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Female crewmembers on board US Navy submarines

We have reported about the status of service by female sailors on board submarines of the US Navy in our “Flotsam”-Issues of February and June 2014.

At the end of July 2014 the local newspaper of the US Naval Base at Kitsap/ Bangir (“Kitsup Sun”) at the US East coast published the latest plans for further admission of women to service on board the entirely nuclear powered submarines of the US Navy. Following the approval by the Naval leadership and the US Department of Defense in July 2014 now the formal sanction by the US Congress is scheduled for the end of this year.

After the first female soldiers were admitted to serve on board submarines in November 2011 there are some 27 women fully trained for service on board the Bangor stationed SSBN and SSGN of the “Ohio”-Class (4 of the 18 SSBNs of the “Ohio”-Class were converted to SSGN having rejoined the fleet between 2006 and 2008) meanwhile. Still, the above sailors hold officer ranks throughout. That concerns the dual crews (“Blue” and “Gold”) of the two SSBNs USS Maine and USS Lousiana plus the two SSGNs USS Ohio and USS Michigan, all stationed at Bangor. From 2016 onwards, there will be female petty officers and ratings serving on board as well.

Currently, each of the dual crews of the four subs have 3 female members assigned, i.e. always one experienced officer taking care of two more officers that still need some experience. There are 5 cabins accommodating three bunks each for officers (only the CO and the EXO have own cabins), with one of them fitted to accommodate women. Interestingly enough, all 15 officers on board do have limited washing facilities by means of sinks in the cabin, but all have to share a common facility for taking showers as well as toilet requirements. It will be somewhat more delicate to accommodate female petty officers and ratings since they have to accept cabins shared by 9 sailors each sleeping in 3 three-deck-staple bunks.

The US Navy intends to eventually have 20 % of the crew on board 7 SSBNs and SSGNs of the “Ohio”-Class being female. In October 2013 it was announced that the new SSGNs of the “Virginia”-Class will also see service by female sailors on board. Starting in January 2015 the USS Virginia and the USS Minnesota, both stationed at the US Naval Base Groton, Connecticut, will have 3 female officers in the crew. From 2016 onwards, 2 of the “Virginia”-Class SSGNs stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, will allow service by female officers on board as well.


New strategy paper by the Australian government confirms intent for new submarines

On 28 July 2014 the Australian Ministry of Defence published a new 65 pages strong position paper called “Defence Issues 2014” to contribute to the running discussion about the future policy of the country with regards to its security politics and military strategy, as a prelude to the new White Paper scheduled for early next year, after the last of such paper was published by the preceding Labour government on 02 May 2013.

In general, the paper raises key questions only about the above subjects, which shall be answered by the new White Paper. Therefore, no new concrete procurement projects are announced for the 57,000 soldiers strong Australian Armed Forces (part of it: The Australian Navy with some 14,000 personal) that is budgeted through some 30 Bill. Australian Dollars (= about 20 Bill.Euros) annually.

The paper merely says about the ambitious procurement project (investment of some 40 Bill. Austr. Dollars/ 28 Bill. Euros) of 12 submarines as a replacement for the 6 “Collins”-Class submarines that a good balance is required of costs, risks, time tables and benefits for Australia´s industry, which is true for both options, i.e. buying from other countries or construction in Australia. We have reported about Australia´s submarines in our “Flotsam” issues of November 2011, September 2012 and June 2013.

Now, the media speculate about the way ahead for Australia´s future submarines. In this context it is noteworthy that there are lengthy presentations of potential cooperation with the Japanese submarine industry. However, alternatives to that are mentioned as well, such as procurement of submarine hulls from Germany or Sweden, to be equipped with components from the Japanese arms productions industry or BAE from Britain.


Joint Italo-Russian submarine project on freeze

At the end of July 2014 news were spread in the context of the Ukraine crisis that apparently the 10-years old project of a joint development by the Italian and Russian submarine industry of a conventional SSK has gone to freeze status.

