January 23, 2018

Tension Between Western Delegations on Evacuation of Foreign Nationals from S Korea

This is an interesting matter between Western military, diplomatic and security agencies. It is within the context of sensitivities around the 2018 Winter Olympics (also see). 

These Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9 to 25 February 2018. PyeongChang is a mountainous area of South Korea just 100 km south of the tense Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with North Korea.

 If any of North Korea's frequent nuclear/missile threats occurred in February this could wreck the usual good feelings of the Winter Olympics. Mass evacuations of foreign nationals is a possibility, however slight.

This deals with the sensitivies of:

1.   promising North Korea that no military exercises will be held in South Korea prior to the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Summary of a January 2018 Washington Post report: Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have agreed to postpone the large annual Foal Eagle Exercise until after the Winter Olympics to reduce tensions with North Korea. 

2.  North Korea might decide to feel cheated that "secret" plans were reported in the Japanese media (below) in January 2018 concerning international preparations made in South Korea (SK) for evacuating foreign nationals in case of high tension or conflict with North Korea (NK). 


From the following it appears there is a high degree of ill-feeling on security issues, between and within Western delegations (including Japan and SK) in dealings with NK. The Chinese and Russians must be perplexed.]

On January 21, 2018 Anonymous translated [right-click mouse] page 2 of a Japanese language Gendai article of January 20, 2018. Pete did further translation for context:

"In a period of emergency in the Korean Peninsula, when President Trump has taken military action against NK, concrete measures to rescue US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French and Japanese and Americans nationals from SK are being planned:

In November 2017, the first meeting of Japan and five members of UN Command in SK (US, UK, Canada, Australia and France) was held secretly at Osan US Air Force (USAF) Base 64 km south of Seoul to discuss rescue/evacuation planning for their foreign nationals

[Osan hosts US 7th Air Force Headquarters]. 

"It was a military official consultation and SK was excluded because of possible information leakages to NK through the SK "Blue House"." 

[the "Blue House" is a large complex that is the Executive Office and Official Residence of SK President Moon Jae-in]

Japanese attendance included Counsellor Level officials from the National Security Bureau of the Cabinet Secretariat and uniformed staff from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD). They were transferred by USAF aircraft travelling from USAF Base Yokota (Tokyo) to Osan USAF Base.

Numbers of the foreign nationals in each region of South Korea, identified by the US, were displayed on a huge screen and projector in the November 2017 meeting room at Osan Base. Measures for transporting the nationals to Busan Port and the Port of Incheon via air, land and sea were explained.

The US Department of State (DoS) informed SK diplomatic and security authorities who had been excluded from the November 2017 meeting. SK reacted by complaining strongly and could [did?] attend the second meeting held in December 2017.

Until [November 2017?] these kinds of meetings have only been held secretly between the US National Security Council (NSC), US Department of Defense (DoD), Japanese NSC (J-NSC) and Japanese  Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). The US Department of State (DoS) and Japanese Ministry of Defense (J-MoD) have been excluded because the security of their information management has been suspect.

"Under multilateral talks discussing the situation in North Korea, it can be understood that leakage of confidential information is a deadly and serious problem."

Translated by Anonymous and by Pete.

Chinese undersea sound surveillance sensors (SOSUS) near Guam

"The Chinese Academy of Sciences recently disclosed that underwater acoustic sensors have been monitoring sea activity near Guam since 2016."

Source: Russia's SputnikNews relaying a Hong Kong, South China Morning Post report of  
January 22, 2018. 


The report indicates "The sensors collect water temperature and salinity data that impact how sound moves through water". These make the underwater acoustic (SOSUS) sensors more accurate AND also provides a scientific research "cover" for basically ASW sensors. 

Once China perfects node sensors near Guam, and in the South, China Sea, China will lay 500+ km  undersea SOSUS cable arrays, stringing many sensors together
-  thereby providing electrical and communications channels to the sensors.

The main (near Guam) Chinese sensor targets would be the US Submarine Squadron 15 (SUBRON 15), at Naval Base Guam island. 

Anderson Air Base (at right) is also on Guam island, as is Guam (Apra) Naval Base, where
SUBRON 15 has long been based. South China Sea on left. All "targets" for China's developing SOSUS systems.

SUBRON 15 mainly consists of:

-  the large submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS-40)

-  four Los Angeles class SSNs, namely USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), 
   USS Topeka (SSN 754) and USS Asheville (SSN 758). 

-  also an Ohio class SSGN occasionally visits.


See Submarine Matter's June 17, 2015 article, Guam Nuclear Submarine and Bomber Air Base.


January 22, 2018

Suspicious Russian Submarine Fire, Vladivostok, Diesel Vapour? Battery Hydrogen?

KQN has drawn Submarine Matter's attention to a January 21, 2018 Russian claim that the Russian Navy intentionally set a Russian conventional, diesel-electric, Kilo class submarine on fire, on January 21, as part of a “damage control exercise”. This fire was/is at Vladivostok Main Naval Base, Russian Pacific Fleet.

The Kilo is most likely part of the Russian Pacific Fleet's, Vladivostok, 19th Submarine Brigade and may well be an unimproved Project 877 Kilo (likely Pennant Number "B-260", "B-445", "B-394", "B-464", "B-494", "B-187", "B-190" or "B-345"). Intentionally starting a fire is highly unlikely given the cost of a Kilo and close proximity of several other Kilo subs near the fire (see photo below).

Russian Kilo submarine on fire, January 21, 2018, at Vladivostok. (Photo courtesy Anonymous Russian via a scoop by Tyler Rogoway, The Drive January 21, 2018, website).

