Royal Navy SSK?

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Spinflight »

The administrators in the MoD Meriv.

They might not sound powerful if you aren't from the UK but those paper clips don't administer themselves and there's 59,000 of them... Almost as many as the RAF and Navy combined. More if you count those contracted out to the private sector.

Defence decisions are as likely to be made based upon their interests as anything to do with military effectiveness.

Hence if the Navy ballasted their SSKs with paperclips and allowed the civil service to administer them they'd be much more likely to actually be built. :)

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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dmereifield wrote:Isn't this sufficient in most cases? Positioning the frigate(s) to ensure that subs stay clear of areas of interest (i.e. The route of a departing it returning SSBN)?
Not really, because is so visible, it only ends up highlighting the area of interest even more.

An SSK may be of some use in the intimidate path into Faslane, but again I'll suggest an aircraft is again best to sanitize that whole region prior to a deployment. The area is massive, so the only way to effectively search is with an aircraft.
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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Poiuytrewq wrote:By adding the SSK's to cover the approaches the Astute's can spend more time patrolling GIUK and together with increased P8 numbers and help from Allies this should be pretty effective.
Sounds reasonable. The area is massive, so a slow SSK will only be of use for the immediate routes in and out of the Clyde. I dont expect that on its own is enough to justify an SSK.
Spinflight wrote:Also giving submariners something other than 9 month deployments to look forward to.
I'm told SSK's are being discussed in the RN (only conceptually), and this is the big selling point for the RN.
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Repulse »

Surely by the time you add up the cost of setting up the design and build capability for SSKs and the actual cost of delivering them, then squeezing in another SSN makes more sense (I do not believe the “schedule is full” statements). If not then either build a fifth Dreadnought to give 3 SSBNs and 2 SSGNs, or invest in new UUVs. If we are feeling flush, do two of these...
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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Of course its full. The RN wouldn't be spending £300m to life extend the V boats if there was capacity to build subs quicker.
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Repulse »

shark bait wrote:Of course its full. The RN wouldn't be spending £300m to life extend the V boats if there was capacity to build subs quicker.
So nothing to do with the delay in the design and spreading the funding then? The was space for an 8th and the fact that we gone from 20mth to 24mth delivery for the remaining Astutes is a very visible sign also.
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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shark bait wrote:Of course its full. The RN wouldn't be spending £300m to life extend the V boats if there was capacity to build subs quicker.
You forgot the sarcasm font.

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by wargame_insomniac »

Apologies for thread resurrection but thought better than starting a new thread on SSK.

We know that having just 7*SSN leaves the submariners just as stretched as the escort fleet. We know that BAE shipyard at Barrow can't make any more Astute Class SSN, as they are due to immediately switch to Dreadnought Class SSBN. Is it worth having a second thought about SSK?

Would SSK help in patrolling shallower waters such as North Sea / Irish Sea and Mediterranean? Would it help ease the demands on the 7 SSN, allowing them to concentrate on the High North and the deep oceans? The SSK could also help with initial at-sea submariner training, allowing a practical training step in between theory and the Astute Class SSN?

I know that RN budget is tightly constrained. I just wonder that if RN purchased 2-4 SSK, they would be far cheaper than 1*SSN. A bit like the surface fleet escorts where the River B2's and the forthcoming T31's will take on the low intensity ptrolling missions allowing the T45 + T26 to focus on high intensity missions.

If we can't build 2-4 SSK, could it be worth puchasing them?

