Sunday, October 16, 2016

China Just Denuclearized a Sub ... Wait! There is More


China's first ballistic missile submarine, Type 092 submarine (Xia-class), was laid down in 1978, launched in 1981 and commissioned by 1983. - Wikipedia

China's Latest Claims

2016-10-16China's first nuclear submarine decommissioned
China's first nuclear-powered submarine has been decommissioned after more than 40 years of military service, according to the naval authorities.

After undergoing a thorough denuclearization process, the submarine was towed to a wharf belonging to the Chinese Navy Museum in Qingdao, a port city in east China's Shandong Province, on Saturday, where it will be a public exhibit.

The submarine's release from military service and the safe, thorough and reliable handling of related nuclear waste, nuclear reactor and other devices showed China's life-cycle maintenance ability, ranging from a nuclear submarine's production, operation, management to disposal, the naval authorities said.  


AUG. 23, 2016 |  North Korea Test-Fires Missile From Submarine
— North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast on Wednesday, demonstrating a significant improvement in its efforts to build a harder-to-detect means to strike American and allied forces, the South Korean military said.

The missile, launched from near Sinpo, a submarine base, flew 310 miles toward Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. The statement said that the test showed that North Korea was making “progress” after several failed tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs.

A DuplicateSub

"A second boat is thought to have been completed in 1982, however this is debatable. There is little information regarding the history of this ship if in fact it actually existed. It is suggested, though not confirmed, that this second Type 092 was lost in an accident in 1985.[6][7][8] "

Worst Case Analysis

 Molten Eagle: If a second Xia-class SSBN ship exists, it could well be the one displayed at the Chinese Navy Museum in Qingdao.   With its denuclearized (propulsion reactor systems) removed, the actual Xia, with its 12 missile tubes and 6 torpedo tubes, and which has undergone numerous refits, including new coating, possible quieting technologies, French-designed sonar, and improved longer ranged JL-1A SLBM missiles, would be the game changing launch platform North Korea has been seeking to get within missile range of every U.S. target.

Whether obtained covertly by North Korea or its ally Iran, Xia could easily be refitted with an AIP propulsion plant to provide greater stealth and much simpler operating and training requirements than any nuclear submarine. Such improvements would offer a significant near-term strike nuclear potential to either of these petulant regimes. Does China twist the truth? Calculate the years of service of the Xia and compare to "40 years in active operation" claimed by China.

Submarines are always silent and strange. 


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Monday, October 10, 2016

The really bad smell

Former submariner Walter Lyon served over 1,200 days at sea (from 2000-2010) as ship’s diver and fire control technician. Lyon was last assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN-769). He now co-publishes Submarine Tough with his buddy Josh Toth.

In early February New London Conneticut's TheDay published Toth's opinion that, “Submariners don’t do a good job of selling how cool their lifestyle is.”  The former submariners see their podcast as a way to bring an understanding of the submarine force to the masses.

Former Groton sailors talk submarines, everything else in podcast 

What happened next ....

Well, rather than doing a good job of selling how cool their lifestyle is, readers (or listeners) got the opposite --- an underbelly of topics that make submarine service seem highly undesirable, at least for thoughtful women or timid "snowflakes".   

Task & Purpose, bills itself as, news and culture site geared toward the next great generation of American veterans . We offer an outlet for well-written analysis and commentary on veterans and greater military affairs."  Task & Purpose published this interview of Walter Lyon on October 7, 2016: Life On A Submarine: Raunchy, Cramped, And Occasionally Smells Like Sh*t

Several topics mentioned in the Lyon interview may be natural turnoffs to some of the women and men in the submarine force's declining recruitment pool.  We can hardly blame Mr. Lyon for simply telling the truth.


