Latest updates[?]: General Dynamics Missions Systems won a $13.6 million contract modification to exercise an option for engineering support for ongoing development, test and production of the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV) program, also known as Knifefish. The Knifefish program will provide persistent volume and bottom mine hunting capability in a contested environment. This option exercise is for engineering support hours to support a number of efforts, including test and evaluation, engineering change proposal development and upgrade initiatives. The Knifefish is an autonomous unmanned water vehicle. It is a propeller-driven minesweeping robot. Work will take place in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Michigan. Estimated completion will be by September 2021.
In October 2013, Kongsberg Defence subsidiary Hydroid, Inc., of Pocasset, MA received a maximum $36.5 million, 5-year, sole-source award for its unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) from the US Navy’s Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, MD. They’ll be buying 2 types of UUVs.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
Latest updates[?]: International Marine and Industrial Applicators LLC was tapped with $8.5 million for the accomplishment of preservation and non-SUBSAFE structural repairs and maintenance on USS Michigan or SSGN 727. The deal will provide preservation, structural repairs, anode removal and safety track repair requirements and include all necessary management, material support services, labor, supplies and equipment deemed necessary to perform this work. Non-SUBSAFE means the structural repairs and maintenance are not part of the Submarine Safety Program, a quality assurance program of the US Navy designed to maintain the safety of the submarine fleet. The USS Michigan is the second sub of the Ohio Class of ballistic missile submarines and guided missile submarines. The Michigan was launched on April 26, 1980. It was built to carry the Navy's third generation submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the Trident C-4. Work under the contract will take place in Bremerton, Washington and is scheduled to be complete by June next year.
In the aftermath of the START-II arms control treaty, some of the USA’s nuclear-powered Ohio Class SSBN nuclear missile submarines were converted to become long range conventional strike and special operations SSGN “Tactical Tridents.” Four ultra-stealthy Ohio-class SSBNs had their 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles removed. They were replaced with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus space in the sub for 66-102 special forces troops, special attachments for new Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) or older Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV) “mini-subs,” and a mission control center. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, and even UAVs for aerial operations, are expected to become equally important options over the SSGN fleet’s career.
These modifications provide the USA with an impressive and impressively flexible set of conventional firepower, in a survivable and virtually undetectable platform, which can remain on station for very long periods of time. As surveillance-strike complexes make the near-shore more and more hazardous for conventional ships, and the potential dangers posed by small groups continue to rise, America’s converted SSGN submarines will become more and more valuable. This updated, free-to-view article covers their origins and timeline, the key technologies involved, contracts from the program’s inception to the present day, with all 4 submarines back in service.
Latest updates[?]: South Korea unveiled a new attack submarine. The sixth 214-class sub, built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co., is a 1,800-ton boat powered by Air Independent Propulsion. The South Koreans ordered the first batch of 214-class subs in 2000, with an additional order for six boats set for delivery by 2020. The South Korean Navy recently stood up an independent submarine command, becoming the sixth country in the world to possess such an independent structure.The command is based at Jinhae Naval Base, in South Gyeongsang, managing its fleet of 13 boats.
Sohn Won-Yil & Nimitz
The German Type 214 was selected by Korea over the French/Spanish Scorpene Class that has been ordered by Chile, India, and Malaysia. Some would argue that U-214s are the most advanced diesel-electric submarines on the market, with an increased diving depth of over 400 meters, an optimized hull and propeller design, ultra-modern internal systems, and an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system that lets the diesel submarine stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface and snorkel air.
South Korea ordered its first 3 KSS-II/ Type 214 boats in 2000, which were assembled by Hyundai Heavy Industries. The Batch 2 order will add 6 more of the 65m, 1,700t boats, effectively doubling the ROKN’s number of modern submarines. The latest development is a $16 million order for Saab electronic systems for the 2nd batch of 214 submarines.
Rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, coupling increasingly bellicose actions by Iran with pointed American warnings, have left international navies thinking hard about how to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for oil traffic. Naval mines, which can be laid by submarines or boats, remain one of the most difficult and inconvenient threats to counter. That was true during the last set of armed clashes between the USA and Iran in the 1980s. It remains true, and the USA has weakened its position by retiring its modern Osprey Class minehunter ships. Some are available for reactivation in an emergency, but their place was supposed to be taken by the MH-60S helicopter’s Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) system.
