Iranian Navy gives notice of commissioning of “Fateh”-Class submarine
On 18 August 2014 the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, announced the “unveiling” of the First-of-Class submarine of the “Fateh”-Class scheduled for 28 November 2014. There are confusing reports about this class of submarine, e.g. reports claiming the launch of a “Fateh”-Class submarine already in 2013 at the Bandar Anzali shipyard at the Caspian Sea, plus the ongoing construction of a second unit of this class. Also, reports were published in early 2014 about alleged sea trials by one of the “Fateh”-class submarines. The “Fateh”-Class is an own design of the Iran, it is to have a length of 48 m and a displacement of about 600 t submerged, torpedoes and mines to be launched from 4 bow torpedo tubes.
With that, the Iranian shipbuilding industry demonstrates its capabilities to design and construct submarines of larger size than the currently produced 120 t midget submarines of the “Ghadir”-Class. Allegedly, an even greater submarine type is under development since 2008, i.e. the 1,200 t “Besat”-Class (Iranian: “Qaaem” or “Ghaaem”) with air-independent-propulsion.
We have reported about the Iranian submarine forces in our “Flotsam” of April 2014.
- www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/08/18/375762/iran-to-launch-indigenous-submarine/ (link obsolete)
- www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/18/359087/iran-navy-to-unveil-fateh-submarine/ (link obsolete)
Reorganization of the Atlantic-based submarine formations of the US Navy
On 22 August 2014 the “US Submarine Group 2” was decommissioned ceremonial at the US Naval Base Groton, Connecticut, 49 years after its establishment. With that, the reorganization of the US Navy continues, with the integration of the 7 US Fleets, among others the 2nd US Fleet Atlantic and the 6th US Fleet Mediterranean, in the “US Fleet Forces Command (USFF)” on 30 September 2011 being the last major one. Subordinated to the USFF are the united US Atlantic Fleet and the US Pacific Fleet, each with so called Type Commands reporting to them, such as the COMSUBLANT and the COMSUBPAC as submarine commanders for the SSBNs, SSGNs and SSNs organized in various submarine squadrons (COMSUBRON). The SSBNs, SSGNs and SSNs of the US Atlantic Fleet will continue to have as homebase the Naval Bases at Groton (Connecticut), Portsmouth (New Hampshire), Norfolk (Virginia) and Kingsbay (Georgia).
- www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Groton-Based-Submarine-Group-Disbanded-After-49-Years-272380711.html (NBC Connecticut of 22nd of August 2014)
- www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/lists/homeport.asp (link obsolete)
Decision for new Australian submarines expected still in 2014
In early September 2014 mainly Australian media reported that a decision about the procurement of new submarines replacing the 6 diesel-electric “Collins”-Class submarine is expected still in 2014. As we have mentioned already in out “Flotsam” issues of June 2013, June 2014 and August 2014 the procurement of submarines of the “Sōryū”-Class from Japan seems being a clear favorite.
As it is known, Australia in its Defence White Paper of 2009 had confirmed the intent for the procurement of up to 12 submarines to replace the “Collins”-Class submarines at the end of their life time. This will be the situation not later than 2026/2027. Any extension of service time has been estimated to cost more than 2 Bill. Aust. Dollar (= 1.5 Bill. Euros) making any prior procurement of new submarines even more urgent. There are various figures as to the possible costs of the procurement in the media, ranging from a minimum of 20 Bill. Austr. Dollar (= 14 Bill. Euros) up to the more serious estimate by the “Australian Strategic Policy Institute” in 2010 of 36 Bill. Austr. Dollar (= 27 Bill. Euros, which would constitute system costs per submarine between 1,4 Bill. Austr. Dollar (= 1.05 Bill. Euros) and 3.04 Bill. Austr. Dollar (2.28 Bill. Euros). Also, there were various reports ranging from procurement off-the-shelf and/ or cooperative solutions with submarine designers in Germany, Spain France and Japan to construction under license to entire design and construction of the submarines in Australia.
Several times a formal end of one of the above options was reported about. However, meanwhile the Japanese connection with the procurement of up to 10 submarines seems the one to be favored most, with the submarines being built in Japan. This has to be seen in light of the new agreement of mutual security and defense cooperation signed between both countries a few months ago. Interesting enough that in contrast to earlier reports about the end of the French and German connection TKMS/ HDW has confirmed again being able to deliver 12 submarines for a total of 20 Bill. Austr. Dollar. News came out on 11 September 2014 that TKMS/ HDW has renewed an offer officially including a “Joint Venture” with the Australian submarine shipyard of ASC at Adelaide.
