UK Diesel Boat Reunion -Plymouth (August)

Dolphins

Gentlemen

The next Diesel Boat Reunion will be held at the normal venue on the normal date as per usual. Basically, at the Oakvilla Social Club, Weston Mill ( PL2 2EL ) which is behind Camel Head Fire Station on Saturday 2nd August starting at about 1200 ish.

Anyone requiring the buffet, it will be, as usual £5.00 to be with me by the 28th of July at the very latest please. If you could send a cheque for the £5.00 to Mr MW PITKEATHLY, The Courageous Exhibit Office, N193, HM Naval Base, Devonport Dockyard, PLYMOUTH,PL2 2BG. Unfortunately, this will be non refundable. Some of you have gone really modern and no longer have a cheque book, this is now not a problem, so if you could email me first, I will give you the bank details.

Can you please get the word around to the very few that are not on email and maybe interested in coming along to the DBR please.

At the last reunion in 2013, I asked for a volunteer to take over in case I ended up having a stroke/heart attack/dead etc. I am very pleased that Pat Langdon(Fireman Pat) from Exeter has taken up the mantle. We have set up a joint bank account with the Natwest that we can both access, which we feel is ideal and he has access to the dieselboatreunion@hotmail.co.uk email account should I be indisposed or even dead.

Just prior to the last reunion I asked for ex pusser S/M items, so that it could be utilised on HMS Courageous. I would like to thank Pincher Martin for a green sleeping bag and Rodney Hodge for a Pusser’s case full of old kit and bits, much appreciated from both of you thanks.

A message from Ken Woods. If you are in Plymouth for a long weekend, the Plymouth Hoe Club, 1 Osbourne Place, Lockyer Street  tel no: 01752 311512 welcomes all submariners.  If you are staying locally for the weekend it’s a popular watering hole for shipmates and a place to meet up before the big day!

I trust that you are all well and look forward to seeing you at the 2014 DBR

Kind regards

Pat Langdon and Pitt.k (former naval person) 

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Nuclear submarine to get new core after test reactor problem

HMS Vanguard (file pic) HMS Vanguard makes up part of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system

Low levels of radioactivity have been discovered in the cooling waters of a nuclear submarine test reactor at Dounreay, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

Mr Hammond told MPs that no leak had occurred and said there were no safety implications for staff working on the site, or risks to the environment.

But, as a result, HMS Vanguard is to be refuelled with a new nuclear core at a cost of £120m.

The problem was discovered in 2012.

Labour criticised the government for not announcing the information earlier, calling it a matter of “national importance”.

‘Below scale’

Although the news is only being made public now, the Ministry of Defence says the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the defence nuclear inspectorate were kept informed.

Mr Hammond said the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment ran at higher levels of intensity than those on Britain’s fleet of nuclear submarines and was designed to pre-empt any similar problems with the reactors on board those vessels.

The defence secretary said: “These low levels of radioactivity are a normal product of a nuclear reaction that takes place within the fuel but they would not normally enter the cooling water.

“This water is contained within the sealed reactor circuit and I can reassure the House there has been no detectable radiation leak from that sealed circuit.

“Indeed, against the International Atomic Energy Agency’s measurement scale for nuclear-related events this issue is classed Level 0, described as ‘below scale – no safety significance’.”

The refuelling of HMS Vanguard – the UK’s oldest nuclear submarine – will take place during its next scheduled “deep maintenance period”, due to last three and a half years from 2015.

‘National security’

Mr Hammond said: “This is the responsible option: replacing the core on a precautionary basis at the next opportunity, rather than waiting to see if the core needs to be replaced at a later date which would mean returning Vanguard for a period of unscheduled deep maintenance, potentially putting at risk the resilience of our ballistic missile submarine operations.”

Mr Hammond said a decision on refuelling the next-oldest submarine, HMS Victorious, would not need to be taken until 2018.

New submarines for the Trident replacement programme, known as the Successor submarines, will not be affected by the problem, he added.

For Labour, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the government should have told the Commons earlier about the fault.

He added: “There must be public confidence in the government to be open and transparent on these matters.

“A fault, however small, that develops in a nuclear reactor is something that the British people and this House should have been told about. This is an issue of national security and national importance.”

