Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Dissecting Vice Admiral Jonathon Mead’s Nuclear submarine zealotry

Australia considering next-generation US and UK designs for nuclear submarines, The Strategist, 10 May 2022, Brendan Nicholson, Brendan Nicholson is executive editor of The Strategist.   Australia is involved in complex negotiations to ensure that its plan to acquire eight nuclear-powered submarines doesn’t weaken the international non-proliferation regime.

Of course it will weaken the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The fuel required for these submarines’ nuclear reactor is highly enriched uranium – at risk of being acquired by other countries. Of course others will want these types of nuclear submarines, once Australia is getting them

The chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, tells The Strategist talks are underway with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure the project embraces such high safety standards that it sets a rigorous new benchmark under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Weapons, or NPT.

The submarines are to be built in Australia under the AUKUS arrangement with the United States and United Kingdom.

Oh yeah.where does he get that from? Most bexperts are saying that they’ll be built in UK or USA

Australia is yet to choose a US or UK submarine, but reactors on both use highly enriched, or ‘weapons grade’, nuclear fuel that does not need to be replaced for the boat’s 30-year life. There’s concern that the use of this fuel could wreck the global non-proliferation machinery by opening the way for other nations to obtain it as a step towards manufacturing nuclear weapons………

To complete a defence project on this massive scale, says Mead, Australia must build ‘a nuclear mindset’……….

What is he talking about? Australians are not so stupid. So there’ll be a massive propaganda campaign? How’s he going to do iy?

Mead is aiming for the RAN to have its first submarine by the end of the next decade, but says he’s ‘seized by the strategic need to drag that date left as much as is safely possible’……..

He notes that an interim submarine capability is likely to include Australians co-crewing with American and British submariners, and other more advanced options.

Those options will not include another conventional submarine.

However, The Strategist understands that the navy may be offered a nuclear-powered boat to use through the 2030s—once Australia’s nuclear stewardship has been certified.

Mead says it’s too soon to say whether Australia will end up with US Virginia-class or British Astute-class vessels, but he concedes that new versions, the American SSNX and the British SSNR, will be in the mix.

‘We are doing deep-level analysis of all these options—maturity of the design, when are they going to start building it, what’s its affordability, how we’d do it—to present by the first quarter of 2023 an optimal path to the three governments. We then begin to deliver the submarine.’

‘To train personnel’, Mead says, ‘we could embed sailors and officers in a US or UK boat to the point where we may have a 50% UK or US crew and a 50% Australian crew.’ When the first submarine is launched in South Australia, the goal is to have the crew trained, the industrial base ready to maintain it and the regulatory system set up. ‘We have exchange officers on board our submarines and ships all the time.’……….

‘So we need to set up a system supported by the US and UK to provide our people with reactor training. If you’re the engineer, you may be a nuclear physicist. If you’re working at the front end of the boat, you require some knowledge of the reactor in case there’s an emergency, but not to the same level.

‘The commanding officer will require a very deep level. We are mapping out every person on the submarine and what type of nuclear training they require and how we deliver that.’

Succeeding in the submarine enterprise will take a major national effort, says Mead.

The decline in the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, students in schools and universities will have to be arrested. The Australian Defence Force needs to attract individuals who see nuclear-propelled submarines as state of the art, as exciting, as something they want to work in for many years.

STEM education is a very good idea – Science Technology, Maths, Engineering – and should be encoursaged. But, at the same time, these nuclear zealots are down-grading biology history, social studies, ecology, the arts – all the humanities – equally, perhaps more than equally, necessary

………   ‘That will be the key to success. We need to harness Australia’s youth now so that they see a very clear and satisfying career path in the submarine program. I want to develop my own sovereign and independent system where I have someone at school right now. She could be 15 and wondering what to do. I tell her I want her to command submarine number one in 15 years.  “You’ll need to do some STEM subjects and you’ll join our program and I’ll send you overseas. I’m going to send you to MIT, potentially, and then on a UK boat, then bring you back to Australia.” Or, “I want to prepare you to be a manager in the shipyard, an engineer or a naval architect looking after the reactor—or part of the regulatory system.”’

Mead needs thousands of specially trained people in the industrial base, navy workforce, broader ADF and crew from the sharp end of the submarine and the reactor through to safety regulation and monitoring and environmental protection and, ‘if we have a defect, an Australian company that’s nuclear certified and able to provide parts’.

He’s talking to universities that are developing courses ranging from doctoral and research degrees in nuclear physics down to graduate certificates or introductory courses on reactors.

His taskforce already numbers 226 specialists in areas ranging from engineering to international law and nuclear proliferation. Many have already been on global research trips. ‘I have people embedded from the Attorney-General’s Department and legal experts from the Solicitor-General, legal people from the navy and from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and we bring in other experts when needed.’

……………………………….   To assess whether Australia could build these submarines without a civil nuclear industry, Defence sought advice from the US and UK. Because the reactors don’t need to be refuelled and come as a sealed unit, the strong advice was that a civil industry was not required to build and operate the submarines. Mead has sought advice from nuclear physicists and technicians at the Lucas Heights reactor near Sydney. ‘They’ve been dealing with nuclear waste for many years, so we talk to them as we look at our own solutions for nuclear waste”………………………………..

So, Vice Admiral Mead and co are going to solve the nuclear waste problem. Australia can do it? When highly qualified scientists across the world have not been able to?

 Mead will take a big team to UK shipyards soon to map out a pathway to Australia’s new submarines.

Who’ll be on this team? Anyone with any common sense? Or just another pack of nuclear zealots?

I wake up every morning thinking I’ve got to find that optimal pathway, not just to the submarine itself, but what is the optimal workforce?’ says Mead. ‘What’s the best way to train these people over 20 years? How do we set Australian industry up for success?

The plan for that whole system must be provided to the three governments early next year so that the decision on the choice of submarine can be made. Then the process to build begins.

In the US and UK, Mead says he’s sensed an unwavering commitment from everyone he’s talked to, civil and military.

‘They see great strategic benefit in what we’re doing…….   How we will develop a sovereign capability.’

What’s he talking about – ”a sovereign capability”? So Australia is to be a great world military power? This guy has delusions of grandeur

…………….   He says the boats must be built in Australia to ensure Australia has a sovereign capability. That will make it much easier to sustain them ……………  Could Australia then become a sustainment hub for US and UK submarines? Absolutely, says Mead. A US nuclear submarine visited Western Australia recently and a British Astute-class boat came last year.  https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-considering-next-generation-us-and-uk-designs-for-nuclear-submarines/

May 10, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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