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The following is reprinted with permission from NAVINT, which is published twice monthly by Tileprint Ltd. of 13 Crondace Road, London, SW6 4BB.

From NA VINT issue 1 December 2000.

Swedish Submarine Wins Atlantic Exercises

Last month, the Royal Swedish Navy (RSwN) Gotland class submarine HALLAND swept the board in exercises with Spanish and French naval units in the Atlantic, according to the submarine’s builder, Kockums. During a submarine hunting exercise, in a duel with Spanish naval units, HSwMS HALLAND recorded a victory, Kockums says. In a similar duel against an unspecified nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) of the French Navy, HALLAND was also said to have won. The exercises were carried out in the Atlantic and therefore qualify as blue water operations, the company said, clearly making a point about the capabilities of the Baltic-based and relatively small Swedish submarines.

HALLAND was sent to the Mediterranean on 16 September to take part in NATO exercises, after a major refit at Kockums, which included modifications to enable her to participate in international peacekeeping operations. The conversion of HALLAND was said to be highly significant to the future of Sweden’s submarine force, which has thereby enhanced its reputation. Her outstanding performance during these exercises is claimed to have made a considerable impression on naval observers. The U.S. Navy has now decided to despatch USS HOUSTON (SSN 713), A Los Angeles class SSN, to participate in a hunter-killer exercise against HALLAND, whose commanding officer is Gunnar Wieslander.

While the triumphalism of the Kockums statement about these exercises may be discounted by some commentators, the fact that such a statement was made suggests that the exercise success was regarded as significant enough to make a press statement. It will also go some way to restore the damaged reputation of Swedish submarine designs in Australia, seriously (if unfairly) harmed by the tribulations of the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins class.

News in Brief

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to canvass the views of the public to identify the best options for future land-storage of redundant submarine reactor cores, Defence Minister Lewis Moonie announced on 15 November. An MoD study concluded earlier this year that the current practice of storing submarines afloat at Devonport and Rosyth remains safe, but the Jack of alternative sites means that storing the cores on land is the best long term option.

South Korea Picks Type 214 SSK

The Republic of [South] Korea Navy (RoKN) has opted for the Howaldtswerke-Deutsch Wern (HOW) Type 214 diesel electric patrol submarine (SSK) for its next order of three SSKs under the KSS II project, to be delivered before the end of 2009. A Defence Ministry spokesman said the German Submarine Consortium (GSC) design was superior to the Scorpene design from France’s DCN International. “Our evaluation showed that the German model excelled (sic) its French rival in terms of price and logistics support,” he said.

HOW has already been involved in South Korea’s submarine construction programme. Daewoo Heavy Industries has already built eight of HDW’s Type 209 design under licence. The Type 214 will have an increased diving depth of over 400m because of improvements in the pressure hull materials. Performance of the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system has been increased, with two Siemens PEM fuel cells which produce 120kW per module and will give the SSK an underwater endurance of two weeks. The hull shape has been optimised for hydrodynamic stealth and a low noise propeller combines to decrease the boat’s acoustic signature.

The Integrated Sensor Underwater System (ISUS) from STN Atlas Elektronik integrates all sensors, command and control functions on the boat. The sensor suite of the Type 214 consists of the sonar systems, an attack periscope and an optronic mast. The SSK’s electronic support measures (ESM) system and Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors are also installed on the optronic mast. The RoK Ministry of Defence was to select a local builder by the end of November to team with HOW to build these boats.

Plans to buy the Russian Project 636 Improved Kilo design were dropped some time ago because the Rubin Bureau could not offer a proven AIP system. The Russian proposal had political backing because it was seen as a way of offsetting Russia’s huge indebtedness to the RoK, but there is growing disillusionment about the Kilo design from existing operators, something of which the RoKN technical specialists could hardly remain in ignorance.

From NAVINT issue 15 January 2001.

RAN’s Fleet Base West Strengthened by Updated Collins Class SSKs

Fremantle, WA – The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) submarine HMS COLLINS docked at Fleet Base West on 8 December, following a record deployment with her sister HMAS WALLER. The two newly upgraded submarines left HMAS STIRLING at the Garden Island base in Fremantle on 9 June on a marathon 183 day deployment to Hawaii and Alaska. This voyage was the equivalent of a voyage around the world, both east-west and north-south.

