dijous, 29 d’octubre de 2015

Submariners practice world-class rescue skills*

The Royal Australian Navy's Submarine Force has exercised responses to the unlikely event of a submarine incident at sea, after completing an intensive four week training exercise which demonstrated the 
submarine escape and rescue capability. 

During Exercise BLACK CARRILLON 15, members of the Navy's Submarine Force transferred crew from HMAS Rankin, utilising the James Fisher Submarine Rescue System submersible, LR5. 

The exercise also involved two six-person teams escaping from a bottomed submarine using fitted submarine escape equipment. The exercise was also attended by experts from 12 different submarine operating nations.

For the first time, the exercise involved the recently acquired Defence Maritime Services operated intervention ship, MV Besant, which was able to demonstrate the significant capability it brings to submarine escape. Besant would be one of the first vessels on scene in the event a submarine crew needs to escape from the disabled submarine prior to rescue.

If the situation in the disabled submarine is stable, Besant will use on board equipment to assess the situation and develop a rescue plan enabling LR5 to commence personnel transfer from the stricken submarine almost immediately upon arriving at the scene. LR5 is currently transferred to the site utilising the larger rescue ship MV Seahorse Standard.

MV Seahorse Standard is due to be replaced by the new rescue ship MV Stoker, which is currently undergoing final fit-out and is due to join MV Besant at Fleet Base West, south of Perth, Western Australia, in 
February 2016. 

Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, hailed the exercise as a success. 

"During the series of exercises we were able to re-affirm that our existing capability can save lives in the unlikely event that we ever experience a submarine incident requiring the evacuation of submariners," he said.

"Key exercise outcomes were achieved, and new equipment was proven, validating the process and procedures we have in place to ensure we get the right equipment on site in a timely manner to enable personnel to evacuate a disabled submarine. 

"Exercising our organic capabilities along with continued close cooperation with international partners in submarines escape and rescue ensures that we continually refine and improve our ability to deploy the submarine rescue system. 

"This is important part of proving we have an effective and seaworthy escape and rescue system and generates confidence across the Submarine 
Enterprise," Captain Buckley said.

* Notícia publicada al web de la Royal Australian Navy. Compartim aquesta notícia per subratllar la importància de la formació del personal en qualsevol força. En el cas de les tripulacions de submarins, els exercicis de escapament/rescat ajuden també a millorar la confiança, un intangible decisiu.

dijous, 27 d’agost de 2015

Russians Drink Sangria as Ukraine Burns*


Cease fire violations are a part of the daily routine in the no man’s land of Eastern Ukraine. Rifle fire, automatic weapons and exchange of mortar rounds between Ukrainian government forces and rebel militias is a matter of course, with up to 100 violations in a day[1]. For the moment, that is all there is: both sides have mostly observed the requirement to withdraw heavy weapons, so there is no field artillery or tanks. Yet the situation remains tense as the summer drags on. For the moment, the tense balance holds. The Ukrainian government realizes that it lacks the strength for a military solution, while Russia has the military strength to beat Ukraine but not to hold a rebellious population of 40 million.

So there is no war, but there is no peace either. Ukraine burns, and citizens of the new borderland suffer acute shortages of everything: food, medicines, gasoline, money. They, like their nation, are pawns in a power game between Russia and the West. Neither side truly wants war; but neither side is yet willing to negotiate. The Russians believe that “losing Ukraine” to Europe and the US would be a mortal threat to their own security; while Europe and the US are convinced that “losing Ukraine” to Russia would be tantamount to a second Munich Agreement. It would only convince Vladimir Putin of Western weakness and encourage him to test NATO in a more sensitive area, like the Baltic States.

NATO has responded as much as its limited means allow: air patrols over the Baltic allies have been intensified and interceptions of Russian aircraft by Western fighters are now too routine to report. Military training and exercises have been intensified, with US forces very publicly visiting key Eastern European states like Poland and Romania. Even non-NATO nations like Sweden have been disturbed enough by the rumblings of the Russian bear to begin quiet coordination of their military staffs with NATO counterparts. Even the normallaissez faire and independent French, who are perfectly happy to sell nuclear components to Iraq and advanced weaponry to anyone with a sufficiently large bank account, have been convinced to first suspend and finally cancel the delivery of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. These vessels would have given the Russian Navy a significant boost in their power projection capabilities, especially in the highly sensitive Black Sea, where the RFS Sevastopol was destined to be stationed. This will cost the French a significant amount of money, approximately 1.2 billion dollars – at least until they can find another buyer[2].

Far from dividing the normally fractious nations of Europe, Russian actions have enhanced their cooperation and reinvigorated a moribund North Atlantic alliance. From Cape Svalbard to Cape Matapan, Vladimir Putin is faced by a determined and united front opposed to Russia’s unilateral annexation of Crimea and barely concealed invasion of Donestk and Lugansk. Well…almost united. While Ukrainians die in defense of their lands – on both sides of the front lines – and Europeans suddenly remember what their militaries are for, there are Russian sailors stuffing their gobs full of paella and sangría in the Spanish port of Ceuta.

The RFS Novorossiysk, a Russian Kilo-class diesel attack submarine, arrived at the Spanish North African port this morning along with its tender[3]. Both Russian vessels are taking on water, fuel and victuals while their crews enjoy a week of shore leave. Besides seamen, the Kilo carries the SS-N-27 “Sizzler” a supersonic anti-ship missile as well as SA-N-10 Gimlet missiles for air defense. This lethal package is docked next to one of the busiest shipping choke points in the world and an hour’s easy steam from the Royal Naval base at Gibraltar and US Naval Station Rota.

The submarine visit is not an isolated incident: this year alone there have been 13 port calls by Russian naval vessels to Ceuta and over 50 since 2010. In April it was the Udaloy-class ASW destroyer, the Severomorsk and in February another ASW frigate, the Yaroslav Mudry.The city fathers are happy to have 2,000 lonely sailors spending their rubles on “shore leave” and local businesses benefit too. Nothing to comment on in normal times; except that we’re not living in normal times. NATO aircraft aren’t intercepting Russians over allied airspace because relations are warm and fuzzy.

Spain is not alone in welcoming Russian ships, it is in good company: the Russian Navy regular makes port calls in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and Iran too. Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam is still a welcome destination for the Pacific Fleet, but in Europe only Cyprus[4] make Ivan feel as home as often as the Spanish do. Russian sailors are no longer a common sight even in Saint-Nazaire where they were training to take possession of the two Mistral-class vessels the French were constructing. Meanwhile, the Spanish sharpen their military skills by having their Coast Guard vessels fire at Gibraltar-flagged pleasure boats[5]; all part of the “successful foreign policy” being promulgated out of Madrid[6], one of harassment, illegality and disregard for the democratic rights and unanimous wishes of the actual inhabitants of the Rock.

The harassment has become far worse since the investiture of the current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey, in December 2011. The current government is acting in a fashion more in keeping with the various stand-offs instigated by the fascist Franco regime during the 1970’s than as a NATO ally and European partner. Spain routinely refuses to allow NATO vessels and aircraft traveling to or from Gibraltar to also visit a Spanish port or airfield while in transit. Yet the Spanish government is happy to welcome large numbers of warships from the Russian Navy. With friends like this…

The State Department and Pentagon should not remain indifferent to the sight of the Russian Navy growing old within shouting (and shooting) distance of RAF Gibraltar and an easy sail from Rota. The United Nations estimates[7] that the 14-kilometers of the Straits handle 3,000 vessels per day, 25% of sea-transported oil shipments, and 30% of all tonnage entering or leaving the Mediterranean. It is not only a critical military and economic choke point; it borders critical states in North Africa and the Sahel. For this reason the United States maintains, with Spain’s permission, both a naval presence in Rota (near Cádiz) and the 3,500-man Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa at Morón de la Frontera[8].

Thus it is not irrelevant that Marine V-22 Ospreys flying out of Morón would not be able to land at Gibraltar outbound or inbound while executing vital missions; the Crisis Response force is not there to take pictures of the Andalusian countryside. This is not an idle scenario: given the close cooperation between our military and that of the United Kingdom, a mission involving US and Royal Marines could be easily imagined. Which ally has shed blood with the United States in every one of our wars of last 100 years? It is high time we demand an end to the stupid and damaging policies that are pitting two NATO nations against each other and complicating US interests in the region.

Sources and Notes

[1] “Cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine cause concern,” Associated Press, 14 August 2015
[2] Pierre Tran, “Mistral Dispute With Russia Settled, France Eyes Exports,” Defense News, 09 August 2015
[3] Antonio Sempere, “El submarino ruso ‘Novorossiysk’ atraca en el muelle España, donde permanecerá hasta el Viernes,” Ceuta Actualidad, 26 August 2015
[4] Damien Sharkov, “Cyprus Agrees Deal to Let Russian Navy Use Ports,” Newsweek, 26 February 2015
[5] Alistair Dawber, “Tensions rise as Spanish customs boat fires shots at pleasure craft in Gibraltar’s waters,” The Independent, 27 August 2015
[6] “Spain’s Action On Gib is ‘Bearing Fruit’ – Margallo,” The Gibraltar Chronicle, 25 August 2015
[7] United Nations Environment Programme, Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention
[8] Sam LaGrone, “Spain and U.S. Sign Permanent Basing Agreement for up to 3,500 U.S. Marines,” USNI News, 18 June 2015

* Article publicat al web "Common Sense" de Fernando Betancor. Una visió nordamericana sobre el capteniment espanyol vers Gibraltar i la connivència amb la Marina russa. Caldria anar pensant en quines contrapartides té Espanya perquè les naus russes atraquin reiteradament a Ceuta. Alhora, recomanem vivament el bloc de Fernando Betancor. Bona feina!

dilluns, 10 d’agost de 2015

China Unveiled its First VLFS Project Similar to the US Military Mobile Offshore Base Concept*

China unveiled its first "Very Large Floating Platform" project which appears to be a 21st century iteration of the US Military "Mobile Offshore Base" concept. The project was unveiled to the public during the "National Defense Science and Technology Achievements" exhibition held recently in Beijing.

It is reported that the very large floating structures (VLFS) is thousands of meters long and made up of floating modules connected together. It can be assembled as required and used as a floating pier, logistics base and airport.

A large floating island or airport or sea base can be achieved by linking a several floating platforms, which is very valuable for military and civilian use, said an expert when interviewed by Shenzhen TV. 

US Mobile offshore base

The mobile offshore base (MOB) idea was first seriously considered when the United States entered Operation Desert Shield (1990–91). MOB is a concept for supporting military operations where conventional land bases are not available. With the MOB concept the U.S. could have a base anywhere in the world in as little as a month. A MOB could accomodate and deploy conventional fighters and even large carge aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III as well as landing craft. Such a floating offshore base has been researched and proposed, but never developed.

Future will tell if unlike the U.S., the Chinese military decides to go ahead, develop and actually produce a VLFS/mobile offshore base.

* Notícia publicada a Navy Recognition. No sabem fins a quin punt Beijing disposa d'un projecte sòlid o és propaganda institucional i/o una "maskirovka". Ara bé, que el projecte, com diu l'article, va existir als Estats Units. Es fa difícil determinar les seves aplicacions en un teatre d'operacions, doncs un cop desplegat disposa d'una mobilitat quasi nul·la. Ara bé, les seves pròpies dimensions (i una estructura modular), fan d'aquesta plataforma quelcom capaç d'encaixar molts danys. Restarem a l'expectativa.

divendres, 31 de juliol de 2015

LCS Anti-Sub Warfare Package Too Heavy; 3 Contracts Issued For Weight Reduction Study*

The Littoral Combat Ship’s anti-submarine warfare mission package needs to shed some weight before it can deploy on a ship, and the Navy awarded three contracts to help find weight-reduction ideas.

The mission package includes two mature and fielded sonar systems, plus the hardware needed to integrate the systems with the ship. LCS Mission Module Program Manager Capt. Casey Moton said Thursday at a Mine Warfare Association lunch that each of his three mission modules is given 105 metric tons of weight on the LCS, but the ASW as it stands today surpasses that limit.

The mission package includes a Variable-Depth Sonar – the Navy chose the Thales UK Sonar 2087, the same VDS used on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate – as well as the Multi-Function Towed Array used on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG-51) and eventually the Zumwalt-class destroyers (DDG-1000). The Navy cannot overhaul either mature system, so it has hired Advanced Acoustic Concepts, L-3 Communications and Raytheon to find more creative ways to reduce weight.

In the early stages of the weight-reduction effort, “we got proposals that ranged from modifying the sensors to reduce weight to things as simple as using composites in the handling system,” Moton said.
“So our initial contract is to three companies, and they will do a transition study for us over the next couple months that will give us a lot more insight.”

Each team will submit a package that brings the mission module to under 105 metric tons, and the Navy will then pick and choose which ideas it likes and use them to build engineering development models. Moton said his office had not decided how many EDMs to build but would make that decision over the next few months.

He said he could not recall how many tons over weight the current ASW package is, but “all three companies proposed schemes that would get us to the weight” and he was confident he could meet the requirement to get onboard a ship.

Also during his speech, Moton said his office was making some minor adjustments to the Lockheed Martin AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire radar-guided missile, which the Navy is adapting for use on the ship. The missile currently launches horizontally from a helicopter, and the Navy is making modifications so it can launch vertically and lock on its target after tipping into a horizontal position post-launch. The new version of the missile will be called the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module and should be fully integrated and ready for deployment by late 2017, according to a Navy statement.

The program office began tests on a research vessel at the end of February against “high-speed maneuvering targets out off the Virginia Capes.” That testing wrapped up in June, and based on the results, the office has to do “some tweaking – it’s really that level, tweaking – to the missile seeker and such.”

Another round of testing on the research vessel will take place in Fiscal Year 2016.

Moton also said his office is currently conducting a technical evaluation of the surface warfare mission package on USS Coronado (LCS-4). The package has already deployed twice, but both times on Freedom-variant LCSs. Coronado is an Independence-variant ship, with the same interfaces for the mission package but a different physical layout. Moton said the evaluation is “going very well.”

* Notícia publicada al US Naval Institute. Sembla que el "think big" continua passant factura a les capacitats de combat de la US Navy. Segurament amb el sistemes modulars que tant bé han funcionat a la Reial Marina Danesa es podria millorar, però prèviament requeriria liquidar la plaga de buròcrates del Pentàgon i els comissionistes que el dessagnen.

dijous, 9 de juliol de 2015

Kongsberg Maritime sonar chosen for Swedish Navy fast patrol boats*

Swede Ship Marine will install new Kongsberg Maritime sonar systems as part of a major rebuild and lifetime extension of five patrol boats for the Swedish Navy. The new sonars will replace the previous model SIMRAD SS576 sonars first installed in 1996 on board the Tapper-class (or Bevakningsbåt 80), with the purpose to protect and patrol Swedish coastal waters.

With 22 meters in length and a displacement of 62 tons, the Tapper-class Fast Patrol Boats operate in extremely shallow water, and require sonars capable of high performance in such environments. The Kongsberg Maritime sonar selected for this upgrade will be used for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Mine and Obstacle detection and Navigation, and is designed for use in shallow water.

"The Swedish Navy is one of the most experienced Navies with regards to operation of sonars in shallow and challenging waters so we are proud to have the preferred sonar solution for protection of the Swedish coastline," said Thomas Hostvedt Dahle, Naval Sonar Product Sales Manager, Kongsberg Maritime.

"Our sonars have acoustic properties specially developed for shallow water and our design is compact in order to enable installation also on very small ships. This supports the ASW tactics of fighting submarines in shallow water with the use of several smaller ships that are equipped with sonars. We look forward to the ship being delivered with upgraded sonars to the Swedish Navy, in less than a year."

The rebuild and lifetime extension project has already started, with the first vessel being prepared for the work in the shipyard.

* Notícia publicada al web de Kongsberg. Un altre exemple de la cooperació nòrdica, en aquest cas, en el camp dels sònars per entorns litorals.

dissabte, 4 de juliol de 2015

INS Viraat to turn into a museum*

Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, July 3

INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier in the world, will soon be converted into a museum.

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) authorities have received an in-principle approval from the Ministry of Defence to convert the Centaur-class aircraft carrier into a museum.

“The Centre has agreed to hand over INS Viraat to the state on the request of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu,” the APTDC executive director Amarendar said.

The warship will be docked at the shores of Kakinada port in coastal Andhra to serve as a tourist attraction. It is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016.

The state government is planning to invest over Rs 20 crore to convert it into a museum without tinkering with is main structure. The museum will be entirely developed and maintained by the government without involving any private player.

Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hermes and was transferred to India in 1987. In April 1986, India had signed an agreement with Britain to acquired HMS Hermes. It was part of the action during the Falklands war in 1982. After refits and new equipment being fitted on Hermes, it was commissioned as INS Viraat on May 12, 1987.

Originally, the aircraft carrier was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2009, but with the INS Vikramaditya’s induction being delayed, Viraat underwent a series of refits and continued its service.

* Notícia publicada a The Tribune. Celebrem que l'INS Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes), un vell guerrer, es pugui preservar com a patrimoni de la Història naval. No és el primer cas però, també es feu amb el primer portaavions indi, l'INS Vikrant (R11).

dilluns, 29 de juny de 2015

If Greece exits the euro, what happens to the US base Souda Bay?*

Stars and Stripes

There has been widespread concern about the consequences for global markets if Greece defaults on its debts and is forced to give up the euro. But how would a tiny American naval base on the island of Crete fare?

The challenges for the base of a Greek exit from the euro would be similar to those of many American companies watching developments in the country, say security and financial consultants.

Greece is in a series of last-minute negotiations with creditors over a deal to avert a looming default on bailout loans from recent years.

Even if a deal is struck by an end-of-the-month deadline, most economists believe this would not solve the country’s underlining financial problems, and a new crisis down the road is likely.

“The potential for chaos and a huge amount of uncertainty and instability is very significant,” Marianna Vintiadis, the managing director for security consultant firm Kroll’s Southern European office, said of a possible Greek default.

Like many overseas American bases, U.S. Naval Activity Souda Bay has hundreds of local employees and contracts with local businesses. American employees live on the local economy and make purchases in euros.

Navy public affairs officials declined to discuss base planning around a possible Greek default, saying they were under strict instructions to refer all matters to the State Department — including unclassified figures such as the number of base employees or the base budget.

A State Department spokeswoman referred to previous White House statements on the issue.

In the event of a default, Greece is expected to drop the euro and replace it with a local currency. Stabilizing that currency, which is expected to immediately fall in value to the euro, would take time, said Naresh Aggarwal, a treasury consultant with PwC.

Because the Greek government will likely close local banks to prevent people from emptying their accounts, businesses typically want more cash at their disposal to make payroll and pay for services.

“What you would want is not to be holding local currency,” Aggarwal said of foreign businesses in Greece. “You would want a foreign currency, whether it’s euros, pound sterling, Swiss francs or U.S. dollars. Or you would want to hold tangible assets.”

For Navy personnel, who have access to U.S. dollars through on-base institutions like Community Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union, access to cash shouldn’t be a problem while a new Greek currency is unavailable.

Whether the base would have an issue paying local employees is less clear. Of Souda Bay’s roughly 900 military and civilian personnel, about 400 are local civilians, according to a military official familiar with the base. Yet its payroll has in the past been made through the Greek government, which then pays the employees, a scheme that could complicate payment in an alternative currency.

Another uncertainty is whether contracts now paid in euros could be switched to the new currency. The base might also worry about the viability of some local service providers, especially smaller businesses that could take a financial hit from the loss of the euro.

“You need to make sure the first group of suppliers you have is resilient,” Aggarwal said of overseas businesses.

That issue, too, could be defused by the fact that the American base is located inside a Hellenic Air Force base, meaning some infrastructure is maintained by the Greek Defense Ministry instead of locals contracted by the U.S.

Social unrest is another concern for foreign businesses operating in Greece, both Aggarwal and Vintiadis agreed. So far, Athens has been the scene of most of the protests and violence surrounding debt negotiations. Aggarwal said that, as symbols of capitalism, larger American companies can become targets in times of financial unrest.

But Vintiadis said the current situation is different because it doesn’t directly involve Americans. Greece’s creditors are European, and Germany in particular has become the target of popular frustration. The U.S. has encouraged any resolution that would keep Greece within the eurozone.

“In this case, would there be anything specifically targeted at Americans? I don’t see it,” she said. “This is not that sort of a crisis; this is not that sort of a problem.”

