Royal Australian Navy Submarines to go Nuclear

No surprise. It's killed a few people too. Mainly the ladies who used to paint the numbers.
 
You can joke....... but when I joined my first boat, I was told to have my watch checked. Being old and bold, I thought it was a fairly poor attempt at at a bite (wah to you chaps!).

Nope, turns out if you were wearing an older watch it could set off one of the radiation detectors around the boat!
Tritium in luminous compound and the previous radium certainly would !
Used to be an old fav with the Geiger counter . DS would produce an old G10 watch jobby and wave the geiger counter over it and it cackled into life. No personal dosimeters near watches etc etc.
 

Yokel

LE
The radium water guy....ran the IBM Electronics Division through WW2. What? What the ****?

He had a glowing record.

Yes I know, just getting my coat. Did the general public, or anyone else, understand the dangers of ionising radiation until Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Many of the scientists working on the Manhattan project used to gauge radiation levels by the burning sensation in their hands.
 
He had a glowing record.

Yes I know, just getting my coat. Did the general public, or anyone else, understand the dangers of ionising radiation until Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Many of the scientists working on the Manhattan project used to gauge radiation levels by the burning sensation in their hands.
I believe it was the two incidents with the Demon Core during the Manhatten project that gave the scientists a fairly good idea and a lot of information as to what sort of damage ionising radiation causes. IIRC correctly, the two incidents exposed Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin to more radiation than any human had every been exposed to up until that point in history.

 
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He had a glowing record.

Yes I know, just getting my coat. Did the general public, or anyone else, understand the dangers of ionising radiation until Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Many of the scientists working on the Manhattan project used to gauge radiation levels by the burning sensation in their hands.
After the bomb tests in Nevada, the heat of the fireball used to turn the desert sand into small particles of greenish glass. Some parts had reddish tints which was allegedly from teh copper wiring. It was called Trinitite and used to make jewellery until people started having some health issues

The story of trinitite
 

Yokel

LE
Another sub procurement issue, this time Swedish, different issues though. But of interest


I wonder if this will give the likes of Lewis Page or Max Hastings, or the critics of the RN/MOD/BAE Systems something to think about in their ceaseless criticism. Submarine design is hard, systems integration is hard, in fact everything is hard unless you do it constantly to keep the full range of skills going and up to date - from the design offices to the welders' shop.

I thought that Sweden had pioneered their own Air Independent Propulsion system? Does the author advocate trying to acquire foreign built or designed boats and then fit Swedish AIP technology inside?
 
I wonder if this will give the likes of Lewis Page or Max Hastings, or the critics of the RN/MOD/BAE Systems something to think about in their ceaseless criticism. Submarine design is hard, systems integration is hard, in fact everything is hard unless you do it constantly to keep the full range of skills going and up to date - from the design offices to the welders' shop.

I thought that Sweden had pioneered their own Air Independent Propulsion system? Does the author advocate trying to acquire foreign built or designed boats and then fit Swedish AIP technology inside?
From the sounds of things elsewhere, submarine AIP systems are at the start of a big change with really big lithium batteries being set to replace Stirling cycle systems.
 
How do they get around the limited lifespan of the batteries?
If you're talking about the number of charge cycles, there's a few different aspects to that. For one thing, they are using custom built batteries with fewer restrictions on weight and size.

Another is that they aren't the same lithium battery chemistry that are used in things like phones or computers. The Germans intend to use lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) rather than lithium-polymer (LiPo) such as are used in consumer electronics. LFP batteries apparently have a longer life than lead-acid. Typical commercial LFP batteries are good for 5000 charge-discharge cycles. A typical submarine isn't likely to get through that many cycles in a lifetime of operation.

Keep in mind that they are talking about much longer periods of operating on a single charge than has been the case with lead-acid. If they just do a one-to-one replacement of lead-acid batteries with LFP, then they can remain submerged for "days".

