Tag Archives: eternal patrol

RAN getting into the SSN Game, apparently

The Royal Australian Navy Submarine Service has been around since 1964 but the Ozzies have been running subs going back to the Great War-era British E class submarines AE1 and AE2, which we have covered here on a Warship Wednesday.

Besides the Es, the Australians operated a half-dozen J-class boats in WWI, two O-class boats in the 1920s, and eight British Oberon-class submarines through the Cold War.

Barbecue on top of HMAS Onslow, a diesel submarine operated by Australia’s Navy from 1968 to 1999.

Today, they have the half dozen controversial (but Australian-built!) Collins-class submarines in service that are aging out.

Collins-class submarines conducting exercises northwest of Rottnest Island 2019

Driven by political pressure against nuclear-powered subs– both Australia and New Zealand have had issues with American “N” prefixes visiting in past years– Canberra signed a contract for a dozen planned Attack-class SSKs from France in a competition that saw both German and Japanese designs come up in a close tie for second place.

However, with the French boats not being able to get operational into some time in the mid-2030s, the Australians are scrapping the stalled French contract and going with a program with the U.S. and Royal Navy to field SSNs.

The AUKUS program is ambitious to say the least. 

RAN’s official statement, with a lot more detail than you get elsewhere: 

The submarines will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, where French company Naval Group was to construct the soon-to-be canceled submarines, which is a heavy lift for sure, but not insurmountable. 

As SUBSCOL in New London is very good at what they do at training Nuclear Program submariners, and the production line for the Virginia-class boats is white-hot, it is likely something that could be done inside the decade with some sort of technology sharing program similar to how Australian acquired their FFG-7 frigates in the 1980s, provided the RAN can cough up enough submariners (they have a problem staffing their boats now as it is) as well as the cash and political will.

If a Virginia-class variant is chosen, perhaps one could be hot-loaned from COMSUBPAC, with a cadre of specialists aboard, to the Australians for a couple years as a training boat while theirs are being constructed. 

Can Canberra buy and man 12 boats? Doubtful, but a 4+1 hull program with one boat in a maintenance period and the four active subs, perhaps with rotating blue/red crews, could provide a lot of snorkel.

Plus, it could see American SSNs based in Western Australia on a running basis, which is something that has never happened. Of course, the precedent is there, as 122 American, 31 British, and 11 Dutch subs conducted patrols from Fremantle and Brisbane between 1942 and 1945 while the Royal Navy’s 4th Submarine Flotilla was based in Sydney from 1949 until 1969.

Of course, the French, who have been chasing this hole in the ocean for five years, are going to raise hell over this. 

The “breakup statement” of French Naval Group with Australia Attack class submarine deal…no mention of them being overpriced, overdue and under delivery.

Meanwhile, off Korea

In related Pacific submarine news, the South Koreans successfully fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday, just hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea.

The ROKN boat, likely the new ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho (SS-083), which just commissioned in August, fired the indigenous Hyunmoo conventional warhead SLBM, of which not much is known. The 3,700-ton Changho-class, of which nine are planned, have six VLS silos for such missiles in addition to their torpedo tubes.

Malyutka 96, Found on Eternal Patrol

The Russian Geographical Society has recently confirmed the location of the Soviet Series XII M (Malyutka/малютка = “baby”) class submarine M-96.

Built at plant No. 112 Krasnoe Sormovo, Gorky, in six sections, the small (250-tons submerged, 123-foot oal, 2×21 inch tubes) “Baltic” style submarine commissioned 12 December 1939 in that odd period in which the Russians were only fighting Finland in the Winter War while co-occupying Poland with allied Nazi Germany.

Her actual WWII service with the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was lackluster, firing torpedos at and missing a series of at least three different Axis ships in 1942. Notably, one of her early skippers was Alexander Marinesko, the somewhat infamous captain of submarine S-13 which sank the German military transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, sending 9,400 to a watery grave. 

However, even while Marinesko had moved on to a bigger, better command, M-96 was already on the bottom, lost with all hands in September 1944 on a mission to reconnoiter German minefields in Narva Bay.

M-96 lies in the northern part of Narva Bay at a depth of 42 meters. Inspection showed that the ship was destroyed on the surface, probably during the night charging of the batteries. The engine telegraph on the bridge shows the command “Full ahead”, the rudder is turned to the right, the upper conning tower hatch is open. A mine explosion occurred under the bow of the boat, breaking the hull.

