Naval Ship & Submarine Propulsion Systems

Delta204

Member
Not saying I personally agree with what I wrote but it is the current reality... and will likely continue to be unless there is a drastic change in defense policy and budget. I'm trying to frame this discussion within these restrictions as the moderators here frown on "fantasy" speculation.

What you've highlighted in your (maybe a bit extreme) example is the tension that Canadian politicians have had to delicately balance over the years and nobody seems eager to have these discussions on whether or not its the best way to do things. BMD is another example - Canada's rejection years ago to participate is purely political and does not change much on how the US would employ its BMD systems. Like it or not at the end of the day the US has the final say on North American defense - even if we buy a fleet of 12 submarines nothing would change in your scenario IMO.

Also, normal operational tempo for subs is around 20% of fleet I believe based on other modern navies. So your numbers are a bit optimistic; most navies can surge to about 75% during crises if needed but this wouldn't be the norm.

Hi Delta 24! Good to see some constructive ideas out there. I hope you aren't saying that all Canadian waters are, or should, be protected by the US? How would you feel if you woke up one morning to find that a US SSN had popped up near CFB Alert in Canadian waters unannounced and had fired a Tomahawk Cruise Missile at a Soviet or Chinese vessel transiting Canadian waters (with permission from Ottawa) if Ottawa didn't know that the SSN was there in the first place. A good reason to have a Canadian submarine up there. IMO this is exactly why we need an increased presence in all of our three oceans. Both Halifax and Esquimalt would each have four operational SSKs/SSNs available at any one time (the other two in various stages of short or long maintenance). Most likely, there would be at least one boat deployed in the Pacific/Atlantic/Mediterranian Sea on "Special Ops", one deployed with each CSC TG (East & West) and one doing regular patrols, say in the Arctic. The other boat would be on "hot standby" should the need arise to replace one of the deployed boats or if there were a requirement for Fishery Patrol. That's also why we have a WSM system. To let other "friendlies" know we are there and give others pause. Yes 12 boats seems to be a lot, but when you break it down, probably just about right. Yes it would be a challenge, but IMO, Canada is up it.
 

Calculus

Well-Known Member
...and its nuclear industry is a heck of a lot weaker than it was even a decade ago.
That statement is factually incorrect. See here for an overview of the Canadian nuclear industry: Canada 2019

Canada is among a select few countries that controls the entire supply chain, from the mining and enrichment of the uranium, to the manufacture of the reactors themselves. There is also a rich history of development of unique reactor designs (see ZEEP, NRX, NRU, PTR, Maple, Slowpoke, and ZED-2), and is now engaged quite heavily in the development of SMRs. In fact, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the world leader in the review and approval of reactor designs, and many foreign SMR engineering firms have their designs in front of the the CNSC for review. (NuScale Submits Phase 1 and 2 Combined Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and More SMR vendor design reviews for CNSC - World Nuclear News and GE Hitachi Progresses Vendor Design Review in Canada for BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor | GE Newsroom)

More on CNSC: Small modular reactors - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratory in Chalk River (about 2 hours up the road from my home) is planning to build and test an SMR by 2026, and is in the process of upgrading their entire facility to support "advanced" nuclear technologies: Revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories | Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

Support is coming from government as well, with a program in place to advance the design of SMRs in Canada, the road map of which can be seen here: SMR Roadmap | Canadian Small Modular Reactor.

SMRs are a huge area of investment in Canada, and some of the designs actually lend themselves pretty well to naval applications, so the idea of Canada producing an indigenous reactor for a submarine certainly can't be dismissed on capacity or innovation grounds. Cost and politics are the only things restricting the adoption of this technology for military use in Canada.


This is a fantastic overview of SMRs:
A few of the many private Canadian SMR reactor designers: Home - Terrestrial Energy and Northern Graphite | The Future of North American Graphite Production and Home Page - StarCore Nuclear. And this company, Denedin Energy (About Us), which is developing a nuclear battery (see Slowpoke, and its Naval offshoot, AMPS 1000).

