Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Israelis Debut An Autonomous Robotic Submarine

 Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21
19 December 2017
Under the surface of waterways across the globe, small remotely operated submarines are busy checking pipelines, mapping underwater minefields, taking geological and biological samples, scouting locations for communication cables, and searching for sunken vessels. A group of 20 undergraduate and graduate engineering students from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev saw that existing autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have several limitations and they worked with Prof. Hugo Guterman in BGU’s Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics (LAR) to build a better model. The university’s tech-transfer company is so hyped about HydroCamel II, the resulting prototype, that it has spun out a dedicated company, BGR, to commercialize the 2.35-meter-long AUV.
Potential customers include the environmental, research, military, security, oil and gas sectors. “It’s like a car; you can use it for any application you like,” Guterman tells ISRAEL21c. HydroCamel II is equipped with an intelligent navigation system whose functions include mission planning, obstacle avoidance and decision-making. Guterman says HydroCamel II is superior to any AUV available in Israel and among the most advanced in the world. Unhappy with existing AUVs, his lab team designed a small prototype about four years ago, dubbed HydroCamel I, which could go down to a 100-meter underwater depth. Experimenting with that model led to HydroCamel II — a relatively small, cheap, easy-to-operate UAV capable of connecting among several platforms. “We wanted to build something that could be deployed from smaller ships or from the harbor without a problem. We also wanted something that could be in the water for a long time and take a large number of sensors onboard,” says Guterman.
 “The HydroCamel II AUV integrates state-of-the-art technologies including high-level maneuvering in six degrees of freedom and an ability to dive vertically or hover,” he explains. “Until now, these capabilities were limited to remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), which must be tethered by cable to a host ship at all times, while the HydroCamel II is completely autonomous.” The vehicle, whose body is constructed of the same carbon compound used in airplanes, can be recharged underwater. “We have developed a lot of electronics for the inside of the HydroCamel II,” Guterman says. Cheaper and better According to the makers, the HydroCamel II AUV combines full autonomy and maneuverability while enabling quick integration of specialized payloads such as sonars, cameras, sensors and a specimen collection arm. Guterman says these payloads are more expensive than the vehicle itself. “HydroCamel II will cost less than a competitive platform but will be much better,” says Guterman. “In the future, when it is in mass production, the price could be even lower.” BGR has begun cooperation with payload manufacturers and is seeking investment partners. Tzvika Goldner, CEO of the new commercialization entity headquartered in Beersheva’s Advanced Technologies Park adjacent to the university, notes that the worldwide AUV market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2023.
Research shows this sector is growing annually by 22% due to increased sea-based security measures and offshore oil and gas production. “We believe HydroCamel II will expand the AUV customer base and enable us to deploy AUVs in new areas,” said Goldner. Guterman envisions a large number of the new AUVs deployed in Red and Mediterranean Seas, working 24/7 to gather and transmit a wide variety of underwater data to a wide variety of operators. He says that no matter where a commercial partner is based, production and R&D for HydroCamel II will remain in the Negev, “where we have the right manpower and knowledge.”

New Submarines, High Precision Missiles Top Priority In Putin’s New 10-Years Armaments Program

Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer
20 December 2017

Putin will before the end of December sign Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027. The program, according to information obtained by the newspaper Kommersant, comes at a budget of 19 trillion rubles.
Adjusted to inflation, this amount is more or less similar to the money spent of the current 2012-2020 program. Since Russia nowadays buys most of its weapons systems from domestic suppliers, changes in the ruble exchange rate will have little impact on the plans.
Discussing the long-awaited new armament program with the top military bosses, President Putin in late November stressed the need to provide the army and the navy with the most state-of-the-art weapons.
If we want to lead the way, if we want to win, we must be the best, Putin said as quoted by news agency TASS.
Kommersant writes that the 2018-2027 armament program will officially be signed by the President on Friday, December 22nd.
Economic troubles
The newspaper points to nuclear deterrence, high precision weapons, hypersonic [cruise] missiles and development of general purpose forces. The program was supposed to enter force in 2016, but was delayed due to the unstable economy. Russia’s economy is not better today.
Highlighting the Arctic, the program emphasis the anti-ballistic missile system S-300V4 and the Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile system.
Northern Fleet
Important for the Northern Fleet, sailing out of the Kola Peninsula, is the final funding for the four Borei-class ballistic missile submarines and six Yasen-class multi-purpose submarines currently under construction at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk. Additionally, the next ten years armament program will make the start of construction of the fifth generation nuclear submarines. That goes for both an upgraded version of the Borei-class named Borei-B (Project 955-B) and a new class of multi-purpose submarines named Husky-class.
The two new submarine classes will then be the first of post-Soviet design, but although construction is believed to start in the end of the next ten years armament program, the subs will likely not be commissioned before in the 2030s.
Until then, a fleet of six Delta-IV and eight Borei and Borei-A class submarines will serve as the naval component of Russia’s nuclear triad. On the Barents Sea
coast, those submarines are based in Gadzhiyevo north of Murmansk.
Navy is the loser
With exception to the nuclear submarines, the Russian Navy stands to be the big loser in the next state armament program, according to Dmitry Gorenburg, a Senior Analyst with the Harvard University. In a memo, Gorenburg argues that after being allocated 4,7 trillion rubles in the past program, the navy’s portion of the budget now seems to be cut to 2,6 trillion rubles. This forces the navy to take away priority from the lager warships and concentrate on corvettes and less advanced frigates. A new aircraft carrier will (again) be postponed indefinitely.
Other security services
Additional to the 19 trillion rubles for military developments over the Ministry of Defense’s budget, three trillion rubles will be provided to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), FSB, SVR and the National Guard (Rosgvardiya).

Argentina Submarine: Police Raid Navy And German Company Offices

21 December 2017

Argentine police searched through navy headquarters and state-run shipyard offices on Wednesday in a bid to investigate the disappearance of a submarine last month.
A judge ordered the searches to help probe alleged irregularities with repairs on the German-built submarine.
The searches came after the navy appeared to implicate two German companies Ferrostaal and Hawker, for electrical repair problems with the submarine. Argentine authorities on Wednesday also searched the Buenos Offices of Ferrostaal.
Argentina's ARA San Juan went missing in the South Atlantic last week with dozens of crew members on board. The German-built diesel-electric submarine was commissioned in 1985, but was refitted in 2014 — leading to some concerns that a mistake was made during the renovation.

Contract irregularities

Lawmaker Elisa Carrio from President Mauricio Macri's coalition has lodged a legal complaint against two former defense ministers, alleging irregularities in the repair contract had favored the German companies.
German public broadcasters Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on allegations earlier this month that German contractors had paid hefty bribes for the lucrative contract and had installed inferior battery cells in the submarine.
The German companies were awarded contracts to supply 964 battery cells for the submarine at a cost of€€5.1 million ($6.1 million).
The San Juan reported a short-circuit problem with its batteries shortly before it disappeared in the South Atlantic with 44 people aboard. Monitoring groups reported hearing an explosion at the time.
Ferrostaal told the German DPA news agency last week that the Argentine navy had decided to replace the battery cells instead of acquiring new batteries to save costs. Ferrostaal said it did not directly participate in the repairs, only mediating a contract between Argentina and Hawker for spare parts and technical support. Ferrostaal said it was not aware of any irregularities.

Navy travels to Germany

In the first week of December, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told the Associated Press that officials had traveled to Germany to obtain more information about the design of the submarine San Juan, which underwent maintenance and repairs between 2008 and 2014.
When asked if the repairs had been certified by the manufacturer, Balbi said there are some processes that the Germany company might have been involved in and others where it was not.
The German shipmaker said in a statement that "ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems employees haven't been in operational contact with the Argentine submarine fleet for more than two decades." The TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the 1980s.
Authorities have given up searching for the submarine, admitting the crew members are dead.
Judge Marta Yanez, who issued the latest warrant, is also overseeing another inquiry into "possible wrongdoing," in response to desperate pleas for answers from family members.

Russia's Undersea Naval Activity Is At Record Levels, And NATO Is Worried About A Crucial Lifeline To The World

