August 22, 2017

USS McCain Collision: Equipment and Human Error Suspected

With the August 21, 2017 collision between USS John S. McCain and Alnic MC there's more tragedy for US sailors and embarrassment for the US Navy. This being the second US destroyer collision in just over 2 months (since the June 17, 2017 USS Fitzgerald collision).

Both the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald collisions

-  took place in highly congested waters (packed with ships).

-  involved 30.000+ ton civilian ships generally considered too large to take evasive action

-  the onus to avoid collision may be on the more manoeuvrable smaller destroyers, which also have more lookouts and sensors (eg. radar and satellite sensors (including AIS)).

The US Navy has already blamed "a steering failure" for a collision. But steering problems given backup systems involve a "combination of mechanical [equipment] and procedural [human] failure"

 Under its own power, USS McCain has reached Changi Naval Base in Singapore where US investigators will look for the "missing" sailors.

The location of the destroyer USS John S. McCain collision off Malaysia and Singapore and actual damage to destroyer (inset)(Map and inset courtesy The Sun)
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Pete

August 21, 2017

Amended Improvements & Higher Costs of Soryu Mark IIs Over Mark Is

Based on Anonymous comments of August 11-12, 2017 I have compiled TABLE 1 below. For an overview of the Soryu program see TABLE 2 below that:

Soryu Mark IIs are likely to cost more than US$91 million = 10 Billion (B) Yen (¥) than Soryu Mark Is, due to new:
-  LIB batteries replacing (LABs+Stirling AIP) and diesel generator sets (gensets) for greater power
   generation, and
-  sonar systems for improved detection of the enemy and for better submerged navigation-by-sonar

Anonymous on August 18-21, 2017 kindly provided amendments direct to Pete for TABLE 1 and the footnotes below it. 

TABLE 1 [Amendments in Green and Violet]]

Item/Submarine Type
Soryu Mark I
Soryu Mark II (27SS & 28SS)
Comments
SS order number
26SS
27SS
28SS
See Soryu Table below
Batteries + AIP (where applicable)
LABs + Stiling AIP
NCA-LIBs [1]
ß

Cost of battery/Soryu in Billion Yen (\***B) [2]
LABs \1.44B
NCA-LIBs \8.3B
ß
LIBs per Soryu almost 6 times costs of LABs
Relative price to LABs [3]
1
4.8 (576 LIBs)
5.8 (480 LIBs)
ß

Specific energy (Wh/kg) [4]
40-60
240
ß
LIBs have 4-6 x the specific energy of LABs
Total cost per Soyu in Billion Yen [5]
\51.7B
\64.4B
\63.6B

Building cost [6]
\31.2B
\38.7B
\35.9B

(a)Cost of customer-supplied products [7]
\20.5B
\25.7B
\27.7B

(b)LABs or LIBs
\1.44B
\8.3B
\8.3B

(c)Stirling AIP
\2.72B
0
0
Estimation value
(d)=(a)-(b)-(c) [8]
 \16.3B
\17.4B
\19.4B
Estimation value
(e)Sonars
\3-4B
+w B
+x B
Estimation value
(f)Generators
\2B
+y B
+z B
Estimation value
(g)Propulsion motor [10]
\1.3B (25SS)
\1.2B
\1.0B


[1]  The Soryu Mark IIs (27SS and 28SS) will likely be equipped with (NCA LIBs) Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide ( LiNiCoAlO2 ) made by GS Yuasa.
 
[2]  According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s (MOD's) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) the costs of LABs and NCA-LIBs are reported to be 1.44 ¥B and 8.3 ¥B, respectively. This makes NCA-LIBs just under 6 times more expensive than LABs for each Soryu sub. But, in terms of cost/performance (see [3]), NCA-LIBs are not overly expensive.

[3]  More precisely, price ratio of LAB to NCA-LIB is 4.8 and 5.8 for 576 and 480 LIBs in Soryu Mark II, respectively.

[4]  Specific energy of NCA-LIBs are 240 Wh/kg and LABs are 40-60 Wh/kg. The specific energy of NCA-LIBs are 4 to 6 times that of LABs, nearly the same as the above mentioned price raitio.

[5]  Soryu Mark IIs will cost ¥12-13B more than Mark Is. That cost increase is due to major Soryu Mark II enhancements, including LIBs, new snorkel generation system, new gensets and new sonar system.

[6]  In Japanese submarine building, the MOD offers customer-supplied products to the builders (KHI and MHI) for cost reduction and the MOD pays building costs. Building costs consist of materials, labor and utilities (water, electricity, etc) etc.

[7]  Customer-supplied products include the command system, weapon/sensor system, communication system and propulsion/generater/battery system. Building costs consist of materials, labor, utilities (water, electricity, etc) etc.

