Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Strange Submarine News and Quote of the Week (14 JUN 16)

- 1 -
Recall Sweden's 2014 Russian submarine hunt:  BBC's 60 second video Review

Molten Eagle speculation had remained It is more likely, in our experience, that a much needed Swedish Military training excercise, a PR recruiting effort, or a combination of both, have been conducted with renewed world attention.      and now we learn...

Today's [June 13, 2016] NEWS UPDATE indicates we appear to have been correct all along:
"A sonar signature, which Swedish military claimed to be crucial evidence of a foreign submarine’s presence near Stockholm during the 2014 hunt, came from a 'Swedish object,' the country’s defense minister has admitted.

Peter Hultqvist would not go into details about the source of the signal, but said the military reconsidered their assessment of its nature in September 2015, he told Sveriges Radio."
{The Sveriges Radio AB Swedish Language article is consistent}

- 2 -
Sub-Ocean Geophysical Catastrophe (Pick the more likely story)   
February 13, 2016 - CNN  | The quake-maker you've never heard of: Cascadia
  • The Cascadia is capable of delivering a 9.0-magnitude quake. The fault can deliver a quake with 30 times more energy than the more famous San Andreas 
  • The Cascadia runs from British Columbia's Vancouver Island California's Cape Mendocino
  • "...and then it generates a tsunami at the same time, which the side-by-side motion of the San Andreas can't do." - Prof. Chris Goldfinger, Oregon State University.

June 13, 2016 - PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) | Robot submarine streams live from ocean off Oregon coast
A robot submarine is roaming around the ocean floor off the Oregon Coast in an effort to detect any geological activity underground, and researchers are offering a live stream of the underwater view.  The mission off the Pacific Northwest is intended to find “methane seeps,” where the natural greenhouse gas is released from the ocean floor along the Cascadia subduction.

Another Russian exploration to locate ideal detonation sites to trigger earthquakes, or innocent scientific curiosity? Hint: See research efforts (Dr. Robert Ballard and the Corps of Exploration)   

- 3 - 
June 2016 | theatlantic.com  GPS Doesn't Work Underwater
So the U.S. Navy is developing a new kind of system—built specifically for drone submarines.

POSYDON wants to install acoustic speakers in buoys throughout the ocean, where they will broadcast the time like GPS satellites. “They will be heard across very, very wide swaths of ocean,” he told me. “And now our underwater vehicles will be able to listen to those acoustic signals and measure the time difference of arrivals of each one of them.”

There’s one big problem. GPS radio signals are electromagnetic waves, so they move at the speed of light—always, through any atmospheric medium. This makes it extremely straightforward to back-compute the location of a beacon from its signal.  

M.E. Comment: Would not laser emissions from orbiting satellites provide faster, broader coverage?  

- 4 -
May 18, 2016 - Military Times | CHEYENNE, Wyo. Tribute to a Navy vet served on captured German WWII sub

Toward the war's end, one of these U-boats, U-858, was sent to wreak havoc along the east coast of the United States. But two weeks after Hitler's suicide, on May 14, 1945, U-858 became the first Nazi submarine to surrender to U.S. forces.

It's a boat that Chuck Kline remembers well. That's because, for nine months after its surrender, Kline served aboard U-858.

Kline, now 93, is one of a dwindling number of American sailors who served aboard submarines during World War II, and the last to come from Wyoming. (

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

New Submarine Brainteasers (06 JUN 16)

Category: Latest Intrigue ...

The Background from Submarine Quotes

"Once again, an effective, skilled, and technologically advanced Russian submarine force is challenging us. Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict. Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.  ... For example, the new Russian national security-strategy depicts the United States and NATO as threats to Russian security and accuses us of applying “political, economic, military, and information-related pressure” on Russia. 6 Thus, not only is Russia pursuing advanced military capabilities (especially in the underwater domain) that enable it to be a credible threat to us, it is now boldly saying that it intends to act as one. "  - Vice Admiral James G. Foggo, III and Alarik Fritz,  "The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic",  Proceedings magazine - June 2016.

"Nuclear submarines should not be allowed to use suburban ports as supply bases. There is always a potential risk associated with nuclear-powered vessels. Fire and terrorist attacks are examples of events that could trigger a nuclear accident. A military base would provide greater protection against such occasions compared to a civil port [in densely populated areas]."  - Nils Bøhmer of Bellona told news outlet Nordlys.

