How Many Military Submarines Are Tjere.in Oir Oceans.amd.seas – Virginia-class nuclear submarine USS Illinois. Australia is proposing to acquire a variant of the Virginia-class submarine in deals with the United States and the United Kingdom. Photo: Sergeant Michael B Zingaro/AP
It analyzes the details and pros and cons of technology in defense deals with the US and UK.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday morning that Australia will scrap a multibillion-dollar deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group and sign new deals with the US and UK to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. .
The surprising decision announced this morning means Australia will become the second country (after the UK) to receive technology from the US.
Naturally, reactions to Thursday’s news were mixed, and with many questions remaining, here is an introductory guide to the basics of nuclear submarines.
It’s unclear which submarine the Australian government will get its hands on, but the US Navy’s newest design is the Virginia-class submarine. Manufactured by American aerospace and defense company General Dynamics, these submarines have gone through several iterations, but are typically powered by a single nuclear reactor and can travel at speeds of over 25 knots. Her crew consists of 15 officers and 117 enlisted men, and the submarine is used for both anti-submarine warfare and intelligence-gathering operations.
The vessel is powered by a 210 MW pressurized water reactor with enriched uranium fuel sealed inside. The reactor will not need refueling during its 30-year lifespan.
The submarine is powered by an onboard nuclear reactor. These break down atoms to produce heat, producing energy, which is then used to make steam for turbines that generate electricity to power propulsion and its internal systems. To generate steam, the submarine draws in seawater and purifies it through a desalination process. Some of this clean water is also used for drinking, generating oxygen through hydrolysis, and removing CO2 or other air pollutants.
The diesel-powered submarines, which Australia will initially build in partnership with the French firm Naval Group, tend to be smaller and quieter. They can easily glide along the coast into shallow water or hard-to-detect estuaries.
There are several advantages to this, but the main disadvantage is durability. Diesel-powered submarines need to be resurfaced regularly to absorb oxygen, release exhaust gases and recharge their batteries. As a result, they cannot operate for long periods of time on the open ocean and must carefully consider where, when and how they can refuel.
On the other hand, nuclear submarines are built for endurance. With great power, some builds can run almost indefinitely, or at least until something breaks or the crew runs out of canned food. The only real limitation is the crew’s requirement to last long in a confined space.
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Because nuclear submarines tend to be larger, one drawback is that they cannot travel in shallow waters, making them easier to detect. In a war game in 2015, a Russian-made Kilo-class diesel submarine used by the Indian Navy “sunk” a US nuclear submarine. However, the US Navy did not acknowledge the sinking.
Australia’s diesel-powered submarines have traditionally been thought of as a complement to the American-powered submarines used by the United States, so the latest announcement came as a surprise.
Nuclear submarines are also more complex to maintain and service. Unlike the US and UK, Australia does not have a domestic nuclear industry and can provide a highly skilled workforce of engineers and nuclear physicists. Most of the work on the submarine will probably have to be done abroad.
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Columbia Class Submarine
It is also not clear what plans are being made to dispose of the spent uranium. The Australian government has been working to build a controversial nuclear waste storage facility in Kimba, South Australia, but the proposal has so far been limited to low-level and intermediate waste at 100 locations across the country.
It varies from time to time. Diesel electric subs are quieter while operating in electric mode, but at some point you will need to surface or pop up your snorkel to run the diesel engines and recharge the batteries. When the diesel engine is running, it is noisier than a nuclear-powered submarine. Nuclear submarines also make noise from their reactors, including coolant pipes, turbines, and steam generation.
U.S. Virginia-class submarines typically use highly enriched uranium (HEU), which does not need to be replaced during the life cycle of each submarine. Worldwide, the US, UK, Russia and India are the only countries using HEU in their naval reactors. Other countries, such as France, use high-density, low-enriched uranium and sometimes have to switch to alternative sources.
HEU is one of the most dangerous metals on Earth and one of the simplest nuclear materials to work with. These two characteristics make it a security risk for fear that rogue states or terrorists might develop nuclear weapons or that an accident could trigger a serious accident. It is also the reason why it became a target of the non-proliferation treaty.
If there is one thing the Australian government has made clear, it is that submarines will not be armed with nuclear weapons and Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities.
That’s not to say that submarines can’t do that. Taking the Virginia class as an example, this build is equipped with 12 vertical missile launchers and four 533mm torpedo launchers. It can fire 16 Tomahawk cruise missiles in a single salvo, but can be modified to mount heavier weapon systems. The missile could potentially be built to carry a nuclear warhead, but as of 2019, it is the only non-nuclear variant of the Tomahawk missile in operation.
Serving in a Navy submarine was not always a pleasant experience. In World War II, for example, German U-boat crews suffered heavy losses and many died not only in battle, but also from catastrophic mechanical failures, including asphyxiation from diesel exhaust or explosive depressurization after flushing the toilet.
When it comes to nuclear-powered submarines, there has been no known reactor meltdown from any sinking that has occurred so far, although radiation adds a new dimension.
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The most recent nuclear submarine disaster involved the Russian Kursk, which sank after a faulty weld on a torpedo caused it to explode and detonate another torpedo. All 118 crew members were killed, many died instantly in the initial explosion, but the reactor’s safety devices shut it down without incident. The 23 sailors who survived the blast spent six hours on a rescue that never came and died in a desperate attempt to create oxygen. American and British powered ships sparked an unprecedented diplomatic dispute between the allies.
Canberra scrapped a $66 billion order on Wednesday, announcing it was joining a new security alliance with the US and Britain called AUKUS in an apparent attempt to counter China.
France later recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia, saying the action was a “stab in the back”. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in an interview with France 2 television accused the “duplicates, contempt and lies” behind Australia’s move.
What is the difference between French submarines and submarines supplied by Britain and the United States? And are nuclear-powered submarines better than conventional ones?
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Diesel-electric submarines are powered by electric motors charged by diesel engines. These engines require air and fuel to operate. This means you have to resurface more often to make it easier to detect. When operating in electric mode, the submarine is significantly quieter than when running on a diesel engine.
Nuclear submarines use steam generated by an on-board nuclear reactor to turn turbines. Having a long-running power source means they can stay submerged for years. Detection is limited, effectively limited only by the crew’s food and water needs.
Six countries have nuclear-powered submarines. Under the new security agreement, the US and UK will make Australia a 7th country.
The first nuclear-powered submarine was built by the United States in 1954. Named the USS Nautilus, the 97 m (319 ft) vessel was significantly larger than previous diesel-electric submarines. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), all 68 submarines operated by the United States are nuclear-powered submarines, of which 14 are strategic nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, the K-3 Leninsky Komsomol. Today, Russia has 49 submarines, including 29 nuclear-powered submarines, 11 of which are capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles.
China built its first nuclear-powered submarine in 1974. With the world’s largest military, China has made increasing efforts to improve its naval capabilities. Beijing has at least 59 operational submarines, 12 nuclear-powered and half of them SSBNs.
North Korea operates one of 71 submarines