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    Friday, December 28, 2007

    New Submarine Developments in Russia

    The Russians are not standing still on the submarine front, either:

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Lots of New Stuff for Aussies!

    The RAN is undertaking a massive modernization of their submarine force, and it is nice to see our second closest ally taking steps to become a siginificant submarine power, who will provide a counter to China, Indonesia, and India.

    This article from the Australian provides details, and a video. Don't expect these to be nuclear submarines, for lots of good reasons, as detailed here.


    Faulty Oil Pump Ties Up HMS Astute; D5 Follow-on Won't Fit!

    The British submarine force, already under fire for cost overruns and the (very)late delivery of HMS Astute, surely don't need more bad news, but, this provides some.

    At the same time, the follow-on to the D5 SLBM looks like it may have some size problems in British SSBN's. Of course, much of this is due to different life spans for British SSBN's and the US SSBN force, and may be much ado about nothing.

    CSS Hunley Becomes Historic Landmark

    The CSS Hunley has become an historical landmark, joining the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell. Pretty good for a Confederate submarine....Read all about it here. N/T.

    Providence Receives MUC

    The USS Providence received a MUC recently.  I know weve talked about this in the submarine blogosphere, but see if you can find whats most interesting about this from the Groton (CT) Day:

    While deployed to the Pacific and Indian oceans from October 2006 to March 2007, the nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine participated in three major training exercises involving Indian and Japanese naval forces.

    Commanding Officer Cmdr. Mike Holland accepted the commendation from Capt. Emil Casciano, Submarine Squadron 2 commodore, at the Naval Submarine Base.”

    Welding Issues Plague NGNN and Our Submarines

    The welding issues at NGNN shipyard is only going to fester for a while longer.

    This is from Defense Daily last week.

    Geoff Fein, Defense Daily, 21 December 2007

    The investigation into welding issues at Northrop Grumman's [NOC] Newport News (NGNN) shipyard that initially led to the tying up of the first three Virginia-class submarines earlier this month has been expanded to include other subs and aircraft carriers, the Navy said.

    The Navy, NGNN, and General Dynamics [GD] Electric Boat are conducting a detailed assessment of completed welds through record reviews and additional inspections.

    The discovery of the weld weaknesses and the resulting inspections have impacted operational testing of the USS Virginia (SSN-774) and pre-commissioned unit North Carolina Sea Trials (Defense Daily, Dec. 10). The USS Texas (SSN-775) was in port at the time.

    The scope of the long-term investigation includes Virginia-class submarines, Los Angeles-class submarines, aircraft carriers and in-service surface ships built or maintained by NGNN from 2000 to 2007, according to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

    "In the aircraft carrier business, this is a very important finding. NGNN knows they have to understand what this means to the aircraft carriers," Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer submarines, said in an interview with Defense Daily earlier this month.

    "We are currently in the process of assessing what ships could be potentially affected, and we anticipate completing our assessment in early January," Jennifer Dellapenta, an NGNN spokeswoman, said yesterday.

    The investigation is the result of a process deficiency at NGNN, which potentially enabled improper weld filler metal to be used on non-nuclear piping systems over an extended period of time, the Navy said. NGNN has revised its procedures and is retraining its workforce on the new procedure. Both NGNN and the Navy are providing additional deckplate oversight to monitor the revised process, the Navy added.

    "The Navy continues to work closely with NGNN to ensure that Navy vessels are built to the highest technical and safety standards. All vessels constructed by or maintained by NGNN since 2000 will undergo a technical assessment of non-nuclear piping systems," according to NAVSEA.

    The internal piping systems under review transport air, water and hydraulic fluid inside the hull of the vessel. Neither the hull nor any nuclear components are affected, the Navy said.

    The Navy will complete an initial assessment of near-term concerns regarding critical welds in late December. The Navy is committed to ensuring the safety of our crews and ships.

    In spring 2008 the Navy and NGNN will complete an analysis of the long-term effects of the weld problem and identify the specific steps to be taken to address the issue. Specific actions may include reworking some welds and conducting routine monitoring or testing of the welds, the Navy said.

    "The Navy will better understand the long-term effects of this problem and associated costs when the investigation is complete," NAVSEA said. "This issue and resulting investigation has had minimal impact to naval operations."

    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Russia: A New Patrol Submarine on the Market

    The Russians recognize the wonderful export possibilities for submarines.  In a world where there will be >1000 submarines, why doesnt the U.S. get in the game?

    From stratfor.com December 4, 2007


    Russia will display its latest patrol submarine at a trade show under way in Malaysia. Already set to be sold to Indonesia, the submarine could see a significant uptick in sales should the design prove to be of sufficient quality and if Russia can produce the submarines efficiently.


    Russia will exhibit its new Amur-1650 patrol submarine at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2007 exhibition in Malaysia Dec. 4-8, according to Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms exporter. Also on display will reportedly be an improved variant of the Kilo class (Project 636) patrol submarine. While the quality of the new design remains to be seen, a capable patrol submarine – both its design and fabrication – is within Russia's demonstrated capabilities. Sales have already been announced to Indonesia and Venezuela.

    Amur is the export designation of the Project 677 Lada class intended for service in the Russian navy. The Amur-1650 and the Amur-950 are the two initial variations being marketed by Rosoboronexport. Their single hull is a significant departure from the double hulls that characterized Soviet submarine design (the additional hull was intended to make the sub more survivable). This move to a single hull makes the Amur-1650 much more comparable in terms of displacement (size) to German and French designs now on the market. Both Amur designs are reportedly capable of being extended to include an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, though the exact nature of Russia's AIP design, or how close it is to being ready for testing, is not clear.