During the deployment COLLINS became the first RAN submarine to visit Alaska, where she carried out acoustic ranging trials over the U.S. Navy’s Behm Canal South East Alaskan Facility Range. She and WALLER were the first pair of RAN submarines to operate from Pearl Harbor in 15 years. During these operations COLLINS launched a live UGM-84C Sub Harpoon on the Barking Sands Missile Range off Kauai on 25 July, hitting the target-ship at long range. The missile firing was part of the Potential Commanding Officers Course, involving COLLINS and WALLER and USS CHICAGO (SSN 721) and USS SANTA FE (SSN 763), as well as various U.S. Navy submarines and Australian and U.S. maritime patrol aircraft.

Although Garden Island has been an RAN base since the First World War, the modem base began as a feasibility study in 1966- 67. In November 1968 the Federal Government announced the intention to develop the existing facilities into a base capable of supporting surface ship and submarine operations in the Indian Ocean. Despite some delays the new base opened in 1975, and the firstshiip , the destroyer HMAS HOBART, docked on 11 August that year. The first submarine, HMAS OXLEY, docked ten days later, and she later became the first submarine permanently based at Garden Island. HMAS STIRLING was formally commissioned in July 1978, and since then has seen a steady increase in the number of ships based there. Now known as Fleet Base West, the facility is now the Headquarters of the Australian Submarine Squadron, and will eventually be the home port for all six Collins class submarines.

A major improvement to submarine support was the construction of a Submarine Escape Training Facility, the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. This includes an escape tower and a 10 man decompression chamber, as well as the Submarine Squadron Headquarters, and the new Diamantina Pier.

Much of this activity has been generated by the Government’s Two Ocean Navy policy, which was endorsed by the Chiefs of Staff in 1986. Australia is a huge continent with widely separated centres of population, and the original policy of basing the main strength of the RAN at Sydney was unsustainable.

End of an Era for RAN’s Submarines

Friday, 15 December was a sad day in the history of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), with the decommissioning of the RAN’s last Oberon type submarine, HMAS OTAMA.

The Maritime Commander Australia, Rear Admiral Geoff Smith, AM RAN, hosted the decommissioning ceremony on the Diamantina Pier at HMAS STIRLING. The guest of honour was the navy’s senior submariner, Rear Admiral Peter Briggs, AO CSC RAN, who is retiring from the Navy after a career spanning 39 years. Other guests included the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral David Shackleton, AO RAN, former Commanding Officers of OT AMA and members of the various submarine associations.


A £700,00 contract for the first phase of a project to replace the UK Royal Navy’s 22 year old LR5 submarine rescue submersible was awarded to WS Atkins of Bristol last month. The future NA TO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) will provide a rescue capability for the four NATO countries: France, Norway, Turkey, and the UK, which are involved in this project. Along with a new U.S. rescue system, NSRS will form the cornerstone of an emerging worldwide submarine rescue capability, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

This contract follows the loss of the Russian submarine KURSK in August, which cost 122 lives. The LR5 was sent to help a Russian rescue effort but was never used. The nine month projectdefinition contract will identify and assess technology needed to procure, operate, and support a new system due in service from 2005. The estimated through-life cost for one system is in the region of £ 120 million over 25 years.

News in Brief

The UK Royal Navy’s fourth and final Vanguard class Tridentarmed nuclear submarine (SSBN), HMS VENGEANCE, has completed her magnetic treatment at the U.S. Navy’s Magnetic Silencing Facility at King’s Bay, Georgia. The process minimises her magnetic signature, a precaution against magnetic influence weapons. The new SSBN has since joined her three sisters in the First Submarine Squadron at Faslane.

Russia’s Northern Fleet has decommissioned 109 nuclear powered submarines, and nearly all submarines of the first and second generations are now being written off and broken up at the Severodvinsk Naval Shipyard. Special trains haul nuclear waste from stricken submarines from Severodvinsk to the Mayak plant in the Chelyabinsk Region for processing. The present production facilities in Severodvinsk can scrap eight to ten nuclear submarines annually, reported !tar-Tass last month.