Christopher Woody, Business Insider
24 December 2017
Russian undersea naval activity in the North Atlantic has reached new levels, and NATO is worried that the undersea cables connecting North America and Europe and the rest of the world are being targeted.
"We are now seeing Russian underwater activity in the vicinity of undersea cables that I don't believe we have ever seen," US Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon, commander of NATO's submarine forces, told The Washington Post. "Russia is clearly taking an interest in NATO and NATO nations' undersea infrastructure."
Moscow's subs appear to be interested in the privately owned lines that stretch across the seabed, carrying insulated fiber-optic cables. The cables are strewn across the world's oceans and seas, carrying 95% of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.
Blocking the flow of information through them could scramble the internet, while tapping into them could give eavesdroppers a valuable picture of the data flowing within. The cables are fragile and have been damaged in the past by ships' anchors, though usually in areas where repairs are relatively easy.
Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, the UK's defense chief, has also sounded alarm about Russia's apparent focus on the undersea cables. "There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds," he said earlier this month.
Lennon's and Peach's warnings are only the latest about Russian undersea activity in the vicinity of important underwater infrastructure.
The New York Times reported in late 2015 that increased Russian naval activity near the lines led US military officials to fear Moscow planned to attack the cables in the event of conflict. US officials said they had seen elevated Russian operations along the cables' routes in the North Sea and Northeast Asia and even along US shores.
Many undersea cables are in familiar places, but others, commissioned by the US for military purposes, are in secret locations. US officials said in 2015 that increased Russia undersea activity could have been efforts to locate those cables.
There was no sign at that time that any cables had been cut, and Lennon declined to tell The Post if the defense bloc believed Russia has touched any of the undersea lines.
But elevated Russian undersea activity comes as NATO members and other countries in Europe grow more concerned about what they see as assertive Russian activity on the ground, in the air, and at sea around the continent.
Russian planes have had numerous near-misses with their NATO counterparts over the Baltics in recent months, and Russia's massive Zapad 2017 military exercises in Russia and Belarus during September had NATO on edge.
A force multiplier
Moscow has also pursued naval expansion, with a focus on undersea capabilities. A modernization program announced in 2011 directed more money toward submarines, producing quieter, more lethal designs. Moscow has brought online or overhauled 13 subs since 2014, according to The Post.
Among them was the Krasnodar, which Russian officials boasted could avoid the West's most sophisticated radars. US and NATO ships tracked the Krasnodar intently
this summer, as it traveled from Russia to the Black Sea, stopping along the way to fire missiles into Syria. More advanced subs are reportedly in production.
Subs are seen by Moscow as a force multiplier, as rivals would need to dedicate considerable resources to tracking just one submarine.
Subs are also able to operate without being seen, to carry out retaliatory strikes, and to threaten resupply routes, allowing them to have an outsize impact.
Russia now fields 60 full-size subs, while the US has 66, according to The Post.
Adding to Russia's subsurface fleet are deep-sea research vessels, including a converted ballistic missile sub that can launch smaller submarines.
"We know that these auxiliary submarines are designed to work on the ocean floor, and they're transported by the mother ship, and we believe they may be equipped to manipulate objects on the ocean floor," Lennon told The Post.
Russian officials have also touted their fleet's increased operations.
In March 2017, Adm. Vladimir Korolev, commander of the Russian navy, said the Russian navy in 2016 "reached the same level as before the post-Soviet period, in terms of running hours."
"This is more than 3,000 days at sea for the Russian submarine fleet," Korolev added. "This is an excellent sign."
'Those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats'
Western countries have also pursued their own buildup in response.
While US plans call for curtailing production of Virginia-class attack subs when Columbia-class missile subs begin production in the early 2020s, a recent study found that the Navy and industry can produce two Virginia-class subs and one Columbia-class sub a year - averting what Navy officials have described as an expected submarine shortfall in the mid-2020s and keeping the fleet ahead of near-peer rivals like Russia and China.
The US is looking to sensors, sonar, weapons control, quieting technologies, undersea drones, and communications systems to help its subs maintain their edge. (Government auditors have said the Columbia-class subs will need more testing and development to avoid delays and cost overruns down the line, however.)
Elsewhere in NATO, Norway and Germany - the latter of which does not currently have any operational subs - recently agreed on a deal to build two submarines for each country.
The response extends to tactics as well. US and NATO personnel have dedicated more time to anti-submarine-warfare training and operations. Transponder data shows that the US Navy has in recent months flown numerous sorties over areas where Russian subs operate, according to The Post.
"It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn't spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back," Capt. Jim McCall, commander of the air wing on aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, told The Wall Street Journal this fall.
As the number of sub-hunting ships that can patrol the North Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean has fallen since the Cold War, NATO members are working to deploy more air and sea assets. This summer, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey signed a letter of intent to start development of new submarine-detecting aircraft.
The number of frigates - typically used for anti-submarine warfare - in use by NATO allies has fallen from about 100 in the early 1990s to about 50 today, prompting the US to rush to field more in the coming years.
Attention has also returned to the North Atlantic choke point between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK. The GIUK Gap was a crucial element of Cold War naval defenses, and US anti-submarine planes were based in Iceland for decades before leaving in 2006.
The US Navy has been upgrading hangers in Iceland to accommodate new P-8A Poseidon aircraft, however, and the Pentagon has said the US and Iceland have agreed to increase rotations of the US surveillance planes there next year.
As the Russian navy seeks to reverse the contraction it experienced after the Cold War, NATO too is looking to expand its commands after shrinking in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union.
A recent NATO internal report found that the alliance's rapid-response abilities had "atrophied since the end of the Cold War" and recommended setting up two new commands to streamline supply efforts.
One, based on the continent, would oversee the movement of personnel and material in Europe, and the other, potentially based in the US, would oversee transatlantic resupply efforts and the defense of sea lanes.
"If you want to transport a lot of stuff, you have to do that by ship," Lennon, NATO's submarine commander, told The Journal this fall. "And those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats."
Plans for the new commands were approved in early November. More details are expected in February, though current plans include embedding the NATO North Atlantic command with US Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.
"We are a transatlantic alliance, and we must therefore be in a position to transport troops and equipment over the Atlantic," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said recently. "For that we need secure and open seaways."

