Australian news, and some related international items

Transparent oceans? Technologies for detection of nuclear submarines will still be all too successful by 2050

Transparent Oceans? The Coming SSBN Counter-Detection Task May Be Insuperable

ANU National Security College


A first principles analysis of new technologies and the detection of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

Publication download link

Authors: Roger Bradbury, Scott Bainbridge, Katherine Daniell, Anne-Marie Grisogono, Ehsan Nabavi, Andrew Stuchbery, Thomas Vacca, Scott Vella and Elizabeth Williams.

This report considers the problem of disruptive changes in the technologies for detection of SSBNs and how they intersect with the growing or continued reliance on submarines for retaliatory nuclear capability. In simple terms, this report answers the question: Will future science and technology make the oceans transparent? It takes a scientific perspective and considers the science and technology issues bearing on ocean sensing and the detection of submarines as anomalies in the water column. This report utilises a time horizon spanning to the 2050s, as the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines will be deployed through the 2030s and beyond. Its analysis identified broad areas of future science and technology – rather than specific ‘hot’ areas of the moment – that might have an impact on submarine detection as well as on counter-detection.

This report makes two strong findings:

  • Favourable geographies that the West took advantage of in the Atlantic during the Cold War, and more recently in the Pacific in its strategic rivalry with China, will not have the same salience in the 2050s as during the Cold War.
  • The evolution of counter-detection technologies will not have the same salience in the 2050s as it did in earlier times. As a result, by the 2050s, this assessment shows, progress in counter-detection will only reduce the probability of detection from very likely to likely.

Publication file: 

PDF document Transparent Oceans? The Coming SSBN Counter-Detection Task May Be Insuperable

March 17, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Because the U.S. says so – $368 Billion for nuclear subs!

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has just committed Australia to spending $368 billion on second-hand US Virginia Class submarines, and a follow on build of eight next generation British AUKUS nuclear submarines. It’s a strategic blunder. The Story:… Patreon: Merch:… Facebook:…. Insta:…

March 17, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Paul Keating savages AUKUS nuclear submarine deal as Labor’s worst since conscription in World War 1

ABC, By political correspondent Brett Worthington. 15 Mar 23,

Former prime minister Paul Keating has taken aim at Australia’s AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal with the United States and the United Kingdom, calling it the “worst international decision” by a Labor government since conscription in World War I. 

Key points:

  • The AUKUS deal will see Australia spend up to $368 billion to acquire nuclear-powered submarines
  • Mr Keating has dubbed it one of the worst deals in history
  • He insists Australia should draw closer to China than to the United States and the United Kingdom

The former Labor leader also offered a scathing assessment of the government’s most senior politicians, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Defence Minister Richard Marles, and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, dubbing Mr Marles and Senator Wong “seriously unwise ministers”.

“This week, Anthony Albanese screwed into place the last shackle in the long chain the United States has laid out to contain China,” Mr Keating said in a written statement issued before he addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“No mealy-mouthed talk of ‘stabilisation’ in our China relationship or resort to softer or polite language will disguise from the Chinese the extent and intent of our commitment to United States’s strategic hegemony in East Asia with all its deadly portents.

“History will be the judge of this project in the end. But I want my name clearly recorded among those who say it is a mistake. Who believes that, despite its enormous cost, it does not offer a solution to the challenge of great power competition in the region or to the security of the Australian people and its continent.”

Mr Keating has been critical of the AUKUS defence pact since it was first struck between the three nations 18 months ago.

Mr Albanese met with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in California earlier this week, where they finalised a deal for Australia to buy and build nuclear-powered submarines, costing up to $368 billion over three decades.

Australia will eventually build British-designed nuclear-powered submarines with American combat systems.

Before that happens, Australia will buy at least three US nuclear-powered submarines early next decade — boats that might be second-hand and need US Congressional approval. 

The Coalition has endorsed the deal.

“For $360 billion, we’re going to get eight submarines. It must be the worst deal in all history,” Mr Keating said………………………………

Mr Keating dismissed China’s growing military as posing a threat to Australia.

“Let me say this: China has not threatened us,” he said.

Mr Keating, who said he spoke for both Labor politicians and grassroots members who felt they could not speak out, said nothing short of a Chinese naval fleet heading for Australia should be considered a threat. 

“We wouldn’t need submarines to sink an armada, an armada of Chinese boats and troop ships,” he told the press club. “We’d just do it with planes and missiles.”………………..