From NA VINT issue 25 February 2001

Keel of SSN ASTUTE Laid

Barrow in Furness, Cumbria – The formal keel laying of the first of the UK Royal Navy’s (RN) Astute class nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) was laid here in 31 January by Baroness Symons, Minister for Defence Procurement. Although fabrication of the hull is well advanced, including major hull sections and the forward dome bulkhead, the ceremony centered on the 300t section which will contain the nuclear rector.

After the keel laying ceremony, Baroness Symons unveiled a plaque commemorating the start of the Centenary of the RN’s Submarine Service, a year-long programme of events to celebrate the achievements of the service. She Said, “Laying the keel of HMS ASTUTE takes the Royal Navy into its second century of submarine operations. I am sure ASTUTE, her sisterships, and the crews who sailed in them will build on the proud tradition we are commemorating today.

“HMS ASTUTE is the biggest and most powerful attack submarine to be built for the Royal navy, and, and under our Smart Acquisition programme, she is being built about one-fifth more quickly than earlier boats, will have lower running costs, and will have a much smaller ship’s company. She will also have massively increased firepower, and will be equipped from Day One to operate cruise missiles … “. The Minister also confirmed that Batch 2, consisting of up to three more boats, is under consideration.

First steel for ASTUTE was cut about 14 months ago, and she will be launched in 2004, followed by about 18 months of trials. Construction of her sistership AMBUSH is planned to start later this year.

Particulars of Astute Design

Displacement 7200t(submerged)
Dimensions 97m x 10.7m x lOm
Armament 6.533 mm launch-tubes for 38 weapons; Spearfish Mod 1 torpedoes; Sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles; Tomahawk Block III land attack cruise missiles
Machinery single-shaft Rolls-Royce nuclear plant/ Alstom steam turbines, with PWR 2 reactor and auxiliary electric drive (2 motors) 29kn (submerged)
Speed 29kn (submerged)
Command system SMCS
Sensors Type 2076 integrated sonar suite (bow, flank,
and towed arrays) UAP(4); ESM CMOIO
non-penetrating periscopes; I-band navigation
Complement 12 officers, 86 ratings + 12 supemumaries

One of the key elements in reducing through-life cost is the new reactor core developed by Rolls-Royce. It will not be replaced during the life of the submarine, avoiding an extremely expensive procedure which has resulted in the early retirement of many U.S. Navy SSNs.

No special provision is made for women in the Astute design. The RN says it has an open mind on the subject, and will respond to any change in public policy or opinion inside the Navy in the future. Experience in other navies suggests that the alternatives are a unisex manning scheme, in which women and men share accommodations, or pregnancy-testing for all female personnel before the start of a patrol, to reduce the risk of medical emergencies. Unisex manning finds no favour with naval wives, although the lack of space and privacy on board submarines would seem to militate against what the U.S. coyly refers to as interaction between the sexes.


On 24 January the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that the repairs to the reactors of seven attack submarines (SSNs) is running to schedule. There was a slight delay to HMS TORBAY but welding is now complete. Welding has started in HMS TIRELESS at Gibraltar, and the work is to be completed by 31 March.

TORBAY is also undergoing modifications to operate the prototype Long Range Mine Surveillance (LRMS) unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). The technology-demonstrator Marlin, developed by the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA) is being evaluated. It uses a Spearfish torpedo body, but the warhead is replaced by active and passive sensors to allow an SSN to reconnoitre and map minefields. It is recoverable by the parent submarine.

According to a separate MoD statement the final decommissioning dates for existing SSNs are as follows:

SPLENDID to decommission in 2003
SOVEREIGN to decommission in 2005
SUPERB to decommission in 2006
SPARTAN to decommission in 2006
TRAFALGAR to decommission in 2007
TURBULENT to decommission in 2008
SCEPTRE to decommission in 2010
TIRELESS to decommission in 2011
TALENT to decommission in 2015
TRIUMPH to decommission in 2017
TORBAY to decommission in 2020
TRECHANT to decommission in 2022

This results in a force of 12 SSNs in 2002, 11 in 2003-2005 (assuming HMS ASTUTE enters service as planned in June 2005), 10 in 2006-2007 (assuming HMS ARTFUL enters service that year). The MoD’s Major Projects Report 2000, released on 22 November last year states, “It is anticipated that an order for a further three Astute class will be placed in late 2002”

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