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Arctic Sovereignty Submarine

Not sure what BMD has to do with establishing a presence in the North....
Ex-Dragoon said:
Not sure what BMD has to do with establishing a presence in the North....

Sowing uncertainty has so many uses... ;)
NavyShooter said:
The problem with using a submarine for arctic sovereignty patrols is that they do not even meet the first level of the force continuum.

A visible armed presence.

They may be present.

They may be armed.

They are not (generally) visible.

Since a big part of the Arctic patrols is to "show the flag", there are other platforms that would be better suited for that role.
Given the limited resources of the Canadian fleet - it is better to have a covert presence that could be anywhere than an overt presence that is clearly not everywhere.  Showing the flag is only a deterrent if you have sufficient sensor coverage and revisit rates to enforce your control of the sea. 

A water space management system is used to ensure the safety of allied submarines throughout the world in a similar manner to air traffic control. One aspect of the system is not publically understood is that this is generally accomplished by temporarily declaring a Notice of Intention for submarine operations on the high seas, thus de facto controlling that area unless other states are willing to risk the safety of their submarines by not notifying the state that established the NOI of their operations.  In times of higher tension, it also serves notice that we have an armed submarine in the area and enter at your peril (akin to the exclusion zone used in the Falklands war). 

Just my  :2c:
Well, here is an idea for running under "battery power" while submerged under the ice (or anywhere else):


Cold Fission
Liquid semiconductors could yield a better nuclear battery

By Samuel K. Moore  /  February 2007

What if you could make a miniature, superefficient nuclear power plant that’s simple to build and doesn’t get much hotter than a kitchen oven? That could be the result of an innovation being developed by scientists at Global Technologies, in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

GTI’s president, Francis Tsang, and colleagues are working on a nuclear voltaic cell consisting, basically, of a semiconductor and an amount of radioactive material [see photo, ”Innovator”]. The semiconductor sits between two conductors to form a Schottky diode, and it is bombarded by particles from uranium, plutonium, or some less dangerous radioactive material.

Radiation has essentially the same effect on a semiconductor that light has on a typical solar cell. In a solar cell, the impact of a photon with the semiconductor crystal creates an electron and a positively charged particle called a hole. Because the cell’s semiconductor has been doped with chemical impurities, it has a natural polarization that draws the electron to one electrode and the hole toward the other, thereby producing current.

If a nuclear version of a solar cell sounds like one of the old atomic battery concepts from the 1950s, it is, but with a potentially all-new twist.

Some of those early concepts sought to harvest semiconductor energy from alpha radiation (positively charged helium nuclei) or beta radiation (electrons). Although they offered the hope of efficient batteries that would last for decades, they were limited by what seemed to be insurmountable problems associated with their radiation sources.

”Beta cells are restricted to low-energy beta, and they can’t use alpha,” says Jake Blanchard, a professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who develops MEMS-based radioisotope batteries [see ”The Daintiest Dynamos,” IEEE Spectrum, September 2004]. Alpha particles and other high-energy radiation ”will trash the semiconductor by displacing the atoms,” Blanchard says. That has kept this class of nuclear battery from housing enough radioactive material to produce more than mere milliwatts of power.

Tsang, a former U.S. Energy Department researcher, was well aware of the beta cell’s problems. ”Shoot a bullet into a block of ice, and the ice will shatter and can’t go back into its original form,” Tsang says. ”But if you shoot a bullet into water, the water repairs itself.” So he began experiments replacing solid semiconductors with molten selenium and molten sulfur, both of which become semiconductors in their liquid state and melt at less than 300 °C. Because liquids don’t suffer any structural damage, Tsang’s nuclear battery could run on much more powerful radiation than a beta cell, and therefore generate more electricity.

A liquid nuclear diode could catch energetic alpha and beta particles, gamma rays, and even the new atoms left over from the fission of larger atoms, Tsang says. Fissile fragments could be a particularly good source of energy. In the fission of U-235, for example, the fragments carry 85 percent of the energy released. Because the fragments are heavy, as they plow through the semiconductor they ”make a shower of electron-hole pairs along the path,” he says.

Tsang’s idea is not widely known, and for now, that’s the way he likes it. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office posted GTI’s key patent application only in November. Tsang has not published data in a peer-reviewed journal (though some of the experiments were replicated at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in California), and he would reveal no hard numbers for this article.