Source - BBC News

Australia Reviews Plan to Double Submarine Fleet

Decision to Revisit $32 Billion Purchase Comes as Asian Neighbors Bulk Up Military Muscle

The first of Australia’s six Collins class submarines hitting the water at Port Adelaide in 1993; Australia is reviewing a plan to replace its fleet with 12 new subs at a cost of more than $30 billion.

CANBERRA, Australia—Australia will review plans to double its fleet of submarines, with the new conservative government under pressure to rein in its budget even as Asian neighbors dramatically ramp up military spending.

Defense Minister  David Johnston  said he was unconvinced that Australia needed as many as 12 new conventional submarines currently foreseen by military planners. It comes as regional neighbors, led by China, build up their naval and air arsenals amid disputes over territorial waters, especially in North Asia.

At a cost of up to 36 billion Australian dollars (US$32.28 billion), doubling the submarine fleet would be the country’s largest single military purchase.

“It’s a mystery to me [where that number of 12 came from],” said Mr. Johnston, who has called for a review of military-equipment spending as part of a yearlong strategic planning process launched by the conservatives, who swept to power in September elections on a promise of fiscal restraint.

“That is a technical issue that the current circumstances will dictate and I want [the] navy to tell me what they foresee is the way forward. It might be more than 12, it might be less. I’m not sure,” he said in an interview.

Australia’s former Labor government in 2009 released a defense planning paper that called for a dozen large, conventionally powered submarines to replace the country’s existing six-boat fleet of Collins class submarines.

Although much larger than submarines operated by regional neighbors, the Collins class submarines have been plagued by technical problems. On Thursday, a fire erupted on the submarine HMAS Waller off the West Australian coast, Australia’s Defense Department said. There were no casualties.

A new fleet of larger, more powerful and longer-range submarines would counter a growing undersea presence in Asia. Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia are fielding new submarines to counter threats to some of the world’s most important energy-trade routes, as well as to hedge against Chinese ambitions.

China in January sent a surface warship fleet—possibly backed by a submarine—into waters between Indonesia and Australia, demonstrating Beijing’s naval reach. The move prompted some alarm in Canberra, which sent a maritime patrol aircraft to keep watch.

Southeast Asian nations typically operate submarines of about 2,000 submerged tons, while Australia envisages boats of 4,000 tons or more, possibly equipped with submarine-launched cruise missiles for land attack and capable of deploying special-forces soldiers.

Australia’s submarine-replacement program, no matter how ambitious it turned out to be, wouldn’t add to regional rivalries, with the close U.S. ally having long fielded a small but highly capable military that was well respected regionally, Mr. Johnston said.

“For many, many years we have owned and operated the world’s largest conventionally powered submarine, so the neighborhood is well used to us having a large and unique diesel-electric submarine,” he said.

Australia already has embarked on an expensive buildup of military equipment, including two 27,000-ton amphibious assault ships, new attack and transport helicopters, guided-missile destroyers, tanks and Super Hornet strike and electronic attack aircraft.

Australia has a defense budget of some A$26 billion in the fiscal year to June, or 1.6% of gross domestic product. The government plans in the next few years to buy up to 100 F-35 Lightning joint strike fighters to provide radar-evading air power, at a cost of up to A$16 billion.

But the military has come under pressure to reduce costs as the world’s 12th-largest economy retreats from a mining boom, driving up joblessness and eating into government revenues. The government in December forecast budget deficits totaling A$123 billion over the next four fiscal year to June 2017, and said it would cut billions from spending.

Mr. Johnston said he was open to the idea of Australia’s far-flung Cocos islands, in the Indian Ocean southwest of Indonesia, being developed as a base for U.S. or Australian Tritons. But he said there was no proposal currently to upgrade the islands’ dilapidated airstrip to expand maritime reach, as Chinese vessels increasingly patrol further from home.

China’s growing assertiveness in the East China Sea and elsewhere was to be expected of any country with growing energy needs, Mr. Johnston said, including a demand for Australian oil and gas resources. China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

“They are hostage to the importation of food and energy. I think they would be dilatory were they not to want to protect those sea lanes,” he said. “I’m not reactive to these things that are happening in the South China Sea.”

Source – The Wall Street Journal

Fire damaged submarine returns to Canadian navy after nearly a decade

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HMCS Chicoutimi rests on the syncrolift after being removed from the harbour in Halifax, N.S., Canada on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2006. A newly rebuilt HMCS Chicoutimi is set to rejoin the Canadian navy’s submarine fleet, nearly 10 years after a deadly fire aboard the second-hand warship effectively crippled the program.