    AIP is now available in the German Type 214 design, which is widely exported and includes such advanced customers as Israel and South Korea. However, even if the Amur series proves uncompetitive with that design, it could still be an attractive option. Both Indonesian and Malaysian defense spending has risen lately, and Indonesia has already ordered four Kilos and two Amurs. Meanwhile, Russia has high hopes for the Chinese and Indian markets.

    Rosoboronexport is marketing both Amur designs and the variants of the Kilo class on the market fitted with the Club-S (NATO designation: SS-N-27 "Sizzler") anti-ship cruise missile. The Club can be launched from torpedo tubes, and the terminal phase of its flight is supersonic.

    The Amur-950 is especially interesting in this regard. Fitted with 10 vertical launch tubes to the rear of the sail, it reportedly will be able to quickly launch 10 anti-ship missiles in a salvo (launching that many from the torpedo tubes would require reloading, which can take several minutes). While both Russian and U.S. nuclear attack submarines have been built with similar capacities, this is the first time that vertical launch tubes have been incorporated into a patrol submarine design and made available on the open market.

    With this modest salvo capability, the Amur-950 design increases the chance of a successful strike against a well-defended target; it can also quickly hit more individual targets while minimizing the sub's vulnerability. Russian naval thinking has long been informed by the need to penetrate the U.S. Navy's superior defensive systems. One of the ways the Soviets settled upon to do this was to overwhelm that system with missiles, and the Amur-950 can at least partially trace its design to that long-standing consideration.

    This is not to say that 10 missiles necessarily have much of a chance of overwhelming a modern Aegis-equipped surface combatant (should it be at a sufficiently high state of alert). But the capability is also not one to scoff at; it is one that naval powers in the market for asymmetric challenges to U.S. naval dominance might find attractive.

    The vertical launch cells might prove even more attractive for India in particular, as they could be a means of making the Brahmos anti-ship missile a viable export product for the submarine market (the basic Brahmos design is too wide to be launched from the standard 21-inch torpedo tubes, or even the larger 26-inch tubes). Some reports suggest this has been the plan for some time. However, India – and China – ultimately are pushing forward with their own domestic production capabilities (and New Delhi has no shortage of troubles with Moscow).

    In either case, the Amur is already on the market and comes well armed -- if only Russia can produce them efficiently.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    No "Consensus" on Global Warming

    James Inhofe, the Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and a global warming skeptic (hence, a friend of mine and the Earth), is doing great work debunking the outright lies and distortions of the GW crowd.  Today, as the ranking Republican on the Senates Environment & Public Works (EPW) committee, he is releasing a report where over 400 scientists will serve as consensus busters in the GW debate, the tenor of the report being that there is far from consensus on the issue of man-made global warming.

    Drudge has linked to it, and so will I.  Here is the summary, with the full report expected up this morning.


    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Reservists deployed increases this week

    If you've never sought this out, information on deployed reservists is available, and updated weekly. The National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of December 12, 2007 This week the Air Force, Army and Navy announced a decrease, while the Marine Corps announced an increase. The Coast Guard number remained unchanged. The net collective result is 837 more reservists mobilized than last week.

    Save this link.

    2008 Blue Angels Schedule

    The Blue Angels have announced their 2008 season schedule. Unfortunately, for those in metro Atlanta, no show at Dobbins this year, so, if you want to see the Blue Angels, you'll have to go to Huntsville, AL or make the long trip to South Georgia. And you can STILL say to your aviator friends (while pointing to your dolphins, and until the USS Amazon is commissioned), "You'll never see a woman wearing these."

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    USS North Carolina sets sail

    The USS North Carolina (my home state) set sail for Alpha trials today. This is the official US Navy picture. Bubblehead has more over at his site. The ultimate plan is to have this ship commissioned in April 2008 in Wilmington, NC, across from the WW2 battleship North Carolina, now doing duty as a museum ship in the mud across the Cape Fear river from Wilmington. Of course, there are those concerned about issues with welds on Virginia class subs.

    The Navy said that before sending the North Carolina to sea, the Navy and Newport News assessed about 15,000 piping welds.

    "The North Carolina would not have gone out to sea if there was any question about the quality of the welds," a spokesmodel said. Besides the submarine's crew of about 137, others aboard for its first ocean run included shipyard President Mike Petters and Rear Adm. William Hilarides, the Navy's program executive officer for submarines.

    It will be submerged for the first time, conduct high-speed runs, and undergo other tests of its design, systems, components and compartments.

    After it returns, it will go for a second trial run designed to test its weapons systems.

    NN still expects to deliver the North Carolina to the Navy in January, a few weeks past its December contract date.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Global Warming Petition - Just another way to slam Bush

    A friend of my wife's forwarded the below email to me about some ridiculous petition against the Bush administration and promoting the global warming alarmists agenda.

    "Hey,Thought you might want to know about this petition. The Bush administration is trying to block progress at crucial negotiations for the next global climate treaty--the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. This petition sends a message to other countries that Bush's actions don't match Americans' wishes. (The petition just says: "Dear World, please ignore Bush.") Please join me in signing the petition--we need to make sure the world doesn't let Bush block a strong agreement on climate change! http://www.avaaz.org/en/please_ignore_bush/98.php?cl_tf_sign=1"

    My reply was

    Before you send your friends to sign a petition to support a treaty that they will have no idea how it impacts their lives (other than it disses the hated Bush administration, and will save us from Global Warming), maybe you should consider some facts.