March 17, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

‘Send it to Woomera’: Premier McGowan cold on nuclear waste being stored in Western Australia

SMH, Hamish Hastie, With Paul Sakkal. March 16, 2023

Western Australia has nominated defence force land in the Woomera prohibited area in South Australia as the best location to store dangerous radioactive waste from Australia’s nuclear submarines.

The premier’s comments add to the growing headache the Albanese government faces over what to do with the spent nuclear reactors from the AUKUS deal submarines once the vessels begin producing them from the mid-2050s.

On Wednesday the leaders of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all signalled they did not want a nuclear waste facility in their state.

When asked whether he would be happy with a nuclear waste facility set up in WA after a press conference alongside Defence Minister Richard Marles in Perth on Thursday McGowan responded: “no”.

Woomera is a large swath of defence land in the north west of South Australia used as a long-range weapons testing area, including for nuclear weapons, after the second world war.

……………………………. Marles said the government would begin a process to pick a site for the waste within the year and revealed he had “a chat” with McGowan about the issue. But he said it was still early days.

…………… On Wednesday South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas told ABC Radio the waste should be sorted somewhere safe but that didn’t mean it had to be in South Australia……………………

A spokeswoman for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said under no circumstances would the state become a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

WA has a nuclear waste dumping facility in the Goldfields that stores waste with low-level radioactivity including discarded medical imaging machines.

McGowan said this low-level waste was completely different to the radioactivity from spent nuclear reactors from submarines.

March 17, 2023 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Life on a nuclear submarine takes its toll

Do you have what it takes to operate a nuclear submarine?

With nuclear reactors on board there is twice the amount of maintenance compared to diesel-powered submarines and a distinctly different knowledge base.

AFR, Matthew Cranston, 15 Mar 23

Deep in the dark, silent waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, veteran US nuclear submariners Nirav Patel, Joshua Besser and Brent Sadler have endured what no Australian has yet but soon will – months on end under the sea. 

Patel spent four months without surfacing, while Besser and Sadler spent three months. They were in one of the ultra-quiet nuclear submarines operated by the US Navy, which can create its own oxygen and desalinated water, only resurfacing for food.

That ability to spend months under the ocean is one of the biggest advantages of nuclear submarines compared to Australia’s fleet of diesel submarines, which need to resurface frequently to replenish oxygen and battery power.

But living for months under the sea takes its toll. “There is only a finite amount of happiness on board,” Patel says.

“It’s an office without windows, constantly. So if you can stay occupied, you don’t think about it,” he says, noting that daily fire, flooding, weapons and nuclear reactor drills help with focus………………………..

For Joshua Besser, who spent a decade on board nuclear-powered submarines and is now a senior director of nitrogen supply chains at explosives company Dyno Nobel, submarines are for young people.

“It’s definitely a young sailor’s game. The operational tempo is gruelling and deployments are long and arduous,” he says.

………………… A typical operational cycle consists of a six month “work up” where everyone becomes proficient in all watch stations and each department becomes certified in the mission parameters. This is followed by a six months or more deployment to achieve the intended mission. Finally, there is a six-month recovery, repair and maintenance period, he says.

Through all this, chemical amines, used to control the atmosphere, fill the fibres of the submariners’ uniforms worn throughout shifts and while eating their 30-minute meals.

They are only free from them when they take their two-minute showers, their six hours of sleep every two days, or during the extremely rare event of an ocean swim.

“Underway – you can’t tell the smell. When you come home and get off the ship, you can smell the hydraulic fluid, amine and other chemicals impregnated in your clothing and skin.”

Besser says that the level of danger on submarines with nuclear power poses far greater levels of risk than on a conventional submarine. “There are drills on every aspect that could go wrong”, and that creates a much tighter culture with the crew.

…………………. “For nuclear submarines versus diesel conventional subs – there is no comparison regarding sustained speed, electrical power and for advanced sonar systems,” Patel says pointing out yet another difference.

“They truly are hunter/killers.”

March 17, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Coming events

 Sunday March 19th 1 pm, Parliament House: CALL FOR PEACE, marking 20 years since the US-led invasion of Iraq.  SAY NO TO AUKUS – no more support for US aggression.  Called by Amnesty, supported by other community groups.

 Wed March 22nd 1 pm, Parliament House: SA PARLIAMENT VOTES TO FREE JULIAN ASSANGE.  Speeches outside the House, then moving in for the vote.  Organised by Adelaide for Assange.

† Sunday April 2nd 2 pm Hindmarsh Square, marching through Rundle Mall to Parliament House:  PALM SUNDAY MARCH FOR PEACE, JUSTICE AND CLIMATE.  Organised by No Nuclear Subs SA, with support for XR and other community groups.

March 17, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment