May 19, 2017

Singapore’s submarines, particularly 218SG Propulsion


Originally TKMS broke a complacent Kockums' monopoly when Singapore ordered TKMS subs in November 2013This was the first batch of 2 x TKMS Type 218SGs (covered by Submarine Matters at the time). 

By September 3, 2015 enough details emerged on the 218s to write quite a long Submarine Matters’ description.

On May 15-16, 2017 Singapore announced the order of 2 more 218s.

The first two 218SGs (in 2021-2022) will replace the two ex-Swedish subs, renamed RSS Chieftain and RSS Conqueror of the Singaporean Challenger class

The second batch of the 218s (in the mid 2020s) will replace two more modern ex-Swedish subs, renamed RSS Archer and RSS Swordsman, of the Archer class.


Singapore has long maintained several advanced submarines to:

-  work with nearby sensor arrays, surface and aircraft and allies to monitor activities of non-state 
   actors (Islamic terrorists, drug and arms smugglers, pirates etc)
-  monitor Chinese SSNs and SSKs transiting the Malacca Strait
-  protect the small city-state of Singapore against much larger neighbours (Malaysia, Indonesia and
   Vietnam) that also own submarines, and
-  for intelligence gathering (electronic and special forces, etc)


Its interesting to guess what propulsion types the first and second batches of 218s will have.


All four 218s may feature more efficient, more available, Reformer fuel cell (FC)/Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). On this type of AIP see page 42Spain’s Sener company may be still helping TKMS develop this AIP. Sener indicates
“To solve this problem, and given that the general market trend is to build ever larger submarines, SENER has partnered with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), the European leader in submarine construction, to develop an AIP based on the methanol reforming process, which allows the hydrogen needed to feed the fuel cell to be produced on board.” 

Or the first two 218s may begin with existing HDW PEM fuel cell AIP and be later retrofitted with Reformer FC/AIP. 

German battery companies may be working with US EnerSys and/or General Atomics to develop more efficient and advanced Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) for the 218s. EnerSys supplies batteries for diesel-electric (batteries are essentiall day-to-day) and nuclear subs (for backup). General Atomics  may be supplying the LIBs used by US Special Forces mini-subs.


The first two 218s may be fitted with MTU 16V396 SE (3.96 MW) diesels [1]. This would make it easier to retrofit more modern MTU 12V4000s. MTU 12V4000s may be fitted to the the second two 218s.

[1] In the spirit of some European companies sharing sensitive military equipment. "The beating hearts of [China's Yuan and Song submarines] are state-of-the-art diesel engines designed by MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH of Friedrichshafen, Germany." 

A Type 218SG model first displayed at IMDEX ASIA in Singapore, May 19-21 2015.

The 218's X-plane tale (Courtesy Coffee and Bullets)


May 18, 2017

Revised Table of Developers of LIBs and LABs for Submarine


Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) for submarine use is not a Japanese monopoly. Other countries are developing LIBs for submarine, including European, South Korean, US, Russian, Indian and Chinese.

The world LIB development market is very complex with:

-  major companies supplying batteries to other companies for resale

-  various types of joint ventures between companies, and 

-  companies developing batteries for civilian uses (eg. cars) that also may decide to break into
   the LIBs for submarine market.

-  Companies already supplying Lead-acid Batteries (LABs) for submarine also developing LIBs for

Anonymous has heavily revised the TABLE and footnotes.

Table List of Submarine LAB/LIB Suppliers

LAB for subamrine
LIB etc

Non submarine
Nuclear and diesel submarines [12]

Space applications [11]
No data
Exide Technology
U205,U206, U209, U212; Dolphin, Scorpene, Walrus, Kobben, Näcken, Västergötland, Gotland, UIa, TR 1700, Agosta, Daphne, Redoutable, Rubis, Triomphant [2]
Onyx™ M70 Series LIBs use lithium lithium cobaltaite (LCO)

