The 9pm Underwater Doomsday Conversation with H I Sutton

Defence analyst H I Sutton and one of his submarine illustrations. (Photo: Supplied)

Finally, it’s time to talk about submarines. The spring series of The 9pm Edict continues with a conversation about what submarines in the 21st century can and can’t do with defence analyst and illustrator H I Sutton of Covert Shores.

Before we can answer questions about whether Australia “really needs” nuclear submarines, we need to step back a bit. So in this episode we compare nuclear subs with conventional boats, and we talk about underwater drones, Russia’s intercontinental nuclear torpedo, Operation Ivy Bells, American submarine NR-1, air-independent power, and much more.

Needless to say, we mention some films: Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, Fail-Safe, and The World is Not Enough.

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Episode Links

  • Defence analysis, OSINT, seabed warfare, submarines, DVSs, special forces, original content, artwork.
  • Independent Defense Analysis, Submarines, #OSINT, illustrations. Author of Covert Shores books. Write for @USNINews, @navalnewscom and more.
  • If you are interested in submarines and cool underwater warfare stuff then this is required content! Plus some Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) thrown in. Authentic content creation. UNSCRIPTED + UNEDITED (or at least minimally edited if it needs it). Terrible mic, just a real guy talking about submarines. No apologies for the audio, watch for the content not the production.
  • [This section of the Wikipedia article provides a quick summary of the confused process for choosing a replacement for the Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarines.]
  • The Attack-class submarine was a planned class of French-designed submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), expected to enter service in the early 2030s with construction extending into the late 2040s to 2050. The project, named the Future Submarine program, was estimated in 2020 to cost A$90 billion and would have been the largest and most complex defence acquisition project in Australian history.
  • AUKUS (/???k?s/, AW-k?s) is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
  • [17 December 2021] This year's announcement that Australia would acquire nuclear-powered submarines from the US, and the subsequent cancellation of a $90 billion deal with France have launched submarines into the spotlight. Why are submarines so important to Australia’s defence strategy? We asked Vice Admiral Peter Jones, Rear Admiral James Goldrick and Commodore Jack McCaffrie from UNSW Canberra’s Naval Studies Group.
  • [26 March 2022] Today, Chinese underwater gliders operate throughout the Indo-Pacific, from the Bay of Bengal to the Bering Sea, from high seas to sovereign waters. These winged, torpedo-like submersibles are being deployed in droves to collect information about the marine environment.
  • Research Fellow, Coordinator of Projects (Naval/Maritime Affairs), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nayang Technological University, Singapore.
  • Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Focuses on naval affairs, maritime security and geopolitics in SE Asia and SCS especially.
  • [12 May 2020] In its Arctic policy published in 2018, China proclaimed itself as a “near-Arctic state,” a label that has since invited controversy.
  • [1 September 2009] During the Cold War, the submarines collected upward-looking sonar profiles, for navigation and defense, and converted the information into an estimate of ice thickness.
  • [28 January 1998] A treasure-trove of formerly classified data on the thickness of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, gathered by U.S. Navy submarines over several decades, is now being opened. Data from the first of approximately 20 cruise tracks -- an April, 1992 trans-Arctic Ocean track -- has just been released, and information from the rest of these tracks, or maps of a submarine's route, will be analyzed and released over the next year-and-a-half.
  • Das Boot (German pronunciation: [das ?bo?t], English: "The Boat") is a 1981 West German war film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann.
  • The Mark 48 and its improved Advanced Capability (ADCAP) variant are American heavyweight submarine-launched torpedoes. They were designed to sink deep-diving nuclear-powered submarines and high-performance surface ships. [The Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarines carry Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS torpedoes.]
  • The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when Cheonan, a Pohang-class corvette of the Republic of Korea Navy, carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen. The cause of the sinking remains in dispute, although evidence points to North Korea.
  • [28 February 2022] Turkey has closed off the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to warships from any country, whether or not they border the Black Sea, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The World Is Not Enough is a 1999 spy film, the nineteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions and the third to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond... During his assignment, Bond unravels a scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul.
  • The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 American submarine spy thriller film directed by John McTiernan, produced by Mace Neufeld, and starring Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, and Sam Neill. The film is an adaptation of Tom Clancy's 1984 bestselling novel of the same name. It is the first installment of the film series with the protagonist Jack Ryan.
  • Air-independent propulsion (AIP), or air-independent power, is any marine propulsion technology that allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen (by surfacing or using a snorkel). AIP can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
  • USS Pampanito (SS-383/AGSS-383), a Balao-class submarine, was a United States Navy ship, the third one named for the pompano fish. She completed six war patrols from 1944 to 1945 and served as a United States Naval Reserve training ship from 1960 to 1971. She is now a National Historic Landmark, preserved as a memorial and museum ship in the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association located at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California.
  • [8 October 2018] There are 600 submariners now but report warns 1,500 will be needed for new fleet.
  • Operation Ivy Bells was a joint United States Navy, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and National Security Agency (NSA) mission whose objective was to place wire taps on Soviet underwater communication lines during the Cold War.
  • Fiber tapping uses a network tap method that extracts signal from an optical fiber without breaking the connection. Tapping of optical fiber allows diverting some of the signal being transmitted in the core of the fiber into another fiber or a detector. Fiber to the home (FTTH) systems use beam splitters to allow many users to share one backbone fiber connecting to a central office, cutting the cost of each connection to the home. Test equipment can simply put a bend in the fiber and extract sufficient light to identify a fiber or determine if a signal is present.
  • Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1 was a unique United States Navy (USN) nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine, built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics at Groton, Connecticut. NR-1 was launched on 25 January 1969, completed initial sea trials 19 August 1969, and was home-ported at Naval Submarine Base New London. NR-1 was the smallest nuclear submarine ever put into operation. The vessel was casually known as "Nerwin" and was never officially named or commissioned. The U.S. Navy is allocated a specific number of warships by the U.S. Congress, but Admiral Hyman Rickover avoided using one of those allocations for the construction of NR-1 in order to circumvent the oversight that a warship receives from various bureaus.
  • The 2022 Nord Stream gas leaks were a series of explosions and subsequent underwater gas leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines on 26 September 2022... The leaks happened as the Baltic Pipe was being opened for natural gas to come in from the North Sea through Denmark to Poland and are believed to have been caused by intentional sabotage; however, the perpetrators' identities and the motives behind such intentional sabotage remain debated.
  • Project 210, Project 10831 or AS-31 (Russian: ??-31), nicknamed Losharik (Russian: ???????, IPA: [l???ar??k]), is a Russian deep-diving nuclear powered submarine.
  • [18 July 2021] Few other submarines are the subject of so much speculation and interest as the elusive and Top Secret Losharik (AS-31, sometimes referred to by her previous number AS-12) deep-diving special missions / engineering boat ('deep nuclear station (AGS)', read 'spy sub'). She is operated by the Russian Navy on behalf of GUGI (Main Directorate Deep Sea Research). On 1st July 2019 a fire occurred in which 14 of the crew died. RIP.
  • USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) is the third and final Seawolf-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine in the United States Navy. Commissioned in 2005, she is named for the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, the only president to have qualified on submarines... During modification, her hull was extended 100 feet (30 m) to create a 2,500-ton supplementary middle section which forms a Multi-Mission Platform (MMP). This section is fitted with an ocean interface for divers, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and special operation equipment; ROV handling system, storage, and deployment space for mission systems, and a pressure-resistant passage between the fore and aft parts of the submarine to accommodate the boat's crew.
  • USS Dallas (SSN-700) is a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine of the United States Navy... Dallas has had a removable Dry Deck Shelter for over a decade. This large chamber, fitted aft of the sail, has an array of air, water and hydraulic systems that allow Dallas to employ the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, a highly mobile and virtually undetectable means of carrying out special forces missions.
  • [4 October 2021] Technologies could render the ocean transparent by the time Australia’s new submarines are ready, some experts say.
  • The Poseidon (Russian: ????????, "Poseidon", NATO reporting name Kanyon), previously known by Russian codename Status-6 (Russian: ??????-6), is an autonomous, nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle under development by Rubin Design Bureau, capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear warheads.
  • Fail Safe is a 1964 Cold War thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. The film follows a crisis caused by a critical error that sends a group of U.S. bombers to destroy Moscow, and the ensuing attempts to stop the bomber group before it can deploy a nuclear first strike.
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, more commonly known simply as Dr. Strangelove, is a 1964 black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.

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