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Scimitar54 »

- The RN are woefully short of “Hunter/Killer” or “Attack” submarines!
- The RN used to have around 20 of these (SSN and SSK)!
- A reduction of around 66% of the number in RN service during the last 30 years or so is
an utter disgrace!
- As a result of the “Peace Dividend” SSKs were removed from the RN Fleet due to
decreasing numbers of submarines and the intention to concentrate on the (12 or so)
more capable SSN.
- We are now facing a low of 6 SSN (for a short period) in RN service. On the rule of 3,
only circa. 2 being available at any one time. This is scandalous!
- We have had a problem building enough reactors for SSNs. However, we also do not
have sufficient facilities for building any type of Submarine. Of our most recent SSK,
three (of the Four) Upholder Class were built at Cammel Laird (unfortunately
less capable now, than it was then).
- We now have the spectacle of Unmanned Submarines, to be controlled either from land
(fair enough perhaps) or from an SSN (eggs and baskets) because if you lose the SSN,
then you also lose any USVs that are being controlled from it as well. A “full size”
unmanned SSK may cost as much or more than an SSK. The problem is we need
additional submarine construction facilities, whether “manned” or “unmanned”.
- The UK (and the RN) need additional “Attack” Submarines! 5 more SSN or 10 SSK, or
somewhere between the two? That is the sort of scale for what is required. Buy them from
abroad? I think not. We just need the UK Government (of whatever persuasion) to take
their prime responsibilitIes seriously and ensure the provision of whatever is required.

Personally, I would like to see sufficient numbers of both in RN Service. :mrgreen:
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

SSK has many classes. I think it shall be the smallish, less than 2000-t-submerged classes (not JMSDF Soryu like 4000-t class, mainly because of cost), because RN has SSN as a high-end asset. For example, Type 212CD is 2000t submerged, and costs €5.5 billion for 6 hulls (2 for Germany and 4 for Norway). Two SSN equivalent, I guess?

# It is also 5-6 T26 equivalent.

SSK is good on paper, but first of all, we need to think "UK SSK is for what" and "with what cost"? We know SSK is not cheap. SSK cannot transit from UK to South China sea within two weeks, but SSN can. Also, SSK cannot move around long distance when submerged (although much better than before 2000s, with AIPs).

Another idea will be to use the money to purchase new technologies, to lessen the burden of SSN fleet.
- For ASW, increase P-8As, SkyGuardian UAV with ASW option, and ARCSIM SEASense ASW systems may help.
- For Special Force operations, much smaller Midget sub may be better, say 30m long. No need for good ASW sensor (large, expensive, and power consuming). How about an XLUUV with large amid-ship mission bay, which can carry mission kits like mine-layer, sensor-layer, or an accommodation and air-lock module for SFs?

Many options are there, and worth discussing. There is a reason not many Midget sub are there. There is a reason why many of the SSN nations goes for "SSN-only" fleet. There is a reason XLUUVs are under development, but no XLUUVs are actually fielded/used, and we need to see how it works. And, there is a reason Russia and China is using both, and French navy, until recently. Its open topic, I think.

But again, everything must start from "UK SSK is for what" and "with what cost"?
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Jensy »

wargame_insomniac wrote: 09 Jan 2022, 22:26 We know that BAE shipyard at Barrow can't make any more Astute Class SSN, as they are due to immediately switch to Dreadnought Class SSBN. Is it worth having a second thought about SSK?
To be frank, I've always thought it was one of those ideas that was a poor alternative to building additional SSNs.

Will never have the range or endurance, complicates training and is still going to cost a good few billion for five globally capable SSKs.

However, with the establishment of AUKUS, the growing need to engage in the submarine domain and the harsh reality that Barrow probably won't be able to deliver a new SSN till 2040+ then perhaps a rethink is needed.

Always liked the Vidar 36 concept from BMT for its range and flexibility:
Image

It seemed to have a an eye towards the Collins Class replacement requirements. The Kockums A26 is another interesting design.

However, finding a UK site to build them might be as challenging as finding funding. Once upon a time Cammell Laird had the capability to build the Upholder Class but that was a long time ago and they were a different yard.

No shortage of land available at Barrow, particularly the former slipways where the Albion Class were built. However it might be risky to introduce any further work to BAE when they are trying to deliver Dreadnought

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

How can we arrange the industrial issue?

Barrow needs 11 (7 SSN and 4 SSBN) large SSNs to sustain is capability. We want to add more, and thus no reason to cut any money from the pipeline. With ~30 years average life, this means one boat every 2.5-3 years.

If UK are to establish a new SSK builder, they need at least 11 (2.5-3 years drumbeat), maybe ~14 hulls (2 years drumbeat), to keep it working? As export is not foreseen so many, this is not realistic.

I think there are two options (let's assume we find "£2Bn" of new money for 10 years. (+£200M per year for 10 years, see appendix *1)

1: stand-up a secondary SSK builder as a subsidery of Barrow (how about Cammel Laird?), sharing works with Barrow in both SSK and SSN/SSBN build. After building ~4 very smallish (800-1000t submerged) SSKs "along with the 4 SSBNs", integrate the two factories to go for 9 or 10 SSN pipleline, to replace 7 Astute.

(appendix *2)

2: go for "another industry", which could be XLUUV, combined with UUVs and USV and other drones. As XLUUV will be "one of the drones", and there are many drones RN will need in near future (and possible export), this will be another good way to go, although not so much an "SSK" option.

------
Appendix1: In general, we need another £2Bn for maintaining/upgrading the system, and another £1-2Bn for man-power (not only in the boat, but including all the training and support).

Appendix2: For Smallish SSK in so-so number with limited money, how about 700t 46-m smallish VIDAR-7 or WYVERN design?
https://www.bmt.org/projects/project/33 ... submarines
If modified with Li-ion battery technology (which is simpler than AIP), these smallish SSKs may
- cover; SFs, sensor-laying, information gathering, ASW training, shallow water ASW (mainly in ambush), and even 2ndary role as anti-ship torpedoing (in ambush)
- although will not be good at; active ASW (smallish sensor), CSG support, and sniffing Barents sea.
Anyway, it will be limited to "around UK water/base".

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Defiance »

If you want more nuclear boats then expand Barrow, why waste time standing up a new firm, build up a handful of a new class of boats then integrate them?

I've never really got the whole 'SSKs for the UK' argument. The RN is a global force and squeezed out SSK's as fast as they could when nuclear technology came onto the scene. Australia proved that if you want to conduct operations outside of local areas then conventionally powered just doesn't cut it.

Against brand new Russian SSNs in the Atlantic they might run out of puff pretty quickly trying to keep up with them. If it's just about collecting intelligence then get an XLUUV-like thing to sit there soaking up data and P-8 can keep an eye on them.

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

Defiance wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 07:09 If you want more nuclear boats then expand Barrow, why waste time standing up a new firm, build up a handful of a new class of boats then integrate them?
Fair comment. My proposal assumes, that "building SSN" can be separated into "building the reactor" and "other parts/systems". I understand, at least for now, "building the reactor" is the dominant factor?

And yes, UK need to expand the "building the reactor" part, but surely it will take some time (say 10 years). At the same time, by building several small SSKs, capacity for "building other parts" can be expanded, and wait for the expansion of reactor building part.

This is my assumption. Just assumption, but I read somewhere a comment like this...

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Defiance »

donald_of_tokyo wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 07:25 Fair comment. My proposal assumes, that "building SSN" can be separated into "building the reactor" and "other parts/systems". I understand, at least for now, "building the reactor" is the dominant factor?
Probaby in theory but not in practice, these things are rarely so simple
donald_of_tokyo wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 07:25And yes, UK need to expand the "building the reactor" part, but surely it will take some time (say 10 years). At the same time, by building several small SSKs, capacity for "building other parts" can be expanded, and wait for the expansion of reactor building part.
That growth of reactor building would need to happen for sure, but spending £X billion standing up a handful of SSKs doesn't seem like a valuable use of money in my opinion. I have added a bit of general discussion about RN SSKs in my original comment about it, but i'm a bit of a sceptic about the value of SSKs in UK service

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by wargame_insomniac »

I was nt proposing "globally capable SSK". And I gave examples of what we could use SSK for. e.g. for initial training and for use in shallower waters such as UK, North Sea, Mediterranean i.e etc.

As I said that would free up our 7*SSN to patrol open oceans i.e. globally. If you want to send submarines up to the High North or GIUK Gap, or to Indian Ocean or to South China Seas, that would be the exisiting 7*SSN doing what they do best.

I was just trying to think up ways of freeing this limited number up for more important missions by getting cheaper smaller SSK's to do some of the basic work.

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Tempest414 »

didn't CL build the front end of at least one Astute class not long back.

For me if we were to go for a SSK we should join a program that is up and running with work share i.e building the front end and some sensor work. Also we should go for 6 with 4 home based to cover the North sea , Baltic and Med , Black sea and 2 forward deployed one in Singapore and the other in Gulf

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Defiance »

wargame_insomniac wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 09:42 I was nt proposing "globally capable SSK". And I gave examples of what we could use SSK for. e.g. for initial training and for use in shallower waters such as UK, North Sea, Mediterranean i.e etc.
But that's what the RN wants, boats capable of global deployment in support of British interests wherever they may be. Initial training can be done more cheaply at shore establishments and be easier/cheaper to upgrade, the North Sea isn't exactly short of ASW assets from a NATO perspective and the same can be said about the Med. Does the RN spend limited funds on assets perfectly suited to areas that aren't short of capability?

What NATO is incredibly short of however are nuclear submarines that can range deep into the Atlantic and the high north.
wargame_insomniac wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 09:42As I said that would free up our 7*SSN to patrol open oceans i.e. globally. If you want to send submarines up to the High North or GIUK Gap, or to Indian Ocean or to South China Seas, that would be the exisiting 7*SSN doing what they do best.
Realistically those 7 SSN would become closer to 5 (as these SSKs would have to be paid for and crewed, and 'spend more money' isn't a realistic answer to that challenge as it isn't going to happen) which means at best one or two boats deployable. Once you factor in the CSG demand then you probably only have one nuclear boat that can actually do useful tasks on a good day.
wargame_insomniac wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 09:42I was just trying to think up ways of freeing this limited number up for more important missions by getting cheaper smaller SSK's to do some of the basic work.
I would challenge if it's the RNs responsibility to provide dedicated assets to do the particular basic work you suggested. I definitely appreciate the sentiment, but the problem is that most of the benefits of SSKs, while true, fall away when you actually examine them in the cold light of day.

A combined SSK fleet could maybe work if defense spending was scaled up, but even then an expansion of the nuclear fleet would probably be the better option

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Defiance »

Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 10:37 For me if we were to go for a SSK we should join a program that is up and running with work share i.e building the front end and some sensor work. Also we should go for 6 with 4 home based to cover the North sea , Baltic and Med , Black sea and 2 forward deployed one in Singapore and the other in Gulf
North Sea - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presence
Baltic - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presence
Med - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presense
Singapore - More spirited debate around this for sure. I lean towards routine SSN patrols in support of our allies if tensions rise
Gulf - What purpose does this cover? If it's ISR then an XLUUV would be a much cheaper way of doing it. Seems a bit overkill to stalk Iranian patrol boats

What programs do the RN cut to pay for these assets? I fundamentally believe an all-nuclear force allows the RN to surge the most capable assets to deploy to the locations of greatest need around the world. SSKs are best used in parts of the world where our allies operate around the clock and if we want to show British support it'd better provided considering the joint force rather than dedicating a class of asset.

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Tempest414 »

Defiance wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 10:44
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 10:37 For me if we were to go for a SSK we should join a program that is up and running with work share i.e building the front end and some sensor work. Also we should go for 6 with 4 home based to cover the North sea , Baltic and Med , Black sea and 2 forward deployed one in Singapore and the other in Gulf
North Sea - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presence
Baltic - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presence
Med - Well covered with NATO assets, no need for a dedicated RN presense
Singapore - More spirited debate around this for sure. I lean towards routine SSN patrols in support of our allies (who also have plenty of boats)
Gulf - What purpose does this cover? If it's ISR then an XLUUV would be a much cheaper way of doing it. Seems a bit overkill to stalk Iranian patrol boats

What programs do the RN cut to pay for these assets?
I would agree that all of the above is up for debate but just because NATO allies cover something dose not mean we should not if this was a sound argument then we don't need Carriers as the US a NATO ally has 10 of them all bigger and better than ours

also the argument of what to cut is a simple one we need to cut the happy clappy idea that 2% GDP cuts it anymore and return to 3% GDP to fund defence properly

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Repulse »

What about the North Atlantic?

For me if we are talking about getting additional "subs" into service, then I would be looking at an interim step to have a purely battery/fuel cell 30m XLSAUV (eXtra Large Semi Autonomous Underwater Vessel) with offensive capability. The problem with going unmanned is that it will take a while to get the comms, AI and legal / safety (making attack decisions) sorted, so this would be a good way to move more swiftly. There are obviously challenges adding the need to support humans, but nothing that is new.
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:13
I would agree that all of the above is up for debate but just because NATO allies cover something dose not mean we should not if this was a sound argument then we don't need Carriers as the US a NATO ally has 10 of them all bigger and better than ours

also the argument of what to cut is a simple one we need to cut the happy clappy idea that 2% GDP cuts it anymore and return to 3% GDP to fund defence properly
Apologies but I made a slight edit to my comment, I don't think it dramatically changes the thrust of my point.

It doesn't mean we shouldn't cover them, but it makes me question if our best response is to dedicate an asset to that region 24/7 at the cost of the nuclear force. Take the Med for example, it's highly possible that a surge deployment of P-8 to Akroitiri might be the right answer, or a 6 month stint of an SSN or frigate during a period of hightened tension. Is the Med such a tinderbox that the RN needs a constant presence to ensure peace and stability? The same can be said for the North Sea and the Baltic. Theatres of interest unquestionably, but again, is a 24/7 presence required?

WRT to the 3% yes but until pigs fly that isn't going to happen (i would love to be surprised). There are two swimlanes to this debate - one debate in a world guided by the way things are, or one that's guided by more of what we wish them to be. The latter leans too close to fantasy fleet for me. If that's the way people want to take the thread then fair enough.
Repulse wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:17 What about the North Atlantic?

For me if we are talking about getting additional "subs" into service, then I would be looking at an interim step to have a purely battery/fuel cell 30m XLSAUV (eXtra Large Semi Autonomous Underwater Vessel) with offensive capability. The problem with going unmanned is that it will take a while to get the comms, AI and legal / safety (making attack decisions) sorted, so this would be a good way to move more swiftly. There are obviously challenges adding the need to support humans, but nothing that is new.
XLUUVs are a different matter and one where (i think) there is a much clearer exploitation route rather than SSKs. There is a clear utility around something relatively small, cheap and quiet who's job it is to sortie and hoover up acoustic and electronic data. There is clearer utility from a cost/benefit perspective to send an XLUUV near foreign shores and just go silent and listen rather than sending out a £1bn attack boat.

Weapons is a bit trickier and I won't go there, but when it comes to intelligence gathering then i'm sold on the concept.

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

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Defiance wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:23
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:13
I would agree that all of the above is up for debate but just because NATO allies cover something dose not mean we should not if this was a sound argument then we don't need Carriers as the US a NATO ally has 10 of them all bigger and better than ours

also the argument of what to cut is a simple one we need to cut the happy clappy idea that 2% GDP cuts it anymore and return to 3% GDP to fund defence properly
Apologies but I made a slight edit to my comment, I don't think it dramatically changes the thrust of my point.

It doesn't mean we shouldn't cover them, but it makes me question if our best response is to dedicate an asset to that region 24/7 at the cost of the nuclear force. Take the Med for example, it's highly possible that a surge deployment of P-8 to Akroitiri might be the right answer, or a 6 month stint of an SSN or frigate during a period of hightened tension. Is the Med such a tinderbox that the RN needs a constant presence to ensure peace and stability? The same can be said for the North Sea and the Baltic. Theatres of interest unquestionably, but again, is a 24/7 presence required?

WRT to the 3% yes but until pigs fly that isn't going to happen (i would love to be surprised). There are two swimlanes to this debate - one debate in a world guided by the way things are, or one that's guided by more of what we wish them to be. The latter leans too close to fantasy fleet for me. If that's the way people want to take the thread then fair enough.
Repulse wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:17 What about the North Atlantic?

For me if we are talking about getting additional "subs" into service, then I would be looking at an interim step to have a purely battery/fuel cell 30m XLSAUV (eXtra Large Semi Autonomous Underwater Vessel) with offensive capability. The problem with going unmanned is that it will take a while to get the comms, AI and legal / safety (making attack decisions) sorted, so this would be a good way to move more swiftly. There are obviously challenges adding the need to support humans, but nothing that is new.
XLUUVs are a different matter and one where (i think) there is a much clearer exploitation route rather than SSKs. There is a clear utility around something relatively small, cheap and quiet who's job it is to sortie and hoover up acoustic and electronic data. There is clearer utility from a cost/benefit perspective to send an XLUUV near foreign shores and just go silent and listen rather than sending out a £1bn attack boat.

Weapons is a bit trickier and I won't go there, but when it comes to intelligence gathering then i'm sold on the concept.
I am not trying to say that a SSK should be used to clover one spot in the case of the 4 I outline for the home fleet and areas they could operate I was thinking more along the line if we needed to we could deploy 2 to the Med or 3 to the North sea or three into the Black sea as seen fit

This is all fantasy as there is no money and if there were as said there is much need of it else where

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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by Defiance »

Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:42
I am not trying to say that a SSK should be used to clover one spot in the case of the 4 I outline for the home fleet and areas they could operate I was thinking more along the line if we needed to we could deploy 2 to the Med or 3 to the North sea or three into the Black sea as seen fit
Your 4 SSK fleet would routinely be able to provide 1, maybe two, boats at a push for an investment of £2.5+Bn. For comparison that's not too far off what the MOD shelled out for 9 P-8A (and that included a lot of infrastructure/back-end setup)

Doesn't really seem worth it in comparison.
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:42This is all fantasy as there is no money and if there were as said there is much need of it else where
There's always a challenge with fantasy fleet as it's often presented as an actual good idea but all the awkward realities are written off because 'it's fantasy'.

NickC
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Re: Royal Navy SSK?

Post by NickC »

Defiance wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 12:10
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:42
I am not trying to say that a SSK should be used to clover one spot in the case of the 4 I outline for the home fleet and areas they could operate I was thinking more along the line if we needed to we could deploy 2 to the Med or 3 to the North sea or three into the Black sea as seen fit
Your 4 SSK fleet would routinely be able to provide 1, maybe two, boats at a push for an investment of £2.5+Bn. For comparison that's not too far off what the MOD shelled out for 9 P-8A (and that included a lot of infrastructure/back-end setup)

Doesn't really seem worth it in comparison.
Tempest414 wrote: 10 Jan 2022, 11:42This is all fantasy as there is no money and if there were as said there is much need of it else where
There's always a challenge with fantasy fleet as it's often presented as an actual good idea but all the awkward realities are written off because 'it's fantasy'.
The IJN operates a fleet of ~ 30 Oyashio, Soryu and Taigei class SSKs, whereas the RN has 7 SSN's with all the attendant awkward nuclear realities and expenses entailed.

You do wonder if the old saying 'Quantity has a quality all its own' applies, nuclear does bring advantages but does it offset the penny packet numbers of the RN SSNs? To be noted both China and Russia operate SSKs and SSNs.

PS Understand the latest Taigei class boats ~$640 million / £475 million, would think very unlikely BAE could match Japanese prices.

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