The University of Wisconsin’s Blanchard, reserving final judgment until he sees published data, thinks the concept of a liquid nuclear battery is a good one. ”It’s a clever idea,” he says. ”It’s not totally crazy.”

At the moment, GTI’s battery is far from useful, not having quite reached 1 percent efficiency. Its development has gone far enough, however, to make an impression at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency gave Tsang’s company funds to support its Liquid Electronics Advanced Power System (LEAPS) program: first, US $1.4 million to prove the concept by producing current in a test cell, with a provision that would have allowed for additional funding of up to $26.6 million for over four and a half years. With submarine power plants in mind, DARPA wanted GTI to run full speed toward proving that a reactor of the 100- to 1000-kilowatt scale could be built.

But in October, Tsang’s group rejected the additional work, figuring that the effort envisioned by DARPA would overwhelm GTI’s resources. Tsang says GTI ultimately will make more progress by going after small-scale power sources first. So for now, nuclear reactors will have to take a backseat to nuclear batteries.
I'm posting here as suggested, discussing the proposed new Type 216 submarine.

Application for lurking up north comes to mind.  Move at 4 knots and listen.  Could be used a limited amount under ice, as long as batteries are charged to get back out?  So boat would charge batteries with snorkel, then use to get into position, then lurk for a couple days, then use batteries to move on.  Still moving at 100 miles per day, 2800 miles in 4 weeks, at 4 knots.  Wouldn't be helpful to partol up north?

In my mind, it's purpose would be to keep an eye mainly on what the Russians, and others, are doing.

I read in the discussion that a larger submarine is needed in the north, well these seem to be quite large, around 300' (89 meters) and 4000 tons.  At least this is the claim from this site, which is anything but official.


To be honest, I don't know where they come up with the 4000 tons.  BTW, if you go to the above site, not using the link, there are quite a few cutaway views of the inside of the sub.
Thank you for keeping the threads straight AM.

To answer your question bluntly: Would Type 216's be helpful to patrol up North? Yes, but only marginally more so than any classic diesel/electric boat.

You see, to understand Northern issue, I have always felt that it is more important to look at it by using a globe instead of a map.

When you do this, you realize that the Arctic ocean is actually an extremely large body of open water (OK, iced over most of the year, but still). Slow loitering submarines, whether diesel or AIP, are not good at hunting fast preys in open waters. That is why, for instance, these open waters games were played by nuclear boats during the cold war.

Slow loitering boats were used and still are today for choke point surveillance. Such choke points force any intruder to come to the waiting loitering boat, which is usually of a quieter type than the "nuke" prey.

For this strategy to work, however, there has to be a reason fro the "prey" to want to go through the choke point.

In the cold war, the advertised soviet strategy was to come into the North Atlantic in strength with submarines, to disrupt the sea lanes of communications and prevent North American reinforcements and materiel to make it to Europe. (Hello, Mr. Doenitz? Yes, could we borrow your plan.). Thus, the soviets had to come through either the G.I.U.K. gap or through one of the two gaps between the tip of the Labrador peninsula and Greenland. Choke point defensive strategy worked in that scenario, and the submarines did not have to go under the ice. Being a little South of the ice cap sufficed.

The real question, under today's situation, is: What threat would we be guarding against with such submarines? If the threat is open water warfare (against the Russians, the Chinese or (god forbids) the Americans) in the Arctic ocean, then classic subs, whether diesel or AIP, would be of little to no use: Only nuke boats can play such games.

If the idea is to prevent access TO the Arctic ocean, then the appropriate choke point under Canadian control is the same that we watched during the cold war but with the threat coming from the opposite direction. If the idea is to protect traffic in the Northwest passage when it is free of ice, then IMHO, the best approach with slow loitering boats, is to have sosus like nets at the entry of all the various passages that could lead into the actual NW passage and to keep the boats closer to the actual traffic lanes so that they can quickly (for them) redeploy towards the threat and intercept it, say 2/3 of the way down in the passage they elected to use. Again here, little to be gained from having an AIP boat as opposed to a purely diesel/electric one.

  Just my 2C worth.

The north used to be a way to a destination but soon it will be the destination.  The resources there are now the issue, and those resources are stationary.  There will be rigs, etc, to be guarded, and to keep a watchful eye on.  Extremely quiet subs might be a good fit.

