its wings. Its flight time is about an hour.
The Navy is set to acquire 150 Blackwings to be used on its attack and guided missile submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles.
Developed by AeroVironment, the Blackwing is designed primarily for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The Blackwing embodies what Navy officials mean when they talk about developing “longer arms” for submarines to increase their capabilities.
“The submarine force has wanted flying-periscope capability, if you want to think about it that way, for a long time,” Jeffrey G Morrison, a program officer with the Office of Naval Research, said.
The Navy will begin installing the software on submarines in the 2019 time frame, and every submarine from that point on will have it “as part of its baseline, so they can use it when they need to,” Morrison said.
The technology was derived from the Switchblade, which AeroVironment officials call “a weapons system.” The Switchblade, which is designed to take out small targets without causing a lot of collateral damage, is being used by the Army and Marine Corps. About 1,500 Switchblades have been produced.
There are various possibilities for how the technology could be used in the future.
The Senate’s version of the 2017 defense budget includes $127 million for undersea warfare technologies, U.S. Sen. Murphy, D-Conn., noted in addressing Thursday’s crowd. That’s $7 million more than what President Barack Obama requested in his budget.
The Senate and House, which are in recess, still need to work out the differences between their two defense bills and vote on a finalized version.
Murphy cited two recent experiences that underscore the relevance of the technology being shown Thursday.
On a trip aboard the USS Hartford to the Arctic this spring, Murphy “saw firsthand all of the new capabilities that we will need as we head into a decade, as we head into a quarter century in which the Arctic is going to be up for grabs, in which there is going to be more navigation.”
Earlier in the summer, Murphy went on a congressional visit to Asia, where he talked “nonstop” with officials in Japan, the Philippines and Korea about “the activity of the Chinese to try to build and take control of enough territory in the South China Sea, to be able to cast a detection net for U.S. submarines that is unprecedented.”
“As our adversaries and our competitors .... rapidly advance their technologies to try and catch up with us, it provides a mandate for us to get much better not only in our means to figure out what they’re doing as they try to exert more control over places like the South China and East China Sea but also our ability to be able to conduct our activities and missions that we have become accustomed to,” Murphy said.

In R.I. expo, the U.S. Navy's future in a world of unmanned subs and aircraft

Paul Edward Parker, The Providence Journal
18 August 2016

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – Call it the Detroit Auto Show of naval technology.
For three days this week, defense contractors, academics and the Navy's own research and development outfit, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, showed off future maritime technology that is being developed today.
Two drone submarines - unmanned underwater vehicles - maneuvered around Stillwater Basin in Narragansett Bay, while visiting dignitaries observed from a nearby pier.
"This is exciting stuff," said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who predicted, "Mark my words, this will be the Oceans Century."
As sea levels are predicted to rise as a result of global warming, Whitehouse said, the strategic importance of the world's oceans will climb. That will bring environmental issues, strategic concerns and economic and strategic opportunities to the forefront, he said.
Meanwhile, in the background, Ocean Aero's Submaran plied the waters of the basin, an area also being patrolled by Lockheed Martin's Marlin. The two autonomous vehicles were given a predefined area in which to operate and shared the space together.
The Submaran is designed primarily for surface operations, where it can be driven by a solar-powered motor or a vertical wing-like sail. The craft, which is about the size and shape of a kayak, can automatically stow the sail and flood its body with seawater when it needs to slip beneath the surface out of sight.
The Marlin, which looks more like a conventional submarine, though about as long as the Submaran, primarily operates below the waves, though it can surface to launch a drone airplane.
The cooperation of the two craft in the basin was one focus of the three-day event, called the Annual Naval Technology Exercise.
Several of the demonstrations included so-called cross-domain collaboration, where manned or unmanned vehicles under the sea, on the surface, in the air or even in space work together to carry out missions.
One such demonstration involved a Blackwing, the Navy version of the Switchblade drone airplane already used by the Army. The barely visible black plane, only a couple of feet long, soared above the bay relaying intelligence information being gathered by two submarine drones to a submarine simulator on the campus of the undersea warfare center.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus bullish on submarines' role in future