    Brief Kyoto Facts:
    · The Kyoto Protocol was completed in 1998 (during the Clinton administration)
    · The US Senate voted 95-0, in July 1997, before the protocol was completed, that any treaty that did not include binding targets for developing nations (like China, India, and Brazil) should not be ratified by the United States.
    · At the completion of Kyoto, it did not include any binding targets for those nations, and has never been brought forward to the United States Senate for ratification and likely never will be.

    Doubts About Global Climate Change:
    · There is no doubt that global temperatures have increased in the last century. However, there is significant doubt in the scientific community (Al Gore’s reputation as the scientist who created the Internet notwithstanding) as to causes of this warming.
    o Significantly, most of the warming occurred in the first 50 years of the last century, before the increase in CO2 levels we have observed in the last 50.
    o The Earth has seen many warming and cooling trends over its history. Today, many scientists believe these trends correspond to solar activity.
    o Temperature data is, at best, inexact, and, in many locations on the planet subject to an aberration known as the “urban heat sink” where measuring stations have been located in populated areas that, as they have become developed, tend to display higher temperatures than the surrounding countryside. This would indicate a localized problem due to overdevelopment, but not a global problem if these stations are reporting temperatures that are not representative of a large area.
    o Man’s impact on global warming, while certainly possible, is not known to any degree of certainty, and can’t be without more considered study. Those who are against treaties such as Kyoto and its successors, do not believe we know enough about the science of global temperatures nor of man’s impact on them to take such drastic steps as these treaties compel on their signatories.

    The Doomsayers have a rotten history of being (in)correct:
    · The first Earth day was held because “scientists” thought the Earth was entering a new Ice Age. That was 1970. Amazing what has changed since then.
    · In the 70’s population was another time bomb that was going to lead to the demise of civilization. Doomsayers claimed the planet couldn’t support 6 billion people. Lo and behold, we are still here today with more than 6B of our friends, and due to modern farming techniques (mostly pioneered and practiced in THIS country), brought about by competition in the marketplace, we are easily able to feed the world’s population. Famines today are not due to lack of food, but due to political stupidity and transportation problems.
    · Al Gore and other “scientists” promised us after 2005’s Hurricane season we were in for more and more severe storms during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, due to Global Warming. You live in South Florida, what was your hurricane season like the last 2 years? I know in Atlanta, we’re in the middle of an historic drought that could have been solved by a couple of big leftover tropical storms.
    · Al Gore’s movie is full of distortions and some outright lies (these come from Weatherunderground.com, which actually thinks his movie was worthwhile, an opinion NOT shared by me, although I admit, I will not see the movie, but I did read his book, Earth in the Balance, and it is one of the most awful pieces of tripe ever written):
    o “it would have been appropriate for Gore to acknowledge that the consensus of climate scientists--as published in the most recent report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)--is that sea level is likely to rise between 4 and 35 inches, with a central value of 19 inches, by 2100” vice 20 feet, as he tried to claim, and many scientists believe the IPCC report overstates the sea level increases. Coincidentally, I cancelled my subscription to Sports Illustrated when they decided to parrot the 20 foot claim.
    o “He should have also mentioned that temperatures in Greenland in the 1930s were about as warm as today's temperatures, so the current melting of Greenland's glaciers does have historical precedent.”
    o “The biggest failure in the movie's presentation of science comes in the discussion of hurricanes and severe weather events," to wit, “No single weather event, or unconnected series of severe weather events such as Gore presents, are indicative of climate change. In particular, the IPCC has not found any evidence that climate change has increased tornado frequency, or is likely to. Gore doesn't mention the unusually quiet tornado season of 2005, when for the first time ever, no tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma in the month of May.” As I’ve already mentioned, this movie was completed before the relatively quiet hurricane seasons on 2006/2007.

    I won’t ascribe motives to the supporters of Kyoto and its ilk. They may be truly committed to saving the planet from its most dangerous denizens, humans. Humanity certainly has a large stake in the survival of our planet and, the best friend of the Earth has been capitalism and Western Civilization. Our system continuously looks to force efficiencies in all we do, even in the use of energy. One need only look at the environmental disasters that were Eastern Europe and Russia to understand how detrimental to our world a “Socialist Utopia” would be.

    Because the track record of the doomsayers is so bad, and their motives so suspect, I do not believe we need to ACT NOW! to save the planet. I’ve got news for all, the end is not near.

    Friday, December 7, 2007

    NBC Disses Soldiers

    In a typical left-wing move, NBC has decided that this ad, from Freedomswatch.org, is too political for them to run. Of course, as O'Reilly points out, and as anyone who has eyes and ears knows, NBC, and its affiliate MSNBC, have become increasingly anti-military and anti-war. So, this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. I suppose, as Newt Gingrich points out, this is a kind of feather in the cap of the executives at NBC, who now will have more love and adulation from their friends on the left-wing.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2007

    Submarines featured in this month's "The Navy Reservist"

    It's not available yet on the Navy Reserve web site, but this month's issue of The Navy Reservist is dedicated to the submarine force, and includes articles on history, reserve component submarine operations, what some submarine individual augmentees are up to in the GWOT, and deep submergence and rescue. Previous issues are here. take a look at it, I'm proud to say I still recognize some of the author's names.

    Monday, December 3, 2007

    Bloggers being heard at SUBFOR

    I have it on pretty good authority that our friends at SUBFOR are reading the blogs and do pay attention to the blogosphere. Of course, that is often because they need a good laugh. nothing else

    Saturday, December 1, 2007

    Seals train with USS Florida

    Here is a picture you won't often see. KEY WEST, Fla. (July 27, 2007) A Navy diver stands by to assist a special operator, both from SEAL Delivery Team (SDV) 2, with SDV operations with the nuclear-powered submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) for material certification. Material certification allows operators to perform real-world operations anytime, anywhere. U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Andrew McKaskle (Released)And here is the rest of it.