How about:

AOPS as tender
ISE's Arctic Explorer as an underice recce force
Captors laid in a field when and if an active barrier is required.
AlexanderM said:
The north used to be a way to a destination but soon it will be the destination.  The resources there are now the issue, and those resources are stationary.  There will be rigs, etc, to be guarded, and to keep a watchful eye on.  Extremely quiet subs might be a good fit.

Resources up there are already being exploited and they are not much of an issue. People have a generally good idea which country's water they are using, they are not really challenged from that point of view and there are no threats to these facilities, from a defense point of view: The resources that "terrorists" or "state actors" would have to deploy to attack a single resource exploitation location in the Arctic make it not worth the effort. Besides, those location are fixed points on the surface and thus, easy to defend from the air.

Take a page from the suggestion of Kirkhill just above, which I agree with.

In the end, the best defense in the Arctic will come from knowing the full picture and being able to deploy the appropriate weapons to face any threat. That means a system of systems providing intel and accurate info to a single command center that will then be able to quickly deploy the appropriate weapon system. In such a scenario, cheap remotely controlled weapons that lie in wait in numerous dispersed locations coupled to good and also remote controlled or self controlled but remotely reporting surveillance, detection and classification systems will be the key. You will have to integrate the picture from satellites, maritime patrol aircrafts, surface ships, autonomous underwater systems, fixed underwater systems in a central location and, from there, respond with the appropriate weapons system, either already deployed (like a captor mine) or to be deployed (like a fighter/bomber jet).

The beauty is that this centralized command post can be anywhere: Halifax, Esquimalt or even Ottawa (gods forbid).
It would just be great to have some big new boats, for those of us who think that it's cool.

The AIP systems really have to develop to the point where they are producing sustained power above 1MW before they will be really useful, then the sub could cruise at a decent speed.  In the case of Isreal, they want the Dolphin class to be a second strike weapon, in case they get hit, so the AIP works for them as they just want the subs to be silent and undetectable.  In which case they can hit back with their nuclear armed missles.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against submarines - quite the opposite. I'd rather (personal opinion here) have 12 SCSC's and 7 to 8 large long range subs than 15 SCSC's but no subs, or very few subs.

It's just when people brandy them as the "must-have" Arctic piece of hardware that I get annoyed.

While I would love to see Canada get more boats, and think that we need more boats, my view is that the Arctic ought not to be their primary area of operation. As far as I am concerned, we need them in the Pacific, where we should have the most of them.

I have also mentioned in another thread that I would love to see us pair up with Australia and get onboard their Collins class replacement program. Imagine the benefits of being part of a program that would let us have a boat right off the bat that is compatible with US systems and be common to our most natural primary ally in the Pacific: Australia. Moreover, it would create a larger class, with all the appertaining costs benefits for all participants.
Just checked the moon cycle to verify that the moon was neither full nor blue.  Apparently OGBD and I agree on both the subs and the arctic.


(How are we doing with OPVs and BHS's?).
If you look at this old thread of mine below, you will have an idea where I stand on BHS.


As for AOPS, I think I have made it clear in the past that my view id: Give the "A" to the Coastguard then buy real "OPS" for the Navy.
Oldgateboatdriver said:
If you look at this old thread of mine below, you will have an idea where I stand on BHS.


As for AOPS, I think I have made it clear in the past that my view id: Give the "A" to the Coastguard then buy real "OPS" for the Navy.

:eek:ff topic: but ...

It has always struck me that constabulary functions ought to be as limited as possible. In an ideal world, or just an ideal Canada, only a handful of government agencies would have firearms: the military and police, obviously, some prison guards and some of the customs/border services folks too. Those armed folks are then, the armed services while all the others, including others who wear uniforms, are the civil service.

If we want icebreakers then I agree that the CCG is the better organization, but if we want armed icebrakers then maybe they need to be in the RCN or the RCMP Marine Division.

Sorry for the sidetrack, but I'm interested in the views of members.
That's allright, ERC.

Perhaps this thread should be expanded some and renamed "Arctic Sovereignty - Naval Considerations".

My biggest beef here is that I have never been able to understand why people insist on the combination of "Icebreaker" with "weapons".

