Submarine Deployment

When the argument that the UK should invest in conventionally powered submarines comes up one of the objections is because they are generally seen as a defence system rather than an expeditionary system their range and endurance is limited by their propulsion system.

Now this seems more than a fair argument to me but staying in the nuclear attack submarine business means billion pound Astutes, production costs are less of course but the money going out of the bank of MoD to BAE does not make such distinctions.

We all know submarines are worth every penny because of their strategic value but if the future involves increasing operations in shallow waters those smaller conventional submarines might offer a number of advantages if only we could crack the deployment endurance issue.

So, as part of the SDSR sacred cows theme, is the wholly nuclear submarine fleet worth looking at again?

Rolldock Submarine 1

Rolldock Submarine 2

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Mickp
Mickp
November 16, 2014 11:29 pm

I agree on re-debating the issue but only to the extent of a small number of SSKs. Our ability to build SSNs and SSBNs is a real game changer and probably the only element of our defence capabilities that I would ring fence as a national asset (special forces and/ or ASW probably a distant 2nd). Despite the fact Onyx deployed c8000 miles, I would still see a small OTS SSK force as primarily defensive. My arguments for an SSK force ( but recognising this is way down the list of demands or priorities) are to provide depth ( no pun intended) to submariner training, a way to work through to SSNs, also to provide ready training to the surface fleet in littoral ASW. Finally to provide UK EEZ patrol against any increased Russian activity and cover enabling more SSNs to be available for global deployment. Min structure 7+3, optimum something like 8+4 or 9+3.

Tenor
Tenor
November 16, 2014 11:35 pm

Unfortunately, using this to extend SSK range completely negates the entire point of submarines, that people don’t know where they are. Such a vessel would be easily traceable, observable and limited in its movements.

The prime advantage of a nuclear submarine is the one you don’t see in the every day reports because of sinking ships. It’s being able to be anywhere and no-one having a damn clue where you are. Something like this would essentially be a massive warning to anyone, thus negating its usefulness to an unacceptable degree.

While if you want to go 3 tier fleet (Nuke Subs, Nuke Deterrents and SSK’s) then it’ll only end up costing more overall in the end rather than just having two subs that share components with one another.

Honestly, I’m never one to like this “So what SHOULD we cut then to have more money?” mentality. It only fosters the concept of being “okay” with budget cuts and falling into the same trap our armed forces have for decades. The “yeah we’ll make do…” concept of accepting the budget lowering and weathering away capabilities in the long term.

Martin
Editor
November 17, 2014 1:22 am

I will say no. Firstly modern SSK’s are generally in the 500 million range anyway so they are not that much cheaper than SSN’s. Our SSN industry is barley sustainable as it is let alone if we divert funds to SSK’s.

I would agree than SSN’s should be one of the few ringed fenced areas along with Special Forces. I would even like to see us increase the Astute fleet to 9 boats by reducing the successor fleet to 3 and delaying the build of Successor by 44 months.

Martin
Editor
November 17, 2014 1:30 am

That is some amount of ice around that SSK. Can’t imagine its safe operating a submarine in such conditions.

Brad
Brad
November 17, 2014 4:24 am

Instead of nuclear or non-nuclear attack submarines, what about hybrid propulsion? With a small auxiliary nuclear power plant, like Canada at one time considered? And since Canada still has the need, perhaps a joint UK/Canadian program?

GW
GW
November 17, 2014 5:02 am

I understand that the Astute’s are closer to £1.5Bn apiece which makes something like an AIP-equipped Type 214 at around £350M nearer a 1:4 ratio which makes things interesting. Adding in the employment benefits by building more submarines, possibly losing the 3 new OPVs at £350M in the process if most of the frigate skills could be maintained, and it gets more interesting.

I suspect an ‘all-SSK’ force would make the new SSBNs less affordable as there are a number of shared costs. Maybe an AIP-equipped, conventionally-powered ballistic missile submarine is feasible? Perhaps make the numbers up to 6 or 8 with 8 tubes to maintain credibility and that leaves some capacity for training/using the bigger tubes for special forces work or other interesting weapons (SAMs/UAVs/UUVs?).

I understand we do still have some very small Swimmer-Delivery vehicles which are non-nuclear and perhaps an updated X-craft minisub is also worth consideration for coastal defence/training/special missions?

Finally, what about ‘sharing’ with Norway or the Netherlands etc? We could jointly man an Astute and ‘joint-task’ it and in return we could do the same with 1 or 2 of theirs? I’m sure the Dutch used to do our Perishers before the loss of the Upholders so it’s not much of a leap.

Anyway – interesting thread!

Mark
Mark
November 17, 2014 7:51 am

I noticed the recent photos of astute with the pod on it back so my suggestion would be keep the ssns but have an optionally manned mini sub and let astute class carry it were the pod goes, it can do the shallow work.

TrT
TrT
November 17, 2014 7:58 am

Diesel electric sub’s might provide a more cost effective way to own submarines, but would they offer any value to the UK?

I don’t see them chasing Russian sub’s around the north and arctic seas, which is the primary purpose of them is it not?
Better to give up on submarines than maintain a costly fleet that offers little utility.

Peter Elliott
November 17, 2014 8:17 am

For me we are either in the nuclear propulsion game or we aren’t. If we are then all our subs need to have it in order to spread the overhead and maximise the pools of design, build and operational engineering experitise.

If we’re not then we drop out altogether and build everything AIP. There would evenutally be a cost saving from doing that once our final nuclear subs dropped out. But it would take a long time to come becuase we would still be stuck with both the infrastructure and the overhead long after the decision had been made. And indeed the whole dismantling and cleaning up issue that we can’t even quantify yet.

For me the critical factor in making the decision is not cost but stealth. No-one who actually knows is going to be able to comment in the public domain. But the ability of a nuclear sub to function submerged almost indefinitely seems to me to be something that AIP cannot yet match. Especially for a blue water CASD patrol. Even though a samller SSK might be the more tactically appropriate solution to some other operational problems.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 17, 2014 8:27 am

Our SSN’s are the greatest asset the RN has. Leave them alone.

I would increase their number and in return have less surface escorts.

Chalfont and the 3 SDV’s with Astute as a carrier perfectly adequate.

Diesel subs not needed and we have no manpower for them anyway.

Agree with the Ring Fenced comments and for the RN this should apply to our 2 Carriers, the FAA, the Amphibious Fleet and the RM, the SSN’s, and the RFA.

Repulse
November 17, 2014 8:32 am

No not now. However, I think we should be looking at the next generation of fuel cell technology as the next non – nuclear step. Perhaps start with a few smaller surveillance subs like the South Koreans.

