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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thales announces significant Sonar 2076 upgrade

Thales UK today announces that it has been awarded a contract by BAE Systems to upgrade three Trafalgar-class and three Astute-class submarines with the Sonar 2076 Stage 5 system.

These submarines are currently fitted with the 2076 Stage 4 system. Once all the work is completed, 2076 Stage 5 will be fully deployed across the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) nuclear-powered attack (SSN) submarine fleet.

This contract builds on Thales UK’s relationship with BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, and is a demonstration of the success of the Performance Partnering Agreement jointly put in place.

The ‘Stage 5 Inboard Replacement’ (Stage 5 IR) contract is the latest in a series of developments to improve the capability, efficiency and through-life cost of the system to ensure that Sonar 2076 retains its reputation as the world’s most advanced, fully integrated, passive/active search and attack sonar suite.

Stage 5 IR achieves the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) requirement for reduced through-life costs and the need for rapid capability insertions of new hardware, software functionality and new algorithms to meet the RN’s changing mission requirements.

The upgrade also delivers an open architecture that allows a high degree of commonality with the future Astute and Vanguard-class replacement (Successor) submarines, and supports the MoD’s vision for the evolution of a common sonar and combat system across the RN submarine flotilla.

New Australian Submarine Program Office to Place Increased Focus on Submarine Availability

Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, today announced that a new Australian Submarine Program Office will be established in Adelaide next month.

“The establishment of the joint Australian Submarine Program Office is a vital step towards achieving the submarine output Government expects,” Mr Combet said.

“The Australian Submarine Program Office will be established in Adelaide to jointly manage submarine availability required by Government.

“The idea for a new project office follows discussions between the Navy, the Defence Material Organisation and ASC Pty Ltd on how better results can be achieved.

“The Government has made clear to all parties involved in the maintenance of the Collins Class Submarines that we expect better results. We understand this will take time but we are determined to see an improvement.

“This marks the start of a new partnership between Navy, the DMO and ASC which will set the basis for a strong and enduring submarine capability over the next decade,” Mr Combet said.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russell Crane, DMO Program Manager Submarines, Mr Kim Gillis, and CEO of ASC Pty Ltd, Mr Steve Ludlam, met to develop a new charter to drive the relationship between the three key players in Australia’s submarine force.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nuclear submarines delayed because of lack of personnel

Construction of new Russian nuclear submarines is delayed because Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk lacks qualified workers, says shipyard Director Nikolay Kalistratov.

 Starting construction of "Kazan" (

Our workforce faces serious tasks, therefore we have to use every effort in order to carry out projected plans and deliver orders in time, Kalistratov said according to a press release from Sevmash. – We need to employ another 500 qualified workers as soon as possible, he said.

The information about the delays came up at a meeting at Sevmash where member of the Russian Government’s Commission for the Defense Industry Vladimir Pospelov and Deputy Commander of the Russian Navy Nikolay Borisov took part.

Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk outside Arkhangelsk is working on several large strategic important orders at the same time: The shipyard is currently building nuclear powered submarines of the new Borey-class. The first one submarine, “Yury Dolgoruky”, is currently being tested in Russian Arctic waters. “Aleksander Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh” are under construction, while the keel of “Svyatitel Nikolay” was laid in December 2009, as BarentsObserver reported.

In addition to this, Sevmash is about to finish construction of Russia’s newest nuclear powered attack submarine “Severodvinsk” and continues work on “Kazan” of the Graney-class, BarentsObserver reported.

Malaysia says first submarine unable to dive

Malaysia's first submarine, a European-made Scorpene delivered last September, has developed problems that make it unfit for diving, the defence minister said Thursday.

The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman sailed into a grand reception last year as the first of two commissioned from French contractor DCNS and Spain's Navantia for a total of 3.4 billion ringgit (961 million dollars).

Named after the country's first prime minister, it was hailed as an important acquisition despite opposition allegations of corruption in the deal.

"The submarine can still dive but when we detected the defects, we were advised that it should not dive," Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters.

"The (parts found with) defects are still under warranty so the supplier and contractor are repairing them," he added.

Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said a problem first emerged in the submarine's cooling system last December. After being fixed, another defect was identified in a different system last month.

BAE Cuts 230 Jobs At Cumbria Submarine Site

BAE Systems plans to cut up to 230 jobs at its submarine site in Barrow-in-Furness following a business review, the company has announced.

The BAE Systems construction hall dominates the skyline in Barrow-in-Furness

The defence firm launched a 90-day consultation with unions over the job cuts and said the move was unavoidable.

BAE Systems Submarine Solutions employs around 5,000 people across nine UK locations, constructing the Astute class of nuclear-powered submarines.

John Hudson, managing director at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, said the job cuts were "necessary but regrettable" to make sure the business was sustainable.