If the passage is open for shipping, then its open for real warships too. If there is too much ice, then the few merchant ships capable of operating in such conditions or the icebreakers of other nations will all be just as slow as your own icebreakers. Short story here: You are not going to catch up to them with your own icebreakers. So how do we deal with them, if they are armed? You send aircrafts after them. We are the only nation (except perhaps the US with Alaska) that has ready access to airstrips along the length of the passage so as to carry out effective patrol of it from the air.

If you absolutely insist that there are circumstances where an armed icebreaker would be required, you can still achieve this with the icebreakers under coastguard control. Just build them so that containerized weapons systems can quickly be strapped on and a naval detachment them added to the crew of the icebreaker. I would be willing to bet that the weapon containers would sit in harbour for the whole life of the icebreakers they are meant to provide weapons for.
I don't entirely disagree with OGBD on the Arctic Patrol issue.  I agree with the both the vessels with the containerized systems and the minimal requirement for "weapons" in the arctic.  I do question whether it is as easy as he seems to suggest  to add an RCN det to a Coast Guard crew and take the vessel into harm's way.  It might work if the Coast Guard crew were replaced whole and entire by an RCN crew.  Perhaps the vessels could have permanent CCG crews and RCNR crews as well with the RCNR supplying 25% of the AOPS's sea duty crews to keep their hands in.

I would like to pick up on the Tangent a bit more perhaps - and possibly drive a split to another thread (or a displacement to an existing thread):

Ships are mobile islands that allow a nation to create sovereign havens where the government of the day sees fit.

It doesn't matter the size of the ship or the size of the crew it is still sovereign territory.  Those islands are agents of influence for the government both at home and abroad.  Not all of those islands need to be in high threat environments all the time.  Often vessels are required in places like the Horn of Africa, the Straits of Malacca and the Caribbean where risks are not much more elevated than they would be in Canada's EEZ. 

Jackie Fisher described the Army as just another projectile to be launched by the Navy.

With that in mind I compiled the following list of projectiles available to Canada, either in the current inventory or at reasonable cost, that can be launched from vessels in the 2000 to 6000 tonne displacement range.  In other words affordable vessels, not Big Honking Ships, although they would be nice.  That range includes River, Rasmussen and Holland class OPVs as well as Absolons and Endurance class support ships.  It also includes FREMMs, MEKOs, Huitfeldts, Nansens, 7 Provinces and many similar vessels.

The List:

Air Assets

CH-147  13 tonnes
CH-149  11 tonnes
CH-148    8 tonnes
CH-146    4 tonnes
MQ-8C    2 tonnes
MQ-8B    1 tonne
ScanEagle  18 kg

Harpoon ER  700 kg
SM2              700 kg
ESSM            300 kg
Hellfire            50 kg
Griffin              20 kg
APKWS II        20 kg

76mm                5 kg
57mm                2 kg
35mm                1 kg
25mm              500 g
20mm              100 g
12.7mm            50 g
7.62mm            10 g

Sea Assets

LCVP MkV(c)  16 tonnes
Strb90H        15 tonnes
LCP                  7 tonnes

ISE Theseus    9 tonnes
RMMV                7 tonnes
ISE Arctic Exp    2 tonnes
Mk48 ADCAP    2 tonnes
CAPTOR            1 tonne
Mk46 Torp        230 kg
Seaspider ATT  ----

Land Assets

Soldiers            100 kg


In addition the islands carry surveillance gear (as do many of the projectiles)

Dutch OPVs contribute to their Recognized Maritime Picture with the Thales IM-400 Mast with an AESA 3D Volume Search Radar, a Surface Search Radar,  and EO Surveillance, tracking and fire control system.  Sonars are ubiquitous.

More islands equals a more comprehensive picture and more havens and more launch points.  The minimum requirement is a deck on which a CH-147 can land and refuel and a hull capable of launching a 10 to 20 tonne vessel over the side or off the stern.

Not all islands need to have all the projectiles all the time.  All islands should travel in company and be appropriately equipped for the threat.

I am a fan of minimal crewing - 

Ships crews run on the order of 20 to 25 drivers and engineers.

Everybody else is either a projectile or else manning projectile launchers.

Interestingly enough that 20 to 25 number applied to the days of sail as well.  Another comparison I just did to get a sense of historical crewing patterns and the difference between the RN and the merchant Navy was between HMS Victory and the Cutty Sark.