The likelihood that significant unrest would spread outside Athens depends on how long the Greek government needs to stabilize the currency and return the economy to a sense of normalcy, she added. “What we have at the moment is a situation in flux,” Vintiadis said. “When you’re in a situation in flux, you need to be careful. Things are changing every day.”

* Article publicat a Stars & Stripes. És incerta qualsevol previsió que es faci sobre el futur immediat de Grècia, ara bé, potser a Catalunya algú hauria d'anar pensant alguna contraoferta en cas que la US Navy marxi de Souda Bay.

divendres, 19 de juny de 2015

This infographic gives some interesting details about the four NATO exercises taking place in Eastern Europe*

By David Cenciotti

A series of training events is taking place in eastern Europe.

NATO and regional Allies are involved in a series of training events in eastern Europe that go under the name of Allied Shield.

Allied Shield is a series of exercises that includes:

Exercise NOBLE JUMP, the first training deployment of Allied high-readiness units under the new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) framework.

BALTOPS, a major Allied naval exercise in Poland that sees the involvement of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command’s B-52 Stratofortress bombers deployed to RAF Fairford, in UK, as well as NATO AWACS, US F-16s used as OPFOR (opposing forces), P-3 and P-8 Maritime patrol aircraft, German Tornados, Swedish Gripen and US KC-135 tankers.

SABER STRIKE, a big land exercise with forces scattered across the Baltic States.

TRIDENT JOUST, a NRF (NATO Response Force) command and control exercise in Romania.

According to NATO, approximately 15,000 troops from 19 different allied countries and 3 partner nations are taking part (or about to) in this series of training events whose purposes are “defensive and are a part of NATO’s assurance measures in response to challenges on NATO’s southern and eastern periphery.”

In other words, these are just some of the measures NATO has taken in the region to reassure local allies threatened by Russia.

Click here to open a larger version of the infographic.

Image credit: de Volkskrant

* Infografia publicada a The Aviationist. No hi trobeu a faltar ningú? Segur? Mireu bé. Pista: surt en la notícia anterior.

Dos buques de la Armada rusa hacen escala mañana con más de 200 tripulantes*

Dos buques de la Armada rusa harán escala en el puerto mañana con más de 200 tripulantes a bordo y la previsión de permanecer en la ciudad hasta el próximo martes.

Se trata del ‘Ivan Bubnov’ y del ‘Alexander Shabalin’, un buque de asalto anfibio el primero y otro cisterna, el segundo, que vienen a Ceuta para realizar labores de avituallamiento y que vienen a engordar las escalas que en lo que va de año han realizado los buques rusos, nueve en total. En el caso del ‘Alexander Shabalin’ ya estuvo en Ceuta el pasado enero y ahora regresa para tomar 300 toneladas de gasoil y 150 de agua. Se ha previsto que atraque en el dique de Levante. En el caso del ‘Ivan Bubnov’, se prevé que realice labores de avituallamiento destacando la toma prevista de 3.750 toneladas de gasoil y de agua. Los comercios de la ciudad se preparan para atender a unos tripulantes que se han convertido en fieles y que siempre que visitan la ciudad hacen muestra del alto poder adquisitivo que tienen. Entre los tripulantes que llegan a bordo de los buques hay oficiales, suboficiales y marinería. Tal y como ha destacado la Autoridad Portuaria, con estas llegadas ascienden a 9 las escalas de buques rusos en este año mientras que en 2014 visitaron Ceuta 13 buques con 2.300 tripulantes. “Estos datos confirman el interés de la Armada rusa por el puerto para realizar sus paradas”, explica la Autoridad que resalta también el beneficio económico para los comercios.

*Notícia publicada El Faro Digital. Segur que els aliats de l'OTAN estaran d'allò més contents en saber que Espanya allotja amb tanta devoció les naus russes.

dissabte, 13 de juny de 2015

Russia Disposes of 195 Decommissioned Soviet-Era Nuclear Submarines*

Currently, 195 of the 201 decommissioned submarines have been recycled. The demolition of the rest submarines and 14 technical support vessels is due to be completed by 2020.

Russia’s Rosatom Corporation is nearing to complete the recycling of Soviet-made decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines and support vessels.

Currently, 195 of the 201 decommissioned submarines have been recycled. The demolition of all the decommissioned nuclear submarines and 14 technical support vessels is due to be completed by 2020.

"We have started the recycling of technical support vessels and depot ships. By 2020, we are expected to complete the dismantling and recycling of all 14 support ships decommissioned from the Northern and the Pacific Fleets as well as two Atomflot support ships," Rosatom CEO Sergei Kirienko said during the "70th anniversary of the Russian Atom" forum in Chelyabinsk.

"195 of the 201 submarines have been dismantled and recycled. Six submarines are left. Now we have no vessels standing in queue for dismantling. In 1999, when Rosatom was charged with the disposal there were 120 submarines waiting," Kirienko said.

In 2014, the recycling of the "Volodarsky" depot ship was completed. Now, the dismantling of the "Lepse" depot ship has begun. Within six months, it will have its nuclear fuel removed. Then it will be prepared for wet storage before the disposal.

Kirienko also pointed out that under the "Nuclear radioactive safety 2" program new equipment and technology were developed, including the recycling technology for the uranium-beryllium fuel from project 705 submarines which were equipped with liquid-metal reactors.

The need to recycle nuclear submarines and depot ships emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. At that time, military spending was significantly reduced. More than 200 submarines built in the 1950-1980s, and a large number of support vessels, were decommissioned from the Russian navy.
* Notícia publicada a Sputnik News. Més enllà de que Rússia hagi anat recuperant-se progressivament, la qüestió de la desactivació, desmantellament i reciclatge dels submarins nuclears d'era soviètica, cal que es segueixi.

dijous, 4 de juny de 2015

Chinese Submarines in Sri Lanka Unnerve India: Next Stop Pakistan?

The sighting of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean has unnerved India. A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Song-class conventional submarine along with Changxing Dao, a Type 925 submarine support ship, docked at the Chinese-run Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) in Sri Lanka last September (China Military Online, September 24, 2014). The two vessels made a stopover in Colombo harbor for refueling as well as rest and recuperation for the crew before heading to the Gulf of Aden in support of international efforts to fight piracy (Times of India, November 2, 2014). A few weeks later, a submarine (presumably the same submarine) and the Changxing Dao were again docked in Colombo harbor (Colombo Mirror, November 3, 2014). Reports on the presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean are not new. According to an Indian media report, during December 2013 and February 2014, a Chinese nuclear submarine was deployed in the Indian Ocean on patrol for two months in the (India Today, March 21, 2014). Although details of the submarine deployment are not known, apparently, the Foreign Affairs Office of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense had informed India of plans to send a submarine in the Indian Ocean. Likewise, the United States, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia were also told of the planned PLA visit (India Today, March 21, 2014). It has now emerged that a Chinese nuclear submarine completed a two-month escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and returned to Qingdao, its home port (South China Morning Post, May 3).