Staff, Norwich Bulletin
18 August 2016

Southeastern Connecticut's role as a major defense force was highlighted this week, but there are questions.
In a lively interview with the Connecticut Mirror, which appeared in Thursday's Bulletin, outgoing Navy Secretary Ray Mabus was open, honest and optimistic about the role of submarines in our national defense.
Mabus highlighted the importance of submarines and underwater warfare by all powerful nations. He also praised the superior technology and weaponry of the U.S., but warned that it's fragile.
"We still have a big edge there - in a lot of ways that's only undersea - but it's not something that you can take for granted," he said. "If you quit evolving, if you quit working on it, you quit building, it can go away real fast."
Mabus praised the growth of shipbuilding during his seven-year tenure, including the contract for 10 Virginia-class submarines - a boon to Electric Boat.
"But even building two subs a year, if you look out to the late 2020s and early 2030s, we're going to have a deficit of submarines.and it's because 30 years earlier, we did not build enough submarines," he said. "If you miss a year building a ship, you cannot make it up. they take so long and the skill set is so precise, and we just don't have that many shipyards. The capacity to build is limited."
That would appear to be a sign that submarine construction would be a booming business for years to come, even beyond the current contract, with the upcoming Columbia class. For the New London Sub Base and Electric Boat, it continues the good news that has flowed in recent months and years.
It's not that easy, of course. Obtaining the necessary amount of subs requires some financial wizardry as well as shipyard capacity. But having the ability to meet a good portion of the need is much better than there not being a need.
Later in the interview, Mabus said that base realignments and closures across the Defense Department, including the Navy are necessary. However, he says the Navy and Marine Corps "have less excess capacity than anybody else."
We all remember the close call in 2005 that almost closed the New London base, and the public/private alliance that formed after that. While our region is better suited to a possible BRAC battle, Mabus' words give hope that should there be an evaluation we may have a greater likelihood of being spared.
With a new administration, of course, comes new leadership and new goals for the military. Mabus has set the Navy on the right course. For the good of the country, and our region, we hope his successor continues that path.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Q&A: Outgoing Navy Chief Talks Submarines, F-35s and His Legacy

Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror
17 August 2016

In a recent wide-ranging interview over lunch, The Connecticut Mirror pressed outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the longest serving naval chief in 100 years, about the future of submarine warfare, delays in the F-35 joint strike fighter program and why the Pentagon wants another round of base closings.
Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Mabus is a former Mississippi governor and ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He has led the Navy and the Marines in the continuing war with Afghanistan and with ISIS and opened the door to the first female submariners in U.S. history. He has made shipbuilding – and sub building – a priority as part of an effort to build back the Navy’s fleet. We learned he has named the nation’s next generation of nuclear ballistic submarines the Columbia class, after the District of Columbia, and that his favorite desert is ice cream.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had at the Pentagon?
A. I’ve never thought of it that way. Looking back toward the end, we’ve had, I think, enormous and maybe amazing success in this job, in getting things done. You got a lot of constituencies. You’ve got Congress you’ve got this building, you’ve got the White House, you’ve got the media, you’ve got the think tanks and the American people. I think the challenge was to get those all lined up, to get them all marching on the same page…The Navy and Marine Corps have a history of tradition and being resistant to change. But overall I haven’t found that that much.
Q. What did you focus on?
A. One of the things I learned as governor, because I was the governor of the poorest state in the union, is that there were a thousand things every day as governor that would make life better in Mississippi, but if I tried to do all thousand, nothing was going to happen. So I learned you have to focus on a very few things. Almost from the word go I focused on the same things I’m focusing on now, which are the ‘four Ps.’
Q, The Four Ps?
A. People – sailors, marines, civilians, how can we manage the force better… Platforms – when I got here the fleet was declining; it was declining precipitously. How do you turn that around? We simply weren’t giving our sailors and marines the tools they needed to get the job done. The third was power – energy, fuel. When I got here oil was about $140 a barrel and we were having to prioritize mission and deployment over training, which made no sense. The Marines were losing a Marine killed or wounded every 50 convoys of fuel that went into Afghanistan. Way too high a price to pay. I had been ambassador to Saudi Arabia. I knew how fuel could be used as a weapon, and I didn’t want that weapon to be used against us. And finally, there are partnerships. I’ve traveled now more than 1.1 million miles to 151 different countries and territories. By the way, I don’t think anyone is close to that in government, and we are doing something with every one of those countries.
Q. You also worked on diversity in the Navy.
A. A more diverse force is a stronger force.
Q, And you’re talking about women and minorities?
A. And experience. Diverse experience, diverse backgrounds. Gender diversity. I put women in submarines in 2010. If you get too homogeneous, it’s just not good.  There’s a book called “The Wisdom of Crowds” [by James Surowiecki]  which says if you’ve got a problem and you bring five experts who’ve spent their lives doing this, whatever the problem is, or you get a group of people with diverse backgrounds, a bigger group, working on it, they’ll be better at solving it.
Q. What are the growing geopolitical challenges to the Navy and the role of submarines?
A. The role of submarines, the importance of submarines, the importance of undersea warfare, is rising. It’s always been important, but it’s becoming even more crucial. And it’s being recognized not just by the Russians and Chinese but by virtually everybody. The Russians and Chinese are the most visible, but there are not many seagoing countries that don’t have submarines. And with some of the technological advances – independent propulsion diesel submarines have gotten a lot quieter, the weapons they can deploy are more diverse. We still have a big edge there – in a lot of ways that's only undersea – but it’s not something that you can take for granted. If you quit evolving, if you quit working on it, you quit building, it can go away real fast.
Q. Was there a danger of that?
A. It was part of the overall fleet decline. We simply weren’t building those ships. Between 2001 and 2008 the Navy only put 41 ships under contract, of all kinds. In that same period, the size of the fleet went from 318 ships to 278 ships. Forty one ships was not enough to keep the fleet from continuing to shrink. And it was not enough to keep our shipyards going. I’ve been here for seven years now, so it’s a pretty exact comparison. I’ve put 85 ships under contract, including the biggest contract the Navy ever signed, for 10 (Virginia-class) submarines. But even building two subs a year, if you look out to the late 2020s and early 2030s, we’re going to have a deficit of submarines…and it’s because 30 years earlier, we did not build enough submarines. If you miss a year building a ship, you cannot make it up… they take so long and the skill set is so precise, and we just don’t have that many shipyards. The capacity to build is limited.
Q. Now the Navy is beginning to start work on the new ballistic-missile submarine, which you have called the “Columbia class,” but where’s the money going to come from for these expensive boats?
A. The Ohio-class replacement, that’s coming. Starting in 2021 we have to build the first one of those. You have to have 12 of those to maintain the at-sea presence we need for a nuclear deterrence, instead of the 14 we have of the Ohio class, because these don’t need to be refueled. They have a life-of-the-hull reactor, the Ohio class sub you have to refuel at midlife. But if the Navy is expected to pay for [the Columbia class subs] out of the shipbuilding budget, that would take half of the shipbuilding budget for more that 12 years, so it would cut the rest of the budget, including for [Virginia-class] attack submarines.
Q. Are you in favor of the National Sea-based Deterrence Fund, which would pay for these new subs outside the Navy’s budget?
A. Sure. Every time we’ve built a ballistic-missile defense submarine [we’ve done that.] The first time in the Sixties called “41 for Freedom,” the second time was the Ohio-class in the Eighties. We were given additional resources to do it because Congress recognized, and they do now, that it is a national program, not just particularly a Navy program, and you just don’t want to destroy the fleet in order to get this. You have to have them both. So we’re paying all the bills right now for the design work, engineering work (for the Columbia.) But when the first boat starts being built in 2021, we’ll need money in the fund.
Q. But there’s resistance to the fund. Others support that type of fund for other services. Right?
A. Well, here’s my reply to that. What you are talking about is the Air Force. We have one leg of the nuclear triad, undersea. Air Force has the missiles and the bombers. If Air Force can make that case, fine. But don’t say, “We’re not going to do it for the Navy.” One of the reasons people get so twisted around about this is that we don’t start building until ’21. We don’t need to appropriate money until ’21…but everybody recognizes this bill is coming.
Q.  What do you think of what the direction of the Navy would be in the new administration?
A. We’re on the right trajectory for platforms, ships, planes, systems, But as it’s been shown, it takes a long time to rebuild the fleet. We will get back to 300 ships by 2019; we will get back to 308, which is what our need has been assessed at, by 2021. And this has been building ships at near record rates for seven years. If you miss a year, you don’t get it back. So, whoever comes in, you’ve got to keep that going, you’ve got to. The Navy and the Marines, you’ve got to give America this presence. Around the world. around the clock. Not being just in the right place at the right time but being in the right place all the time, and you’ve got to have enough ships to do that.
Q. You say the Navy and Marines are “America’s Away Team” because, unlike soldiers and airmen, they hardly ever come home.
A. A ship in port in the United States doesn’t mean much. If a crisis occurs, we give the president the option of what to do. When the president in 2014 made the decision to strike ISIS for 54 days, the only option was an aircraft carrier. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have aircraft in other countries and in other places. They wouldn’t let us take off.  We don’t have to ask anybody, we’re sailing on sovereign American territory.
Q.How happy are you with the F-35 version for the Navy’s aircraft carriers, which isn’t’ expected to be operational until at least February of 2019?
A. It’s going to be a great aircraft, the F-35C. But we always want to have two generations on our flight decks. We’re buying more F-18s so we don’t have an aircraft shortage because the F-35 has been delayed.
Q. But there are real problems with the F-35…
A. The F-35 tried to be a joint aircraft, one version for the Air Force, one version for the Marines, one version for the Navy. There’s not a whole lot of commonality in those aircraft; they have to do completely different things. But the services haven’t been in charge of the program, and because it’s a joint program nobody is accountable. It’s way over budget; it’s way late. Who do you hold responsible? If this was a Navy project, if this were a ship, they would point at me…
Q. You support Sen. John McCain’s efforts to abolish the Air Force’s Joint Strike Fighter office because he says it helped paper over problems with the F-35?
A. Yes. McCain’s’s point, which I just made, is you can’t hold anybody accountable. I think it’s really important to have some responsibility. I’ve got another example of that. The Ford Class carrier. When the Navy in the late Nineties wanted to build a replacement for the Nimitz, the proposal was to put in a lot of new technology. But because there was so much new technology, their proposal was to put a third of the new technology on the first ship, another third on the second ship and the third would have all the new technology. In 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “No, we’ll put it all on the first ship.” And because of that, the contract that was supposed to go out in 2004 did not go out until 2007. Costs just ballooned out of control.
Q. Although you’re building up the fleet, you support another round of base realignments and closures, right?
A. It’s very clear (the Defense Department) as a whole has excess capacity, you need something to shrink that.
Q. The Navy has less excess capacity than the other services, but it would still consider all facilities, including submarine bases, in a new base closing round?
A. I’m sure we’d have something (on the base-closure list), but I don’t know what that would be. As you pointed out, we have far less excess capacity; the Navy and the Marine Corps have less excess capacity than anybody else.