The Japanese have a new submarine they are testing which uses lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA). Again, these have longer lifespans and require less maintenance than lead-acid. By removing the AIP system they can pack even more batteries in. I haven't seen any definite figures for length of submerged operation, but it is supposedly almost equal to AIP (which are typically 2 weeks of submerged operation on patrol).

These lithium batteries can charge much faster than lead-acid as well, which means they can spend less time off charging somewhere and more time on patrol.

The main challenge with any of these battery systems is safety (e.g. short circuits and fires). However, with specialized design and good quality control the Japanese claim to have solved that issue.

These lithium battery submarines still don't have the extended high power output that nuclear submarines have, so if you need to be able to get an attack submarine from say Scotland to Argentina ASAP, nuclear will probably remain the better choice.

However, lithium batteries will nearly equal the endurance of Stirling-cycle AIP systems, while also offering higher peak output for bursts of high speed. They also don't have to deal with things like liquid oxygen and are overall simpler from an operation and maintenance perspective.


I am not by the way going to draw any conclusions about whether Australia should have chosen lithium battery submarines instead of nuclear. The technology is still in the early stages yet and we don't know when the inevitable kinks will be ironed out. Also, there is the issue of the submarines themselves. One of the issues that I read about with respect to the Australians using a Japanese design is the longer operating distances that Australia wanted meant the submarines would have to be larger to carry more fuel and for larger crew accommodations. So that meant another custom (modified) design instead of license building an existing one.


However, I do strongly suspect that Stirling cycle AIP systems will before too long be on their way out to be replaced by some sort of enlarged battery system which offers almost the same submerged capability with a simpler to operate power system and even quieter operation.
 
If you're talking about the number of charge cycles, there's a few different aspects to that. For one thing, they are using custom built batteries with fewer restrictions on weight and size.

Another is that they aren't the same lithium battery chemistry that are used in things like phones or computers. The Germans intend to use lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) rather than lithium-polymer (LiPo) such as are used in consumer electronics. LFP batteries apparently have a longer life than lead-acid. Typical commercial LFP batteries are good for 5000 charge-discharge cycles. A typical submarine isn't likely to get through that many cycles in a lifetime of operation.

Keep in mind that they are talking about much longer periods of operating on a single charge than has been the case with lead-acid. If they just do a one-to-one replacement of lead-acid batteries with LFP, then they can remain submerged for "days".

The Japanese have a new submarine they are testing which uses lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA). Again, these have longer lifespans and require less maintenance than lead-acid. By removing the AIP system they can pack even more batteries in. I haven't seen any definite figures for length of submerged operation, but it is supposedly almost equal to AIP (which are typically 2 weeks of submerged operation on patrol).

These lithium batteries can charge much faster than lead-acid as well, which means they can spend less time off charging somewhere and more time on patrol.

The main challenge with any of these battery systems is safety (e.g. short circuits and fires). However, with specialized design and good quality control the Japanese claim to have solved that issue.

These lithium battery submarines still don't have the extended high power output that nuclear submarines have, so if you need to be able to get an attack submarine from say Scotland to Argentina ASAP, nuclear will probably remain the better choice.

However, lithium batteries will nearly equal the endurance of Stirling-cycle AIP systems, while also offering higher peak output for bursts of high speed. They also don't have to deal with things like liquid oxygen and are overall simpler from an operation and maintenance perspective.


I am not by the way going to draw any conclusions about whether Australia should have chosen lithium battery submarines instead of nuclear. The technology is still in the early stages yet and we don't know when the inevitable kinks will be ironed out. Also, there is the issue of the submarines themselves. One of the issues that I read about with respect to the Australians using a Japanese design is the longer operating distances that Australia wanted meant the submarines would have to be larger to carry more fuel and for larger crew accommodations. So that meant another custom (modified) design instead of license building an existing one.


