Globe and Mail reporter Daniel Bitonti and photographer John Lehmann board the HMCS Victoria, and experience first hand what living on a submarine really involves.
At present, 43 nations have over 600 submarines
TNN | Aug 19, 2013, 06.03 AM IST
The INS Sindhurakshak tragedy has brought the focus on the mysterious world of submarines. Here are some interesting submarine facts.
When was submarine first used in war?
By early 18th century, many inventors made several designs of naval vessels that could travel on the surface as well as beneath water. The American Revolution was the first war that witnessed military deployment of such boats. Submarines were also used during the American civil war. Submarines equipped with torpedo became a major factor during the First and the Second World War. According to US navy at present there are 43 countries operating over 600 submarines.
How does a submarine submerge?
One of the most important features of a submarine’s design is the ballast tanks. These tanks could be alternatively filled with water or air depending on the requirement, whether the vessel wants to float on water’s surface or travel underwater. The tanks are filled with air when the submarine is at the surface. To submerge the air is released and the tanks are filled with sea water which makes the vessel heavier.
Submarines maintain a stock compressed air while travelling underwater. This air is used for life support and for filling the ballast tank.
How does a submarine propel?
Most of the today’s diesel submarines work like a hybrid vehicle. A typical diesel submarine has two diesel engines. One engine is used to propel the vehicle when it is on surface while the other is used to charge its batteries. These vehicles can only go underwater after fully charging their batteries. After going underwater they are propelled by battery-powered electric motors. Because of the battery powered propulsion the diesel submarine can stay underwater for a limited period.
A nuclear powered submarine is not based on combustion engine. Unlike diesel subs, a nuclear sub doesn’t need air to burn it fuel and hence it can remain underwater for a much longer period.
How is the underwater navigation done?
Typically, submarines don’t have windows and hence the crew could see outside underwater. When a submarine is near surface then it uses periscope to have the outside vision. Most of the submarine travel much deeper than the periscope depth and the navigation is done with the help of computers. Like any other conventional ship, a submarine navigator is also dependent on regular ocean navigation chart.
The submarine uses Sonar (Sound Navigation and Ranging) to detect target ships.
How is the submarine’s environment controlled to support life?
Modern submarines- nuclear as well as diesel are designed to stay underwater for a significantly longer period. To have a healthy environment for humans a submarine is required to maintain earth like air quality, supply fresh water and maintain suitable temperature. Most of the submarines are equipped with oxygen generator and water purifiers.
These equipments use sea water to generate oxygen as well as produce fresh water. Apart from this the carbon dioxide and moisture is periodically removed to keep the environment healthy.
With six Varshavyanka class (improved Kilo class) submarines on order, the Vietnam People’s Navy will operate the largest submarine force in South East Asia and begin to redress China’s perceived dominance in the region.
Russia to Soon Float Out 2 New ‘Black Hole’ Submarines
ST. PETERSBURG, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – The third of six new “black hole” submarines that Russia is making for the Vietnamese navy will be floated out later this month, the shipbuilder said Monday, adding that the first of another six, for Russia’s own Black Sea Fleet, would be floated out in November.
The Varshavyanka-class (Project 636M) diesel-electric subs, dubbed by the US Navy as “black holes in the ocean” because they are nearly undetectable when submerged, are primarily designed for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters.
The first of the submarines, which completed its 100-day sea trials last month and for which a Vietnamese crew has been training since April, is expected to be delivered to that country in November, according to the manufacturer, Admiralty Shipyards.
Vietnam ordered the six submarines in 2009, counterbalancing China’s expanding maritime influence in the region. That contract, which also stipulated the training of Vietnamese crews in Russia, was reportedly worth $2 billion.
The Varshavyanka class is an improvement on the Kilo, with more advanced stealth technology and an extended combat range. Construction of the first Varshavyanka-class sub for the Black Sea Fleet, a vessel named the Novorossiisk, began in 2010 and has been completed ahead of schedule, the shipbuilder said.
The submarines, which feature 533-milimeter torpedo tubes and are armed with torpedoes, mines and Kalibr 3M54 (NATO SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles, displace 3,100 tons, reach speeds of 20 knots, can dive to 300 meters and carry crews of 52 people.
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Admiral Sir John (‘Sandy’) Woodward
Admiral Sir John (‘Sandy’) Woodward, who has died aged 81, commanded the carrier battle group Task Force 317.8 during the Falklands conflict.
In March 1982, shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, Woodward was serving as a rear-admiral and as Flag Officer, First Flotilla, commanding a group of ships on their spring exercise off Gibraltar.
As the news from the South Atlantic worsened, on March 29 Woodward received a routine visit by helicopter from the Commander-in-Chief Fleet to his flagship, the destroyer Antrim. That evening, along with Captain Mike Clapp, the captain of Antrim, they discussed their options if the Falkland Islands were to be invaded and they were asked to re-take them.
Argentina had long claimed the islands, and on April 2 1982, impatient at the progress of diplomatic talks, and wishing to distract their people from domestic woes, the Argentine junta ordered their forces to invade.
