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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