• Merchant shipping – the way forward?

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    Above – a diagram of the merchant submarine Deutschland. Click on the image for full size.

    One of the consequences of the whole climate change scam is the diversions from normal sensible commercial practice by businesses worldwide. Merchant shipping has been hi-jacked by the glow-bull-warnists.

    They state that the emissions of cargo ships are threatening the planet. This has been used as an argument to building larger and larger merchant vessels. It is an undoubted fact that the larger the merchant vessel the more efficient it is in traversing the oceans. The great Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel realised this when he constructed the Great Eastern.

    Today, with the increasing cost of oil and the ever present prattling on by the warmists of CO2 emissions, nuclear power for cargo ships is being seriously considered.

    In their current form, the British Gazette considers these plans a VERY BAD idea. Not because we think that nuclear power is and of itself an impermissible risk to take, but because the idea of a nuclear powered cargo ship being hijacked by Somali pirates and handed over to Islamic fundamentalists supportive of the Taliban is a stupid risk to take.

    Of course it could be suggested that such a vessel would have a naval escort – but then that would make the project uneconomic.

    There are other problems: crews. Most ship owners prefer to employ crews on low wages from “developing countries” – which is why most of the world’s seaman are from the developing countries.

    This last point should raise a question in the minds of all Britons: We are an island. We depend of the sea for our trade and national survival. This has been amply demonstrated to us by the crews of the U-Boats in two world wars.

    It was also demonstrated to us at the time of the Falklands war when some Filipino seamen refused to serve on ships going into a British war zone. These men argued [not unreasonably] that they were Philippine citizens, why should they risk their lives for a foreign country in a war in which the Philippine republic had no interest?

    It is a fact that were a naval power to declare war on the UK and implement a blockade in the same manner as done by Dönitz in 1939 such a blockade would be immediately successful as the vast majority of seamen – who would not be British Citizens – would refuse to run the blockade – thus such a naval power would achieve immediate success without ever having to fire a single torpedo.

    So…. What do we do about it?

    The British Gazette would suggest a giant leap forward – along the lines of Brunel’s Great Eastern – insofar as the Great Eastern was several leaps ahead at the time. The British Gazette suggests that consideration should be given to the construction of a giant nuclear powered unmanned cargo submarine.

    This will immediately be declared as being impossibly expensive and unaffordable. Many will say that compared to a large nuclear powered submarine, windfarms could be seen as being economical.

    However, we would point out the following:

    Existing nuclear submarines are indeed very expensive vessels. All are naval combat vessels. Existing naval nuclear submarines have the following features.

    - They are very quiet – great attention (and cost) is devoted to making them virtually undetectable.

    - They are very fast – most submarines in commission can travel at 30 knots. So far as a vessel’s speed is concerned – it is very much a law of diminishing returns. To go that extra couple of knots one needs to nearly double the power of the engines.
    - They can dive very deep. Modern nuclear submarines can reach depths of 1,300 feet. In the 1930s the safe diving depth of the USN’s submarines was 300 feet. To construct a submarine’s pressure hull to withstand 1,300 feet the engineering challenges (and costs) are many times those required for a mere 300 feet.

    - They require large and highly rained crews (expensive).

    An unmanned merchant nuclear submarine need not have these associated costs.

    - Rather than the modern naval practise of a modern teardrop hull, we would suggest a reversion to the earlier saddleback design as in the merchant submarine Deutschland. A single nuclear reactor would suffice which could provide power via to two steam turbines on two shafts. We would suggest a submerged speed of around 15 knots. An “old fashioned” saddleback design with a proper bow would make the submarine much easier to guide to and from harbour by tugs.

    - We would suggest a diving depth of around 300 feet. Such a modest diving depth would permit large hatch covers on the top of the pressure hull to allow loading of containers. The engineering problems in ensuring watertight integrity of hatch covers at 325 feet are not overly problematical – at 1,300 feet they would be stupendously difficult and expensive!

    - We would suggest an unmanned submarine. Computers and satellite navigation – and also experience with remotely piloted vehicles – would enable such submarines to get underway after the tugs have cast off – with little difficulty.

    - An unmanned submarine would have the following advantages: No crew means no crew quarters, no need for an expensive air recirculation supply as their would be no air breathing creatures on board. It also means no wages. It also means that there are no foreign seaman to prevent the running of a blockade.

    - We would suggest nuclear power for a wholly submerged passage demands it. It would also mean that their would be no fuel oil costs associated with the vessel.

    How would we suggest the vessel could operate?

    - We think that an operator based in the shipping company’s offices anywhere in the world could be in communication with the pilots and harbour authorities as the crew of the tug/s board the submarine’s casing (another reason for the old fashioned saddleback design) to fasten the tow lines. The vessel could be guided out into the seaway and when the tugs are free the remote operator could dive the vessels and set it on its way. Sat Nav and computers would enable this without much difficulty.

    What routes would the vessel use?

    - We think from China to the USA across the Pacific and to Europe across the Northern Pacific across the Aleutian chain of islands, into the Bering Sea, through the Bering Strait and into the Chucki Sea, under the polar ice into the Artic Ocean, into the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea and to Europe.

    What are the advantages of such a vessel?

    - Several. All can be categorised as Maritime Security. No crew means that we are not dependent on foreign seamen being prepared to lay down their lives for us. It means that the vicious circle of ship owners finding cheaper and cheaper crews is obviated. Such vessels would be expensive and technically demanding to construct. Ideal for high wage, high skill European shipbuilders. Nuclear power means freedom from oil supplies. Submerged passage obviates the threat from pirates – unless of course the French supply the Somali pirates with submarines! Of course, we have not mentioned CO2 emissions as these are irrelevant.

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