India Reacts

The Indian government and analytic community were completely surprised by the presence of Chinese submarines in Colombo harbor, as Indian analysts had predicted Chinese submarines would first dock in Pakistan. The issue came up for clarification by way of a question in the Indian parliament, there were sharp comments from Indian analysts and the Indian media “played up” the visit through public debate on television.

The Minister of State for External Affairs informed the Upper House of the Indian Parliament that a Chinese submarine visited Colombo for “replenishment purposes” and the Sri Lankan government had assured Delhi that it would not do “anything against the security interests of India.” [1] The Indian Navy chief announced that Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean were being continuously monitored and his force was “ready to face any challenge” (Times of India, September 25, 2014). However, the Indian strategic community warned that China was testing the Modi government’s resolve not only on land but also at sea (Times of India, September 28, 2014). Although not connected to his visit, days before President Xi Jinping’s arrival in India, there was a stand-off between the PLA and the Indian Army in the Chumar sector of eastern Ladakh in the Himalayas, where the two sides have a boundary dispute (Hindustan Times, September 16, 2014). A few weeks later, in November 2014, the PLA made a two-pronged incursion into Indian territory in the Himalayas—Chinese boats crossed into Indian waters in the Pangong lake and PLA trucks carrying troops were intercepted five kilometers into Indian territory through the land route in the same area (The Indian Express, November 3, 2014).

These developments generated a public narrative of a heightened “China Threat,” particularly at sea, and Indian TV channels spent more time than normal addressing China issues by hosting a number of strategic and naval experts during prime time (a time of high viewership in India). In response, the Chinese media accused the Indian media of repeatedly trumpeting the submarine threat based on “conjectures” and being “devoid of facts,” which could potentially create more friction between the two countries and “cause unnecessary trouble to the normal military exchanges between China and India” (China Military Online; December 10, 2014).

Response by China

The Chinese riposte to the high-decibel Indian concerns was quick, as a Ministry of National Defense spokesman clarified that the submarine visit to Colombo was a “routine port call” (China Daily, September 26, 2014). China’s foreign ministry spokesperson stated that it is an international practice for warships to call at ports across the globe and resupply (Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MFA], March 2). Also, the port call by the submarine was a “normal and transparent” activity and had the approval of the Sri Lankan government. Further, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson observed that it was her understanding that the “Sri Lankan government holds a policy of supporting international anti-piracy campaign [sic] and welcoming the docking of vessels from any friendly country in its ports” and it welcomes warships from friendly countries, including China (MFA, March 2).

Sri Lanka Engages in Damage Control

The Sri Lankan government defended the submarine visit and stated that 230 foreign warships had called at Colombo port for refueling and crew recuperation since 2010 (Xinhua, November 3, 2014). The Sri Lankan Navy chief denied that there was any Chinese military presence in his country and said they “will never compromise on the national security of India” (The Sunday Times; October 27, 2014). The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority dismissed Indian unease and stated that the Chinese submarine docked at the CICT because the berth had the required depth of 18 meters unlike other berths, which are only 14.7 meters deep (The Sunday Times, October 19, 2014).

In March, just prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Colombo, the Sri Lankan cabinet decided to suspend the controversial $1.4 billion CICT project; but a few days later, President Maithripala Sirisena met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing and clarified that the “problem does not lie with Chinese side and hoped to continue with the project after things are sorted out.” (DNA, March 26). Sri Lanka is caught between the two rising Asian powers—India, a neighbor with whom it has strong civilizational ties; and China, an all-weather friend, strategic partner and a major investor in the country—and appears to exercise autonomy in the conduct of its foreign policy (Caixin, March 10).

Why Were Chinese Submarines in the Indian Ocean?

The above narrative merits an important question—what prompts China to deploy submarines in the Indian Ocean? At the strategic level, it helps China to showcase its blue water capability. Since 2008, the PLAN has dispatched 20 task forces to the Gulf of Aden in support of antipiracy patrols, comprising of destroyers, frigates, replenishment ships and, occasionally, amphibious vessels. Beijing’s naval forces have escorted 6,000 Chinese and foreign ships (China Daily, January 16). These deployments tested the PLAN’s ability to undertake sustained far seas operations, expeditionary missions and humanitarian tasks, such as the evacuation of Chinese nationals from Libya and Yemen (see China Brief, April 3). The search-and-rescue operation for the ill-fated flight MH 370, in which 217 Chinese nationals perished, further showcased the Navy’s ability to operate in the Southern Indian Ocean. Chinese scholars have argued that the PLAN is in the Indian Ocean for safeguarding national interests and performing its international duties as well as to to “ensure freedom of navigation, a fundamental principle of international law” (China Military Online, April 10).

There are mixed reports about the quality and stealth of Chinese submarines. The Han-class submarines are reported to be noisy and “unlikely to pose any real threat” to other submarines (South China Morning Post, May 3). For instance, in 1994, a Chinese Han-class submarine was caught stalking the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in the Yellow Sea (see China Brief, November 22, 2006). The Kilo-, Yuan- and Song-class conventional submarines are stated to be quiet. However, the PLAN has tested its submarines against the U.S. Navy and appears to have been quite successful. In 2006, a Chinese Song-class conventional submarine surfaced close to the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.

It is also important to recall a 2009 incident involving the PLAN (destroyers Haikou and Wuhan) and an Indian submarine. According to the Chinese media, an Indian submarine trailed the Chinese ships as they entered the Indian Ocean on their way to the Gulf of Aden, but they were successful in forcing the Indian submarine to surface, after which it left (South China Morning Post, February 4, 2009). However, the Indian Navy denied that any of its submarines had “surfaced in the Gulf of Aden region as reported in a section of the Chinese media” (The Hindu, February 4, 2009). This February, a Chinese military official stated that China will continue to send “different kinds of naval ships to take part in escort missions in accordance with the situation and need” (Want China Times, February 3).

Where Else Will Chinese Submarines Dock in the Indian Ocean Region?

Unlike the Han-class nuclear submarines, Chinese conventional submarines would necessarily require logistic and technological support in the Indian Ocean, and Indian analysts assess that the most likely countries in the region to support Chinese submarines are Pakistan and Iran. China has supplied to Pakistan a number of naval platforms and transferred technology for building frigates and missile vessels. Pakistan has had regular exchanges of high-level delegations, and the PLAN has provided training to Pakistani naval personnel (China News, March 26). Further, the PLAN has participated in joint and multilateral naval exercises, such as the annual Aman series held since 2007 in the Arabian Sea (Xinhua, March 12, 2007).

During the visit to China this March by Muhammad Zakaullah, the chief of Pakistan’s navy, General Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, urged both sides to “enhance coordination and cooperation” on regional security issues. He also assured that China was willing “to deepen cooperation with Pakistan in anti-terrorism, maritime security and military technology” (Economic Times, March 26).

