Reprinted with permission from AMI HOT NEWS; an internet publication of AMI International, PO Box 40, Bremerton, Washington, 98337.
From the March 2012 Issue
TAIWAN-Submarine Search on Again
In late February 2012, AMI received information that the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) is still considering the purchase of up to eight submarines under the Kwang Hua 8 Program with the latest twist being the consideration of additional foreign suppliers. Making no progress since the 2001 President Bush offer of eight diesel electric submarines, the ROCN has requested their Parliament again fund up to eight units of a new submarine to replace their two Hai Lung II class submarines built in the 1980s and two World War II vintage Guppy class.
Since 2001, the Taiwanese Government has had on again/off again support from the US Government, various Taiwanese Administrations and Parliament (Legislative Yuan) as well as Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry. However, through the eleven years, the ROCN has never been able to get to the construction phase as either design, construction location and financing issues have never been resolved.
In regards to US initiatives since 2001, the US Navy has not designed a conventional submarine since the Barbel class of the 1950s although the US Government was willing (and may still be) to finance some of the program under Foreign Military Financing (FMF) terms.
Information received in late 2010 indicated that the ROCN was in talks with Russia for the Kilo class although AMI believes that Taiwan may have used Russia as a supplier consideration in order to get more support from the US Government. From late 2010 until early 2012, the submarine program went dormant yet again.
Information in March reveals that the ROCN is again asking the Legislative Yuan for monetary support and may be considering up to four new suppliers, other than the US and Russia. Although not announced publicly, AMI believes that the four prospective candidates could be India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea. However, AMI believes that only Turkey and South Korea could be considered serious candidates in terms of building experience, pricing and delivery timelines.
South Korea and Turkey have both built large numbers of Type 209s under license and are now moving forward with indigenously built Type 214s, with South Korea winning its first export order of its Type 209 to Indonesia in late 2011. Another positive is that both countries are US allies and that could be beneficial if Taiwan decides to request US funding support with FMF and management support with the US Naval Sea Systems Command (USNA VSEA). Both prospective suppliers are very familiar with US agencies and international financing programs.
There are still major questions that must be answered for this program to begin moving forward:
- Is South Korea, Turkey or any other supplier willing to do business with the ROCN as economic retaliation from the mainland is a typical response for such an offer?
- Will the US be involved in project oversight (USNA VSEA) or in the supply of subsystems as FMF dictates some US content?
- Will the Legislative Yuan actually fund the program with or without US FMF?
- What will be the build location? All at a foreign yard or a split build with China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC); which is becoming more insistent with indigenous construction. The downside of any construction at CSBC will be a slower build rate due to a lack of construction experience combined with the willingness of its foreign partner to risk alienating the mainland for only a limited number of hulls. In other words, the reward of eight hulls may outweigh the risk of economic sanctions from the mainland
In regards to the Kwang Hua 8, given the difficulties Taiwan has encountered over the years with their unsuccessful efforts to acquire new submarines, one would trust they understand the difficulties and complexities involved and would therefore see the need for a different plan and process for bringing this about. AMI believes that this program will continue to take many more turns, but if another entity such as South Korea or Turkey would be willing to build or split build the Type 209 in their respective countries (or jointly with CSBC) and under a formal US FMF program, the odds of success may be much better than all of their previous proposals since 200 I. A South Korean or Turkish built Type 209 with some US subsystems (to get FMF backing) with management from the US Navy may be the best scenario that the ROCN can hope for.
GREECE-Naval, Coast Guard and Shipyard Update
In February 2012, AMI sources in various European locations have provided the following information to update the ongoing naval and coast guard shipbuilding situation in Greece as well as the prospective financial viability of Greek naval shipyards. The sale of Hellenic Shipyard (HSY) to Abu Dhabi MAR (ADM) has been completed. However, with no major shipbuilding contracts in place, HSY’s viability in the long term is questionable. HSY continues to press the Greek Government to build two additional Type 214s for an estimated €155M (US$204.6M) in order to keep the shipyard afloat. The Greek Government continues to refuse any new funding for additional submarines.
The only prospective work at this time would be modernization of the Hydra and Elli class frigates and a new construction offshore patrol vessel (OPV) program for the Hellenic Coast guard (HCG) that is in its early stages of discussion. However, sources indicate that no funding is available for any of the initiatives at this time.
Elefsis shipyard is near closure according to AMI’s sources. Elefsis apparently failed to receive funding from the Greek Government to complete the final three Super VITA class FAC .
