Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 20, 2016. See PA story DEFENCE Trident. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wir

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane.

The Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarines have been plagued by 69 safety incidents and “near misses” over the last four years.

The Astute class of submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde has seen reported reactor incidents at sea or on shore almost double from 12 in 2014 to 21 in 2015. Though the MoD insists that the incidents are all minor, critics warn that they undermine the boats’ reliability and safety.

The first submarine of the class, HMS Astute, has already been out on operations, and the second, HMS Ambush, was launched in 2011. The third, HMS Artful, was formally handed over to the Royal Navy in December 2015.
The four remaining Astute submarines are either still being built by the defence firm BAE Systems at its Barrow shipyard, or are due to be built there. The construction programme has been subject to a series of delays and cost overruns.

The Ministry of Defence revealed the number of safety events recorded with Astute submarine reactors between January 2012 and January 2016 in response to a request under freedom of information law. There were an average of more than 17 a year, or one every three weeks.

Reported events are not detailed. But they included “any occurrence that has, or could have, led to a reduction in nuclear or radiation safety or that provides an opportunity for operator experience feedback.”

According to the independent nuclear engineer John Large, the submarines were suffering serious problems. “This continuing experience of the Astute class reactor problems not only imperils the boats when at sea but is likely to result in cutbacks to the number of patrols, voyage durations and the extent of roaming of the high seas,” he said.
John Ainslie, coordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that Astute submarines had been involved in a series of mishaps, including running aground on the Isle of Skye. “It is only a matter of time before one of these incidents results in a serious nuclear accident,” he said.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “In line with our high safety standards, we record all incidents regardless of how minor they are, to ensure lessons are learnt. There are no issues with the safety of the submarines and the MoD has safely operated over 80 nuclear reactor cores since 1963.”

Story – Herald Scotland

BAE gets £201m for fresh design work on new nuclear submarines

BAE gets £201m for fresh design work on new nuclear submarines

Replacement for ageing Trident submarines moves closer as BAE gets funding for advance work on new vessels

An artist’s impression of the Successor submarine due to replace the Vanguard-class boats which carry Trident missiles Photo: PA

A replacement for Britain’s ageing Vanguard-class nuclear missile submarines has come a step closer after the Ministry of Defence awarded £201m to BAE Systems to develop the so-called “Successor” vessels.

The funding will allow the FTSE 100-listed arms business to develop the design of the new submarines, including the layout and systems, and build early prototypes.

The move comes despite the massive project having yet to get formal approval in Parliament.

The project to upgrade Britain’s nuclear submarine deterrant is estimated to cost £31bn, with a £10bn contingency fund to pay for any unexpected costs.

Last week, MPs on the Defence Select Committee wrote to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying that there was an “unacceptable level of uncertainty” on the Successor programme among “not only Parliament, but also main contractors and their supply chains”.

The current Vanguard submarines are approaching the end of their life  

Committee chairman Julian Lewis said there was “growing concern” no date had been set for a Parliamentary vote on whether or not to go ahead with the programme, adding that MPs on the committee would “be grateful for an indication of when this long-anticipated vote is due to be held and an explanation of any reasons for not proceeding forthwith, now that the political obstacles which existed in the previous parliament no longer apply”.

If it does go ahead, the Successor submarine project will be one of the biggest the military has undertaken in decades. It will also see the creation of some of the most technologically advanced and stealthiest submarines in the world.

BAE will be the lead contractor on the project and expects to have between 5,000 and 6,000 people working on the programme at its peak, out of a total of about 9,000 people in the unit at the time. BAE’s submarine business currently employs 7,700 staff, with the bulk of them working on the Astute-class attack submarines.

Other major companies involved include Rolls-Royce, which will build the nuclear reactors on the submarines, and Babcock. Hundreds of other smaller companies will also be in the supply chain for the programme.

The forward end of the third Astute class submarine, Artful, is worked on inside the New Assembly Shop.