Pakistan was originally interested in buying Chinese submarines, but it acquired three Agosta-90B submarines between 1999 and2006 from France due to a number of technological considerations. There was speculation that President Xi might announce the sale of eight Chinese submarines to Pakistan during his visit last month; however, a Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman did not confirm if discussions on the submarine sale took place (Bloomberg, April 18). Interestingly, India is unlikely to be deterred if Pakistan acquires Chinese submarines, as the Indian defense minister has stated that by the time France supplies the submarines to Islamabad, India would have built 15 to 20 submarines (The Hindu, April 18).

Iran is another possible candidate to support Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. The Iranian Navy operates three Kilo-class submarines acquired from Russia, and it also has indigenous capability to build submarines. Iran can offer both logistic and technical assistance for the repair and maintenance for the Chinese submarines operating in the Indian Ocean. Their navies engaged in naval exercises during the visit by two ships of the 17th escort taskforce in September 2014 (China Military Online, September 23, 2014).


Since the sighting of the Chinese submarines in Colombo, the Indian strategic community has upped the ante and argued that China has successfully challenged Indian naval supremacy in its backyard. The Indian Navy has closely followed the Chinese submarine deployments in the Indian Ocean. It is already building newer conventional and nuclear attack, and the construction of anti-submarine warfare ships is being sped up. The newly acquired P-8I maritime patrol aircraft (similar to the US Navy P-8A) are fitted with a number of modern sensors and anti-submarine weapons that should allow India to counter China’s growing naval presence in the IOR (Times of India, May 18). These developments have significantly augmented the Indian Navy’s maritime surveillance, reconnaissance and combat capabilities to detect Chinese submarines. In light of these events, Chinese submarines will continue to make forays into the IOR and expand the PLAN’s operational environment, which is certain to cause further alarm in India.

[The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the policy or position of the National Maritime Foundation.]

Rajya Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 516, “Chinese submarines docked in Sri Lankan port,” November 27, 2014.
Vijay Sakhuja, “Submarines in Pakistan’s Naval Strategy,” South Asia Defence and Strategic Review, February 8, 2010.

* Article publicat al China Brief. Un pas més de la consolidació de posicions de la Xina, en aquest cas a l'Índic. Si algú es pensava que el suport xinès contra la insurgència tàmil sortiria gratis, aquí té la resposta.

dilluns, 1 de juny de 2015

Sweden is fighting intruders, naked*

The thought of submarine chases off the Swedish coast may sound a tad dramatic, the stuff of cold warrior fantasies. But after two rumored sightings of Russian submarines in the country’s Scandinavian waters this fall, those fantasies have become all too real.

Swedish Armed Forces were tipped off to the presence of the first submarine on October 17, but called off their search a week later after failing to find enough evidence — it had already snuck away. On October 31, they began searching for a second foreign submarine, but only this month has conclusive evidence surfaced: On May 15, five independent witnesses came forward to say that they spotted a submarine very close to Stockholm on October 31 last year. That dramatically raises the stakes in Sweden’s hunt for aquatic intruders.

The witnesses — local residents with marine experience — described their sightings to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. Their reports of a submarine sighting on October 31, near the suburb of Lidingö and thus much closer to Stockholm than the October 17 submarine, contradict the armed forces, who maintain that the object was a white plastic boat.

Sverker Göranson, supreme commander of the Swedish armed forces, now finds himself in a predicament. He can maintain the armed forces line that the witnesses are mistaken, or he can choose to believe the witnesses, which would raise the question of why the submarine was able to get so close to Stockholm. The Russian media, meanwhile, is already poking fun at what it labels Swedish military incompetence.

“It’s almost impossible to keep mini-submarines out,” notes Tomas Ries, a lecturer in strategy and security policy at the Swedish Defense College. “That would require rebuilding the whole coastal defense system that the armed forces decimated after the 1990s, especially sensor lines and helicopters.” Russian nuclear submarines are usually tailed by the US Navy, and vice versa, while smaller subs are not.

At the end of the Cold War, Swedish submarine hunters commanded an arsenal featuring depth charges, torpedoes, and anti-submarine-warfare grenades, and surface submarine hunters were aided by a large number of helicopters, which easily spot movements in the water. Now, however, “we’ve got rid of our more modern weapons,” says Göran Frisk, a naval commander and top submarine hunter until his retirement 12 years ago. “The Russians can do whatever they like in Swedish waters as long as they’re not careless, because in that case a Swedish warship can shoot and disable them.”

Following a series of budget cuts starting the late 1990s, the naval commandos defending Sweden’s 2,700-kilometer coastline find themselves rather modestly equipped in the fight against underwater intruders, with just seven torpedo-armed corvettes (small warships), four submarines and one marine battalion. In March, the government announced an ambitious naval investment program that includes the purchase of two new submarines and the upgrade of existing corvettes. But that process will take years.

“Today we’re naked,” says retired Admiral Nils-Ove Jansson, a top submarine hunter in Swedish antisubmarine operations during the 1980s and 1990s. “The little equipment we have is good, but otherwise the situation is dreadful. The risks involved with intruding into Swedish waters are so negligible that the biggest risk facing a sub is that it has an accident.”

That is what happened to the Soviet Whiskey-class submarine U-137, which ran aground close to a Swedish naval base in 1981, an incident known as Whiskey on the Rocks. On October 27 that year, local fishermen discovered the submarine, stuck on a rock, and raised the alarm. The sailors, on an espionage mission off the Swedish coast, had misjudged its tricky waters. Though they all survived the accident, it led to a high-stakes diplomatic drama that ended when the Swedish navy escorted the submarine out of Swedish water 10 days later. After that scare Sweden hastily beefed up its submarine-hunting abilities, increasing both equipment and crew training.

And while Sweden’s navy boasts several modern ships and submarines, its sailors haven’t had much submarine-hunting practice since the 1990s. Finding an intruding submarine is harder than it sounds off the Swedish coast, whose archipelagos offer intruders countless hiding places. Philip Simon, a spokesman for the armed forces, is certain, however, that unwelcome guests will be caught. “We can discover an intruding submarine and get it to stop its activity,” he says. “The armed forces have no intention of disabling an intruder but want him to give up his unlawful activity.”

Not unexpectedly, the armed forces maintain that their navy is well-equipped for submarine hunts. “Regarding systems and their abilities, we’re well-equipped, probably the best in the world when it comes to advanced submarine-hunting in shallow waters,” says Simon. “We have weapons and systems to detect and fight intruding submarines both inside and outside our archipelagos.” But, adds Simon, reductions in the number of systems and vessels have had an effect on the navy’s ability to hunt for submarines in a larger area or over a longer period of time.

“The vast majority of security researchers believe that the intrusions are Russian under-water activities,” notes Ries. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the number of submarine intrusions in Swedish waters dropped, but started growing again in 2000. Independent naval experts report that the Russian navy uses mini-submarines in the Baltic to spy on Swedish, Finnish and NATO activities. It’s no secret that the Russian signals-intelligence ship Fyodor Golovin also gathers information in the Baltic Sea, and doing so in international waters is not illegal. Russia’s military attaché in Stockholm, Colonel Vladimir Ermachkov, did not respond to a request for comment. Following massive military cuts in the 1990s, Russia is now half-way through a $700 billionmodernization plan.