No data
Western type submarines: U209/U214/Scorpene/Agosta/Daphne
Eastern type submarines: Romeo/ Foxtrot/ Kilo
Design development has been done also for classes U206, U212, Vastergotland(A17)(A19).
Nickel cobalt manganese oxide
(NCM), lithium iron Phosphate (LFP)[4]
No data
HBL Power Systems Ltd.
12.391 kWh to 40.300 kWh [5]
Kilo, Sorpene [6]
No data
Underdevloping [7]
Sunlight Systems
Western type submarines: U206, U209, U212, U214, U209P, U210, Scorpène, Agosta, 6YOH, Sauro, Walrus, Kobben
Eastern type submarines: Romeo, Foxtrot, Kilo [8]
LiSO2 batteries [10]
Radio sets, Mines, Locator beacons, Anti tank weapons, Night vision equipmen
GS Yuasa
Oyashio, SotyuMKI
Lithium manganese oxide (LMO)
Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA)
Lithium-titanate (ITO)
Lithium-titanate (ITO)
Western type submarines
U206, U209, U212, U214, U209P, U210, Scorpène, Agosta, 6YOH, Sauro, Walrus, Kobben
Eastern type submarines
Romeo, Foxtrot, Kilo
Lithium lithium cobaltaite (LCO) [3],

Energy density, 68, 84Wh/kg etc [9]
No data
Lithium polymer batteries for military use  (114-168Wh/kg) [13]
Lithium polymer batteries ?
No data
No data
Kilo uses Saft (Fr).
No data
Kalina submarines [14]  in collaboration with China
How about Saft?[15]

Exide Technology supplys OEM-LABs to other battery manufactures.

EnerSys, EverExceed , Exide Technology, HBL Power Systems Ltd., and Sunlight Systems are the major lead-acid battery  vendors in the market. Companies, such as GS Yuasa, Saft, Kokam, Arotech, and Toshiba, are aggressively developing Li-ion batteries for submarines and investing in R&D to reduce the cost and match the LAB specifications for the submarines.
The report also states countries, such as Japan, China, and Russia, are focusing on the Li-ion battery technology for the submarines. Russia is also planning to develop Li-ion battery technology for Kalina submarines in collaboration with China.

[3] Data in 2005

HBL is the largest defence battery manufacturer in India. All the products have been designed, developed and manufactured based on in-house technology. The Company supplies batteries for a wide range of applications - fighter aircrafts, helicopters, transport aircraft, submarine propulsion, light weight and heavy weight torpedoes, battle tanks, missiles and artillery fuzes among others.The Company has recently secured approval for Kilo class submarine battery and approval process for Scorpene class submarine is at an advanced stage of completion.

For many years, we had been asked why HBL did not make Lithium Ion batteries. We have now initiated a plan to manufacture prismatic Lithium Ion cells and batteries for specialized applications - not for consumer products. The project is likely to be implemented in the near term.

The design and development of more than 25 different cell types and the delivery of 60 battery shipsets to navies worldwide are the strongest evidences for our expertise and cumulative experience in the submarine battery sector. Indicatively, we have manufactured submarine batteries for: Greece, Italy, Egypt, Germany, Fance, Ukraine, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, Poland, South Africa, Portugal, Korea, Netherlands, Equador

Energy density is 84Wh/kg for Ion’ Drive 630 (26kWh), 68Wh/kg for Ion’Drive® Motive 24 V 410 Ah

The most commonly lithium batteries used are manufactured based on Lithium Sulfur Dioxide (LiSO2) and Lithium-Ion technology. More specifically, LiSO2 batteries are constructed of a Lithium (Li) anode, a Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) cathode and their electrolyte is made of Acetonitrile in combination with Lithium Bromide.
(Radio sets, Mines, Locator beacons, Anti tank weapons, Night vision equipmen)t

EnerSys is the leading global supplier of lithium-ion batteries for space applications where space heritage, innovation, and a proven delivery track record come together to produce market-leading batteries.

Nominal capcity (160Ah), votage (20-29.4V) and weight (28kg) mean energy density (114-168Wh/kg)

"In December 2014, TsKB Rubin completed the research work" Kalina-Navy "as a result of which the advanced design of a promising multipurpose non-nuclear submarine with air-independent power plant (VNEU) and a lithium-ion battery (LIAB) was executed in accordance with the tactical and technical task of the Russian Defense Ministry," said Shlemov.

