Friday, May 20, 2016

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

Background



"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

QUESTIONS:   

  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)

Background

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

Background 

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.

Headlines

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

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

Quotes of the Week

-1-

“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


-2-

“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."


-4-


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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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Submarine Tidbits 26MAR16

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

New this month to the general public's attention  ...  

#  1

7 Apr 2016 -   DARPA’s Sea Hunter

Rachel Courtland's linked article in the IEEE's Spectrum updates ME's Submarine Questions of the Week (5 APRIL 2016).

Key points previously undisclosed:
  • The 132-foot-long (full-scale) prototype is diesel-powered.
  • The joint project with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, was originally conceived as a tracker of stealthy diesel-electric submarines, but it’s a flexible platform. “What we’ve kind of realized over the course of the program is that it’s a truck,” program manager Scott Littlefield tells IEEE Spectrum. “It’s got lots of payload capacity for a variety of different missions.
  • Unmanned ships are nothing new. They can, for example, be launched far from shore off a larger vessel and controlled remotely by a human operator. But this arrangement places constraints on the size of such a ship, and its range as well, since it can only carry so much fuel.
Readers may note as this one recently did an apparent contradiction in Sea Hunter's diesel-propulsion (first bullet) and its implied (last bullet) capability of extended range WITHOUT FUEL CONSTRAINTS.  Has the claimed harnessing of fuel from seawater (see earlier posting) been achieved?  Has a more efficient electric fuel cell with a high capacity energy section been discovered?  If either were so, no military in its right mind would dare facilitate related technology theft by installing such state-of-the-art gizmos aboard unmanned vessels.
In M.E's opinion, such hype is appropriate only for inexpensive decoy vessels. 

# 2

20 April 2016 - Why has Russia boosted submarine patrols?
  • Russian submarines and spy ships operate near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some U.S. military and intelligence officials that the Russians could attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.
  • Russia is also building an undersea unmanned drone capable of carrying a small, tactical nuclear weapon to use against harbors or coastal areas, U.S. military and intelligence analysts said. 

# 3

25 Apr 2016 -  Capacity needed to preemptively strike N.K. submarine’s undersea attacks

"If international sanctions fail to lead Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons, South Korea could ultimately face a situation wherein it must take a decisive military action.   ...  If we are to enlighten Kim Jong Un from his irrational dream revealed in a speech to the U.N. by North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong, who said the North will smile ultimately, the South has no other choice but to arm itself with self-defense capability that is completely dominant over Pyongyang."

Submarines are always silent and strange. 
 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Submarine environment more treacherous

BACKGROUND


Molten Eagle - 27 June 2013...
"...[C]onsider the updated threat potential to a US submarine suddenly beset by a swarm of dozens of  autonomous underwater vehicles [UAVs]  configured to suddenly activate and mimic submerged packs of hostile subs. Would the sudden distraction allow a real enemy sub to penetrate a protected patrol zone, torpedo the US sub?   How long would it take to verify the actual threat? The hostile force could easily increase complexity (add confusion) by mimicking several types and nationalities simultaneously. Some swarm units might also be configured as high tech torpedoes."

FLASH FORWARD

NEWPORT, R.I., 15 April 2016...  Navy orders underwater drones that can mimic the behavior of quiet enemy diesel submarines.

 U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) experts needed target underwater drones that mimic the acoustic and non-acoustic signatures of advanced nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines. 

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

ANSWERS Submarine Questions of the Week (5 APRIL 2016)

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

ANSWERS Submarine Questions of the Week

1  -  (see above DARPA photo) How many "contractors" can be seen topside on this "unmanned", surface vessel?  ANS: Seven (7).
"During its upcoming trials humans will remain onboard the Sea Hunter as a safety net, but once the system’s reliability is established an onboard human presence will no longer be necessary. The operator station visible atop the vessel is removable, and the interior of the ship, while accessible for maintenance, is not designed to accommodate a crew." source
2  - Do stealthy diesel electric subs really make "no noise"?  ANS: No, advanced designs only generate "less" noise.

3  - Assume an enemy decides to:

      a)  Board and strip one of these 130-foot unmanned vessels of sensitive gear, compromise automated systems, hack into encrypted communications, or attach a GPS tracker; besides hesitancy to commit such illegal acts, what techniques could prevent or deter such invasions?  ANS:  Besides the human difficulties inherent to boarding a seagoing, 31-knot vessel, no other deterrents are known at this time.

      b)  Since the ACTUV is observable from surface ships, patrol craft, surveillance satellites and aircraft including drones/UAVs, why would an enemy hesitate to disable or destroy an ACTUV before its automatic detection and reporting systems ever presented a threat to an important mission in a critical area of operations?   ANS:  We do not believe a threatened enemy would hesitate to destroy or attempt to destroy this craft unless the enemy knew its effectiveness was already subverted.

     c)   What covert means of disabling ACTUV propulsion could be availed at sea while preserving the anonymnity of the saboteur?   ANS: Contrived collision with a log, buoy, abandoned boat, for example. 


4  -  Name some of the advanced technologies ( juicey targets?) announced for ACTUVs.   
ANS: ACTUVs are to be equipped with a Raytheon Modular Scalable Sonar System (MS3), the vessel’s primary search-and-detection sonar and purportedly the first fifth-generation medium-frequency hull-mounted sonar system built by the U.S. defense contractor. The vessels will also be provided with advanced autonomous navigation and anti collision features,  constant contact with other ships and aircraft through a satellite link, image-processing hardware and passive electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) or non-radar active (LIDAR) technologies.

5  -  "It is intended that ACTUV will operate under minimal supervisory command and control; with shore bases intermittently monitoring performance and providing high-level mission objectives through beyond line-of-sight communications links."  When and where might be the best intended use of ACTUVs?    ANS:  (Peacetime) - Build, deploy and operate as stated to develop credibility for a relatively inexpensive counter to China's (et al) submarine buildups.  (During armed conflict) -  Expand deployments with cheaper ACTUV lookalikes stripped of expensive gear and sensitive technologies to decoy enemies and disrupt enemy's covert and surprise activities.  Also, deploy hundreds of fake spam transmitters simulating ACTUV signal emissions [ELINT] to confuse enemy subs.

"The Pentagon thinks it could produce ships like Sea Hunter for $20 million dollars each and operate them for between $15,000 and $20,000 a day (compared with well over $1 billion dollars for a modern Arleigh Burke class destroyer, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per day to operate)." source
7  -  The first new "vessel designed to track Chinese and Russian subs is slated to be christened this month."  What is the name of this first ACTUV?    ANS: "Sea Hunter", as mentioned.  

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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