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

From the 151 and 15th January issue

Pakistan Fails to Market Submarines

Efforts by the Pakistan Government to become a regional supplier of advanced diesel electric submarines have come to nothing so far. A large investment has been made in infrastructure to assemble two of the three Khalid class, ordered from DCN International to the Agosta-90B design, and the government hoped to fund additional units through export sales.

The Islamabad Friday Times revealed on 7 December that the Pakistan Navy has found no takers. This is hardly surprising, given the internal problems in the country. Pakistan has little option but to support the anti-terrorist coalition, despite Indian accusations about its support for terrorism in Kashmir and its close links with the People’s Republic of China. Once its usefulness to the United States is over, it will lapse into an even more precarious state.

The project never had a serious chance of succeeding. Local rivalries inhibit local customers, and in any case, a serious customer would prefer to deal direct with the supplier of the technology. Although building the Khalid class and assembling its Mesma air-independent propulsion (AIP) system are great achievements for Pakistan’s shipbuilding industry, this marks the outer edge of its capability. A similar fate befell Argentina’s grandiose plans to become the supplier of Thyssen Nordseewerk’s designs to the rest of South America.

New Reactor Cores for Royal Navy SSNs and SSBNs

Nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) and Trident missile submarines (SSBNs) of the UK Royal Navy (RN) are to receive a new advanced reactor core which will last for 25 years, the expected service-life of the boats themselves. By avoiding the current costly reactor fuelling needed twice during the boats’ service-lives, through-life costs of the RN’s submarine force will be greatly reduced.

The Defence Procurement Agency’s (DPA) Nuclear Propulsion Project Team has placed a £360 million contract with Rolls-Royce Naval Marine to carry out extensive trials of the new Core H before it goes into the SSNs and SSBNs. Core H will also go into the Vulcan shore-based reactor at the test establishments at Dounreay for the last 13 years of its existence.

The first Trident SSBN, HMS VANGUARD, will receive Core H during her first refit at Devon port in the next two years, while her three sisters will follow in due course. The remaining Swift sure class SSNs will probably not receive Core H, but some later Trafalgar class may receive it.

This is corroborated by an announcement on 19 December confirming that only HMS TALENT, HMS TORBAY, HMS TRENCHANT and HMS TRIUMPH will receive the final Stages 3 and 4 of the S&T Update. TORBAY is planned to achieve State 3 operational capability this month and Stage 4 in May 2004. The remaining eight completed Stages 1 and 2 (Phase 2) in June 1996.

News in Brief

Thales Optronics of Glasgow, UK has been awarded a contract to upgrade CK038 periscopes in Royal Swedish Navy submarines. The work involves the addition of a thermal imaging (Tl) camera and an improved image-intensifier. This is a more cost-effective solution than fitting a non-hull penetrating optronic mast, which is better done at the design-stage.

From the 1st February issue

U.S. Navy Refines SSK Choices for Taiwan

The U.S. Navy (USN) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are evaluating concept-definition studies from domestic and foreign submarine builders for the eight diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) promised to the Republic of China (RoC) by President Bush. As no U.S. shipyard can provide a hull in the water to validate any design on offer, the choice will almost certainly be a foreign (non-U .S.) supplier. The USN will present its recommendations to the RoC Navy (RoCN), which will then make its own choice.

The DoD is understandably reluctant to reveal the names of possible suppliers, but Northrop Grumman Ingalls and General Dymanics Electric Boat division have admitted that they have submitted concept studies. Northrop Grumman’s new acquisition Newport News Shipbuilding will be not bidding.

The politics are predictably very tricky. Both the Netherlands and German governments have previously stated that they will not permit their yards (RDM and HDW) to build SSKs for Taiwan. The only options remaining are BAE Systems Marine’s Barrow-in-Fumess yard, Kockums of Sweden, DCN Cher bourg and its Spanish partner IZAR of Cartagena, Fincantieri, and the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC). The Australians have also barred ASC from building SSKs for Taiwan because of their commercial interests in mainland China, and Fincantieri would probably be prevented from offering any derivative of HDW’s Type 212 design.

A way around these political obstacles would be a U.S. purchase of the Australian Government’s stake in ASC. This would allow some sort of technology-transfer, and ruffled Australian and Swedish plumage would be smoothed by cosmetic changes to the Kockums design for the Collins class. The external appearance of submarines is comparatively easy to alter, and an indigenous U.S. design would be the result. The alternative would be to buy a French design-France has always been willing to sell an SSK to its grandmother, and it has somehow achieved sales to both Communist China and Taiwan.