[Translated from Russian] In April of [2017?], a seminar-presentation of developments and products of SAFT (France) under the name "Lithium-ion power systems for large underwater vehicles" was held at the St. Petersburg State Maritime Technical University. From the Russian side, specialists from a number of interested organizations took part in the seminar, and from the French side SAFT representatives Bertrand Dotfey, sales director of the Cosmos and Defensive Systems division and Alain Coadou, manager of the new defensive systems, made a presentation.

Pete Comment: China also appears to be developing LIBs for submarine. See “EverSpring” of China, covered in a Submarine Matters' article of February 2, 2016.

Mainly Anonymous and some small comments from Pete

May 16, 2017

Ransomeware Possible Threat to SSBNs' Microsoft "Windows for Submarines"

At work at the NSA where cyber-defensive software is assessed and developed and also malware. 

Combining the current international ransomware scare and nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) is the following:


Graham Vanbergen for Canada based Global Research, May 14, 2017 reports in part:

“British Nuclear Submarines, Microsoft and That Ransomware Attack”

[The BBC has reported that the recent ransomware attack hit 100 countries. Cyber-security firm Avast said it had seen 75,000 cases of the ransomware worm – known as ‘WannaCry’ and variants of that name – around the world. The ransomware worm parasitically spreads by itself between computers with alarming speed and effectiveness. So fast, that this cyber-attack had the potential to hit critical infrastructure that supports human life and disable it.] “Microsoft was[and is] the only fully vulnerable operating system...”

"“Who are culprits? The BBC blame hackers known as ‘The Shadow Brokers’, who made it freely available in April, saying it was a “protest” about US President Donald Trump... The NSA in America lost all of these hacking tools, specifically the one that caused this attack and subsequent mayhem across the world. The hackers exploited a piece of NSA code known as “Eternal Blue.”... This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
From a 2008 article by The Register reported:
“[Britain’s Vanguard class SSBNs use Microsoft’s Windows for Submarines] The programme is called Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG), and uses varying numbers of standard multifunction consoles with two LCD screens, hooked up on an internal Ethernet network installed on each sub. Initial reports as the programme developed suggested that the OS in question would be Windows 2000, but those who have worked on it have since informed the Reg that in fact it is mostly based on XP.”

Windows were so chuffed at “Windows for Submarines” they even advertised the fact to the entire world (HERE)

“Windows for Submarines is the programme undertaken by the Royal Navy and BAE Systems to equip the nuclear-propelled and nuclear-armed warship fleet with a Windows-based command system.  The transition to the Windows for Submarines command system on HMS Vigilant, a Trident nuclear missile submarine, was completed in just 18 days.”

The possible ransomware threat to the SSBNs' Microsoft software depends on many factors, including:

-  how similar the software is to software already effected by the ransomware
-  how difficult it is for an infiltrator to access any thumdrive ports or other points of access to the 
    SSBNs' computer hardware and software.

The ransomware used in this current crisis may have been adapted by well organised hacker networks from the almost decade old Stuxnet worm:
Stuxnet functions by targeting machines using the Microsoft Windows operating system and networks...
Stuxnet became most famous in 2010 for causing thousands of centrifuges (used for boosting levels of  bomb-grade Uranium-235) to spin erratically and destructively at Natanz and other Iranian sites.
The three country organisations that may have Stuxnet were the US NSA and Israel’s Unit 8200 with Middle Eastern and Iranian targets in mind. 
All developed countries have their NSA equivalents, including Russia (FSB-IT but mainly GRU-IT) and China (including PLA Unit 61398 within the broader PLA Third Department). 

May 7, 2017

May 2017 Donors Report - The Union and Australian Submarine Projects

HMAS Collins launch in August 1993. In terms of industrial relations the construction was a success.

Hi Donors

I've just emailed Submarine Matters May 2017 Report The Union and Australian Submarine Projects out to you, as a WORD attachment. Please check your spam bin if you don't see it in your IN box.

