Monthly Archives: March 2013

Submariner calls for official presentation of Arctic convoy medals – Video Clip

A World War Two submariner has said the long-awaited Arctic convoy medals awarded to him and his comrades ought to be presented officially.

 

Eric Wills, aged 92, of Kingsthorpe, made two treacherous journeys between Britain and Russia, protecting vital supplies that kept Stalin’s soldiers fighting on behalf of the Allies.

He is one of more than 200 remaining survivors of the Arctic convoys and is finally due to be sent an Arctic Star medal from the UK government. He said: “I was thrilled to bits when I heard we’d finally been recognised. But it would be nice for there to be some sort of presentation rather than it being handed over by the postman.

“It seems there are a handful of us left in Northampton so it would be a worthwhile ceremony.”

Although the Russian Government had issued several anniversary medals to Arctic Convoy veterans, the British Government had never done so. Unofficially, the reason was believed to be that Britain and Russia became Cold War enemies soon after World War Two, so a decoration linked to Russian aid was thought inappropriate.

However, veterans told of enduring horrific weather conditions of minus 30C and mammoth waves for the Allied war effort, as well as enemy fire from land, sea, air and beneath the water.

Even submarines were not able to keep out of the terrifying conditions, Mr Wills said.

“We were a close escort to the ships we were protecting, which meant we had to be on the surface all the way to Russia unless the really heavy German ships attacked,” he recalled. “It was an unusual job from that aspect alone.

“But we were told that if we dived there was a good chance we’d hit our own convoy’s depth charges. As a result we were very exposed to enemy planes.”

Roger Conroy, Mayor of Northampton, said: “We need to recognise what they went through because I think it’s despicable how they’ve been ignored.

“I, for one, would be fully supportive of an official presentation of the medal, and I’d be prepared to do it myself if that’s allowed.”

Councillor Conroy said any potential recipients of the Arctic Star, or families of deceased veterans who have applied for the medal, can contact the Chronicle & Echo on Northampton 467033 so interest in a local medals’ ceremony can be gauged.

Source – Northampton Chronicle

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China buys 4 submarines, 24 fighters from Russia

China has agreed to buy 24 Su-35 fighters and four Lada-class submarines from Russia in recent arms purchase deals signed shortly before President Xi Jinping‘s just-concluded visit to Russia, China Central Television reported on Sunday.

The deals raised concern among some regional players and media. Chinese observers said the reaction was “unnecessary” because the purchase is not directed at any third party.

A Russian Su-35 fighter jet. The Su-35 is currently the most advanced Russian fighter jet in mass production.  [File Photo]

The purchases represented “the first time in nearly 10 years” that China had bought large military technological equipment from Russia, the report said.

The four submarines will be jointly designed and built by both countries, with two of them to be built in Russia and the other two in China.

“The Su-35 fighters can effectively reduce pressure on China’s air defense before Chinese-made stealth fighters come online,” the report said.

Li Hong, secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said the recent purchases and joint building plan serve as an indicator of the evolution of the overall Sino-Russian strategic partnership.

“It is the natural, well-deserved fruit of bilateral defense cooperation, and both sides have made it clear that the bilateral strategic partnership is not targeting anyone,” Li said.

As for some countries and their speculation on the intentions behind the arms deals, Li said China is not the only country that has signed big arms deals with Russia recently.

Shengyang Aircraft Corporation, a Chinese civilian and military aircraft manufacturer who is engaged in the production of J-11BS fighters and the development of J-15 and J-16 fighters, will not participate in the production of Su-35 fighters. [File Photo]

Geng Yansheng, a spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said last month that Sino-Russian cooperation on military technology is not directed at a third party, and that it will facilitate peace and stability in the world and the region.

The enhanced agenda of bilateral defense cooperation also has seen Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, visit Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday.