BAE Systems builds submarines – such as the Astute class – for the Royal Navy at barrow in Furness  Photo: BAE Systems

More than £1bn has already been spent on design work, as well asexpanding BAE’s shipyard in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, where the submarines will be constructed.

The round the clock nuclear deterrent is as crucial to Britain’s national security now as it has ever been. We use it everyday to deter extreme threats that cannot be countered by any other means.
Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence

However, Mr Fallon has previously warned that the industry will put national security at risk if the project suffers delays or goes over budget.

Vice-Admiral Simon Lister, chief of materiel for the Royal Navy’s fleet, said: “We are now in the detailed design stage of the most technologically advanced nuclear submarine in the history of the Royal Navy. Building on cutting edge developments carried out by the MoD, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Babcock, this funding will allow us to continue to move forwards with the programme.”

Tony Johns, managing director of BAE’s submarines division, said: “We are incredibly proud of the role we play in designing and building our nation’s submarines.

“The Successor programme is one of the most challenging engineering projects in the world today and this additional funding will enable us to further mature the design”.

Chinese Submarine Practiced Missile Attack on USS Reagan

Cruise missile targeting of carrier risked naval shootout

Song-class submarine

Song-class submarine

A Chinese attack submarine conducted a simulated cruise missile attack on the aircraft carrier USS Reagan during a close encounter several weeks ago, according to American defense officials.

The targeting incident near the Sea of Japan in October violated China’s 2014 commitment to the multinational Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, known as CUES, designed to reduce the risk of a shooting incident between naval vessels, said officials familiar with details of the encounter they described as “serious.”

A section of the non-binding 2014 agreement states that commanders at sea should avoid actions that could lead to accidents or mishaps. Among the actions to be avoided are “simulation of attacks by aiming guns, missiles, fire control radar, torpedo tubes or other weapons in the direction of vessels or aircraft encountered.”

Navy officials recently briefed congressional staff on the incident that took place during the weekend of Oct. 24—days before the Navy warship USS Lassens sailed within 12 miles of disputed Chinese islands in the South China Sea, triggering vocal criticism from Beijing.

The Obama administration has kept details of the submarine targeting incident secret to avoid upsetting military relations between the Pentagon and the People’s Liberation Army.

Asked directly about the incident, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, did not deny that the encounter occurred. “I have nothing for you,” Harris stated in an email.

Pacific Command spokesman Capt. Darryn James earlier directed questions about the targeting to the Chinese navy. James also stated that Navy ships in the region are capable of defending themselves.

“I cannot discuss submarine operations, reports of submarine operations, or rumors of submarine operations,” James said. “I can tell you that we are completely confident in the effectiveness and capabilities of the ships and aircraft of the forward-deployed naval force.”

Additional details about the submarine-carrier encounter emerged after the Free Beacon first reported the incident Nov. 3.

The nuclear-powered Reagan is currently the Navy’s sole forward-deployed aircraft carrier strike group. It arrived at its base in Yokosuka, Japan on Oct. 1 and replaced the USS Washington strike group there.

Aircraft carrier strike groups are equipped with anti-submarine warfare capabilities, including ships armed with sensors and submarine-killing torpedoes.

Disclosure of the aircraft carrier targeting comes as two Chinese navy warships arrived in Pearl Harbor on Sunday.

China’s official news agency said the ships’ visit to Hawaii will last five days. “During the fleet’s stay here, the U.S. navy and the Chinese fleet will hold receptions for each other,” Xinhua said. “Friendly sports activities, such as basketball and soccer games, will be held between the two sides.”

The Pentagon has made developing closer ties with the Chinese military a top priority, despite concerns that the exchanges are boosting Chinese war-fighting capabilities.

Members of Congress have called for curbing the exchanges in the face of Chinese cyber attacks and destabilizing activities in the South China Sea.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power, said he is concerned by reports of China’s simulated ship attack.