Repulse
November 17, 2014 8:36 am

@DM: if the rest of the Army is being cut meaning that amphibious ops beyond raids are complete bollox, why ringfence “Amphibious Fleet and the RM” at the expense of the surface fleet?

Control of and influence on the high seas in my view will be much more important in the next 50 years. Look at the South China sea to see what’s coming.

Jules
Jules
November 17, 2014 9:02 am

The latest developments like the proposed new French SSK are far from being also rans compared to Nuke boats,
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/year-2014-news/september-2014-navy-naval-forces-maritime-industry-technology-security-global-news/2029-exclusive-dcns-will-unveil-the-smx-ocean-at-euronaval-2014-a-conventional-ssk-barracuda.html
I would love to see more subs but high class ones, if it’s better to just build nukes then so be it but if we can have a high quality mixed fleet, I’d love to see something like the above patrolling the northern gap hunting down the ruskies, Freeing up the astutes to be pretty much anywhere in the world on demand would be an a game changing asset when push comes to shove.
We’d not build things like these for the same price as a 214 though…
As an aside how knackered are the Trafalgers? could three of them be life extended/modernised perhaps, that would certainly do for patrolling home waters, they’ve not done bad have they?

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 9:14 am

Non-nuclear submarines are still limited in speed and endurance compared to nuclear powered boats, even if range is starting to increase.

If the UK has designs on a top-notch Navy, nuclear powers represent the go-anywhere, get there fast, loiter for extended periods and provide the ability to handle themselves when there approach that we’ve been promoting across the Naval board.

There could definitely be a place for non-nuclear, but not when we’re in single-digits worth of deployable nuclear boats.

Secure our baseline fleet of submarine numbers first, then begin looking around around when we have the luxury once more of doing so.

Ace Rimmer
November 17, 2014 11:01 am

Although I’m not a fan of SSBN’s, SSN’s are a different matter altogether, the ability to deploy long range submarine patrols, unrefuelled, shouldn’t be underestimated. If I had my way the new carriers would’ve been nuclear powered to, but that’s a different thread. For me it gives us an element of relative independence from oil, granted not 100% independence, at least until an alternative becomes available.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 17, 2014 11:20 am

After Nicola Sturgeon’s comment about the Trident replacement is it time to review our sub requirements and have a plan B? SSGN’s?

mickp
mickp
November 17, 2014 11:24 am

@TOC, I agree SSNs are priority, if we can in future squeeze a few SSKs but only for the reasons I mentioned earlier then fine. I would much rather see effort and money into an evolutionary batch 2 of Astute, say 1-3 boats

On the ring fencing point which I seemed to start off, I was looking at it in the context of UK based military manufacturing capability. In that context Barrow, and the ability to build world class SSNs / SSBNs is a real top table national asset. Not that we would but we could get practically all other ships and military equipment manufactured elsewhere. Only the US and probably France have equal or better SSN manufacturing. Its a vital part of our ability to maintain CASD.

If we were talking of ring fencing in terms of RN capability, then that would be a much wider debate I am sure. My own view would be CASD, UK / FI EEZ basic patrol (incl MPA) including SSBN security and MCM, a continuous ability to deploy a CVF centered task group with appropriate escorts (open for debate how many, 4 or 5 at most?), F35s and RFA, and integral RM to the extent of strategic raiding / hostage rescue / port securing capability and otherwise the ability to project power globally only by the deployment of SSNs. From that I would probably see a bit of rebalancing from DD/FF/Amphibs to SSNs. Of course that all presumes a lead from the top, ie HMG in terms of strategic direction

MSR
MSR
November 17, 2014 11:42 am

As a sacred cow topic, this one’s a good ‘un, and it might also serve to kill two birds with one stone: the provision of a decent size submarine fleet (6 or 7 units just won’t be enough) and the provision of sufficient opportunities for independent command as to ensure good career progression/retention (don’t want to end up like Australia) and good development of future leaders.

Where else do we see this discussed? In the two-tier surface fleet debate. So, the proposal is essentially for a two-tier submarine fleet, and it probably makes even more sense than it does for the surface fleet! The sub fleet is always going to be smaller, so we need to find ways to cost-effectively expand the value of both the service and the industry that supports it. The nuclear element is only that: an element. All the other skills and technologies that go into an SSN can equally well be applied to an SSK…

And they have been, already. The Upholders. We should have kept building them. Nuke boats without the nuke bit, but systems commonality with their nuke siblings and thus, shared training and logistics, transferable skills and personnel, and a better employed industry with fatter order books, and a defence industrial strategy that could actually mean something more than a few headlines in marginal shipbuilding seats.

However, the two-tier comparison doesn’t fit, exactly. An SSK is not equivalent, in submariner terms, to an OPV. It’s the full blown Type 45 (plus strike) but with an all diesel set instead of the GT. The cost savings don’t come from cheap subs, they come from a more complete utilisation of all the skills and investment in both the operational fleet and the industry that supports it. It would be reasonable to expect the price of certain long lead items, and the cost of producing materials, to be amortised across a construction cycle by a back-to-back production run of SSNs followed by SSKs, even given that the hull designs and displacements will differ significantly.

And then there’s the export potential. It was often said that the Upholders would have sold well to Western operators had they been continued, precisely because they were essentially nuke boats without the nuke.

British shipbuilding is in decline partly (and only partly) because it can’t compete for metal bashing jobs in a world in which the vast majority of the foreign market is for simple OPV-style ships, or light war vessels, that are basically cheap hulls with MOTS kit bolted on. It is often said that the UK in all its industries should focus on the high-end, knowledge-based, high tech stuff. Well, you don’t get more high tech than submarines!

So tick all the boxes. I’ll take a dozen nukeless baby Astutes with an ISD for the first unit in 2027.

mickp
mickp
November 17, 2014 11:43 am

@DN won’t the plan B be covered if the successor SSBNs have the new launch tube modules being designed in the US that could be adapted for say TLAMs? I think we have to build successor with a degree of flexibility in mind in – in their lifetime much could change.

mike
mike
November 17, 2014 12:40 pm

I agree with general mood here, we can only really talk about ‘nice to have’ SSK’s when we have sufficient SSN’s for our needs.
Clearly, an SSK certainly more suited to the snooping missions – the S. Koreans can attest to that (maybe the Swedes too!) but with our budget and desire/need for a world presence, an SSK just doesn’t fit the need atm.

Btw, @MSR, I like your avatar there :D
BERT! MORE SUBMARINES!

