The career of a small, one-of-a-kind mini-submarine intended to carry U.S. special operations troops for covert operations has come to an apparent end, a victim of the high cost of repairs after an accidental fire burned out the vessel’s interior.
The Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) submersible suffered major damage during a fire Nov. 9 while the craft was recharging its lithium-ion batteries at a special base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. No one was severely hurt in the accident, but the fire burned for several hours before it was extinguished.
Although an investigation still hasn’t determined what caused the fire, the Navy estimates repairs to the 60-ton craft would cost $237 million, or $180 million more than the craft’s operating budget, and take nearly three years to complete.
“Competing funding priorities … prevent the command from repairing the ASDS,” said U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in a statement released July 24.
There are no plans to fix the ASDS in the future, said USSOCOM spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Fred Kuebler. “Unless the funding becomes available, we will not repair ASDS Hull 1,” Kuebler said.
No decision has been made as to what will happen next to the craft, which is still at Pearl Harbor. “Final disposition of the support crew and facilities has yet to be determined, as well,” Kuebler added.
The ASDS program already had been severely cut back after a string of exorbitant cost increases and technical problems. Although the ASDS was delivered by Northrop Grumman in 2003 and performed several real-world missions, the craft suffered from reliability issues and design flaws, made more difficult by competing priorities between the submarine community and the special operations world. In 2006, the Pentagon killed plans to buy more mini-subs, although the ASDS was kept in operation.
But the craft helped solved a nagging problem for special operations warriors making long underwater transits, providing a dry environment where they can avoid the debilitating affects of cold and submersion. “This is a capability that USSOCOM has deemed as a requirement for our special operations forces,” Kuebler said. “Whether that’s an ASDS or a hull to be determined, the whole requirement for long-distance infiltration and exfiltration in a dry environment continues to be a high priority.”
The Advanced SEAL Delivery System was designed to reduce the risk to Navy Special Operations forces (SEALs) when required the transit from a submarine to shore. ASDS permits long-range special forces operations. It also enhances the effectiveness of the insertion teams by delivering them to their destination rested and better equipped as well as the means of conducting shore surveillance prior to landing.
The next step for now is the Joint Multi-Mission Submersible (JMMS), a manned, dry combatant submersible to provide a clandestine mobility platform. According to budget documents submitted with the 2010 defense budget request, the JMMS “will provide improved performance over the ASDS and will permit small, highly-trained forces to operate in denied areas increasingly controlled by a sophisticated threat.”
The Pentagon is asking for $43.4 million to begin analysis and technology development phase efforts.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the country’s first locally built nuclear-powered submarine – the 6,000 tonne Arihant – this past Sunday (July 26).
“Today, we join a select group of five nations who possess the capability to build a nuclear-powered submarine,” Singh declared in his speech at the naval base of Visakhapatnam on the south-east coast. Until now, only the US, Russia, France, Britain and China had the capability to build nuclear submarines.
It was built entirely in India with Russian assistance and a second one is due to be constructed shortly. Although he billed the submarine as an outcome of a public-private partnership, the Indian leader did mention Russia in his address. “I would also like to express our appreciation to our Russian friends for their consistent and invaluable cooperation, which symbolizes the close strategic partnership that we enjoy with Russia,” Singh remarked. Nonetheless, he called for leveraging the strengths of India’s private industry for defense goals.
Based on the design of a Charlie-1 submarine which India leased from the former Soviet Union between 1987-’91, the Arihant is currently housed in a completely-enclosed dry-dock called the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam. The launch, where the long, narrow dry dock was flooded with water from the harbour and the submarine floated out, is only the first step.
The Arihant is to be towed out of the SBC into an enclosed pier for its harbour trials. The trials will prove its nuclear power plant and auxiliary systems before it heads out into the Bay of Bengal for sea trials and weapon trials of the 12 K-15 ballistic missiles it is armed with. It will take the submarine between two and three years before full commissioning.
In the meantime, the navy will get its first nuclear submarine, the Chakra, an Akula-2 class nuclear powered attack submarine currently undergoing sea trials in the Pacific Ocean off Vladivostok. The Chakra is to be commissioned later this year before sailing to Visakhapatnam. The submarine (known as the Nerpa in Russian service) is being acquired on a ten-year lease from Russia under an agreement signed in January 2004. India paid $ 650 million for the completion and lease of the submarine which is being acquired to rapidly train crews to man the fleet of three nuclear submarines which are to be inducted into the Indian Navy by 2015.
Launching the INS Arihant, Mr Singh said India had no aggressive designs on anyone. But the sea was becoming increasingly relevant to India’s security concerns, he added. “We do not have any aggressive designs, nor do we seek to threaten anyone. We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems. It is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide,” ” Singh said.