“If true, this would be yet another case of China trying to show us that they can hold our forces in the region at risk,” said Forbes.

“Coming on the heels of anti-satellite tests and other demonstrations, this latest incident should be a reminder of the destabilizing course that China is on and the challenges we face in maintaining a stable military balance in the Asia-Pacific region,” Forbes added.

Naval warfare analysts said the incident highlights Chinese efforts to counter U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups, the United States’ major power projection capability in the Pacific.

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said the submarine incident, if confirmed, would be another clear case of the Chinese navy targeting the carrier strike groups, known as CVNs.

“The PLAN submarine force is on the leading edge of the PLAN for targeting U.S. CVNs in the East Asia arena, all for the expressed purpose of being able to attack and disable them in a contingency operation” he said. PLAN stands for People’s Liberation Army Navy.

Rick Fisher, a China military specialist at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the Chinese navy operates several types of submarines capable of firing anti-ship cruise missiles.

The Song-class and Yuan-class attack submarines can fire two types of torpedo tube-launched anti-ship cruise missiles, including the YJ-82 with a range of up to 22 miles.

Eight of China’s 12 Russian-made Kilo-class submarines are armed with Club anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 137 miles. Newer Shang-class submarine can also fire cruise missiles.

“That the U.S. side would be able to determine that the submarine was conducting a cruise missile strike would indicate that the Chinese submarine was under close surveillance,” Fisher said.

“That also raises the potential that the U.S. side could determine the Chinese submarine had hostile intent, potentially leading to the launching of defensive weapons.”

Fisher said the incident was serious because a U.S.-China shootout would likely result in the destruction of the Chinese submarine and the loss of its crew. “Even though China would have been at fault for the incident, the Chinese government would likely then use it as an excuse for initiating a series of attacks or incidents against U.S. naval forces,” he said.

Additionally, the targeting “certainly runs counter to a 2014 U.S.-China agreement to avoid such incidents at sea, which could indicate that China may have little intention to honor such this or other military confidence building agreements,” Fisher said.

The Navy’s main close-in anti-submarine warfare weapon is the RUM-139C rocket-launched anti-submarine torpedo, with a range of about 17 miles.

Ben Ho Wan Beng, a military analyst at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the Chinese military is focused on using of cruise missiles against carriers. “China seems to stress the centrality of this weapon in attacking ships,” he wrote last week in the Diplomat.

Recent improvements in Navy defenses against submarines include a new electronic combat system, a towed sensor array, and the P-8 maritime submarine patrol aircraft.

“Whether or not these and similar measures would enable the U.S. to retain a distinctive edge in the undersea combat realm vis-à-vis China remains to be seen,” Ho said.

Lyle J. Goldstein, a U.S. Naval War College expert on the Chinese military, wrote on Sunday that a Chinese defense journal recently discussed ways to sink U.S. aircraft carriers.

A Chinese military analyst recently revealed that China is closely studying a report from earlier this year revealing that a small nuclear-powered French submarine successfully conducted a simulated attack on the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt, sinking the ship and several support ships in the simulation.

“The article illustrates how Chinese military analysts are diligently probing for cracks in the U.S. Navy’s armor,” Goldstein wrote in the National Interest.

The October showdown between the Chinese submarine and the Reagan took place as the carrier sailed around the southern end of Japan on the way exercises in the Sea of Japan along with four other strike group warships.

Days after the incident, two Russian strategic bombers flew within a mile of the carrier at a height of 500 feet, prompting F-18s from the ship to scramble and intercept them.

The October incident was not the first time a Chinese submarine threatened a U.S. carrier strike group.

In 2006, a Song-class attack submarine surfaced undetected within torpedo range of the USS Kitty Hawk.

The state-controlled China Daily praised the implementation of the CUES maritime code agreement last year as a major step in U.S.-China military relations.