The 4,200 t “Sōryū”-Class submarines would meet rather perfectly the requirements of the Australian Navy for larger size AIP-submarines with greater range. Since 2005 the Japanese Navy is building a total of 10 units of this class, with 5 already commissioned (2009-2012), further 4 under construction and the 10th unit to be ordered soon. The submarines have a length of 84 m and a beam of 9,1 m, the displacement is at surface 2,900 t and submerged 4,200 t. The speed is at surface up to 13 kn and under water up to 20 kn. The range is said to be some 6.100 nmi at 6,5 kn. The AIP-system is a joint Kawasaki/ Kockums development. The armament is torpedoes, alternatively mines, plus “Sub-Harpoon” anti-ship-missiles, all to be launched from the 6 bow torpedo tubes. The crew comprises some 65 sailors.
- www.marineforum.de (link obsolete) (DailyNews of 11 September 2014)
New videos about the training on board submarines of the German Navy
On 15 September 2014 the German Navy released a new video in its internet domain showing some moments of examination of candidates during a “Commander´s final evaluation cruise”. Moreover, the German Navy has put some information spots in “Youtube” about typical jobs on board a U-boat.
Future of the British Submarine Base at Faslane in Scotland
On 18 September 2014 the referendum about a possible seperation of Scotland from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was carried out, showing a rather tight result with 55 % percent of the Scottish people having voted to stay in Britain. With that, some 5 Million Scots will continue to be part of the 63 Million citizens of the UK, as they have been for almost 300 years.
However, nothing is as before and certainly there will be some realignment of the relations between London and Edinburgh. During the pre-polling phase the central British government has indicated many concessions to a larger independence of Scotland within the union of the four regions of the United Kingdom. Some issues of Britain´s security and defense policy will be effected too, in particular with regard to the infrastructure established in Scotland for the basing of the Royal Navy´s SSBNs and SSGNs and the storing plus maintenance of their nuclear weapons. Repeatedly, the Scottish government has clearly expressed its demand for a “nuclear-free” Scotland in view of the basing of submarines and their weapons in Scotland. Consequently, it would mean an end to the submarine base at Faslane north of Glasgow and the stationing of the British SSBNs and SSGNs, including giving up the storage sites at nearby Coulport for the “Trident” SLBMs.
We should remember that the Scottish National Party/ SNP (has the governing majority in the Scottish Regional Parliament) has initiated a referendum on 10 January 2012 in compliance with its promise to do so in the previous election whose result was to be respected by the British government in London as agreed upon by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on 15 December 2012. Following that, many articles and speeches occurred that speculated about the future of the bases of the Royal Navy in Scotland if Scotland would become independent, especially in light of the infrastructure plans for these bases to accommodate the in-service and the new SSBNs and SSGNs of the Royal Navy and their weapon systems.
On 24 August 2014 British and Scottish papers published a lengthy article about the plans of the British Ministry of Defense for massive investments of 3 Bill. GBP (= 3.7 Bill. Euros) to modernize the Naval Base at Faslane until 2022. Remarkably, this was planned independently of the outcome of the Scottish referendum. From 2017 onwards, Faslane will be the only Naval Base for permanent stationing of the nuclear submarines of the Royal Navy anyway, when the Naval Base at Devonport near Plymouth will close down its facilities to support the remaining SSGNs of the “Trafalgar”-Class. The new capacities at Faslane are to support berthing and maintenance of up to 16 nuclear submarines. At the moment the 4 SSBNs of the “Vanguard”-Class and the first 2 of the 7 to come SSGNs of the “Astute”-Class are stationed at Faslane. The total number of military and civil employees at Faslane are said to increase to 8,200 from currently 6,700.
Answers must be found soon with regard to these infrastructural plans after the tight outcome of the referendum, as the Scottish Regional Government will act now with new self-confidence and certainly demand from the London based British government to honor its concessions for more Scottish self-determination it made before the referendum
- www.express.co.uk/news/uk/502693/Yes-or-No-3bn-boost-for-Faslane (The Scottish Express of 24 August 2014)
News about building programs, launchings and commissionings on other Navies
On 26 July 2014 the “Delta IV”-Class SSBN Jekaterinenburg (K-84), severely damaged by a fire in December 2011, was given back to water at the Svesdoshka shipyard following extensive repairs and overhaul. It is stated the SSBN to re-join the fleet not later than 2015. We have reported about the state of modernization of the “Delta IV” submarines in our “Flotsam” issue of May 2012.
- www.marineforum.de (link obsolete) (DailyNews of 26 July 2014)
Again, the further 4 test launches by the SSBNs Alexander Newski, Wladimir Monomarkh and Yuri Dolgorukiy of “Bulova” SLBMs scheduled for the Summer and Autumn of 2014 have been postponed. Tentatively, the Alexander Newski and the Wladimir Monomarkh are scheduled now for late September/ early October and the Yuri Dolgorukiy in November to carry out test firings. On 15 Sep 2014 the Russian Newsagency confirmed the test firings. According to that the Yuri Dolgorukiy will launch one “Bulova” in October 2014 and the Alexander Newski one “Bulova” in November 2014, the third and fourth test launch is to occur in 2015, involving the Wladimir Monomarkh.