The SSK project named “S-1000” launched in 2005 is about a conventional submarine of some 1,000 t displacement. At the Naval Arms Exhibition “Euronaval” the Italia submarine designers from Fincantieri and Russia Central Design Bureau for Maritime Engineering “Rubin” presented a first mock up model of the submarine planned. And, in 2009 at the International Maritime Defense Show at St. Petersburg both designers were jointly bidding for the delivery of 6 SSKs for a total of 3.5 Bill. USD (= 2.6 Bill. Euros) responding to a tender from India. However, they lost to the French offer of 6 “Scorpene”-Class submarines, same as the bidders from other countries.

The diesel-electric submarine with an air independent propulsion system (AIP) was designed on the basis of the Russian “Amur 950” export submarine (“Amur” is the export version of the Russian AIP project 677 of the “Lada”-Class). The measures were to be a length of 56.2 m and a beam of 5.5 m giving a displacement of about 1,000 t. Main armament was to be torpedoes to be launched from 6 bow torpedo tubes, plus facilities to accommodate and detach covertly 6 commando soldiers. The crew was to be a mere 16 sailors. Maximum speed was said to be beyond 14 kts submerged, range about 3,000 nmi at 4 kn or 1,000 nmi at 4 kn with AIP. The maximum diving depth was to be btw. 250 and 300 m.


News about building programs, launchings and commissionings in other Navies

South Korean Navy

On 03 July 2014 the 5th submarine equipped with AIP-System of 6 submarines currently under construction at Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding was launched in South Korea and given the name of ROKS Yun Bong-gil, all submarines based on the German export type 214.

Die ROKS Son Won-il (SS 072) (Bild: MC1 Todd Macdonald, USN)
Die ROKS Son Won-il (SS 072) (Bild: MC1 Todd Macdonald, USN)

South Korea introduced its fleet modernization program “KSS I” in den mid-1980ies procuring some 9 submarines of the German export type 209, with the First of Class of the “Chang Bogo”-Class being built by HDW at Kiel, but the remaining 8 all by Daewoo in South Korea between 1989 and 1999 and commissioned between 1991 and 2001. On 04 November 2000 another 1.6 Bill. DM (= 0.8 Mill. Euros) contract was signed as part of program “KSS II” between the German submarine shipyard HDW and South Korea to deliver material packages from HDW to South Korea for building under license a first batch of three submarines with air independent propulsion (AIP) based on the German export type 214 at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea. The submarines of the “Son Won-il”-Class ( Son Won-il/ SS-072, Jeong Ji/ SS-073 and An Jung-genu/ SS-075) were commissioned between 2007 and 2009.

On 07 January 2009 yet another contract was signed between HDW/ TKMS and South Korea to deliver material for the second batch of “Program KSS II”, i.e. 6 further AIP submarines to be built in South Korea by Daewoo, Hyundai and, for the first time, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, completing “KSS II” with then 9 AIP submarines. Following 3 submarines of batch 1 all 6 units of batch 2 are under construction meanwhile. Kim Iwa-Jin/ SS-076 was launched at Daewoo on 13 Aug 2014, and Yun Bong-gil/ SS-077 at Hyundai was launched on 03 July 2014. The unit with hull number SS-078 has been keel-laid at Daewoo in 2011 (to be delivered in October 2016), unit SS-079 was keel-laid at Hyundai in 2011, unit SS-081 was keel-laid at STX and SS-082 at Hyundai, the last two both in 2013.

While the last three units of the “Chang Bogo”-Class (SS-068, SS-069 and SS-071) have been upgraded receiving the capability to launch UGM-84L “SubHarpoon” anti-ship-missiles, the 9 units planned as “Program KSS III” are to receive “Hyunmoo 3C” cruise missiles for land attack, to be fired from vertical launchers up to a range of 1.500 km. This requires submarines of about 3,000 to 3,500 t displacement, with the First-of-Class to be delivered in 2022. The large submarines of the “KSS III” program are to gradually replace the 9 units of “Program KSS I”.