Wen Bing, a researcher at the Chinese army’s Academy of Military Sciences, told the newspaper that the code of conduct and U.S.-China warship exercise at the time “demonstrate the resolve of both countries to deepen military ties and avoid a maritime conflict escalating due to a lack of communication.”

In December 2013, a Chinese amphibious warship sailed in front of the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens and stopped, causing a near collision in the South China Sea.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not respond to an email request for comment.

Link – Free Bacon

Russian submarine returns after bombing Islamic State in Syria

Russia, Syria, Russia submarine, Russia ISlamic State, Russia Syria, Russia Syria strikes, Russia Syria Submarine

The Russian submarine that carried out strikes against IS in Syria returns to Russia. (Source: Ruptly)

In the war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Russia had flexed its military might last week as it launched strikes in Iraq and Syria for the first time from a submarine stationed in the Mediterranean.

This video shows Russia’s naval troops arriving back in Novorossiysk, Russia after successfully hitting so-called Islamic state positions in Syrian province of Raqqa. People are seen cheering the naval troops as they make their way into the country. Made in Rostov-on-Don, the submarine was on a mission in the international waters to repel the threat posed by Islamic State militants and rebels in Iraq and Syria.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week that Russia’s strikes reportedly hit “300 targets of different kinds” and helped Syrian special forces recover the black box of the Russian warplane downed by Turkey last month. “We used Calibre cruise missiles from the (Kilo-class) Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean Sea,” Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin during an encounter broadcast on state television.

This video shows Russia firing missiles from submarine at IS in Syria

“As a result of the successful launches by the aviation and submarine fleet, all targets were destroyed,” Shoigu said, adding that oil infrastructure, ammunition depots and a mine-making factory had been hit in the strikes.

On September 30, Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria saying it needed to target Islamic State militants — but the West has accused Moscow of seeking to prop up Assad’s regime and hitting moderate rebels.

Link – Indian Express

1,000-Tonne Nuclear Submarine Passes Through Residential Streets In Barrow

1,000-Tonne Nuclear Submarine Passes Through Residential Streets In Barrow

The unit belonging to defence company BAE Systems is the heaviest ever moved and was taken to Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness from the New Assembly Shop in Bridge Road, Barrow

 

People say you can’t even step out your front door these days.

That’s certainly the case if a 1,000-tonne piece of nuclear submarine happens to be rolling down your street.

But that is exactly what happened in Barrow in Cumbria on Sunday, when a submarine unit weighing more than 1,000 tonnes was transported to an indoor shipping complex.

The unit belonging to defence company BAE Systems is the heaviest ever moved and was taken to Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness from the New Assembly Shop in Bridge Road, Barrow.

The unit will form part of an Astute class nuclear-powered submarine. Two such submarines – HMS Astute and HMS Ambush – are already in service.

Four more submarines are being constructed at Barrow: Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and an as-yet-unnamed submarine.

BAE Systems was awarded the contract for the fifth submarine last month, taking the total value for work on the vessel to £1.3 billion.

Manufacture of the submarine began in 2010 and HMS Anson is on schedule to begin sea trials in 2020.

Link – Yahoo Story

Nuclear Sub Protection Plan For Rolls-Royce

Nuclear Sub Protection Plan For Rolls-Royce

The financial woes at Rolls-Royce could result in the nationalisation of its nuclear submarine division, under contingency plans.

13:49, UK,Monday 14 December 2015

HMS Vengeance

HMS Vengeance is part of UK’s Trident fleet – powered by Rolls-Royce

Plans to protect the UK’s interests if the company powering the country’s nuclear deterrent runs into deeper trouble have been reportedly drawn up by the Government.

Rolls-Royce’s nuclear submarine business – which maintains the nuclear reactor propulsion systems aboard the Navy’s four Trident-fitted submarines – could even be nationalised under the contingency plans, according to the Financial Times.

