Russia completes overhaul and modernization program for Indian submarines

At the end of July 2012 news came out that Russia is to finalize this year its “mid-life-conversion” program for “Kilo”-Class submarines of the Indian Navy.

The INS Sindhurakshak (S63) at Mumbai

INS Sindhurakshak will be the 7th and last of the Indian´s Navy 10 “Kilo”-Class submarines to return to the fleet, after having received complete overhaul and significant modernization. 3 of the 10 submarines are serviced and modernized in India. Andrei Dyachkov, the Director General of the Sevmash shipyard, suggested another modernization in a few years time, which would extend the service life time of the submarines by another 7-10 years.

The “mid-life-conversion” executed during 2 years at the Svesdoschka shipyard at the Siberian Severodvinsk gave the submarines an improved torpedo tube system, facilitating now the launch of 3M-54 “Klub” ship-ship-missiles (NATO designation: SS-N-27 “Sizzler”, range up to 220 km). Also, a new Sonar system and a new communication as well as a command and control system have been installed.

Between 1985 and 1999 the Indian Navy (see our “Floatsam” 03-2012) acquired some 10 diesel-electric submarines of the “Kilo”-Class from the Soviet Union, later Russia. All were built at the Admiralty shipyard at Leningrad/ St. Petersburg except the First of Class (INS Sindhughosh), which was built at the shipyard No.112 (Krasnoye Sormovo) at Niszhny Novgorod at the river Volga (until 1990 still called: Gorkij)


Long jail terms for Russian scientists for selling ballistic missile technology to China

At the end of June 2012 media reported about the sentencing of two Russian scientists from the Baltic State Technological University at St. Petersburg for selling military secrets to China, among other things detailed information about the new Russian SLBM RSM-56 “Bulova” (NATO designation SS-NX-30), which are to be launched by the new “Borei”-Class SSBN (see Floatsam 08-2011).

After professors Yevgeny Afanasyev and Svyatoslav Bobyshev were detained in March 2010 both have been sentenced now by the City High Court of St. Petersburg to 12 years and 6 months, respectively 12 years imprisonment (maximum term could have been up to 20 years) on account of high treason vis-à-vis China, although both continue to plead not guilty. Allegedly Chinese agents have asked both to also provide for information about the shore based strategic missile “Topol-M” (NATO designation: SS-27, the SLBM “Bulova” is the Naval version of the “Topol”) and the shore-shore-missile “Iskander” (NATO designation: SS-26 “Stone”).

Apparently, this affair results from counter-intelligence measures by the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB (Federalnaja sluchba besopasnosti Federazii Rossijskoj = Federal Agency for Security of the Russian Federation, a partial follow-on organization of the KGB), which last year just a week prior Prime Minister´s Putin visit to China detained a Chinese agent disguised as interpreter of a delegation, who tried to gain access to data of Russian missile technology (Air Defence Missile Systems). According to the High Court prove against both Russian scientists was established that they have sold specific information about the SLBM “Bulova”” to the Chinese Secret Service during a business trip ti China in May/ Jun 2009.

This case of espionage sheds some light on the intelligence activities of the People´s Republic of China also in the military field, and the great interest of the country to gain information in support of the development of own submarine based missiles. Moreover, the new SLBM on board Russian SSBNs are of extreme importance to China, as these submarines most probably will be part of the Russian Pacific Fleet in the near future.


Re-organisation at the German shipyards of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS)

At the end of June 2012 media reported about re-organization of the shipbuilding of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which represents the majority of Naval construction and repairs in Germany. Starting with business year 2012/ 2013 the new name will be ThyssenKrupp Marine Shipyards. According to statements by the company the aim of this concentration is “to create a complete bidder in shipbuilding, to strengthen the position of the Thyssen Group on the shipbuilding market”. The new head of the ThyssenKrupp Marine Shipbuilding will be the current CEO of HDW, Andreas Burmester, The ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will continue to exist under its current CEO, Christop Atzpodien, but will act as holding to execute the overall management and other functions, such as sales.

With effect of 05 January 2005 a merger of several shipyards in Germany was executed, which also were engaged in Naval shipbuilding. Four German shipyards merged, i.e. Blohm & Voss at Hamburg, the Nordseewerke at Emden, HDW at Kiel and Nobiskrug at Rendsburg, and they were joined by two more shipyards from other countries, i.e. Kockums from Sweden and Hellenic Shipyards from Greece. The new name for this merger was ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), having then more than 8,000 employees and a turnover of more than one and a half billion Euros.

Also the shipbuilding industry was hit hard by the financial and economic crisis of 2008/ 2009, and this industry has to go through painful adjustments since, which range from many reductions in capacities, successful sales and failed sales, up to entire shut downs of shipyards.

It meant for the ThyssenKrupp-Group among others things to sell its majority share holding of the Hellenic Shipyards in Greece (in September 2010 some 75,1 % went to Abu Dhabi MAR from the United Arabic Emirates), and following an intermediate takeover in 2007 by the British Investment Company Eagle River Capital the Nobiskrug shipyard at Rendsburg with about 400 workers was bought in 2009 also by Abu Dhabi MAR .

With that the ThyssenKrupp Group of today holds the Naval shipyards of Blohm & Voss at Hamburg, HDW at Kiel, the Emder Werft- und Dockbetriebe at Emden and Kockums in Sweden.

Blohm & Voss at Hamburg has gone through a hot-cold treatment of re-organizations and sales. A sale of the shipyard to Abu Dhabi MAR, including a 50% share in Naval shipbuilding, believed to be a done deal in October 2009, bounced in July 2011 to everybody´s surprise. On 27 February 2012 it was announced that the civil shipbuilding at the yard has been bought by the British Financial Investment Company of “Star Capital”. The Naval shipbuilding branch of the yard was to remain under ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, now being called “Blohm & Voss Naval”, other than plans intended to change that so far. The Naval shipbuilding branch at Blohm & Voss currently employs about 380 workers.

HDW at Kiel, specialized in constructing submarines for the German Navy and export customers, currently has about 2,000 workers under contract.

At the “Emder Werft- und Dockbetriebe” at Emden (see our “Floatsam” 12-2011) there will be only some maintenance and repair capabilities with about 200 workers, after the former Thyssen Nordseewerke (TSNW) has completely given up any civil and Naval shipbuilding. The third Task Group Replenishment Ship Bonn (A-1413) for the German Navy was christened on 17 April 2012, being the last Naval ship ever built at Emden.

The Swedish traditional shipyard of Kockums with its three worksites (Malmö, Karlskrona and Muskö) and about 930 workers is the only remaining foreign subsidiary company of ThyssenKrupp, and it has an excellent know how in Naval shipbuilding. In 2011 its turnover was 660 Mill. Euros.

The concentration in German Naval shipbuilding announced, with the Swedish top shipyard Kockums on board further on, seems being a rather effective solution for the Naval shipbuilding in Northern Europe.

Currently, Blohm & Voss constructs four frigates of the F 125-Class for the German Navy, and a decision to build up to six corvettes of the new K 131-Class is due in the near future. At HDW currently two submarines of the U 212A-Class for the German Navy are in their final stages of construction (see “Floatsam” 01-2012), and the order for two further submarines of the export type 214 for Israel (= “Dolphin”-Class) is being executed. Beyond that, HDW and Kockums are important bidder for submarines with air independent propulsion systems (AIP), as there are tenders to be expected soon to come from Canada, Australia, South Korea, and, just learned in June 2012, from Norway in order to replace its current fleet of six “Ula”-Class submarines by 2020, with a decision to do so due in 2014.