Similar to HSY, Elefsis would need to receive funding to complete the FAC or support for the modernization effort of the Hydra and Elli class frigates and win some or all of the HCG OPV Program. Again, those programs remain unfunded.
It appears that every HN and HCG Program is in jeopardy at this time due to the financial crisis. Listed below is the current status of the programs:
Type 214 Submarines: The first four units have completed construction and are in various stages of repair in order to pass acceptance testing. The proposal by HSY to the Greek Government to procure two additional Type 214s has been refused by the Government.
POLAND-Submarines Become Higher Priority
In late February 2012, AMI received informtion that the Polish Ministry of Defense (MoD) allocated US$316.5M for the procurement of the first of three new construction submarines announced under the 2009-2018 Polish Modernization Program. Part of the funding was reallocated from the Gawron corvette project which has been stopped.
An AMI employee visited Gdynia Naval Shipyard (GNS) in September 2011 and confirmed that construction on the Gawron has stopped and the hull is currently in a construction hall at GNS. The hull has been completed but no weapons have been installed.
The stoppage of the Gawron corroborates other sources indicating a new construction submarine has taken a higher priority. Two Gawron corvettes and three submarines were both listed in the 2009-2018 defense plan, although constrained funding appears to have forced the Polish Navy into reprioritizing its efforts.
Additional sources indicate that the modernization of the four used Kobben class and the first new construction submarine are now the top priorities of the Polish Navy with the modernization of the Perry class frigates following.
In regards to a new construction submarine, sources confirm that it is a two horse race between the Germans and the French, more than likely a TKMS Type 214 or a DCNS Scorpene. AMI began received information in 2010 that the Polish Government was interested in a joint construction program with a foreign entity, now identified as TKMS and DCNS. Poland’s shipbuilding industry has faltered over the past two decades and was interested in a partner to improve the shipyard infrastructure as well as jointly building a new submarine design for the Polish sea service as well as other export programs in conjunction with the selected partner. It appears that GNS is the shipyard in question as it needs the facelift and future order book in order to survive. GNS is currently in bankruptcy/receivership with senior management and business decisions of the yard significantly influenced by government ministries (Finance, Defense and Infrastructure). Currently GNS is only being considered for modernization of two of the Kobben class submarines and two Perry class frigates, although both programs are still waiting final approval and funding.
A decision on the joint partner for GNS, and by de facto, the new submarine design could be determined at any time. The key for Poland is the funding remaining intact; and it appears that the chances may be good as the submarine construction and modernization programs have become the top priority in the Polish Navy.
INDIA-Project 751 Submarine Procurement Plan Modified
In early March 2012, AMI received information that Indian Navy (IN) is beginning to modify its Project 751 submarine procurement plan. This latest move highlights how the P751 program is shaping up as very similar to the earlier procurement of the Shishumar (type 209/1500) class submarines.
In both programs, initial hulls built in the supplier country would be followed by remaining production in Indian shipyards. In regards to Project 751, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has apparently made the decision on a procurement strategy to have the first two units being built at a foreign location and the remaining four hulls being built at one of two government yards: Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) or Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL).
However, AMI believes that this decision will continue to be negotiated until a supplier/foreign partner is finally selected, which is currently scheduled to happen by he end of 2012 or in early 2013.
Up until now, the Indian shipbuilding industry has been adamant about the firm requirement to open a second submarine line for Project 751 at private Indian yards such as Larsen & Toubro (L&T) (building the Arihant SSBN), ABG Shipyard and Pipavav Shipyard. Industry has advocated this move as the government yards at MDL and HSL are already back logged with naval vessel programs- many of which remain years behind schedule and are suffering cost overruns as high as 50%.
In March 2012, the MoD decided to exclude India’s private yards from the submarine competition, returning to the old strategy of building some units in foreign yards and the remainder in India’s government-owned yards. No doubt the cost overruns and delayed schedules of almost all naval and coast guard programs at indigenous yards (government and private) were major factors influencing this decision.
The MoD ruled that the private yards in country did not have the infrastructure or capability required to build high technology submarines at their respective facilities. In L&T’s case, obviously, the higher priority Arihant class SSBN program was a determining factor. In the case of the government’s MDL and HSL, both are running behind and over budget. More specifically, MDL is now running years behind schedule on the Scorpene program, which is not good news for the IN.
AMI believes that the IN probably supports this decision to keep submarine programs in government-owned yards as a risk mitigatory to ensure experienced builders deliver submarines ready for service- accepting that a foreign builder role in the new sub procurement is part of the price paid for an operational Submarine Force.