A newly rebuilt HMCS Chicoutimi is set to return to Canada’s naval fleet nearly 10 years after a deadly fire aboard the second-hand warship effectively crippled the Canadian navy’s submarine program.

The resurrection of the British-built vessel, which became emblematic of the sorry state of Canadian military equipment in 2004, has the Department of National Defence contemplating for the first time how best to employ its controversial subs.

One internal defence proposal foresees deploying the undersea warships to far-flung oceans, patrolling trouble spots the way the navy’s frigates do today.

Chicoutimi has been fully repaired and upgraded, says the navy’s top commander.

It entered the water in late November after three years of work at Victoria Shipyards Co. Ltd., a return that is about two years behind the navy’s original schedule.

The submarine is in the process of being turned over to the military and the crew is expected to begin sea trial in waters off Esquimalt, B.C. over the next few weeks, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman told The Canadian Press in a recent interview.

“We’re on the cusp of achieving what we laid out,” said Norman, who noted the original goal of the program was to have three of the navy’s four submarines operational at all times.

Chicoutimi will, however, be restricted to shallow-water diving for the foreseeable future, according to a series of defence documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

It’s been a long, excruciating journey since Jean Chretien’s Liberal government announced in 1998 it would buy four surplus diesel-electric boats from the Royal Navy in what was heralded at the time as a great bargain for Canadian taxpayers.

The poor condition of the mothballed submarines — they were rusty, prone to flooding and one had a dented hull — tarnished the reputation of the boats. But it was the fire aboard Chicoutimi in October 2004, which killed Lt. Chris Saunders and sent two other sailors to hospital, that nearly scuttled the program entirely.

A subsequent military board of inquiry found that an open hatch allowed sea water from a rogue wave to wash down the conning tower and inundate poorly insulated high-voltage wires, triggering the fire. Still, the 700-page report blamed no one for the tragedy, which occurred off Ireland during the ship’s voyage to Halifax.

The initial estimate to repair the boat was pegged at $15 million in 2005. It quickly increased to $20 million in 2006, but internal documents suggest the price tag could run to more than $125 million, including removal of all fire-damaged components.

Originally commissioned as HMS Upholder, the ship has spent the bulk of its nearly 28-year existence either in dry-dock or tied up to a wharf.

HMCS Victoria is the Canadian navy’s only fully operational submarine, having completed the test firing of a live torpedo. A third submarine, HMCS Windsor, is operational but has not gone through process of certification to fire its weapons and remains under dive restrictions.

HMCS Corner Brook is currently in dry-dock for life extension and repairs after slamming into the ocean floor off Vancouver Island.

Despite the trials, senior brass have been thinking ahead and want to see the subs play a meaningful role, possibly in extended deployments in waters off the world’s trouble spots in much the same way the Dutch have utilized their fleet.

Former chief of defence staff, general Walt Natynczyk, directed before he retired that the navy develop a deployment plan that would “accelerate the strategic reach of the submarines.”

Since the boats are slow and have limited range, Natynczyk envisioned the navy using a piggyback ship to whisk the submarines to support ongoing international operations, such as anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa.

“The immense effort this has required, and the massive investment it represents, must now begin to yield a visible and defensible return on your investment,” the former top commander wrote in a directive dated March 5, 2012.

Norman says the navy isn’t quite ready for such an operation, but concedes it is a goal.

“We see this as a viable deployment possibility, looking into the near future,” he said.

A number of factors would have to be considered, including the cost of transport, sustaining the submarine once it’s on station, and the climate, since the boats were designed during the Cold War for operations in the frigid North Atlantic.

“Those boats are more comfortable in cold war than warm water,” Norman said.

But it would be in Canada’s national interest to conduct such far-flung patrols in addition to keeping tabs on the country’s coastline, he added.

“If you can pre-position them in whatever area of strategic interest you may have, they become all that more useful.”

Source – The Province

At sea with Britain’s first woman sub hunter: Warship commander

‘We all make sacrifices’: Britain’s first woman sub hunter says her years at  sea ‘probably explains why I’m still single’

Britain’s first female warship commander is  preparing to lead the HMS Portland on a six-month patrol in the Atlantic on the  hunt for enemy submarines.

In 2012, Sarah West became  the first woman to be put in charge of a British warship in the navy’s 500 year  history, and says she is proud to be at the front of defending our waters from  the threat of submarines.