Poland, France In Talks On Potential Submarine Deal

Staff, Radio Poland
27 December 2017

Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz has spoken with his French counterpart Florence Parly about the potential purchase and joint production of French submarines for the Polish navy.
The French Naval Group is offering to sell Scorpène-class submarines to Poland, a modern diesel-electric submarine that would be equipped with long-range missiles.
The Polish Defence Ministry spokeswoman, Col. Anna Pęzioł-Wójtowicz, said before Christmas that France would provide more details of a potential deal by the end of this year.
Pęzioł-Wójtowicz said that “a final decision concerning the production of submarines will be made by Poland in the near future, after receiving replies from France, as well as from our other potential partners.”
The discussions form part of Poland’s Orka (Orca) programme, a PLN 10 billion (EUR 2.4 billion) plan to acquire modern submarines for the Polish navy. Poland intends to purchase three to four submarines, which will be equipped with cruise missiles.
Apart from the French offer, Poland is considering bids from the German group TKMS, for Type 212 or Type 214 submarines, and the Swedish group Saab, which is offering its A26 submarine.
Macierewicz has previously stated that the French offer is attractive as cruise missiles would be included as part of the deal. However, the Polish Defence Ministry was keen to stress that no decision has been made, and that all the offers had their own advantages and disadvantages.