The RoCN needs modem submarines as a matter of urgency. Its two Hai Lung class were built in the Netherlands in the 1980s, and the two ex-USN Guppy types date back to the end of the Second World War. Various attempts have been made by European builders to meet the Taiwan requirement, but on each occasion the reaction from Beijing has been very hostile.

From the 15th February issue

Minor Safety Scare Over Royal Navy SSNs

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that “indications of small original fabrication imperfections” were discovered during a routine inspection of HMS SCEPTRE’s Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV} Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told Parliament that the discovery identified the need for more detailed analysis to support the existing safety case of submarine nuclear power plants.

A full inspection of HMS SCEPTRE’s reactor will be done during her refit at Rosyth Dockyard. Although no defects have been discovered in her sisters HMS SOVEREIGN and HMS SUPERB, the former is undergoing a precautionary inspection during her maintenance period at the Clyde Submarine Base at Faslane. What is described as an “acceptable safety case” for HMS SUPERB allowed her to return to operational duties, but she will undergo a further inspection later in the year.

The Royal Navy currently operates five Swiftsure class nuclear attack submarines (SSNs), commissioned in 1974-1981. They use the Rolls-Royce PWR 1 reactor to drive two 7500 shp GEC turbines. HMS SOVEREIGN and HMS SUPERB have both been refined with Core Z, extending the time between refuellings.

Sonar Upgrade for Swedish Submarines

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) has announced a programme to procure new active mine-avoidance sonars for the Royal Swedish Navy’s (RswN) submarines. Under the plan two of the four Vastergotland class and all three Gotland class boats will be modernised.

The sonars are to have three main functions: mine detection and localisation, bottom navigation and localisation of submarine and surface targets. A sign of the times is another requirement, that the sonars will be suitable for service in the Mediterranean as well as the Baltic.

Installation is expected to start early next year and to be complete by the end of 2005. Invitations to tender are expected to be issued this month. The Viistergotland class (A 17 design) were built in 1983-90 and the Gotland class (A 19 design) in 1992-97. Two of the former class are scheduled for conversion to air-independent propulsion (AIP) and the oldest pair may be leased to Denmark.

Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force Gets AIP Submarine

Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) has converted the training submarine ASASHIO (TSS 3601, ex-SS 589) to air-independent propulsion (AIP). A hull plug containing a Kockums Stirling V4-275R Mk 2 engine and supporting sub-systems was added last year. The MSDF has been running shore trials of a Stirling engine for some years, and the conversion of the ASA-SHIO was revealed by Ships of the World this month. The submarine is a unit of the Hayashio class, commissioned early in 1997 and since reduced to training and trials duties when replaced by a newer boat.


Unconfirmed reports suggest that the technical responsibility for the Indian Navy’s Project 75 Scorpene type submarines has been transferred from DCN to its Spanish partner !ZAR. Thales Defence remains the prime contractor for the programme, which may run to six boats, but one source suggests that the Indians may have been offered a cheaper prime contractorship deal by DCN and its commercial arm DCN International.

From the 1st March issue

Russians Admit KURSK Sunk by Own Toroedo

The head of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kureyedov, has virtually admitted that the Project 649A Antey class nuclear powered missile-armed submarine (SSGN) KURSK was sunk in August 2000 by a faulty torpedo. On 18 February he told a press conference that torpedoes aboard KURSK and other submarines are to be withdrawn. He confinned that the torpedoes are propelled by high-test peroxide (HTP), which had been in service since 1957. “The confidence placed in them by designers and military officials who took them on board submarines … was misplaced.”

Admiral Kureyedov repeated the Russian viewpoint, that there were three possible causes of the catastrophe: a torpedo explosion, a mine dating from the Second World War, or a collision with an underwater object. He acknowledged, however, that a torpedo explosion was now seen as the most likely cause. Separately, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov says that investigators had found no evidence that any other surface ships or submarines were near enough to the exercise area to have been involved in the sinking of KURSK. He said that the investigation which began last October is now over, although the definitive cause of the disaster has yet to be established. Since October last year 94 bodies have been recovered, and all but three have been identified.

On Monday 18 February Deputy Prime Minister llya Klebanov was demoted; he is now Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. Klebanov had been the chief advocate of the theory of a collision with a U.S. Navy or Royal Navy SSN, and clearly the findings have undermined his credibility.

