Further Development with regard to the procurement program for new Australian submarines
On 22 April 2015 Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, appointed only recently in December 2014, visited his counterpart Minister Ursula von der Leyen in Berlin. Part of his visit to Germany was a trip to Kiel at the German Baltic coast next day to receive a presentation of the shipyard of TKMS/ HDW accompanied by the Commander German Navy, Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, to particulary get to know the products of the shipyard for submarines with air independent propulsion systems, inter alia the new export version of TKMS, the Type 216.
Travelling through Europe Minister Andrews visited DCNS at France on 24 April 2015 as well. By a notice to the press the Australian Ministry of Defence stated that Australia has invited officially on 20 February 2015 the submarine shipyards in Japan, France and Germany to forward their offers for new submarines for the Australian Navy. Interestingly enough, the notice the press estimated the costs for the submarine procurement program to be up to 50 Bill. Austr. Dollar (= 36 Bill. Euros).
On 07 May 2015 news came out in Australia according to that Japan has indicated to Australia in the context of the bidding process between Japan, France and Germany for the replacement of the “Collins”-Class submarines to give the country access to the classified performance data of its “Sōryū”-Class submarines. Meanwhile the National Security Council of the Japanese Government as approved of the measure in order to support the chances for the Japanese submarine industry. As well, a visit of Defence Minister Andrews to Japan has been annouced to occur soon. It is important to keep in mind that the US would support any Japanese bid as US American Defence Industry would profit considerably since many components in Japanese submarines are US technology.
A major role in the decision making process in Australia is represented by the influence of the economy and industry of South Australia, where the potential submarine shipyard is located at Adelaide. A massive lobbying can be observed, with South Australia trying to secure a greatest possible chunk of the building order in cooperation with an oversears winner of the bidding. That means, any bidder might make it in the end who grants South Australian industry cooperation. Not unexpectedly many contacts have been established meanwhile between South Australia´s industry and the submarine designers in France and Germany, and the Minister of Trade and Defence Industry, Martin Hamilton-Smith, has visited the submarine builders at DCNS and TKMS im mid-May 2015.
On 27 May 2015 the Australian News Channel “9News” reported again about the state of the possible cooperation between der Australian submarine builders of ASC at Adelaide and the remaining bidders for new Australian submarines in Europe and Japan. According to that, there have been no targeted negotiations started yet between the three bidders and ASC apart from sounding out talks, although the tender to bid clearly requires to outline possible means of cooperation with ASC. TKMS/ HDW has only confirmed it would seek cooperation with ASC up to even buying in to the shipyard in case they would win the bidding process. Meanwhile, representatives from the Japanese submarine producers Kawasaki and Mitsubishi have visited ASC at Adelaide on 26 May 2015 and also the facilities of ASC at Perth on 28 May 2015. At the same time the opposition in Australia´s Parliament is accusing Prime MinisterTony Abbot (has clearly shown his preference for a Japanese solution) to have started a “softening-up process” to disguise a deal already agreed upon secretly to award Japan with the submarine contract.
- www.marine.de (of 22nd of April 2015)
- www.afr.com/news/politics/japan-to-hand-over-secret-submarine-data-to-australia-20150507-ggwarj (Australian Financial Review of 07 May 2015)
- www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/japan-set-to-clear-the-way-for-australian-submarine-bid-20150507-ggwd9r.html (Sydney Morning Herald of 07 May 2015)
- www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/19/japan-security-council-approves-bid-to-build-australian-submarines (19 May .2015)
- www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/kevin-andrews-to-lock-in-japanese-subs-bid-during-visit/story-e6frg8yo-1227360727577 (20 May 2015)
- www.9news.com.au/national/2015/05/27/13/18/labor-alleges-unfair-submarine-tender (link obsolete) (27 May 2015)
Mysterious underwater launch of missile by North Korea
On 09 May 2015 another piece of news from the Reich of strange reports and messages caused a great echo in international media. According to those the state run North Korean News Agency showed a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apparently on board a surfaced submarine observing the launch of a missile fired from an underwater platform. The test is to have occured on 08 May 2015 close to the North Korean Naval Base and Naval shipyard of Sinpo South. If true, it would mean North Korea to have gained capabilities to launch submarine based missiles. The media reports quoted Kim Jon Un to have classified this test as a proof of North Korea to posess “world-strategic weapons”. The test constitutes another clear violation of an existing UN resolution against North Korea.
In the past North Korea has tested long range missiles as well as numerous types of short range missiles, also it has tested nuclear war heads already. For quite a while assumptions exist that North Korea is working on a SLBM, especially after the country has taken over at least one ex-Soviet “Golf”-Class SSG including its missiles, however, no reliable reports about the combat readiness of this submarine exist. The Navy of North Korea operates some 70 submarines, the vast majority of those midget submarines only, with about 20 SSKs of the ex-Soviet “Romeo”-Class still in service. On the other hand, there are some reports that believe North Korea to have constructed a new submarine on the basis of the “Golf”-Class submarine, the name of “Sinpo”-Class has been given to the new submarine already. Such submarine would well be ready to launch missiles.
