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ThyssenKrupp shipyard Kockums sold to SAAB

In our “Flotsam” issue of May 2014 we reported about the dispute between the Swedish government and the Swedish arms produces SAAB on the one side and the German shipbuilding company of ThyssenKrupp and its submarine shipyards HDW at Kiel and Kockums in Sweden on the other side.

On 30 June 2014 it became public that the dispute had been solved by a solution that will change the landscape of submarine construction in Europe. According to that ThyssenKrupp has sold its majority share holding of the Swedish submarine shipyard Kockums AB with its three facilities at Karlskrona, Malmö (site of submarine construction) and Muskö entirely to SAAB. With that, SAAB will become the only submarine producer in Sweden and will operate a new submarine shipyard from Sweden in the market for submarines with air independent propulsion systems.

Kockums reports the employment of some 900 workers and a turnover of 1.7 Bill. Swedish Kronor (SKr) with net gains of some 34 Mill. SKr in 2012/ 2013. The price paid by SAAB to ThyssenKrupp are said to be in the region of 340 Mill. SKr (37,3 Mill. Euros), which makes just 28 % of the sale price of 1.3 to 1.4 Bill SKr (= 130 – 135 Mill. Euros) believed to be reachable initially.


Algeria orders two more submarines in Russia

On 26 June 2014 media reported about the signing of a contract by Algeria and the Russian submarine Admiralty shipyard at St- Petersburg that was expected for a long time already, to build 2 more submarines of the “Kilo”-Class in Russia, most probably the older export version of the “Kilo II”-Claas (Project 636). The delivery is scheduled for 2018.

For more than 25 years the 6.000 men strong Navy of Algeria maintains a submarine force. In 1987 two SSK of the export type “Project 877 EKM” of the “Kilo”-Class were commissioned built at the Admiralty shipyard at the then Leningrad, i.e. the submarines El Hadj Slimane (012) and Rais Hadi Mubarek (013). In 2010 two more SSKs were commissioned, i.e. submarines Messali el Hadj (021) and Akram Pacha (022) of the “Kilo II”-Class (Project 636 M).

The recent procurement of two more submarines demonstrate the ongoing modernization of the Algerian Navy, among other projects also 2 MEKO frigates from Germany and the takeover of one LPD from Italy, to somewhat change the inventory of the Navy from almost entirely ex-Soviet/ Russian warship productions.



News about building programs, launchings and commissionings in other Navies

British Royal Navy

On 19 June 2014 Royal Navy SSN HMS Tireless (S-88) was de-commissioned at HM Naval Base at Devonport/ Plymouth. When being commissioned on 05 Oct 1985 the Tireless was the third of a total of 7 SSNs of the “Trafalgar”-Class for the Royal Navy. She has seen many deployments, lately in April 2014 as part of the search forces for the mysteriously vanished Malaysian passenger aircraft MH 370 in the Indian Ocean. Repeatedly, the SSN made headlines after technical troubles with its nuclear power system, when it was forced to do emergency port calls at Gibraltar in May 2000 and in 2004, also when an explosion on board on 21 Mar 2007 caused the death of two sailors.

HMS Tireless
HMS Tireless at sea (Ministry of Defence, OGL 2)

Beginning in 1999 the SSNs of the “Trafalgar”-Class were upgraded to receive anti-ship-missiles “Harpoon” and cruise missiles “Tomahawk”. Gradually they will be retired depending on the commissioning of the SSGNs of the “Astute”-Class. HMS Trafalgar (S-107) was de-commissioned on 04 December 2009, followed by HMS Turbulent (S-87) on 14 Jul 2012, and now HMS Tireless. In 2015

HMS Torbay (S-90), in 2017 HMS Trenchant (S-91), in 2019 HMS Talent (S-92), and in 2022 HMS Triumph (S-93) is scheduled for retirement.


Russian Navy

After several tentative announcements the First-of-Class SSGN of the “Yasen”-Class (Project 855, after Kazan renamed Project 855M, NATO-Designation “Graney”-Class) the Severodvinsk (K-560) has been commissioned ceremonial on 17 June 2014 at Sevmash shipyard at Severodvinsk, Siberia, to be assigned to Russia´s Northern Fleet by the end of this year. As we know, three more SSGNs of this class are currently under construction, i.e. the Kazan (K-561) as of 24 Jul 2009, the Novosibirsk (K-573) as of 26 Jul 2013, and the Krasnojarsk as of 19 June 2014. In 2015 building orders for three more SSGNs of this class are expected. The Kazan is scheduled for commissioning in 2015. The “Yasen”-Class has seen more than 30 years of development, the Severodvinsk was keel-laid on 21 December 1993.

On 19 June 2014 two more nuclear powered submarine were keel-laid at Sevmash shipyard: The Knyaz Oleg is meanwhile SSBN No. 5 of the “Borej”-Class (Project 955, renamed Project 955A after the Knyaz Vladimir) after the Yuri Dolguruki (K-535) and the Alexander Newski (K-550) have been commissioned already and the Vladimir Monomakh (K-551) has commenced her sea and weapon trials in early 2103, while the construction of the Knyaz Vladimir has begun on 30 July 2012. We have reported about these new SSBN in our “Flotsam” issue of February 2014.

On 19 June 2014 news came out about the keel-laying of another submarine, presumably another SSGN of the “Yasen”-Class, its name is said to be Khabarovsk.