This is a win (if the decision remains intact) for the IN as it will no doubt get two (possibly more) quality submarines from the foreign supplier (DCNS, TKMS, or Russia) much sooner than if built in India. And the P751 now represents one of the largest and most prom1smg prospective submarine export orders for competing foreign builders.
The downside for India and naval builders is the clear setback in their efforts to become the sole suppliers of all 100% of India’s new naval ship and submarines.
DID YOU KNOW?
ISRAEL: On 25 February 2012, the first Israeli Navy (Heyl Hayam (HH) Dolphin II class submarine was named INS TANIN.
UNITED KINGDOM- Vanguard Class Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) VIGILANT. In late February 2012, AMI received information that the Royal Navy’s (RN) Vanguard Class SSBN VIGILANT would reenter service in late March or early April 2012 following a three and a half year modernization effort. In December 2008, VIGILANT entered the Devenport Royal Dockyard for a Long Overhaul Period and Refuel (LPOR) under a £350M (US$538.1M) contract.
Highlights of the three plus year overhaul include:
- Overhaul of the new nuclear reactor core (Core H).
- Upgrades to the Trident missile system.
- Inboard technology refresh for the TUS Type 2054 sonar
- Upgrade of the UAP 3 RESM system
Refueling was completed in November 2010 and the SSBN reentered the water in June 2011. VIGILANT will begin sea trials in March prior to reentering the fleet. VIGILANT will be replaced by the HMS VENGEANCE which will be the last of the Vanguard class to undergo the LOPR. The LOPR is a joint effort by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), Babcock and Rolls Royce.
TAIWAN – Hai Lung I (Sea Dragon) Class Submarines: On 21 February 2012, AMI received information that the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) was preparing to integrate the Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missile (ASM into both Hai Lung II class submarines, HAI LUNG (SS-793) and HAI HU (SS·794). Both units are expected to complete the process by 2013 .
In 2009, the ROCN purchased 32 UGM-84L Sub-Launched Harpoon Block II missiles and 2 UTM-84L HARPOON Block II Exercise missiles, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value of the contract was worth US$200M.
From the April 2012 Issue
CANADA: Early Submarine Planning
In late-February 2012, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Chief-of-Staff testified before Parliament and remarked the sea service would begin the progress of conceptualizing a new submarine procurement program within the next four-years. Vice Admiral Paul Maddison told a Parliamentary Committee that losing the capability of underwater surveillance and attack would be, “A dire day for Canada.”
“In terms of surveillance of our ocean approaches and protection of our sovereignty, I would consider a submarine capability critical and so to lose that for a G8 nation, a NATO country like Canada, a country that continues to lead internationally and aspires to lead more, I would consider that a critical loss,” Maddison concluded.
Since purchasing the four ex-UK Royal Navy (RN) Upholder class diesel submarines (SSK), the four Victoria class units have faced a series of extremely costly mishaps and setbacks- to the point where even the Defense Minister Peter MacKay recently acknowledged they have had a spotty history. The submarines entered RN service in the early to mid-1990’s. Initially they were incapable of firing torpedoes and underwent a £9M (US$14.4M) modification to correct the error. When they were determined to be uneconomical for further service in the RN they were deactivated with the intention of being sold internationally on the used market.
In 1998, Canada accepted the four SSKs as replacements for their older Oberon class of submarines at the cost of C$750M (US$750.8M) with an additional C$1B (US$1.00IB) in repairs, converting them for Canadian use. By 2004, all four units of the Victoria class had been transferred to the RCN- that’s when the trouble began. In October 2004, HMCS CHICOUTIMI experienced a severe electrical fire on its maiden voyage. This has resulted in CHICOUTIMI being laid-up inoperable. Additionally, a track record of accidents has followed for almost 15-years, culminating with the grounding of the HMCS CORNERBROOK earlier this year. As a result, the RCN is without an operational submarine. Adding insult to injury- in 2011, AMI reported Canada was incapable of using NATO standard Mk 48 ADCAP heavy torpedoes- forcing them to purchase conversion kits for the four submarines from Raytheon.
HMCS VICTORIA is expected to complete the first round of torpedo launch capability test in April 2012 and these will be followed by HMCS Windsor in the fall- meaning by the end of the year the RCN can be expected to have one operational submarine on each coast. It has also been speculated that HMCS CHICOUTIMI could finally enter service by the end of 2013.