And Three Versions

[all color and underscoring emphasis mine] 
- 1 - 
"Last week, a US nuclear submarine emerged off Norway's coast in Tromsø supposedly for changing crews, which somehow added fuel to the fire. ...
Spokesperson Brynjar Stordal of the Joint Headquarters confirmed the submarine had the so-called administrative assignment of swapping crews and carrying out a number of tasks before going out to sea, yet refused to specify the type of the submarine. No further indication was given, except for the fact that it was American and had Norfolk as its homeport." - Sputnik International, 06 June 2015 
[Note: Sputnik is one of Russia's government-controlled news outlets geared towards non-Russian audiences. Sputnik has been described as propagandist.] 
- 2 - 
"The US military wants to use a new harbour at Tønsnes near Tromsø for its nuclear submarines on patrol in Arctic waters. Norwegian military officials seem keen to accommodate their powerful American allies, but local residents are skeptical and state radiation authorities must evaluate whether such vessels will be welcome."  
and, ... 
“I would say that the presence of our allies is a central dimension within Norwegian security and defense policy,” Regina Alexandrova, a Bulgarian-born Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, told NRK. She represents Troms County and sits on the parliament’s foreign and defense policy committee. “We have exercises and train with our allies and often have visits from allied forces,” Alexandrova added. “Their presence in Northern Norway is both legitimate and desired from our side.” - Nuclear sub berthings meet skepticism, Views and News from Norway, May 12, 2016.

- 3 - 
"The navy’s submarine base infrastructure had included the Olavsvern facility near Tromsø in Northern Norway. This base, which cost US$500 million to construct and fit-out, was decommissioned in 2009.

The Olavsvern facility, which contains tunnels burrowed in to mountainside rock, is currently leased to research institutes funded by Russia and closely connected to the oil company Gazprom. [all color and underscoring emphasis mine]

The base at Olavsvern was used extensively by US and British nuclear powered attack submarines patrolling Arctic waters during the Cold War. The facility was also used by NATO submarine commanders to rest crews and carry out repairs. - The navy’s submarine base infrastructure had included the Olavsvern facility near Tromsø in Northern Norway. This base, which cost US$500 million to construct and fit-out, was decommissioned in 2009.
  - Gerard O’Dwyer, Norway Reviewing Submarine Base Infrastructure, Capacity; Defense News, 19  May 2016.

Some Obvious Questions 
  • Which LA-class U.S. sub "homeported in Norfolk" could it have been "last week"? ANS: If report is true, one of these boats perhaps.
  • What was the actual nature of the alleged "swapping crews and carrying out a number of tasks"?  ANS: Likely some Silent and Strange assignment unless an actual medical emergency, but to date only VA-class attack subs have been publicly assigned female crew members, and medical problems among male submariners have remained very rare.
  • Where "off Norway's coast and nearTromso?  ANS: Tønsnes appears likely.
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Weekly Submarine Tidbits and Quote of the Week (31 MAY 16)

Submarine Quote of the Week

"I would submit that a country that has the largest maritime estate in the world, and that has interests well beyond our borders and our continent, should have a tool in its toolbox that can declare exclusive control over a piece of water at a time and place of its choosing, and that's what a submarine gives you."  - Vice-Admiral Mark Norman,  Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)  source

Submarine curiousities new to the public's attention  ...

Report: China Will Send Submarines Armed with Nuclear Missiles to the Pacific
Last week, The Guardian reported how China revealed its plans on releasing an underwater vessel that carries nuclear-powered missiles in the Pacific Ocean.

While The Guardian appears to be convinced that China could really deploy an underwater vessel with a weapon of mass destruction, there are still some who see it to be far from possible, saying that the country's submarine capabilities have been grossly exaggerated.

"It seems that various news media reports and official statements continue to exaggerate or preempt the operational capability of the Chinese submarine force," the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said in a report. 

Background:  ILLEGAL RETENTION OF CLASSIFIED NUCLEAR SYSTEMS PHOTOS from USS Alexandria (SSN-757) by nuc Machinest Mate ex-submariner (later a First Class Petty Officer assigned to the Naval Support Activity Base in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)

UPDATE:  Navy sailor pleads guilty to espionage for submarine photos 
The 29-year-old petty officer first class, Kristian Saucier, admitted to taking cellphone photos of instruments and equipment within the submarine on three separate occasions in 2009, the Justice Department announced. ...Sentencing is scheduled for August. Saucier faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

Will this delayed case be compared to the
FBI's investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s alleged mishandling of highly classified information during her time in office as some have suggested?  Unlikely, in M.E.'s opinion.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Iran's Detention of U.S. Sailors: Story Still Wrong


"Viewership for Obama's State of the Union addresses has been in decline since 2009, when he drew 52.4 million television viewers. Subsequently, 48.0 million watched on television in 2010, 42.8 million in 2011, 37.8 million in 2012, 33.5 million in 2013 and 33.3 million in 2014." -CNN

Despite the sudden development of a perfectly-timed human interest story (just hours before) President Obama's 2016 (final) State of the Union (S.O.T.U.) address, national viewership declined another 5%, attracting just 31.7 million viewers (1.6 million fewer than in 2015). Embarrassing? Yes, viewership was predictably better than it might have been otherwise.  