It will undergo trials over the next few years before being deployed and will be able to launch missiles at targets 700km (437 miles) away. Until now India has been able to launch ballistic missiles only from the air and from land. Nuclear submarines will add a third dimension to its defence capability. When it is eventually deployed, the top-secret Arihant will be able to carry 100 sailors on board. It will be able to stay under water for long periods and thereby increase its chances of remaining undetected.
The launching of the Arihant is a clear sign that India is looking to blunt the threat from China which has a major naval presence in the region.
The Kazan is the yard’s second cruise-missile-armed Project 885 Yasen (NATO code name Graney) submarine.
The first, Severodvinsk, was launched in 1993 and is slated to enter service in 2010 or 2011.
Russian naval doctrine says Yasen subs will be the country’s main multirole nuclear subs in the 21st century.
Sevmash spokeswoman Anastasiya Nikitinskaya said Kazan’s radio and combat systems are better than Severodvinsk’s. The Kazan sub was made entirely of parts and materials produced in Russia.
The submarine’s technology and design is claimed to be state-of-the-art. The submarine will have a crew of 90, suggesting a high degree of automation in the submarine’s different systems. The newest American attack sub, the Virginia class submarine, has a crew of 134 in comparison.
The 119-meter-long, 13.5-meter-wide sub will dive to 600 meters, displace 13,800 tons, and run at up to 31 knots.
Designed by the St. Petersburg-based Malakhit Design Bureau, the submarine will have eight torpedo tubes and carry 24 long-range cruise missiles of several types, anti-ship missiles, and mines. Malakhit’s general director and chief designer, Vladimir Pyalov, said the sub’s weapons will have longer ranges and the ability to destroy land targets as well as naval ones.
Pyalov said at the launching ceremony that Severodvinsk will undergo sea tests in summer 2010 and then will be commissioned by the Northern Fleet, the RIA Novosti official news agency reported. All of the submarine’s weapons, including cruise missiles, have been tested successfully.
HMS Daring – the Royal Navy’s newest and most advanced warship – has been formally commissioned into the fleet last Thursday (July 23).
The ship’s sponsor, Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex who launched the Type 45 destroyer in Scotland in 2006, was principal guest at the colourful ‘Christening’ ceremony at Victory Jetty, Portsmouth Naval Base. Her Royal Highness then went on board HMS Daring for a short time before joining a reception for guests on the quayside.
HMS Daring’s Commanding Officer, Captain Paddy McAlpine, read the Commissioning Warrant and the National Anthem was played as the ship’s Jack and White Ensign are raised and the commissioning pennant was unfurled. Capt McAlpine said the ceremony was an extremely important day for both the ship and the ship’s company: “It gives me immense pride to be here at this momentous occasion as the ship’s Commanding Officer. HMS Daring opens a new chapter in the illustrious history of the Royal Navy.
HMS Daring is the first of six Type 45 destroyers and all will be based in Portsmouth. The second, HMS Dauntless, is due to make her first entry in to Portsmouth early next year. The Type 45 Destroyer is the largest and most powerful Air Defence Destroyer ever built for the Royal Navy. It will provide UK Defence with a world-class military capability.
The prime role of the Type 45 Destroyer will be Air Defence: protecting UK national and allied/coalition forces against enemy aircraft and missiles. It will carry the UK variant of the world-leading Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) including the UK designed Sampson multi-function radar. This system, which has been named Sea Viper by the Royal Navy, will set new standards in Air Defence, capable of defending the Type 45 and ships in its company from multiple attacks from even the most sophisticated anti-ship missiles and aircraft.
In addition to its world class Air Defence capability, one of the Type 45’s greatest assets is its versatility. It will also act as a multi-role, general-purpose platform, able to contribute effectively to a range of world-wide maritime and joint operations.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s leading expert on cod said Tuesday that while there are strong signs that northern cod is starting to make a comeback, fishermen should still leave it alone.
Inshore fishermen have noticed an increase in the number of cod, and say there should be an increase in the amount they’re allowed catch.
George Rose, a former federal fisheries scientist and the research chair in fisheries science at Memorial University, said there has been a big turnaround recently in the fish’s population — a big change from even three or four years ago.
“Nowhere near back to what they were historically, but they’re starting to look better and better each year. So there’s been some amazing changes in the last couple of years,” he said.
Rose linked some of the change to the recent reappearance of capelin, the main food for cod at this time of the year. However when it comes to increased catch allowances, Rose argued that if ever there was a time for caution, it’s now.
“We are at a critical time, and we’re not at all certain that with an increase [in] the fishery that’s substantial, we couldn’t knock this back down,” he said.
