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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Repair cost for sub Hartford nearly $87M

The Navy will pay another $36.6 million to repair the fast attack submarine Hartford after a collision March 20, 2009, with the amphibious transport dock New Orleans. This will bring the total repair cost to $86.9 million.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine Hartford pulls into Mina Salman pier in Bahrain after colliding with the amphibious transport dock New Orleans in March 2009

General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded the contract April 1. It will cover the final fabrication and installation of the hull patch, bridge access trunk, port retractable bow plane and the sail. The work, which will be performed primarily in Groton, Conn., is scheduled to wrap up by November.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Norwegians to raise submarine

The Norwegian Government has announced that the wreck of the WW2 German submarine U-864, which contains 65 tons of mercury, is to be raised, and that the contaminated seabed be covered with clean sand.

The submarine, which lies off the Norwegian west coast near Fedje, north of Bergen, has long been considered an environmental hazard by environmental groups and local people.

However, experts have disagreed on whether or not the wreck should be raised or if it would be better to build a sarcophagus which would isolate the mercury from the marine environment, thereby eliminating the pollution hazard.

Head of the Norwegian Marine Safety Directorate, Magne Roedland says the wreck should be raised.

He believes that the strong currents around the wreck will undermine the sarcophagus, resulting in leaks of mercury. The local population agree and have said the wreck must be removed.

This week, Fisheries and Coastal Minister Helga Pedersen announced that she had decided that the wreck will be raised. 'I have given highest consideration to the insecurity felt by the local population, as well as the concern by the fisheries industry over possible contamination of the waters, if the wreck would just be entombed,' she said.

Speculation Focuses on N.Korean Semi-Submersibles

As more evidence surfaces about the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan on Friday, speculation is increasingly focusing on a possible attack from one of the North Korean semi-submersibles reportedly operated by crack teams and capable of carrying two torpedoes or mines.

A North Korean semi-submersible carrying two torpedoes (marked)

Semi-submersible vessels weigh less than 300 tons and are smaller than submarines. The waters where the Cheonan sank are only 20 m to 30 m deep and difficult for North Korea's mainstay 1,800 ton Romeo class submarines to negotiate. North Korea allegedly uses the semi-submersibles when transporting spies on infiltration missions into South Korea. These flat boats approach coastal waters remaining mostly submerged under water and disappear completely under water as they near the coastline, which makes it extremely difficult to detect them. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers on Monday the semi-submersibles can fire two torpedoes and did not rule out that such a vessel may have attacked the Cheonan.

Kim Hak-song, the head of the National Assembly's Defense Committee, stoked speculation by saying he had heard that North Korean semi-submersibles left their base around that time, but high-ranking military officers said the claim is unfounded. 

Australian Navy Completes Submarine Escape and Rescue Exercise

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has successfully carried out a submarine escape and rescue exercise in waters off the West Australian coast.

As part of Exercise Black Carillon, the escape exercise involved transferring personnel from a bottomed submarine to the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Vehicle, LR5, for transportation to the surface.

Escaped personnel managed to board the Australian rescue ship, Seahorse Standard, with specialised navy medical teams and equipment embarked.

The exercise successfully demonstrated that the procedures and equipment of the submarine safety system are in place to rescue personnel in the event of a submarine incident.

Black Carillon is the 12th in a series of the navy's submarine escape and rescue exercises designed to demonstrate RAN submarine-rescue capability.

India's Scorpene submarine programme delayed

India's controversial Scorpene submarine programme was first hit by technical delays, then it faced allegations of kickbacks, and later a CBI probe. Now, it's confirmed that the Rs 18,000 crore defence deal signed in 2005 will not be available to the Indian Navy before 2014.

"We have had delays due to various reasons. I expect the first submarine to be delivered in four years time. That is 2014 - 2015. That's a delay of 2 - 2/12 years. There were certain issues to be addressed with the government and the owner. These issues have now been sorted out and we are placing orders for various equipments," said Retired Vice Admiral H S Malhi, Chairman and MD, Mazgaon Docks Limited.

The impact of the delay could be serious because by 2012 the Indian Navy will be left with only nine of its 16 submarines; the others would be too old to use.

And that's not all. The makers of the Scorpene, the Mazgaon Docks Limited, say the delivery of the first of the six submarines is dependent on when they get the various equipment they are still to order for. If that is delayed then for the Indian Navy and the country, it's going to be a long and tense wait.