"We have a responsibility to manage our cost base to remain competitive and meet our customers' future requirements," he said.

Hugh Scullion, general secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said that with a "positive attitude to negotiations", there would be no need for compulsory job losses.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Substantial Trafalgar class RAMPs run back to back

Nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) HMS Tireless sailed from Devonport on Saturday (6 February), following a substantial 18 month Revalidation and Assisted Maintenance Period (RAMP) and life extension, successfully completed ahead of schedule by Babcock. HMS Tireless’ departure follows the docking of HMS Trenchant earlier in the month for a major RAMP that will include significant capability upgrades.

The extensive 320,000 manhour RAMP in HMS Tireless (twice the manhours of a usual RAMP) has encompassed significant life extension work, and has included a shaft change, installation of a trial outboard sonar fit, steam generator in-service inspections, and reactor system inspections and maintenance, as well as several combat system capability updates and substantial structural and mechanical system survey, maintenance and repair work.

Particular challenges included the development of in-service inspection equipment and procedures in support of reactor system integrity checks. This required close working between Babcock, MoD and Rolls Royce to minimise programme impact and provide a capability that is now deployable on other submarines.

Joint Babcock/MoD initiatives contributed to the successful completion of this RAMP, including ensuring early definition of the work specification which enabled significant pre-planning to be undertaken and close working between Babcock, ship’s staff and the MoD during the project.

Commenting on the Tireless RAMP, Platform Group Manager Submarines, Cdr Tim Roberts RN, said: “The return of HMS Tireless to service six days earlier than scheduled after an extensive and very technically challenging project has been a most impressive performance. This achievement is a testament to the improved working practices and relationships that are providing Fleet with the certainty of delivery that they need to manage the intensive submarine operational programme.“

Reputation of Collins class subs takes a further dive

TWO of Australia's six trouble-wracked Collins class submarines will not return to sea until they have been of action for a total of at least nine years.

The revelation is another blow to the reputation of Australia's multi-billion dollar submarine fleet, which has been dogged by problems since HMAS Collins was launched in 1996.

It was also revealed yesterday that the federal government is demanding $5 million in compensation from the Australian Submarine Corporation over defects that have kept HMAS Collins incapacitated.

Under the contract with the government, which is worth $170 million a year to the corporation, that is the maximum compensation payable, a senate estimates committee heard.

Questioned by the Coalition defence spokesman, David Johnston, the Chief of Navy, Russ Crane, admitted that HMAS Rankin had been inoperable for two years and would be for another three years. Similarly, the sister ship HMAS Sheean had been laid up for two years and would not put to sea for another two years, Vice-Admiral Crane said.

HMAS Farncomb was recalled to port last week after a generator failure, while HMAS Collins is on restricted operations because of problems with its diesel engine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Defect found on Royal Malaysian Navy sub

Technical problem prevented French-built Scorpene from diving

The country's sole submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, suffered a technical defect that prevented it from diving for three months. The problem was fixed last week.

The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman arriving at Port Klang for its official welcoming home ceremony on Sept 3 last year

The defect forced the RM1 billion plus French-built Scorpene submarine to delay tropical water trials that were scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

As a result, builder DCNS SA extended the warranty for the submarine, which was supposed to expire on Jan 25, until May so the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman could complete its trials — the first step to obtaining its Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

RMN chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar told The Malay Mail on Monday that the trials started this week, after DCNS completed the repairs.

"We did not allow the submarine to dive due to safety reasons. Now the problem has been fixed, the trials can be conducted," he added when met at the Defence Ministry.

The submarine was commissioned early last year after undergoing two years of trials in France.

In an email to The Paper That Cares recently, Abdul Aziz said: "KD TAR had not obtained its IOC yet as she is experiencing a defect under warranty that would not permit her to dive.

"The contractual completion for all tropical trials was before Jan 25 but submarine builder, DCNS had agreed to extend it to May 2010 as they had to rectify all warranty defects."

S.African Anti-Nuclear Group Says ’No’ To British Nuke Sub Visit

An anti-nuclear group has called on South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) not to allow the British nuclear submarine HMS Sceptre to dock in Simon’s Town.

Royal Navy photo of HMS Sceptre.

TimesLive said the South African Navy, acting on behalf of its British counterpart, had applied to the NNR for permission for the Sceptre to enter Simon's Town from March 18th to the 29th.

Chairman of the Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA), Peter Becker, said his organisation viewed the history of the British nuclear submarine "with alarm." Becker said:

If the National Nuclear Regulator requires several kilometres as a safety exclusion zone for the Koeberg nuclear power station, how come this ageing nuclear-powered vessel is allowed to dock within a few hundred metres of a residential area?