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 12:41 pm

Couple of elephants in the room related to working on the baseline fleet before you move onto non-nuclear options:

1) The first is the lure of a common class of SSBGN’s to form Successor and potentially go on to form the basis of the Astute replacement, likely in “shortened” variants. 11 SSBGN’s seems like a flexible baseline fleet, especially when leveraging the CMC [1] which is far more than a simple set of tubes (see details on Special Forces, Cruise Missiles, UUV’s, UAV’s, etc at the referenced source).

Even if we assume for the purpose of discussion that a Successor design (or shortened variant thereof) is able to perform the Astute-roles without compromise:

1.a) Temptation to drop the number of boats from 7 + 4 will become immense politically;

1.b) We’d need to factor in a drum-beat of both the design and build process or risk the skills gap we almost fell deeply into with Astute.

2) The second is the issue of having a clear delineation between deterrent (SSBN), SSGN and HK roles.

2.a) What are current treaty standings on the UK having a number of boats deployed, any or all of which could have our deterrent spread between them? A “shortened Successor” may still carry a couple of D5’s for example, even though its stated purpose is to carry Cruise Missiles and other “flexible payloads”.

2.b) What are the political impacts and our attitudes towards them? For example consider the likely different Russian and Argentinian responses as well as port visit issues if the hosting nation cannot tell that the vessel has nuclear weapons on board, let alone knowledge of the reactor.

[1] http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/cmc-contract-to-define-future-ssbn-launchers-for-uk-usa-05221/

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2014 1:30 pm

Is the high-end opposite to metal bashing ” hull casting”?

I believe the pressure hulls for the new Spanish boats (if they still have the budget) will be made in the UK, RE:

“it can’t compete for metal bashing jobs in a world in which the vast majority of the foreign market is for simple OPV-style ships, or light war vessels, that are basically cheap hulls with MOTS kit bolted on. It is often said that the UK in all its industries should focus on the high-end, knowledge-based, high tech stuff. Well, you don’t get more high tech than submarines!”

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 17, 2014 1:58 pm

No. They won’t. What you are referring to is a small part of the p/h that is particularly suited to manufacture by a particular machine that lives in Barrow and is tended by a gang of about half a dozen people who actually know how to use it……..

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 2:06 pm

The Machine:

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 2:21 pm

In the merry old land of Oz they are looking to purchase a Dozen or so AIP SSK’s , maybe a Japanese Sōryū (all ready in service) or an evolved 214 ,the 216 (still somewhere over the Rainbow in CAD land) .BAES Australia are likely to get the contract as like here there is no one else. If we go the SSK route at some stage we just use that design , let the Antipodeans sort the bugs out of their ‘special’ version and we build it under licence . Obviously the RN would have to be ordered to leave tweaking the design well alone or they will cost twice as much and delivered 10 years late.

Rocket Banana
November 17, 2014 2:57 pm

If an AIP SSK could operate from a mothership via an umbillical (for either recharge power or diesel) then doesn’t that possibly create a very cheap way to provide expeditionary naval special forces insertion and/or a littoral hunter/killer?

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 3:38 pm

A little more on the Japanese Sōryū , the one ordered for this year is 51.3bn Yen or £282mn
http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_budget/pdf/251009.pdf
Page 38
An interesting document , 4 P1 MPA are on order for 77.3bn Yen or £425mn (about £105mn each) , 4 F35A are on order for 69.3bn Yen or £381mn (about £95mn each)

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 17, 2014 3:41 pm

@ Monkey

Surely ASC will get the contract, it is far better suited to their capabilities than the AWD contract they have at the moment, which is probably better suited to BAE Australia. That is if ASC survives the AWD contract.

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 4:08 pm

@Engineer Tom
That’s just it, will ASC survive building ships? They have made a hash of the 3 Hobart AWD and the Knights in shining armour from BAES have been drafted in to fix the problems even though one of the original blocks made by them was distorted and had work taken away from them so they could finish the Canberra.
http://www.naval-technology.com/features/featureradical-shake-up-planned-for-australias-hobart-class-destroyers-4331497/

a
a
November 17, 2014 4:12 pm

“If an AIP SSK could operate from a mothership via an umbillical (for either recharge power or diesel) then doesn’t that possibly create a very cheap way to provide expeditionary naval special forces insertion and/or a littoral hunter/killer?”

Refuelling SSKs at sea is decades old technology. (“Milchkuhe” U-boats in the Second World War.) All you need is a tanker (surface or submarine) with UNREP fittings.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 17, 2014 4:31 pm

The tea leaves coming from down under suggest that ASC will (at best) get to build some follow-on Soryu or T216 after Japan has shown them how to do it. At worst, the ASC enterprise transforms into a support and operating authority, rather than a design and build entity.

Big decisions. Big implications. Naval shipbuilding is not cheap and cannot long survive in a vacuum, unless the state is prepared to support it. One of the things that we have sleepwalked into to some degree is strategic dependence on “someone else” to supply our aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles and potentially ships. That consolidation process does not suddenly stop at a magic balance it follows the Highlander principle – “in the end, there can be only one”.

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 4:32 pm

An article on AIP v Nuclear Hunter Killer subs.
http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/aip-vs-nuclear-submarines/
Towards the end it lists a series of Naval exercises were battery powered subs have achieved confirmed ‘sinking’s’ of US Carriers and Nuclear HK subs.
EDIT
@NaB
Indeed we need to keep our manufacturing/design expertise on all our current manufacturing. On an aside when BAES Warton stops building Typhoons what are they going to build? At present I see nothing other than maybe assembling bits of F35B.

mickp
mickp
November 17, 2014 5:07 pm

@monkey, an interesting article. Of course it could just mean the USN is rubbish at ASW. However, assuming that is not the case, then it does seem to give weight of evidence in SSK favour. Dramatically in some areas painting the SSNs as very noisy beasts relatively. I’m not convinced this isn’t an unbiased view and I’d like to see a counter argument which I assume the USN, RN and French Navy will have to support continued SSN build. Neverthless back to my original point that having some of these in the RN to both balance capabilities (deploy right type to right area) and provide some important organic ASW training is something that should be considered

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 5:34 pm

@mickp
I suspect it is a biased article but facts are facts that in this day and age of SSN there is still a role for an affordable (a Sōryū for £282mn) and to quote Adm Z ,credible vessel. My self I think we should scrap the £50bn to £100bn SSBN replacement and build on the knowledge of the Astute’s with the PWR3 all ready in design and arm them with VSL or conventionally launched Nuclear tipped Tomahawks as our contribution to the deterrent. I know we are paying towards the LEP of the Trident D5 but hey ho sometimes you have to realized the long term saving is worth writing off some expenditure. Doubling the number of SSN would give the chances of a deterrent of some sort surviving whilst giving you 7 more boats that are more than a one trick pony.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 17, 2014 5:47 pm

An stimulating topic, and much wisdom posted already.