- www.marineforum.de (link obsolete) (DailyNews of 18 August 2014)
- www.en.itar-tass.com/russia/749573 (link obsolete)
On 20 August 2014 transfer of two SSGNs of the “Akula I”-Class (the Bratsk and the Samara) of the Russian Pacific Fleet was started by means of a special CONDOCK-ship via the Arctic North East Route north off Siberia from the Petropavlosk Base at the Kamschatka-Peninsula to the Svesdoshka shipyard at Severodvinsk at the White Sea, to undergo their main overhaul. And, on 22 Aug 2014 the first diesel-electric submarine of the “Kilo III”-Class (Project 636.3), the Novorossiysk, was ceremonial commissioned.
- www.marineforum.de (link obsolete) (DailyNews of 22nd of August 2014)
Navy of Azerbeidjan
The oil-rich successor state to the former Soviet Republic of Azerbeidjan is running an amazingly high military budget which comprises currently 2.8 Bill. USD (= 2.3 Bill. Euros), i.e. representing some 5.2 % of the country´s GNP. The state (some 10 Mill. Inhabitants) fields Armed Forces of 150,000 soldiers, part of it a small Navy of about 2,000 sailors, operating 1 corvette, 7 patrol craft, 7 MCM vessels and 6 landing craft. During the recent years a comprehensive modernization program for the Armed Forces as been started.
It became known in early August 2014 that the Navy of Azerbeidjan obviously has reactivated two midget submarines of the “Triton II”-Class it has taken over in 1991 from the Soviet Navy but never really put in operation. Now, these midget submarines have been shipped to the “Adria Mar Shipbuilding” shipyard in Croatia, which is specialized in constructing and maintaining midget submarines and underwater transport vehicles for seals (“Swimmer Delivery Vehicle”/ SDV). The “Triton II”-Class mini subs were designed as “Project 908” between 1975 and 1985 at the Admiralty shipyard at the then Leningrad. 13 units were constructed in the end as a successor to the 32 units of the “Triton I”-Class (Project 907). Both types of submarines are able for covert reconnaissance and minelaying, however main task is to support the engagement of seals, “Triton II” can carry up to 6 men of these special underwater commandos. The about 10 m long midget submarines are no real submarines with a waterproof inner hull and breathing air supply to accommodate personnel. Rather, they simply carry seals which have to use their underwater breathing equipment when on board. Also, the “Triton II” does not carry any torpedos. There are no statements yet as to the purpose and future tasks of these midget submarines for the Navy of Azerbeidjan in the Caspian Sea.
- www.marineforum.de (link obsolete) (Wochenschau of 10 August 2014) –
Navy of Vietnam
In December 2009 Vietnam and Russia signed a contract worth a minimum of 2 Bill. USD (= 1,5 Bill. Euros) for the procurement of 6 “Kilo I”-Class submarines (Project 636 KMV) for the Navy of Vietnam, construction to be at the Admiralty shipyard at St. Petersburg. The program proceeds rather scheduled: In 2012 the first two units were launched, and on 05 November 2013 the first submarine was delivered ceremonial to the Navy of Vietnam at St. Petersburg carrying the name of Ha Noi. Currently, the first two submarines of the running building order have been commissioned officially, i.e. on 15 Jan 2014 the Ha Noi/ HQ-182 and on 04 April 2014 the Ho Chi Minh City/ HQ-183.
On 07 September 2014 media reported about the successful sea trials and training in the China Sea by the first two Vietnamese “Kilo”-Class submarines to gain full operational readiness. Submarine No. 3 (Hai Phong/ HQ-184) and No.4 (Da Nang/ HQ-185) have started their initial sea trials in the Baltic Sea following their launch some months ago (Hai Phong in Aug 2013 and Da Nang in Mar 2014). It is reported that 3 crews are undergoing training in Russia at the moment. Interestingly enough, there is Vietnamese submarine personal training in India on board the Indian “Kilo”-Class submarine INS Satavaha as well. Furthermore, also submarine No. 5, the Khanh Hoah/ HQ-186, is under construction, and building order for submarine No.6, the Ba Ria-Vung Tan/ HQ-187, is expected soon. Also, Russian submarine specialists are said to support logistic and maintenance requirements at the Vietnamese Naval Base at Cam Ranh (was a major US-Base during the Vietnam war). All 6 submarines under order are to be delivered by 2016. Vietnam will then have created a credible underwater capability in the Chinese Sea, which might put a new quality into the differences existing between China and Vietnam.