    West Virginia Lost

    This college football season is amazing. West Virginia lost and Oklahoma and Missouri are tied as I write this. Ohio State fans have about a 50/50 chance right now of seeing their team make it back to the NCG. You don't want to be 2 this year.

    Update: OK is beating Mo by 2 TD's in the 4th. Looks like UGA and OSU may be playing for the National Championship.

    Today, both Tennessee and WVA did something I complained about the now (thankfully) fired Chan Gailey doing earlier this season. With plenty of time left, they went for it on 4th down and short, with plenty of time on the clock and in FG range. In UT's case, it would have meant another TD gave them a win. In WVa's case, it would mean they would have only needed a FG for a tie. I don't get it.

    In other news, Bubblehead has some great new content on his site, including news about the Viral DVD series, "Hey, Shipwreck" a futuristic series based on the real-life adventures that occur everyday on naval vessels (specifically, submarines). I admit, this is my first exposure to the "Hey Shipwreck" series, and it is hilarious. Check it out. It's produced by ET1 Patrick Hrabe.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    The GOP You Tube Debate - Impressions

    I admit, I am only now starting to follow the 2008 race closely and examine the candidate's positions.

    I think the BGen and the gay questions were a gimmick put on by CNN. Was this just done because Anderson Cooper is gay?

    Tonight's You Tube debate is the first one I have watched this season, and my impressions so far are (in no particular order):

    McCain - My personal favorite because of his service to this country and his honesty. I think his age sort of shows through in these debates, but even my 12 year old daughter noticed something special about McCain and said "I like him." He was wrong on immigration, and he was wrong (initially) on the Bush tax cuts, but he's got the right stuff on the War, Life, and government spending. Tonight, I think he's been generally good, just not getting enough air time, and I liked him taking on Paul.

    Rudy! - I like Rudy as a leader and think he would kick butt leading the US on the world stage. His social positions are problematic, but, I can live with his promise on judges - as I think Rudy has no problem with Roe being overturned, even if he is pro-choice, and, that's all I ask of a president. Tonight, he gets a lot of air time, but, I don't find him that compelling a speaker to the masses, more of a policy wonkish type.

    Romney - After spending some time on the web this weekend, I found Romney to be a compelling candidate. He speaks well, he has all the right positions on my issues, and he's a polished and intelligent speaker. I don't have an issue with his Mormonism, does anyone else? Tonight, I think he's the best speaker and I found his answer on the abortion flip flop great. He needs to stick with it.

    Huckabee - I like Huckabee, I have to admit it. And, I think, after researching some of his positions more in depth, people have taken bits and pieces of his record and provided just enough to make him look protectionist, stupid, or naive. It's not so. He's not getting enough air time tonight, but his answer on WWJD is absolutely correct.

    Tancredo - Just not interested, although he seems a good guy. But, get out of the race already.

    Hunter - Actually haven't spent time on his positions because he has so little traction, but he's a well spoken guy. Too bad he's not going anywhere. His answer on the gays in the military was pretty rotten.

    Thompson - I hated his ad and he shouldn't have used an attack ad in this debate. I like Thompson, and he has some detailed plans on his web site (go check them out, www.fredo8.com), but, he just does not excite me. Is he too old?

    Ron Paul - The guy is just a fruitcake, especially on the GWOT. Glad that Tancredo spanked him. But, he does have some sensible positions, mainly on fiscal issues. And, I agree with him on departments that need to be cut.

    I would be happy with all of these as the nominee (except Ron Paul, who's war position I find scary), but my personal preference today is:

    1. McCain

    2. Huckabee

    3. Romney

    4. Fred

    5. Rudy


    7. Tancredo

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    Unscientific Poll Results

    In my completely unscientific presidential poll (GOP Only), Fred Thompson is your favorite in a landslide. Fred finished with 10 votes out of 23 cast, with Huckabee and McCain getting four. GOP frontrunner Romney got 3 and Rudy only got 2. You guys are clearly out of step with early state primary voters.

    Iran to launch homemade submarine

    By Yaakov Katz The Jerusalem Post November 25, 2007

    Full article here

    Days ahead of the Annapolis peace conference, Iran flexed its military muscles on Saturday, announcing plans to unveil a new homemade submarine and navy destroyer later this week.

    Iranian Naval Commander Admiral Habib Sayyari said Saturday that the navy would launch a homemade destroyer called Jamaran and a submarine called Ghadir on November 28.

    Ghadir is a religious holiday which marks the day Shi'ite Muslims believe the prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon and confirmed Ali ibn Abi Talib's appointment as his successor.

    Sayyari told the Iranian Fars News Agency that Iran's military capabilities served as a deterrent, but: "If the enemy makes a mistake, he will receive such a powerful second strike that he won't be able to stand up."

    Iran has boasted in the past that its new Ghadir-class submarine could not be detected and was capable of firing missiles and torpedoes simultaneously. According to Globalsecurity.org, Iran's Navy has at least three Russian-built SSK Kilo-class submarines.

    In August, Iran test-fired a new submarine-to-surface missile during war games in the Persian Gulf. Iran's current arsenal includes several types of torpedoes, including the Hoot, Farsi for "whale," which was tested for the first time in April and is capable of moving at some 357 kph, up to four times faster than a normal torpedo.

