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NEW USS ND MERCHANDISE WILL SOON ARRIVE!

We have been working on new USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) merchandise to sell to raise money for our USS North Dakota Committee to promote our new boat.  Stand by as we will post an opportunity to get your very own USS NORTH DAKOTA stuff in time for Christmas!

Now that we’ve got our new boat, we can help our friends in Montana get theirs.  Susan and I were in Fort Benton MT this summer and I visited the monument to the Navy ships with a name related to Montana.  Prominently displayed was a diagram of USS MONTANA, what was to be the lead ship in a new class of battleship in 1943, but which was never built when the Navy decided battleships were to be permanently displaced by aircraft carriers.  So Montana is really entitled to a new ship, and you can help them get SSN-791 named for Montana.  You can vote for Montana (or for any of the other four states) at http://www.dailypress.com/business/dp-nws-shipyard-new-sub-name-20121117,0,4233447.story.  This site wants you to sign in or sign up.  Montana has the most votes so far.  Here’s the article:

Virginia-Class Attack Submarine To Be Named, But What To Call It?

Newport News Daily Press,Nov. 18

On Monday at 1 p.m. the Navy will give a name to its next Virginia-class attack submarine — until now referred to only by its hull number, SSN 791.

The boat is being built by Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat, and it is likely be named for a U.S. state, in keeping with the latest Navy naming conventions.

But what might it be called, and who decides?

Ships are named by Navy secretaries — in this case former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus — under the direction of the president and considering the recommendations of Congress, according to a December 2011 report prepared by the Navy.

Though Mabus has favored state names for submarines, that has not always been the case among his predecessors.

The first Navy sub was named for its inventor, John Phillip Holland, and the second was named the USS Plunger, a description of the boat’s diving capabilities. Since then, the boats have been named for both aquatic and land animals (Halibut, Sea Wolf and Tarantula, to name a few); famous Americans (Patrick Henry, Theodore Roosevelt and King Kamehameha of Hawaii); and cities (Los Angeles, Toledo and Hampton, which is named jointly for cities in Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina).

But since the mid-1970s, when the USS Ohio was ordered and built, all but four submarines have been named for states.

According to the Navy report Mabus “subscribes to the thinking … that the Naval Register should always include ships named after states of the union, ‘so as to maintain the valuable relationship this promotes between the Navy and the citizens of individual states.'”

So far he has named five boats for five states, picking states that “had been absent the longest from the U.S. Naval Register”: Illinois, Washington, Colorado, Indiana and South Dakota.

While Mabus has the authority to break from the tradition he has thus far followed, if he continues to choose state names long absent from naval ships, several stick out as possibilities.

According to a Congressional Research Service report, “there is a small handful of states for which the most time – 90 years – has passed since a ship named for the state has been in commissioned service with the Navy as a combat asset, and for which no ship by that name is currently under construction.”

They are: Delaware, Kansas, Montana, Oregon and Vermont, and the last ships to bear all the states’ names were battleships.

The last USS Oregon was decommissioned in 1919. The decommissioning of the USS Vermont came a year later. The USS Kansas was pulled from service in 1921 followed by the USS Delaware in 1923.

The first USS Montana was launched in Newport News in 1906, but it was renamed the Missoula in 1920. Construction of the battleship Montana was stopped in 1922 because of an international treaty limiting the size of the U.S. Navy and other war fleets around the globe.

In the early 1940s the name USS Montana was to grace the lead ship in a new breed of battleships, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. But the class of ships never got beyond the design phase because by 1943 the Navy had recognized the need for more aircraft carriers, deciding “the battleship was no longer the dominant element of sea power.”

You decide

The public has no formal role in naming submarines, but you can go to http:www.dailypress.com to vote on what you think should be the name of the fast-attack submarine known now by its hull number, SSN 791.

In a recent post I mentioned the new British submarine with ASTUTE as the lead ship of the class.  A couple of recent articles in the Undersea Warfare News indicate they are having a few problems, but they will no doubt fix everything to have a great new submarine.  Here are those articles:

International Undersea Warfare News

Revealed: Leak Forced Attack Submarine HMS Astute To Surface During Sea Trials

Dailyrecord.co.uk, Nov 16, 2012

ROYAL Navy officials have played down concerns after it emerged that their multi-billion pound submarine HMS Astute was forced to resurface after it let in water during testing last year.