However, the 41-year-old says that the  high-octane job comes at a personal cost, revealing that the years spent away at  sea mean she is still single.

Sarah West stands proudly on HMS Portland as the Royal Navy's first female commander of a warship.Sarah West stands proudly on HMS Portland as the Royal  Navy’s first female commander of a warship.

She joined the navy after getting bored with  her nine to five job as a trainee manager.

The ban on women working on  submarines was  only lifted in 2011 and Cdr West described her  appointment to take command of  HMS Portland as the highlight of her 16  years in the navy.

However, she plays down her role in being on  the frontline of helping to maintain a ring of steel around the British  coastline.

‘I’m  not reinventing the wheel,’ she told the Mirror. ‘Lots of women in the services  have challenging roles. It’s just that I happen to be newsworthy at the  moment.’

As much as she enjoys the thrilling nature of  her job, she admits that it has not made it easy to meet a partner.

‘There are drawbacks. Years at sea probably  explains why I’m single. But every person in the military makes  sacrifices.’

She says plenty of men and women on board are  missing seeing their children grow up, which makes it crucial to keep morale  high.

Cdr Sarah West looks through binoculars as the HMS Portland hunts a submarine in the Cumbrae Gap, Scotland.Cdr Sarah West looks through binoculars as the HMS  Portland hunts a submarine in the Cumbrae Gap, Scotland.

Now she is in charge of an 185-strong crew  whom she leads in trying to out outmaneouvre their underwater  enemies.

‘Anti-submarine warfare is the military  version of chess. You must work out what the enemy is going to do before they  even think of it,’ says Cdr West who is captain of HMS Portland, a Type 23  frigate with submarine-hunting kit, Sea Wolf and Harpoon  missiles, Stingray  torpedoes and a Lynx attack helicopter.

They have recently been running a training  exercise to catch the submarine HMS  Triumph, which bombed Libya in 2011 and now  trains future Royal Navy  captain.’

There is no sign of the submarine despite  sending a helicopter to dip a sonar wire into the sea where it is suspected to  be.

But suddenly a periscope is spotted several  miles away, sparking Cdr West  into action, who shouts orders for HMS Portland  to move in on the sub  and prepares for the similated launch of three Stingray  torpedoes.

‘Today has been a good day for submarine  hunting,’ says Cdr West.

‘Many more countries have submarines now so  there’s always a threat out there. What we’re doing is really  important.’

Commander West oversees the hunt for the submarine in the ship's operations room.Commander West oversees the hunt for the submarine in  the ship’s operations room.

‘You can have state-of-the-art kit but,  without well-trained people wanting to use it, you’re useless.’

The ship is set to leave HM Naval Base  Devonport in Plymouth for six months on patrol in the Atlantic.

The crew will face threats from storms, with  gale-force winds whipping up waves as high as 40ft. Warships sit high in the  water for speed and cannot turn away from a storm for comfort when they have to  sail somewhere urgently. Many of those suffering from seasickness will be forced  to vomit into buckets while on watch.

They are facing testing times as Russia is  understood to be on the verge of completing a £1.25 billion K-329 Severodvinsk  nuclear-powered submarine which could give it a crucial underwater  advantage.

Source – Daily Mail

UK – First glimpse of new nuclear subs

Defence bosses have revealed the first glimpse at the  future  of Britain’s nuclear deterrent today, publishing the first artist’s impression  of the submarines due to replace the Vanguard-class boats which carry Trident  missiles.

The image was included on the cover of the second annual report to MPs about  developments in the Successor Submarine programme.

 ​DEFENCETrident

 

The boats are designed to be amongst the stealthiest in the world and the  image, created by the design  team  working on the new vessels, shows a submarine built with sweeping curves.

In the report to MPs, the Ministry of Defence announced it had agreed two  contracts worth a total of £79 million to BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines for  initial work on the new  vessels, which are due to be in service by 2028.

The items include structural fittings, electrical equipment, castings and  forgings which must be ordered now, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.

Mr Hammond said: “The Successor programme is supporting around 2,000 jobs and  up to 850 British businesses could benefit from the supply chain as we exploit  the most modern technologies, and employ a significant portion of the UK’s  engineers, project  managers  and technicians over the coming years.”

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord, said: “The Royal Navy has been  operating continuous at-sea deterrent patrols for more than 40 years and the  Successor submarines will allow us to do so with cutting-edge equipment well  into the future.”