Nuclear energy in Canada is undergoing a renaissance, and is quite healthy. In no way is it weaker than it was a decade ago. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is the case.
 
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DAVID DUNLOP

Active Member
Canada up for 12 boats....given junior’s multi-billion dollar poorly scrutinized COVID 19 give away, I foresee little hope for a properly funded sub renewal. In fact, 15 CSC ships could well be reduced. Then there is the 88 new fighters....l can already hear excuses as to why this number has to be smaller. The 250 billion deficit for this year will make defence cuts very easy for junior.
You could well be right. Let's hope for the best and pray "Junior" isn't that crazy. We'll probably have a GE sometime this year which may solve everything or the country will just blow up!
 

DAVID DUNLOP

Active Member
That statement is factually incorrect. See here for an overview of the Canadian nuclear industry: Canada 2019

Canada is among a select few countries that controls the entire supply chain, from the mining and enrichment of the uranium, to the manufacture of the reactors themselves. There is also a rich history of development of unique reactor designs (see ZEEP, NRX, NRU, PTR, Maple, Slowpoke, and ZED-2), and is now engaged quite heavily in the development of SMRs. In fact, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the world leader in the review and approval of reactor designs, and many foreign SMR engineering firms have their designs in front of the the CNSC for review. (NuScale Submits Phase 1 and 2 Combined Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and More SMR vendor design reviews for CNSC - World Nuclear News and GE Hitachi Progresses Vendor Design Review in Canada for BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor | GE Newsroom)

More on CNSC: Small modular reactors - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratory in Chalk River (about 2 hours up the road from my home) is planning to build and test an SMR by 2026, and is in the process of upgrading their entire facility to support "advanced" nuclear technologies: Revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories | Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

Support is coming from government as well, with a program in place to advance the design of SMRs in Canada, the road map of which can be seen here: SMR Roadmap | Canadian Small Modular Reactor.

SMRs are a huge area of investment in Canada, and some of the designs actually lend themselves pretty well to naval applications, so the idea of Canada producing an indigenous reactor for a submarine certainly can't be dismissed on capacity or innovation grounds. Cost and politics are the only things restricting the adoption of this technology for military use in Canada.


This is a fantastic overview of SMRs:
A few of the many private Canadian SMR reactor designers: Home - Terrestrial Energy and Northern Graphite | The Future of North American Graphite Production and Home Page - StarCore Nuclear.

Nuclear energy in Canada is undergoing a renaissance, and is quite healthy. In no way is it weaker than it was a decade ago. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is the case.
Hi Calculus! Yes, agree totally! SMR technology in Canada has been on the move for the past several years now and Canada has been at the fore-front! Perhaps a way can be found soon to increase power O/P large enough and miniaturize the reactor for not just a Hybrid Canadian submarine, but for "other" surface ships as well. The answers for these future subs will have to come from Canadian enterprise. Thanks Calculus for the input!:p
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
That statement is factually incorrect. See here for an overview of the Canadian nuclear industry: Canada 2019

Canada is among a select few countries that controls the entire supply chain, from the mining and enrichment of the uranium, to the manufacture of the reactors themselves. There is also a rich history of development of unique reactor designs (see ZEEP, NRX, NRU, PTR, Maple, Slowpoke, and ZED-2), and is now engaged quite heavily in the development of SMRs. In fact, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the world leader in the review and approval of reactor designs, and many foreign SMR engineering firms have their designs in front of the the CNSC for review. (NuScale Submits Phase 1 and 2 Combined Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and More SMR vendor design reviews for CNSC - World Nuclear News and GE Hitachi Progresses Vendor Design Review in Canada for BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor | GE Newsroom)

More on CNSC: Small modular reactors - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratory in Chalk River (about 2 hours up the road from my home) is planning to build and test an SMR by 2026, and is in the process of upgrading their entire facility to support "advanced" nuclear technologies: Revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories | Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

Support is coming from government as well, with a program in place to advance the design of SMRs in Canada, the road map of which can be seen here: SMR Roadmap | Canadian Small Modular Reactor.

