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After all, the Spanish Navy to receive four new AIP submarines

The building order for 4 new submarines of the “S-80”-Class for the Spanish Navy had been placed in 2004, and construction of the First of Class began in 2005. Until the end of 2011, three of the new submarines were under construction at the Navantia shipyard (since 2005 successor of the previous Bazan and IZAR shipbuilding companies) at Cartagena at the Mediterranean Sea. According to latest media reports construction of all 4 submarines seems to be secured now, despite some delays experienced from technical problems (new propulsion system) and the financial crisis in Spain. Officially, the commissioning of the first submarine of the “S-80”-class is still scheduled for October 2013, which, however, might slip rather to 2015, pushing the entire procurement program at least 2 years behind initial dates announced. Still at the beginning of 2010 the planned data of delivery were stated as: 1st quarter of 2013 for S-81, 4th quarter of 2014 for S-82, 2nd quarter of 2015 for S-83 and 1st quarter of 2016 for S-84.

The names of the 4 new submarines have been announced to be Isaac Peral (S-81), Narcis Monturiol (S-82), Cosma Garcia (S-83) and Mateo Garcia de Los Reyes (S-84). Most likely, the new class of submarines will take on the name “Isaac Peral” – Class.

The submarines will have a displacement of about 2,200 t at the surface and 2,400 t submerged, their length is 71 m and their beam 7.3 m. They will be the first Spanish submarines with an air independent propulsion (AIP) system, allowing speeds up to 12 kn at the surface and up to 20 kn submerged. There will be 6 bow torpedo tubes. The crew is said to be 32 plus additional accommodation space for up to 8 special forces for covert operations.

The new submarines are to replace the 4 Diesel-electric boats of the “Galerna”-Class (Galerna/ S-71, Siroco/ S-72, Mistral/ S-73 and Tramontana/ S-74) currently operated by the Spanish Navy. These submarines of the French “Agosta”-Class built in Spain under license were commissioned between 1983 and 1985 and received mid-life modernization between 1993 and 2000.

Until a few years ago, the Spanish Navy still operated 8 submarines, besides the “Galerna”-Class additional 4 submarines of the “Delfin”-Class, which were French “Daphne”-Class boats built under license in Spain. The last of these 4 submarines was de-commissioned in 2006. Structural adaptations necessary to meet the conditions of the current years the size of the Spanish submarine force has been set to comprise just 4 units, which can be maintained by the introduction of the new class of submarines. Although conceptually still a number of 6 boats is mentioned, this size is most likely out of any reach for the time being.


Royal Navy Submariner charged with violations of “Official Secret Act”

On 09 March 2012 British Media reported of the begin of judicial court proceedings against the 29 years old Royal Navy Petty Officer (Electronics) Edward Devenney on account of breaches of the duties to maintain confidentiality about service events and of allegedly seeking cooperation with a foreign embassy at London.

Devenney has been official charged by the Westminister Magistrate Court at London and he will remain in custody until the beginning of the trial in June of this year. Devenney was rated as having achieved a very good service record yet, and his next appointment was scheduled to be on board the British SSBN HMS Vigilant. Also, he was given financial allowances for a training scheme to become a certified electronic specialist. Moreover, he was selected to receive officers training, which, however, had to be cancelled due to the recent massive cuts in the Royal Navy´s overall manpower.

He raised the attention of the authorities because of his intensive use of social networks, where he told over and over again rather detailed about current affairs in his service life. On Twitter he wrote about his experiences on board of a nuclear submarine and gave assessments about their employments. About 5,400 contributions by him to Twitter were counted, on average up to 40 a day, and he has meanwhile 184 readers, which follow his reports.

Among other things, he submitted in January 2012 that he had no personal problems with attacks on Iran, since he would be serving on board a submarine anyway which would launch missiles against the Iran. In February 2012 he reported about the status of repairs of the electronic warfare system and the periscope of his submarine. In the same month, when the dispute about the Falkland Islands between Argentina and Britain flare up again, he spread information about the alleged intent of the Royal Navy to detach one of its nuclear submarines to the area – and he judged it as “absolute bullshit”. Again in February 2012, he reported about Prime Minister Cameron´s visit of HMS Vigilant, and that he regretted to have missed an opportunity to tell the Prime Minister his opinion.

The illegal cooperation with a foreign embassy he is accused of is to be an alleged offer by Devenney to deliver information about the systems for electronic warfare and the periscopes being fitted in British nuclear submarines. This attempted cooperation was discovered through a covert operation by the British military antiespionage agency, which disguised as alleged representatives of an embassy while meeting Devenney to receive the offer.