Aswell as flooding issues, electrical switchboards were also found to be fitted incorrectly, while concerns were aired about the accuracy of nuclear reactor monitoring instruments.

Despite the initial problems, defence officials said the issues had been rectified and that it was “normal for first of class trials to identify areas where modifications are required”.

Referring to the flooding incident, which was caused after a metal cap, believed to be on a cooling pipe, corroded, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said: “During trials last year HMS Astute experienced a leak which was immediately isolated and the submarine returned safely to the surface.

“An investigation found one small part which had not been made of the correct material had corroded.

“A replacement was fitted at sea and the submarine continued with her programme.

“BAE Systems has carried out a full assessment which concluded all similar parts were fitted correctly.”

The spokesman added that electrical switchboards on board Astute, which ran aground near Skye off the west coast of Scotland in 2010, had not been fitted to Naval Engineering Standards and have since been reinstalled.

Concerns that nuclear reactor monitoring instruments were giving inaccurate readings because the wrong type of lead used in certain components were also raised during the trials.

The MoD said a full assessment concluded the material had no effect on the accuracy of any readings and no impact on the submarine’s operation.

Responding to corrosion problems, which were identified on Astute and the second Astute class submarine HMS Ambush, the spokesman added: “All Royal Navy submarines are subject to a continuous, thorough assessment of their components to minimise the risk of corrosion.”

Officials would not comment on reports that Astute also suffered also suffered from speed and propulsion issues during the trials.

The MoD added: “HMS Astute’s sea trials were designed to rigorously test all aspects of the submarine to meet the exacting standards required for operations.

“It is normal for first of class trials to identify areas where modifications are required and these are then incorporated into later vessels of the class.

“These will be the most technologically advanced submarines ever to serve with the Royal Navy and will provide an outstanding capability for decades to come.”

The Astute Class of attack submarines are the most technologically advanced in the Royal Navy and will progressively replace the Trafalgar Class currently in service.

HMS Astute which was built by BAE systems, is yet to start formal service.

Slow, Leaky, Rusty: Britain’s £10bn Submarine Beset By Design Flaws

Royal Navy’s HMS Astute ‘has a V8 engine with a Morris Minor gearbox’; Hunter-killer submarines were doomed from the start

By Nick Hopkins, The Guardian (UK), Nov 15, 2012

The Royal Navy’s new multibillion pound hunter-killer submarine, HMS Astute, has been beset by design and construction flaws that have raised doubts about its performance and potential safety.

The Guardian can reveal that Astute, the first of seven new submarines costing £9.75bn, has been unable to reach its intended top speed.

At the moment, the boat, heralded as the most sophisticated submarine ever built for the navy, cannot sprint to emergencies or away from an attack – an essential requirement for a hunter-killer boat.

It would also be incapable of keeping pace with the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, which will be able to travel at more than 30 knots and need the submarines to protect them. One source told the Guardian the boat had a “V8 engine with a Morris Minor gearbox.”

Other problems that have affected the boat in recent months include:

•     Flooding during a routine dive that led to Astute performing an emergency surfacing.

•     Corrosion even though the boat is essentially new.

•     The replacement or moving of computer circuit boards because they did not meet safety standards.

•     Concern over the instruments monitoring the nuclear reactor because the wrong type of lead was used.

•     Questions being raised about the quality and installation of other pieces of equipment.

•     Concern reported among some crew members about the Astute’s pioneering periscope, that does not allow officers to look at the surface “live.”

The MoD confirmed Astute had suffered some “teething problems” during sea trials. “It is normal for first of class trials to identify areas where modifications are required and these are then incorporated into later vessels of the class,” a spokesman said.

Though the MoD said it cannot discuss the speed of submarines, the spokesman said Astute would “provide an outstanding capability for decades to come.”

However, if the propulsion problems persist, they would represent one of the biggest procurement disasters the MoD has ever had to deal with, and potentially leave the Astute fleet struggling to perform all the duties it was built for.

John Large, an independent nuclear safety analyst and specialist engineer, said: “These problems are much more significant than the niggles and glitches expected to arise during working up of a new class of nuclear-powered submarine. Particularly disturbing is the apparent mismatch between the nuclear reactor plant and the steam turbine sets, putting the submarine speed below par and making her susceptible in the anti-submarine warfare theatre.”

The shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, said ministers “must be clear over the impact of any problems with this essential programme on timing and cost.”

Even though the boat has yet to start formal service, Astute – four years overdue and £2bn over budget – has been surrounded by controversy since it was first commissioned 15 years ago. In 2010, it was marooned off Skye, a calamity that led to its commander being removed from post. Last year a senior officer was shot dead by a junior member of the crew.

The Guardian has learned that during exercises off the east coast of the United States, a cap on one of the pipes that takes seawater from the back of the submarine to the reactor sprang a leak. A compartment began flooding with seawater, forcing the commander to surface immediately. Though nobody was hurt, an investigation revealed a cap was made from the wrong metal, even though construction records said the right metal had been installed.

The cap was supposed to have been “level one quality assurance.” This means that BAE, which is responsible for building the boat, is supposed to give it the highest scrutiny.

“The fact the cap failed is bad enough, but the most worrying thing is that there is no way of knowing whether the submarine has other pieces of equipment like this on board,” said a source. “The quality assurance tests are there to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen, but it did. So what else has been installed that we don’t know about? It is impossible to know. They fitted the wrong cap but it was still signed off.”

The MoD confirmed that the incident had taken place. “During trials last year HMS Astute experienced a leak which was immediately isolated and the submarine returned safely to the surface,” a spokesman said. “An investigation found one small part which had not been made of the correct material had corroded. A replacement was fitted at sea and the submarine continued with her programme. BAE Systems have carried out a full assessment which concluded all similar parts were fitted correctly.”

Neither the MoD nor BAE was prepared to discuss how a cap made from the wrong metal had been fitted. BAE also declined to explain how it could be sure other parts were installed correctly when the quality assurance inventory system was proved to be flawed.

Some of the instruments which tell commanders about the state of the nuclear reactor were also feared compromised, the Guardian can reveal. The detectors which measure the power coming from the reactor are in a lead-lined water jacket that surrounds the reactor core.

The lead has to be “virgin” metal, mined from great depth, so that it does not carry any electrical charge of its own that could generate a false reading.

However, the lead used in Astute was not of the right quality, which means instruments gave incorrect readings. Using impure lead can also have a knock-on effect during maintenance – the charged metal can create increased and persistent radioactivity within the reactor compartment.

A source said this oversight was “unforgivable.” Initially the MoD denied there was a problem with the reactor instruments. However, it then conceded the wrong lead had been used – but insisted tests showed the accuracy of the readings had not been affected. In addition, some of the small computer switchboards on Astute should have been placed six inches apart, but they were only one inch apart.

They did not conform to either naval or Lloyds civilian safety standards and are now having to be moved or replaced. The MoD says this work has been completed.

Of all the difficulties, it is the problems with propulsion which are the most sensitive. The MoD stated Astute would be able to make 29 knots, but the Guardian has been told it cannot do this.

Rather than building a new power plant for Astute, the MoD chose to use the Pressurised Water Reactor 2 (PWR2) from the much bigger Vanguard-class Trident submarines. It was linked to a steam turbine system based on the model used in the aged Trafalgar Class attack submarines.

“This was always likely to be a big problem, and so it has proved,” said a source. “The PWR2 was meant for a much bigger boat, and Astute had to be designed around it. That may have cut costs, but it has caused problems. The power from the reactor does not translate into forward movement.”

Large added: “So much promise was held out for the Astute class of nuclear powered submarine but these faults occurring during its commissioning into active/service, particularly in the propulsion system and its under-performance, suggest that the whole has been cobbled together from some ill-fitting parts – the real concern here is that these or similar mismatches will compromise nuclear safety at risk to crews and the public generally.”

BAE Systems, which is responsible for building the Astute fleet, said: “Safety is of paramount importance to every stage of the design, build, test and trials of a submarine and is at the heart of everything we do. Before entering full service, every submarine is required to complete an exhaustive period of sea trials, which are designed to prove the vessel’s capabilities. These trials also present an opportunity to improve performance by resolving any issues that may come to light during this time, which is not uncommon on a first-of-class submarine.”

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