April 27, 2018

Tipping Britain's Type 26 to Win Future Frigate Decision - Some Diplomatic Groundwork

Britain is pushing its Pacific Power line, in terms of a sudden increase in warships in the Pacific and via future High Commissions in very small places. From little investments big sales grow.

Essential morning reading is Matangi Tonga Online, of course. To that end its April 23-24, 2018 edition reported: "The announcement by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on 19 April that the UK will be opening up diplomatic mission in...Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu."


One could theorise that Britain’s sudden interest in establishing High Commissions in tiny Pacific islands represents a sudden burst of humanitarianism, consular care or even to counter a rising China presence. As a realist I'd say countering China is a piece of the puzzle, but there is more.

I sense a more important commercial motive, which is Britain wanting to paint itself as a returned Pacific power in order to increase its chances of selling its Type 26 Future Frigates to Australia. The sale is worth AU$35 Billion, so the incremental step of opening 3 very small, low cost, High Commissions is a good diplomatic-commercial move. Britain can claim this is one part of its return to Pacific strategy and the Australian Government can use this "we are not alone against China" line on the Australian public

I hear you scoff!

International political arguments appeal to the politicians of Australia's National Secuty Committee of Cabinet, who will choose the winner, as much as complex weapons system capability comparisons.

Remember France repeatedly reminded Australia of France’s Pacific power status on the way to selling the 12 French DCNS (now Naval Group) Submarine Project in 2016, worth AU$50 Billion. See Submarine Matter’s article 2016 Defence White Paper - Comparing Australia's relations with the 3 Submarine Contender countries of March 3, 2016 - a White Paper released just before Australia’s April 26, 2016 Buy French Submarine decision.

Avid readers of the Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper will note the mentions of France's Pacific presence in Section 5.83 (in red and bolded here).

This British diplomatic groundwork is nicely timed, given Australia may well make the Future Frigate decision (Britain vs Italy vs Spain) before July 1, 2018. (see "Government to announce Prime [Future Frigate] Contractor" in 2nd Quarter 2018 in the Australian Defence Department’s own  “Achieved/Forecast” column.

So news of the UK upgrading its Pacific presence (even in small ways) can be seen as a ship sale booster. 


April 26, 2018

Russian Submarine Projects - Seeing Yasen as Too Delayed Response to Seawolf

Above is Russia's state defense orders in 2014 and 2015. (Graphics from Russian Defense Ministry, then published by TASS.) While submarines are analysed below there is a wealth of data on non-submarine strategic systems.


Adding to the small amount of submarine data in the graphic. Note that orders for:

Improved Kilo Project "636" [likely 636.3 restricted to Russian Navy] SSKs occur at the rate of
    2 each year [see later build data 2016 & 2017 for 636.3s]

-  1 or 2 Borei/Borey Project 955 SSBNs occur each year [see later year data out to 2026 for Boreis
    955s, 955As and 955Bs (the As and Bs are due to be fitted with 20 SLBMs instead of the existing
    16 in the first 3 x 955s (right click mouse to translate this).

Yasen Project 885 SSGNs in contrast are ordered intermittently (in 2014 but not in 2015). See later
     year Yasen data out to 2023. Note, despite Russian denials, Russia is likely to need to keep on
    building Yasens past 2023 to replace retiring Oscar SSGNs and Akula SSNs until
    "cheaper, smaller" Huskies or "Khaskis" (in Russian) SSNs and SSGNs become commissioned
    (likely not in early 2020s) but in the 2030s .


Russia will have financial trouble sustaining continuous build of Boreis, Yasens and Kilos while meeting the high costs of developing Huskies.

With the one exception of Seawolf to Virginia rarely do replacement submarines become "cheaper and smaller" because of industrial revenue interests and naval profession/capability interests.

Maybe it is useful to see the expensive, high specs, Yasen/Severodvinsk Project as a delayed, Russian response to the first launched in 1995 expensive, high specs, Seawolf (?). Also Russia, with its defense financial downturn of the 1990s and early 2000s, was paradoxically unable to cancel the already begun expensive ("too big to fail") Yasen Project.

Some major defense Projects have their own momentum that cost more in money and careers to shelve and start again
easier to delay and pass off blame


Madsen Found Guilty of Murdering Kim Wall. He receives Life Sentence

Later on April 25, 2018 Australia’s ABC News reports:

“Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall aboard his home-built submarine in August 2017.
Key points:

·       Madsen was charged with murder, dismemberment and indecent handling of a corpse
·       [Madsen] claimed Wall died from breathing exhaust gases that leaked into the submarine
·       Madsen will appeal the sentence

Judge Anette Burkoe at the Copenhagen City Court said she and the two jurors agreed Wall's death was a murder, saying Madsen didn't given "a trustworthy" explanation...”


Original Report: The details below are drawn from an article by JAN M. OLSEN for ASSOCIATED PRESS (COPENHAGEN, Denmark, April 23, 2018) via US ABC News.


Danish inventor Peter Madsen is on trial for the torture and murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall during a private UC3 Nautilus mini submarine trip on August 10, 2017. The submarine sank but was refloated. The prosecutor at the court case said April 23, 2018 there is a risk that Madsen can commit the same kind of crime again.

The prosecutor said Kim Wall may have been tied with her own stockings before Madsen impaled Wall, and that Madsen acted with a sexual motive. Madsen is then accused of cutting Wall up, placing the body parts in plastic bags and tossing them overboard.

The prosecutor demanded Madsen be given “life” in prison, which is only 16 years under Danish law, although the sentence could be extended if necessary. Alternatively Madsen could be locked up in a secure mental facility for as long as he's considered a danger to others.