There is an argument to be made for SSKs, and undoubtedly, where budgets allowed, it would represent a useful tier. However, I am not convinced that the savings would really be significant, because it isn’t simply a question of comparing the headline price of one boat to the other. What ultimate savings might accrue when running two platforms might not be ‘significant’ when compared with the considerable loss in war-fighting and winning power.

I think that often, politicians (and others) lose sight of the fact that all of these platforms should be configured to actually fight a hard war, and win. As the Cabinet was firmly briefed in 1982, you have to accept that there are going to be losses, so the fact that an odd SSK here and there scores a kill in favourable situations is not strategically relevant. There should be enough capability left and at sea to grind it out to the end, and half a dozen top tier SSNs up-front in any emergency give more ‘options’ than any other platform.

I have previously stated that the answer is 15 Astutes, whatever the question. Not easy, I readily concede, but given project costs like those of the Typhoon and MRTT, eminently affordable, considering the timescale needed to build such a fleet.

Recce, Intel, SF deployment, EW, land attack, surface attack, ASW, deterrent, speed, range, endurance, TLAM, diplomacy and complete credibility. Built in Barrow. What’s not to like ?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 17, 2014 6:27 pm

“My self I think we should scrap the £50bn to £100bn SSBN replacement and build on the knowledge of the Astute’s with the PWR3 all ready in design and arm them with VSL or conventionally launched Nuclear tipped Tomahawks as our contribution to the deterrent. I know we are paying towards the LEP of the Trident D5 but hey ho sometimes you have to realized the long term saving is worth writing off some expenditure. Doubling the number of SSN would give the chances of a deterrent of some sort surviving whilst giving you 7 more boats that are more than a one trick pony.”

Really?

You do realise that there are no Tomahawks with bucket of sunshine capability anymore?

You also realise that even if there were, there are no UK warheads that would fit them?

You are aware of the launch range of a TLAM-N? Take about 10% of that off to allow for different attack axes and then draw a radius from potential targets. Then compare that with (say) 5000nm for a D5. Notice any difference in the area of sea for a defender to cover and its proximity to likely hostile forces? How much of that is on the Con Shelf?

Have a think about whether a 500kt small aircraft can be damaged by the following (AAA, MANPADS, SAM) and then think about what is required to hit a small inbound ballistic warhead traveling at hypersonic speed.

Still think you’re improving survivability and credibility of the deterrent?

And then consider likely reactions if you want to start lobbing conventional Tomahawk relatively freely, when it is known your force has sunshine tipped ones.

It’s the sort of thinking that even the LibDems have finally concluded is barking….

Mark
Mark
November 17, 2014 7:02 pm

“And then consider likely reactions if you want to start lobbing conventional Tomahawk relatively freely, when it is known your force has sunshine tipped ones.”

Hasn’t stopped the US.

The new defence bill specifically says the conventionally-armed version of the new missile must reach IOC prior to retirement of the conventional warhead-equipped AGM-86. Likewise, LRSO missiles with nuclear warheads must achieve the same status before the retirement of nuclear-armed AGM-86s.”

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf39s-lrso-missile-may-reach-ioc-around-2030-394622/

Nor the Chinese conventional ballistic missiles

WiseApe
November 17, 2014 7:10 pm

SSKs? Sorry, not even in my fantasy fleet. SSGNs? Now we’re talking.

Plenty of our allies have SSKs; I’m sure we train “against” them regularly. If we want more command opportunities, build more SSN/GN.

Hybrid propulsion? Smacks of STOBAR!

x
x
November 17, 2014 7:17 pm

Sir Clive Sinclair came up with the idea of a deterrent using millions of nuclear armed tortoises like robots. His idea was that the enemy would struggle to find and stop all the robots before one or more reach their intended targets. If only he had made that leap and suggested turtles instead of tortoises…………

Further I sometimes wonder if the RN fails to attract enough bubbleheads because frankly they have all become a bit blasé about the life below and potential recruits think it is all a bit boring. They scoff at deliberately sinking their ship, careering about in a something half as long as the Eiffel Tower at tens of knots with just a bleep and ping from some electronic gubbins to guide them, with a few hundred KG of HE at one end, lots of nuclear warheads on top of lots of highly inflammable rocket fuel in the muddle, and all pushed along by an industrial scale atomic BV. No what they want to be is a bit of uncertainty; no of this high precision high technology digital smart engineering rhubarb. Forget Nipponese SSKs or ones from IKEA I say bring back the old K class. 24kts on the surface. Two 4inch guns; one better than Daring. Unreliable steam plants. Proper old fashioned batteries that gave off noxious fumes. And bulkheads that couldn’t stand much pressure; you may dive down with aplomb but who knows if you will return? By ‘eck they would be queuing around the block to join the service if they were just offered a bit of real danger. This is what the submarine service needs not this hybrid AIP cabbage. If we only use mineral water for the feed and burnt olive oil I am sure they would be the greenest vessels of any navy in the world. Heh! Perhaps we could even paint them yellow…………..?

No I haven’t read any of the posts above. I bet somebody has suggested replacing Trident with a cruise missile or a bomber aeroplane. I bet somebody has suggested has cutting the number of “bombers” from 4 to 3 to fund something else. I bet we have already started to discuss merging Successor with the Astute replacement. And I bet that the term SSGN has been mentioned too. Do try harder peeps……….

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 7:21 pm

@NaB
I agree it is nothing but a limited threat but when it comes to spending £50bn+ when we slashing all the conventional services to pay for a one trick pony we will never use I would go for the limited response and have the money spent across the services over the next 20 years or so instead. Will losing our place on the permanent security council even happen if we stopped having ‘credible’ deterrent. Recreating 1960’s technology to arm the TLAM with a nuke I am sure is possible.

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 7:35 pm

Deterrent in a nutshell:

If you choose to have it, you have to have CASD in the case of the UK. You don’t have the luxury of landspace or volumes. Nothing else is a deterrent.

If you choose not to have it, you hand the money back to the treasury. You might get a token “rebate” until the next SDSR. Government have the NHS, Pensions and Social care bills to pay. Being able to repurpose Deterrent funds means they don’t have to take on the various Unions defending final salary pensions that are effectively based on a generational Ponzi scheme model.