It said several options had been drawn up to cover various scenarios, including the possibility of a takeover bid for the group by a foreign firm.

While there are existing safeguards to ensure the Government must approve any such deal, investors would perhaps be forgiven for considering any interest, given the fact the Rolls-Royce share price has lost a third of its value this year alone.

The company has issued a string of profit warnings – its problems exacerbated by weaker defence spending and lower demand for its services in the oil and gas industry following the collapse in commodity prices.

The company outlined the initial phase of its turnaround strategy under new chief executive, Warren East, a fortnight ago.

It involved hundreds of senior managers losing their jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds being slashed from the company’s annual cost base.

Its biggest shareholder, the American activist fund, ValueAct, has attracted particular attention.

It is pressing Rolls to go further and sell off its marine engine division – a move Mr East has signalled he is reluctant to do.

ValueAct is also seeking a place on the board.

Sky News reported last week that Value Act’s stake in Rolls-Royce – which remains one of the Government’s most important suppliers and engineering contractors – was said to have attracted increasing attention from senior Whitehall officials.

Representatives of both firms were expected to meet in Derby this week.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said on Monday: “We are in contact with Government as a matter of routine and regularly keep them updated on our performance and progress.”

The defence procurement minister Philip Dunne told the FT last week the Government was “concerned” Rolls-Royce was able to maintain its nuclear obligations and would “take a view in the event there was corporate activity.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said today: “Rolls-Royce is a major contributor to our economy. It’s an important supplier to the government. We will continue to work closely with them. I’m not going to get into specifics about the company’s future.”

Link – Sky News story

Submarine inventor remembered 100 years on

Submarine inventor remembered 100 years on

 

 

 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of submarine inventor John P. Holland and to mark the anniversary a special commemorative event is being planned for later this month in his native County Clare.

The Liscannor Development Committee will host a day of events honouring the life and achievements of the local inventor on Sunday 31st August as part of Heritage Week 2014.

The event at Liscannor Harbour will feature the unveiling of a commemorative stone and a talk on Holland’s life, a film of his achievements, music and songs of the sea, and a photography and children’s art exhibition.

John Philip Holland was born in Liscannor in 1841. His father, John Holland senior patrolled the headlands of County Clare as a rider with the British Coastguard Service. The young Holland was a teacher in Ireland until 1872 when he immigrated to the USA, where he taught in Paterson, New Jersey, until 1879. He drew up plans of submarines and in 1881, with funds from Irish associates, launched a small submarine called “The Fenian Ram”. He was later awarded a contract to build a submarine for the US Navy.

In 1900, the Navy bought the Holland VI for $150,000, about half of its design cost, and later renamed it The USS Holland. The vessel could travel 800km on the surface of the sea and 40km submerged. One US newspaper described it as “Uncle Sam’s Devil of the Deep”. Other countries, including Great Britain, Japan and the Netherlands, purchased Holland’s submarine designs. He died on 12 August 1914, just months before a German submarine sank a British vessel at the start of World War I.

The John P. Holland Commemoration is one of 75 Heritage Week events being coordinated by Clare County Council and The Heritage Council, with support from the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland. Among the other events taking place in Clare from August 23-31st is a a lecture on the life of an Kilrush-born Boer War General Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny, a Victorian Heritage Walk around Kilkee, a tour of Lisdoonvarna’s famous restorative waters, a tour of towerhouses around Shannon Town, and a recital of traditional Irish tunes on the Uilleann Pipes by Matt Horsely at Ennis Friary.

The centenary of the outbreak of World War One is also being marked with a lecture by historian Cormac O Comhrai’s on life in Ireland during the Great War, while Killaloe will also be marking the millennial anniversary of the death of one of its most famous citizens, Brian Ború. Meanwhile, annual festivals such as the Tulla Week of Welcomes and the Dan Furey Weekend in Labasheeda are holding heritage events as part of the weeklong celebration.

Source – The Clare Herald