A Jap sub

Ludwig von Gress

Nothing is simple in the defence procurement, even setting aside the ubiquitous bribes of the highest magnitude of sophistication, superior quality and quantity. If only our submarines were as undetectable as the bribes! But that boils down to the will to detect; and, as far as the corruption is concerned, there are no willing.

My position on a preferable “future” submarine for Australia has been clear and consistent since my Maritime Will, first published in July/September 2009 issue of The Navy, the magazine of the Navy League of Australia and later, in March 2010 as “Will and Vision” in Headmark, the journal of The Australian Naval Institute. On Fog of Chaos it appeared on 14-09-2011. Unfortunately, there is still no will to defend Australia in any but token manner. The politicians speechify and soldiers, airmen and sailors on active service are either too career-minded or too indifferent to speak up. Australia seems forever destined to play a third fiddle to whomever promises to secure the decision makers’ pensions.

Not long ago we were treated to an apology of sorts for the Collins class submarines debacle. For example, last September, Chief of Navy Ray Griggs said: “The Collins Class submarine remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world. There has been significant improvement in submarine availability over the last 15 months.” Perhaps. My impression is that the Left leaning military experts are more concerned with protection of the unionised workers, than with the protection of Australia. (see Fog of Chaos – Strictly Surface Submarines). Predictably, some blame the Navy for demanding too many modifications, others the workmanship.

Now there is a talk about buying Made in Japan. Collins subs could be replaced by the Japanese Soryu class ones. The 4,200-ton Soryu, or Blue Dragon, is the world’s largest diesel-electric submarine, jointly built by Mitsubishi Heavy soryuIndustries Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. The vessels are driven by an ultra-quiet air-independent propulsion system that allows them to operate underwater for almost two weeks at a time, and allegedly can travel for up to 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles) before having to return to base. The Sydney – Shanghai distance as a cruise missile flies is 7,772 km (4,829 miles). The Chinese would be safe even from a future vassal navy visit.

The deal, according to the Wall Street Journal experts, “ risks stoking regional tensions since it positions Tokyo as a major guarantor of Australia’s security as relations between China and some of its neighbours, including Japan, remain strained.” The strain between those of China’s neighbours which do not dance to the Chinese politburo bullying whistle, is entirely China-created. Presumably Germany, building submarines for Israeli navy, is a major guarantor of Israel’s security.

Specifications according to Wikipedia
Displacement: Surfaced: 2,900 tonnes (2,854 long tons)
Submerged: 4,200 t (4,134 long tons)
Length: 84.0 m (275 ftin)
Beam: 9.1 m (29 ft 10 in)
Draught: 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Depth: 500m
Propulsion: 1-shaft 2× Kawasaki 1225/25 SB-type diesel engines diesel-electric
4× Kawasaki Kockums V4-275R Stirling engines
3,900 hp (2,900 kW) surfaced
8,000 hp (6,000 kW) submerged
Speed: Surfaced: 13 kn (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Submerged: 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Range: AIP endurance (est.): 6100 nautical miles (11297.2 km; 7060.75 miles) at 6.5 knots (12 km/h; 7.48 mp/h)
Complement: 65 (9 officers, 56 enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems:
ZPS-6F surface/low-level air search radar
Hughes/Oki ZQQ-7 Sonar suite: 1× bow-array, 4× LF flank arrays and 1× Towed array sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
ZLR-3-6 ESM equipment
2× 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)
Armament: 6×HU-606 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for:
1.) Type 89 torpedoes
2.) UGM-84 Harpoon

Predictably, the Labor Opposition Leader Comrade Shorten is not happy. Addressing a rally of workers from the Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide he told workers the nation’s defence capabilities relied upon skilled workers as well as soldiers, “Australia’s security relies on four uniforms: Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence contractor, which is you,” … “If we fight we will win, and when we get rid of the rotten Abbott Government we will build our submarines in Australia, where it should be.”

And he went on,“This is a government with a short memory,” he said. “In the Second World War, 366 merchant ships were sunk off Australia.” The unionists clapped. However, it can be easily checked that between 1942 and 1945 the 28 Japanese and German submarines that operated in Australian waters sank a total of 30 ships. There were 18 more ships sunk by surface raiders, both German and Japanese.

Shorten did not mention Germany… perhaps a short memory? After all, the acquisition of German made Leopard tanks was approved in 1974 by Whitlam (Labor) government. No up-start unionist peeped then.

Japanese subs are not the only ones on the plate. German submarines, twelve of which would cost $20 billion, are also being considered. The estimated cost of the Australia made subs, Shorten Mk 1 class, is at least $50 billion.

captain.bsI admit that home made submarines, in the world of shifting alliances, could have some advantage, were it not for the left wing politics, defeatism masquerading as pacifism and – our unions. We remember, or ought to, the strikes and the unionists’ sabotage in WW II.

The main, though not only, matters for consideration should be specifications and costs, which for ten submarines could be close to Aus$20 billion (US$18.7 billion)For comparison –by 2022 Poland intends to spend about US $42.4 billion to upgrade its weapons and military equipment. GDP Poland 517.5 billion USD (2013) , GDP Australia 1.561 trillion USD (2013).

The Japanese Navy has already in water six out of their planned ten boats. The Dragons are, respectively, Blue, Cloud, White, Sword, Auspicious and Black, named after mythological creatures. Sōryū (そうりゅう) means blue (or green) dragon in Japanese and it also was a name of the World War II carrier sunk during the Battle of Midway. It is unlikely that Australia, assuming this particular thought bubble comes to fruition, would follow the suit. Still – what could ours be called? Hopeful Dragon? Just-in-time Real Dragon?

Don’t hold your breath. Our ‘defence’ is in the hands of spineless politicians and the time-serving public servants.


About Ludwig von Gress

Born in communist Europe, interested in defence matters on a macro scale, with a cavalry “devil may care spirit” from his grandfather and cautious effectiveness of asymmetric warfare approach from his guerilla father. He sometimes despairs that he may be the only one taking the defence of Australia seriously.
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One Response to A Jap sub

  1. Matelot says:

    We’ll see how long it takes them just to make a decision. Poor Australia!

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