[8]  (c) is changes in customer-supplied products, except AIP + batteries. This gives some insights into other modifications. In the Soryu Mark II, priority in modifications is orientated towards the performance of the LIBs. In terms of changes in (d), the snorkel generation system and gensets are modified for 27SS and the sonar system is also modified for 28SS, I believe.

[9]  The Japanese submarine builders (KHI and MHI) cannot earn much because of strict budget management by the MOD. But, the cost of Japanese submarines may provide some insight into the price of other convensional submarines. The size of submarines will affect the cost of submarine building more than the cost of customer-supplied products. Even very small submarines need a  command system, weapon/sensor system, communication system and propulsion/generater/battery system. 

But, in the small submarine building process, amounts of materials, labor (in man days) and utilities can be reduced. In submarines half the size of the Soryu, building costs become significantly lower and other costs become a bit lower, Y20-25B and Y10B, respecrively. The purchaser can buy the latest small submarine for Y30-35B. If a submarine builders can sell subs for Y50-60B, they can make high profits. That is why bribe scandals are prominent.

[10] The propusion system consists of one small motor and one large motor in the Soryu Mark I. The small motor  is used at low speed and the two motors are used at high speed. Soryu Mark II is likely to be equipped with two same large motors. If these Soryu Mark II armatures are larger a higher speed performance is expected.

 TABLE 2 - Overvie of SORYU (& Oyashio) Programs as at August 15, 2017
SS
No.
Build No
Name
Pennant
No.
MoF approved amount ¥ Billions & FY
LABs, LIBs, AIP
Laid Down
Laun
-ched
Commi-ssioned
Built
By
5SS Oyashio
8105 Oyashio
SS-590/ TS3608
¥52.2B FY1993
LABs only
 Jan 1994
Oct 1996
Mar 1998
 KHI
6SS-15SS
Oyashios
10 subs
8106
-8115
various
SS-591-600
¥52.2B per sub
FY1994-FY2003
LABs only
 15SS Feb
2004
15SS
Nov
2006
15SS
Mar 2008
 MHI
&
KHI
16SS
Soryu Mk 1
8116
Sōryū
SS-501
¥60B FY2004
LABs + AIP
Mar 2005
Dec 2007
Mar
2009
MHI
17SS
8117
Unryū
SS-502
¥58.7B FY2005
LABs + AIP
Mar 2006
Oct 2008
Mar
2010
KHI
18SS
8118
Hakuryū
SS-503
¥56.2 FY2006
LABs + AIP
Feb 2007
Oct 2009
Mar
2011
MHI
19SS
8119
Kenryū
SS-504
¥53B FY2007
LABs + AIP
Mar 2008
Nov 2010
Mar
2012
KHI
20SS
8120
Zuiryū
SS-505
¥51B FY2008
LABs + AIP
Mar 2009
Oct 2011
Mar
2013
MHI
No
21SS
No 21SS built
22SS
8121
Kokuryū
SS-506
¥52.8B FY2010
LABs + AIP
Jan 2011
Oct 2013
Mar
2015
KHI
23SS
8122
Jinryu
SS-507
¥54.6B FY2011
LABs + AIP
Feb 2012
Oct 2014
7 Mar 2016
MHI
24SS
8123
Sekiryū
SS-508
¥54.7B FY2012
LABs + AIP
KHI
25SS
8124
Seiryū
SS-509
¥53.1B FY2013
LABs + AIP
22 Oct 2013
12 Oct 2016
Mar? 2018
MHI
26SS
8125
SS-510
LABs + AIP
2014
?
Mar 2019?
KHI
27SS First
Soryu Mk 2
8126
SS-511
LIBs only
2015
2017?
Mar
2020
MHI
28SS  Second
Soryu Mark 2
8127
SS-512
¥63.6B FY2016
LIBs only
2016?
2018?
Mar 2021?
KHI
29SS First of
New Class
?
?
¥76B FY2018
LIBs only
?
?
2023?
MHI?
Table courtesy of exclusive information provided to Submarine MattersLABs = lead-acid batteries, AIP=air independent propulsion, LIBs=lithium-ion batteries. ¥***B = Billion Yen.


Anonymous and Pete

August 18, 2017

Australian Naval Shipbuilding Essential In So Many Ways

Comments (of 6/8/17 1:39 AM and 11/8/17 1:20 AM) below Submarine Matters' article Could Australia be Pyne's major weapons exporter? Unkikely. have prompted me to write about the advantages of building major weapon systems (eg. ships, subs, tanks and jet aircraft) in Australia. Advantages include:

-  employing workers and management in Australia rather than overseas means all their living
   expenses are spent in Australia. The resulting money multiplier effect benefits surrounding
   communities, eg. Adelaide. If living expenses are spent in Adelaide it doesn't matter if the
   workforce carry the corporate identity of Naval Group, ASC, RAN, Lockheed Martin or other
   entities.

