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Exercise Log of U 32 (4)

For a last time we compile some extracts from the exercise log of U-boat U 32 of the German Navy which is being published frequently at the homepage of the German Navy under, reporting from the several months long training and exercise journey of the U-boat to the east coast of North America. We have reported about that since our June 2013 issue of our “Flotsam”.

After U 32, operated by crew “Bravo” of the German 1st U-boat Flotilla and supported by its Tender Main, had departed its homebase Eckernförde, Germany on 10 February 2013, it arrived at the USN Base Mayport, Florida on 19 March 2013. Thereafter, a series of comprehensive and challenging training exercises followed with Naval units from Germany and the US, as well as support of underwater military research projects and individual crew training in the Western North Atlantic Ocean. At Whitsuntide 2013 the operating crew of U 32 changed from crew “Bravo” to crew “Delta”. That crew then continued the multi party exercises and individual training calling twice at the USN Base Norfolk, Virginia. Highlight certainly the integration into the work up training of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Battle Group of the USN off the east coast of the US, which, by the way, has been assigned for the next months to come to the 6th Fleet of the US Navy in the Mediterranean as of August 2013. After U 32 and Tender Main bid farewell to their hosts from the USN on17 July 2013 both units resumed their return leg across the Atlantic Ocean on 19 July 2013.

On 25 July 2013 U 32 told about the first days at sea of the return leg, marked by a series of individual and formation training for U 32 and the supporting Tender Main. Thus, for almost three days during the initial phase of the return leg U 32 was towed by the tender during its journey surfaced because the tender was able to proceed somewhat faster than U 32 above water. This was followed by extensive system training for apprentice U-boat engineering officers.

The further return leg across the Atlantic Ocean followed roughly the track of the inbound leg to the US, i.e. via the Azores. This part of the voyage was marked my routine sailing maneuvers, with intensive use of the U-boat´s underwater sensors and the digitalization of the various sound information from the deep of the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time the group of medical specialist embarked on Tender Main exercised submarine emergencies on board the tender with injured sailors assumed to be transferred from the submarine for emergency treatment.

On 04 August 2013 U 32 called again at Ponta Delgada, Azores to resupply and receive some maintenance from the technical support group on board escorting tender Main. On 07 August 2013 the U-boat and it tender left Ponta Delgada for it final leg back to the homebase, which would lead it through the English Channel and the Kiel Canal to the Baltic Sea.

Eventually Tender Main arrived at its homebase of Eckernförde on 15 August 2013, U 32 followed on Monday, 19 August 2013. The U-boat and its two crews had clocked some 17,000 nmi during the long deployment which lasted more than 6 months, adding another successful mission to the amazing performance history of the German AIP U-boats.


Further news from the underwater world of Russia

Two pieces of news from Russia caused widespread reporting by the media. Firstly, the spectacular diving adventure by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 15 July 2013, when he embarked from the Russian Research Vessel Aleksander Pushkin to the civil mini submarine “C-Explorer 5”, to dive some 60 Meters down in the Gulf of Finland near the Island of Gogland, to have a glimpse of the wreck of the frigate Oleg of the Zsar-Navy which sank in 1869 following a collision during an exercise. The wreck of the Oleg had been discovered only in 2003 by divers. A stream of pictures from Putin´s diving experience was spread worldwide, presumably, to foster his image as daring and athletic President.

The mini submarine “C-Explorer 5” of the Dutch designer bureau of “U-boat Worx” was presented first time at the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show. According to the Dutch company some 14 units of the model have been produced already, customers are not always being announced. It is being used primarily for research purposes, but also for industrial employment. It can take on board up to 5 Persons, its diving depth is stated to be up to 300 meters and the battery allows maximum diving time up to 16 hours. The U-boat has a length of about 5 m and a beam of about 3.5 m, its displacement is about 6.5 t. The underwater speed is said to be about 3 kn.

We have reported in our August 2013 issue of “Flotsam” about the state of the building program for the Russian SSGN of the “Yasen”-Class (Project 885), as the successor to the “Akula”-Class submarines. Now, official confirmation has been given that the “Novosibirsk” has been laid on keel at the Sevmash shipyard at Severodvinsk on 26 July 2013, being the third unit of this class of nuclear powered attack submarines. With that, 3 of the new generation of 8-10 units of SSGNs planned for the Russian Navy are either in sea trials or under construction.

Sources for Putin:

Sources for Yasen:

China expected to posses an own submarine based nuclear deterrence by 2014

At the end of July 2013 media reported about the establishment of a credible submarine based nuclear deterrence by China by 2014, when the “Jin”-Class SSBN currently under extensive sea trials will resume their strategic patrols in the Pacific Ocean armed with new “JL-2” SLBMs. These SLBMs with their range of 8,000 to 14,000 km would be able to reach parts of the US even from coastal waters off the Chinese coast.