It will be interesting if the Russians admit the real reason, eg:

-  residual diesel fuel vapour catching alight 

-  angle grinder or welding equipment started a fire of insulation or diesel fuel vapour between the 
   outer hull and pressure hull, 

-  battery maintenance causing release of flammable Hydrogen gas from the batteries, leading to fire. 


-  fire of highly volatile torpedo propellant, then subsequent "cooking-off" of torpedo warheads

Precents include:

-   the welding caused fire between outer and pressure hulls on the Russian Oscar class SSGN "Orel
    on April 8, 2015

-  the fire and explosion of IndianKilo submarine INS Sindhurakshak, on August 14,  2013.


January 18, 2018

Japanese Soryu Higher Power Snorkel (Intake and Exhaust) Study

"wispywood2344" has drawn and labelled this very useful diagram of the Japan's top of the line Soryu class submarine.  The diagram (minus the Stirling AIP) could represent the Japanese entrant "SEA-1000 Japanese submarine (SEA-J)” in the Australia’s Future Submarine competition (which France won in April 2016). larger version of the diagram is at http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/others/Soryu_cutaway.svg

Anonymous has kindly provided information for the following. One of the key factors in considering Soryu propulsive power (see January 16, 2018 article) comes through taking account of the efficiency of the snorkel (diesel intake and exhaust) system. If resistance against snorkel intake and exhaust is too high, the diesel generation system does not function well, resulting in poor output. 

Though the effectiveness of intake and exhaust system has been proven for Japanese submarines equipped with generators of around 4MW (total), the effectiveness of intake and exhaust has not been published for 8MW generators (the power required by Australian Future Submarines).

In this current article there is some discussion of the Japanese entrant "SEA-J" (diagram above) a Soryu enlarged for Australian conditions.


SEA-J highly likely omitted the Stirling AIP  (including LOx tanks, sections (9) and (10), 4th compartment) and was lengthened by 6m (from current 84m to 90m). This provided for:
-  extra diesel fuel (to increase range from the current Soryu Mark I's limited 6,100nm 
   range to the 10,000-12,000nm Australia required 
-  extra batteries (for increased fully submerged range on battery) and
-  larger bunks for the on average taller crew. The bunks are already individual for 65 crew
   (ie. no uncomfortable "hot bunking").  

Omitting the AIP (especially the large, weight shifting, LOx tank, of diminishing utility on Australia's long range missions) is easily understood. But the 6m increase in length is less understandable. SEA-J's extra length may be needed to handle an extra two diesel engines (four in all for the 8MW total power) instead of just two diesels in the existing Soryu Mark I


Rearrangements in SEA-J may be new sections 5, 6 and 7 to accommodate the larger, more powerful, diesel driven snorkel sytem. Such a faster working snorkel system would be required for the extra pressure and faster operation of four diesels (totaling 8MW) in SEA-J.

A larger, more powerful snorkel system may also be required in the Soryu Mark II (see Table, for 27SS, laid down in 2015) which may be launced in 2018. Mark II will have more powerful diesels to more quickly charge and technically exploit the new Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) to be introduced in Mark II

Faster charging on Mark II will improve its indiscretion ratio (IR). Indiscretion being a submarine's fully surfaced or shallow submerged danger period, when it is snorting. SEA-J could have also benefitted from fast charge LIBs (if Australia had selected SEA-J).

Mainly by Anonymous 

January 17, 2018

Australian Submarine Expert, Senator Patrick, Forgets US Admiral Johnson

Australia's government owned ABC News service reports, January 17, 2018, in part  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-17/submarine-delays-could-lead-to-cost-blowout-senator-says/9334240

"The cost of Australia's Future Submarine program is likely to blow out by billions of dollars because it is already missing key deadlines, [Rex Patrick] a former defence contractor turned senator has warned.

...In December, [the Australian Defence Department] confirmed two planning documents due to be released last year had yet to be finalised, but the department insisted there had been "no delays to key milestones" and no "cost or schedule impacts" to the $50 billion project.

Senator Rex Patrick, who once also served as a Royal Australian Navy [RAN] submariner, has not been convinced and said some military insiders were privately conceding the submarine program was "starting to go a little bit off the rails".

[The Head of Australia’s Future Submarine Program since September 2013] "Rear Admiral [Gregory] Sammut is a highly respected and highly capable naval officer, however he's never run a major project, he's never run a minor project," Senator Patrick said....” See WHOLE ABC article.


Given the postings rate of senior RAN officers Rear Admiral Sammut has already headed the RAN-Project liaison aspects of the Submarine Program for a long time since 2013. The 50 year Submarine Program will of course see more than six changes of RAN Head.

Head of program is a shared function between senior officers of the Prime Minister’s Department, Minister of Defence Industry, CEO of Naval Group Australia and also Naval Group HQ Cherbourg.

Perhaps the closest thing to THE Program Manager is US Navy Rear Admiral (retired) Stephen E. Johnson (photo below). He is General Manager Submarines in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Australian Department of Defence. Johnson worked for 3 years in the management team of US Virginia class submarine program (from 1992-1995) and 6 years on the Seawolf class submarine program (1998-2003). See Johnson’s longer bio here  .

Johnson's Australian Department of Defence Position Description reads "Stephen E. Johnson commenced as General Manager Submarines in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group on 4 November 2015. Steve is responsible for all aspects of submarine support across Defence in Australia, working across government and industry as the project integrator of our existing submarine fleet and the Future Submarine Project." See here and here.