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Free Viewing of U-Boat Documentaries from World War I

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I the German Film Museum (DFI) at Frankfurt/ Main, having archived already tens of thousands of photographs, documentaries and movies, is offering free viewing of original film material shot in World War I under its homepage (German and English version). By selecting the category “View List of WW I Films” one can find the sub-categories of “Naval Operations” (226 items) and “Submarine Warfare” (55 items). With that, a collection of digitalized film material from 20 archives worldwide not matched so far has been put together and offered to free viewing. The project is being supported by the EU Commission.


Bangladesh Navy to receive submarines

After years of announcements and following serious negotiations since January 2013 the procurement of two submarines for the Navy of Bangladesh has been officially confirmed on 19 Dec 2013.

According to that two diesel-electric submarines of the Type 035G (“Ming”-Class) will be purchased from China for a total of 203.3 Mill. USD, delivery is said to be by 2019. China has built more than 20 submarines of this class on the basis of the Soviet “Romeo”-Class (Project 633), the last 6 units of the type 035G between 1997 and 2001. China will also train some skeleton crew, a figure of 17 submariners has been indicated. Remarkably, China has stopped the construction of “Ming”-Class submarines some years ago in favor of the new conventional submarines of the “Yuan”-Class (Type 041). Also, the number of combat ready “Ming”-Class submarines in China has decreased to currently 14. The contract with Bangladesh would mean China to resume production of “Ming”-Class submarines after years of stoppage.

The “Ming”-Class submarines have a length of 76 m and a beam of 7.60 meters, their underwater displacement is around 2,100 t. Speed submerged is said to be 13 kn and the maximum safe diving depth is 300 m. The main armament is composed of torpedoes, which may be launched from 6 bow and 2 rear torpedo tubes 53.3 cm. The crew is composed of 56 men.

The poverty-stricken Bangladesh (per capita GNP is a mere 840 USD, Germany enjoys a per capita GNP of 44,000 USD) with an amazing 154 Mill. inhabitants maintains Armed Forces of about 400,000 active personnel, which includes a Navy of about 24,000 personnel. The Bangladesh Navy currently operates 6 frigates, 4 corvettes, 11 patrol craft, 17 fast patrol boats, 5 MCM Units and 11 amphibious craft. Since 2011 a small Fleet Air Arm is in build up, so far 5 helicopter and 2 light (Do 228) reconnaissance aircraft in service. The addition of submarines means Bangladesh finally receiving a maritime three-dimensional capability which has been advocated again and again in the last years.


Another incident involving an Indian “Kilo”-Class submarine

In out “Flotsam” issue of Oct 2013 we have reported about the explosion and the blaze on board the Indian “Kilo”-Klasse submarine Sindhirakshak on 14 August 2013 in the Naval Base at Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay).

Now, media report another incident on 17 January 2014, when the “Kilo”-Class submarine INS “Sindhugosh” ran aground while entering the Naval Base at Mumbai. The Sindhugosh was built between 1983 and 1985 in the then Soviet Union, and was commissioned on 30 April 1986 by the Indian Navy, being the First of Class of a total of 10 submarines of the “Kilo I”-Class (Soviet project 877 EKM) for the Navy of India. The arrival of the submarine was delayed well beyond the high tide at noon (12.54 hrs), causing the submarine to get stuck in the seabed when it came in by 17.30 hrs during falling tide. It got afloat again by tug assistance only. Allegedly, no damage was experienced. Between 2002 and 2005 the Sindhugosh has seen a major mid-life maintenance and modernization program at the Svesdoshka shipyard at Severodvinsk in Russian Siberia, being one of meanwhile 7 units of the Indian “Kilo”-Class submarine fleet (Indian designation = “Sindhugosh”-Class) having done so. On 10 January 2008 this submarine already caused a severe incident when is collided with the British 40,000 GRT cargo ship Leeds Castle in the northern Arabian Sea, receiving some damage at the conning tower and forcing the submarine to months long repairs in the dockyard.

Die INS Sindhughosh (S55)
The INS Sindhughosh (S55)

At the end of December 2013 the Indian Navy gave notice that the last 2 submarines of the remaining 9 units (apparently, the explosion and blaze of the Sindhurakshak means a write off of this boat) of the “Kilo”-Class will also see a mid-life maintenance and modernization in Russia. Parallel to that it was announced that 2 of the 4 submarines of the “Shishumar”-Class will be modernized at the Indian Naval shipyard at Mazagon. These submarines of the German export submarine class 209 were added to the inventory of the Indian Navy between 1986 and 1994, with 2 units being built at HDW at Kiel, Germany and 2 at Mazagon in India. Now, the two units being built at Mazagon, the INS Shalki and the INS Shankul shall be modernized with support of TKMS/ HDW, inter alia integrating launch capabilities to fire anti-ship-missiles.


New Iranian submarine presented

In early February 2014 the international media presented first time pictures from the “Roll-Out”, i.e. leaving the dry construction dock loaded on a special heavy load vehicle, and the watering of a new type of submarine for the Navy of the Iran. With that, earlier reports in the Summer 2013 became true, according to that the Iran has started production of larger submarines than the smaller and midget submarines of the “Yoho”, “Nahnag” and lately “Ghadir”-Class. We have reported about the “Ghadir” in our “Flotsam” of April 2012.

The new diesel-electric type resembles in some way the German 206-Class and carries the name of “Fateh”. Its length is reported to be about 48 m and it has a displacement of 527 t at the surface and 593 t submerged. Maximum speed is at the surface 11 kn and submerged 14 kn, the maximum range is 6,700 nmi at 8 kn. The safe operational diving depth is said to be around 250 m and the sea endurance is 35 days. The main armament is composed of up to 12 torpedoes and alternatively 24 mines, all to be launched from 4 bow torpedo tubes 53.3 cm.

The new submarines are built at two shipyards. The first submarine was delivered in February 2014 at the Bostanu-Shpyard at the Strait of Hormuz at the Persian Gulf, whereas the second one is under construction interestingly enough at the shipyard at the Naval Base Bandar Anzali at the Caspian Sea. These subs may represent the succession to the three “Kilo”-Class (Russian project 877 EKM) submarines procured between 1992 and 1997 from Russia, carrying the names Tareq, Nooh and Yunes. There are further reports that the Iran may work on the development of an even larger submarine of up to 1,200 t displacement.


Another advertising gag using a mock submarine

In our “ Flotsam” issue of Nov 2013 we reported about a successful advertising gag by an Italian insurance company, which by means of a realistic dummy simulated a surfacing of a submarine at a busy street in Milan´s inner city. p335_1_00

Now, the public was stunned by another show between 08 and 23 February 2014 at St. Moritz in Switzerland, where a mock-up of a submarine (length = 40 m, beam = 4 m, height = 9 m) seem to have surfaced at the Lake St. Moritz, some 1,768 m above sea level. This show was prepared by the Swiss artist and engineer Andreas Reinhard and was organized by the luxurious Kulm-Hotel and the tourist office of St. Moritz on the occasion of the famous “White Turf” horse race on the frozen Lake St. Moritz. The mock-up submarine made up from ship´s plywood, polystyrene and sheet metal looked amazingly real. It was used mainly as scenery for a Sushi and Champagne Bar, with the guests invited to sit on segments of mock-up torpedoes.

A submarine for very special desires

For a long time already, the British Travel Agent offering luxurious journeys, the London based company of “Oliver´s Travel” founded by Oliver Bell, offers very special tours to all parts of the world for people without money problems, among other offers the flight for the friends of the “Mile High Club”, i.e. honeymoon or love devoted tours on board a chartered aircraft with special interiors design for its passengers. Now, the company is offering something new, but focused on a similar purpose. First time on the occasion of St. Valentine´s Day 2014 “Oliver´s Travel” offers an unforgettable cruise-night 200 m under the sea in a special submarine, costing a mere 175,000 Brit. Pounds (= approx. 210,000 Euros) to interested couples. The submarine named “Lovers Deep” is operated by a discrete crew composed of just the captain, a chef and a butler and may be deployed worldwide. Currently it is stationed in the Caribbean, where there are many others of such midget submarines for touristic purposes (e.g. the companies of “Atlantis Submarines” or “Cabo Submarines”).

The price includes overnight accommodation, dinner (inter alia: Champagne and Oysters) and breakfast, getting to and from the submarine is extra, unfortunately. Those who did such excursion involving some physical exercise may call themselves being member of the new exclusive “Mile Low Club”. The media went berserk about this piece of news from the world of the Rich and Famous in early February 2014, jumping on the story with all sorts of additional commentary.

The business of underwater excursions for tourists on board specially designed submarines seems to enjoy healthy growth. A research done by the US American author Bruce Jones of “US Submarines Inc.” listed in 2008 already some 56 submarines of such kind in various parts of the world, including great lakes inland, shipping tourists in their thousands. These figures will have grown further until today (meanwhile figures of 75 submarines are mentioned), making the fleet of touristic submarines nowadays the largest submarine fleet in the world.