Xi is the first Chinese head of state to have made the tour, and he said the idea of visiting the ministry was proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The world is still unequal, unbalanced and tumultuous, with challenges of both “traditional and nontraditional” threats, as well as the further spreading of turmoil in some areas, Xi said.

China and Russia, in the face of complicated international situation, should strengthen their coordination, and work with the international community to deal with all kinds of challenges and threats, he said.

Meng Xiangqing, deputy director of the Strategic Research Institute at the National Defense University of the PLA, said the meetings have shown a profound development of both countries’ armed forces in the field of “pragmatic cooperation” in addition to friendly gestures.

On Sunday, Chang Wanquan, Chinese State councilor and defense minister, said during a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that wide-ranging and multilayer defense cooperation has become a cornerstone of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Given the complex international scenario today, China-Russia strategic cooperation and coordination will not only benefit the two peoples, but also help promote world peace and stability,” he said.

Shoigu, for his part, hailed the “unprecedented high level” of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership. The consensus reached by the top leaders has shown the direction of future development of bilateral ties, he said.

 

A file photo of a Su-35 fighter jet. [Photo: bbs.ychouse.cq.cn]

Two of the submarines will be built in Russia, and the other two will be built in China. [File Photo]

A file photo of a Lada-class submarine. [Photo: armystar.com]

 

Source – China.org.cn

Future submarine engineers buoyed by BAE Systems Barrow shipyard challenge

THE next generation of engineers have been inspired by the opportunities ahead for them to be involved in designing and building the world’s most technically advanced nuclear submarines – right here on their doorstep.

thinking caps on The teams at work on the challenge

thinking caps on The teams at work on the challenge

Secondary and college students were amazed as they ventured through the giant doors of Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, to see Astute class submarines at various stages of construction.

Future Engineers Day at BAE Systems saw 100 year nine  students from Furness secondary schools, and 20 post-16 college students, experience Barrow’s shipyard first hand.

The day was run in partnership with Barrow Engineering Project, which is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, during National Science and Engineering Week.

This was the third Future Engineers Day, and it showcased to students how science, technology, engineering and maths can be used in successful careers in Barrow with the global defence company.

sink or swim Future Engineers Day at BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, with Chloe McKenna of Walney School and Paris Corkill of St Bernard’s Catholic High School, with Rob Chaplin, a BAE Graduate and STEM ambassador, during the testing process of the challenge

sink or swim Future Engineers Day at BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, with Chloe McKenna of Walney School and Paris Corkill of St Bernard’s Catholic High School, with Rob Chaplin, a BAE Graduate and STEM ambassador, during the testing process of the challenge

Alan Dunn, operations director at BAE Systems, spoke to the students about the Astute programme and the future Successor project. He also explained the importance of team work at the business which has a workforce of around 5,000 people.

He told them “Astute is ours, and Successor could be yours.”

The day involved a team challenge, where the students would work in mixed teams with young people from different schools. Each team also had a college student mentor.

The task was devised and set by the BAE Systems STEM ambassadors, who were overseeing the progress of the teams. The ambassadors have also been working with the college students on various projects.

The challenge was set around Archimedes’ buoyancy principle. The teams were told that there was sunken cargo off the coast of Barrow and they needed to retrieve it.  They were required to design a vessel that could sink and rise to the surface again.

The students had to take on team roles, use their budget to buy materials, then design, build and eventually test their creation in a tank of water.

The students also benefited from hearing directly from people who have joined BAE Systems through  different pathways, such as a graduate, a trainee and an apprentice.

Laura Lake, a communications advisor at BAE Systems, who organised the event with the partners, thanked all those who had contributed to making the event a great success.

Mrs Lake said that BAE Systems staff had praised the students for how well they had worked together and adjusted to the challenge.

She said: “We want to show young people that engineering is fun and a great career.

“The DDH visit is a real highlight of the day. It is awe inspiring for the students.

“It was quite a hard challenge that was set and it required teamwork.