The Navy's High-Tech New Torpedo Is Back After Six Years

Kris Osbron, Warrior Scout
26 December 2017

The U.S. Navy is now engineering a new, longer range and more lethal submarine-launched heavyweight Mk 48 that can better destroy enemy ships, subs and incoming weapons at longer ranges, service officials said.
Many details of the new weapon, which include newer propulsion mechanisms and multiple kinds of warheads, are secret and not publicly available. However, senior Navy leaders have previously talked to Scout Warrior about the development of the weapon in a general sense.
Naturally, having a functional and more high-tech lethal torpedo affords the Navy an opportunity to hit enemies at further standoff ranges and better compete with more fully emerging undersea rivals such as Russia and China.
Progress with new torpedo technologies is happening alongside a concurrent effort to upgrade the existing arsenal and re-start production of the Mk 48, which had been on hiatus for several years.
A MK 48 ADCAP torpedo is unloaded from the fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis by Sailors from the Submarine Base New London weapons department during a snowstorm.
A MK 48 ADCAP torpedo is unloaded from the fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis by Sailors from the Submarine Base New London weapons department during a snowstorm.
Navy officials did add that some of the improvements to the torpedo relate to letting more water into the bottom of the torpedo as opposed to letting air out the top.
The earlier version, the Mk 48 Mod 6, has been operational since 1997 - and the more recent Mod 7 has been in service since 2006.
Lockheed has been working on upgrades to the Mk 48 torpedo Mod 6 and Mod 7 - which consists of adjustments to the guidance control box, broadband sonar acoustic receiver and amplifier components.
Lockheed developers told Scout Warrior last year that Lockheed is now delivering 20-upgrade kits per month to the Navy.
Part of the effort, which involves a five-year deal between the Navy and Lockheed, includes upgrading existing Mod 6 torpedoes to Mod 7 as well as buying brand new Mod 7 guidance control sections.
The new Mod 7 is also resistant to advanced enemy countermeasures.
Modifications to the weapon improves the acoustic receiver, replaces the guidance-and-control hardware with updated technology, increases memory, and improves processor throughput to handle the expanded software demands required to improve torpedo performance against evolving threats, according to Navy information on the weapon.
The Mod also provides a significant reduction in torpedo radiated-noise signatures, a Navy statement said.
Alongside Lockheed's work to upgrade the guidance technology on the torpedo, the Navy is also preparing to build new Mk 48s.
Upgrades to the guidance control section in includes the integration of a system called Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System, or CBASS - electronics to go into the nose of the weapon as part of the guidance section, Lockheed developers explained.
This technology provides streamlined targeting and allows the torpedo to transmit and receive over a wider frequency band, Lockheed engineers said.
The new technology involves adjustments to the electronic circuitry in order to make the acoustic signals that are received from the system that allow the torpedo to better operate in its undersea environment.
Upgrades also consist of movement to what's called an "Otto fuel propulsion system," Lockheed officials added.
Lockheed will deliver about 250 torpedoes over the next five years. The Mk 48, which is a heavy weapon launched under the surface, is quite different than surface launched, lightweight Mk 54 torpoes fired from helicopters, aircraft and surface ships.
The Navy's Mk 48 torpedo is also in service with Australia, Canada, Brazil and The Netherlands.
A Mk 48 torpedo is 21 inches in diameter and weighs 3,520 pounds; it can destroy targets at ranges out to five miles and travels at speeds greater than 28 knots. The weapon can operate at depths greater than 1,200 feet and fires a 650-pound high-explosive warhead.

GAO Report on Columbia-Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Technology Maturity

Staff, USNI News
26 December 2017

The following is a December 2017 Government Accountability Office report, Columbia Class Submarine: Immature Technologies Present Risks to Achieving Cost, Schedule, and Performance Goals.
From the report:
Additional development and testing are required to demonstrate the maturity of several Columbia class submarine technologies that are critical to performance, including the Integrated Power System, nuclear reactor, common missile compartment, and propulsor and related coordinated stern technologies (see figure). As a result, it is unknown at this point whether they will work as expected, be delayed, or cost more than planned. Any unexpected delays could postpone the deployment of the lead submarine past the 2031 deadline.
Further, the Navy underrepresented the program's technology risks in its 2015 Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) when it did not identify these technologies as critical. Development of these technologies is key to meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements. A reliable TRA serves as the basis for realistic discussions on how to mitigate risks as programs move forward from the early stages of technology development. Not identifying these technologies as critical means Congress may not have had the full picture of the technology risks and their potential effect on cost, schedule, and performance goals as increasing financial commitments were made. The Navy is not required to provide Congress with an update on the program's progress, including its technology development efforts, until fiscal year 2020-when $8.7 billion for lead ship construction will have already been authorized. Periodic reporting on technology development efforts in the interim could provide decision makers assurances about the remaining technical risks as the Navy asks for increasing levels of funding.
Consistent with GAO's identified best practices, the Navy intends to complete much of the submarine's overall design prior to starting construction to reduce the risk of cost and schedule growth. However, the Navy recently awarded a contract for detail design while critical technologies remain unproven-a practice not in line with best practices that has led to cost growth and schedule delays on other programs. Proceeding into detail design and construction with immature technologies can lead to design instability and cause construction delays. The Navy plans to accelerate construction of the lead submarine to compensate for an aggressive schedule, which may lead to future delays if the technologies are not fully mature before construction starts, planned for 2021.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Images Show North Korea's 'Submarine Ballistic Missile Programme'