The USA is looking to bolster its defenses in the Straits, but AMCM isn’t quite ready yet. That leaves them looking elsewhere for urgent operational buys. While countries like China counter mines using unmanned ships, the US Navy is turning toward a widely-bought German UUV…
Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., in Huntsville, AL recently received approval from the U.S. Navy to move into the Full Rate Production (FRP) Phase on the underwater Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Glider (LBS-G) Program. The first Full Rate Production option calls for the manufacture of 35 gliders, with additional options for 100 more, and a total contract value of $53.1 million if all options are exercised. US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command manages the contract.
The Teledyne Team has already delivered 15 Low Rate Initial Production LBS-Gs to the US Navy’s Program Executive Office for C4I, under a December 2010 contract. That team includes Teledyne Brown (System Integration), Teledyne Webb Research in East Falmouth, MA (Slocum Glider development and production), and the University of Washington – Applied Physics Lab (Glider Operations Center software). Their 2m long design features a very innovative propulsion concept.
The Applied Physics Laboratories at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA received a $120.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity task order contract for up to 657,115 staff hours. Multiple appropriation types will be utilized throughout contract performance, and no funds are obligated by award of this contract, only on individual task orders. A contract option could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $257.4 million for up to 1,314,230 staff hours. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA, and is expected to be complete by April 2015. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC (N00024-10-D-6618).
The lab does a lot of civilian and military work, and even civilian programs like the Regional Scale Nodes Project ocean observatory would expand ocean access in ways that apply to both civilian and military systems. APL-UW will provide research, development, and engineering to US NAVSEA in 7 core competency areas that NAVSEA has deemed essential to support a variety of specific military programs. While this sort of work is less visible than buying a $700 million Littoral Combat Ship/ frigate, the combined effects of these efforts could be very significant in maintaining the US Navy’s future edge:
Advances made in American mine detection technologies during the mid 2000s included the AQS-20A mine detecting sonar array and airborne laser systems mounted to MH-60S helicopters. All of this is in the service of the USA’s new naval emphasis on littoral warfare and accompanying doctrinal changes. So, what’s the AN/AQS-20? And how is it also related to a new US ship class, not to mention a new undersea robot?
Defense was an issue in the 2007 Australian election. The center-left Labor Party attacked the center-right Liberal Party by citing mismanaged projects, and accusing the Howard government of making poor choices on key defense platforms like the F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-35A Joint Strike fighters. That sniping continued even after Labor won the election, and has been evident in more than a few Defence Ministry releases.
The new government made some program changes, such as canceling the SH-2G Seasprite contract. Yet it has been more notable for the programs it has not changed: problematic upgrades of Australia’s Oliver Hazard Perry frigates were continued, the late purchase of F/A-18F Super Hornets was ratified rather than canceled, and observers waited for the real shoe to drop: the government’s promised 2009 Defence White Paper, which would lay out Australia’s long-term strategic assessments, and procurement plans.
On May 2/09, Australia’s government released “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030.” DID has reviewed that document, and the reaction to date including a new ASPI roundup of reactions from around Asia.
The global proliferation of advanced, ultra-quiet diesel electric submarines has prompted a number of responses around the globe, from initial-stage efforts to mimic a shark’s senses in the USA, to the most obvious route of using more powerful active sonars. In Western countries, concerns have been expressed that these sonars may disorient or scare marine mammals, leading to decompression sickness or disruption of their biological sonar navigation systems. This has led to (unsuccessful) lawsuits aimed at curtailing submarine exercises by Western navies.
In December 2007, USN Rear Adm. Lawrence S. Rice, director of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness, discussed some of the measures that are being taken to investigate the issue, and also mitigate any possible effects. In January 2008, a court battle erupted over undersea training off the coast of San Diego, CA, throwing the issue back into the limelight and potentially crippling Navy training before a dangerous deployment to the Persian Gulf. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ follow-on ruling was predictable, but in November 2008, the US Supreme Court issued its ruling.
In light of that favorable ruling, a settlement has now been reached on the Navy’s terms. The Navy has just been given permission to conduct exercises near Hawaii, and this, too, is likely to end up in court, along with its planned training near Florida. Meanwhile, the US Navy continues to fund marine mammal research – which may begin to include UUVs and/or USVs…