Electric Boat Called in To Fix Flawed Spanish Sub

General Dynamics Electric Boat has been asked by the U.S. Navy to help correct problems with the Spanish Navy's S-80 submarine to correct design flaws, several sources have told USNI News.

Setup through the U.S. Foreign Military Sale office, EB will consult in assisting the Spanish Navy and shipbuilder Navantia correcting problems with the S-80 that could prevent the submarine from surfacing after it dived.

According to reports in the Spanish press, the diesel-electric S-80 was as much as 75 tons overweight. U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command confirmed a FMS deal with Spain and EB but would not specify it was work on the S-80.

"Under this agreement, the Program Executive Officer, Submarines, is providing advice in responding to specific work of a Spanish Navy program," wrote NAVSEA in a statement to USNI News.

As to the scope of the work EB will help the Spanish with is still unclear. "We won't know anything for a couple of months, a spokesman for Navantia told IHS Jane's on May, 27 2013.

"Until we see the final report we cannot be more concrete as to solutions, costs, and new dates." The design fault was found in a design check by Navantia shipbuilders prior to the launch of the first-in-class Isaac Peral (S-81) earlier this month.

Some estimates say correcting the problem could delay Spain's first operational S-80 submarine by two years from 2015 to 2017. Spain is still committed to the program.

"This is a long-term project in which our country has decided to take on the technological risks involved,' said Spanish Secretary of State for Defense Pedro Arg├╝elles on May, 23.

"The ultimate objective is to achieve autonomy and operative advantage for our armed forces, and state of the art industrial and technological capacity in this area."

Spain has plans to build four S-80s at a cost of $700 million a boat.

Russian Nuclear Submarines to Expand Patrols to Southern Latitudes; Western Nations on Guard

Reports from Russia indicate that the country's military is set to deploy nuclear submarines to the world's southern seas next year, marking the first time in more than two decades that Russian ships will patrol the southern latitudes, according to Russian media.

A source at the General Staff of the Armed Forces revealed the plans for expanded patrols by Russian submarines to ITAR-Tass on Saturday. The source explained the expanded range for the nuclear boats will help as a strategic nuclear deterrent given the subs will be of the new Borey class.

Russia's former chief of naval staff, Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, said if it became necessary to launch missiles across the South Pole it would be "technically possible" to do so.

The news of the expanded Russian patrols comes less than a year after Russian submarine entered U.S. waters undetected and patrolled the Gulf coast for several weeks.

The Russian Akula-class nuclear attack submarine ventured undetected in the Gulf of Mexico and was able to operate for weeks before being discovered only after it had left the area. The incident raised concerns over gaps in U.S. patrols off American coasts, according to reports in The Washington Free Beacon, which cited unnamed sources.

This incident is the second time that a Russian submarine has sailed close to U.S. shores since 2009. The realization that an armed military vehicle was able to get so close to U.S. shores sheds light on what have long been considered holes in the U.S. anti-submarine patrols, according to U.S. officials.

These same defense programs are being threatened with budget cuts under the Obama administration's plan to reduce spending on defense by more than $450 billion over the next decade.

Akula-class submarines, which were originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s as a direct competitor to the U.S. Navy's nuclear Los Angeles-class submarines, are still the most advanced attack submarines that Russia has in its navy.

USS Hartford to receive 2012 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy Award

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) has been named the Atlantic Fleet's recipient of the prestigious Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy. The announcement was made by Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, May 17.

The Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, named after the famous destroyer squadron commander and former chief of naval operations (1955-61), is presented annually to the ship or aviation squadron in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets that has achieved the greatest improvement during the previous year based on the Battle Efficiency Competition. The competition encompasses operational readiness, inspections, and retention.

Greenert stressed that 'the performance of Hartford consistently and measurably improved in every warfare area and achieved on-time certification for one of COMSUBFOR's most challenging deployments.'

Fast-attack submarines conduct multifaceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike capabilities from close proximity and ensure undersea superiority.

Commander Steve Wilkinson, commanding officer, was pleased with the hard work and dedication of the crew.

"This award is about deckplate leadership. It is easy to win the World Series when you are given an all-star team," said Wilkinson.

Vice Adm. Michael Connor, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic praised the Hartford's commanding officer and crew for earning this prestigious award.

"... congratulations to you and your crew for earning the 2012 Atlantic Fleet Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy," said Connor. "Hartford's selection is a testament to your team's outstanding professionalism, hard work and unrelenting commitment to the highest standards. You set the bar high, and your accomplishments are the result of your persistent initiative and the solid leadership of your wardroom and chief's quarters."

