Operating SSN & SSK together.

RogerRanger

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I am just wondering why nations don't operate SSN's and SSK's together in the west?

For me SSN's are very complex and expensive. SSK's are also very complex and expensive now. However there are different advantages from modern SSK's in terms of shallower water operations and the numbers which can be built because of the smaller size. So surely both could be used in the Australia/UK/US/French navies, but they aren't. For example the British scrapped our SSK program to put all the money into the SSN and SSBN program, which means we only have 3 operational SSN's. The Australians will likely be looking to scrap the Collins class and fully operate the SSN fleet. I think the Australians should go for a mixed SSN/SSK fleet to have the capabilities and strategic numbers. As 8 SSN's means 4 operational, which isn't enough when you have to defend Australia and project your fleet into the India Ocean/Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea.

The British have this problem as well, we don't have enough subs to project power and defend Britain. So I think western nuclear capable navies should look at operating both submarine types.
 

Nein2.0(Nomad)

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I am just wondering why nations don't operate SSN's and SSK's together in the west?

For me SSN's are very complex and expensive. SSK's are also very complex and expensive now. However there are different advantages from modern SSK's in terms of shallower water operations and the numbers which can be built because of the smaller size. So surely both could be used in the Australia/UK/US/French navies, but they aren't. For example the British scrapped our SSK program to put all the money into the SSN and SSBN program, which means we only have 3 operational SSN's. The Australians will likely be looking to scrap the Collins class and fully operate the SSN fleet. I think the Australians should go for a mixed SSN/SSK fleet to have the capabilities and strategic numbers. As 8 SSN's means 4 operational, which isn't enough when you have to defend Australia and project your fleet into the India Ocean/Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea.

The British have this problem as well, we don't have enough subs to project power and defend Britain. So I think western nuclear capable navies should look at operating both submarine types.

Diesel powered subs are good for patrolling local and regional waters while Nuclear powered is great for ocean going and going some where far where a diesel powered wont go.

I still believe in the use of using both diesel powered and nuclear powered. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I hope Australia does not scrap its diesel powered subs as they still have their uses.
 

Nilgiri

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TIFWIW:

The structure, pooling and experience charted by NATO makes such a (standalone) capability increasingly redundant within NATO (my opinion, formed by various interaction with those in the know + research).

In the force structure "Tier A" countries (nuclear capable + marine capable countries eg. US) provide SSN in the attack realm.

"Tier B" countries (marine capable only eg. Germany) provide SSKs.

This simplifies course, training, optimisation and logistics costs internally for each (NATO) country's research pool and naval regimen... rather than have to all individually operate 2 (in more standalone capacity) side by side.

If you want to access some discipline that you yourself don't quite provide (for example SSK-based perisher course of Dutch Navy)...then you talk to your ally (this happens all the time) and make regular accommodations for a relevant batch of your sailors and officers as needed and as can be done.

One must also take in board the assigned mission differences between SSN (attack + nuclear) and SSK (killer + conventional).

The SSN essentially gets a larger profile set of missions given its much greater endurance compared to a straight out "killer" which was at one point (when the USN classification started) much more anti-submarine (i.e ASW esp optimized towards first set of boomers emerging) based in the early half of the cold war.


This then gets into the interesting topic of the "SSKN"*...which gained most of its form in the USS Tullibee
But two things have led to more generic evolution/merging of the terminology we use today (and SSKN basically being merged/subsumed under SSN**):

A) Untimely tragedy of USS Thresher which was at the time referred to as "SSKN"....hastening the removal of classification use.

B) Growing mission set of all types of submarines in "multi role" fashion, thus making SSKN redundant next to SSN anyway...and SSK taking on more "attack" profile w.r.t the definitions of earlier era but remaining conventional powered so the need for SSK terminology to remain.

C) All the "SS" terminologies being US "naming rights" origin in character. Specific application in other (esp non NATO) navies is unofficial and thus not hand in glove 100%.

Large powerful (or growing powerful) countries outside of NATO of course do not have this apply (mutual exclusivity approach like NATO members cannot be relied upon as the advantages of either SSK and SSN cannot simply be pooled as much from allied force structure).

Thus we have seen, see and will see SSK and SSN side by side use in countries like ex-USSR (and now Russia), China, India and Brazil.

As for Australia, it is likely if they do go for SSN, the rationale will be one or the other (i.e SSK becomes mutually exclusive) for the same reasons found in NATO...since they can for say optimise a networked alliance of SSKs that Japan and India provide in say the Quad (going forward)....of course dependent on how the quad further evolves and strengthens in this regard.

In any case, I just don't see a strongly allied (to number of big nuclear powers) country of about 25 million people.... needing to provide (and take on internal costs) of total standalone capability in both SSN and SSK.

It will most likely pick one and save costs (esp. given the premium human resource allocation).

But maybe its greater physical remoteness from both NATO and its biggest dependable allies (combined with the growth and proximity of largest deemed threats) will factor in more with time (regarding autarkic standalone provisioning in its various power levels) as well.

It all remains to be seen I suppose.

==========================================================

*SSBN and SSGN prosper in use among 4 letter SS-classes....and one could technically have SSB and SSG as well (non nuclear powered versions of each) but such a mission capability would be extremely narrow and limited for the costs involved.

**All previous SSKN are all officially called SSN by the USN since the 70s/80s iirc.

This is all off top of my head with no proof-reading, I might have messed up something here, in which case apologies in advance.

BTW @RogerRanger , I think this kind of thing would be best put in the (recent) QnA section.

Maybe @MisterLike or another admin can move it to the QnA section for further study/analysis.

@Anmdt @Saithan @Gessler @AlphaMike @Madokafc @Paro @Test7 @Kartal1 @DAVEBLOGGINS @Yasar @Joe Shearer @T-123456 @Cabatli_53 @Fuzuli NL et al.
 

Paro

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You can ask him questions during his live broadcast.

Did you know the US was marketing Japanese SSK for the Australians? Neither the Australians nor the japs were interested in cooperating with each other. Aus wanted an SSN and japs didn't have the capacity to build more for the Aus nor did they have cultural know-how to set up manufacturing with non-jap workers. It was a recipe for disaster. But somehow quad bought them together.

Finally, the French agreed to sell them SSNs but they weren't ready to provide the fuel needed for the subs. So they settled for SSKs. The deal was like buying a Bugatti with a Peugeot engine. It was bound to fail eventually.
 
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RogerRanger

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You can ask him questions during his live broadcast.

Did you know the US was marketing Japanese SSK for the Australians? Neither the Australians nor the japs were interested in cooperating with each other. Aus wanted an SSN and japs didn't have the capacity to build more for the Aus nor did they have cultural know-how to set up manufacturing with non-jap workers. It was a recipe for disaster. But somehow quad bought them together.

Finally, the French agreed to sell them SSNs but they weren't ready to provide the fuel needed for the subs. So they settled for SSKs. The deal was like buying a Bugatti with a Peugeot engine. It was bound to fail eventually.
Thanks. I like how in the video he is tell what the Astute class systems are.

Quad is in the early stages and it is vulnerable as well. Give the distance between the 4 members, and the Japanese/India need to safely transit the South China sea, which the Chinese control now. Which is why Australia is so important, it can link the Indian ocean and Pacific. Like the US links the Atlantic and Pacific.

Only the British have the cultural and geo-political need to defend Australia and only the Americans have the SSN building capacity to help Australia beyond their own needs. So its the only way Australia could get SSN's.
 

Nilgiri

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You can ask him questions during his live broadcast.

Did you know the US was marketing Japanese SSK for the Australians? Neither the Australians nor the japs were interested in cooperating with each other. Aus wanted an SSN and japs didn't have the capacity to build more for the Aus nor did they have cultural know-how to set up manufacturing with non-jap workers. It was a recipe for disaster. But somehow quad bought them together.

Finally, the French agreed to sell them SSNs but they weren't ready to provide the fuel needed for the subs. So they settled for SSKs. The deal was like buying a Bugatti with a Peugeot engine. It was bound to fail eventually.

Seems little interest in picking this up here.

I will give the tl;dr conclusion from purely technical + rational + "cultural" standpoint.

The researched, deployed and proven HEU cycle of the USN (and RN given the UK heavily borrowed/cooperated from it) requires about a 30 year frequency for a refuel (when too much by-product accumulates and new fuel rods needed, precipitating the deepest opening of the reactor - a delicate yet intensive task).

The LEU cycles so far (researched + deployed) like the one France employs.... need refuelling about every 7 years I believe....due to the very nature of LEU regarding this (i.e by-product issue surfaces lot quicker given less source flux ratio).

This would have increased costs for Australia (w.r.t a French SSN) given this increased need to see a french shipyard (every 7 years) or offshoring all that to an aussie shipyard....

If the former option was opted for, there would be things like (French) shipyard labour strike frequency (this is known issue), other issues with French shipyards, EU bureaucracy and all associated costs/issues relative to how they are found w.r.t US and UK.

All part of the larger "cultural" issue stuff coming to bear that @BordoEnes mentioned earlier. There was also a certain way French apparently handled a lot of negotiation and concerns and requests the Aussies put forward.....that put off lot of Aussies involved (though French side of story is largely inaccessible to me it must be said).

Aussie contact of mine told me this did play a big role in this decision to not simply transmute French shortfin back to regular barracuda (SSN).....but opt for HEU + anglo saxon tech/shipyards.

@Anmdt @MisterLike @Nein2.0(Nomad) et al.

Another easter egg in this saga to consider is the American Combat system used by the Aussies in the naval domain and military at large.

The trouble with buying (or leasing) even British subs (in the past) is the RAN being wedded to this CS....and it played some part in decision making for collins (kockums sweden tech) in replacing the oberon class previously.

This was a major sticking point in the current program....as installing the CS into a sub needs certain extensive details, and getting the US to tell France (an issue it seems between the "tier A" force structure guys) about these "crown jewels" was AFAIK an unsolved problem.

This is confirmed now by two Aussies I trust.
 

Nilgiri

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Thanks. I like how in the video he is tell what the Astute class systems are.

Quad is in the early stages and it is vulnerable as well. Give the distance between the 4 members, and the Japanese/India need to safely transit the South China sea, which the Chinese control now. Which is why Australia is so important, it can link the Indian ocean and Pacific. Like the US links the Atlantic and Pacific.

Only the British have the cultural and geo-political need to defend Australia and only the Americans have the SSN building capacity to help Australia beyond their own needs. So its the only way Australia could get SSN's.

Consider (if AUKUS SSN project does proceed):

A) The UK involvement in the SSN project will most likely be in terms of training. The Aussies and British have near identical naval culture and procedures.

The Aussies after all need to learn nuclear reactor operations from someone since they don't have that sort of infrastructure at home. It's likely Aussie submariners will start being seconded to the Royal Navy Submarine Service soon to start gaining the necessary experience, and start being sent to RN schools.

It isn't unprecedented: The Aussies are already sending their prospective submarine skippers to the Perisher course every few years.


B) If you dig deeper, There's quite a few ex-RN personnel in the RAN submarine community influencing this whole approach and (A)'s inertia more broadly.

C) The RAN actually used to run the submarine XO course for the RN/RCN/RAN. The RN ran the CO course aka “Perisher”. They might go back to doing that, especially with using similar capability boats.
 
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