• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Replacing the Subs

Navy_Pete

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Reaction score
533
Points
1,040
I have dealt with USN aviators, submariners and surface warfare officers on various exercises and operations.

The submariners, as a group, are by far the most professionally impressive.
I believe the basic nuclear training is pretty close to Masters level course, and a lot of them specialize beyond that. Generally a collection of extremely smart and very motivated, switched on people.

There are a lot of really good individual people in the surface side, but the general standard on the nuclear fleet, and nuclear subs in particular, is a few steps higher, with a pretty sharp drop off where they can't tolerate less skilled/competent people.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
712
Points
1,010
By basic nuclear training what exactly are you referring to? The Officers that become engineers (who generally already have a science/engineering background) the techs or others?

I'm not denying the professionalism or dedication required. It's a no-fail situation at all times with those pressurized steam reactors. I always wondered why they didn't go with one of the "impossible to melt down" options that are out there in the world. Then again maybe they have. Nuc reactor tech is very close hold.
 

OldSolduer

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,470
Points
910
I have dealt with USN aviators, submariners and surface warfare officers on various exercises and operations.

The submariners, as a group, are by far the most professionally impressive.
This is what I can glean from the books I have read - OK Tom Clancy had me mesmerized. I reckon he went into enough detail to inform the masses that read his books that the nuclear submarine community in the USN are the best of the best, The ORSE tests they undergo are very stringent from what understand.

Not bad for a crayon eater eh? ;)
 

Uzlu

Full Member
Reaction score
88
Points
280
I always wondered why they didn't go with one of the "impossible to melt down" options that are out there in the world.
What are some examples of these “impossible to melt down” nuclear reactors that are superior to the pressurised-water reactors currently used in American attack submarines? Are they at least as small, powerful, quiet, safe, shock resistant, and reliable as, say, the S9G reactor, and are they designed to operate at least 33 years without refueling?
 

LoboCanada

Full Member
Reaction score
46
Points
330
I wonder if there's a few high level people in gov't looking for the best way to join this club in a way that is the cheapest and most virtue-signalling...

Best case IMHO is to buy 2 more JSSs, 1 LPH, and 6-8 SNNs with all but a small number of SNNs in the Pacific. Perhaps taking the "Northern Pacific Flank" responsibility, with joint basing agreements in Canada (as a possible replacement for Scotland), USN and Australia.

Sell it with a small commitment to Canadian nuclear industry involvement to 'squeeze' more life into existing plants, more money for post-secondary programs in the nuclear and sustainable tech industry (already mentioned in platforms), subsidize industry R&D, and new reactors even. Make the SSN industry marry into the existing nuclear industry.

Enables us to learn under-ice conditions by having transfer programs and courses with Navies with experience in it. Include a heck of a RCN recruiting campaign with extensive US/UK base education (and $), retention into the Sub Service with competitive pay and possibilities to live in Aus/UK/US.
 
Last edited:

JMCanada

Member
Reaction score
34
Points
280
Since JT showed no interest in joining this SSN procurement, there might be still an option to join (at some level) the program and strengthen Canadian nuclear industry, despite not purchasing any boat in the beginning. Somehow alike the F35 program.

It would be interesting to gain access to Technology and a share of the industrial work-load , as well as keeping options for a future purchase.

However, I foresee a huge manning issue even if the new boats are based on the Astute class (about 95-100 crew). For the same number of submarines the crews would double. Six to eight subs. would mean a four-fold increase.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
712
Points
1,010
What are some examples of these “impossible to melt down” nuclear reactors that are superior to the pressurised-water reactors currently used in American attack submarines? Are they at least as small, powerful, quiet, safe, shock resistant, and reliable as, say, the S9G reactor, and are they designed to operate at least 33 years without refueling?
There are about a half dozen designs out there if you do some Google-fu. Breaking down the pros and cons of a graphine moderated reactor vs Fast neutron vs pressurized water etc... is a bit much for the thread. However, the most notable to me is a CANDU reactor which is the OG of no meltdown technology.

As for the rest of the comments, I have no idea. US sub reactors are descended from over 70 years of research. Given the US is an evolutionary not a revolutionary designer of military technology I expect their reactor tech is beholden to the past, and they are not willing to risk a break from their tried and tested line to do something new (to them).

My question was just thinking out loud.
 