  • They operate in world where disaster is narrowly averted by the smallest of margins, due in large part to the hard work and diligence of every sailor onboard. It’s a dangerous job in an unforgiving environment.  
  • what it’s like to live in a submerged pressurized container, where to go for a little “private time,” 
  • Every square inch of space is taken up, so sometimes you’ll be sleeping next to a crate of eggs. Sometimes the rack that you’re in is right next to a torpedo. It’s really cramped. What you do is called hot-racking, which is three guys to every two beds and we say “it’s not gay, if you’re under way.”
  • what happens when the sanitation valves aren’t set up correctly --- It ruined pizza night for the sub..  we had pressurized poop go ... into the kitchen. The machinist mates, called A-gangers got the valve line-up wrong in such a way that the poop went through one of the deep sinks and sprayed the entire galley.
  •  submarine warfare qualification takes about a year ... In that year, your sole job is to learn every inch of that submarine from bow to stern and you’re not allowed to smoke cigarettes, you’re not allowed to eat sugary cereal, you’re not allowed to eat dessert, you’re not allowed to watch movies, you’re not allowed to read any content not related to submarines.  
 Submarines are always silent and strange. 

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Friday, October 07, 2016

Submarine Nuggets of the Week - Women, Cells Not Allowed

The following excerpts were snipped from Silence, tight quarters and no women: On board Israel's most advanced submarine  By Amos Harel Sep 09, 2016 (read all few pages)

Haaretz’s military correspondent joined the crew of INS Rahav, the Israel Navy’s newest submarine, on a brief training cruise. He learned about the unique physical and mental demands of service on the IDF's most expensive war machine, its technological capabilities and why Israeli subs are still off-limits to women. 
( color and underscoring emphasis added by M.E. )

Nugget  1

“Discussion on the integration of women on submarines is legitimate.  ...  No one here would refuse an order for women to serve on submarines.  ...  It’s also not a matter of restraint. Possible sexual tension on a long cruise could make it more complex, but that won’t break a submariner – he’s used to giving up a lot of things.”  - Col. Doron, outgoing commander of Shayetet 7, the Israel Defense Forces submarine squadron. [Israel Defense Forces (IDF) censorship forbids publication of  officers’ surnames.]  

Nugget  2

Some countries, such as Italy and the Scandinavian countries, decided that this need not be a limitation. Women and men dress together in the same room. It’s not perceived as a sexual thing. The Italians concluded that their effort was a failure. [ibid]

Nugget  3

This might be justified if there were a large number of potential female submariners, not just one or two. “We asked the U.S. Navy for input – they’ve had women on submarines for the past two years,” Doron says. “But they have 72 subs, some of which are bigger than ours, so they have room for maneuver. The Australians have six women in their submarines, which are also larger, and they allocate them a specific area. If a woman gets sick, she is replaced by another woman. But assignment problems arise.   

Nugget 4

One outstanding feature of submarine service is the need for total severance from the outside world during long missions – almost unparalleled in other operational units. Is such a disconnect still feasible in an era when 20-year-olds are as active in the digital world as they are in the real one, if not more? Doron acknowledges that this has become a problem and necessitates more intensive preparation. “In the submariners course, they already can go weeks without a cell phone,” he explains.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gratuitous Fractures in Submarine World's Traditional Silence

Note:  Molten Eagle has emphasized some portions of quotations  with color and/or underlining:

( 1 ) 

Britain - Strategy Page10 SEP 16
Morale: How The Internet Cripples SSBN Operations

"In Britain the Royal Navy has found it impossible to attract enough qualified sailors to operate all its nuclear submarines, especially the SSBNs (nuclear powered subs carrying ballistic missiles). The reason is that SSBNs stay at sea for 90 days at a time wanting for a brief message to fire its missiles at pre-arranged targets. The problem is that too many otherwise qualified sailors and officers are not willing to spend 90 days without Internet access.  This shortage has already reduced the number of days British SSBNs can spend at sea."  

( 2 )  

U.S. - The Seattle Times Opinion by David Hall and Leonard Eiger | 27 SEP 16
Next president has a nuclear option: Scrap the program 

"HAVE you seen the Seattle bus ads?  They read: “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.” ...