The news of 09 May 2015 were classified by experts shortly afterwards as another attempt by North Korea to deceive the public, since the country is far from having an own SLBM development ready for test firings. Rather, it is estimated that the launch reported could have been a first test for an compression gas supported underwater launch system, which is just a first step in the development of a submarine based missile system. Meanwhile a growing number of voices clearly analyse the picture shown by North Korea´s News Agency with Kim Jong Un observing a missile coming out from underwater to be a fake and manipulated.
Lately, we have reported about the submarines of North Korea in our “Flotsam”-issue of December 2014.
- www.marineforum.info/Wochenschau/wochenschau.html (link obsolete) (Wochenschau of 17 May 2015)
News about building programs, launchings, de-commissionings and commissionings in other Navies
Recently we reported about the state of continued construction of the conventional submarines of the “Lada”-Class (Project 677) at the Admiralty shipyard at St. Petersburg (see our “Flotsam” issue of April 2015). It has been confirmed repeatedly that these submarines are to be the first Russian type to receive air independent propulsion (AIP). The First-of-Class, the St. Petersburg commissioned on 08 May 2010, is said to undergo extensive trial since including testing such AIP-system developed in Russia. It appears that the system is not fully operational yet, which means that the second SSK of the class, the Kronstadt, being under construction with interruptions since 2005, might receive a purely diesel-electric propulsion system only for the time being. Its delivery is scheduled for 2017. Only unit No. 3 in the series, the Sevastopol (since 19 March 2015 renamed Velikiye Luki), whose construction was started in 2006, seem to receive a ready developed AIP-system as first Russian AIP-submarine, its commissioning is planned for 2018. Although, given statements from Russia with regard to the state of its AIP-development should be taken with some caution only.
- www.marineforum.info (link obsolete) (Magazine “Marineforum” of May 2015)
News came out at the end of April 2015 according to those Vietnam is to receive a modified version of the 3M54″ “Klub-S” missile (NATO designation: SS-N-27 Sizzler) as part of the current procurement program of “Kilo”-Class submarines build in Russia, which is said to have a land-attack capability.
As reported widespreadly, Vietnam placed an order for 6 submarines of the “Kilo II”-Class in Russia in 2009 with a cost-volume of about 2.6 Bill. USD (= 2.2 Bill. Euros), to be delivered by 2016. Many stories have been published since about their armament. Now, the lastest news indicate that Vietnam will receive a missile system making it the first state at the South China Sea to launch submarine based missiles against targets ashore, employing “Klub-S” missiles that may have a range extended from former 220 km to at least 300 km.
On 13 March 2015 more news were published about the ongoing procurement program, with meanwhile unit No. 4 built in St. Petersburg, the Khanh Hoa being loaded on board the 12,000 t Dutch special condock ship Rolldock Storm (was delivered only in 2014 by the German shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbaugesellschaft/ FSG), to be shipped to Vietnam. Lately we have reported about the “Kilo”-Class submarines for Vietnam in our “Flotsam” issue of March 2015.
- www.uk.reuters.com/article/2015/04/30/uk-vietnam-military-idUKKBN0NL0B220150430 (link obsolete) (30 April 2015)
- http://www.marineforum.info/Daily_News/daily_news.html (link obsolete) (DailyNews of 13 May 2015)
On 24 May 2015 US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus annouced the next SSGN in the running building series of new submarines of the “Virginia”-Class will be named after the Federal State of New Jersey. With that, the US Navy will honour the state that has been the birth place of US submarines with the USS Holland (length = 16 m, beam = 3 m, displacement submerged 75 t, 1 bow torpedo tube 45.7 cm and 1 deck gun 8.4 cm, crew of 6) being the first submarine of the US Navy, being designed by John Philip Holland, keel-laid in November 1886 and commissioned on 12 October 1900.
The SSGNs of this batch of new “Virginia”-Class submarines have a length of 114 m, a beam of 10 m and a diplacement of 7,800 t submerged, the crew is composed of 15 officers and 117 enlisted. The armament is Mk 48 torpedoes to be fired from 4 bow torpedotubes plus “Tomahawk” cruise missiles to be launched from 12 vertical launch systems.
With that, 11 SSGN of this class have been commissioned yet (last unit was the USS North Dakota/ SSN-784 on 25 October 2014, being at the same time unit No .1 of batch III of the current procurement program with a total of 8 unit planned, i.e. from USS North Dakota/ SSN-784 to USS Delaware/ SSN-791), and further 5 units are under construction (lately the USS Indiana/ SSN-789 was keel-laid on 16 May 2015). Now, step by step, the further submarines of this class are given names, we have reported about it in our “Flotsam” issues of February, March and April 2015. Meanwhile, four names have been announced for units of the 10 SSGNs planned (SSN-792 to SSN-801) in batch IV of the program, i.e. SSN-792 as USS Vermont, SSN-793 as USS Oregon, SSN-794 still no name given, SSN-795 as USS Hyman G. Rickover and now SSN-796 as USS New Jersey.