Rapid Fire April 13, 2012: Titanium for Ship Hulls
- South Korea’s Daewoo continues to expand its military shipbuilding reach. Fresh off wins in Indonesia (Type 209 submarines) and Britain (MARS support ship/ oilers), it has signed an MoU with Peru for submarines and “multi-role support ships.” To turn that into a contract, they’ll have to clinch a final deal with the government, but the MoU gives them exclusive negotiating rights. Peru currently operates 6 old U209 submarines, and could use some support ships built after the 1980s.
- North Korea’s rocket went ka-boom… less than 12 minutes into its flight. What next?
- India’s new Talwar Class frigate, Teg, has completed sea trials, and is scheduled for handover at its Russian shipyard on April 27/12.
- India stood up its 3rd squadron of naval surveillance UAVs, made up of IAI Searcher and IAI Heron UAVs. The southern INAS 344 squadron is in Tamil Nadu, joining its fellow squadrons to the west (Gurajat) and East (Kerala).
- Research funded by the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) is using recently-improved friction-stir welding (FSW) techniques at the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM) to see whether titanium could be used for shipbuilding. Using titanium instead of steel for ship hulls would reduce maintenance costs because you wouldn’t have to obsess about corrosion, and lower fuel costs – or allow bigger payloads – because titanium is lighter and stronger. But then that metal is much more expensive than steel and harder to work with. Titanium is used for piping in San Antonio class ships and that required the development of sophisticated welding techniques and craftsmanship too. Whether the Soviet Union was using titanium to build submarines during the Cold War kept CIA analysts busy in the 70s. Around the same time the ONR rebuilt its ALVIN submersible in titanium which allowed pretty deep dives.
- When you turn defense policy debates into arguments about who is creating most jobs, you end up with silly academic distractions.
- Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at CSIS’ Global Security Forum 2012 yesterday. The topic of sequestration came up during the Q&A after his address [PDF]. Showing a position that’s in line with comments made by DoD Comptroller Robert Hale a few weeks ago, Winnefeld said:
“Yeah, I think the term we’re using right now is we’re thinking about sequestration but we’re not planning for it. (Laughs.) I hope that helps you out. Sequestration, as you know, is a very, very challenging mechanism the way it’s written into the law. There are potentially different interpretations of how it would be implemented, but the most common one is that every single program would be cut by a certain percentage and that we would have to live with that technique, as it were.
And if that’s the case, then there’s not an awful lot of planning that needs to be done because we already understand what would be cut. The challenge is our people more than anything else. And I would include the defense industrial base as part of that people problem, because companies have to plan for what the future’s going to be like probably, in many cases, further out than even we have to plan.
So we have a — we’re sympathetic to the challenges that industry is going to face in a sequestration environment. We are hopeful that the Congress will find a responsible solution to this. And we’re very watchful for that. And I believe that this summer sometime we will begin to look in earnest at what we will have to do if sequestration actually comes to fruition.”