Jansson, who’s also a former deputy director of the Swedish military intelligence agency, MUST, and a leading authority on Russian military espionage, argues that the Soviet Union’s snooping on its largest Scandinavian neighbor has returned in Russian guise, with an undeniable logic to it. “The Russians suspect that Sweden and Finland are not really independent of NATO,” he explains. “With their submarine activities, they’re preparing to put nuclear mines in Swedish locations likely to host NATO naval units. And their TU-22M supersonic bomber airplanes that fly towards Swedish airspace are testing the course of their missiles, which they’d direct against locations that may host NATO air force units.”

As Captain Marko Ramius says in the Cold War-era thriller “The Hunt for Red October”: “Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary.”

The Russian assumption is, of course, right on target: Though officially non-aligned, Sweden cooperates closely with NATO. A Russian air incursion on May 21 is reported to have targeted a state-of-the-art southern Swedish airbase recently used by the Nordic Battle Group, which includes several NATO members. Until reinforcements arrive, the Swedish navy will have no choice but to keep vigilantly patrolling its waters, hoping that unwelcome guests will do themselves in.

Elisabeth Braw is a correspondent for Newsweek, which she joined following a fellowship at the University of Oxford.

* Article publicat a Politico.eu . No és el primer cop que surten notícies assenyalant la debilitat de la defensa de Suècia. Com veiem altra vegada, el buit estratègic acostuma a omplir-se.

dilluns, 18 de maig de 2015

With Fourth 'Submarine-Killer' Corvette, China Makes ASW Headway*

By Ankit Panda
May 17, 2015

On May 6, China commissioned its fourth anti-submarine warfare (ASW) optimized Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette, the Huangshi. The Huangshi will join the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) North Sea Fleet as the most advanced PLAN ASW corvette. Since November 2014, China has commissioned two other Jiangdao-class ASW variants, including the Sanmenxia on November 13, 2014 for the East Sea Fleet and Zhuzhou on November 28, 2014 for the South Sea Fleet. The Diplomat reported on the inaugural Type 056 variant last November.

The 1,500-tonne displacement corvettes mark an important step in the PLAN’s ASW capabilities, an area that several analysts have noted as a weakness for China. The ASW variant Jiangdao-class ships feature four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles for surface warfare, and two triple-tube torpedo launchers, according to a report by IHS Jane’s Navy International. Additionally, the corvette’s flight deck allows for the operation of a single Z-9C helicopter (though limited maintenance facilities constrain the length and complexity of any helicopter operations).

What differentiates the ASW variants from the the 17 Jiangdao-class frigates that precede them is the inclusion of a towed array and variable depth sonar system. The inclusion of these systems indicates a focus on anti-submarine operations. China begin inaugurating its Type 056 Corvettes in 2012, and is building variants of the corvette for export. Early customers include Bangladesh, Thailand, and Nigeria.

As analysts, including The Diplomat‘s Robert Farley, have noted, anti-submarine warfare shot up the list of priorities for the PLAN over the last 24 months. In fact, one of the main tells of the PLAN’s “blue water” ambition is seen in its bid to bolster its ASW capabilities — coastal navies generally invest less into ASW capabilities compared to their expeditionary counterparts, who may find themselves on far-flung missions facing variable threats, including submarines. China’s focus on anti-access/area-denial systems was primarily intended to secure an asymmetric advantage for the PLA over a foe with greater conventional offensive strength (such as the United States).

With its new ASW focus, the PLAN is gearing up to offset threats from non-nuclear attack submarines in the East and South China Seas. Southeast Asia, for example, is currently undergoing what some have called a “proliferation” phase where submarine fleets are growing across the board. Vietnam, a claimant state to the Spratly Islands, is in the process of incorporating Russian diesel-electric improved Kilo-class submarines into its navy, posing a potential threat to China (see: “Vietnam’s China Challenge: Making Asymmetric Deterrence Work“). Submarines are seen as a worthwhile investment for smaller states fearing the prospect of a more assertive Chinese navy and coast guard. In reckoning with a South China Sea that is growing increasingly crowded with Chinese grey- and white-hull vessels, submarines are a stealthy and capable option.

Beyond the Type 056 ASW variant, China’s ASW capabilities are limited to its Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft and underwater acoustic sensors. The latter are primarily restricted to coastal use (though China’s South China Sea construction spree could lead to an expansion of its acoustic sensors into the Spratlys and Paracels, improving its anti-submarine capabilities).

* Article publicat a The Diplomat. La producció en sèrie les corbetes 056A demostren que la Xina és plenament conscient del seu put feble: les capacitats anti-submarines. La US Navy faria bé de plantejar-se d'una vegada per totes tornar a disposar de naus de propulsió convencional, però amb sistemes AIP, si no vol tenir sorpreses desagradables. 

dimecres, 6 de maig de 2015

Nato partners start anti-submarine warfare exercise off Norwegian coast*

Naval forces from approximately ten Nato allies and Sweden have commenced a large-scale anti-submarine warfare exercise off the coast of Norway.
Code-named Dynamic Mongoose, the annual exercise involves four submarines from Germany, Norway, Sweden and the US, alongside 13 surface ships from Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey, as well as the UK and the US.
In addition, two research vessels, one Norwegian and one Nato-owned, are participating in the exercise, which focuses on detecting and defending against submarines.
The drill aims to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare skills.
During the two-week exercise, the participating vessels will conduct a variety of anti-submarine warfare operations, ranging from warships against submarine scenarios, submarine against submarine scenarios and aircraft against submarines scenarios.
The submarines will take turns trying to approach and target the ships undetected, simulating an attack.
"It will allow us to exercise our anti-submarine warfare capabilities in a complex and challenging environment."
Standing Nato Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) commander rear admiral Brad Williamson said: "Exercise Dynamic Mongoose is a great training opportunity for SNMG2 ships that will allow us to further integrate with other Nato forces to enhance our interoperability and ability to effectively respond to potential submarine threats to our Nato allies.
"It will allow us to exercise our anti-submarine warfare capabilities in a complex and challenging environment."
Norwegian fleet commander commodore Ole Morten Sandquist said: "The presence of Nato in Norwegian waters will enhance interoperability and will allow Nato to familiarise with Norwegian waters."
As the host nation, Norway is providing support from the Haakonsvern Naval Base and the Sola Air Base, located near Bergen, while France and Germany have also deployed maritime patrol aircraft for the exercise.
Exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2015 is scheduled to conclude on 14 May.

*Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Sembla que les sorpreses de la darrera tardor han fet que Suècia s'incorpori als exercicis ASW de l'OTAN. Sigui com sigui, a uns i altres els hi interessa no oblidar aquesta tasca cabdal de la guerra naval.

dissabte, 2 de maig de 2015

Chinese and Russian Navies to Conduct First Ever Mediterranean Surface Exercises in May

Joint Sea 2015-I will be the first time the two navies have trained in the Mediterranean and is a sign of deepening military-to-military cooperation between Russia and China.

