Submarines

The “Russian Arctic Threat”

Despite Russia’s commitment of apparently dwindling resources to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarine and strategic bomber capabilities remain intact, according to a report this week from the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. its authors note that the Arctic remains “of great strategic value”, especially the Kola Peninsula as a gateway for attack and ballistic missile submarines to reach the Atlantic. [node:read-more:link]

USN drydocks shut for seismic review

The U.S. Navy is suspending submarine repairs at four dry docks in Washington state due to concerns about their possible vulnerability to seismic activity. Stressing that there is “no immediate risk,” the USN says the decision enables a team of experts to assess three drydocks at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard drydocks in Bremerton and one at the Trident Refit Facility in nearby Bangor. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. nuclear sub makes rare appearance

A nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine’s dockside appearance at the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia in late October was a rare event for the U.S. Navy and was made public only this week. The significance of publicizing the event, which included a crew change, is described by the USN as a message to potential adversaries as well as allies that the “undetectable” boats “can operate in any ocean for an extended period.” [node:read-more:link]

Royal Navy investigates abuse reports

Allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against women in Royal Navy submarines are being investigated. Calling the claims “abhorrent,” the First Sea Lord, Adm Sir Ben Key, says “sexual harassment has no place in the Royal Navy and will not be tolerated” and “anyone who is found culpable will be held accountable.” [node:read-more:link]

Latest Russian sub really “bolshoi”

The Russian Navy has taken delivery of what is understood to be the world's longest submarine, measuring more than 184m compared with the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class missile subs which come in at 171m. The Belgorod, a modified Oscar II-class missile boat, is billed as a research vessel but analysts say it could be used for offensive purposes. [node:read-more:link]

Navy wants new torpedo countermeasures

The Royal Canadian Navy is on the hunt for new torpedo countermeasures technology as part of a plan to keep its four ex-British submarines operational for at least another decade. Advances in sonar technology and guidance systems have made anti-submarine torpedoes more effective at overcoming the kind of launchable decoys currently on the RCN boats. [node:read-more:link]

Australia Submarine Decision – in Context

It has been almost a year since Australia cancelled its diesel submarine contract with the French Naval Group, preparing to instead acquire nuclear powered attack submarines. The most significant aspect of that decision is that Australia had taken a path that has been quietly evolving for some time, launching its next phase of strategic development. [node:read-more:link]

Autonomous mine-laying sub potential

An unmanned eight-tonne submarine developed by a Boeing-led team could be used by the U.S. Navy for covert mine-laying missions. The USN has awarded $72.5 million contract for a prototype of the Orca, based on a smaller Echo Voyager design already in production under a contract signed in February 2019. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. nuclear secrets offered to Brazil

A U.S. naval engineer and his wife pleaded guilty to espionage charges last month after an undercover operation confirmed that they had tried to sell secret information on nuclear submarine reactor technology to a foreign power. Text messages released in court show that Jonathan and Diana Tebbe, who face prison terms, offered the classified material to Brazil’s military intelligence agency in 2020 rather than to China or Russia. The agency handed over their letter to the FBI. [node:read-more:link]

USN nuclear engineer admits to conspiracy

Four months after he and his wife were charged with trying to sell classified information about nuclear submarines, a U.S. Navy engineer pleaded guilty Feb. 14 to one felony count in a plea deal which leaves him facing up to 18 years in prison. His wife, who also remains in custody, has pleaded no guilty even though she accompanied him to dead drops. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. submarine material data falsified

A metallurgist in Washington state was sentenced Feb. 14 to 30 months in prison and fined $50,000 for faking the results of strength tests on steel used by two companies to build U.S. Navy submarines for more than three decades. Elaine Marie Thomas, 67, had pleaded pleaded guilty last November to what the judge said was a “crime of pride and ego, that in some way she knew better than those who set the standards.” [node:read-more:link]

German submarines for Israel

Three diesel-electric submarines are to be built by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp for Israel at a cost of €3 billion. The Israeli defence ministry confirmed the contract Jan. 20, saying that delivery is expected within nine years. [node:read-more:link]

Boomer makes rare appearance

One of the U.S. Navy’s 14 secretive nuclear missile submarines, the USS Nevada, made a rare port call in Guam over the weekend. In what’s seen as a message to allies and foes amid growing Indo-Pacific tensions, it’s the first visit of a “boomer” to Guam since 2016 and only the second announced visit since the 1980s. [node:read-more:link]

Russian sub hits British warship sonar array

Britain’s defence ministry has confirmed that there was a too-close encounter between a Royal Navy frigate and a Russian submarine in the North Atlantic in late 2020. HMS Northumberland had been tracking the submarine with its towed-array sonar when the submarine dived and struck the array, necessitating the ship’s return to its Scottish homeport. It was not clear whether the submarine had been damaged in what tghe ministry considered an accident. [node:read-more:link]

Australia closer to nuclear subs

Australia signed an agreement with the U.S. and Britain Nov. 22 as a key element of its plan to build a nuclear-powered submarine fleet with the allies’ assistance. President Joe Biden had signed a memorandum approving the arrangement two days earlier but a formal British endorsement was still pending. [node:read-more:link]

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