The prosecutor said Madsen is not insane but "emotionally impaired with severe lack of empathy, anger and guilt." A court-ordered psychiatric report described Madsen as an intelligent man "with psychopathic tendencies."

Defense lawyer

The defense lawyer called it "a horror story ... but the story is not based on facts. It is based on undocumented claims...It is not Madsen’s duty to prove that he is innocent. It is the task of the prosecutor to prove that Madsen is guilty.

The defense lawyer said there was no doubt Madsen dismembered Wall's body, but told the court there was inadequate evidence proving Madsen killed Wall.

Madsen said Wall died because of a pressure problem in the home-made submarine. But the prosecutor said that "forensic experts have found nothing" about a gas or pressure problem.

Madsen admitted to cutting Wall up before he "buried her at sea." Madsen claimed he had to cut Wall up because he could not lift Wall’s body up the submarine tower in one piece to throw it overboard."

Also see an earlier January 17, 2018 article about Danish prosecutors wanting to confiscate and destroy Madsen’s refloated submarine, UC3 Nautilus.

The trial verdict is expected to be publicised April 25, 2018 (Danish time) which is early morning April 26 Australian time 

Kim Wall (inset) and the 40 tonne mini-sub UC3 Nautilus where she was allegedly murdered by Madsen.

April 25, 2018

ANZAC Day Songs - Das Boot One Star

The Remembrance poppy symbolises ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day, 25th April, is the most recognised secular day of remembrance in Australia and probably New Zealand (home of the “Kiwis”). Hearing snippets of war songs at parades or on television on Anzac Day has made me want to dig deeper as a mark of respect and remembrance. The particular power of war songs, or anti-war songs, are in their strength and diversity of emotion: sorrow, action, anger, remembrance, fear, mateship, loneliness, love, generosity, authority and protest.

The songs start with the most recent wars then end with World War I. On casualties alone that latter war has the most meaning and I’ll show it has meaning in my family’s history.

Australia's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have generated few songs but here is Please Remember Me (originally Dante's Prayer by Loreena McKennitt).

I Was Only 19 is without doubt the most famous and realistic Australian song of the Vietnam War. It was written and sung by John Schumann when he led the far left and undervalued Australian group Redgum.

From World War II the poem High Flight was eventually published. Here’s the John Denver rendition.

Band of Brothers was a superb series with a memorable theme tune but the lyrics are too American, for my taste anyway.

Its a Long Way to Tipperary was cheekily sung by the captain and crew song of Das Boot the greatest submarine movie. Adolf would have forbidden such a song.

Politicians and the commercial media perpetuate the assumption that true Anzacs were and are all front line infantry. Other occupations were more dangerous than infantry. Pilots and aircrew often suffered the highest casualties and shortest life expectancy of any service. Sailors, in particular submariners, were often in great danger both from the enemy and also from accidents while encased in their high risk vessels. Here is the Navy Hymn for Submariners.

Religion is an undoubted comfort to many soldiers while fighting and years later to those who returned alive. The hymn Abide With Me is sung by Hayley Westernra from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Anzac Day remembers Aussies and Kiwis who served in all the wars to which their countries were committed, yet it still centres on World War I, Australia's worst, most wasteful, war. It is often forgotten that in that war more Australians died (53,000) on the battlefields of France and Belgium than at Gallipoli (8,709 deaths).

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda is by Scottish-Australian singer and songwriter Eric Bogle who, like Redgum, has produced lasting songs of meaning. The song is about a digger who is wounded at Gallipoli, treated in hospital, then returns to Australia.

What happened to "those brave wounded heroes of Suvla” in the song? Following up the reality led me to my, now late, grandfather. In 1915 on the Mediterranean island of Lemnos, this photo is of my Grandfather, Staff Sergeant Leo Coates, in his unit, the No. 1 Australian Stationary Hospital. He helped to develop one of the first field X-ray machines and then operated it (as pictured) to save lives. On November 4, 1915 he moved with the hospital to Gallipoli. Sergeant Coates later rose to Colonel serving in World War II India and Britain. His son (my Dad) would fight in Vietnam (1970-71).

I think Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France or No Man’s Land is the most memorable anti-war song ever written. As a haunting poem, march, song of love and injustice it is a fitting anthem to remember the men and women, living and dead, who are our Anzacs.


April 23, 2018

Aussie Warships in South China Sea warned by Chinese Navy, Naughty Visiting Vietnam

Based on Australia's government owned ABC News report of April 20 2018 

"Three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea earlier this month, the ABC can reveal."
The confrontations with China's People's Liberation Army Navy are believed to have occurred as China was conducting its largest ever naval exercises in the hotly contested waters.
Defence sources have confirmed Australian frigates HMAS Anzac and HMAS Toowoomba as well as replenishment ship HMAS Success were challenged by the PLA Navy after those Australian vessels left Subic Bay, Philippines on the way to a 3 day goodwill visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "would not confirm the incident but reiterated Australia's right to conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the area."
Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne also "reiterated Australia's rights within international law and downplayed the seriousness of the incident."
"I think 'confrontation' is somewhat of a tabloid-style description of what goes on in the South China Sea very regularly," Pyne said.
In a statement, China's Defence Ministry said: "“The reports from Australia are different from the facts". "On April 15 China's naval vessels encountered Australian naval ships in the South China Sea. China's ships used professional language to communicate with the Australian side. China's operation is lawful and conforms to conventions. It is professional and safe...."
Ships visiting Subic Bay (near Manila) Philippines can't avoid crossing China's self placed Nine dash line to sail to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. (Map courtesy Wiki).
Not only might China be angry that Australia was crossing China's new nine dash delineated "lake" but was also angry Australia was visiting China's occasional enemy neighbour, Vietnam.