“The students did not know one another and they really adjusted well and worked as a team to figure out solutions.”

Source – In Cumbria

 

Decision to test the dismantling of nuclear submarines in Rosyth ‘right’

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A proposal to put the dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines to the test at Rosyth in Fife is the “right decision”, the local MP Thomas Docherty has said.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne has announced that redundant nuclear submarine dismantling would be trialled in Rosyth. If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth.

But he announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites.

The consultation will start next year, and the Rosyth pilot will not go ahead until a storage site has been identified.

Seven redundant nuclear submarines are thought to have been stored at Rosyth since the 1990s. Eight submarines are berthed at Devonport, with others due to come out of active service in the future.

Mr Docherty said: “What the MoD is saying – and I think most people in the community would agree – is that the safest most practical way is to dismantle the submarines at the two sites. I don’t think there’s widespread opposition to that. The bit that’s more controversial is what happens to the nuclear materials. The MoD have said nothing will happen until storage has been approved. ”

However, SNP Lochgelly and Cardenden Fife councillor Ian Chisholm said he was concerned Rosyth could be left as a nuclear dump for 20 years.

He said: “It’s the things that are not in the report’s conclusions I worry about not the things that are in it.

“It’s a bit of a fudge in that we are still years away from getting rid of this radiation hazard from Rosyth.

“I had hoped the hulks would be towed complete, down to Devonport where they belong and where they were serviced when Rosyth lost out on the work and kobs. It is now the MoD’s decision to dismantle one sub’s radioactive pressure vessel on site at Rosyth. The only plus point is they have decided the pressure vessel should be removed in one piece but the fly in the ointment is where that piece should be stored.

“The MoD now say that if the pilot is successful the remaining subs will be dismanted at both Rosyth and Devonport but I take that with a pinch of salt. From previous MoD discussions it seems the pressure vessels are too “hot” to go straight to long term storage and would need to cool for 20 years above ground.

“But depressingly the subs will stay exactly as they are until a suitable Intermediate Level Waste site is selected.”

MoD programme manager John Davis said: “Decisions have now been taken, subject to regulatory and other statutory approvals, on where the initial phases of submarine dismantling will take place…

“No radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines, however, without a disposal or storage solution being agreed.”

Source – The Courier

Nazi submarine found off Norway (U-486)

U-486

Type

VIIC

Ordered 5 Jun 1941
Laid down 8 May 1943 Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel (werk 321)
Launched 12 Feb 1944
Commissioned 22 Mar 1944 Oblt. Gerhard Meyer
Commanders
22 Mar 1944 12 Apr 1945 Oblt.  Gerhard Meyer
Career 2 patrols
22 Mar 1944 31 Oct 1944   5. Flottille (training)
1 Nov 1944 12 Apr 1945   11. Flottille (active service)
Successes 2 ships sunk, total tonnage 17,651 GRT 1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,085 tons 1 warship a total loss, total tonnage 1,085 tons
Fate Sunk 12 April, 1945 in the North Sea north-west of Bergen, Norway, in position 60.44N, 04.39E by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Tapir. 48 dead (all hands lost).

Nazi submarine found off Norway

The wreck of a German World War II submarine that was sunk with 48 people on board has been found off Norway’s coast during work on an oil pipe, a maritime museum official said Monday.

The “U-486” was torpedoed and broken in two by a British submarine in April 1945 shortly after leaving the western Norwegian town of Bergen, according to Arild Maroey Hansen of the Bergen maritime museum.

There were no survivors.

Lying at a depth of some 250 metres (820 feet), the wreck was found when Norwegian oil company Statoil was scouting the area as a possible location to lay down an oil pipe.

“The submarine had a special coating on the hull. It was a synthetic rubber coating designed to significantly reduce its radar signal,” Maroey Hansen told Norwegian public radio NRK.

The “U-486” lies some two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the German “U-864” submarine, which was also sunk in 1945 with dozens of tonnes of mercury on board, a dangerous cargo which has caused politicians headaches for years.