-  providing the skills to undertake major overhauls of weapons and repair major battle damage
   in wartime building and overhauling weapons in Australia can be done more safely than exposing
   them to enemy interference on long range journeys to foreign shipyards
-  maintaining skills (like designing and welding) for other manufacturing sectors including civilian
   shipbuilding. For background here is the Australian Manufacturing website and Defence Teaming 
   Centre Inc

-  Federal money spent on weapons building in specific states promotes national unity and equity for
   disadvantaged regions or states.
-  spending large amounts of money has inherent political dimensions eg. winning sufficient Federal
   seats in South Australia enabling the Turnbull Government to win the 2016 Election.

-  a production run of weapons built in Australia creates efficiencies for each successive unit built
   with resulting economies of scale for 
more competitive sales to foreign countries
-  domestic production runs also spawn more competitive sales of components to foreign countries

-  exporting weapons built in Australia has terms of trade benefits and diplomate benefits (eg. Pacific
   Patrol Boat to small island nations and larger vessels to New Zealand).

Are not these arguments compelling?  


The timeline/graph above (Courtesy Defence Teaming Centre Inc), is now out of date but the "Valley of Death" concern still applies. The Valley of Death applies to the downturn in AWD shipbuilding in Adelaide 2018-2021 that will not be totally rectified by the Federal Governments project to build 2 much smaller OPVs in Adelaide. The closing of the last car factory in Adelaide in October 2017 is an example of a different manufacturing sector contributing to Adelaide's manufacturing "Valley of Death".
---

Timeline courtesy the Australian Government's Naval Shipbuilding Plan May 2017, page 15. This illustrates the continuous shipbuilding strategy which will particularly benefit South Australia, Western Australia and all other states to a lesser extent. Canberra (ACT) also benefits.
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Naval Shipbuilding Timeline Australian Government Budget 2016-2017. This more centralised government document also demonstrates continuous shipbuilding (and also overhaul) strategy.
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Pete

August 17, 2017

Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Missiles Unviable for Australia

Running parallel to the threat of North Korean missiles to the US Guam territory issue is a sporadic, ill-informed Australian domestic debate on the viability of any Australian ballistic missile defences (BMD).

Isolated current and former Australian politicians (Abbott and Rudd respectively) advocate BMD for Australia against the North Korean threat. The Australian Government insists that Australian BMD is  technically ineffective and would be hugely expensive. 

I agree. This particularly applies to such scenarios as North Korean, Chinese or Russian ICBM nuclear warhead reentry vehicles descending on the terminal phase of their flight toward major Australian cities and military/intelligence sites. See Diagram-Map 1. below.

Diagram-Map 1. Guam already in range. NK is steadily developing ICBM to hit any targets in Australia. Darwin may already be in range. (Map courtesy The Daily Telegraph)
---

In view of physical realities and cost Australia doesn't have THAAD or Patriot missiles. One of Australia's AWDs (Air Warfare Destroyers) (HMAS Hobart) has AEGIS. Hobart is about to be commissioned and two more are being completed. None have BMD capable SM-3 missiles and might not have.

Australia best anti-missile missile hope is the US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system - and that's a poor system. 

US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD)

The US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) BMD system goes back to Reagan era SDI "Star Wars" years and is nowhere near ready after more than US$41 Billion spent. GMD:

-  has a high failure rate, that is, a low success rate in shootdown-friendly tests,
-  would be ineffective against most enemy submarines firing nuclear tipped ballistic and cruise
   missiles from most launch positions at Australia, and
-  probably needs decades more development
-  again is extremely expensive making it perhaps of low marginal utility compared to a sovereign
   Australian nuclear deterrent


Unlike the US Australia has no overpolar (over Alaska) interceptor "chokepoint" see Diagram-Map 2 below which would increase the US chances of interception. Australia's geography, with more than 10 dispersed large cities and 10+ dispersed military/intelligence bases, would need 20+ interceptor batteries (perhaps talking 100 x GMD missiles - see below).

Diagram-Map 2.  includes the US$multi-billion giant radars deployed forward for interception of enemy ballistic missiles at their midcourse overflight "chokepoint" over Alaska. Australia has no such chokepoint but instead would need to construct 20+ interceptor batteries - a system probably more expensive than the ineffective US system. (Diagram-Map courtesy http://www.analisidifesa.it/2017/06/la-nuova-guerra-fredda-si-combatte-a-suon-di-missili/ ).

Patriot, THAAD or SM-3s located in Northeast Asia have the greatest chance of shooting down North Korean ICBMs in the early boost-phase. Australia could only send one or two AEGIS Air Warfare Destroyers, future armed with SM-3, across the world, to Northeast Asia, in the unlikely event of North Korea launching something. Australia's US, Japanese and South Korean allies are better situated for action in Northeast Asia.

The best deterrent against North Korea (like all enemy nuclear armed states) is nuclear weapons. Australia lacks its own nuclear weapons. Australia, like SK and Japan, therefore relies on their US ally's nuclear weapon deterrent.

Pete