Sunday, January 27, 2013

1/27/2013 Links updated 2/29/2016


  The Answer is Really, Really Deep and That's Not Good.

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies (Attention EU Visitors , possible "cookie" encounter ahead) 

Facing Dragons
We like this image in light of our recent coverage of the second Japan / Taiwan Coast Guard water cannon fight with Three mainland China ships standing by out side of the territorial waters of Japan where the incident took place. In this image twin dragons appear to be competing to devour the rising sun. The aggressive behavior of both "Chinas" bodes ill for peace in the Pacific. So far only the Philippines has opted for resort to international law and litigation. It remains to be seen if mainland China will answer. We know the Dragon is ill intended. "Intelligence" must consider intentions and capabilities. This article is about new disturbing Dragon capabilities. Photo by Peter Griffin

China Is Building Deep Submersibles And Has Dramatically Improved And Expanded Submarine Building Capabilities.

 Those of us here on the U.S. Gulf Coast who lived through the BP oil spill recall that a major problem in capping the well was the very limited capability of the available unmanned deep submersibles. They simply weren't large enough to position capping devices or perform the kind of "stabbing" procedures needed to cap a "deep water" well  Just as the search for offshore oil starts to look below normal manned submarine depths the U.S. and much of the Western World has pretty much given up on further development of deep submersible technology. Enter the Dragon. The UPI reports:

BEIJING, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. has developed a new manned submersible capable of deep dives.
The state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. is one of the two largest shipbuilding conglomerates in China, the other being the China State Shipbuilding Corp.
The submersible, named the "Jiaolong," is part of a greater plan for China to build a deep-sea station where submersibles can dock and "oceanauts" can work, The China Daily reported.
During a recent Pacific 44-day test mission the Jiaolong made record dives of more than 4.3 miles in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench.
The Jiaolong tests represent another first for China Shipbuilding Industry Corp., the Chinese navy's major supplier.

Read more:
 submersible imagesAn example of a "Deep Submersible" from Wikipedia Commons

 The bad news here is that while the Dragon is busy flexing its new found muscle to take the wet territories of Japan , the Philippines, Vietnam and others it's "soft sea power" which is considerable is expanding. All seafaring nations have occasional need for robust deep operating capacity. The United States has never had a comprehensive maritime policy and often lacks basic "soft" sea power capacities. One example is in the ongoing salvage operation of the USS GUARDIAN off of the Philippines. We will need heavy lift salvage barges and a semi submersible movable "dry dock". These are not in the possession of the U.S. Navy or very common out side of our domestic waters which are far away from this accident scene. The Dutch by contrast have made marine salvage a national priority industry and have generally been able to supply these services when needed. The Dutch, a NATO ally have been a reliable partner to Western navies at such times. But robust deep submersible capacity is about to become a sole province of China due to the Dragon's initiative and our own shortsightedness. 

  Try to imagine another BP type incident in our future. When we are in most desperate need of robust deep submersible technology we may have to turn to the Dragon. The disaster is brought to us by a human/mechanical failure on board a foreign flagged Mobile Off Shore Drilling Unit (MODU), and if Senator John McCain has his way our fleet of offshore service vessels will also be under someone else's flag . Now suppose this future environmental disaster happens while we are at logger heads with the Dragon over its aggressive behavior towards the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and territorial seas of our allies Japan and the Philippines. Do you see how "soft" (commercial or "merchant marine") sea power can be skillfully intertwined with traditional sea muscle (traditional naval power). The United States has never figured this out outside the wardrooms of our own Navy and the gates of the Naval Academy. China studies and applies the lessons taught by Alfred Thayer Mann at our Naval Academy at the turn of the last century. Mann is a subject of intense study throughout the naval world but we have never formed a national comprehensive maritime policy with even a glance back at Mann's classic definition of "sea power".


Alfred Thayer Mann Photo from Wikipedia. Will he ever be read outside the gates of the Naval Academy?

 Referring back to the same UPI report we learn that China's newly improved capability to produce both commercial and military deep submergence technology fits hand in glove with another subsea technology with far more traditional naval implications. The Dragon is building more and better submarines, this from the UPI article referring to China's ship Building Industry Corp.

"The company's submarine expertise extends to building nuclear powered submarines.
In a draft report presented to Congress last November, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that China is "on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and air-dropped nuclear bombs."
The report continued that while China has had a largely symbolic ballistic missile submarine capability for decades, it is only now set to establish a "near-continuous at-sea strategic deterrent."
Chinese President Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China from 2002-12 and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the CPC from 2004-12, has made it a priority to modernize the country's navy."

 If you have been reading our posts of last week you know that at least one British official is openly talking about less than full replacement of Great Britain's Trident submarine force. Less than full replacement in 2020 would spell the end of 24/7 nuclear deterrent patrolling, just as China will be establishing such patrols and Russia resuming them. The United States is facing similar budget pressures and Defense is expected to take the biggest cuts. The whole point in the Trident type programs was to insure the survivability of a nuclear strike back capability as a deterrent against an enemy first strike. When we had it in full measure the Soviets howled in protest for we had both a spear and a shield. For quite a while they had only a spear. Now the thug states are developing the shield while we are beating both our spears and shields into plow shares.  

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