They have been examining how to best limit the environmental risks posed by the mercury, hesitating between whether to lift the wreck — it is also broken in two parts — or to cover it in a hard sarcophagus.

General notes on U-486

24 Dec 1944. Sinking of SS Leopoldville On Christmas Eve 1944 U-486 torpedoed the SS Leopoldville in the English Channel 5 miles from the port of Cherbourg, France. The troopship was transporting 2235 American soldiers from regiments of the 66th Infantry Division. The ship finally sank 2 1/2 hours later.  Everything that could, went wrong: calls for help were mishandled, rescue craft were slow to the scene and the weather was unfavourable. 763 American soldiers died that night, making this the worst loss an American infantry division suffered from a U-boat attack during the war.

The Allied authorities were embarrassed by the incident and decided to bury the case. Many loved ones were told the men were missing in action although they were already dead by then, later to be classified as killed in action. The files were not opened to the public until 1996.

U-486 had not said her last word, as she sank the British frigates HMS Affleck and Capel only two days later in the same area, before returning on 15 Jan, 1945 to Bergen, Norway.

Source – Global Post

Source – U-Boat Net

The world’s biggest submarine

Not particularly new news but a very interesting set of pictures taken from an interesting site.

World's Biggest Submarine - Russian Submarine Typhoon

This is submarine “Typhoon” as it was called in NATO documents or “Shark” as it was called in Russia. It is considered to be the biggest submarine in the world, with over than 170 meters (515 feet) long and 23 meter (70 feet) wide. It can carry 20 ballistic nuclear missiles and there were only six of those built. Only 3 left intact, but are staying now out of service with armament control blocks detached according to the agreement between USSR and USA signed by M. Gorbachev. Without those they are way too peaceful.

See more pictures at – English/Russia

UK Nuclear submarines will be dismantled in Plymouth and Rosyth

THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed that old nuclear submarines will be cut up in Devonport.

But fears that Plymouth could become the UK’s nuclear graveyard have been eased.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne said yesterday that submarine dismantling would be put to the test in Rosyth in Scotland. If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth.

But he announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites.

The consultation will start next year, and the Rosyth pilot will not go ahead until a storage site has been identified.

Fears were raised at the start of the initial consultation that intermediate-level nuclear waste could be stored in Plymouth for many years waiting for a disposal site to be chosen.

There are thought to be about seven redundant nuclear submarines now stored in Devonport. Their nuclear reactors have been removed.

Oliver Colvile, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “I would have some concerns if it was going to be stored in Plymouth. The best place to go would be Sellafield.”

Mr Colvile said the dismantling project reinforced the case to keep Devonport as one of the UK’s strategic naval bases. “To maintain the skills base in between dismantling, the Royal Navy has to make sure surface ship refitting happens here.

“Plymouth without the Royal Navy would be a shame. About 25,000 people in the city’s travel to work area depend on defence industries in some way.”

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said the news made it less likely that the city would be seen as the country’s nuclear graveyard.

“The fact that they are widening the scope for an intermediate-level waste site suggests that they are not looking at Plymouth. But they are pushing the project into the long grass to save money. The time scale is very long.

“I do think it’s a good thing that the pilot is being done in Rosyth to make sure the process is right.”

But she said the dismantling process was “really quite tidy and clean”.

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: “We anticipated that Devonport would be one of the locations for the dismantling of decommissioned submarines given its highly skilled and experienced workforce.

“The council’s response to the consultation was clear that Devonport is not a suitable location for the storage of intermediate level waste and this remains our position.

“The MoD’s statement says no radioactive waste will be removed from the submarines until a storage solution is agreed and we will want to ensure this remains the case.

“This is a very important issue for Plymouth and the MoD need to be open and transparent about its plans and it needs to consult fully at every stage.”

Source – This is Plymouth