Indonesian Navy

The further build up and modernization of the Indonesian Armed Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia/ TNI) follows the program of “Minimum Essential Force (MEF)” of 2005, which covers a period up to 2024. Part of it is the Navy of the country (TNI-AL = Angkatan Laut) that is planned to receive a minimum of 6, ideally up to 12 submarines within a Navy which shall grow from currently 115 combat units to an amazing 300 units.

At the moment, Indonesia maintains a small submarine force of just 2 submarines of the German export type 209/ 1300. These were built by HDW at Kiel and delivered in 1981 (KRI Cakra) and 1982 (KRI Nanggala). Both submarines were modernized between 2004 and 2012 (“Cakra” 2004-2006 and Nanggala 2009-2012) at Daewoo, South Korea. As of 2013, they are stationed at the new submarine base at Palu Bay in the North of the great Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.

In 2012 a further 1.1 Bill. USD (= 820 Mill. Euros) contract was signed with Daewoo to build 3 diesel-electric submarines of the German export type 209/ 1400 on the basis of the “Chang Bogo”-Class (see above the article about the South Korean submarines) that are of identical design. 2 of the submarines are to be built in South Korea and 1 unit at the state-owned PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia.

Amazingly, the current building program has not seen many major delays yet. In the Summer of 2014 news came out that the 2 submarines under construction in South Korea are scheduled for delivery in 2017, while the one under construction in Indonesia will join the fleet in 2019 or 2020 by the latest. Originally, a delivery period was announced to be 2016 to 2018. Noteworthy, no official statement has been given yet about the procurement of further units in compliance with the program “MEF”. This is not surprising as the Indonesian defense budget is only some 8 Bill. USD (= 6 Bill. Euros) not allowing ambitious projects, even if the costs for personal are very low.


Pakistani Navy

After years of contracts almost signed, delays and other uncertainties it looks like China to have won the race for the delivery of 6 diesel-electric SSKs with air-independent-propulsion (AIP) to the Navy of Pakistan. In any case respective news came to light at the end of February/ early March 2014 that have not been formally denied yet. Allegedly, a contract is to be signed by the end of this year.

According to that construction of 6 submarines on the basis of the Chinese type 041/ “Yuhan”-Class (has many design elements of the Russian “Kilo”-Class) is to start already this year.

The contract has a volume of 250 Mill. Euros, what cannot be matched by any other shipyard. The submarine displacing more than 3,000 t and carrying the type-designation “S-20” will receive an AIP-system, and will be able to launch torpedoes, alternatively mines, as well as anti-ship- missiles. Construction is said to be started in 2014, with 4 submarines to be built at the China State Shipbuilding Industrial Coorperation (CSIS) at Wuhan and 2 submarines at the Karachi Shipbuilding and Engineering Work (KSEW). All submarines are scheduled to be delivered by 2013.

The financial situation of the country with a defense budget of a mere 7.6 Bill. USD (= 5.8 Bill. Euros) requires some caution despite the very advantageous Chinese offer. Only, one should remember the news of November 2008 when a contract of about 773 Mill. Euros was ready for signature to deliver 3 AIP submarines of the German export type 214 from HDW/ TKMS.

Apart from 3 midget submarines of the type “MG 110” the Navy of Pakistan currently maintains 5 diesel-electric submarines. 2 submarines (PNS Hashmat/ S-135 and PNS Hurmat/ S-136) of the French type “Agosta 70” were procured in 1979 and 1980, stemming from the failed project to deliver these submarines by France to South Africa. 3 submarines of the type “Agosta 90B” were bought from France (PNS Khalid/ S-137, PNS Saad/ S-138, and PNS Hamza/ S-139) between 1999 and 2008, with Khalid being built in France, the Saad partially in France and Pakistan, and the Hamza being the first submarine built entirely in Pakistan. The last 3 submarines do have a French AIP-system. Further, the media continue to report about a Pakistani project of an own development of a nuclear powered submarine to start in 2017.