MarkOttawa

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
64
Points
560
Message from ML Institute:

If Canada wants to respond to the threat posed by a rising China’s naval power, contribute to the defence of itself and its allies, and acquire the patrol and surveillance capabilities needed to assert our sovereignty in the Arctic and along our coastlines, submarines are not a luxury but a necessity for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

That is the message of a new MLI paper by Jeffrey F. Collins, which points to the changing geopolitical currents and the proliferation of new weapons among the reasons why a blue water navy needs to incorporate submarines as part of its fleet structure. Subs are vital for four main reasons:

  • Canada’s vast maritime domain requires them;
  • the relative decline of the US increases the demand for greater defence investment by Canada and other allies and that means more submarines;
  • the rapid build-up and aggressive posture of China’s navy and large maritime militia fleet will foster a market for submarine acquisitions in the wider Indo-Pacific; and
  • the proliferation of comparatively inexpensive anti-access/area denial weapons systems increases the importance of acquiring an undersea capability, as surface ships are highly vulnerable to such systems.
The new paper, titled “Deadline 2036 – Assessing the requirements and options for Canada’s future submarine force,” notes that Canada’s existing four diesel-electric Victoria-class submarines represent a quarter of the RCN’s advanced warfighting capability, and with the vessels soon due for replacement, it’s time to assess our options.

The Canadian military has initiated a “Canadian submarine patrol project” to explore replacing the Victoria-class subs, and Collins’ paper is well positioned to inform this effort. As pointed out in the foreword written by RCN Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Mark Norman, “Dr. Collins’ work should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in, or potentially commenting on, a future submarine capability for Canada.”

According to Collins, while they were controversial due to accidents and costly repairs, “the Victoria-class submarine plays a key role in ensuring the RCN remains a ‘blue water navy’ capable of defending the rules-based international order at sea, domestically and internationally.”

This paper is particularly timely as Australia made waves recently by announcing its plans to acquire new nuclear submarines as part of a security and technology sharing deal with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS). While the Australians have opted for nuclear vessels, this paper focuses on Canada’s options for non-nuclear submarines due to their significantly lower costs, ability to undertake quiet operations (when relying on battery power), and superior fit with the forces already fielded by our allies.

Canada has lost its traditional sources of submarines as the US and UK have ceased diesel-electric submarine production. According to Collins, this leaves three procurement options for Ottawa and the RCN to meet its submarine fleet replacement needs:
  • Option 1 – Domestic Build – The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is committed to the continuous, multi-decade domestic construction of federal vessels. For the submarine replacement, one or more NSS yards could build a “made in Canada" design or a Canadianized foreign design.
  • Option 2 – Canadian Military-off-the-shelf (MOTS): Sweden, Spain, France, Germany, and Japan are established non-nuclear submarine producers with whom Ottawa could work in buying a Canadianized MOTS submarine. This is the most common and cost-conscious approach used by smaller allies.
  • Option 3 – Collaborative Build: Canada can work with an established submarine builder to spilt production between the two countries or enter a joint financing arrangement. This would entail a complex arrangement involving intellectual property negotiations and higher costs than a Canadianized design.
“With both growing maritime threats and changing geopolitical realities emanating from the return of rivalries among the world’s great powers,” writes Collins, "a timely submarine acquisition that meets Canadian requirements is more necessary today than when the Victoria-class were acquired 23 years ago.”

Mark
Ottawa
 

KevinB

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
626
Points
910
Rather alarming paper.

I did like Adm Norman's quote -
As the unattributed maxim goes, “you’ll always have a submarine in your waters... yours, or someone else’s.”

From Dr. Colins paper.
Of the world’s estimated 43 states with submarines, 13 are Indo-Pacific coastal states. Not counting the small and coastal ranging midget submarines that Pakistan, Vietnam, Iran, or North Korea use, the region is home to 153 of the world’s 407 known active submarines. That number is expected to grow to up to 300 by 2030 (Donnellan 2021).

The best ASW tool, it is said, is another submarine. And in a region like the Indo-Pacific – where nationalist tensions are rife, a regional NATO-like security architecture absent, and where Canada sees increasing economic and political ties – having a submarine capability for both deployments and training Canada’s surface fleet will be less a luxury and more of a requirement.

As he goes on, my biggest take away was that Canada cannot afford to not have a SSN capability - the year round under ice issue being the #1, but also the AOR for the Pacific fleet means that the Nuke boat is a significantly more capable option.
 

SeaKingTacco

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
1,610
Points
910
Just
Rather alarming paper.

I did like Adm Norman's quote -
As the unattributed maxim goes, “you’ll always have a submarine in your waters... yours, or someone else’s.”

From Dr. Colins paper.
Of the world’s estimated 43 states with submarines, 13 are Indo-Pacific coastal states. Not counting the small and coastal ranging midget submarines that Pakistan, Vietnam, Iran, or North Korea use, the region is home to 153 of the world’s 407 known active submarines. That number is expected to grow to up to 300 by 2030 (Donnellan 2021).

The best ASW tool, it is said, is another submarine. And in a region like the Indo-Pacific – where nationalist tensions are rife, a regional NATO-like security architecture absent, and where Canada sees increasing economic and political ties – having a submarine capability for both deployments and training Canada’s surface fleet will be less a luxury and more of a requirement.

As he goes on, my biggest take away was that Canada cannot afford to not have a SSN capability - the year round under ice issue being the #1, but also the AOR for the Pacific fleet means that the Nuke boat is a significantly more capable option.
Just the distances alone in the Pacific mean that an SSK is of limited use to us. Even AIP does not do much to improve transit speed.
 

Humphrey Bogart

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Reaction score
473
Points
1,010
Just

Just the distances alone in the Pacific mean that an SSK is of limited use to us. Even AIP does not do much to improve transit speed.
Pretty much. Not having an AOR basically limits our Navy's ability to get anywhere. We can limp across the Pacific if our Allies feel like giving us gas which is what happens presently.

SSKs, from an actual operational standpoint, are useless to us in the Pacific.
 

dimsum

Army.ca Fixture
Mentor
Reaction score
1,167
Points
940
SSKs, from an actual operational standpoint, are useless to us in the Pacific.
If we're talking about expeditionary or power projection, yes.

If we're talking about defensive capabilities, maybe.

Again, it totally depends on what the RCN wants the subs to do.
 

Humphrey Bogart

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Reaction score
473
Points
1,010
If we're talking about expeditionary or power projection, yes.

If we're talking about defensive capabilities, maybe.

Again, it totally depends on what the RCN wants the subs to do.
I would say they are pretty useless defensively as well given how quickly the water depth drops off in the Pacific. The Upholders were designed for the GIUK Gap which is shallow water. The West Coast of North America is Nuke Country.
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
3,683
Points
1,060
I would say they are pretty useless defensively as well given how quickly the water depth drops off in the Pacific. The Upholders were designed for the GIUK Gap which is shallow water. The West Coast of North America is Nuke Country.

Only if you have no bases outside of North America, I would guess.

The US submarine campaign in the Pacific during WW2 was one of the most effective in history, apparently.

Of course, being diesel boats, they relied on land bases in Guam etc.

The Silent Service: Submarines in the Pacific

Postwar records compiled by the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee indicate Japan lost 686 warships of 500 gross tons (GRT) or larger, 2,346 merchantmen, and a total of 10.5 million GRT to submarines during 1,600 war patrols. Only 1.6 percent of the total U.S. naval manpower was responsible for America's success on its Pacific high seas; more than half of the tonnage sunk was credited to U.S. submarines. The tremendous accomplishments of American submarines were achieved at the expense of 52 subs with 374 officers and 3,131 enlisted volunteers lost during combat against Japan; Japan lost 128 submarines during the Second World War in Pacific waters. American casualty counts represent 16 percent of the U.S. operational submarine officer corps and 13 percent of its enlisted force.

 

GR66

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
273
Points
1,010
What if we were to take over the Shortfin Barracuda contract from Australia. It's a program that is already underway with a portion of the engineering and design costs already invested. My understanding is that the Aussie version was using American weapons & systems like we would likely want. Sell it to the Americans as a way to patch things up with the French and would take some of the pressure off us from the US for "not pulling our weight" in defense spending.
 

dimsum

Army.ca Fixture
Mentor
Reaction score
1,167
Points
940
What if we were to take over the Shortfin Barracuda contract from Australia. It's a program that is already underway with a portion of the engineering and design costs already invested. My understanding is that the Aussie version was using American weapons & systems like we would likely want. Sell it to the Americans as a way to patch things up with the French and would take some of the pressure off us from the US for "not pulling our weight" in defense spending.
F no.

The whole reason why they cancelled it was because of the ballooning costs, and it would have been the launch customer for a massive re-design of something that wasn't designed that way (SSN to SSK).

Basically, the Cyclone all over again.
 
Top