One hydrogen bomb deployed from Naval Base Kitsap on Hood Canal could wipe out a large city like Seattle and make the land uninhabitable for centuries. Look up the presentation “One city, one bomb” to understand the devastating potential of modern nuclear weapons."


The item below is not submarine-related. However, U.S. submarine aficionados may  appreciate the obvious contrast in: (1) The speed of removing Navy Bios for "loss of confidence" submarine COs with the still live link for the Rear Admiral mentioned below; as well as (2) The guilty plea of an *NCIS Supervisory Special Agent.

( 3 ) 

U.S.  - The FCPA Blog  | 16 SEP 16
Two new indictments in Navy's ‘Fat Leonard’ bribery scandal 

A total of 16 individuals have now been charged in connection with the scandal. Of those, 11 are current or former U.S. Navy officials.

Most of the Navy personnel have been charged with taking bribes from Francis in exchange for passing to him sensitive information about ship movements and schedules. Some were charged with lying to investigators about their relationship with Francis and his company.

They are:
*Admiral Robert Gilbeau
Captain (ret.) Michael Brooks
Commander Bobby Pitts
Lt. Commander Gentry Debord
Captain Daniel Dusek
Commander Michael Misiewicz
Lt. Commander Todd Malaki
Commander Jose Luis Sanchez
Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug
*NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau, and
Paul Simpkins, a former DoD civilian employee who oversaw contracting in Singapore.

*Gilbeau, Dusek, Misiewicz, Malaki, *Beliveau, Sanchez, Layug, and Simpkins have pleaded guilty.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Answers: Submarine QOTW 12 SEP 16

Related information, photo(s) and links for questions are found in the original posting.

Answers to Submarine Questions of the Week  

1- Identify the vessels and location pictured [in photo by Sean D. Elliot/The Day].  ANS:
The schooners Mystic Whaler (background), and Spirit of South Carolina (foreground) pass Ledge Light sailing up the Thames River.  

2- During what event was this [photo by Sean D. Elliot/The Day] taken? ANS: The Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival Parade of Sail, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.

The Maritime Heritage Festival is considered one of the last events tied to Submarine Century, a yearlong celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton

According to the The Day, the 500-foot U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Ramage dominated "the landscape" outside Fort Trumbull.  (My tongue-in-cheek guess is that somewhere quite hidden an SSN was actually dominating, well, you know, the actual non-landscape naval domain).
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Recent Submarine Curiosities Around Globe

 Curiosity 1  (?)
Can you identify the vessels and location pictured below?
During what event was this?
M.E. CommentAnswers Friday
Curiosity 2  (US)
(Actual accompanying photo)
M.E. Comment:  Are those storm clouds rising?
 Curiosity 3 (INDIA)
A critical component of the almost $100 million training programme was a group of 11 officers who were to be trained by Russian experts for operating nuclear reactors on submarines. This group was to play a critical leadership role as India’s nuclear submarine capabilities reached the maturity to launch nuclear missiles.

In a bizarre twist to that pioneering effort, all the senior reactor operators, nine of them, have been denied promotion to the rank of Captain, despite their expensive and exclusive skills in commissioning, operating and maintaining nuclear reactors on submarines
 M.E. Comment:  Did Vice-Admiral Chatterjee manipulate the promotion process in such a way that he has been the Reviewing Officer for his own son-in-law for family benefit, or because the unpromoted officers are too valuable to INS nuclear subs to promote?  Well, read the linked story. 

 Curiosity 4 (Canada)
Partner with Australia for submarines
The Canadian government has an opportunity to partner with Australia to build DCNS Barracuda-class subs for the Royal Canadian Navy. 

 M.E. Comment:  But read the next curiosity --- is the price of those boats about to rise with India cancelling its big INS order?  India Drops Plans to Add 3 More French Stealth Attack Submarines.