AMI believes it has become obvious the RCN is very dissatisfied with the performance of the four SSKs and is now saddled with the expense of an estimated additional US$865M, to perform modernization to keep them in some semblance of operational capability until 2023. AMI sources indicate the Canadian government has been briefed that it would take six to eight years to build four new submarines following the signing of any contract. Additionally, design studies could take it least another two to three-years.
As reported in November 2011 Hot News, Canada has made protecting its sovereignty in the Arctic region a central part of its Canada First Defense Strategy (CFDS) and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).
Canada has never undertaken a domestic submarine program. AMI believes the RCN is likely to pursue a new construction acquisition program in-lieu of purchasing units from the used international market. Although the idea of a nuclear submarine program has been floated, AMI thinks this is politically and economically unaffordable even under the CFDS national defense policy and the NSPS. Additionally, this level of technology would likely never be released by the US to its northern neighbor.
Also, AMI estimates Canada is likely to not seek providers outside of trusted western and northern European circles, which would preclude Turkey and any Asia-Pacific region manufacturer from the selection process. For these reasons, AMI believes the likely candidates for partnering with Canada in a submarine program are:
- Sweden’s Kockums with their A26 design.
- France’s DCNS with the Scorpene
- Spain’s Navantia with their S80.
- Germany’s Thyssenkrupp marine with their Type 214.
- Phase 1 through 2022 is for the modernization of the current fleet (primarily Perry frigates and Kobben submarines).
- Phase 2 through 2026 calls for the procurement of two submarines and two surface combatants.
- Phase 3 through 2030 calls for the procurement of a third submarine and third surface combatant.
- A Military-off-the-Shelf (MOTS) design study with DCNS, HOW and Navantia.
- Initial design studies for an updated Collins class submarine with Kockums.
- An analysis of options to conduct cost and capability trade off analysis with all options.
- A capability modeling study by Electric Boat.
- Scientific and technological studies primarily by the Defense Science and Technology organization (DSTO).
- Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan (announced in December 2011).
AMI believes the design effort for a new submarine class will likely emphasize a balance of advanced technology and cost savings. The new submarine is likely to be air independent propulsion-capable (AIP) and will incorporate other stealth features and capabilities to allow for operations under the Arctic ice in its northern economic exclusive zone.
Although Canada has never previously constructed a submarine, AMI believes Canada’s larger shipyards are capable of accomplishing some of the construction work and Canadian systems houses could provide many of the internal systems with final assembly and full integration taking place at the foreign partner’s yard. This would provide jobs under NSPS to further stimulate the Canadian economy. This scenario obviously requires Parliamentary approval for Canada to maintain a submarine capability as well as a steady funding stream to carry out the acquisition process.
DID YOU KNOW?
JAPAN: On 16 March 2012, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) fourth Soryu class submarine, JS KENRUY (SS-504), was commissioned at Kawasaki Heavy Industry’s Kobe Shipyard.
From the May 2012 Issue
Poland-Modernization Plan 2030 Announced
In late April 2012, AMI received information on the latest Polish Navy (MarynarkaWojenna – MW) Modernization Plan 2030. The plan calls for spending up to US$278M per year through 2030 (total of US$5B for the period) for the modernization of the existing force and for the purchase of submarines, surface ships, helicopters and unmanned maritime systems (UMS).
The plan is broken down into three phases:
From the outset, the number of submarines that will be procured remains at three, the same identified under the 2009-2018 modernization plan; although it appears that the program will now be stretched to 2030. Sources indicate that the submarines do remain the highest priority in regards to capital ships and submarines. The 2030 plan also calls for three new surface combatants, two by 2026 and a third by 2030. This is a new requirement as the 2009-2018 plan had funding for the single Gawron class corvette program being terminated in favor of new submarines.
In late-February 2012, AMI received information that the Polish Ministry of Defense (MoD) had allocated US$316.5M for the procurement of the first of three new construction submarines announced under the 2009-2018 Polish Modernization Program. However, with the new plan calling for the submarines at a much later date, these funds may have been reallocated to other modernization programs as this is the priority through 2022. The MW could also begin funding its lower cost aviation and UMS programs.