During the passage south Woodward visited as many ships as he could, though his message to the various ships’ companies of the destroyers and frigates, was uncompromising: “You’ve taken the Queen’s shilling. Now you’re going to have to bloody earn it. And your best way of getting back alive is to do your absolute utmost. So go and do it.”
The conflict was a maritime campaign from beginning to end, characterised by a struggle for air superiority between Woodward’s ships and the Argentine Air Force, and in its later phases by a series of amphibious landings.
On April 25 British forces recaptured South Georgia after sinking the Argentine submarine Santa Fe. Five days later Woodward’s ships got within gun range of the Falklands to begin a bombardment, and Sea Harriers from the carriers Hermes and Invincible attacked several targets, while an aerial battle continued over the islands; three Argentine aircraft were shot down.
On May 1 the submarine Conqueror, on patrol south of the islands, sighted the light cruiser General Belgrano. Woodward sought a change to the rules of engagement which would allow Conqueror to open fire, as General Belgrano was considered a threat to the Task Force. Conqueror, controversially, sank the Argentine warship, but as a result the Argentine fleet remained in port for the rest of the war.
Two days later, an anti-ship missile, launched from the air, struck the destroyer Sheffield, one of Woodward’s previous commands, setting her ablaze.
British troops landed at San Carlos Water on May 21, and by June 14 the Argentines had surrendered. Woodward was seen by many as the architect of victory, although there were some who, from the outset, had thought that the Flag Officer Third Flotilla (in charge of carriers and amphibious shipping) should have commanded the the Task Force, and made some criticism of Woodward’s tactics.
Woodward was appointed KCB in 1982.
John Forster Woodward was born on May 1 1932 in Penzance, the son of a bank clerk, and educated at Stubbington House school, once known as “the cradle of the Navy”, and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.
As a junior officer Woodward spent time in the Home Fleet, before specialising as a submariner in 1954. He served in three generations of submarines: the Second World War vintage submarine Sanguine; the post-war, diesel-powered Porpoise; and Valiant, the second of Britain’s nuclear-powered submarines.
In 1960 he passed the Navy’s rigorous submarine command course, the “perisher”, and given charge of the diesel-powered submarines Tireless and Grampus.
Subsequently he was second-in-command of Valiant, before promotion to commander when he became the officer-in-charge (or “teacher”) on the “pePrrisher”.
In December 1969 Woodward took command of Warspite, which was newly repaired after an underwater collision in the Barents Sea with (according to official sources) an “iceberg”. Several members of the crew were still shaken by the incident, and Woodward did much to restore their confidence in the safety of the boat and its manoeuvrability.
In submarines he was nicknamed “Spock”. “I was quite pleased,” he said, “because Spock does everything by logic.”
Promoted to captain in 1972, Woodward attended the Royal College of Defence Studies, where he disliked all the paperwork, and in 1974 he became Captain of Submarine Training. In 1976 he returned to general service, for the first time in more than 20 years, to command the Type 42 guided missile destroyer Sheffield.
As Director of Naval Plans from 1978 to 1981, during the Strategic Defence Review (also known as the Nott Review) in the first term of Margaret Thatcher’s administration, Woodward unsuccessfully opposed John Nott’s determination to make severe and “disproportionate” cuts in the Navy. The cuts included one-fifth of its destroyers and frigates, one aircraft carrier, two amphibious ships, and the ice patrol ship Endurance, whose declared withdrawal from the Antarctic encouraged the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in April 1982. Woodward felt keenly the irony that as Flag Officer, First Flotilla, from 1981 to 1983 he should have to clear up the mess created by politicians.
After the Falklands conflict Woodward was Flag Officer Submarines and Commander Submarines Eastern Atlantic in 1983–84.
Although Woodward had made prolific use of the radio-telephone during the Falklands conflict, talking to some of his subordinate commanders and to the Task Group Commander at Northwood, he had never spoken to Margaret Thatcher. Indeed, he did not come to know her until he was Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Commitments) during the period 1985–88, when he attended several Cabinet meetings.
At his first meeting, the Prime Minister’s advisers had not even sat down when she announced that she had read all the papers and explained what the government should do. Woodward realised that she had missed a point of detail and raised a hand to attract her attention. “If looks could kill, I was done for,” he would recall. “But I persisted, gave her the information she had missed and bought time for the other officials to gather their wits before further decisions were made.”
Later, when a senior civil servant told him: “You were very lucky today. You interrupted the PM – most don’t survive that,” Woodward replied: “She was talking – and needed some fearless advice, which she got.”
Woodward respected Mrs Thatcher, but had little time for most politicians, believing that they did not “have a clue about defence”. He was a stern critic of the Coalition government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010.
While his detractors thought him somewhat cold and arrogant, those who knew him better insisted that he was modest, sensitive, humorous, clever and self-critical. He had been a gifted mathematician at school and was an avid bridge player from his school days.
Woodward’s memoirs, One Hundred Days: the memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander (co-written with Patrick Robinson), are a frank account of the pressures experienced by a commander fighting a war, and is told with self-deprecating humour.