Edward Devenney, who stems from Northern Ireland, could face up to 14 years in prison when be sentenced in compliance with the “Official Secret´s Act” of 1911. His defence claims his innocence stating that the information spread by Devenney were no secret as anybody could compile those simply doing a bit of open research. Also, the information intended for the foreign embassy was absolute useless.

This case highlights the problematic nature of member of the Armed Forces being engaged in social networks, where usually very personal experiences and opinions spread rather unfiltered seems being almost a trade mark – with the aspect of keeping an appropriate confidentiality about service issues facing a new challenge.


Last Delta IV submarine back in Northern Fleet after extended maintenance and modernization

At the end of March 2012 the extended maintenance and modernization period of the Russian SSBN Verkhoturye (K-51) has been completed, and the submarine is scheduled to be back in service in November 2012. This mid-life conversion will keep the submarine in service another 15 years. Through that, the re-arming of Delta IV submarines with the new SLBM “Sineva” (NATO designation SS-N-23 “Skiff”) has been completed. In our “flotsam” 02-2012, we have reported about this missile, which well could also be the improved version “Lijner” (see “flotsam 11-2011), as data about it vary between sources.

The strategic submarine Verkhoturye was the First of Class of new Delta IV SSBNs. Construction of it started in 1981 at the shipyard 402 (= Sevmash) at Severodvinsk at the White Sea, to eventually being commissioned on 28 December 1984. The nuclear propelled Verkhoturye has a length of about 165 m and a width of 12 m, its displacement is about 14,000 t submerged and it carries a total of 16 MIRV-capable SLBMs, each with a range of about 8,300 km. The underwater speed is said to be up to 24 knots. There are 4 torpedo tubes 53.3 cm for self defence. The complement is some 135 men. A total of 7 units of the Delta IV Class SSBN (Project 667 BDRM “Delfin”) have been built, today´s names were given much later, often changing from the old names of the USSR time: Verkhoturye/ K-51, Ekatarinenburg/ K-84, Podmoskovye/ K-64, Tula/ K-114, Bryansk/ K-117,Karelia/ K-18, Novomoskovsk/ K-407. Now, 6 SSBNs have been modernized, the SSBN “K-64” has been taken out of active service in 1999, being subject of repeated reports since about any intended rearming measures. At the end of 2011 there was a fire at the scaffold around the Ekatarienburg while being dry docked, which has raised enormous attention in the media worldwide (see “flotsam” 02-2012).

Currently, the fleet of Russia´s strategic submarines comprises 7 SSBNs with declared operational readiness, i.e. 3 Delta III submarines (Ryazan/ K-44, Sv. Georgiy Pobedonosets/ K-433 and Podolsk/ K-223), 3 Delta IV (Karelia/ K-18, Bryansk/ K117 and Tula/ K-114), and 1 Typhoon (Dmitry Donskoy/ TK-208). If one takes into consideration the partially conflicting data about new projects, extended maintenance, modernization and rearming programs, today´s total number of SSBNs in the inventory of the Russian Navy should be between 18 and 23. At the end of the Cold War and the USSR the submarine fleet of that time still counted a number of 38 SSBNs, of which at any time about one third had full operational readiness.

According to media reports of early March 2012 there are more delays to be expected with the planned modernization of two of the three “Typhoon” Class SSBNs of the Russian Navy (Severstal/ TK-20 and Arkhangelsk/ TK-17, both being taken out of active service in 2004), leaving just the Dmitry Donsky being operational. However, she is mainly being used for test and trials, above all for the new SLBM “Bulova” (see our “ flotsam” 11-2011).

The latest addition to the fleet of SSBN, the project 955 “Borei”, will be the Yuri Dolgoruky (K-535), scheduled to join the operational units in the Summer of 2012. The second submarine of this class, the Alexander Monomakh (K-551) is announced to join in 2013 (see our “flotsam” 08-2011). There are still official statements about the begin of construction of the fourth SSBN of this class (the name is said to be Svyatitel Nikolai), and plans for a total of 8-10 submarines of this class have not been given up yet.

Recently, news were spread with regard to the SSGNs of the “Oscar II” Class of the Russian Navy, where it is said that the construction of the SSGN Belgorod/ K139 will be resumed, after it was stopped some 10 years ago as a replacement order for the SSGN Kursk that sunk on 12 of August 2000 (see our “flotsam” 02-2012).