Daily Archives: December 11, 2012

Plymouth to lose more than 600 Royal Navy jobs

MORE than 600 Navy jobs will be lost from Devonport when the base’s nuclear submarines move to Scotland.

The grim revelation is set to fuel calls for the next generation of warships to be based in Plymouth to “backfill” the personnel gap left by the subs’ departure.

  1. submarine

    The Ministry of Defence says about 630 military personnel are due to transfer to Faslane when the five Trafalgar-class hunter-killers relocate.

It was unable to say what impact the change would have on civilian staff, but it was not expected to “lead to any significant changes” in the number at Devonport.

The decision to make Faslane the dedicated home for the UK’s entire submarine fleet was taken under the last Labour Government and so has been known for some years.

But it is the first time the impact on manpower has been revealed.

Plymouth has already suffered from redundancies and the scrapping of warships as part of the biggest round of defence cuts since the end of the Cold War.

The latest news will lend added urgency to a campaign to bring the hi-tech Type 26 Global Combat Ship to Devonport.

Due to enter service after 2020, they will replace the Type 23 frigates, seven of which continue to be based in Plymouth after ministers lifted the threat of a move to Portsmouth last year.

Three of Devonport’s five Trafalgar class subs – Trenchant, Talent and Triumph, are to move to Scotland by 2017, where they will join the nuclear-armed Vanguard fleet and new Astute boats as they enter service. The other two, Tireless and Torbay, will be decommissioned.

That not only has implications for the dockyard’s workload and the knock-on effect for jobs, but also the economic benefit generated by naval personnel and their families.

Base-porting on the Clyde has become central to the high-profile debate on Scottish independence.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is demanding the submarine-based nuclear deterrent is removed in the event of a vote to go it alone in 2014. Continue reading

Stephen Smith to rule on submarine building – Australia

DEFENCE Minister Stephen Smith will make a significant announcement today about Australia’s naval capability.

The minister will release the long-awaited second volume of the Coles report on the sustainment of the Collins-class submarines, which is believed to be highly critical of past measures to keep the boats operational.

Mr Smith will say the issues the report raises have largely been fixed over the eight months he has had the report.

It is considered likely he will confirm that the navy’s promised 12 new Future Submarines will be built in Adelaide, at or near the Australian Submarine Corporation facilities.

A giant testing unit will enable close examination of the entire propulsion system for the new submarines before the systems are built into the Future Submarines. It is hoped this will ensure there is no repeat of the problems that emerged as the Collins submarines were developed.

Source – The Australian

Submarine propulsion test site augurs well for Adelaide


Hillary Clinton's visit to Adelaide

Hillary Clinton, Jay Weatherill and Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance CEO Rod Equid tour the Techport Australia shipbuilding facility in Adelaide last month. Source: adelaidenow

A HI-TECH propulsion testing site will be built in Adelaide, making it an “irresistible” case for the future submarines to be built in South Australia.

Federal Defence Minister Stephen Smith will today visit Outer Harbor’s Techport facility to announce the Land Based Test Site, which industry sources say will cost about $30 million to build, will be based in SA.

The testing facility allows the submarine propulsion systems to be tested and proved before installation, a capability aimed at overcoming criticism levelled at the ageing Collins Class fleet.

Today’s announcement comes as the Federal Government weighs up options for the future sub program, ranging from a complete Australian design and build to an off-the-shelf foreign option.

South Australia is angling for as much local design and build input as possible to get more jobs and investment and Mr Weatherill says that the state is now positioned for “immense” investment.

The ageing Collins Class submarines have been beset by criticism that their propulsion systems are too loud and prone to breakdown. One expert has likened it to an “underwater rock concert”.

Mr Smith said the future sub project, which would create thousands of jobs in SA, was to be the “largest and most complex Defence project ever undertaken by Australia” but came with significant risks.

The new Outer Harbor testing site would help reduce these risks.

“Regardless of the submarine design option that is ultimately chosen, the establishment of the Land Based Test Site will significantly reduce the risk of delay and cost blow-outs,” Mr Smith said.

“This facility will address some of the potential risk areas for the future submarine. (It) will also help ensure that challenges encountered from the maintenance of the Collins Class fleet are addressed.”

Independent reports estimate the cost of the 12 future subs at $36 billion. Further work is to be done on the “form and function” of the program, which will also include investment in research and development with further details to be revealed next year.

WA and Victoria are also to take part in the program, but the main testing site will be at Techport.

Premier Jay Weatherill said building the propulsion test site in Adelaide was a significant step.

“It is building an irresistible case for SA to be the base of the future submarine project,” he said.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated – when it goes ahead it will be the largest government procurement project Australia has seen and potentially worth tens of billions of dollars.

“Building a submarine has been described as being as complex as building a spaceship, so the jobs, investment and skills a project of this magnitude would bring to South Australia is immense.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Federal Government to make the Future Submarine project a reality to SA.”