His last appointment in the service was as Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command (1987–89). He was appointed GBE in 1989.
Woodward left the Navy at the age of 57, and in retirement was chairman of the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel Trust, which raised £2.3 million. The chapel, at Pangbourne College, was opened by the Queen in 2000.
He settled at Bosham, near Chichester, West Sussex, where he could indulge his life-long passion for sailing in small boats.
Sandy Woodward married, in 1960, Charlotte McMurtrie, with whom he had a son and a daughter. They later separated, and since 1993 his companion had been Winifred “Prim” Hoult.
Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, born May 1 1932, died August 4 2013
70-years ago today…
The U-boat war dragged on:
British steam merchant Fort Chilcotin (Master John Kerr) carrying 9103 tons of rock crystal and iron ore was torpedoed and sunk by U-172 (Kptlt. Carl Emmermann) on her 5th war patrol off Bahia, Brazil. There were 4 dead (from the watch below) and 53 survivors who took to boats. The survivors were picked up on 29 July (5-days in open boats, think about that) and taken to Rio de Janeiro.
Swedish tanker Pegasus (Master T. Andersson) carrying 12,855 tons of motor spirit was torpedoed and sunk by U-197 (KrvKpt. Robert Bartels) on her first war patrol southwest of Madagascar. The survivors took to boats and were rescued after a week at sea.
British steam merchant Henzada (Master William Innes McIntosh) carrying 2095 tons of chemicals was torpedoed and sunk by U-199 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus) on her first war patrol approx. 100-miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There were 2 dead and 62 survivors who took to boats. The survivors were picked up by the Panamanian motor tanker Baltic.
The unreliability of US Navy torpedoes was highlighted:
US Navy Gato-class submarine USS Tinosa (SS-283), Lt.Cdr. L.R. Daspit commanding, torpedoed and damaged the Japanese oiler Tonan Maru No.3 (19210 GRT) west of Truk. Although the Tinosa fired 15 torpedoes, only 10 hit… and only 2 exploded. The remainder were duds.
A successful day for HM Submarines:
HMS Unrivalled, a U-class submarine, Lt. Hugh Bentley Turner, RN commanding, sunk the Italian auxiliary minesweeper R 172 / Impero (68 GRT) with gunfire off Amantea, Italy.
And now entering the fray:
USS Cabot (CVL 28), an Independence-class light fleet carrier, was commissioned into the United States Navy. The Cabot would go on to receive a Presidential Unit Citation and 9 battle stars for World War 2 service.
USS Cotton (DD 669), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was commissioned into the United States Navy. The Cotton would go on to receive 9 battle stars for World War 2 service and 1 for Korean War service.
US Navy film MN-9294.
At first glance, the Dolphin class appears to be a conventional Type 209 SSK with standard torpedo tubes, but the Dolphin also has oversized 650mm (26in) tubes that can launch the Popeye Turbo SLCM… and that seems to be sufficient to deal Assad’s regime a hefty blow 🙂
Israeli submarine responsible for July attack on Syrian arms depot – report
Israeli submarines carried out the attack on an arms depot in the Syrian port city of Latakia on July 5, according to a report published in the British Sunday Times. US media previously claimed the offensive was carried out by the Israel Air Force.
The Times cited Middle East intelligence sources as stating that the Israeli Dolphin-class submarines targeted a contingent of 50 Russian-made Yakhont P-800 anti-ship missiles that had reportedly arrived earlier this year to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The alleged Israeli naval strike was repotedly closely coordinated with the US.
According to the newspaper, the Israeli fleet of German-built submarines launched a cruise missile at the weapons cache after which Syrian rebels reportedly attested to hearing early-morning explosions at a Syrian port-side naval barracks.
Syrian rebels said that they were not responsible for the explosions.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council, Qassem Saadeddine, confirmed the attack hit Syrian Navy barracks at Safira. He said the rebel forces’ intelligence network had identified the newly supplied Yakhont missiles being stored there.
According to the rebels, the scale of the blasts was beyond the firepower available to them, but consistent with that of a modern military like Israel’s.
“It was not the FSA that targeted this,” Saadeddine told Reuters. “It is not an attack that was carried out by rebels. This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean,” he added.
The pre-dawn attack was first reported by CNN.
Several unnamed US officials allegedly told The New York Times, in an article published on Saturday, that the Israeli Air Force had targeted the Russian-made anti-ship missiles that posed a threat to Israel’s naval forces.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the attack.
“We have set red lines in regards to our own interests, and we keep them. There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions – in any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed for most,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in response to the Latakia blasts.
The Syrian government has not commented on the incident either; a state television report mentioned a “series of explosions” at the site.
According to regional intelligence sources, cited by Reuters, the Israelis previously struck in Syria at least three times earlier this year to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Assad’s army to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
In all prior cases of strikes thought to be linked to Israel’s armed forces, Israeli officials have not gone on record to take responsibility for the attacks. Tel Aviv has made it clear however, that the country is prepared to go into Syria if it means preventing Hezbollah or other militant groups from obtaining additional weaponry, including chemical weapons.