Jonathan Marcus, BBC News
19 November 2017

North Korea is on "an aggressive schedule to build and deploy its first operational ballistic missile submarine", according to an analysis of new satellite images by the expert website 38 North. The images represent a powerful reminder that, as well as developing inter-continental range ballistic missiles launched from land, North Korea has for several years been pursuing a programme to launch a long-range missile from a submarine. It already has a prototype sub and a submersible launching barge, from which it has carried out a number of test firings. But the new images show that significant work is under way at the Sinpo shipyard on North Korea's eastern coast to expand its construction facilities, and there are hints that another missile-carrying submarine may be under construction. The imagery shows two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine's pressure hull. Size estimates suggest the objects could be for a follow on vessel to the existing prototype SINPO-class boat. Satellite images show a continued movement throughout 2017 of parts and components into and out of yards adjacent to the shipyard's large construction halls. Gantry and tower cranes have been regularly moved, all suggesting a "prolonged and active ship-building programme", according to 38 North.
Work has also been under way at a missile test stand that is apparently used to replicate the ejection of a missile from a submarine's hull. From satellite images alone it is difficult to assess how much progress North Korea's submarine-launched missile programme has made. But Mark Fitzpatrick, a veteran arms control expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the BBC that submarine-launched missiles would give North Korea a second-strike capability if it faced an attack intended to take out its nuclear forces. Mr Fitzpatrick also noted that "up to now, North Korea has frequently surprised analysts and exceeded expectations in terms of the pace of its missile development". Firing a missile from a submerged submarine poses very particular challenges. So far, the North Korea has only used a submersible testing barge, and its sea-borne missile programme remains far from operational. But the programme is a measure of Pyongyang's strategic ambitions, and another indication that it is unlikely to give up its nuclear arsenal any time soon. Photos can be seen here:

Say freeze: Navy Team Fixes Submarine Nuclear Reactor With Liquid Nitrogen

Joseph Flaig, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
28 November 2017

A Royal Navy team claimed a “world first” after freezing pipes and repairing a submarine nuclear reactor using liquid nitrogen.
Several institutions and societies, including IMechE, honoured the Submarine Mechanical Specialists team by awarding them the Churchill Medal. The accolade, named in honour of former prime minister Winston Churchill, is awarded for “outstanding achievements and contribution” in engineering and technical advancements supporting military operations.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) praised the engineers for their “innovative” adaptation of freeze seal isolation, a technique which uses ultra-cold liquid nitrogen to freeze and isolate pipes, for the restricted and technically challenging space of a nuclear submarine. The successful triple freeze seal was reportedly the first ever deployment to repair a nuclear reactor, offering flexibility for submarine operations and applications across the global nuclear industry.
“We are really stunned and honoured to win this prestigious industry medal, particularly when we were up against teams who are dealing with very complex areas of engineering, such as cyber,” said commander Philip Parvin. “It is testament to the hard work and efforts of the whole team.”
The work demonstrated “technical excellence, determination and self-sacrifice,” said IET chief executive Nigel Fine.
MP Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson, presented the winners with their medal. The IET, IMechE, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, Royal Aeronautical Society, Institution of Royal Engineers, Institution of Civil Engineers, Society of Operations Engineers and the British Computer Society jointly awarded the medal

Canadian Military Seeks Underwater Sensors For Arctic Surveillance

John Thompson, Nanutsiaq News
30 November 2017

Underwater drones equipped with high-tech sensors could one day patrol the icy waters of Canada's eastern Arctic, to help keep an eye on the region's growing shipping traffic-and to be on the lookout for foreign submarines.
It's part of a plan that Canada's Department of National Defence calls its All Domain Situational Awareness Science & Technology Program. 
Last month, the department issued two contracts, worth about $7 million, to GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to work on two underwater projects tied to this program.
The first project aims to develop a very-low-frequency sonar system that could be used in Arctic waters to both detect ships and submarines and to transmit information via coded pulses. It would be light and small enough for an underwater drone to carry beneath sea ice, and powerful enough to detect vessels and transmit information beyond 1,000 kilometres.
The second project is a long, bendable, cable-shaped sensor rigged with special underwater microphones, designed to be towed behind an underwater drone to help detect ships and submarines across long distances.
One big question raised by these gadgets is how they could impact whales and other marine mammals in the region. Loud blasts of very-low-frequency sonar, in particular, have been blamed for spooking whales and causing them to become stranded on shore.
As a result, last year the U.S. Navy lost a court battle over its use of this technology to hunt for submarines.
But the project being designed for Canadian Arctic waters would be "orders of magnitude" less noisy and would be designed with the health of marine mammals as a top-of-mind concern, said Paul Yeatman, president of GeoSpectrum Technologies.
"We're acutely aware of the importance of the Arctic for a number of different species, and how disruptive things like seismic activity or naval activity can be. What we've been working on is coming up with ways to transmit information or do detection without putting masses of sound in the water," he said.
"The less energy you put in the water, the less impact you have."
The proposed sonar system would put roughly one watt of energy in the water, said Yeatman. "One watt is more power than your cellphone uses. But if you look at a light bulb, even an LED bulb uses more than a watt."
"If you look at traditional marine seismic testing, they're putting a megawatt of energy in the water. Or if you look at some of these super-high-power sonars, in particular that the U.S. Navy has used, it would put 100 kilowatts or so-I don't know exactly-in the water. Even then, they're being restricted from doing that anymore, and these programs are going by the wayside because of the impact they have."
GeoSpectrum Technologies specializes in building underwater sensors and has experience designing devices to limit the impact on marine mammals, said Yeatman. The company will be partnering with Hines Ocean Science and Technology, Jasco Applied Sciences and Dalhousie University for these defence projects, providing them with additional expertise in tracking whales and other marine mammals and "trying to understand how sound impacts them," said Yeatman.
GeoSpectrum Technologies will build and field test both devices as terms of the contract. But it remains to be seen whether the sonar will be tested in Arctic waters. Yeatman said this will ultimately depend on cost, logistics and winning the necessary regulatory approvals.