HMS Victory carried a spread of 37 sails with all studding and staysails set.

Cutty Sark carried 65 sails, including staysails, studding sails, skysails and moonrakers.

At Trafalgar Victory carried a complement of 820 and was undermanned.

Cutty Sark conventionally carried a crew of 26 to 28 including carpenter, sailmaker, cook, steward and apprentices.

Victory did not need her full complement to sail her.  The majority or her complement were, to put it in the harshest terms, passengers.

The passengers included the Admiral and his 6 man staff that directed the fleet, the Captain and his 30 commissioned officers and midshipmen that fought the ship and 146 Royal Marines.

The vast majority of the Victory's complement were there to serve her 100 guns.  Each of the guns and carronades required a crew of 6 men (average) and in addition there were the Gunner and his mates, the petty officers and powder monkeys supervising, maintaining and distributing the 35 tonnes of powder she carried.

Victory's large complement (carried in a 3500 tonne displacement vessel - approximately the same as a Holland OPV)  was essentially a small sailing crew transporting a regiment of guns and a company of marines.

The RN put the gun crews to work aloft and on sailing duties because "the devil finds work for idle hands" but they weren't needed for the ship.

Today I would argue that there is even less call for large complements.

A large vessel with a small crew of twenty or so can supply a mobile sovereign haven on which a CH-147 can light and which can man the onboard sensors.

A similar sized weapons det (Absolon uses about 20 to 25 and the Rheinmetall shorebased Skyshield system uses even fewer) supplies self defence.

20 for an Air det to launch and recover the host of helos and UAVs

20 for a deck det to launch and recover sea assets and handle RAS duties.

20 to supply "hotel" services.

Beyond that the complement becomes "projectiles".

I would argue that a large fleet of "value-priced" hulls that require minimal manning and that can be up-gunned and up-manned as national circumstances demand is both more cost effective and useful and than a small fleet of tailored vessels crammed to the gunwales with every available AB the RCN is permitted to hire.

Those hulls could either be large OPVs that can be upgunned for higher intensity conflicts and/or Frigates that can be degunned for lower intensity "constabulary" work.

One other point - not all projectiles have to have lethal effect to be effective agents of influence.  Survey work, logistics, humanitarian assistance and maintaining free passage - as well as maintaining law and order - all serve to establish a nation's rights and ability to operate freely broadly.

I wont disclose exact numbers here. Because they vary and because there are security issues with everything we say.

However, about 15 seaman, 5 or 6 officers and 15 engineers are all that are dedicated to "driving the ship" on a current HAL. So everybody else already is "dedicated to the various weapons systems" (and I include here the electrical and electronics techs as well as the weapons techs and systems operators of all sorts.).

By the way, your equation between the VICTORY, a ship already in its 40th year and getting old at Trafalgar, and Cutty Sark, a different type of merchant ship altogether and younger by almost a hundred year, is foible at best. It's like comparing a pre-Dreadnaught battleship with a WWII Battleship. Also, you fail to take into account the differences between a warship and a merchant ship, which holds true even today: Even from a seamanship point of view, a warship needs more personnel. The Cutty Sark (which probably had thinner and lighter ropes, lighter more efficient steel blocks and steam winches) did not need to have the manning  required to operate every sail at once and in a hurry - a warship like VICTORY did. Just that aspect requires a huge difference in crewing.

Nowadays, the difference in crewing is smaller, but it still exists and requires a warship to have a larger number of engineers and deck hands than a merchant ship just so you can maintain primary/secondary and tertiary propulsion/navigation and direction when in action.
Let's not also forget that another reason for having the large numbers of crew we have (compared to a merchant vessel) is damage control. Firefighting, flood control, contamination control, casualty clearing.

There's also the little issue of maintenance while at sea, too... a *lot* of man-hours there. I have a REMAR of 11 pers in the shop (not counting the Snr ET as I work for him, not other way around), and all too often I'm under that. Even if I have every warm body the REMAR calls for, I could easily employ 3 or 4 more.
Debate on a news article about a future sub purchase, apparently the 216 class are shown with vertical launch tubes and a poster on the thread claims this is a weapon we don't have and don't need. As I recall the recently planned upgrades for the ships include vertical launch tubes, but I can't recall the weapon type. Does this poster have a point?