Hartford returned to Naval Submarine Base New London from the European Command Area of Responsibility, Nov. 17, 2012. During the deployment, Hartford executed the nation's maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

Rear Adm. Ken Perry, Commander, Submarine Group 2 also acknowledged the Hartford crew for earning the 2012 Atlantic Fleet Arleigh Burke Fleet trophy.

"Hartford's selection showcases your determination and relentless pursuit of excellence," said Perry. "Congratulations to your entire crew for displaying outstanding leadership and daily commitment to steady full-spectrum improvement. The Arleigh Burke trophy was possible through your persistent and positive influence and dedication to the highest standards of our Navy."

Task Force Examines Integrating Enlisted Female Sailor on Subs

Commander, Naval Submarine Forces in Norfolk established a flag officer-led task force in May to focus on effectively integrating enlisted women Sailors on board multiple submarine platforms.

Vice Adm. Michael Connor stood up the task force to specifically look at best integration practices for SSBNs, SSGNs, and VIRGINIA-class SSNs.

Commander of Submarine Group Two, Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry is leading the task force. The group is charged with developing a comprehensive Plan of Actions and Milestones (POAM) by January 2014.

This POAM will mirror the previous deliberate process used to successfully integrate female officers by including feasibility studies, potential courses of action and candidate timelines. Pending the results, a detailed implementation plan will be presented to the Chief of Naval Operations by March 2015.

Female officers have been successfully integrated on board OHIO-Class SSBNs and SSGNs, and will be integrated onboard VIRGINIA-Class SSNs in fiscal year 2015.

The Navy is working with industry to design the Ohio replacement SSBN to support both officers and enlisted mixed-gender crews.

Navy tests anti-torpedo defense

The U.S. Navy's Surface Ship Torpedo Defense System has completed its first carrier-borne end-to-end sea trials, the Navy announced.

The trials were conducted Thursday by the carrier USS George H.W. Bush. "These tests are a culmination of a very focused effort by the Navy including the program office, Bush's crew, Norfolk Naval Shipyard and our academic and industrial partners," said Capt. Moises DelToro, the Navy's Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems program manager. "With all seven of our shots doing what they are designed and built to do, it validates our work and significantly enhances our current capabilities."

The Surface Ship Torpedo Defense uses the Torpedo Warning System to track and classify torpedo threats and hard-kill capability of the Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo, which is basically an encapsulated miniature torpedo.

Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory is developing the Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo. During four days of tests seven torpedo-like targets were successfully engaged by Countermeasure Anti-Torpedoes, The Navy said.

"It is gratifying to have these tests go so well," said Rear Adm. David Johnson, program executive officer, Submarines, whose portfolio includes the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems Program Office. "The engineering involved to detect a hostile torpedo, process its direction, speed [and] depth, and then engage it with a carrier-launched Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo is impressive. I am confident that the fleet will be pleased with the results."

USS PROVIDENCE RECEIVES NUC IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Providence (SSN 719) was presented the prestigious Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, June 7.

The award recognized Providence's participation in flawlessly executing Operation Odyssey Dawn (OOD) in 2011. OOD was a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet-led operation that enforced United Nations Security Council Resolutions against the government of Libya and helped establish a transitional government in Libya.

Providence was one of three submarines receiving the NUC, along with the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) homeported in Norfolk, Va., and the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) homeported in Kings Bay, Ga.

Capt. Vernon Parks, Commander, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve presented the award to the crew of Providence.

"Job well done on supporting the president of the United States in the decision making necessary to execute that operation," said Parks to the crew. "We bring, as a submarine force, significant capability to the president. Adm. Donald [former Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion] in October 2012 said 'we have a clear mission of significant importance to the defense of the United States of America - Dominate the Undersea Domain'. That's what you did, and continue to do with the rest of the force on a daily basis."

Parks further congratulated the crew on their contributions to Operation Odyssey Dawn and added their actions resulted in a banner day for the submarine force and for the Providence.

"You guys should be absolutely proud of yourselves, well done," said Parks.

The Navy Unit Commendation was established Dec. 18, 1944 to award any ship, aircraft, detachment or other unit of the United States Navy or Marine Corps which distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism as seen fit by the Secretary of the Navy. The unit must have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Silver Star Medal to an individual.