Lockheed Receives $71.6M Contract For Trident Missiles

James LaPorta, UPI News
30 November 2017

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a modified contract by the U.S. Navy for the procurement of the UGM-133A Trident II, or Trident D5, a submarine launched ballistic missile.
The deal, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, is worth more than $71.6 million under a cost-plus-incentive-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, which is a cost-reimbursement contract where the initial negotiated fee can be adjusted later to reduce the risks assumed by Lockheed.
The Trident II D5 is the submarine-launched ballistic missile deployed by both the U.S. and Britain, and is the sole nuclear weapon system deployed by Britain.
The missile has intercontinental range and can carry several nuclear warheads using multiple independent reentry vehicles designed to strike several targets with a single missile.
The Trident is the primary sea-based weapon for the triad of U.S. nuclear forces, and is currently deployed on U.S. Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines. It is planned to be fielded by the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines currently under development in the U.S. and Dreadnought-class submarines under development by Britain.
The Trident is expected to stay in service, with upgrades, for a planned 50 years or more. Lockheed Martin will perform the majority of the work on the Trident II at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and the rest at several other locations in the United States. The work is expected to be complete by Sept. 20, 2022.
The U.S. Navy has obligated more than $65.8 million in Navy weapons procurement and Navy research, development, test and evaluation funds from fiscal years 2017 and 2018 for Lockheed at the time the contract was awarded.

Taking The Heat: Navy Tests New Steam Suit For Sub Sailors

Julia Bergman, The Day
30 November 2017

The Navy is testing a new suit designed to protect sailors from steam leaks aboard its nuclear-powered submarines.
If pressurized steam lines rupture, the leaked steam is extremely hot and can result in severe injury or death. To make repairs or rescue crewmembers, sailors must wear protective suits.
Sailors complained that the existing steam suits, which went into use about 2002, are cumbersome to put on, involving two layers - one that is like a normal firefighting ensemble and then a protective suit on top of that.
The new suit, which was designed to be easier and quicker to put on, is one piece, nine pounds lighter, and easier to move around in. Improvements also were made to the gloves, which now look like lobster claws, improving dexterity.
Sailors on the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN-769), which returned to Groton on Wednesday from a six-month deployment, tested out the suits while at sea, and will provide feedback to the Navy. The suits also are being tested by sailors on the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN-737), based in Bangor, Wash., and the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780), based in Groton.
Part of the testing is to see how quickly sailors can get into the suits, said Command Master Chief Matt Matteson with the Office of Naval Research. Testing at the Naval Submarine Base in the spring showed sailors could suit up in minutes.
"The most important thing is that it's quicker for sailors to don and get to the scene of the casualty," Matteson said. "It provides a little bit more assurance that the protective gear you're wearing will actually be appropriate for that situation."
There are only a few times in the history of the Navy's nuclear power program that the suits had to be used, Matteson said. They are not intended for use by the entire crew, but those in certain jobs.
Matteson expects the new suits to be implemented across submarine fleet in a year or two. He didn't have an estimate for how much the suits will cost.
The Office of Naval Research's TechSolutions, which focuses on rapidly producing prototype solutions to problems submitted by sailors and marines, provided funding for the testing. The new suit was developed by the Naval Sea Systems Command and Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility