Friday, August 22, 2014

Submarine Mystery Questions of the Week - 22 Aug 14

Although the answers to today's submarine mystery Q.O.T.W. are quite serious, we think the topic of our first question makes it appropriate to reprint Caruso's How submarines travel so fast underwater  from October 2008's The Dirty Secret of Submarine Speed for readers who never knew:

Sub Mystery Q.O.T.W.

1 - Of continental U.S. submarine bases at Kitsap, WA, Groton, CT, and Kings Bay, GA, which is closest to North Korea?

2-  What (two) unique naval facilities are co-sited with the 23 submarines at the Groton Naval Submarine Base?

3- About how many staff people assigned to Submarine Group 2 are being reassigned to an admiral overseeing the Atlantic sub force from Virginia?

4- Current streamlining efforts aim to cut support staff for attack submarines based in Connecticut and Virginia by about what percent?

5- How many attack submarines currently serve the U.S. Navy’s active fleet?

6- The U.S. Navy's attack submarine fleet is projected to drop to about how many SSNs at its lowest point, and in what year is the low point expected? 

7- Obvious strategies to on maintain a U.S. submarine presence in Asia include lengthening submarine patrols, building subs cheaper and faster, and relying more heavily on sub coordination with friendly Asian countries. Who are four of the friendy Asian countries?

ANSWERS:  Next Friday, 29 AUG

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ouch! Admiral's Candid Quote & Critique Decries Faults in India's Military Culture

"Consequently, the MoD faces huge, accumulated, problems and challenges which could take decades to resolve." -Adm. Arun Prakash (Ret'd)

A year since the tragic loss of 18 lives with India's Russian-made Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhurakshak, one of India's most decorated naval officers identifies contributing failures and surprising lessons learned.   Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd), former Chief of Naval staff (31 Jul 2004 - 31 Oct 2006) is an aviation combat veteran. Although he began his naval service in naval aviation and qualified as a pilot, he later commanded ships and was Commandant, National Defence Academy (1997-99) and Chief of Personnel at Naval Headquarters (1999-2001).  The admiral's full commentary makes worthwile and recommended reading 
"A year after submarine disaster: Have any lessons been learnt?"

Revealing Excerpts

Admiral Prakask draws striking contrasts between U.S. and Singaporean military cultures and India's...

"...I feel personally responsible for each and every one of you, as if you were my own sons and daughters. And so my only prayer is that you serve with honour and return home safely" - Former US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates addressing West Point's class of 2008.

versus this...
 " is notable that no functionary in our politico-bureaucratic establishment has ever felt or conveyed the kind of angst and concern for servicemen, expressed so publicly by Robert Gates. India's 100 percent civilian MoD has acquired a reputation for its lethargic and inept management of national security, but let me dwell on the Sindhurakshak tragedy to highlight a few examples of the indifference, bordering on callousness, it displays towards India's fighting men and women." - Adm Arun Prakash (Ret'd)

and this...
"Forty-seven years after acquiring its first submarine in 1967, the IN still lacks a submarine rescue vessel (SRV) which can enable the crew to escape from an incapacitated submarine without suffering the severe effects of decompression.  ...During the 2006 Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam, when president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam spent six hours underwater (coincidentally, on the Sindhurakshak), we had to ask the US Navy to provide rescue cover in case of an accident. In stark contrast, tiny Singapore, built its own SRV within a few years of acquiring its first submarine. Our MoD is either ignorant of the gravity of this lacuna or simply does not care."  - Adm Arun Prakash (Ret'd)
Admiral Prakash berates India's MoD as follows...

"In a Kafkaesque demonstration of languid functioning, the MoD took a full six months to float international tenders and to select a company to salvage the submarine. It was another four months before the hulk of the submarine could be raised. During this ten-month interregnum, no signs of concern, anguish or urgency were visible in South Block."    - Adm Arun Prakash (Ret'd)

Admiral Prakash questions continues reliance on equiment of Russian origin...

The service will thereafter implement remedial measures to eliminate the possibility of recurrence. 

"However, an aspect that bears the closest scrutiny and review is the continued reliance of all three services on equipment of Soviet/Russian origin. In an August 2000 mishap, which bore uncanny resemblance to the Sindhurakshak accident, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk suffered an explosion and sank with the loss of all hands. The final report on the disaster concluded that the explosion was due to the failure of one of Kursk's hydrogen peroxide-fuelled torpedoes. The collapse of the Soviet Union dealt a severe blow to its military-industrial complex from which it has not yet recovered. The steep decline in quality control as well as poor product-support of Russian systems is being acutely felt by India's armed forces - on land, at sea and in the air." - Adm Arun Prakash (Ret'd)

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Russian Official suggests ''U.S. sub chased away' boasts are PR move

Readers wishing to quickly grasp Russia's recent boasts about detecting and expelling a U.S. Virginia class sub near its territorial waters need only read the news capsules below in chronological order (from bottom to top), and recall that Russian leader Vladimir Putin takes personally the slightest military embarrassment and like the U.S. leader employs P.R. to overcome it.  Embarrassment has more about certain Russian aircraft  than any country's subs, and certainly as much about the Bering Sea as the Barents Sea.  [all emphases are mine]

Reported Today, Aug 10 (AFP)
Moscow chases US submarine away  [but  Boast Deflated by Credible Russian Official]

 "Occasionally other countries test how the submarine location service is working,"  said Leonid Kalashnikov,  deputy head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, suggesting that the rather unusual announcement was a public relations move by the [Russian] navy to call attention to their work.  - source

Reported Aug 9 (Reuters)
Russia detects, 'expels' presumed US submarine - Russian news agenciesA foreign submarine, presumed to be a U.S. Navy Virginia-class vessel, was detected by Northern Fleet forces on duty in the Barents Sea on Aug. 7, the spokesman said.  
"An anti-submarine attack group and an Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft were sent to the said area to search and track the sub," the Russian navy spokesman was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying. -   source

August 8, 2014 Russian bombers on training missions intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off coast off Alaska  ...the aircrafts never entered U.S. airspace, NORAD officials say.  source

August 7, 2014 - (RIA Novosti) MOSCOW -  Russia’s Northern Fleet Tracks Foreign Submarine During Exercises -  source

Reported two weeks ago
23 July 2014  Russian Navy takes delivery of Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft
"Essentially, we have a fully-fledged analogue of the modern American P-8 Poseidon."  - Yuriy Yudin, Ilyushin Design Bureau CEO -

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, August 08, 2014

ANSWERS - Sub Questions of the Week - 30 JUL 14

Background information and photo(s) provided when the Questions of the Week answered below were originally posted are here: 30 JUL 14.

"Secret" arctic, Russian military base
1.  Name the Russian base that "does not appear on maps" and where is it located?  ANS: Zapadnaya Litsa is located on Russia's Litsa Fjord at (69°25′N 32°26′E ) in the westernmost point of the Kola Peninsula, about 45 kilometers from the Norwegian border.

2.  What purpose did the base serve for Typhoon subs?  ANS: "Homeport for the six Typhoon-class subs" during the Cold War.

3.  What special climate advantage does the base allegedly offer?  ANS: (propaganda) "It's a strategic spot that never freezes over in winter".  That answer from the film's narrator, however, is very doutful.   REAL ANS: (Wikipedia):  "Severe climate with changeable temperatures and strong winds, long Polar Night in winter (about 43 days) make it an inhospitable place." 

Crew safety and escape
4. The portable breathing devices carried by crew hold enough air for how many minutes?  ANS: "Fifteen minutes".

5. Two methods of crew escape are mentioned in the film. The first was via a torpedo tube wearing a special suit. From what maximum depth can this method be used?  ANS:  100 meters ( 328 ft)

6. The other method permits many crew to ascend from a disabled sub together --- how?  ANS: "At the baseof the  fo'c'sle in each of the [twin] hulls there's a rescue chamber. In case of emergency the two capsules can transport all the men and separate from the principal structure."

7. The film's  soundtrack, which we hear periodically, is based upon a classical piece. Name the title and composer of the classical piece.  ANS: Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

8.  Executive officer Bogachev is a central character, although other officers and conscripts speak briefly.  The film contrasts X.O. Bogachev's reception at his flat with that of another senior officer and implies what?  ANS: Matrimonial strife and likely dissolution of his domestic partnership.

9.  Apparently, a medical doctor serves aboard Russian missile subs to perform surgery, etc. For what malady was Bogachev treated?  Was it contagious?  ANS:  A very bad sore throat; not contagious. 

10. Which of the following crew luxuries were shown?    ANS: All of them listed blow:
a) caviar
b) vodka
c) sauna room
d) smoking room
e) female pin-up
f) rocking chairs

11. Russian officers and NCOs were shown dining with conscripts. Yes or No?  ANS: YES.

12. The ritual for becoming a certificated member of a Russian crew entails drinking a cup of seawater collected at what depth?  ANS: In this case, 60 meters  (197 feet).

Submarines are always silent and strange.


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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Submarine Quote of the Year

In it's second, fatal in-port fire in three and a half years the submarine INS Sindhurakshak berthed at Mumbai's naval dockyard experienced a belowdecks fire shortly after midnight 14 August 2013. The fire lasted two hours, triggering two devastating explosions. The submarine contained the massive explosions within its double pressure hull structure

With its bow twisted and crumpled water flooded the forward compartment causing the sub to sink. The disaster cost the lives of 18 crew members. In terms of lives lost, India's Sindhurakshak tragedy was similar to the attack on USS Cole at the port of Aden, which had killed 17 American sailors in 2000.

Quote of the Year (from 2013)

"Had it been any other submarine than one of the Sindhughosh or Kilo class that went up in flames late on Tuesday night, the damage at the Mumbai dock would have been massive, potentially devastating for nearby ships as well as buildings that house the Western Naval Command. "  - source

Thoughtful readers will understand why no name has ever been attributed to this quotation, and perhaps why it appears so inapproriate. 

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Caruso Parodies India's New "Uninterrupted" Sub Service

Juan Caruso scours submarine news and gets his own take on things like India's Navy gets facility for uninterrupted communication with ships.

Jul 31, 2014-  NEW DELHI: To establish uninterrupted communication with its deployed ships, especially submarines, the Navy today operationalised a facility...

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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