SMRs are a huge area of investment in Canada, and some of the designs actually lend themselves pretty well to naval applications, so the idea of Canada producing an indigenous reactor for a submarine certainly can't be dismissed on capacity or innovation grounds. Cost and politics are the only things restricting the adoption of this technology for military use in Canada.


This is a fantastic overview of SMRs:
A few of the many private Canadian SMR reactor designers: Home - Terrestrial Energy and Northern Graphite | The Future of North American Graphite Production and Home Page - StarCore Nuclear. And this company, Denedin Energy (About Us), which is developing a nuclear battery (see Slowpoke, and its Naval offshoot, AMPS 1000).

Nuclear energy in Canada is undergoing a renaissance, and is quite healthy. In no way is it weaker than it was a decade ago. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is the case.
Don’t want to go too OT here but the outlook for Canadian nuclear industry may take a hit due to COVID as R&D dollars will become scarce. Given China’s recent behaviour, the SNC-Lavlin-China Nuclear Corporation collaboration should be terminated. One small point, the Maple reactor was a dog that was largely the reason for the breakup of AECL. I agree SMR technology could be a game changer and hopefully it may end up powering a future heavy icebreaker If not subs and provide an alternative power source to diesel generators in remote northern locations.
 
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Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Australia has been in "discussions" with DNCS to possibly make some follow-on Block 1A boats nuclear.
Sorry David but no, Australia has no plans to operate SSNs, we have no Nuclear Power Industry at all, just one small research Reactor on the entire Continent. This subject has been done to death on the RAN thread and is very much a no go zone on that thread.
 

DAVID DUNLOP

Active Member
Sorry David but no, Australia has no plans to operate SSNs, we have no Nuclear Power Industry at all, just one small research Reactor on the entire Continent. This subject has been done to death on the RAN thread and is very much a no go zone on that thread.
Hi Redlands18. Are you saying that Australia never had discussions with DNCS or France about some follow-on of the 12 Barracuda Blk 1As going nuclear down the road? I would like to see some evidence of that. If that is the case, then I stand corrected. Cheers! :oops:
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Hi Redlands18. Are you saying that Australia never had discussions with DNCS or France about some follow-on of the 12 Barracuda Blk 1As going nuclear down the road? I would like to see some evidence of that. If that is the case, then I stand corrected. Cheers! :oops:
To the best of my knowledge there has never been any disclosure of any discussion of any talks between the RAN and anyone on Nuclear Power Submarines. The official line in Australia is no SSNs.
Sorry but I can’t produce evidence for something that as far as i am aware off doesn’t exist and cannot find any evidence of it either. I have never seen any evidence anywhere of any talks between the RAN and Naval Group(no longer called DCNS) for follow on Submarines of any type to the 12 currently in Sea 1000 and considering we are talking mid 2050s here that would be highly unlikely. Under the Shipbuilding plan, it is intended that the follow on Subs and Surface combatants will be of a local design. Barracuda Blk 1A is more likely to be an improved design of the Attack from about Boat 6 or 7 then a Boat 13.
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Redlands is correct. No such discussions have occurred. There is certainly noise coming from a small group of uninvolved people that Australia should consider SSNs but it is not doing so. That does not mean, however, that the RAN might not be keeping abreast of current submarine developments elsewhere in the western world.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Redlands is correct. No such discussions have occurred. There is certainly noise coming from a small group of uninvolved people that Australia should consider SSNs but it is not doing so. That does not mean, however, that the RAN might not be keeping abreast of current submarine developments elsewhere in the western world.
Thanks for the backup @spoz The RAN would not be doing there job properly if they weren’t watching developments on all Naval projects. Of course publicly the RAN is showing far more interest in Battery developments that is showing a lot of promise to dramatically improve Submarine performance, you may not need a Nuke Reactor by 2060 to stay underwater for 30-40 days, run ISR systems and be able to Sprint at 25kt.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
Hi Redlands18. Are you saying that Australia never had discussions with DNCS or France about some follow-on of the 12 Barracuda Blk 1As going nuclear down the road? I would like to see some evidence of that. If that is the case, then I stand corrected. Cheers! :oops:
There are a couple of problems with the above. The first having to do with a request to see evidence of an absence of any such discussion. Essentially the only way to 'prove' it never happened would require access to, and a complete review of, all communications between AusGov/ADF/RAN and France/DCNS.