    Sayyari told the news agency that his troops were closely monitoring US maneuvers in the region. "No move in the Sea of Oman, the Persian Gulf or the Strait of Hormoz could remain hidden from our eyes. The naval force is in full control over the region and monitors all the military moves of the enemies in the region," he said.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    DARPA Attempts to Reinvent the Submarine

    You'll need a subscription to Janes International Defence Review to read the full text, but, DARPA is working to redefine the submarine to shave 30% off the cost of a Virginia class submarine...some highlights...

    "Submarines are still characterised by an aft propeller; a rear compartment for machinery space and a propeller shaft; a central reactor compartment; and a forward compartment with sonar rooms, torpedo rooms and crew berthing.

    However, Tango Bravo – for Technology Breakthrough – identified five key technology barriers that could be conquered in order to slash construction and maintenance costs. These included stripping away hydraulics and developing propulsion unconstrained by a centreline shaft; stowing and launching weapons outside the hull; alternatives to spherical sonar arrays; simplifying the hull, mechanical and electrical systems (HM&E); and reducing the size of the crew through automation.

    With the latter largely considered an evolutionary process, serious money has so far only been thrown at shaftless propulsion, electrical actuation and external weapons.

    In May 2005, General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and DRS Technologies were granted 12-month contracts to develop shaftless propulsion technologies, while GDEB and Northrop Grumman Newport News were awarded 18-month contracts to develop and demonstrate firing an encapsulated Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo from outside the pressure hull.

    The first part of the GDEB contract encompassed 18 months' work to develop a reduced ship infrastructure using electric actuation instead of hydraulic, and mechanical actuation of ship control surfaces, including the ship's rudder, stern and bow planes.

    Phase 2 includes the development of the actuator's motor drive and energy storage systems, and packages the actuator for an external sea water environment, then cycles the immersed actuator under full-scale dynamic loads.

    The main advantage of electrical X-planes actuation is the elimination of hydraulic system infrastructure and hydraulic-mechanical drive pressure hull penetrations.

    Challenges include demonstrating high electric motor torque density to reduce size and weight, as well as ensuring control surface system reliability and emergency performance by developing an alternative to stored hydraulic accumulator energy.

    Says DARPA's Jan Walker. "The challenges of having the propulsor's prime mover in the ocean environment vice inside the submarine pressure hull are a significant focus of the project."

    In existing US submarines, there are two turbines for propulsion and two for power generation, but shaftless propulsion would necessitate only turbines for producing electricity, freeing up the rear compartment for other uses.

    Electric motors would be placed on pods external to the hull, eliminating steam-propulsion turbines, reduction gears and propulsion shafts and providing design flexibility in the stern.

    With an integrated power system - just two turbines of the propulsion scheme allowing power to be diverted to other uses - it is possible to have propulsion turbine generators and maintain the existing ship service turbine generators.

    GDEB is planning to devise an integrated power system to free up energy for other uses such as futuristic weapons or recharging a large set of underwater vehicle batteries. "It is a shared resource, so there are areas where you would have to reduce the propulsion bell," explains Pete Schilke, programme manager for GDEB.

    To mitigate this, the power could also be used to charge up a capacitor bank, which would discharge in a fraction of a second, reducing perturbation on the power system.

    Even if an enormous amount of power was diverted for seconds to power a futuristic weapon, the amount of time power is diverted from the propulsor would not lead to a significant reduction in speed.

    One concern about shaftless propulsion and external weapons is that appendages cause additional drag, so pods must be carefully designed to hydrodynamically encapsulate the machinery.

    So far, breadboard testing of the motor/controller drive components and system have been completed, with water tunnel testing of the model-scale rotor assembly completed in April and the final design of the Integrated Motor Propulsor and Drive (IMPaD) signed off in June.

    Actuator testing

    The actuator is immersed and pressurised in the test-stand to simulate submarine test depth to see if there are any wear characteristics, and there will be some contamination in the sea water, as the actuator would experience as water quality degrades near port.

    This constitutes the biggest hydraulic load on the submarine, so Schilke says "with the goal of eliminating hydraulics, we have done a nice job at addressing the holy grail and gone a long way to prove we can do this and it is within our grasp".

    GDEB has addressed the external electrical actuators on the control surface and motors to retrieve different arrays, so once internal actuators have been addressed, the team is confident it will be able to eliminate hydraulics. "It just depends on how large the actuators are, how much they weigh and how expensive they are to maintain," says Schilke.

    Weapons carriage

    Another target of the Tango Bravo programme is to develop an external weapon launch system to stow, communicate with and deliver an unencapsulated Mk 48 Advanced Capability torpedo from outside the pressure hull at speed and depth.

    Phase 1 involved concept development, a shallow water full-scale test, and modeling that validated hydrodynamic performance and concept design requirements.

    Phase 2 aims to refine this concept and manufacture a full-scale launcher test unit to demonstrate launch dynamics, signature and operational requirements.

    For its part, DARPA considers the principal advantage of externally stowed weapons to be the elimination of the largest driver of internal pressure hull volume - the torpedo room.

    Additionally, putting weapons into external weapon 'clips' means there would be no need to carefully align the angled torpedo tubes, noisy torpedo tube doors would disappear, and complex underwater firing techniques would no longer be necessary.

    The launch of full-size weapons at maximum operating depth sets the company the challenge of addressing integration problems, such as overcoming the lack of access to the weapon when it is on the outside of the pressure hull, and the logistics of loading and servicing the weapons.

    Budget pressures

    Bob Work from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments tells Jane's that "while I do not want to say Tango Bravo is unimportant, it is not as big as it used to be. The current priority is getting Virginia costs down".