However, I do strongly suspect that Stirling cycle AIP systems will before too long be on their way out to be replaced by some sort of enlarged battery system which offers almost the same submerged capability with a simpler to operate power system and even quieter operation.

Thanks for that comprehensive answer, appreciate it

Perhaps I'm a little to cynical about battery technology, it will be an interesting one to watch
 

Yokel

LE
There have been suggestions that Australia could have gone to the French contractor and asked for the submarines to be built as SSNs - but this would have meant regular refuelling as French naval reactors use Low Enriched Uranium as they were hoping to export them and get around the Non Proliferation Treaty.
That is why French submarines and they carrier need expensive refitting and refuelling every few years.

See this paper about non US or Soviet/Russian nuclear powered vessels and their reactors

There is also politics - Australia wants SSNs because of the threat from Beijing, Macron is building bridges with Beijing.
 
There have been suggestions that Australia could have gone to the French contractor and asked for the submarines to be built as SSNs - but this would have meant regular refuelling as French naval reactors use Low Enriched Uranium as they were hoping to export them and get around the Non Proliferation Treaty.
That is why French submarines and they carrier need expensive refitting and refuelling every few years.

See this paper about non US or Soviet/Russian nuclear powered vessels and their reactors

There is also politics - Australia wants SSNs because of the threat from Beijing, Macron is building bridges with Beijing.
It has been previously posted on this thread that the Australians knew from the beginning that they could potentially switch their French order from conventional to nuclear power.

However, the main issue with the French submarine company was commercial. The issue was with respect to cost, timing, and work share for Australian companies. All of these issues were causing increasing concern in Australia. Because of this the Australians decided to exercise their option to cancel the contract at one of the project stages which was defined to allow for this. If they instead approved going to the next stage of the project it would mean a big payment to the French company, which would make it even more difficult for the Australian government to back out later.

Given that Australia had decided to back out of the contract, they reviewed their original assumptions about the project and this time decided that they were willing to take the plunge and go with nuclear boats after all. Having made that decision, they approached Britain to help them on that score.

Given the above, it's not likely they would have asked the French for a quote on nuclear submarines. The issues which caused them to back out of the contract were about what they saw as being the deteriorating commercial contract situation. Staying with the same company while making major changes to the contract would made that worse, not better, so it wasn't an answer to their problems.

If they hadn't decided to go nuclear, they would still have cancelled the French contract. Under those circumstances they would likely have gone back to the Japanese, Swedes, and Germans about another quote on a conventional submarine.
 
Apparent industry jitters in Oz over the change of direction.

'The more time passes since the Prime Minister’s sudden cancelling of our order for French submarines in favour of US or British nuclear ones, the more obvious it is that Australia will never actually acquire them.

'Not only that, the more time passes the more obvious it is that even if we did buy nuclear boats, they are unlikely to be built in Adelaide. Or if Adelaide, somehow, had some involvement there would be bugger all genuine Australian industrial content in the things.

'This became clearer on Friday in the Senate economic references committee when South Australian Senator Rex Patrick – himself a former submariner – closely questioned the Royal Australian Navy Commander Admiral Jonathan Mead about the N-submarine decision.

'Mead had to be threatened by Senator Patrick with contempt of the Senate before he answered basic questions.

'Admiral Mead first implied (by wanting to take a question on notice) that he had no idea of schedule, then that the boats were to be in the water by the end of next decade.

'Mead then implied he had no idea of whether advice on cost was given to the government, then that advice had been ‘provided by the department to government over many months’, and then that ‘our projected cost forward is that it will be significant and it will be more than Attack’.

'The upshot is that Australia entered into a process that will lead to the expenditure of more than $90 billion with only the vaguest idea of how much they would cost or when they could be delivered.

'As Patrick put it later: ‘Our Collins class subs will still be needed in 2050.

“By that time the last Collins boat, HMAS Rankin, will be unmaintainable and a steel coffin in combat.”