If the MW intends to commission its first two surface combatants and submarines by 2026 and the third of each by 2030, a funding stream would need to begin by 2020. In regards to the submarine program, Poland intends to build the submarines in country with design and construction assistance from a foreign supplier, with DCNS and ThyssenKrupp Marine as the two
PERU-MoU Signed With Korea for Future Naval Programs
In mid-April 2012, AMI received information that Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Peruvian Government to build ships and submarines for the Peruvian Navy (Marina de Guerra del Peru MGP) in the event that a South Korean solution is selected for specific naval projects. The MoU will also cover the modernization of the six Type 209/ 1200 submarines currently in service with MGP, AMI estimates that DSME is currently offering the Chang Bogo (Type 209) submarine design and the LST-II class Tank Landing Ship (LST) as the MGP has an immediate requirement to upgrade its submarine and amphibious force.
Peru, operating one of the oldest naval forces in South America, is undoubtedly interested in replacing its six 1970s-vintage Type 209/1200 submarines and its four 1950s-vintage Walworth County class LSTs. Since the late 1970s, the MGP has procured the majority of its equipment through the used ship market due to the naval forces low priority.
Due to its low funding levels, no wonder the MGP is now exploring its options other than the traditional European suppliers of the past. The MGP is probably beginning to believe that if it intends to procure any new construction vessels, it no doubt has to consider lower cost providers such as DSME in addition to other creative financing arrangements.
As added benefit to Peru would be if it does select the South Korean Type 209 or LST-II, it will be joining two programs already in progress and could enjoy additional pricing benefits through the economies of scale. DSME is scheduled to build the Type 209 for the Indonesian Navy and is already building the LST-II class LSTs for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).
If DSME is selected to provide these vessels for Peru, it would be DSME’s first major customer in South America and the first export of the LST-II amphibious design. In regards to Peru, it would be able to realize its first major new construction program since the late 1970s.
A final decision on the MoU and corresponding new construction and modernization projects could come as early as 2013. The MGP would require at least four submarines to replace the six Type 209s in service and four LSTs to replace the four Walworth county LSTs remaining in service as well as a comprehensive overhaul of some of the Type 209/1200 submarines in service.
AUSTRALIA-SEA 1000 Submarine Studies to Begin
On 03 May 2012, Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Minister for Defense Stephen Smith and Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare announced that the government would provide US$22 l M (AUD214M) for the next stage of the Future Submarine Program (SEA 1000). SEA 1000 currently calls for up to 12 diesel submarines to replace the six units of the Collins class for an estimated US$14-20B.
The detailed studies and analysis will inform the Australian Government on the design of the country’s next submarine that will follow the Collins class. First pass approval for the program is expected by late 2013 or early 2014 and second pass and the corresponding construction phase in 2017.
The detailed studies will include:
The studies, when complete, will form the basis for the government’s First Pass approval, which is the decision for Defense to move forward with further development including its first Request for Tenders (RfT). Second pass approval, scheduled for 2017, is the defined scope for the program and first allocated budgets followed shortly after with the construction phase.
Any delays past 2017 in the construction phase will create a capability gap as all six of the Collins class are currently scheduled to decommission from 2025 through 2031. The first unit would have to be in the water by 2022 in order to commission prior to the first Collins decommissioning in 2025. This equates to a razor thin margin assuming construction begins in 2017. Five follow-on units would have to commission at the rate of one per year in order to retire the Collins on time, a schedule that will be extremely difficult to meet.
The second and most ominous question for the program is if the Australian government can fully fund all twelve units when considering defense budget cuts (up to US$4B) were announced on the same day as SEA I 000 was entering its latest phase.
CHILE-Indigenous Mini-Submarine Program Development
On 24 April 2012, Chilean Minister of National Defense (MINDEF) Andres Allamand visited Vapor Industrial, S.A. on the occasion of the commencement of construction on the Crocodile Class 250 submarine, the first of its kind built in Chile and in the Caribbean-Latin America (CLA) region. Vapor Industrial, is a privately-owned engineering and design entity specializing in pressurized storage and transport vessels of varying sizes and capabilities.
Beside the MINDEF, also present at the event was the Commander in Chief (CinC) of the Chilean Navy (Annada de Chile (AdC)), Admiral Edmundo Gonzalez Robles.
The MINDEF explained, “A team aboard the vessel could descend 300-meters, (984.2ft) carrying divers who have been prepared by an onboard hyperbaric chamber, could conduct research and search and rescue operations. The AdC CinC expressed, “We see much interest in this submarine and it would allow rescue from stricken aircraft, sunken ships and work at great depths.”