SA Defence Industries Minister Jack Snelling met federal officials in January to make the case for a propulsion testing site and said he was prepared to back the bid with funding.

Other states, including WA and NSW, were expected to start a bidding war for the facility.

The federal and state governments have not revealed how much is being contributed to the build. Defence Teaming Centre chief executive Chris Burns has previously pushed for construction of a propulsion testing facility at Techport, arguing it could be used to test and repair propulsion systems for other boats. Many small manufacturers in SA build propulsion system components.

The test site may attract new projects to bridge the so-called “valley of death” looming in 2017. That is the gap between the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer program and the beginning of future submarine construction, expected in 2020 or later.

Industry figures fear the lack of work in that time will lead high-skilled workers to leave the state and create extreme costs in recruiting when work later ramps up on the future submarines.

Source – Herald Sun

K-152 Nerpa: Russia submarine disaster retrial opens

Video grab of Russian submarine following accident in Pacific. File photo

The accident happened during tests in the Sea of Japan

A retrial has begun in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok of two men accused of causing an accident on a nuclear submarine in which 20 people died in 2008.

Another 21 people were injured when the K-152 Nerpa’s fire extinguishing system was activated, releasing a deadly gas.

Captain Dmitry Lavrentyev and engineer Dmitry Grobov are accused of causing “death by negligence”.

They were acquitted last year, but the verdict was later overturned on appeal.

The two men deny responsibility and blame faulty equipment for the accident in November 2008 in the Sea of Japan.

Lethal gas

The first session of the retrial focused mainly on procedural questions, and the trial was later adjourned until 20 December.

In 2008, the submarine’s fire extinguishing system was apparently activated without warning while the vessel was undergoing tests in the Sea of Japan.

The fire extinguishing system – typical on Russian submarines – uses the gas freon, which suppresses fires quickly by displacing oxygen.

But it can also be lethal for any crew members who are still in the area when the gas is released.

All those who died on Nerpa are thought to have suffocated.

It was the worst accident involving a Russian submarine since the sinking of the Kursk in 2000 when 118 people died.

Source – BBC News

India expanding submarine force to meet China threat

India expanding submarine force to meet China threat

Indian Navy Submarine of the modified German Type 209 Class
Indian Navy Submarine of the modified German Type 209 Class

The government of India has approved $10 billion in funding to vastly expand and improve the Indian Navy’s undersea warfare capabilities. Shipbuilders in France, Germany, Russia and Spain are this week lining up bids on the new Indian Navy project which comes less than a year after $18 billion was funded to equip the Indian Air Force with new Rafale fighter aircraft.

The new project includes next generation diesel-electric attack submarines to augment the current fleet which consists of 10 Kilo Class of Russian design; four modified German Type 209 Class and two nuclear powered Akula Class attack submarines leased from Russia. An additional six Scorpene Class diesel-electric submarines of French & Spanish joint design are being built at India’s Mazagon Dock Ltd. shipyards.

Though the total number of new submarines has not been decided, the newer subs will be larger than the six Scorpenes currently building and would include both land attack missile capability and air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems; developed by Swedish naval engineers allowing a diesel-electric submarine to run their ‘air breathing’ engines at low power in conjunction with batteries while submerged for three or more weeks almost as stealthily as a nuclear submarine.

Defense analyst and international security experts alike often ponder confusedly as to why India feels the need for a powerful ‘blue water’ navy in a region with no serious naval power present aside from the United States with whom India has had more or less friendly relations since the end of British rule in 1947; the answer of course being China.

India and China have had tensions off and on since Communist China’s victory over the Nationalist Chinese in 1949. The two nations finally came to blows in a brief border war in 1962. China is a long time supporter of India’s arch nemesis Pakistan. Until recently however, there was no serious naval threat posed to India by China’s minor coastal naval force; separated by the whole of Southeast Asia from the Indian Ocean.

However in tandem with Chinese naval expansion was an expansion of inroads in the Indian Ocean region with purchases of local sea port facilities and airports or investment in joint ventures to expand such facilities or build new ones in partnerships with Burma, Thailand, Seychelles and Pakistan. Projects particularly troublesome to India since all Chinese companies are owned in some fashion by the Chinese government despite the widely held belief in Chinese ‘privatization’.

The sea ports and air ports would provide China bases from which to operate naval aircraft and vessels against Indian seaborne commerce and naval forces on a much shorter logistical leash than if they tethered to bases in China. Of particular concern is China’s fleet of 50 diesel electric submarines which could easily operate out of friendly ports in the Indian Ocean.

India clearly recognizing the problem is now embarking on the best solution $10 Billion can buy. India is also expanding its surface battle fleet with purchases of the former Soviet aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (renamed Vikramaditya) and the Russian designed Talwar Class stealth frigates for air defense and anti-submarine warfare. India has also begun domestic construction of two 65,000 ton aircraft carriers. There have however been delays and disputes with the Russians over quality and workmanship on the frigates and the rebuilt Gorshkov.

Source – Examiner