'The lack of clarity from the Navy is mirrored by other evidence given – our nuclear science agency and regulator gave very few details on what their role will be in monitoring and regulating any new nuclear propelled submarines, according to Senator Kim Carr.

'But it is the likely lack of science and industry involvement in this massive expenditure which is really worrying.

'Defence media has been full of speculative stories about whether any submarines would be built in Adelaide, whether Australia might lease submarines from the US, and whether these might be second-hand submarines.

'Who would crew and maintain these vessels, who would provide for basic safety given that N-reactors are supposedly going to be fitted to submarines in Adelaide, and whether they would be under Australia’s sovereign control remains a mystery since we will know nothing about the nuclear propulsion systems on board.'


 
Apparent industry jitters in Oz over the change of direction.

'The more time passes since the Prime Minister’s sudden cancelling of our order for French submarines in favour of US or British nuclear ones, the more obvious it is that Australia will never actually acquire them.

'Not only that, the more time passes the more obvious it is that even if we did buy nuclear boats, they are unlikely to be built in Adelaide. Or if Adelaide, somehow, had some involvement there would be bugger all genuine Australian industrial content in the things.

'This became clearer on Friday in the Senate economic references committee when South Australian Senator Rex Patrick – himself a former submariner – closely questioned the Royal Australian Navy Commander Admiral Jonathan Mead about the N-submarine decision.

'Mead had to be threatened by Senator Patrick with contempt of the Senate before he answered basic questions.

'Admiral Mead first implied (by wanting to take a question on notice) that he had no idea of schedule, then that the boats were to be in the water by the end of next decade.

'Mead then implied he had no idea of whether advice on cost was given to the government, then that advice had been ‘provided by the department to government over many months’, and then that ‘our projected cost forward is that it will be significant and it will be more than Attack’.

'The upshot is that Australia entered into a process that will lead to the expenditure of more than $90 billion with only the vaguest idea of how much they would cost or when they could be delivered.

'As Patrick put it later: ‘Our Collins class subs will still be needed in 2050.

“By that time the last Collins boat, HMAS Rankin, will be unmaintainable and a steel coffin in combat.”

'The lack of clarity from the Navy is mirrored by other evidence given – our nuclear science agency and regulator gave very few details on what their role will be in monitoring and regulating any new nuclear propelled submarines, according to Senator Kim Carr.

'But it is the likely lack of science and industry involvement in this massive expenditure which is really worrying.

'Defence media has been full of speculative stories about whether any submarines would be built in Adelaide, whether Australia might lease submarines from the US, and whether these might be second-hand submarines.

'Who would crew and maintain these vessels, who would provide for basic safety given that N-reactors are supposedly going to be fitted to submarines in Adelaide, and whether they would be under Australia’s sovereign control remains a mystery since we will know nothing about the nuclear propulsion systems on board.'


Senator Rex Patrick is, in my opinion, an ex-sundodger who is looking to make himself a name on a topic.
Just as he does with whatever topic gets him air time.
 

Majorpain

War Hero
Given the above, it's not likely they would have asked the French for a quote on nuclear submarines. The issues which caused them to back out of the contract were about what they saw as being the deteriorating commercial contract situation. Staying with the same company while making major changes to the contract would made that worse, not better, so it wasn't an answer to their problems.
Its important not to underestimate the importance of local build for Oz, its less about jobs for the boys but more they want to be able to support the equipment themselves. Having to send subs around the world for maintenance or waiting two weeks for a spare part to be shipped from Europe/US is not tolerable for them.

The French of course were tone deaf on this point, Euro signs and local French jobs had descended over their eyes and the Australians were getting completely ripped off IMO.
 
This just in.........

HMS Astute has arrived in Perth,
1f1e6_1f1fa.png
Australia for first visit by Astute class submarine
#AUKUS #CSG21

I'm sure the boat will not be gleaming inside - polished to within an inch of its life, (anathema to sundodgers!) for all the important people who may wish to have a shufti.........
 
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