I would also point out that a Moderator has commented previously about discussing SSN's for the RAN in a post here. In a brief nutshell, given the lack of a domestic nuclear industry in Australia, SSN's just are not viable because Australia currently lacks the personnel, resources and facilities to design, construct, and then maintain and operate SSN's and their requisite nuclear power plants. Australia could develop everything needed in order to do so, but it would require significant effort and resources which in turn would require a will to do so. At this point, trying to keep this pet rock idea going would push this thread into the realms of fantasyland and we have seen, recently, how well that went with ideas on turning the RAN's Arafura-class OPV's into bastardized corvettes.
 
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DAVID DUNLOP

Active Member
There are a couple of problems with the above. The first having to do with a request to see evidence of an absence of any such discussion. Essentially the only way to 'prove' it never happened would require access to, and a complete review of, all communications between AusGov/ADF/RAN and France/DCNS.

I would also point out that a Moderator has commented previously about discussing SSN's for the RAN in a post here. In a brief nutshell, given the lack of a domestic nuclear industry in Australia, SSN's just are not viable because Australia currently lacks the personnel, resources and facilities to design, construct, and then maintain and operate SSN's and their requisite nuclear power plants. Australia could develop everything needed in order to do so, but it would require significant effort and resources which in turn would require a will to do so. At this point, trying to keep this pet rock idea going would once again push this thread into the realms of fantasyland and we have seen, recently, how well that went with ideas on turning the RAN's Arafura-class OPV's into bastardized corvettes.
Get your point. We'll close this topic........for now. Enough said. Cheers!:)
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
That statement is factually incorrect. See here for an overview of the Canadian nuclear industry: Canada 2019
...
Nuclear energy in Canada is undergoing a renaissance, and is quite healthy. In no way is it weaker than it was a decade ago. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is the case.
As we are in a Canadian Navy thread I will keep my comments relevant to that, as I was basing my comments around this topic and should be viewed strictly as such.
  1. Canada has no enrichment facilities, enrichment industry or enrichment experience or development this is a notable aspect of the CANDU design and a strong point in its limitation in terms of proliferation compared to many other technologies.
  2. Canada has no experience with reactors based off enriched nuclear fuel
  3. Every nuclear submarine operates on enriched nuclear fuel, with 99.9% of them operating on highly enriched fuel.
I don't really see how Canada's nuclear experience translate to SSN capability either in a hypothetical and impossible MOTS purchase or from an indigenous design and manufacture.

In addition to the IEAA link you provided, the world nuclear association has a broad summary on Canada and its nuclear industry which others can read and make their minds up. I don't find either particularly encouraging regarding the future of the Canadian nuclear industry and its relevance to submarines. I do not make this opinion based on just these two sources and encourage those to discuss more widely. While there are some positive future looking statements, I find tangible firm commitments hard to see, in the naval context.

Shrinking nuclear expertise and technology into submarines is a huge challenge. Adapting technology CANDU to this challenge is not possible. Nuclear subs and nuclear weapons have historically been intertwined, so choices made regarding CANDU as safe-ish non-proliferation source, is not appropriate to subs due to laws of physics.

