RAN Discussions on SSNs only

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OPSSG

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Thanks for setting a great example — below a reminder of what was said in DT on 11 Feb 2016. We are back in full circle again of another up coming bid to build submarines. Builders and engineers know that with a greenfield solution, risks and problems go up irrespective of how good joint the RAN and ASC team is.

There is a fundamental truth in place here - the french and german proposals are vapourware - the very thing that the swedes were criticised for. The Japanese sub is a legacy design of what was regarded as the most acoustically perfect conventional sub in the world - and its been operational under its own steam for 2 japanese design generations - let alone the legacy design

sure, get an open tender, but lets suspend according stupid comments made by other vendors who have a fundamental desire to compete and knock off the only viable threat - as being of relevance to the acquisition and assessment debate

the Oyashios were nicknamed nuke killers when I worked in acoustics - the french subs at the same capability level just don't exist - no matter how many glossy posters they print

I'd take any german offering over a french one as they do have a strong and evidence based history - but again, their offering is vaporware

ask any builder and engineer what happens when you're dealing with a greenfield solution, risks and problems go up irrespective of how good the team is.

the only subs that have survived that paradigm have been the Virginias, the Oyashios and the Soryus. In fact the Virginias were built around japanese manufacturing constructs - I have a pretty clear memory of the Virginia project lead (RADM level) telling a room full of us about how much they learnt from the japanese design, development and build models

we shouldn't suspend logic and or reality just because some fool is trying to make cheap shots at their opponents and where those statement won't stand the test of applied thought in capability or engineering terms..
Currently, we don’t have enough active Mods to police all threads — we need all the help we can get from members to keep these threads on track and readable — your help is appreciated. We are also trying to keep a good balance between:

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SD67

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Timing would be about right to bring in Australian people on the final astute and then maybe one hull built in the UK with Australian people. Having done that, the tooling and people can be moved in tandem resulting in the second hull being stood up in Australia as the first hull is floated out in the UK?
I'm not sure there actually is much in the way of tooling. In the Construction Hall it's 8 story tall work platforms and in the Manufacturing business (ie fab shop) it's generic laser cutting machines. Moving people back and forth - certainly. Though being escorted to the bathroom may become a pain after a while ;-).
In terms of dismantling SSNs to obtain fissile material, this sounds the most crazy around-the-houses project ever. In 50 years the UK has never dismantled an SSN. Though if Scotland becomes independent maybe Sturgeon can seize those 19 old subs that are alongside at Rosyth and start her own arsenal...
 

swerve

Super Moderator
In terms of dismantling SSNs to obtain fissile material, this sounds the most crazy around-the-houses project ever. In 50 years the UK has never dismantled an SSN. Though if Scotland becomes independent maybe Sturgeon can seize those 19 old subs that are alongside at Rosyth and start her own arsenal...
19? Everything I've read (mostly from reports complaining about them, also from the official reports) says there are seven at Rosyth, & they've all had their fuel removed. The total at Rosyth & Devonport combined was 19 a few years ago, of which 8 (all at Devonport) had fuel, but the current figure (since at least 2019) is 20, of which 13 (9 with fuel) are at Devonport.
 

tonnyc

Well-Known Member
At any rate used nuclear submarine fuel is no longer weapon grade and are full of fission products that interfere with the fission reaction. It's possible to recycle it and get something useful, but that means mastering the nuclear fuel reprocessing technology. Very few countries have that.
 

SD67

Member
19? Everything I've read (mostly from reports complaining about them, also from the official reports) says there are seven at Rosyth, & they've all had their fuel removed. The total at Rosyth & Devonport combined was 19 a few years ago, of which 8 (all at Devonport) had fuel, but the current figure (since at least 2019) is 20, of which 13 (9 with fuel) are at Devonport.
I stand corrected, 19 was a number being thrown about a couple of years ago
 

Giblets46

New Member
As the Collins upgrade has been agreed, with replacement set for 2040 would they better off going in with the RN for the SSN(R), they’ll have more influence with design, the RN will also benefit from scale and shared R&D, and it’ll be the most up to date model.
 