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 7:43 pm

@X

You missed SSBGN, drum beats, shortened variants and Argentina. That just just one of my posts…

Rocket Banana
November 17, 2014 7:51 pm

You lot are sooooo backward…

The Underminer

Imagine some of those lying dormant below your enemy’s cities… now that’s a deterrent ;-)

The Other Chris
November 17, 2014 8:17 pm

I see your fictional super-villain and I raise you classic 1950s bonkers British thinking:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Peacock

WiseApe
November 17, 2014 8:54 pm
cky7
cky7
November 17, 2014 9:12 pm

“An article on AIP v Nuclear Hunter Killer subs.
http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/aip-vs-nuclear-submarines/
Towards the end it lists a series of Naval exercises were battery powered subs have achieved confirmed ‘sinking’s’ of US Carriers and Nuclear HK subs.”

Err, i wouldn’t pay too much credence to that article, I’ve read a fair bit of that guy’s articles on that blog, he’s also a fairly active fanboy type poster on Indiadefence. While i’ll admit he seems to know a fair bit for an amateur, if you read all his articles its pretty clear he makes his mind up before he does any research then loos for reasons/evidence to back up his beliefs. He’s constantly on about how a good portion of western defence theory is completely wrong on a number of issues, despite them having access to info he doesn’t and ignores evidence from actual combat results when it suits him. That sounds harsher than i meant it to but i really wouldn’t pay too much mind to it.
Look at the ten or so instances he quotes of SSKs having a good day against the USN (he hates anything american military!) since 1980. Thing is how many other exercises have their been over all since then? He has no evidence of how many times SSNs have had the better of it or indeed if they’d also scored some kills themselves on the same exercises. A couple of bits of anecdotal evidence from exercises which he starts off by decrying as not realistic, doesn’t mean much in my book.
As others have mentioned from what i understand a few (4) SSKs for defensive roles would be nice but might be hard in the current bidget….

monkey
monkey
November 17, 2014 10:25 pm

@cky7
He/she is a bit one sided and doesn’t bring much of a counterpoint to their arguments I would agree.
A film on the RANS Rankin ‘sinking’ a US Destroyer.

Jonathan
Jonathan
November 17, 2014 11:23 pm

If we are talking fantasy (and going back to a mixed fleet is just that) What about ordering a seaquest DSV. That would kick everyone else’s SSN/SSK fleets into obsolesce.

Observer
Observer
November 18, 2014 12:58 pm

I won’t read too much into “almost sunk carrier”, IIRC, in the old exercises, the USN would let allied subs train to get a target picture on one of their carriers. It was to vet their firing protocol. I won’t be surprised if some layman heard a sub driver talking about it and assumed that it was a live run.

Jonathan, first you have to define what is a “Seaquest”, IIRC that was the name of the sub, not a class.

monkey
monkey
November 18, 2014 2:31 pm

@Observer
The US paid for the Swedish AIP submarine Gotland to work with them out of San Diego for a year in 2005.
During this time she eluded detection and had kills against Los Angeles class SSN and also the USS Ronald Reagan. The USN hired the Gotland for a further year whilst it tried to work out how to track and sink it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoMj1TjNTFw
The USN openly admitted it was very frustrated with its inability to find a solution at that time as its Air, Surface and Subsurface assets regularly failed. They should have set their sensors to listen for the sound of Swedish sailors laughing. Or maybe Chinese submariners laughter as they surfaced inside the USS Kitty Hawks battle fleet during an operational exercise in 2007. Or the Australians in Op Silent Fury in 2005 posted above were the 4 vessels hunting them were supposed to turn of their sonar at the start of the Op to give the Rankin a chance but didn’t and they still got their kill.

Jeremy M H
November 18, 2014 3:34 pm

@monkey

There is no doubt ssk units can be deadly. Particularly in exercises with limited spaces and in denial of access roles. Almost any sub creeping around at the speeds AIP subs usually function at is at a huge advantage to those trying to either transit or conduct flight and escort operations in the area.

That is just the nature of the beast. If you run over a already positioned sub at a fleet speed of 20 knots you exercise you damage control and te next unit takes up the fight.

In a real war which is a more wide ranging scenario you do a few more things. You can use things like SURTAS, SOSUS, space assets and aerial recon to catch those glimpses of the sub snorkeling or in transit and just sleep you distance. You can conduct barrier operations to make them use up battery power. You can strike at such units in port when the go back to refuel. You can make snorkeling dangerous with MPAs and UAVs.

In real war the ssk still has many advantages but picks up the big weakness not there in most exercises which is its biggest downside. It has to get to where the action is covertly. Move an AIP sub at 15 knots and it’s time underwater gets really short. An exercise is pointless if the SSK never gets within 100 miles of the target. No one learns anything.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 18, 2014 4:51 pm

How many subs does the RN need to keep British submarine building skills going? My guess is 15, based on , one new sub every 2 years, each with a lifetime of 30 years. So if we have 4 SSBN + 7 SSN = 11, so 4 short. Either extra SSN or a licence built or joint developed SSK. Perhaps a smaller SSN like the French build? A smaller nuke sub, could sneak into shallower water.
Changing subject, there is no point having a small nuclear deterrent that no longer deters. A country the size of Russia or China is big enough to absorb a small number of 100 kt warheads going off. Austerity Britain in the 1950s thought that 200 warheads was the smallest credible deterrent. I still think its true.

monkey
monkey
November 18, 2014 5:26 pm

The new Successor I believe is going to have 8 tubes with SLEP Trident D5 missiles restricted under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to 8 warheads a piece. We use the 100kt W76 warheads (in a Mark 4 re-entry vehicle) so we will have 64 100kt warheads per boat. Assuming one boat on station and another returning from or going to its assigned patrol area that would give us 128 100kt warheads. We could certainly rearrange a few cities with those and provide a credible deterrent.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 18, 2014 5:44 pm

I thought UK Trident missiles were to be limited to 4 warheads each. Is it not some new international agreement?

monkey
monkey
November 18, 2014 5:57 pm

Hartley
I think the MK 4 could take up to a dozen W76 warheads but the START III limits a missile to 8.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UGM-133_Trident_II#Specifications
But it is only wiki :-)

Anixtu
Anixtu
November 18, 2014 6:09 pm

monkey,

The UK is not a party to any of the treaties you have referred to.

monkey
monkey
November 18, 2014 7:29 pm

@Anixtu
I know but we like to take part !
The 1998 Strategic Defence Review reduced our load out to 48 warheads on the Vanguards and the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review reduced our load out to 40 warheads making room it said for ‘other’ payloads on the remaining missiles , Thors Hammer was toted about, a bundle of tungsten rods coming in at hyper velocity. As NaB said yesterday and Mick I think countered’ if you launch something conventional via a SLBM who is to know what it is actually armed with. Would you trust a phone call from Cameron assuring you it was not a nuke? If we can indeed fit a dozen to each missile so much the better come an inspection we will be safe from Putin’s wrath. It all ways made me laugh some aspects of START this being one, come the day after Judgement Day I am sure there will be lawyers outside the Hague touting for business in an effort to sue one side or the other for using too many Nukes and bring the ‘guilty’ to justice after the world has gone up in a puff of smoke.

Observer
Observer
November 18, 2014 8:26 pm

monkey, so you fire off a “conventional” ICBM and the Russians fill your airspace with instant sunshine thinking it was a nuke?

Anyway, moot point. The “Rods from God” concept is pretty dead for now, they could not be aimed with any accuracy nor do any significant area damage. Think of it as something like a bunker buster, lots of focused damage but not much area effect, with the added disadvantage of being unable to target a bunker accurately. Something to do with random wind currents in the atmosphere causing fluctuations from the aiming point IIRC. You do know that this idea has been kicking around since the 70s and got nowhere?

As for Chinese subs, no one knows the back story of that. For all we know, it was detected and ignored. Unless you want to kill a few Chinese sailors and start WWIII for them running into you in *international waters*? Or you could try to kill them and walk away pretending you never saw them?

Did the US declare war on China when I was not looking? If not, then they can’t kill people for kicks.

Might want to ask the career sailors here, especially those with sub experience. Think almost every exercise, the USN will allow a tracking exercise against one of their carriers. This has led to a lot of XYZ can kill a carrier fan reports when in fact it was just a dry run exercise to get experience for sub drivers.

Rocket Banana
November 18, 2014 8:31 pm

However much we might like the current SSKs (especially the Gotland) we have to remember that the current ultimate will be a nuclear heated Stirling engine.

I would hope massively that “successor” applies this almost silent technology, especially when one realises that a Stirling engine need not contain pistons rocking back-and-forth to create rotational energy to be converted back into lateral thrust by a prop.

GW
GW
November 18, 2014 8:40 pm

I think, in practice, the question is still ‘Is an Astute worth 4-5 SSKs to a cash-strapped government?’. The Government could have 12 SSKs, sell it as an increase in the Navy, add more jobs, maintain a flow at a sub-producing facility, possibly get export orders and still have £6Bn left over. Military sense says Astutes but…..

Martin
Editor
November 19, 2014 2:35 am

@ GW

The issue is what would we do with 12 SSK’s. We have little threat near home. Most of our SSN commitments are thousands of miles from home in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic. SSK’s may be cheaper but if you are going to factor in forward basing the cost will rise dramatically and you would need allot more that 12 to replace a fleet of 7 SSN’s. Both we and the Americans got rid of SSK’s for good reason.

GW
GW
November 19, 2014 7:47 am

I assure you that I agree that SSNs are the answer but the point is that politicians make the ultimate decision, not the military, and it wouldn’t be the first time that a politically attractive decision trumped a military one.

a
a
November 19, 2014 10:38 am

“a Stirling engine need not contain pistons rocking back-and-forth to create rotational energy to be converted back into lateral thrust by a prop.”

A nuclear submarine does not contain pistons either. They use steam turbines.

I suppose it would be possible to build a nuclear-heated steam piston engine, but why? Sheer industrial nostalgia?

rec
rec
November 19, 2014 11:09 am

SSKs are very useful,
Firstly they are quiet and good for coastal work and surveillance, special forces work and for checking your key harbours aren’t being snooped on.
Secondly they are cheaper to operate,
Thirdly they are force multipliers, just 5 would provide good training for future CO’s and training for all crews.
Fourthly, they are easier to dispose of when withdrawn from service, just look at Rosytth and Devonport filling up with decommissioned SSNS and SSBNs.
I think we would be much better of with no SSBNS and 9 Astute class plus 7SSks

Observer
Observer
November 19, 2014 12:22 pm

Operationally, I know it is counterintuitive, but SSBK? If your deterrent keeps close to home under the eye of “Home Fleet” and the RAF, how hard is it to take out? Would dropping a nuke on a patch of ocean be enough to kill the submarine? Or would the ocean serve as enough of a shield to let it survive and pop one right back?

monkey
monkey
November 19, 2014 12:47 pm

There are other potential savings with the AIP SSK if we went for the Type 216 option in that their complement is a third of an Astute (and a quarter of a Trafalgar or Vanguard) , we could have 4 SSK for every SSBN we choose not to have in terms of manpower (dockside facilities and personnel not withstanding).

I would see the use for SSK’s being to help close the GIUK gap and the North Sea fields from Russian intrusion with the GIUK boats based out of Iceland and the North Sea boats out of Rosyth . In the end though in terms of overall Global use SSN is the only game in town.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 19, 2014 1:03 pm

Ohh, that pesky Observer again, asking so many questions

Wiki says http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WE.177
“During the Falklands war of 1982, some Royal Navy ships had WE.177A bombs on board as they headed south. Warships and replenishment ships normally deployed with their assigned nuclear weapons during the Cold War. However, all bombs in their floatable containers were stated by the Ministry of Defence to have been off-loaded from the escort vessels Broadsword, Brilliant, Coventry (sunk in action), and Sheffield (sunk in action), for storage in the better-protected deep magazines aboard Hermes, Invincible and the fleet replenishment ships Fort Austin, Regent, Resource and Fort Grange accompanying the Task Force. Hermes and Invincible then had aboard 40% and 25% respectively of the entire Royal Navy stockpile of WE.177A weapons[5] and there was concern at their possible loss in action, and the consequences if a military emergency should develop simultaneously in the NATO area where these weapons were intended for use. It is not clear if the weapons were removed from deep storage on these vessels, before the Task Force engaged in action around the Falkland Islands, although the MoD assert that these ships did not enter Falkland Islands territorial waters or any other areas subject to the Treaty of Tlatelolco (that established the Latin America Nuclear Weapons Free Zone), to which the UK was a signatory. The MoD assert that the Task Force Commander-in-Chief was given instructions on deployment of his forces to avoid any breach of the treaty”

Loadsa people have asserted that the carriers were kept unduly distant form the main action… could that be that it was to NOT enter the territorial waters of what is construed to be part of Latin America/ treaty area?

@ Observer, 10kt yield reduced by a factor of 20 for use on the littoral. As that is what you mostly have, please adjust the shopping list accordingly.

MSR
MSR
November 20, 2014 2:20 pm

[quote]
“a Stirling engine need not contain pistons rocking back-and-forth to create rotational energy to be converted back into lateral thrust by a prop.”

A nuclear submarine does not contain pistons either. They use steam turbines.