The Russian Navy still confirms the launch of the third unit in the series of new “Kilo III”-Class SSKs (Project 636.3 “Varshavyanka”) at the Admiralty shipyard at St. Petersburg, whose name will be Stary Oskol. With that, three units will have seen their launch after the Novorossiysk (keel-laid on 20 Aug 2010, launched on 28 November 2013) and the Rostov-na-Donu (keel-laid on 21 November 2011, launched on 26 June 2014). Unit No. 4 of this class, the Krasnodar, has been keel-laid on 20 February 2014. Unit No. 5 is said to receive the name of Kolpino, We have reported about the SSKs of the “Kilo III”- Class in our “Flotsam” issues of February and July 2014.


Israeli Navy

On 30 June 2014 the media report widely about the delivery of the fourth submarine of the “Dolphin”- Class from the Thyssen-Krupp MarineSystems (TKMS) shipyard HDW at Kiel to the Navy of Israel. The INS Tanin being commissioned now is the first of three submarines with air-independent-propulsion (AIP) of the second batch of the procurement order of 6 new submarines for the Navy of Israel. The three units of batch one still operate without AIP systems, the INS Dolphin, INS Leviathan and the INS Tekuma have been commissioned between 1995 and 2000.

Die INS Tanin 2014 in Haifa (Bild: Ilan Rom, CC BY-SA 4.0)
INS Tanin 2014 at Haifa (Picture: Ilan Rom, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Submarine No 5, the INS Rahav has been launched on 29 April 2014 and is executing meanwhile her sea trials. Her commissioning is scheduled for 2015, while submarine No. 6 has been ordered in 2012, but no name has been notified yet.

It is well know that Germany, due to the special relationship to Israel, has subsidized considerably the construction of the submarines for Israel: The first two submarines were subsidized at 100 % (system cost per submarine = 225 Mill. Euros), the third submarine was subsidized at 50 % of the costs. The construction of submarines No. 4 and No. 5 was subsidized up to a third of the cost per boat (= totaling 333 Mill. Euros), while submarine No. 6 will receive subsidies of a total of 135 Mill. Euros. The total procurement of the 6 submarines is said to be in the region of 2.3 Bill. Euros, with Germany giving some 900 Mill. Euros in subsidies.

Repeatedly, we have reported about the construction of the submarines for the Navy of Israel, recently in our “Flotsam” issues of April 2013 and June 2013.


Indian Navy

There were two pieces of news at the end of March 2014 about the current development programs for new submarines for the Navy of India.

First piece of news gave notice of a successful test-launch on 24 March 2014 of a new SLBM developed by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization/ DRDO from an underwater platform at 30 m in the Gulf of Bengal. The missile of the Type “K-4” reached some 3,000 km and its maximum range is said to be at 3,500 km. The test launch was scheduled for September 2013 but delayed due to technical problems. The “K-4” has a weight of about 17 t and a length of 12 m, it will be able to carry even nuclear warheads. It is planned with 4 missiles per submarine to be the standard SLBM on board the new Indian 4-5 SSBNs of the “Arihant”-Class (The 6,000 t Arihant was launched on 25 Jul 2009 and has commenced its sea- and weapon trial in the Spring of this year). The “K-4” is scheduled to be installed on board the “Arihant”-Class SSBNs in 2017 and thereafter.

The second piece of news demonstrated another time the capabilities of the DRDO. The organization gave notice of successful tests of an Indian-developed system for air-independent-propulsion (AIP) on board Indian SSKs. The test carried out at a shore-based test installation. Now, the AIP-system will be miniaturized down to a maximum weight of 300 to to allowing mounting onboard Indian SSKs. According to current plans the new Indian AIP system will be installed at unit No. 6 of the series of 6 “Scorpene”-Class SSK built currently under French license in India. The first 5 units of the “Scorpene” procurement program (Indian Navy Project “75”) will still receive the DCNS designed MESMA propulsion system. Any future Indian SSK will only get the new Indian developed AIP-system.


Severe diving accident at the wreckage of U 260

Early in July 2014 a severe diving accident occurred at the wreckage of U-boat U 260 off the Southern coast of Ireland about 7 km off the little harbor of Castlehaven. During their second dive at the forenoon of 02 July 2014 down to the wreckage at 45 m depth the older of the two experienced but rather advanced in years British divers Jonathan Scott (62) and Steven Clark (66) came to the surface and was detected floating there at about 09.40 hrs. Despite an immediate large scale rescue operation Steven Clark was declared dead in Cork hospital where he has been airlifted to by helicopter. His younger partner Jonathan Scott was found only in the afternoon of that day lifeless at 43 m depth about 300 m apart.

The accident demonstrated again the dangers of dives down wrecks at greater depths in waters with difficult conditions with regard to currents, as is the case off the Southern coast of Ireland, where there are many wrecks identified or believed to be laying. On 12 March 1945 U 260 hit a mine placed by the Royal Navy at about 80 m depth, with the crew eventually self-scuttling the damaged U-boat only a few kilometers off the Irish South coast near Glendore. The entire crew managed to get ashore by own life saving equipment, to be interned in Ireland thereafter.

In 1975 the wreckage of U 260, soon named “The Glendore Sub”, was discovered at position 51°29´North and 009°06`West and has become since an attractive object for underwater expeditions and dives due to its well preserved condition.