The KAA’s submission to the Nuclear Regulator said there was a small risk that the HMS Sceptre’s nuclear reactor could release radioactive particles, gas or other harmful materials while docked at Simon’s Town. He said:

This risk is heightened by the age of this vessel, and the fact that it is about to be decommissioned.
The official British Royal Navy website says HMS Sceptre is a submarine of the Swiftsure Class and was first commissioned on 14th February 1978.

Wikipedia gives a long list of problems experienced by the Royal Navy’s oldest vessel, which is expected to be decommissioned sometime this year.

The Sceptre collided with a Soviet submarine in the early 1980s, nearly causing an automatic emergency shutdown of the reactor. The crew were ordered to say they had hit an iceberg. The facts of the matter were established in a television interview in 1991.

Bikin Kapal Selam, PAL Incar Jerman dan Korea

PT PAL Indonesia tengah mengincar teknologi dua negara, Jerman dan Korea Selatan, untuk digandeng membuat kapal selam di Indonesia.

Direktur Jenderal Sarana Pertahanan Kementerian Pertahanan Gunadi menjelaskan, produsen kapal PT PAL masih terkendala teknologi untuk memproduksi sendiri kapal selam di galangannya.

"Sebetulnya PT PAL bisa buat sendiri tapi terkendala teknologi dan peralatan sehingga tidak mau gambling di tingkat safety pengguna," kata Gunadi kepada VIVAnews di Jakarta, 9 Februari 2010.

Selain berencana membuat kapal selam dan telah berhasil membuat kapal perang FPG-57, PT PAL juga tengah mempersiapkan untuk membuat kapal perang jenis Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR). PT PAL yakin bisa membuat kapal perang bersenjatakan peluru kendali tersebut dalam waktu 4 tahun. Harga satu kapal PKR mencapai 170 juta euro.

Gunadi menjelaskan, industri strategis di Indonesia telah mampu memasok alutsista dengan teknologi menengah. Dia mencontohkan, PT Dirgantara Indonesia yang sudah bisa memproduksi pesawat MPA dan telah diekspor ke Eropa. "Kemampuan kita sudah cukup memadai untuk teknologi menengah, tapi untuk teknologi tingkat tinggi memang harus pelan-pelan," ujarnya.

Untuk peralatan dengan teknologi tinggi, kata dia, jika tidak diproduksi dalam jumlah banyak (massal), malah "jatuhnya" akan mahal. Seperti pembuatan pesawat jet tempur, akhirnya bermitra dengan Korea Selatan untuk menekan biaya produksi. "Itupun baru bisa dipakai pada 2020," ujarnya.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Indian n-sub to be operational in two years

India's indigenously designed and built nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, will assume an operational profile after two years, according to Indian Navy chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma.

"Arihant, of course, will take about two years of trials before she is inducted in the navy," Adm Nirmal Verma has said in an interview for the forthcoming issue of defence journal Indian Defence Review.

Verma said the Navy and the DRDO were looking into the challenges such as "proving of new technology, getting the submarine fully operational, developing doctrines and procedures" for the induction of Arihant.

"We are actively working on all these issues, and more, to ensure that we have a credible deterrent in the form of Arihant and follow-on submarines," he said.

Floating dock bolsters opportunities

The Commerce Minister Troy Buswell says a new floating dock in Henderson, south of Perth, will lead to opportunities for the mining and defence sectors.

The floating dock in Henderson will be used for work connected to the Gorgon gas project and submarines (Australian marine complex)

The dock at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson cost $60 million and can lift boats weighing up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water.

Mr Buswell says the dock will be used for work connected to the Gorgon Gas project.

The Royal Australian Navy will also need the dock for the Collins Class submarine fleet.

"This is a world class floating dock, one of the most advanced floating docks in the world and this is the sort of infrastructure that will position defence industries in WA at the leading edge," he said.

"What we now have to do is put in place the strategies to leverage off this type of infrastructure."

After Agni success, other versions to be tested

Buoyed by the successful trial of country’s longest range and most powerful Agni-III missile, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning user trials of two other versions of Agni series of missiles.

Developmental trials of an interceptor missile and submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) K-15 have also been listed.

Sources at the defence base in Chandipur on Monday said, the interceptor missile is scheduled to be fired from the Wheelers Island test facilities on either February 18 or 19. While the K-15 missile will be tested from a pontoon off the Andhra Pradesh coast during the second week of March, Agni-I and Agni- II will be tested in April and May respectively.

‘’The successful trial of Agni-III missile validating the guidance system has propelled the DRDO scientists to go for a series of tests in the next three months. Last year the DRDO had drawn flak for the fiasco over the consecutive failures of Agni-II missile’s user trial,’’ said the source.

As part of preparing the ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield, the interceptor missile aims to protect the populated areas and vital installations like nuclear power stations and oil wells.

The missile shield has highly sensitive radars to track incoming hostile missiles.