Reptilia

Member
ssnr potential differences ive read in fantasy land

Up to 20% larger but same crew size as astute
new gen reactor
x rudder
unique outer hull design that has Flatish faces over the current roundEd hull, much like the nose of the astute.
upgraded sonar.

more far out stuff
potential laser weapons on the mast (usa)
200 mile range torpedoes (USA)
Increase max speed to 35knts
electric drive
Multiple uuvs that attach, charge and detach themselves from the submarine (AI)
quantum tech Computing

not that any of this is a certainty or means a whole lot currently but it’s interesting to see the evolution of the submarine in a short space of time.
 

StobieWan

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I'm not sure there actually is much in the way of tooling. In the Construction Hall it's 8 story tall work platforms and in the Manufacturing business (ie fab shop) it's generic laser cutting machines. Moving people back and forth - certainly. Though being escorted to the bathroom may become a pain after a while ;-).
In terms of dismantling SSNs to obtain fissile material, this sounds the most crazy around-the-houses project ever. In 50 years the UK has never dismantled an SSN. Though if Scotland becomes independent maybe Sturgeon can seize those 19 old subs that are alongside at Rosyth and start her own arsenal...
I did wonder - looks like a lot of welding and cutting but there seems to be the sense that toolings are involved in one or two articles. I suspect you're right.

The SSN > bomb thing strikes me as being like bleaching fivers to have some writing paper tbh. It's probably a legal consideration rather than a practical one.
 

ngatimozart

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Verified Defense Pro
ssnr potential differences ive read in fantasy land

Up to 20% larger but same crew size as astute
new gen reactor
x rudder
unique outer hull design that has Flatish faces over the current roundEd hull, much like the nose of the astute.
upgraded sonar.
The outer hull design isn't unique. The German Type 212CD design has them as a stealth function. It's explained in H I Sutton's video on Stealth Submarines.

more far out stuff
potential laser weapons on the mast (usa)
200 mile range torpedoes (USA)
Increase max speed to 35knts
electric drive
Multiple uuvs that attach, charge and detach themselves from the submarine (AI)
quantum tech Computing

not that any of this is a certainty or means a whole lot currently but it’s interesting to see the evolution of the submarine in a short space of time.
Submarines have electric drive when submerged anyway so that's not something new. However nukes have steam plants to convert the heat energy from the reaction to energy that can be used to operate the submarine. WRT to speed, one point that H I Sutton notes is that the use of the angular plates for stealth increases drag and lowers speed. On a nuke this probably wouldn't matter so much because of the power output capability, but it definitely would on a SSK.

Quantum computing is a new technology that will have tremendous impacts. Below is a video on it by a German physicist that is informative.

 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
Of course when you are looking at potential candidates for an SSN for the Australian navy I wouldn't overlook the possibility of a unique design. The US are very proficient at designing nuclear submarines. What was actually said by the leaders when they announced the forming of AUKUS was that they would support Australia's efforts to acquire nuclear powered submarines. I imagine something smaller, cheaper, and less manpower intensive than the Virginia block V or the SSN(X) could be more suited to Australia.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Of course when you are looking at potential candidates for an SSN for the Australian navy I wouldn't overlook the possibility of a unique design. The US are very proficient at designing nuclear submarines. What was actually said by the leaders when they announced the forming of AUKUS was that they would support Australia's efforts to acquire nuclear powered submarines. I imagine something smaller, cheaper, and less manpower intensive than the Virginia block V or the SSN(X) could be more suited to Australia.
The Americans haven't really designed an all new Submarine from the keel up since the 1960s, The Virginia Hull form is more of an evolution of a design that goes back all the way to the Skipjack Class. The most interesting thing about US Subs is how small and how far forward their Sails are compared to just about everyone else. Could you really build 8x5000t Subs cheaper then 48x8000/10,000t Subs in a brand new facility, starting with an untrained workforce?
 

Geddy

Member
It seems to me that there is some urgency in getting vessels in the water for Australia for strategic and public support reasons. There is also the matter of potential delays with a new or modified design.

I’d be surprised if Australia does anything other than build the Astute class with a US combat system, or more likely, a block IV Virginia. As we’ve seen in articles posted here, there is some capacity and motivation for the US to increase Virginia production to 3 a year. Realistically the US yards could produce frames with the power plant and move Australians yards forward with a greater work share when they have the skills to do it.

Do the Americans want to build components of Australian subs? You bet they do, if they don’t have funding to increase their own fleet.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
There is a lot to sort out over the next 12 to 18 months and frankly I am seeing more problems than solutions. I really don't think leasing or buying secondhand Nukes is an option unless the US is willing to part with one or more of its Virginias. I don't see any spare building capacity in the US or the UK. That the US is refuelling and refitting half a dozen of its LA class is a pretty good indicator that they are struggling to build enough boats for their own requirements.

Our own sub building industry is now in doubt with no real prospect of building new subs until well into the 2030s.

I am seriously thinking we may need to build a few Son of Collins submarines just to support a local submarine building industry and to provide the RAN with an adequate submarine capability going into the 2040s.
 

Reptilia

Member
You have ignored warnings
Son of Collins is way too much work.
better off building a design that is already out there Or under contruction.
plenty of new conventional subs that can match what the Collins can do.

do We want or need medium Range subs like the Japanese, Germans or the Swedes + the added 8 nuclear long endurance?

nuke subs maintained in wa, conventional in sa?

Modified options
a26er
type 214/216
taigei
 

ngatimozart

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Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Son of Collins is way too much work.
better off building a design that is already out there Or under contruction.
plenty of new conventional subs that can match what the Collins can do.

do We want or need medium Range subs like the Japanese, Germans or the Swedes + the added 8 nuclear long endurance?

nuke subs maintained in wa, conventional in sa?

Modified options
a26er
type 214/216
taigei
Why would Australia build a new SSK fleet and a SSN fleet? It does not have the funding to do both. Those subs that you mentioned didn't meet the requirements of SEA1000 first time around so what makes you think that they will this time? They don't meet the RAN CONOPS requirements. Why do you think that the Commonwealth of Australia has gone with SSN? It's not because they may or may not glow in the dark.

If you are going to post rubbish like this you may find that you cannot post on any RAN related threads for a while. You have been on here long enough to know what's what with SEA1000 and why certain subs failed to make the cut. Sort it out and keep up with the play.
 
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SD67

Member
Chaps I don't want to sound like a carmudgeon, but I believe we're massively over-thinking this. IMHO all the signs point to an SSN(R) derivative. The SSN(R) development contract was announced literally the day after AUKUS. Forget putting a PWR3 in Astute or building 3 more Astutes, probably not technically possible.

The announced Australian timing is first boat in the water before 2040. That aligns nicely with UK plans. Dreadnought will be winding down by the early 2030s. (It'll need to be as Vanguard is already 17 years old, by the 2030s she'll be past her design life). As per my earlier post, production of the reactor was the limiting factor, but PWR3 with US support should be easier to build. Australia's interim solution is Collins LIFEX plus USN SSNs based in W.A.

I'm guessing Aussie designers will be seconded to Barrow starting in a couple of years time followed by senior tradesmen. It might help ease the skill shortage up there LOL. Then a reverse flow in the 2030s as Adelaide starts gearing up. The US will always be involved via technical support of PWR3 and the CMS but a handful of Australians at EB would be completely lost in the machine.
 