An Administration Manufactured Event?

"Ten American sailors have been taken into custody in Iran," he said in a statement. "But President Obama completely omitted this latest example of Iran's provocative behavior so as not to interfere with his delusional talking points about his dangerous nuclear deal with Iran." - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy      

M.E. Comment (15 MAR 16):  "U.S. taxpayers should have expected this administration to have fired another admiral (or general) by now for poor planning in the embarrassing capture 2 months ago of ten U.S. sailors, including one female.  No such firing at the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, which is responsible for American naval forces in the Gulf, nor in a higher authority has yet come to pass. Obviously then, the quick "catch and release" may have been a nefariously pre-arranged excuse to either plant false information with an enemy, or to share accurate information with Iran's government."  

UPDATE  (12 MAY 16)

Navy officer fired over Iran's capture of U.S. sailors [color emphasis mine] ...
Navy officials believe that a navigational error, along with some baffling errors in judgment on the part of the crew, led to their capture. Officials have suggested that the crew may have been taking an unauthorized shortcut through Iranian waters to meet up with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel for refueling. source
"Cmdr. Eric Rasch, who at the time of the Jan. 12 incident was the executive officer of the Coastal Riverine Squadron 3, was removed from his job ... for what a Navy Expeditionary Combat Command release said was “a loss of confidence” in his ability to remain in command." source

Rasch had actually been promoted to commander of his unit in April, at a time when the investigation into the capture was still ongoing. His leadership duties have now been transferred to another, AP reported. source

Although this is the first firing by the Navy regarding the incident, several other sailors received administrative reprimands. The investigation is expected to be finished by the end of the month, and others are likely to be disciplined. source


  1. "...others are likely to be disciplined?" -  This thinly veiled publicity stunt stinks so much that Cmdr Rasch (a decorated officer) appears to be the designated fall guy and the most senior officer who must fall on his sword among the U.S. Navy's entire Bahrain-based 5th Fleet (and all higher authorities responsible for American naval forces in the Gulf), who allowed the embarrassing publicity stunt on the eve of Obama's last S.O.T.U. 
  2. Will the investigation wrap up "...by the end of the month?  Only time will tell.
  3. Was the quick "catch and release" actually a nefariously pre-arranged excuse to plant false information with a potential enemy or to share accurate information with Iran's government?  In either case, time is unlikely to tell, as such actions would be classified secrets for at least 3 decades.   
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weekly Submarine Tidbit and Quotes of the Week (18 MAY 16)

First (of Two) Quotes of the Week

"These are unusually bad submarines. These are submarines that were rejected by the British Royal Navy, which tried to sell them to South Africa and Greece, both of which rejected them."   - Michael Byers, a defence expert at the University of British Columbia (related story follows)


May 17, 2016 (video link with excellent background info) - Canada's troubled submarine fleet has been hit with another headache: hundreds of potentially dangerous welds

"More bad news for Canada's problem-plagued submarine fleet: two of the boats will be out of commission for most of this year because of shoddy welding.

HMCS Chicoutimi and its sister, HMCS Victoria, are stuck in their Vancouver Island port for months because several hundred welds can't be trusted to hold tight when the boats dive.

"Numerous welds are located outside the boats' pressure hull, which will require docking to complete the review and effect repairs," says a briefing note for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act.

Weld problems on HMCS Chicoutimi are costing the navy about eight months' downtime, with the submarine returning to sea only in the autumn. Beginning in February this year, technicians had to inspect 344 suspect welds on the boat and found at least 30 needed re-welding, often in tight spaces where work is difficult.

Technicians are scheduled to inspect 325 dubious welds on HMCS Victoria. There's no word yet on how many of those will need re-welding. Weld analysis alone will keep Victoria in port for five months this year, with additional time for actual repairs."

Second (of Two) Quotes of the Week

"If a weld blows on a submarine while it's 100 metres below the surface, every person on board dies. There's no margin for error when you're talking about submarines." - Michael Byers, a defence expert at the University of British Columbia

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Cake Icing for Australia's Submarine Selection


Aside from submarine performance criteria, shifted political winds and related labor participation mandate for domestic build economics, was there another, especially enticing incententive, for selecting DCNS?  Quite possibly .... Here are some leading opinions.