The test will mark the completion of the first phase of the programme and it will secure operational clearance by 2012-13, said a defence official. The interceptor test will be followed by the test-firing of nuke-capable K-15 missile off Visakhapatnam coast. Defence sources said, although designed to be solely launched from a submarine, the missile will be test-fired from a pontoon.

Russia starts building 4th nuclear sub to carry Bulava missile

Russia has started the construction of the fourth Borey-class strategic nuclear-powered submarine designed to carry the Bulava missile, a shipyard spokesman said on Monday.

"The work on the sub construction effectively started last year," he said.

It was previously reported that construction of the Project 955 Svyatitel Nikolai (St. Nicholas) submarine at the Sevmash shipyard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk was delayed from December 2009 until the first quarter of 2010.

Russia's newest Borey-class strategic nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, which is expected to be armed with the new Bulava sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), is currently undergoing sea trials.

The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.

Construction costs totaled some $713 mln, including $280 mln for research and development.

Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are in different stages of completion. Russia is planning to build eight of these subs by 2015.

Fourth-generation Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines are expected to constitute the core of Russia's modern strategic submarine fleet.

The submarine's entry into service could be delayed however by a series of setbacks in the development of the troubled Bulava missile, which has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests.

Anti-nuke group opposes British ship visit

An anti-nuclear pressure group has urged that the ageing British submarine HMS Sceptre, scheduled to visit Simon's Town next month, be kept out of South African waters.

CONNING ARTISTS: Ntombizanele Mohloboli, atop the submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke. Pic: Alon Sky. 14/11/2008. ? The Times

Chairman of Koeberg Alert Alliance Peter Becker said on Monday his organisation noted "with alarm" the history of the nuclear-powered vessel.

This included a collision in the 1980s which the Royal Navy apparently lied to the public about, a coolant leak in 1990, an on-board fire in 1991, a defect in the reactor discovered in 1998, and a drydock accident in 2000.

After the 2000 accident, he said, it was recommended that the vessel be scrapped.

"Subsequently the vessel was brought back into service, required further repairs in 2005 in Gibraltar, and is planned to be decommissioned in 2010," he said.

"If the National Nuclear Regulator [NNR] requires several kilometres as a safety exclusion zone for the Koeberg nuclear power station, how come this ageing nuclear-powered vessel is allowed to dock within a few hundred metres of a residential area?"

The South African Navy, acting on behalf of its British counterpart, has applied to the NNR for permission for the sub to enter Simon's Town from March 18 to 29.

The NNR has in turn invited objections from organisations and individuals.

In a submission sent to the NNR last week, the alliance said the regulatory body would be failing in its duties if it allowed the Sceptre to enter South African waters.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Royal Navy commander admits crashing nuclear submarine

A Royal Navy commander has admitted crashing a nuclear submarine into the bottom of the Red Sea.

HMS Superb Photo: PA

Commander Steven Drysdale was forced to bring HMS Superb to the surface after it hit rocks 80 miles south of Suez on May 26, 2008.

The grounding damaged the bow and sonar equipment on the 272ft vessel, which is capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Cmdr Drysdale, from Miskin, near Cardiff, admitted failing to ensure the safe direction of the Swiftsure class hunterkiller submarine.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Cutler and Lieutenant Lee Blair, who were also on-board, also admitted failures in their duty at the hearing at HMS Nelson court martial centre at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hants.

Lt Cmdr Cutler pleaded guilty to failing to supervise the plot officer adequately.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

BAE let off lightly: activists

The first Astute class nuclear submarine is rolled out at the BAE Systems production plant in Cumbria, England. File Photo: AP 

Britain’s biggest arms company, the BAE Systems, which had been at the centre of a long-running worldwide bribery scandal is to pay £286 million in fines to British and American authorities after being forced to admit criminal charges following a nearly eight-year-long trans-Atlantic investigation into its arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and several central European countries.

The deal, which will see an end to further investigations into allegations of corruption, provoked fury among anti-arms trade activists who argued that the company had been let off lightly by being allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of accounting irregularities rather than corruption.

“Ultimately the charges that we see admitted are administrative charges, not charges of corruption,” said Norman Lamb, a senior Liberal Democrat MP, who led a campaign.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade said it was “outraged and angry” that the BAE had got away with a “tiny” fine.

Cumbrian firm wins Australian Navy contract

A company based in Cumbria has been awarded a contract by the Australian Navy to supply LED lighting for its Collins Class submarine.

Oxley Developments said the £270,000 deal helps to boost its expansion strategy, providing lighting systems in the marine environment.

Its products will be used in various compartments within the submarine, including the living quarters and the weapons area.

A total of 12 different types of lighting will be used, replacing existing fluorescent lamps and providing robust and reliable illumination.