June 21, 2017

Iran fires Zulfiqar ballistic missiles at targets in Syria - Region Nervous


The US, Israel, Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are very nervous about Iran firing Zulfiqar ballistic missiles (see photo below) at Islamic State targets in Syria. The Zulfiqars have the range, from Iran, to hit some Saudi cities and oil installations and US bases in the region.


1.  Interesting article from Tyler Rogoway, The Drive/THE WARZONE, June 20, 2017: [The 19th June 2017s] barrage of [Iranian] ballistic missiles on Islamic State affiliated targets in Deir ez-Zor Syria has reverberated throughout the region and the world. 

As we stated shortly after the strike, Tehran's unprecedented use of ballistic missiles was based on multiple factors, and sending a message to the US, Arab gulf states and Israel was clearly one of them. Now Iran is saying more ballistic strikes could come at any time.

Iran used some of its most modern missiles in the operation. Six solid-fuel Zulfiqar short-range ballistic missiles were fired at Syria. Accounts vary, but some sources state the attack failed in a tactical sense, with only one missile hitting its intended target. Iran claims 360 militants died in the strikes, while Israeli sources say three of the missiles didn't even make it to Syria at all...."

2.  Behnam Ben Taleblu, for The Military Edge, September 2016, provided some details on the Zulfiqar "Iran’s newest Zulfiqar is a solid-fueled short range ballistic missile (SRBM) that reportedly can reach 700 to 750 kilometers and is claimed to be accurate within 5 to 10 meters

The Zulfiqar is Iran’s latest variant of the Fateh-110 missile series — a family of single-stage solid-fueled SRBMs that Tehran has refined since the 1990s. First successfully flight-tested in 2002, the Iranians have upgraded the Fateh-110 platform at least half a dozen times since. All of them were built by Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) – an affiliate of Iran’s Ministry of Defense..." 

(Probably) A Zulfiqar short range ballistic missile (SRBM) about to be launched from its transporter trailor. (Photo courtesy BBC Persian news).


June 19, 2017

Australia's only on Ship Battle Deaths of Vietnam War - US Aircraft Missiles

Australia's official Navy website writes (scroll 2/7s way down here ) in remembrance of a usually forgotten "friendly" fire tragedy just over 49 years ago:

"On 17 June 1968, [HMAS] Hobart was in the vicinity of Tiger Island [map below] when she detected an aircraft approaching her from the vicinity of Cap Lay. Although the aircraft was evaluated as friendly it continued to close and fired a missile that struck Hobart amidships on her starboard side. The warhead passed through the main deck, seriously damaging several compartments, while the body of the missile passed through the outer skin of the after funnel before ending up in the forward funnel. In its passage the missile killed Ordinary Seaman R.J. Butterworth [1] [only one year in the navy] and wounded Able Seaman J.R. Parker and Ordinary Seaman R.F. Davidson.

As Hobart's crew raced to action stations a second and third missile hit the ship. The second missile entered the transom without detonating, destroying the gunner's store before breaking up in the engineer's workshop and penetrating the after seaman's mess. 

The third missile hit the ship in the same area as the first, passing through one of the ship's fan spaces, the missile director equipment room and Tartar checkout room. Chief Electrician R.H. Hunt [2] was killed in this attack and several sailors injured. 

...En route [Hobart's crew] begain clearing away debris, finding and collecting pieces of the missiles which were later identified as being of US origin. It transpired that Hobart was one of several ships mistakenly attacked by US 7th Air Force jets on the nights of 16-17 June..." 



Ordinary Seaman Ray Butterworth. First to die from an American missile. (Photo courtesy Royal Australian Navy archives)

(Photo on left) holes in HMAS Hobart caused by US aircraft missile splinter damage.
 (Map on left) Tiger Island. The vicinity in which Australia sailors on HMAS Hobart were killed by friendly American missiles (Photo and Map courtesy Royal Australian Navy archives)


June 18, 2017

Inquiries begin concerning USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal Collision

Inquiries begin following the 1.30am-2:30am (Tokyo, time) June 17, 2017 collision between:

-  destroyer USS Fitzgerald (8,900 long tons "full", 154m) now berthed at the US 7th Fleet Naval
    Base at Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo (see map below), and 

-  Philippine registered container ship ACX Crystal (39,565 tonnes deadwight, 222m) now berthed at
    Tokyo’s Oi wharf.  

The bodies of a number of US sailors were found, once water was pumped out (at Yokosuka) from the 2 crushed and flooded compartments of USS Fitzgerald.

Japanese authorities were looking into the possibility of "endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence", Japanese media reported, but it was not clear whether that might apply to either or both of the vessels. 

It is most likely USS Fitzgerald's "Captain" Commander Bryce Benson, in hospital, is already being questioned along with relevant officers and crew who were on Fitzgerald's bridge. 

It is not clear:

-  how dark or foggy the conditions were? OR

-  if Fitzgerald was suffering relevant equipment, especially radar and AIS [1], technical

[1] AIS is the automatic identification system (part reliant on satellites) used for collision avoidance on ships. Very likely AIS was on both ships - but was it turned off on Fitzgerald for "hide Fitzgerald" exercise conditions?

PHOTO: USS Fitzgerald struck on the starboard side above and below the waterline. (Photo courtesy Reuters: Toru Hanai via the BBC)

Map courtesy MarineTraffic, news agencies including BBC


June 16, 2017

Australia should avoid another Orphan Diesel Engine on the future Shortfin

Ztev Konrad made some good points in his June 16, 2017 comment 

Pete's response is:

A good comment - on the money .

The bottom of this site http://www.fairbanksmorse.com/marine/  indeed points to Fairbanks -Morse diesels being used for backup on Ohio, Seawolf and Los Angeles class nuclear subs. MAN diesels also on the F-M site here.

Virginia class diesels (bottom of another site) were described in 2004 as Caterpillar 3512B V-12 Twin-turbo charged engines.

The characteristics of backup diesels for nuclear subs might be different than for continuous long range use on conventional subs (SSKs). I'd be happier if F-M was still supplying diesels to SSKs rather leaving this market years ago.

Why did F-M leave that market? Was it part of the US avoid building diesel-electric propulsion subs at all costs policy?

I think regular tried and tested submarine Kawasaki, MAN or MTU diesels would be better for Shortfin rather than again specially developing "new orphan" engines like the Garden Island-Hedemoras (GI-H).

Yes Australia's inexperience (and trust in Kockums in the 1980s-90s) was readily apparent. ASC and the RAN no longer had Vickers or the UK RN (Parents of the Oberons) to protect Australia in the Collins project. GI-H's were one submarine class ORPHAN diesels which would have been good for the cold, short distance, Baltic, but remain a constant problem for Australia's warm wide ocean requirements. Tried, tested common-in-submarine-use MANs or MTUs should have been selected for the Collins instead.


June 15, 2017

Robust Submarine Diesel Engines: Some Important Considerations

Mainly from an Anonymous Comment of 10/6/17 10:16 AM

Submarine experts (including submarine Vice-Adm (retired) Kobayashi [1] and Tadashi Sano, Ex-Director Submarine Design, KHI [2] ) see the following as important for submarine diesel engines.

1.  Submarine diesels must be robust enough to tolerate rapid starts and stops without warm-up periods [3] and without undue wear or breakdown. Rapid stop starting minimises:
-  diesel operating (indiscretion) time during snorting (recharging batteries - see history), and
-  improves the submarines high engine stress [4] manoeuvring performance in action (eg. after
   torpedos and/or Harpoon missiles are fired and then an Oyashio or Soryu accelerates into a deep
Diesel engines are exposed to high heat differences as some engine parts heat up much more quickly than other parts. High dispersal of oils and lubrication are required.

2.  Another requirement are diesel engines compact enough to provide enough space:
-  for several types of maintenance during long missions, and
-  room for engines to use rubber/elastic rafts to minimise through hull vibrations/noise.

3.  A third requirement are diesels powerful and robust enough to quickly generate high pressures within the hull:
-  to exhaust/expel gas in the seawater, and
-  to expel gas out of the snorkel into the surface air.

4.  Other diesel requirements are:
-  the capability to match/balance intake and exhaust pressures (in a snorkel), and 
-  an efficient safety device to stop the diesel for stops, reversals or other high stress needs.
For example when snorting if either the tube drawing in air or the exhaust tube were blocked valves must be sensitive enough to stop before damage to the submarine or to the crew (avoiding atmosphere vacuum within the hull :( is done

Anonymous’ Comment

Submarine diesels are quite different from ship diesels. Sub diesels require superior material as well as very robust design capabilities. In submarine/shipyards submarine diesels need to be capable of easy dismantling:
-  in order for some engine parts to be passed through the submarine’s small hull hatches, and
-  for quick and easy maintenance in the yard.

[1] Ships Of The World, 7, 2017.No.862, page 104, “Today’s Submarine” by Masao Kobayashi, Ex-Commander, Japanese Submarine Fleet and former Vice-Admiral (JMSDF).

[2] “Perfect Guide of Mechanism in Submarine” by Tadashi Sano, Ex-Director, Sub Design, KHI.

[3] “Warming up on a ship” (in Japanese, but right-click mouse translatable)
Unlike trucks and small ship diesels, a large ship [or submarine] diesel takes time until the whole large diesel has evenly warmed up across all parts. Without a warm up period large temperature differences can remain long enough to break some parts. Distribution of warm air (from dockside starter motors) can warm many submarine parts successfully.
Coolant and oil should also be circulated by dockside or internal pumps. Dockside motors might also need to "turn" the engine to warm the cylinders. The larger the engine the longer the warm-up required, eg. 30 minutes for large ship diesels.

All turbochargers are lubricated via the engine's pressurized oil system, meaning that engine oil is constantly circulated through passages entering and exiting the bearing cartridge. While a vehicle is driving ([or submarine moving] and the turbocharger is functioning, it becomes hot - the temperature of the turbocharger is relative to load. When a vehicle has been driven and is abruptly shut off (and the oil flow to the turbocharger ceases), engine oil contained in the turbocharger absorbs heat from its surroundings. If the temperature of the turbocharger prior to shut down is great enough, the oil risks burning and will have a tendency to create deposits in and around the turbo bearings in addition to contaminating the engine oil supply [not good if you are crewing a submarine on an (almost always) isolated mission].

A nice roomy engine room - or is that for the tourists? These are opposed-piston Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines on USS Pampanito (SS-383) which is permanently docked in San Francisco and can be toured as part of the Maritime Museum. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Not so roomy looking engine room of an Oberon "O-class" submarine. The 2 x 1,840 hp Admiralty Standard Range V16 diesels (same as?were still very reliable I hear! (Photo courtesy Sandy McCearn via Haze Gray & Underway).

Mainly Anonymous (with some extra translation from Pete)