Leadin to report:

"Submarine construction is a vast human enterprise with many aspects. One aspect is labour, the contribution of workers, who build the submarines. Australia has shipbuilding unions, including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), that played a key role in the Collins’ submarine construction project. From the early 1980s Australian shipbuilding unions exhibited a high level of cooperation with the Australian government on the project. Things...[an important person referred to in the article should have been correctly spelt Hans J Ohff, not the typo I perpetuated of Hans J "Ohfe".]"

For the whole report (and 11 future reports) please donate A$50 using the Donate Button on the right sidebar of Submarine Matters


Peter Coates
Submarine Matters International 

May 5, 2017

Thai Army versus Navy Controversy over the Chinese Submarine Purchase

Thailand’s ruling military junta has been talking about the pending Chinese built submarine purchase for just under two years. However the latest media coverage appears to have been whipped up by the Thai Army in part to remind the Thai Navy of the Army's dominance in the junta-government.

The Thai Army see themselves as the elite saviours of Thailand when civilian governments fail to govern effectively – which the Army sees as occurring often - gauged by the number of Army coups in Thailand. The Washington Post reports that  Thailand has had 11 + (1 in 2014) = 12 successful coups and 7 attempted coups since 1932.

Thailand’s most influential English language newspaper, the Bangkok Post, reports Army General (“retired”) Prayut, who is also the Prime Minister, expressed disapproval of the Navy's openness. He accused the Navy of divulging too many details of the Thai Government's submarine decision-making in the Navy’s early May 2017 press briefing on the 3 Chinese S26T submarines for Thailand project.

According to the prime minister, no other country has ever had to disclose this much information about military hardware procurement as Thailand just did.” This is hardly correct. The US government releases 1000s of pages of detailed costs and technical details for acquisition and building its much more sensitive nuclear submarines (SSNs, SSGNs and SSBNs).

The Army rulers of Thailand may also wish to distance themselves from the public criticism and accusations of corruption the Navy is receiving over the pending submarine purchase.

The Thai Navy may see submarines as high priced assets (costing US$ 1 Billion total) that signify the Navy’s importance. The subs could one day be seen as replacing the basically unused Thai carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet as symbols of prestige.

Thailand is criticized for its coups and now for choosing Chinese submarines. But who can legitimately judge Thailand? The US has been critical of the latest Thai coup (of 2014) and the US has frozen just under US$5 million aid money to Thailand. With an unscrupulous property developer for a President the US can hardly claim moral exceptionalism or superiority over any country the US criticizes.
China’s mass productions of submarines and part Chinese government funded price reductions allows China to produce submarine cheap enough for non-wealthy governments, like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand to buy. But it is in Chinese political influence over these countries and extra downstream costs (like spares, maintenance and overhaul) that reaps benefits for China.

Anonymous has located interesting comments in that:

"The “submarines from China are inferior to submarines competing in almost every dimension."

-    The size of Taiwan's Yuan class variant S26T hull will be too big. It is designed for a minimum of depth of 60 meters, while the average depth of the Gulf of Thailand is 25 to 40 meters.

-     the “speed and operating distance of the Chinese submarines is 18 knots maximum for only 10 minutes and operating distance of only 8,000 miles. While other subs of other nations have maximum speeds greater than 20 knots for approximately one hour and operating distances of more than 10,000 miles.

-    Chinese submarine operational lives are only 25 years - less than the 40 years lives of subs from other nations.

-    Along with Chinese submarines being lower priced than competitors comes questions whether the quality of Chinese subs is also low.

In terms of possible usefulness of Thailand's future submarines, according to the esteemed South Pacific island publication,

“Thailand is not involved in disputes with China and other Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea but it does have a dispute with Cambodia over their maritime border in a gas-rich part of the Gulf of Thailand." Thailand also has maritime borders in the Indian Ocean - an Ocean with more usefully deeper waters than the too shallow waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Above and below are images of the Thai S26T submarine - future variant of the Yuan class.

By Pete and Anonymous