While France might be willing to sell the basic design for the SSN, there is no historical precedent that they would sell the reactor technologies today. Australia's submarine program is a conventional interpretation (essentially a new sub base-lining the SSN) and Brazils design will use an indigenous reactor. If Brazil ever commissions its SSN, it will be the first non-nuclear weapon state to do so, also notes FAS understanding of French concerns regarding transferring nuclear technology to customer nations. All three programs are quite big, expensive, have significant risk, and are complex, I would struggle to see Canadians getting continued bi-partisan support over decades for such a project. Certainly the Canada class acquisition suggests it is impossible (SSN) and the Victoria class acquisition that even a conventional capability would seem to be a project of great difficulty in terms of commitment.

On Submarines and the Canadian ship building strategy, The Canadian Global Affairs Institute has a piece that covers some of this and quotes the Canadian Naval Review, who you think would be the most upbeat about the possibility.

The simple reason that submarines are not included in the shipbuilding strategy is that a small fleet of approximately four or even as many as eight submarines would detract from the goal of the strategy. There is no synergy gained by adding submarines to a coordinated approach for surface ship construction. Submarines are not included in the NSPS because it makes no military, economic or industrial sense to do so. The number of submarines cannot reasonably support continuous work, so adding them to the NSPS would promote the very “boom and bust” cycle that the strategy was intended to solve.44
It would seem that a conventional overseas build is the only realistic (or perhaps optimistic) option for Canada at this stage.

Politely putting on my moderator hat - conventional sub discussion is fine in context of the RCN. I request we put aside any Canadian SSN (and doubly Australian SSN) talk as it tends to quickly cause issues. If you wish to discuss real SSN's of specific navies that should occur in the relevant threads of those navies. If you wish you discuss nuclear technologies in general, there are more relevant/appropriate places to discuss that.
 
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Calculus

Well-Known Member
As we are in a Canadian Navy thread I will keep my comments relevant to that, as I was basing my comments around this topic and should be viewed strictly as such.
  1. Canada has no enrichment facilities, enrichment industry or enrichment experience or development this is a notable aspect of the CANDU design and a strong point in its limitation in terms of proliferation compared to many other technologies.
  2. Canada has no experience with reactors based off enriched nuclear fuel
With regards to points 1 and 2 above, at least one Canadian reactor design (Slowpoke) uses highly enriched uranium (SLOWPOKE reactor - Wikipedia) using uranium enriched at Chalk River Labs, in Canada. You are correct that CANDU does not require enriched fuel, but other reactor designs do. BWXT corporation (Cambridge Ontario) has extensive capabilities with regards to uranium processing and enrichment. The world’s largest commercial uranium refinery is the CAMECO Blind River facility in Ontario (Blind River Refinery - Business - Cameco Fuel Services). There is another such facility in Port Hope Ontario (Port Hope Conversion Facility - Business - Cameco Fuel Services).

Shrinking nuclear expertise and technology into submarines is a huge challenge. Adapting technology CANDU to this challenge is not possible.
Agreed. But then again, I never said CANDU was a good candidate for a submarine reactor. It's the various different SMRs that would be the best options for such an application.

It would seem that a conventional overseas build is the only realistic (or perhaps optimistic) option for Canada at this stage.
Agreed. There is no good financial business case to be made to pursue a built-in-Canada submarine program, or in the development of a submarine reactor in Canada. And with battery and fuel cell developments extended underwater transits will be possible, which should address the requirement for patrolling under the Arctic ice cap.

Politely putting on my moderator hat - conventional sub discussion is fine in context of the RCN. I request we put aside any Canadian SSN (and doubly Australian SSN) talk as it tends to quickly cause issues. If you wish to discuss real SSN's of specific navies that should occur in the relevant threads of those navies. If you wish you discuss nuclear technologies in general, there are more relevant/appropriate places to discuss that.
Totally agree. I was not in any way trying to start a debate on the use of nuclear power in Canadian subs. That's clearly fantasy stuff. I was simply responding to comments made by yourself about Canada's nuclear industry that I believe are incorrect.

Cheers.
 