We have reported about the submarine development in China in our “Flotsam” issues of December and October 2012. It is said that the “Jin”-Class (Type 094) SSBNs (displacement is a mere 11,500 t submerged, length about 133 m) are under construction as of 1999, with the First of Class being launched in 2004, the second on in 2007, and the First of Class being commissioned in 2010. With that, it is assumed that 2 of the fleet of 5-6 units planned are already commissioned. On 16 August 2012 one “Jin”-Class submarine has successfully launched a “JL-2” SLBM. According to experts a 3rd “Jin”-Class SSBN might be under construction. The “Jin”-Class submarines are able to carry up to 12 “JL-2” SLBMs, with each being able to carry several nuclear warheads. It has to be noted that the sources about the “Jin”-Class construction program and the “JL-2” SLBM (NATO designation: CSS.NX-4, also: CSS-N-5 “Sabbot”) vary significantly. The range of the SLBMs is given between 7,000 and 14,000 km and the number of warheads carried ranges between 3 and 10.


New reports about unmanned underwater vehicle development in the US

We have reported in our June 2012 issue of “Flotsam” for a first time about conceptual ideas in the US for unmanned underwater vehicles. We presented in that report the project of “Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle / LDUUV” as an advanced development on the basis of Boeings Echo Ranger, built in 2001 with a first unit. Beginning in 2014 the LDUUV was to be developed as a sole underwater surveillance and reconnaissance drone after pre-tests and the conceptual phase had been completed satisfactory.

At the end of July 2013 another series of news were published about underwater drones. According to that, as part of the project “Hydra” the US Government Agency DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Project Agency) was to place tenders on 05 August 2013 for the development of components (propulsion, autonomous and guided steering, telemetry, communication devices for guidance and reporting, etc.) of a new underwater reconnaissance drone. First concepts see the new drone being delivered from air to sea areas selected, and to launch own smaller drones after having watered and submerged, to then reconnoit independently coastal areas, maritime infrastructure as well as mines or surface and underwater vehicles of interest, and report it back to the control station. There is no mentioning of any use of “Hydra” for offensive employment such as remote attack missions, but such mode cannot be excluded entirely yet. Also, it is not clear currently whether “Hydra” is just a “one-way” drone, as the potential recovery of the drone after the mission still needs to be further examined by the conceptual phase. With that, “Hydra” would be a sort of underwater-“mothership” for the employment of smaller unmanned underwater vehicles.

Although nothing has been mentioned yet of “Hydra” to be used in an attack mode, the current wild discussion in Germany about the purchase and the employment of drones has led domestic media to put this underwater project straight away on a level with airbased combat drones. Hence, the headline of the homepage of of 27 July 2013 was simply: “Pentagon plans unmanned killing from the depth of the ocean”.


Indian submarine sinks in the Mumbai Naval Base after fighting a severe fire and an explosion

On 14 August 2013 a severe accident in the Indian Naval Base of Mumbai( formerly known as Bombay) involving the submarine INS Sindhurakshak caused widespread headlines in the international media. According to that a probable powercut or battery problem led to a savage fire on board the submarine during the night 13 t o14 August 2013, with the submarine eventually sinking after the fire fighting operation and showing only parts of the superstructure above waterline. The INS Sindhurakshak was built by the Admiralty shipyard at St. Petersburg, Russia as export version of the Russian submarine “Project 877” (“Project 877 EKM”) between 1993 and 1997 and commissioned on 24 December 1997. Initial reports confirmed a number of injured, but sadly stated a figure of up to 18 deaths and missing sailors.

The Sindhurakshak is one of a series of 10 “Kilo I”-Class submarines built for India and had just passed in May 2013 a two and a half year midlife maintenance period at the Svesdoshka shipyard at Severodvinsk, Russia for service back in India. This diesel-electric Snorkel submarine has a length of 72.6 m and a width of 9.9 m, its displacement is about 3,000 t submerged. It may safely dive down to 300 m. The range is some 6,000 nmi with 7 kn in Snorkel operation. The maximum speed is said to be in the area of 22 kn. Main armament is the load of up to 18 torpedoes to be launched from 6 bow torpedo tubes, plus anti-ship as well as land attack cruise missiles (range about 250 km) of the Russian export type 3M-54E1 “Klub-S” (NATO designation. SS-N-27B “Sizzler”), to be fired from torpedo tubes as well. The crew is 52 men.

Only on 26 February 2010 an explosion in the battery compartment of the Sindhurakshak had occurred killing one crew member.