    Work believes that budget pressures and the high non-recurring engineering and design costs involved in developing a 70 per cent cheaper submarine have worked against Tango Bravo being transitioned to a full-blown design effort for a new, cheaper SSN. Instead, he believes that those holding the purse strings will be inclined to quit while they are ahead, and take lessons learned from Tango Bravo and plough them into ensuring a more flexible payload for a cheaper Virginia class.

    Redesigning submarines demands a high premium up front, but giving the Virginia class more capability could be an attractive cheaper alternative, especially once shipbuilders have got to grips with the modifications. For example, GDEB has managed to cut one million man hours from the production cycle of the second Virginia-class submarine compared to the first.

    "This translates into real savings, which can be taken and ploughed into making the Virginia even more capable with new modifications. They will be getting either a cheaper submarine or a much more capable submarine for the same amount of money," Work tells Jane's.

    Walker stresses that Tango Bravo's focus is to facilitate the design of a reduced-size, reduced-cost submarine that would cut acquisition and life cycle costs of any future platform, without sacrificing capability.

    She explains that DARPA never planned Tango Bravo to develop an overall submarine concept, but rather to fund industry to "give design options for consideration in future submarine designs".

    For example, Work notes that the USN will soon replace the Virginia's spherical array with a conformal bow array, which was one of Tango Bravo's original goals. This and other improvements will bring the price of each boat down to USD2 billion and help the USN to afford to increase the production rate from one boat per year to two.

    From a shipbuilding point of view, it seems that changing a Virginia class to accommodate external weapons or shaftless propulsion would require such major modifications that "it would probably be better to develop a whole new ship design", according to Schilke. "

    How does all this tie into the earlier-released RAND study on the need to begin designing the next, post Virginia, SSN? I don't know, but check out the RAND study for yourself.

    What do you think?

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Local News Visits USS Albany

    See the video, here.

    How DO they do it?

    Brazil Eyes Nuclear Sub to Defend Oil

    From the , AP November 16, 2007 comes this story (also on Drudge today). I say to the Brazilians, welcome aboard! But, instead of building it themselves, why don't we just refit one of our LA class boats for them, and subcontract the nuclear plant operations to American subcontractors....

    "SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — This month's discovery of a monster offshore oil reserve justifies Brazil's plan to build a nuclear submarine because it would be used to protect the find, the defense minister said.

    "When you have a large natural source of wealth discovered in the Atlantic, it's obvious you need the means to protect it," Nelson Jobim said Thursday at a defense conference in Rio de Janeiro.

    Jobim said Brazil must safeguard the Tupi field and its 5 billion to 8 billion barrels of oil reserves from other nations and from "actions that could come from the area of terror," the government's Agencia Brasil news service reported.

    Brazil has been talking about building a nuclear submarine for decades, but the project got a boost in July when President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced $540 million in funding for uranium enrichment and the sub program.

    Jobim said earlier this month that he wants to come up with an outline within three months to build a submarine for about $1.2 billion, the Agencia Estado news service reported.

    Brazil has no South American enemies and has not experienced terrorist attacks, although U.S. government reports have sporadically raised suspicions that the nation's Triple Border region near Argentina and Paraguay is a fundraising source for radical Islamic groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

    The Brazilian navy's nuclear program, begun in 1979, has already mastered part of the uranium enrichment process. But it lags in developing and constructing a submarine reactor entirely from Brazilian technology.

    Silva has frequently touted nuclear power as a way to diversify energy sources and meet growing demand in South America's largest nation and economy.

    His government moved in June to restart work on a long-planned third nuclear power plant that has been stalled since the 1980s by lack of funds.

    Jobim on Thursday ridiculed the idea that Brazil's uranium enrichment program would ever be used to make a nuclear bomb.

    "That's total nonsense," he said."

    USS Hawaii completes first evaluation phase

    By Gregg K. Kakesako Star-Bulletin (Hawaii) November 18, 2007

    The Virginia-class nuclear submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) successfully completed its first phase of evaluation off the Florida coast this month.

    "Over the next 12 months, each of the Virginia class' mission areas will be thoroughly exercised to validate the submarine's design and performance," said Capt. Michael Jabaley, the Virginia program's assistant program manager for test and evaluation. "In this case, the ship, crew, Sea Air Land (SEAL) special operations team and support personnel performed extremely well in what turned out to be a challenging environment created by Tropical Storm Noel."

    The fast-attack submarine is the Navy's first major warship designed for the post-Cold War era involving special operations. The Hawaii has a torpedo room that can be transformed to carry Navy SEALs, and its deck can be equipped with a dry-deck shelter used by SEAL teams.

    The Hawaii is commanded by Cmdr. Ed Herrington. Three Virginia-class submarines will be stationed at Pearl Harbor. The 377-foot Hawaii was commissioned in May, and the USS Texas was commissioned last year. They will arrive in the islands in 2009, followed by the USS North Carolina, which is undergoing sea trials.

    Kind of fun to see some of the guys I went to SUBSCHOOL with getting high visibility commands! Congrats Ed!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Praying for Rain

    Yesterday, our governor here in Georgia, Sonny Perdue, held a prayer session for rain. For those of you uninitiated in what is going on in the Southeast, we are in the midst of an historic drought (as I write this, we have gone since Oct 24th since the last measurable rainfall), brought on undoubtably due to global warming, but, I like to think it's due to lack of global warming, since, if the global warmists were correct, the last 2 hurricane seasons would have been severe and we would have probably had at least 2 decent hurricane-induced rain events that could have easily made up our 18 inch deficit. Regardless, some here in Georgia feel that Sonny is mixing politics and religion inappropriately.