Here’s the footage of divers at the sub, seen for the first time since 1944.

HMS Urge, found on eternal patrol

HMS Urge, IWM FL 3433

Commissioned 12 December 1940, the British U-class submarine HMS Urge (N 17) served in World War II throughout 1941, seeing extensive action in the Med. Over the course of 20 patrols, she proved a one-submarine wrecking crew to the Italian Navy, sinking the Giussano-class light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere as well as extensively damaging the cruiser Bolzano and battleship Vittorio Veneto.

On 27 April 1942, the 16-month-old Urge left Malta en route to Alexandria but failed to arrive on schedule and was reported overdue on 7 May. Her crew, commanded by LCDR Edward Philip Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN, was never heard from again.

Her shield, which had been landed prior to shipping out, is currently on display at The Register Office in Bridgend, Wales. The town, which contributed around £300,000 to the war, had adopted HMS Urge as part of national “Warship Week” in 1941.

HM Submarine Urge was discovered in a search conducted by staff from the University of Malta just off Malta’s Grand Harbour, where she apparently was destroyed on the surface by a mine. In addition to her 32 crewmembers, she had been carrying 11 other naval personnel and a journalist.

More here.

 

USS S-28 and HMAS AE1, checking in from eternal patrol

USS S-28 (SS-133) Photographed during the 1920s or 1930s. U.S. Submarine, S-28. NH 42689

An S-1 class submarine missing since 1944 has been located.

Commissioned 13 December 1923, S-28 spent much of her career on the West Coast and, when war came in 1941, moved to Alaskan waters where she was very active, completing several war patrols in the hazardous waters of the Bering Sea. Then came an ordinary day in July…

According to DANFS:

On J3 July, she began training operations off Oahu with the Coast Guard cutter Reliance, The antisubmarine warfare exercises continued into the evening of the 4th. At 1730, the day’s concluding exercise began. Contact between the two became sporadic and, at 1820, the last, brief contact with S-28 was made and lost. All attempts to establish communications failed. Assistance arrived from Pearl Harbor, but a thorough search of the area failed to locate the submarine. Two days later, a diesel oil slick appeared in the area where she had been operating, but the extreme depth exceeded the range of available equipment. A Court of Inquiry was unable to determine the cause of the loss of S-28.

S-28 was awarded one battle star for her services in World War II and has been marked on eternal patrol since then.

However, according to The Lost 52 Project (named after the 52 missing U.S. submarines from WWII), they have found her in the very deep regions of the Pacific’s cold embrace.

On September 20th, 2017, a team led by noted award-winning explorer Tim Taylor, supported by STEP Ventures LLC and carrying Explorers Club Flag #80, discovered the remains of the WWII submarine lost in over 2600 meters (8500 feet) of water off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Based on preliminary video and other documentation, the team currently speculates that the sub suffered a hull failure that resulted in the eventual separation of the bow, causing a near-instant loss. She is the final resting place of 49 US sailors.

More on S-28, here

AE-1

HMAS AE-1, an the E-Class submarine manned by the Royal Australian Navy was the first submarine to serve in the RAN but was lost at sea with all the crew near East New Britain, Papua New Guinea on the 14th September 1914, after less than seven months in service. The cause of the loss has remained a mystery.

Since 1976, 13 search missions have attempted to locate the wreck. The submarine has finally been found near the Duke of York Islands. The men of AE1 are commemorated in the “Book of Remembrance” kept in the Submarine Memorial Chapel in Fort Blockhouse.

The names of the crew are listed in the “Area of Remembrance” at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport. There is also a small dedicated memorial to the Australian Submarines AE1 & AE2 (the latter a Warship Wednesday alum) in the Fieldhouse Building at the Submarine Museum.

However, as noted by the Australian Department of Defense, AE-1 is lost no more after 103-years.

“The Royal Australian Navy teamed up with a range of search groups in this latest expedition, funded by the Commonwealth Government and the Silentworld Foundation, with assistance from the Submarine Institute of Australia, the Australian National Maritime Museum, Fugro Survey and the Papua New Guinea Government. The expedition was embarked on the survey ship Fugro Equator which is equipped with advanced search technology.”

More on AE-1 here.