I suppose it would be possible to build a nuclear-heated steam piston engine, but why? Sheer industrial nostalgia?
[/quote]

Agreed. A radioisotope thermoelectric generator might be fine for a satellite, space probe or a lighthouse north of the Arctic circle, but even the best designs can’t produce the level of output needed to push a submarine along at much above a crawl. I vaguely recall something about the Canadians considering such a system to provide the Upholders with some under-ice capability, but it wouldn’t have given them more than a couple of knots. Enough for steerage way and to eke out their reserves for a few extra weeks.

Martin
Editor
November 20, 2014 2:58 pm

@ Monkey we can’t close the GIUK Gap to Russian submarines as its international water. we can’t even stop the Russians parking an aircraft carrier 15 miles of Edinburgh for the same reason. we may use submarines to follow Russian vessels but when a Russian SSN doing 30 knots goes by an SSK that can do 20 at best then we will find the SSK will be unable to keep track of it for long.

No doubt SSK’s are great for defending a coast line or a choke point but we don’t have such a requirement. Nine times out of ten we will be the attacking force not the defending one.

GW
GW
November 20, 2014 3:07 pm

It looks like CND have launched a new campaign against the Successor SSBN. While they may not have the power they used to, the Scottish Nationalists don’t appear to be big fans either and they may have a useful block of votes in the next parliament. Probably not enough to derail the programme but, added to the £100Bn cost and the financial climate, it certainly won’t help.

martin
Editor
November 20, 2014 3:32 pm

@ GW

Given the political situation in Scotland it would seem insane for the MOD to consider basing successor in Scotland. With such a small fleet its hard for the RN to justify three bases as well. The SNP are not calling for the scrapping of trident but its removal from Scotland. Seems like a pretty sensible idea all round and could save billions in the future should Scotland ever leave. Devenport gets all the benefit of submarine refitting work since Rosyth got shaffted and the Tory’s left a 500 million pound hole in the ground so don’t see why they should not also host submarines and their missiles as well.

wf
wf
November 20, 2014 3:53 pm

: I’m sure @APATS can confirm, but I believe there are issues getting SSBN into Devonport now, let alone with Successor. You can only do so twice a month and all that. Perhaps we could dredge like Portsmouth, but….

Personally, I would prefer we keep the three bases, but ensure the assets can be spread around more. Happy to see a carrier in Faslane if two V boats can be based in Portsmouth….

GW
GW
November 20, 2014 4:12 pm
Reply to  martin

The SNP are indeed wanting to scrap Trident

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20020839

martin
Editor
November 20, 2014 4:24 pm

@ GW – That’s an old article. The Deal that the current SNP is offering to Labour to form a coalition is the removal of trident from Scottish waters. If we have to invest billions in new assets to handle successor then makes sense to do so in England.

@ WF

I would love to see four bases and a 100 ship navy but its not going to happen. One just has to look at the size of Portsmouth alone to see than we probably have way more bases than needed. Cutting a base could save hundreds of millions a year that could be used to keep more warships running. If Trident and the SSN fleet are to leave Faslane then it probably makes the most sense to close Faslane.

GW
GW
November 20, 2014 4:35 pm

I don’t disagree, I’m just saying that the SNP does not support the Successor programme and that could be 30-ish votes against it. There’s probably also a chunk of Labour MPs who aren’t fans either. I also don’t think a situation where SSBNs couldn’t be based or even maybe transition through ‘Scottish’ waters is desireable, even were the SSBNs to be based in RUK.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 20, 2014 5:18 pm

“One just has to look at the size of Portsmouth alone to see than we probably have way more bases than needed. Cutting a base could save hundreds of millions a year that could be used to keep more warships running”

You are aware that once QE & PoW are operational that berthing space in Portsmouth will be at an absolute premium? All the guff spouted in the naval base reviews about excess naval base capacity was literally just half-wittery. Any excess capacity referred primarily to estate area in the older part of the base, not waterfront.

Berthing and maintenance space is a major drama. With both carriers in, the western jetties are essentially full, leaving only FLJ and NWW, plus possibly NCJ to hold however many of 6 T45, plus up to 6 T26 if it’s a leave period. Devonport is in a marginally better state now the boats have gone north, but with WML hosting amphibs, South and Morice yards potentially closing for redevelopment, the North yard wharves are going to be busy too.

monkey
monkey
November 20, 2014 5:53 pm

“Nicola Sturgeon sets out her conditions for an SNP deal with Labour.
New party leader says Miliband would have to “rethink” Trident renewal and austerity as she positions herself to Salmond’s left.”
Successor ,if its built, needs a new home by 2028 , at the rate we plan things and implement them they will be based at Barrow where they will be built however f**king stupid that would be.

The main assembly hall is a very very very big shed!
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/01/17/barrow.jpg
http://www.cumbriacrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-06-1323-0091.jpg

WiseApe
November 20, 2014 5:59 pm

@Observer – I would say that if someone has dropped a nuke on your deterrent then it has already failed in its purpose :-(

Edit: £300 million spent on Barrow, with not a penny spent on the roads in and out.

Observer
Observer
November 20, 2014 6:08 pm

Wise, they can drop a nuke on it all they want, the important question really is can they kill it under all that water with an ICBM? I know there were nuclear depth charges and mines designed to kill subs underwater, but is an ICBM able to replicate that performance? In the case I’m suggesting, it involves a doctrine change from hiding in deep water as protection to being more or less known, but ringed in protection and using the water as a shield. In a way it is a throwback to something like the elevated mobile launchers. You know they are there, but can you kill them enough to make a difference? And it’s just a brainstorm idea, I’ve no idea on the performance parameters of a nuke underwater.

monkey
monkey
November 20, 2014 6:24 pm

@Observer
ACC posted a link further up to the WE.177A , in deep water it was set at its maximum of 10kt which was considered sufficient to sink even a deep diving sub. If one of our Tridents D5 carrying a full load out of 12 MIRV each of 100kt which has a 10m CEP , its bye bye submarine ! Even if you are not exactly sure where it is a spread 1 per square kilometre should do it.

WiseApe
November 20, 2014 6:32 pm

@Observer – Ah right, I see where you’re coming from. No, I don’t know either. The fact that no one’s tried it, while not surefire, is I think a good indication of the likelihood of its success. Still, putting your deterrent on an SSBN and sending it off into the deep blue yonder does have the value of taking out the guesswork.

“…the important question really is can they kill it…” In the mad world of MAD, it’s not what’s possible that matters, it’s what your opponent thinks is possible. I don’t like any wriggle room in those calculations.

Anixtu
Anixtu
November 20, 2014 7:04 pm

Sounds a bit like the Soviet SSBN bastion strategy.

Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson
November 21, 2014 10:38 am

This is sad reading.

LEADERSHIP AND DIRECTION

In the ‘old days’ we had a clear vision of what we intended to deliver. However within the modern world that ‘vision’ has become clouded. Having a ‘broad vision’ is equivalent to having ‘no vision’. Having ‘no vision’ hampers ‘leadership’ and this is exactly the message that is conveyed within the thread. The result is speculation, confusion and bureaucracy.

Taking a holistic view the thread contains both truth, inaccuracies and is no more than opinion.
Clearly the opportunities to export nuclear submarines are limited (the bilateral 1958 ‘US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement’ http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-09-26/209762/) so if export was a key driver it would be necessary for UK submarine industry to go down the SSK route.

HISTORY

In the late 1960/1970’s VICKERS were designing an SSK for the export market, however, it was not a success. Due to limitations within our submarine building community, it was modified and was embraced by the UK Government (for political reasons and to overcome a shortfall in the UKs submarine building capacity) a number of SSKs were ordered to fill a specific role. Those submarines were the UPHOLDER Class (http://www.navalreview.ca/2012/05/some-history-of-the-upholder-class-submarines/).

By early 1990 political changes and improvements to SSN technologies meant, it was unaffordable. UPHOLDER was decommissioned to reduce the costs of sustaining two submarine enterprises and retain our ability to build SSN’s. A cost savings measure.

Fundamental differences make it difficult to compare SSN’s and SSK’s – would you compare an ‘electric milk float’ with a ‘white van’ … certainly not though some overlap exists they have different functions. Which leads back to ‘vision’ do you wish to deliver milk within a small area, of do you wish to deliver packages of various sizes across the country? The ‘electric milk float’ has limited use, but the ‘white van’ is more flexible and can perform both functions. Clearly if we have an insufficient demand for vehicles to keep a manufacturing two production line for ‘milk floats’ and another for ‘white vans’) and you have insufficient demands to provide both ‘charging stations’ and ‘petrol stations’ it makes sense to standardise on type of vehicle that can satisfy both needs. What you chose to put into the space behind the cab is a lesser issue because the vehicle is both adaptable and flexible.

COSTS

The Rand reports ‘Learning from Experience’ gives an insight into issues of submarine design and costs http://www.rand.org/topics/submarines.html see also http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080717/text/80717w0035.htm.

It is difficult to compare the costs of SSNs with German SSK’s as you are not necessarily comparing like with like.

In 2008 in response to a question to Mr Bob Ainsworth (the Secretary of State for Defence) he stated that due ‘to the length of time that has elapsed since the commissioning’ (of UPHOLDER)’, the unit cost is no longer held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost’, see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080717/text/80717w0035.htm but other sources suggest that it was probably £900M per platform, see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/hms-upholder.htm. In todays money this would be equivalent to about £1.8B per platform.

CONCLUSION

The fundamental problems are; a lack of vision by the decision makers (caused by uncertainty), the broad spectrum of opinions held by the potential users, the technical advice offered (which is coming from retired military officers and salesmen (spin doctors)) seeking to find work for their organisations and being congenial helpful to the military in order to retain work stream for their organisations, and the lack of scientific experience, innovation, creativity and sound judgment provided (probably because those people have long gone). It is now necessary to have people with vision, experience, take measured risk, speak ‘truth to power’, and are listened to.

The US are still innovating http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2014/11/lduuv-asw-mission.html, however, within the UK costs, timescales, and a lack of expertise appear to rule it out.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 21, 2014 10:56 am

Well said, Tom!

Will have to come back to the history link with better time. 1.88bn!

Observer
Observer
November 21, 2014 11:53 am

Come to think of it Anixtu, that may be right! The Soviets SSBNs were designed to operate closer to home than western ones.

monkey
monkey
November 21, 2014 12:27 pm

Robinson
The US Office of Naval Research have set themselves an admiral goal in developing the ASW LDUUV. Automatous defence of the cluttered harbours and littoral waters as well as the wide open deeps of the Ocean.
The 70 day submerged target (as opposed to the present manned AIP SSK at around 30 days) seems achievable if you remove the oxygen consuming human element and release capacity by removing everything that supports human life and comfort , from air and water purifiers to bunks and galley to the heads and an huge amount more.
The big challenge is the AI not the physical tech.
When they have got it right and proven in service we should buy some if the long term cost savings over manned vessels patrolling within that 70 day range ,and that range can only go up.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 21, 2014 8:13 pm

Tom Robinson’s link to navalreview.ca about the Upholder/ Victoria class highlights the earlier struggles the MOD has had with IP (managing it):

“The Upholder-class unintentionally ended up on the forefront of this new British shipbuilder relationship, which marked a new approach to procurement in the UK. VSEL owned the intellectual property associated with the design. The UK MOD had rights to use the information, but not to sell it or give it to Canada. This situation would later posed some significant challenges for Canadian engineers seeking basic but proprietary information about our new submarines.”

Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson
November 22, 2014 6:18 pm

Use your imagination – could someone develop a nuclear reactor that:

• uses fuels that are cheap and abundant;
• operates safely at atmospheric pressure so does not need pressure vessels;
• is safe and would close down if things go wrong;
• has 200x the energy density of commercial uranium and so could be smaller, or need refuelling less frequently;
• consume rather than produce highly radioactive elements from conventional uranium reactors;
• could be refuelled from an oil drum rather than cutting holes in the pressure hull;
• produces wastes containing short-lived fission products with relatively short half-lives, which would be safe in 300 years, as opposed to the tens of thousands of years for the actinides produced by conventional uranium reactors;
• produces by-products that cannot be used to build nuclear bombs;
• have commercial applications producing portable power stations.

Now suppose that such reactors are being developed under US Chinese collaborations together with US coordinated bilateral nuclear R&D programs with countries such as France, Russia, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Ukraine, South Korea, and possibly Japan, Canada, Germany, India, and Norway.

See:

http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Thorium-Fuelled-Molten-Salt-Reactors-Weinberg-Foundation.pdf and http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1452011/chinese-scientists-urged-develop-new-thorium-nuclear-reactors-2024?page=all.

Read:

http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/blog/

Watch:

http://youtu.be/AptxNrQpGA4, http://youtu.be/knofNX7HCbg and http://youtu.be/P9M__yYbsZ4

Q. So why did the world follow that path that it did?
A. Probably politics (http://whitehousetapes.net/transcript/nixon/004-027) and the vested interests of large corporations.

So why would anyone, other than an accountant or having a vested interest in the old technologies, become excited about SSKs and AIPS? The world is about to change.