Federal fisheries officials are also being cautious. Northern cod licence holders are allowed to catch 5,700 pounds this year — only 500 pounds more than last year.
Northern cod stocks off of Newfoundland and Labrador suffered a major collapse in the early 1990s, and the federal government imposed a moratorium in 1992. Since then, the federal government has allowed commercial fishing on a limited basis, as well as a food fishery.
Russia has offered to coordinate the movements of its vessels hunting Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden with NATO, diplomatic sources said July 22.
The offer was made at a meeting of ambassadors at a NATO-Russia council meeting, representatives of the two sides said. NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the alliance was considering the Russian offer.
Russia’s ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Dmitry Rogozin, said that his country would not place its ships under NATO command but declared “we need coordination”.
He highlighted how Russia was already working with a European Union military mission with ships and planes patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to ward off pirate attacks.
NATO made its patrols in the region permanent in June.
Only one Russian ship is believed to be patrolling in the region now but Rogozin said his offer was “judged interesting” by NATO ambassadors at the meeting.
The NATO spokesman said that Rogozin proposed “detailed discussion on how we could step up cooperation between Russian ships and others off the coast of the Gulf of Aden, including coordinated patrols, as well as liaison between the ships and the possibility of training on the control of piracy.”
Appathurai added: “NATO has to flesh out these ideas to see what’s possible”. Cooperation could be difficult because the western alliance does not want to give details of its procedures and technology. “Sometimes some elements are more difficult,” the spokesman said. “The Russians understand: they have their own restrictions,” he added.
NATO and Russia have had tense relations over Russia’s five-day war with Georgia in August last year. But the two sides agreed in June to resume political and military cooperation.
Given the wrong information recently published in the media on the development program of the Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine, which will be developed in partnership with France, and given undue comparisons between this partnership and a previous proposal by the German company HDW, based on the IKL-214 model, the Brazilian Defense Ministry issued the following clarification:
The two projects are not comparable
The German proposal was only for the construction of two conventional submarines (diesel-electric propulsion), without the evolution to a nuclear-powered submarine, because Germany does not produce any (it has zero percent of this market). Also there would have been some transfer of technology, design, and maintenance work, but only for construction purposes, and in a limited way.
The French proposal, from DCNS, includes the construction in Brazil of four Scorpène conventional submarines, which will allow the country to develop a submarine with nuclear propulsion, and it includes the transfer of all related technologies, not only for construction of the boats but also for the entire project, including the combat systems. The proposal also includes the design and construction of a site dedicated to the manufacture of nuclear-propelled submarines (and conventional ones as well) and a new naval base able to house them. The nuclear part of submarine is fully national, developed by the Brazilian Navy in a research and development program started in the 1970s.
Restrictions on maintenance
Germany does not transfer technology for the design or maintenance of submarines. In the construction of the current submarines that Brazil operates (IKL-209), the forward section (bow), which houses the tubes for launching torpedoes, was manufactured in Germany and the maintenance of combat systems (sonar, system management fire, etc.) can be made only with the presence of German technicians.
Yard and base are available since 1993
The construction of a new yard and a new base in Sepetiba (Rio de Janeiro state) for nuclear-powered submarines is provided by the Navy since 1993, making it inconsistent to claim that it is an unnecessary expense imposed by the French.
Claiming that this work is unnecessary means ignoring the fact that nuclear-propelled submarine that can only be built on dedicated sites that meet quite specific technological and environmental requirements and which no existing shipyard in Brazil can satisfy. Furthermore, the current conventional submarine base in the Bay of Guanabara does not provide sufficient depth for a nuclear-powered submarine.
Brazil demanded that the base and the shipyard be constructed by a Brazilian company having responsibility for the project. France’s DCNS chose, freely, its partner and selected the Odebrecht construction company. Regardless of who was responsible for the project, the secrecy of the project would have been maintained, as maps of military installations are not subject to disclosure required by a public tender.
Design similar to that of nuclear submarine
The hull of the Scorpène submarine has the typical design of a nuclear-propelled submarine, and employs technology developed in the design of the submarine “Barracuda”, a new class of French nuclear attack submarines still under construction. This will facilitate the evolution of Scorpene to our nuclear-powered submarine. Furthermore, the Brazilian Navy has extensive documentation that shows the high degree of satisfaction of the Chilean Navy with the Scorpène conventional submarine operated by that country.
Nationalization of 36 thousand items
On the contract with France, the national content index reaches 20%, representing the production in Brazil of more than 36,000 items for the submarine, including complex systems, in addition to the transfer of technology to domestic companies. There are already more than thirty approved Brazilian companies, and several others are in the process of qualification. Any additional parts will be purchased directly from the manufacturers, which reduces costs.