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ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
With regards to points 1 and 2 above, at least one Canadian reactor design (Slowpoke) uses highly enriched uranium (SLOWPOKE reactor - Wikipedia) using uranium enriched at Chalk River Labs, in Canada. You are correct that CANDU does not require enriched fuel, but other reactor designs do. BWXT corporation (Cambridge Ontario) has extensive capabilities with regards to uranium processing and enrichment. The world’s largest commercial uranium refinery is the CAMECO Blind River facility in Ontario (Blind River Refinery - Business - Cameco Fuel Services). There is another such facility in Port Hope Ontario (Port Hope Conversion Facility - Business - Cameco Fuel Services).


Agreed. But then again, I never said CANDU was a good candidate for a submarine reactor. It's the various different SMRs that would be the best options for such an application.


Agreed. There is no good financial business case to be made to pursue a built-in-Canada submarine program, or in the development of a submarine reactor in Canada. And with battery and fuel cell developments extended underwater transits will be possible, which should address the requirement for patrolling under the Arctic ice cap.


Totally agree. I was not in any way trying to start a debate on the use of nuclear power in Canadian subs. That's clearly fantasy stuff. I was simply responding to comments made by yourself about Canada's nuclear industry that I believe are incorrect.

Cheers.
@Calculus YOU HAVE BEEN ON HERE LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A REPUTABLE SOURCE.

A MODERATOR ASKED THAT THE DISCUSSION OF CANADIAN NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES CEASE ON THIS THREAD AND BE HELD IN MORE APPROPRIATE PLACES. YOU DECIDED TO CARRY ON . SUCH DISPLAYS OF BEHAVIOUR IN DEFIANCE OF A MODERATORS INSTRUCTIONS ARE UNACCEPTABLE. DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN. 5 WARNING POINTS FOR 3 MONTHS AWARDED.
 

Calculus

Well-Known Member
@Calculus YOU HAVE BEEN ON HERE LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A REPUTABLE SOURCE.
Fair:
A MODERATOR ASKED THAT THE DISCUSSION OF CANADIAN NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES CEASE ON THIS THREAD AND BE HELD IN MORE APPROPRIATE PLACES. YOU DECIDED TO CARRY ON . SUCH DISPLAYS OF BEHAVIOUR IN DEFIANCE OF A MODERATORS INSTRUCTIONS ARE UNACCEPTABLE. DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN. 5 WARNING POINTS FOR 3 MONTHS AWARDED.
I'm respectfully asking for a review on this decision. I was simply replying to a previous post, to address some inaccuracies.
 
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Barnold

New Member
With all due respect to the moderating staff, I was drafting a response to StingrayOZ's post myself when Calculus' reply came up, saying much of what I intended to express, so I feel obligated to admit that I figured that, given the volume of material expressed before the donning of the proverbial moderator's hat, others might be afforded a little latitude to write a civil response.

(Wasn't going to link to Wikipedia, though. Even I know better than that) ;)
 

DAVID DUNLOP

Active Member
Hi there. I have searched all threads and the one that somewhat comes close is; Missiles & WMDs to post this subject. I think the problem here is that there is no "Thread" where members can have realistic conversations on this subject. Perhaps a new thread needs to be created under Navy & Maritime. Call it: Propulsion Systems For Modern Submarines. This could alleviate all this nonsense on the RCN Thread. Can I create this myself or does the Webmaster have to do it? Just a suggestion. Cheers!
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Hi there. I have searched all threads and the one that somewhat comes close is; Missiles & WMDs to post this subject. I think the problem here is that there is no "Thread" where members can have realistic conversations on this subject. Perhaps a new thread needs to be created under Navy & Maritime. Call it: Propulsion Systems For Modern Submarines. This could alleviate all this nonsense on the RCN Thread. Can I create this myself or does the Webmaster have to do it? Just a suggestion. Cheers!
@DAVID DUNLOP Done and moved to the appropriate forum.
 
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