    Personally, I don't see any harm, but I don't know why we need a public prayer session led by politicians, when they really should be sending the National Guard to seize the water supply and stop the Army Corps of Engineers from sending our water to power Alabama's coal plants and save Florida's mussels. Of course, it doesn't help that we have single homes that use 400,000 gallons of water per month (the average home uses 6000).

    UPDATE: Sonny's rain dance may have worked. It's raining harder now than it has in months!

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    HMS Astute Launched

    While Virginia building continues unabated (in fact, faster now that the Connecticut and Virginia congressional delegations have had their way), the HMS Astute has completed an important milestone of her own. Check out the Royal Navy’s official site. I continue to be impressed particularly by the fact that we have developed nuclear fuels that last 25 years.

    “Astute A-sub completes first test dive
    United Press International, 8 November 2007

    The prototype British Astute class A-sub has carried out its first successful test dive.

    ‘The first of class Astute, the most advanced and capable class of submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, has dived beneath the waves for the first time, at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow, North West England," the company said in a statement last week.

    ‘Astute is crammed with some of the world’s most sophisticated technologies, including advanced nuclear reactor, sonar, optical mast, combat management and weapons systems," BAE Systems said.

    ‘The workforce at Barrow continues to demonstrate that although the production of nuclear powered submarines requires a specialist subset of skills, in line with the government’s Defense Industrial Strategy, we have the ability to deliver the intellectual resource and technologies required,” said Murray Easton, managing director, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions.

    ‘Astute class submarines will play a key role in the defense of the United Kingdom for decades to come. The boats demonstrate a step change in capability when compared to those they will replace,” Easton said.

    BAE Systems said the submarine faced two days of tests involving a joint BAE Systems and Royal Navy crew of 60 to check its dive characteristics, along with safety critical systems including escape hatches, hydraulics and electrics.

    The submarine is due to undergo further engineering and commissioning work at the Devonshire Dry-dock in Barrow before being delivered to the Royal Navy in fall 2008. It is scheduled to begin its operational duty in 2009.

    ‘Once deployed, Astute is designed not to require refueling throughout her full service life – in excess of 25 years – and has the ability to patrol for 90 days while remaining undetected, thousands of miles from home and hundreds of meters underwater," BAE Systems said.

    BAE Systems said that, as Britain's only manufacturer of submarines, it was "responsible for the design, build and initial in-service support of the four 7,400 ton Astute class boats currently under various stages of construction and commissioning at its Barrow facility.’”

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to be tested this month

    According to an article in Defense Daily, the Navy is to begin testing a submarine launched UAV this month (article by Geoff Fine):

    "When the USS Montpelier (SSN-765) deploys later this month it will include a new Internet system to improve communications as well as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) the crew will test to see if this type of capability can be used on submarines, according to a Navy official.

    The Montpelier will also be testing a new UAV during its deployment, Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander, Submarine Force said.

    The submarine will deploy with "Buster," a bungee cord-launched system that can reach an altitude of 1,000 feet. Buster will be equipped with an infrared (IR) camera and has a range of at least 20 miles. During his video briefing, Donnelly played a clip of an IR feed from "Buster" as it flew over the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC).

    "We hope to prove this capability for use on a SSGN," he added.

    The Navy has converted four ballistic missile, SSBN, submarines to the guided missile, or SSGN, configuration. The first of those, the USS Ohio (SSGN-726), has begun her maiden deployment, Donnelly said.

    The USS Florida (SSGN-728) and USS Michigan (SSGN-727) will deploy in '08, followed by the USS Georgia (SSGN-729), Donnelly said.

    The Navy's newest submarine class, the Virginia, has gone through a redesign of its entire bow area, Donnelly noted. This will give the boat a reduced sonar sphere.

    The Virginia is also equipped with a large diameter tube that will enable all SSGN payloads to be incorporated into future Virginia-class submarines, he said. "

    Abolish the Air Force?

    Robert Farley, over at The American Prospect, has an interesting idea - Disband the Air Force. H/T to Military.com. Actually, the most interesting thing in both places are the comments. We really have some people that just respond viscerally to these kinds of suggestions. It's nuts.

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    New Submarines Approved!

    This week Congress approved, by veto-proof majorities, the defense authorization bills that will lead to 2 Virginia-class submarines being built per year, rather than the one the Navy had requested.

    From the Connecticut Day:

    Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved funding today to ramp up Virginia-class submarine production to two boats per year.

    The final vote was a veto-proof 400-15.

    "I am proud to announce that we have won the battle in the House to ramp up Virginia-class production," said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who made the funding request. "This is a historic victory for the men and women of Electric Boat and the people of southeastern Connecticut, who have waited a long time for this day."

    The $588 million will be used to procure items needed to begin building an additional submarine prior to 2012, as well as to support advanced work at EB on the boat scheduled to begin construction in 2009.

    The Senate is expected to take action on the funding request within the next week.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Harvard: Talk Radio More Fair than MSM!

    Harvard has completed a study showing extensively that the MSM is biased and that even Conservative Talk Radio is more fair than the MSM. The whole study is available here in pdf.

    h/t to Boortz.

    I Thought You Guys Were All Proud Killers???

    Well, you might hear some submariners boast of being "steely-eyed killers of the deep." Our Commanding Officer, being an attack boat sailor, liked to use this phrase to describe those submariners who stealthily sought their prey, usually after hours spent tracking and trailing it, then pumped a MK48 torpedo into the victim, who was oblivious to his fate until the torpedo exploded beneath them, breaking their keel and taking the ship down.