Both contracts, one of £47 million and another of £32 million, will be filled  by workers in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The Ministry of Defence said the total number of MoD and industrial staff  currently working on the Successor programme is around 2,000, with more than  half working as engineers  and designers.

More than 850 potential UK suppliers have so far been identified as  benefiting from investment in the programme and as many as 6,000 people will be  involved by the time that the construction reaches a peak.

Source – Western Morning News

“Red October” submarine returns to Connecticut from last deployment

USS Dallas

USS Dallas

The submarine that starred in “The Hunt for Red October,” the USS Dallas, returned from its last overseas deployment Monday. Next year, after 33 years in the fleet, the Dallas will be inactivated.

Tom Clancy’s Cold War thriller made the Dallas famous, but in Navy circles it is better known for being the first attack submarine to carry a dry-deck shelter, which houses a vehicle for launching and recovering special operations forces.

“Of all the submarines that would be finishing up their service life, there are a couple out there that people know by name, and Dallas is one of them,” said Capt. David A. Roberts, who commanded Dallas from 2007 to 2009. “It kind of adds to the moment. ‘The Hunt for Red October’ submarine we all know and love from the movies is going to be finishing up its service life soon.”

But, Roberts said, he always tells people who ask about the Dallas that it has “done a lot more than just being in the movies.”

“Think about how the world has changed,” said Roberts, who now leads the Submarine Learning Center. “The missions Dallas was built for initially back then, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, are so much different than in 2013. And she has stood the test of time and been able to keep step with the changing world, the challenging world.”

The Dallas (SSN 700) returned to the Naval Submarine Base on Monday after operating in Europe and the Middle East and traveling more than 34,000 miles during nearly seven months at sea.

While all deployments are memorable, Cmdr. Jack Houdeshell, the current commanding officer of the Dallas, said the last deployment comes second only to the maiden deployment for a submarine.

And on this deployment, Houdeshell added, the crew and the ship “showed the world what we can still do.”

The Dallas will continue to support training and other missions until September, when the preparations begin in earnest for the decommissioning, Houdeshell said.

One of 42 Los Angeles-class attack submarines remaining in the fleet, the Dallas was commissioned in 1981 as the seventh member in a class of 61 submarines. It has deployed to every operational theater around the world ever since.

The submarine circumnavigated the globe and transited the Panama Canal in 1984 and participated in Operations Desert Shield/Storm in the early 1990s.

Master Chief Electronics Technician Tomas A. Garcia, who was the chief of the boat on Dallas from 2010 to 2012, said the Dallas was known for delivering Navy SEALs, but the equipment was removed shortly before he reported aboard. Guided-missile submarines and some Virginia-class submarines carry the dry-deck shelters now, he added.

Roberts, Houdeshell and Garcia all said serving aboard Dallas was the highlight of their careers.

Garcia, a Texas native who is now the department master chief for Basic Enlisted Submarine School, led about 100 Naval Submarine School students to the pier on Monday so they could attend a submarine homecoming for the first time.

“There is no better way for them to really get a full appreciation for what it means to deploy on a submarine,” Garcia said.

Seeing the families and feeling the excitement of the homecoming, Garcia added, “really drives home” the importance of the submarine force’s missions and of the family support at home. Garcia said he also watched “The Hunt for Red October” with his family on Sunday night to celebrate the Dallas’ impending arrival.

Seaman Jose Cruz, 19, cheered “Hooyah, Dallas” with his classmates as the Dallas arrived next to the pier. Cruz said he felt as if he was being welcomed into the traditions of the submarine force.

“For all of us,” he said, “this will be something to remember.”

Houdeshell said Monday was an emotional day because he was thrilled to see his family and see the sailors reunited with their families, especially in time for Thanksgiving, but he also knew that after he brought his ship in “she’s not going to go out and do it again.”

“I think the real measure of the Dallas is the crews that served on the Dallas and have gone out throughout the fleet,” he said. “Even when the ship is gone you will still have the Dallas spirit out in the fleet from the sailors that served on board.”

The submarine itself may live on too, as a centerpiece for a maritime museum. A nonprofit foundation, the Dallas Maritime Museum Foundation, plans to build a museum featuring Navy ships and other vessels named after the city.

“As much as I hate to see my old ship eventually be decommissioned,” Roberts said, “I think memorializing her in Dallas would be a perfect ending to a great career.”

Source – New Haven Register