Curiosity 5  (India)
The Indian Navy has purportedly shelved plans to add more French submarines to its fleet following the DCNS leak.  The INS will not procure additional Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines from France's DCNS, following the leak of documents detailing the top-secret combat capabilities of India’s new submarine fleet, according to media reports.
“India has ordered only six Scorpene submarines and orders have not been placed for three more as reported by some media. Therefore question of cancellation does not arise,” an Indian naval officer told Reuters.

 M.E. Comment: The less work for DCNS, the higher its residual overhead costs per hour of production.  If there was no agreement for 3 additional subs, why has justification been cited? India's defence official said he did not expect any movement on that project until the investigation into the Scorpene leak was completed and new security measures put in place. In other words, for leverage.

 Curiosity 6 (United Kingdom)
Morale: How The Internet Cripples SSBN Operations
In Britain the Royal Navy has found it impossible to attract enough qualified sailors to operate all its nuclear submarines, especially the SSBNs (nuclear powered subs carrying ballistic missiles). The reason is that SSBNs stay at sea for 90 days at a time .... The problem is that too many otherwise qualified sailors and officers are not willing to spend 90 days without Internet access. This shortage has already reduced the number of days British SSBNs can spend at sea 
 M.E. Comment:  What has changed since the Cold War has been the waning interest of the recruiting pool in military service and modern youths' dependence upon their communication culture. (U.K., France, U.S., etc.).  

 Curiosity 7 (Australia)
Submarine Data Leak Roils Three Governments
The revelation Aug. 24 by an Australian newspaper that thousands of pages of presumably secret submarine documents were on the loose shook governments in Canberra, New Delhi and Paris. The news threatened the operational security of India’s new Scorpene-class submarines, embarrassed French shipbuilder DCNS, and raised security questions about Australia’s recent Australian $50 billion deal with DCNS for 12 Shortfin Barracuda submarines, of a design similar to the Scorpenes.

As reported by The Australian newspaper, a reporter was shown samples of up to 24,500 pages of highly technical data on the Scorpene submarine, an advanced, non-nuclear design that has been exported by DCNS to several countries. The documents, said The Australian, include highly technical drawings, specifications and operational capability descriptions of the submarine’s stealth features; noise signatures at different speeds; range, endurance, diving depths, magnetic and infrared data.  

DCNS has been made aware of articles published in the Australian press related to the leakage of sensitive data about (the) Indian Scorpene,” the company told Defense News on Aug. 23. “This serious matter is being thoroughly investigated by the ...  French national authorities for defense security,” DCNS said."

M.E. Comment:  There is ample blame to go around, hence very expensive learning opportunities.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Unfathomable Submarine Quote of the Month (29 AUG 2016)


MELBOURNE, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A French shipbuilder plans to seek an injunction to prevent further publication of information contained in 22,400 secret documents about stealth submarines built for India. 


First, with previously hidden Scorpene data now revealed...

"Any leak of information is viewed very seriously. We have viewed the leak of Scorpene data very seriously and we have asked (French firm) DCNS to launch an urgent investigation into this." - Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Indian Navy 

Yet, before mitigation measures are even identified and certainly unimplemented... 

"This is not a matter of much worry. The committee is analysing and they will see what data has been compromised and what mitigation steps have to be taken." - Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Indian Navy 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ <>_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Retired Rear Adm. John Padgett, former commander of U.S. Pacific fleet Submarine Force, warned the leaks would undermine confidence in ability of French companies to protect classified information. Padgett, also the current president of the U.S. Naval Submarine League, said, "It is never good for an opponent to have your playbook."

He said "aggressive action" is needed to investigate the leak and France should share the outcome with Australia.

M. E. Comment:  According to today's NDTV article (Press Trust of India),  the high-level review committee responsible for analysing risks connected with the leak(s) will issue its findings to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in three weeks ( by September 20 ).
Also, some of the pages leaked cover top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French company DCNS in a project worth more than $3 billion. DCNS also recently won a contract to design Australia's new $50 billion submarine fleet.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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