The evolution of the submarine program in Brazil
The Brazil-France agreement should be viewed as a phase of a program initiated by the Brazilian Navy three decades ago, with the objective of enabling the country to build nuclear-propelled submarines. It is not therefore a simple transaction of buying new equipment. While we developed the technology for a nuclear reactor to propel the submarine at the end of the 1970s, the Navy began a program of construction of conventional submarines in Brazil, in agreement with HDW of Germany.
Of the five IKL-209 model submarines provided under that agreement, the first was built in Germany while the remaining four were manufactured in the Navy Arsenal in Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ). The Tikuna is the most modern of the group. Despite the advances made by the German partnership with Brazil, the country still lacks the technology to develop projects, for maintenance of the equipment, and for development of the nuclear-propelled submarine.
For this reason, Brazil has sought partnerships that allow this new and fundamental step forward in our defense strategy. The agreement with the French will allow the construction of each of the four conventional submarines in increasing degrees of national involvement, up to the construction of nuclear-propelled submarine, with the technological skills acquired from DCNS.
The importance of nuclear submarines to Brazil
The National Defense Strategy prioritizes the ability to deny the use of the sea near our territory as an essential element of our defense.
Brazil needs both conventional and nuclear-powered submarines to first perform this task and then to protect its coastline, including the pre-salt-water area beyond the Amazon. For the protection of our extensive maritime border, having a conventionally-armed but nuclear-powered submarine is an essential element of this strategy.
The project will also allow the transfer of vital dual-use technologies which will further increase the competitiveness of Brazilian industry, strengthening of the main objectives of the National Defense Strategy, which is integrated into more and more to the national strategy of development.
Karl Kenny, President and CEO, of Marport Canada Inc., sat down with CBC morning show host, Cecil Haire on Monday morning (July 21, 2009) to discuss how Marport has just become a major player in the world of military sonar.
Monday’s interview can be heard by clicking here (mp3 format, runs 5:27 minutes).
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard small surface ship programs are too mature to combine, but each service could benefit from using the other’s designs, according to a report released July 17 by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Navy should consider buying a naval version of the Coast Guard’s Legend-class National Security Cutter for long-range, presence missions. The Northrop Grumman-built ships have a range of 12,000 miles at 8 knots without a reserve.
The Coast Guard could benefit from the Lockheed Martin version of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship in two ways; first, to reduce technical risk on its Offshore Patrol Cutter program; second, to field a ship with a 40-plus-knot top speed that would be valuable for interdiction missions.
The report, “Options for Combining the Navy’s and the Coast Guard’s Small Combatant Programs,” also says Lockheed is developing a longer-range “Coast Guard” version of its LCS that would be able to steam 6,300 miles at 10 knots with a 30 percent reserve. The base Navy LCS has a range of 3,500 knots at about 18 knots.
The report can be downloaded from: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10460/07-17-SmallCombatants.pdf
The United States released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice to help scientists study the impact of climate change, within hours of a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences. In an unusually fast move by a U.S. government agency, the Interior Department made the images public on Wednesday. The academy’s report urging this action was released at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Some 700 images show swatches of sea ice from six sites around the Arctic Ocean, with an additional 500 images of 22 sites in the United States. The images can be seen online at http://gfl.usgs.gov/.
Changes in the Arctic affect global climate, since the Arctic region acts as an “air conditioner” for the planet. The Arctic images have a resolution of about 1 yard (1 meter), a vast improvement on previously available pictures of sea ice, said Thorsten Markus of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “These are one-meter-resolution images, which give you a big picture of the summertime Arctic,” Markus said. “This is the main reason why we are so thrilled about it. One meter resolution is the dimension that’s missing.” The next-best resolution for images of Arctic sea ice is 15 to 30 meters. This risks missing small features that can have a big impact on warming in the area.
For example, during the summer months, pools of melted water form on top of Arctic ice floes, and these puddles can stretch across 30 meters. The water in the puddles is dark and absorbs heat, as opposed to the white ice all around them, which reflects heat. Knowing about these melt pools is valuable to producing models of what might happen in the Arctic in the future, but with images that have a resolution of 30 meters or so, these pools might well be missed. While individual puddles are small, collectively they cover about 30 percent of the Arctic.
“The (forecasting) models do well at capturing the overall sea ice cover in the Arctic,” Markus said. “But there are certain processes that we cannot adequately model yet, mainly … because we don’t have enough data.” Markus said the public release of these images was “a huge surprise — I expected after the report, months could go by until somebody moved.”
The images were derived from classified images made as part of the Medea program, which lets scientists request spy pictures from environmentally sensitive locations around the globe. Medea scientists asked for intelligence images of Arctic sea ice during the summer melting season, but these were considered unsuitable for public release. Images suitable for release were made, but were not made public until now.