In early 2011, Providence was preparing to return to its homeport in Groton after a successful six-month deployment in the Sixth Fleet Area of Operation. The submarine was then called upon to assist with the initial strike in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. During the operation, Providence successfully launched twelve Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.

"We can't always predict how world events will unfold, or when the nation will call on you to defend her interests," said Rear Adm. Ken Perry, Commander, Submarine Group 2 while addressing the crew of Providence. "But we can predict that the nation will continue to rely on the submarine force to be vigilant and ready. You were ready when called, and you did a superb job. Well done."

Providence is the first Los Angeles-class Flight II boat and the first U.S. attack submarine to be fitted with a tactical missile vertical launch system, which houses 12 Tomahawks in the bow of the boat. These missiles can be launched covertly while the submarine remains submerged.

Providence is the fifth ship of the U.S. Navy to be named after the Rhode Island capital city, and is the 32nd Los Angeles-class attack submarine to be commissioned.

Two-A-Year SSN Procurement Is A National Security Imperative

The future of the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region and, perhaps, that of the U.S. Navy as well could hang on the fate of one major procurement program: the Virginia-class nuclear submarine. Simply put, the Virginia-class is the Navy's single most capable platform, able to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, land attack, intelligence collection and special operations missions with almost equal effectiveness and sophistication. In addition, the program is the poster child for how to do major systems acquisition the right way. The Navy's current plan to build two boats a year throughout the Future Years Defense Program is a national security imperative.

As an oceanic power that must send its military thousands of miles from home waters to protect its vital interests against threats that are difficult to anticipate, the United States needs a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Conventional-powered SSNs are okay for navies that need not venture far from home or who have to perform only a limited set of missions. There is no substitute for the speed, time on station, payload and flexibility provided by nuclear power.

The Virginia-class also is extremely well suited to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century. Larger than its predecessor, the Los Angeles-class SSN, the Virginia class is nevertheless faster and quieter. It also boasts a number of improved capabilities. One of these is a pair of photonics masts located outside the pressure hull, each containing high-resolution cameras, along with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures array. Another improvement is the boat's sonar systems which include a bow-mounted spherical active/passive sonar array, a wide aperture lightweight fiber optic sonar array, two high frequency active sonars mounted in the sail and keel and advanced towed sonar arrays. Then there is the fiber optic fly-by-wire Ship Control System, a new integrated combat system and a nine-man lockout chamber for special operations.

Finally, there is the SSN's evolving weapons suite. In addition to its ability to launch torpedoes and Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, the boats currently being built have two Vertical Launch System tubes, each capable of carrying up to six missiles. The next group of boats will have an improved launch capability, the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The VPM adds four large vertical launch tubes in the mid-section, each capable of carrying up to seven Tomahawk missiles apiece. VPM could potentially carry (non-nuclear) medium-range ballistic missiles or large unmanned, underwater vehicles.

Not only does the Virginia-class program offer a major leap in capability, but it has done so at decreasing cost to the Navy. Together with the Navy, the two companies that build the submarine, General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls, have squeezed thousands of man hours out of production, as well as lowering the cost by $400 million dollars per boat and bringing them in by up to six months ahead of schedule. These feats have been accomplished while continuously evolving the platform's design and improving its capabilities.

Cost reduction has been achieved through a number of common sense strategies. The first of these is the establishment of a predictable, steady procurement rate that allows for the most efficient purchasing of long-lead items such as the nuclear reactors and materials. A second strategy is the use of block buys of up to ten SSNs during which the design is frozen to avoid costly changes. A third technique is the pursuit of capability-neutral design changes that improve performance while lowering costs. Two examples of these are the Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array and the Payload Integration Module (PIM). The LAB is a "wet" sonar system with cheaper but equally capable components that need less maintenance, last longer, and are less complicated to install. The PIM is a modularized, mission configurable weapons bay. Both the LAB array and the PIM are outside the pressure hull, hence permitting maintenance and modernization without costly hull penetrations. Finally, the Navy and the two companies have invested in production innovations, including capital equipment, to improve performance and reduce man hours.

America's ability to ensure its influence and interests in the vast Asia-Pacific region will depend to a large extent on its ability to maintain technological and operational preeminence in the air and at sea. But preeminence does not come free. Many nations are acquiring advanced military capabilities, including robust naval and submarine forces, precisely to assert their own security interests. Some of these capabilities, notably so-called Anti-Access/Area Denial systems, are intended to counter U.S. forward presence and power projection capabilities. There is no better platform for maintaining U.S. preeminence under, at and from the sea than a robust fleet of Virginia-class SSNs.

New submarine for the Vietnamese Navy is on it's way from Russia

The contract envisages the delivery of six of these submarines. In December 2012, the first commissioned diesel-electric submarine successfully completed the first phase of trials, during which all of its systems and mechanisms performed well.

The submarine performed 12 divings, including a deep-water one. Sea trials of the first submarine will be completed in the summer.

Acceptance tests and handover to the customer are scheduled for September. The second commissioned submarine was launched late last year.

Outfitting work on it began in early January 2013. In March-April the submarine was due to pass dock trials, followed by sea trials. The shipyard is now doing hull work and is testing units for the other submarines under this contract.

In February the shipyard began making the main hull of the sixth submarine in the export series.

The contract to supply Varshavyanka diesel-electric submarines to Vietnam was signed in 2009.

In addition to building the submarines, it envisages training the Vietnamese crews as well as delivering the necessary equipment and technical supplies.

According to unofficial sources, the contract is worth 2 billion dollars. The Varshavyanka is a third-generation submarine. According to experts, its main strength is its large upgrade potential, which makes it possible to equip these submarines with new weapons, including the Club anti-ship missile system that has a considerably bigger impact zone and a broader range of types of targets.

Submarine veteran pens book about close calls with Soviets, sharks, Mother Nature

As a U.S. Navy submariner during the Cold War, Frederick Pietrowski encountered three Soviet subs in New York Harbor, stared into the mouth of a 35-foot Great White shark and survived a collision with a huge oil tanker.

He also worked in temperatures as hot as 140 degrees and cold enough to freeze his clothing solid.

Pietrowski, of Lawrence, has written a book about his experiences in the submarine service. Titled "De Profundis," Latin for "From the Depths," he said he expects his story to be published within the next few months.

Pietrowski shared some of his adventures recently with members of the Merrimack Valley Tea Party at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2104. At such a venue and among such a group, accounts of putting one's life on the line for the United States are very well received.

"I've always loved to swim underwater," Pietrowski told his audience - so after graduating from Central Catholic High School in 1959, he enlisted in the Navy and volunteered for submarine service. After taking several psychological tests and enduring rigorous physical ordeals, he was accepted, he said.

The diesel-powered subs on which he served were 16 feet wide and 305 feet long, with a crew of 125 sailors - and 66 bunks. A military submarine works 24-7 so the crew works in shifts.

When a sailor stands watch in the colder climates, "the ice burns through your face," Pietrowski said.

Often a sub goes on secret missions and "not even the captain knows where we're going," he said.

It was during a goodwill tour that Pietrowski had his close encounter with the Soviet Navy. He was blessed with keen eyesight, he said, and while observing the Statue of Liberty, "I see a Russian periscope pop up."

He passed this on to the captain, who contacted the high command. The order came back: "Chase him out of there!" Pietrowski's shipmates then spotted a second Soviet sub, this one armed with two missiles, he said.

It could easily have leveled Manhattan, he said. When the Americans discovered a nuclear submarine in their vicinity, they radioed the high command to see if it was a U.S. vessel that had been sent to help them evict the intruders.

No, the high command radioed back, all U.S. nuclear subs were accounted for - so they had a third Soviet sub menacing New York.

Pietrowski's sub and several others chased the Soviets down the East Coast to Virginia, he recalled. At that point, the visitors left American waters and headed back across the Atlantic.

Pietrowski joked that this was a "nonevent that never happened." Fifty years ago, it didn't make the newspapers, but now the story is being told. Many in the audience probably got chills when Pietrowski said that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, four Soviet subs were prowling under the American warships - undetected.

"They could have blown up the whole fleet," he said.

After leaving the Navy in 1964, Pietrowski helped build the lunar excursion module (LEM) that landed on the moon in 1969 and made computers for Honeywell for 30 years. He has also built and repaired more than 300 wooden boats.

Pietrowski seems to have a knack for finding himself in interesting situations. A little more than five years ago, he bought a file cabinet for $2 at a yard sale. When he looked inside, he found stock and bond certificates worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Working with then-state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, he returned the certificates to their rightful owners.

Navy May Let Women Serve on More Submarines

The Navy will decide by March 2015 whether women will be allowed to serve on more classes of submarines.

The Navy announced in January that female officers would begin reporting to Virginia-class attack submarines in fiscal year 2015, and, as the next step, enlisted women would be considered for sub duty.

On Tuesday, the Department of Defense released its plans for allowing women to serve in positions throughout the military that currently are closed to them. The Navy's plan explains the timeline for opening all occupations to women and nearly all of the closed positions, including several aboard submarines.

Female officers can serve on each type of submarine: fast-attack, ballistic-missile and guided-missile. The Navy is now considering whether they will be assigned to Los Angeles and Seawolf-class fast-attack submarines, in addition to Virginia class, according to the plan.

The Naval Submarine Base in Groton is home to both Los Angeles and Virginia-class submarines.

The first two Virginia-class submarines where women will serve will be selected in the third quarter of this year, and female officers will report aboard in January 2015.

Enlisted jobs on submarines currently are closed to women, but the plan states that the Navy is studying whether to assign women to these jobs on submarine classes besides the Virginia class and will decide by March 2015.

Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander of the submarine force, created a task force of senior officers in May to figure out how to bring enlisted women aboard submarines. Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry, commander of Submarine Group Two, is leading the group. A comprehensive "Plan of Actions and Milestones" is due by January 2014.

A new ballistic-missile submarine, which Electric Boat is currently designing, will accommodate officers and enlisted sailors of both genders, according to the Navy. EB will figure out how to do so during the ship's detailed arrangement phase, which will begin next year and continue through 2020.

The fifth block of Virginia-class submarines, which includes 12 boats starting in fiscal 2019, also will be gender-neutral, the Navy said.

The Navy lifted its ban on women serving aboard submarines in 2010 and started assigning female officers first to the larger, ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines. In January, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rescinded the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, which barred women from combat jobs.

Each service and the U.S. Special Operations Command must fully implement its plan by Jan. 1, 2016.

Navy Develops Torpedo Killing Torpedo

The Navy has taken its first steps to develop a weapon designed to intercept and destroy guided enemy torpedoes immune to U.S. countermeasures, Naval Sea Systems Command officials told USNI News on Wednesday.

The Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) program under development to protect high dollar surface warships - like the Navy's Nimitz-class (CVN-71) nuclear aircraft carriers - from Soviet developed torpedoes specifically designed to attack large ships like aircraft carriers and large civillian oil tankers.

The tests - conducted in May onboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) - pair a Torpedo Warning System (TWS) towed behind the ship with a highly maneuverable Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo (CAT) that seeks and destroys the incoming enemy weapon. The CAT is currently being developed by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.

The torpedo warning system is towed behind the ship. When the TWS detects an enemy weapon an operator on the ship decides whether or not to launch the CAT, NAVSEA told USNI News.

Development of the SSTD helps cover a serious threat to major U.S. ships from Soviet-designed torpedoes initially developed in the 1960s, naval analyst Norman Friedman told USNI News.

"Torpedoes are an often-unappreciated threat to surface ships," he said.

"The usual countermeasures are noisemakers intended to decoy an approaching homing torpedo. Unfortunately the Russians use wake-following torpedoes that do not respond to the usual countermeasures at all."

The Russian Type-53 torpedo includes sensors that detect the churn made by ships underway. Once the torpedo senses the chopped water it will follow a ship in a S-pattern between the wakes until it finds its targets.

"Anyone who buys Russian Kilo-class submarines - almost anyone the U.S. would come into conflict with - uses torpedoes which do not respond to U.S. torpedo countermeasures," Friedman said.

Russia has heavily exported the Kilo diesel/electric submarine to Southeast Asia and the attack boat is a mainstay of navies in Vietnam, India and China.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy fields 12 Kilos with Soviet-era Type 53-65 wake homing torpedoes with a range of 11.8 miles, according to the soon to be released 16th edition of the Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.

The Type 53-65 torpedoes, in wide use around the world, were developed in the mid 1960s and were the first Russian mass produced torpedo to include the wake homing technology, according to Jane's Weapons: Naval.

As conflicts in the South China Sea intensify and the Pentagon shifts more forces to the Pacific, submarines have been high on the wish lists for countries in the region.

In 2007, a PLAN Song-class submarine surfaced near now-decommissioned USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), raising questions how effective the Navy was at defending its carrier fleet.

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, has called for increased research and development into anti-torpedo torpedoes since he took the top Navy job in 2011.

NAVSEA has more testing for the SSTD system scheduled for this year and plans to have the CAT and TWS reach so-called initial operational capability by 2019 and Fleet wide adoption of the system by 2035.


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