Consider 5 excerpts from some recently published opinions [color emphasis mine]:
May 6, 2016  |  Japan's Failed Australian Submarine Bid: Is America at Fault?
"The widely understood sticking point for the European bids, namely U.S. reluctance to share the details of its AN/BYG-1 Combat Management System with European firms has evaporated. President Obama is reported to have indicated as much to Prime Minister Turnbull, with a “senior source” suggesting that there would be no implications for the alliance, no matter which bidder won.  ...
If an overture to Pyongyang is in the offing, with China, South Korea, and Japan onside, was the scuttling of the Japanese submarine bid part of the price, unbeknownst to Japan until very recently of course? All it would have taken, as the French bid which promises a full Australian-based build is both politically and economically attractive to the Australian government, was the hint that “Option J” was no longer necessarily an American preference."  - Zac Rogers in The National Interest
May 6, 2016 | Australia’s Submarine Superiority: Strange Strategies and Overspending
"Given Australia’s relatively benign strategic environment, the very high projected cost for the 12 Shortfin Barracuda boats is probably not justified, especially since the primary practical missions of the submarine fleet will be covert operations and intelligence collection.  ...  The country probably needs a regionally superior cyber-enabled and balanced military force across all services before it needs a force of 12 submarines. We can expect that the Australian government will come to see that. In the absence of a direct military threat to the Australian mainland, the projected submarine spend of A$50 billion is almost certainly unsustainable in political terms. The eventual build through the 2020s and 2030s of new Australian submarines will almost certainly be closer to six boats than 12." -
Greg Austin, in The Diplomat
May 10, 2016 |  Why DSCNS Won - Some reasons not yet covered in the media.
"It still needs to be said that   TKMS can offer no nuclear option   if Australia changes its mind and (say, in 2025) actually wants "regionally superior" submarines, especially if China and/or Putin become threatening. - this might mean Australia would want the Barracuda SSN for the first batch of 6 (2030 - 2040) and/or for a second batch of 6 (2040 -2050) Nuclear Barracuda option for second batch." -
Peter Coates in Submarine matters

May 11, 2016 Superannuation change means that savers can no longer trust governments 

 [see "Submarine facts"]
"The submarine program is the most complex defence procurement ever undertaken in this country. The commercial discussions will require the Defence Department to negotiate a number of contractual arrangements to ensure we get the right capability while maximising Australian industry involvement. Once we conclude negotiations with DCNS and select a combat system integrator, work to design the new submarine and combat system will begin in Adelaide this year, not sometime after 2019.   ...  Most disappointingly, Gottliebsen repeats the incorrect claim that the government selected DCNS of France as the preferred partner to enable nuclear propulsion for the future submarine, despite being advised that this is not the case after he incorrectly reported the same thing last week.
" -  Marise Payne, Minister for Defence, Canberra, ACT in The Australian.com

May 11, 2016Should we rush to smooth Japan's ruffled feathers?
"We must be realistic about the challenges posed by China's behaviour, particularly in the South China Sea. We should forthrightly tell Beijing that continued aggression could, eventually, result in the formation of anti-China alliance. But we should not be eager to reach this outcome. For now, closer defence ties between Japan and Australia are likely to worsen, not improve, security in Asia." -
Iain Henry, PhD candidate at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University's Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. in The Sydney Morning Herald

Submarines are always silent and strange 

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Weeklyy Submarine Quotes & Tidbits 5MAY16

Recently noted curiousities of a submarine variety (formerly "Tuesday Tidbits"). Color emphasis by M.E.

Quotes of the Week


“Submarines are a dangerous business. There is always tension wherever you go because we operate in a challenging environment.”  -  Cmdr. Fraser Hudson, CO USS Missouri  (SSN 780).  here


“For Russia the submarine is the crown jewel of their fleet, much in the way the aircraft carrier is the crown jewel of the U.S. Navy.” - Magnus Nordenman, a Russian military expert at Atlantic Council  [ibid].

Tidbits New to the general public's attention

"Russia’s newest Project 636.3 diesel subs like Krasnodar are often referred to that class, too (on NATO classification – Improved Kilo).

Earlier on, there were reports in the Russian press about a collision between the Russian submarine Krasnodar and the Polish one named Orzeł. Military spokesmen of the both countries rebutted that information; however, the Russian Navy officials specified that a “navigation incident” did happen though. [underscoring mine]"

"The shipyard’s authorities declined to comment the reason for the submarine’s return."


5 May 2016 -  Gibraltar |  Royal Navy used warning flares as Spain's La Guardia Civil vessel 'harrassed' USS Florida (SSGN-728) by crossing into its path.

The incident allegedly happened last month as the USS Florida docked in Gibraltar. 

The latest incident comes as tensions heighten around the UK-controlled peninsula after a series of aggressive acts by Spain that may be linked to Gibraltar's self-determination. 

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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