    Unfortunately, that didn't really describe us.

    Not that we didn't love every moment we served on my boat (we didn't), but, life on a fleet ballistic missile submarine (aka a "boomer") wasn't exactly the most exciting. We didn't spend a lot of time seeking prey, instead, we avoided being preyed upon. Since the act of hiding requires little speed, no interaction with other ships, and lots of boredom, and since sailors are, generally, complainers by nature, we adopted the "sleepy-eyed whiners of the deep" moniker.

    Actually, we used to take "sleepy" a little further than just this mocking phrase. I don't know if other ships held sleeping contests. Certainly none of my friends on attack boats could ever fully appreciate being in a 1 in 5 watch rotation, the slow pace of SSBN life, the lack of a fire control tracking party for 6 hours after their scheduled watch, being away from the boat with no duty days for 3 months in port, or going home at for lunch during off-crew and staying there, so this probably really would anger them (hey, look, they made the decision to go to sea in a boat that operated at high tempo's and required their devotion 365 days of the year, I knew better!)but, in the slow days of patrol life, those junior officers senior enough to have completed shipboard qualifications (and knew we weren't making a career out of the Navy, and didn't feel a need to show our devotion by doing meaningless work 24/7) would hold sleeping contests and see who could stay in the rack the longest. We had some enlisted guys, too, who would participate in our impromptu, and unofficial contests. I knew a couple of ELT's who could sleep 24 hours - pretty impressive, I think 18 hours was the longest I ever went in my rack, but, I did get up once to go to the head, so it invalidated the record.

    Of course, when we weren't asleep, we were usually complaining about submarine life, making us, thus, the whiner part.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Evolving on the death penalty

    Driving home this afternoon, I heard a short snippet from the SCLC about the ballooning costs of the trial of the death penalty trial of Brian Nichols (you may remember him, he was the Courthouse Shooter here in Atlanta who gave Ashley Smith her 15 minutes of fame).

    Seems the defense team claims they need an astronomical amount of money due to the high-profile nature of this case and Fulton County is having a fit, since they are always broke and don't want to fork it over. Plus, the DA in the case is convinced the trial judge is dragging his feet to assist the defense team.

    Be that as it may, Joseph Lowery and the SCLC has decided that the financial mismanagement that is going on is one more reason to abandon death penalty trials and capital punishment in general. To their credit, Lowery points out that they also opposed the death penalty in the case of Martin Luther King's killer. So, at least they are consistent.

    Anyway, this got me thinking, are there really rational arguments for the death penalty anymore that would justify it?

    The classical pro arguments are that it:
    1. Has a deterrent effect - certainly this is true on the one it is imposed upon. But, if we were assured that the recipient would instead never be released from jail for any reason, is there really a deterrent effect on others?
    2. Has a measure of morality - the old eye for an eye idea. I guess this is where I have the most issues with the death penalty. As one who is pro-life in the case of the most innocent, is it morally consistent to be pro-death for the least innocent? Is it acceptable for me, or society to extract our vengeance on the murderer? I have to admit, I find this somewhat disturbing that we would use this for a reason to justify society taking a life (innocent or not).

    I actually think some of the anti-capital punishment ideas have some merit:

    1. It is not a deterrent - I am open to arguments on this either way. But, I have to agree philosophically with some of the anti crowd that the death penalty would seem to do little to deter. Does the rational murderer actually consider that he might be put to death after a trial when he commits his crime? I have to think he worries more about the cops killing him while trying to aprehend him, if he thinks about the consequences to himself at all. The only people rational enough to consider this would, IMO, choose not to do the crime in the first place. And, wouldn't the killer who knew he was faced with death, just become a more determined killer? What would stop him? Little. Something to consider.
    2. It is morally wrong - I think this is their strongest argument - the New Testament clearly teaches us all about forgiveness, and, don't we need to show that we can do what God has already done, and offered his forgiveness to worst sinners amongst us? Don't we owe the killer the time to repent and seek God's grace? Who are we to short circuit that by ending the life now? I don't know, but I'm evolving.
    3. The risk of sending innocent people to the death chamber - Now, I have seen it before that no anti capital punishment proponent can point to a specific case where a demonstrably innocent man was sent to his death - proving that the appeals process works. Maybe this is so, but is it in keeping with the highest principles of our judicial system?
    4. It's too expensive - I can see merit in this one, too, although I don't think the Brian Nichols case is the best example. But, let's face it, after the death row inmate exhausts all his appeals, it's usually many years later, at a tremendous cost to taxpayers, thus denying us the benefits of speedy application of this form of justice (and the expense of housing these killers), and tying up our courts unnecessarily, and, frequently, giving Liberals icons to praise and use as props (like cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal). I say, let's deny them that. If guys like Mumia weren't poster boys for the anti-death penalty Left, they would be rotting away silently in prisons with no friends, and would be no cause celebre.

    So, I'm torn on this issue. is it wrong that I lean towards the moral argument against, yet, if I thought we could apply justice quickly (saving money), and perhaps, publicly (which I think would provide a good dose of deterrence), I could be persuaded back the other way.

    Anyway, I am on the fence.

    Your thoughts?

    Monday, November 5, 2007

    Amazing Race 12

    I am both happy and sad today. Happy that The Amazing Race is back on TV and sad that it is only going to have one run this year. Maybe with the writer's strike, CBS will decide they'll need to run 2 Race's this season. Be that as it may, what's up with all the couples from Southern California? Could they not find anyone other than aspiring actors to run this race? Go find out more here.

    I'll provide updates in the comments! Careful, there may be spoilers on the comments. I'll try to let you know if it contains one!