Lolcake

Member
I think a lot of people will be surprised at the announcement in the coming 12-18 months and how quickly we will get boats in the water. Dutton came out himself and he wanted to fast track the process. Whether that goes smoothly or not is another thing entirely. My bet is taping into the US or UK production line for the first 2-3 boats at least before a local capability is established. Also think we will be moving to establish a Nuclear Industry here and that the nuclear submarine announcement is meant to ease into justifying that process.

Its worth mentioning that the US is not entirely replacing the LA fleet with Virginia's before transitioning to the SSN(X). The Virginia's will likely end with the block VI IMO.
 

vonnoobie

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Some people are actually starting to overthink this. The exact criteria of the acquisition in an existing boat so its either the Astute or the Virginia, It wont be some shrunken down boat for Australia, It wont be the SSN(X) or SSN(R).

Designing a smaller nuclear boat for Australia means trying to shrink the tech that we could potentially use from the US and UK, it also means even more time spent on the design and reinventing the wheel which will drive up costs and risks which is exactly what they want to avoid,

The SSN(X) and SSN(R) while on paper very solid boats are still just that paper boats which means if anything goes wrong at all and when you and jumping the boundaries that much in an environment which one could argue is the toughest in the world (as they say, easier to build a rocket then a submarine) its very easy for problems to occur and delays add up. Now there might not be any delays potentially but at the same time considering all 3 of us are planning to bring a new class of submarine into service around the same time from it would have Australia with the least skilled workforce building a boat without any lessons learnt from either nation for that particular design.

OT but if the US finds delays in the program potentially popping up they are in a position to order extra Virgins so they are set, the UK on the other hand wouldnt be.

The Virgina and Astute are roughly the same size, Benefits and drawbacks in both both in operations, production and maintenance.

For the Astute having the existing tooling freed up and 20 years of knowledge in building and operating them could be a huge gain, But with the PW2R not in production anymore we would have to see if the S9G would fit in along with the other US systems we use and whats risks/costs it would entail. Having the smaller crew would also make it potentially easier to man all the submarines we are aiming for.

For the Virginia's as the tooling is still in use we would have to start it from scratch with all new tooling, We would also have to see if their boats could be operated with a smaller crew or if it has to stay at 135 persons. We would also have to see if any potential tech we may want from the Astute would safely fit into the Virginia. But having the Virginia's would also give us a solid knowledge base to expand our maintenance and support of them which could flow on into supporting the US pacific and Indian ocean boats in a big way. More scale for us to lower per unit costs benefitting our fleet while for the US having a facility that could fully support their boats would be a big gain for them. Having the bulk of their production and maintenance facilities on the East coast I dont imagine makes it easy for them.

We have 18 months for the 3 of us to review both classes, the tech in them, and what to do to get the most capable boat we can in the timeframe we are working to. Not enough time to work out a new class or the SSN(R)/(X) but enough time to get an idea on existing boats and work from there.

Had politics not delayed the Collins replacement originally launched in 2009 we could potentially have already been building the replacements.. And if that had been the case I would have been all for skipping the Virginia and Astute and looking at their future replacements as that would fit in with such a time line but we didnt so we cant.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
Pretty much saying what a lot of us are thinking. If the government indeed wants to build this fleet faster they may have to scrap the idea of a local build. It will be a hard sell in an election year, and we are pretty much over a barrel so I don't like our chances of even negotiating a decent work share arrangement, but realistically what other options exist?
 

ddxx

Well-Known Member
Pretty much saying what a lot of us are thinking. If the government indeed wants to build this fleet faster they may have to scrap the idea of a local build. It will be a hard sell in an election year, and we are pretty much over a barrel so I don't like our chances of even negotiating a decent work share arrangement, but realistically what other options exist?
“The Australian Government intends to build these submarines in Adelaide.” *

‘Intends’ is the key word here, chosen instead of ‘will’. It’s typical of political wording to allow flexibility for something which isn’t assured and/or attempt to soften the political blow for an already known change which isn’t currently politically viable.

* Link to source: Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force | About | Department of Defence
 
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