The standard Russian non-electric submarine torpedoes are the series of Type 53 533mm (21 inch) weapons. lnfonnation is sketchy, but the following are known to have been in service:

Type 53-58 Type 3 kerosene-fuelled, converted to HTP in 1961-68. Presumably the first in service, al-though not proven
Type 53-65 HTP-driven, entered service in 1968
Type 53-68 Derivative of 53-65, possible nuclear-tipped
Type 53-83 HTP-drive wake-homer

NA VINT sources have repeatedly cited HTP as the cause of the explosions, the first being the detonation of one in its launching-tube and a second much bigger one, indicating that the reloads in the torpedo stowage had been either set on fire or had detonated en masse. The details are all too reminiscent of the destruction of HMS SIDON in June 1955, when an HTP-fuelled Mk 12 torpedo detonated while being loaded.

HDW and IZAR Sien Cooperation Agreement

German shipbuilder Howaldtswerke-Deutsch Werft (HOW) has signed an agreement with the Spanish state-owned IZAR group (fonnerly Empresa Nacional Bazan). The two companies will cooperate in mercantile and naval shipbuilding, and say that their cooperation does not exclude additional partners.

The first step is to set up a study group to examine areas of common interest, including the possibility of developing new types of ships for markets in which neither partner is currently repre-sented. This new range could include advanced submarines, among others. IZAR’s Cartegena yard also builds submarines, although it has built only French designs under licence up to now.

HDW’s Executive Charman, Prof Dr-Ing Klaus Lederer, says, “Both our group are convinced that this common project can contribute to the integration of European shipbuilding. I am especially happy about the agreement, since it corresponds exactly to HDW’s strategy. We are going into Europe, and by buying Kockums in Sweden and Hellenic Shipyards in Greece, [plus] our cooperation agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, we have already set out on the journey with detennination.”

Submarine Simulators From STN Atlas

STN Atlas Elektronik specialises, among a wide range of other activities, in ship-simulators bor both civil and naval spplications.

The Submarine Command Team Trainer (SCTT) is a shore-based computerised simulation system, used to trail all grades in a submarine’s command team in order to maximise combat capability.

The SCTT simulates the tactical situation in the Control Room/CIC for trainees in a realistic and flexible way. The weapons offices and operators are trained to operate their systems and to respond to specific tactical problems created by the exercise controllers.

The SCTT also provides the capability to develop and analyse tactical doctrine, torpedo-firing and guidance methods, to optimise the operation of equipment. It can simulate passive and active sonars, flank arrays, intercept sonar and passive ranging, a sonar information processor and a whole range of sensors and functions.

The Submarine Control Simulator (SCS) is a shore-based trainer for the steering and engineering control tasks. The SCS supports part-task training as well as team training and refresher training. It is an essential training device for the crew of the Technical Control Centre of a submarine. It uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment wherever possible, and is modular. It is also safe and easy to operate, even if the operator has no programming skills.

The designers are well aware of the need to balance realism against cost. Total realism can be achieved in any simulator, but is very costly. Some measure of realism is necessary, particularly for experienced personnel undergoing refresher courses, but also to give inexperienced trainees an idea of their future operating environment. It is crucial to avoid any tendency by trainees to regard the simulator as a sophisticated toy.

France Swings Behind India

On 22 February France’s Ambassador to India, M. Bernard de Montferrand, said that France would not discuss any new defence projects or deals with Pakistan. He said that his government has had discussions with the Indian Government on the armed confron-tation on the lndo-Pakistan border, and is greatly concerned about the situation. “We have told Pakistan that they have to implement [their] decisions … and it was in their own interests if they followed them sincerely,” he said.

DCN International, the commercial ann of the French Govem-ment’ s naval design bureau DCN, is joined with prime contractor Thales in a bid to sell six Scorpene type diesel-electric submarines (Project 75) to the Indian Navy. There is also talk of a further technology-transfer deal to build more Scorpenes locally, and this would inevitably involve a major upgrading of India’s submarine construction capabilities with French technical support.

M de Montferrand said that the two countries have had a “long-term and confident” partnership in various fields since the 1950s. lndo-French cooperation is based on regular strategic and security discussions, increasing cooperation in armaments, including joint development of weapons, technology-transfer and military-to-military cooperation.

The implications of this French marketing offensive in India are far reaching. India currently relies heavily on Russian military support, and a large number of surface ships have been acquired since the end of the Cold War. It would also close off Indian military markets from other European competitors such as Italy and the UK.

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