The sea service could be considering it as a deep submergence rescue vehicle (OSRV) for its two Thompson (Type 209/ 1400) and two O’Higgins (Scorpene) class submarines. Currently, the AdC is relying on the US, which in 2008, tested the USN’s rescue diving and recompression system (SRDRS), with the Chilean submarine CS SIMPSON (SS-21 ). The SRDRS was designed to be rapidly deployed to any location in the world via air or ground and can be installed on military or commercial vessels when a call for assistance is received. It could also be utilized for sea floor mineral exploration.
The prototype will be constructed by Vapor Industrial and one of its subsidiaries, Industrial Steam. AMI believes if the program expands past the concept phase, it is likely Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR) Shipyards could become a participant in the program. Chile strongly supports indigenous naval production and has significant assets in its three ASMAR shipyards that could be lent to an expanded submarine program.
According to the Vapor Industrial, the submarine will have a length of 33m (108.2ft), a diameter of 3.Sm (11.4ft) and an approximate weight of 250-tons. It will have an operational range of about 2,500nm and carry 14 personnel (four of which are crew) to reach depths of up to 300m (984.2ft). It will carry sonar equipment that will allow it to study sea life, geological research, or detecting ships and other submarines. Lastly, the submarine will have a low cost of operation, requiring very few crewmembers to operate. The press release concerning the event stated it will cost approximately US$5.3M and take about 12 to 18-montsh to build, per unit.
UNMANNED SYSTEM DEVELOPMENTS
LDUUV Program Update: the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has made increased efforts to advance the large displacement unmanned underwater vehicle (LOUUV) program as of late .
In essence, the LDUUV program seeks to develop vehicle and subsystem autonomy and long endurance propulsion systems in order to create a large unmanned submarine capable of performing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions lasting more than 70-days. While deployed, the LDUUV will act as a mother-ship, deploying and operating static and mobile sensors for persistent surveillance in coastal waters. The USN envisions the LDUUV will be most useful in mine warfare missions, including mine-laying and mine disposal applications. While in the mine disposal role, the LDUUV will be capable of detecting and locating mines before engaging and neutralizing them. In the opposite role, the LDUUV lays networked sensors across a wide area; these sensors track, identify, and engage any vessels within a given range by either an anchored weapon or a torpedo from the UUV itself.
Currently, the USN is focused on establishing endurance and autonomy requirements for the LDUUV program. The autonomy requirement involves software, computer hardware, and sensors integration. The endurance requirement pertains to propulsion technology that can operate independently for several months. The development of technologies to meet each requirement will occur in two phases. In regards to the autonomy requirement, the first phase will last 18 months, during which time the LDUUV will work in shallow water depths (no more than I 00 feet), while calling on an operator via satellite link to navigate around aquatic obstructions. The second phase, which will last some three years, will extend operations to open ocean, without human intervention. The first phase of development of endurance technologies will last two years, during which time the vehicle will operate uninterrupted for up to 30-days. During the second phase, the LDUUV will deploy for 70-days.
Boeing’s Echo Ranger Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) is the current benchmark for LDUUV technology. Weighing more than five tons, the 18.5-foot-long Echo Ranger dives to a maximum depth of I 0,000 feet. With 28-hour endurance, the AUV is also capable of traveling up to eight knots and going as far as 80 miles without resurfacing.
In order to hasten the development process, the USN is sponsoring various academic and foreign oceanographic research projects that will establish technologies to be implemented into the LDUUV program. For example, in March 2012, the USN awarded Charles River Analytics (CRA) a US$2.7M contract for the development of technologies that will minimize the energy need in order to maximize the endurance and support the ONR LDUUV energy plan. Also, in April 2012, the ONR awarded a US$5.9M contract to Hydroid Inc, a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, for the development of an autonomy testing system for the vehicle. Hydroid will utilize its own Remote Environmental Measuring Units (REMUS) UUVs as autonomy testing systems for the LDUUV technology.
In the summer of 2013, the Navy plans to demonstrate a universal launch and recovery module as an alternative method to launch and recover a LDUUV without having a dry-dock shelter on the back of a ship. Potentially, this method could be used on a ballistic missile nuclear powered submarines (SSBNs) as well as Virginia class submarines.
The USN intends to release a Request for Proposal (RfP) for the LDUUV concept in 2014. It is reported that as many as ten LDUUV vehicles will be procured for this program.
DID YOU KNOW?
United States: On 13 April 2012, US Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) announced the names of five Virginia class submarines as USS ILLINOIS (SSN-786), USS WASHINGTON (SSN787), USS COLORADO (SSN-788), USS INDIANA (SSN-789) and USS SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN-790).