“The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the pragmatic cooperation between China and Russia and to improve the capabilities of the two navies to deal with maritime threats,” said ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng on Thursday.
“What needs to be stressed is that, the joint exercise is not targeting any third party and not related to the regional situation.”

The exercises were announced in November following a meeting between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing.

Following the meeting, Shoigu said U.S. rebalance to the Pacific was a primary concern of both countries.
“We believe that the main goal of pooling our effort is to shape a collective regional security system,” according to the Russian TASS news agency.
“We also expressed concern over U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political clout in the [Asia-Pacific Region].”

China plans to send the Type 54A Jiangkai II frigates Linyi, Weifang and fleet oiler Weishanhu —currently performing merchant convoy duty off of the Gulf of Aden — to the exercise, Geng said.

It’s unclear what assets Russia will send.

“The drilling items in the exercise include maritime defense, maritime replenishment, escort actions, joint operations to safeguard navigation security as well as real weapon firing drill,” he said.

In addition to the Mediterranean exercise, China and Russia committed to a Pacific exercise later in 2015.

Since the forced annexation of Crimea and a souring relationship with the West, Russia has flexed its surface muscle more in the last year sending more ships further afield than it has in decades — including sending the guided missile cruiser Moscow (or Moskva) to conduct live fire drills in the South China Sea.

Likewise, China continues to venture beyond its regional waters conducting anti-piracy missions near Somalia and drilling with the Iranian Navy.

China and Russia began a regular exercise schedule in 2012 and have since drilled in the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea.

* Notícia publicada al US Naval Institute. Com us avançavem fa uns mesos, els exercicis conjunts de Rússia i la Xina a la Mediterrància tiren endavant. Una recordatori més que els buits estratègics, sempre acaben omplint-se.

dimecres, 29 d’abril de 2015


El submarí català, gràcies al suport francès, ja pot operar amb normalitat

La setmana passada el submarí científic ICTINEU3 va iniciar les seves primeres proves i immersions al mar, al costat del Cap Ferrat. Les immersions continuaran aquesta setmana amb l'entrenament dels pilots i amb immersions científiques amb els investigadors de l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV).

Els dies 21, 22 i 23 d'abril es van realitzar 11 immersions, començant per 18m, continuant per 50m i se’n va arribar a fer una a 93 metres de profunditat. Aquestes immersions formen part del pla de certificació del submarí. Un cop acabades s'ha obtingut el permís de navegació en aigües franceses. D'aquesta manera l'ICTINEU3 inicia la seva activitat científica al servei de la ciència i de la humanitat.

Aquestes són les primeres d'una sèrie d'immersions que es pretenen realitzar més endavant al canó de Villefranche fins a 1.000 metres de profunditat, amb l'objectiu d'estudiar la profunditat a la qual es troben les meduses durant el dia. Alguns tipus de meduses són migratòries dia-nit; quan es fa fosc pugen fins a la superfície i de dia emigren a les profunditats.

Aquesta fita tant important ha estat possible gràcies a la col·laboració entre l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV) que depèn de la universitat Pierre et Marie Curie de França, la Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Nice Côte d’Azur, concessionari del port de Villefranche-Darse, la societat DARK PELICAN i Ictineu Submarins SL.

De la mateixa manera volem destacar les aportacions rebudes durant la última campanya de mecenatge, oberta a la web de l’Ictineu per aconseguir l'equipament científic i de navegació necessari per portar a termer les primeres immersions científiques. Encara falta assolir el total de 60.000€ per acabar d’obtenir la qualificació fins als 1.000 metres de profunditat.

Podeu continuar fent les vostres aportacions a: http://www.ictineu.net/patrocini/donacions/

* Nota de premsa publicada per Ictineu Submarins. Malgrat que hagi de ser a França, celebren que el projecte Ictineu segueixi avançant. Felicitem el seu equip per la seva perseverança i talent.

dilluns, 27 d’abril de 2015

Israel's hidden depths*

Israel has quietly become a submarine superpower. The Navy's transition into a long-term strategic arm is currently taking place, making this branch of the armed forces of crucial importance to Israel's national security and deterrent capability, with its option to go further, deeper and more quietly, and for extended periods.

A few months ago, the Navy received its fourth submarine, INS Tanin (crocodile), a German-built Dolphin class submarine. And, if all goes well, the fifth submarine, INS Rahav, is expected to arrive in Israel in about six months.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, "Armed with nuclear weapons, the submarines are a signal to any enemy that the Jewish state itself would not be totally defenseless in the event of a nuclear attack, but could strike back with the ultimate weapon of retaliation."

The sixth submarine, as yet nameless, will be added to the fleet in 2019 at an estimated cost of some $500 million – Israel's most expensive ever tool of war. Only history will judge whether all six subs were necessary, coming at the expense of replacing the Navy's aging warships. But for now, at their home in Haifa port, the new operations base is already in use, the INS Tanin is becoming operational and awaits her two sisters from the new AIP series of Dolphin submarines.

The Navy talks in terms of a quantum leap, providing the most advanced capabilities in the fields of discovery, communication and combat. The new subs also possess greater ability to remain submerged, thanks to a system that is independent of the outside air, thereby eliminating the need to cruise at a lesser depth, which may expose them. This expansion allows the Navy to operate in multiple arenas simultaneously.

"The new submarines know how to dive deeper, further, and for longer, and operate with greater power than we are used to," says the commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg. As one naval officer puts it, "They changed the rules of the game."

Israel revising its defense strategy, in light of the imminent nuclear agreement with Iran and a downturn in air strike capabilities due to Russia's sale to Iran of missile defense systems.

Increasing importance is being placed an enhanced maritime arm, which can operate in multiple arenas - and exercise Israel's alleged second strike capabilities if the country comes under nuclear attack.

The new submarines are reported to posses such advanced capabilities, and are armed with missiles manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and adapted to Israeli needs at the planning stage in Germany.

"INS Tanin is not just a force multiplier, but a clear statement about Israel's intentions to tirelessly uphold, preserve and enhance its deterrent capability at sea," says Rothberg.

In this context, the defense establishment is currently holding an in-depth debate (although this is not the place to elaborate further), on striking a balance in the allocation of resources between Air Force jets that could attack Iran and the capabilities of the naval branch.

The final and most important consideration is a quality team. In an age when the army is fighting over every young genius, when the army increasingly depends on cyber intelligence units such as 8200, the task of recruiting soldiers to the Seventh Flotilla becomes more difficult.

This is exacerbated by the dearth of young soldiers eager to serve deep underwater, sometimes cut off from family and friends and the real world for weeks on end. In fact, the search for naval recruits is almost as complex the submarines they will operate.

*Notícia publicada a Ynet News. Publiquem aquesta peça periodística per donar una imatge general de l'arma submarina israeliana.