Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR February 2016 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEB 2016 41
A REFERENCE CHECK APPROACH
APDR visited Chile, Portugal, Israel, India and
Malaysia. Chile uses both German and French
designed submarines. Portugal is a German user,
but up until recently operated French submarines.
Israel is a German submarine user. India has both
Russian and German submarines, with one French
submarine in the water undergoing trials. Malaysia
uses French submarines.
However, conducting a reference check is not
just as simple as buying a round-the-world airline
ticket and jumping on a plane.
The first difficulty is, quite frankly, the topic.
Potential interviewees are immediately suspicious
of a foreign journalist turning up to talk about their
submarines. By and large this concern was negated
by stressing that APDR was not writing an article
about submarines, rather about partnerships.
The second difficulty is to get access to the
right people. The only place where APDR gained
formal access to a uniformed submariner was in
Portugal, although APDR did conduct some informal
interviews with serving submarine Command
qualified personnel in other countries. Irrespective
of the formal or informal nature of an interview,
uniformed personnel are naturally cautious about
what they say; with frustration rarely aired. In
talking with them APDR had to rely on levels of
positiveness (positive, very positive and extremely
positive) to gauge feelings as to their relationship
experiences with the shipyards.
The most open and fulsome information was
garnered by talking with retired Navy personnel;
former submarine Admirals, Commanding
Officers or engineers. The danger in talking to
retired personnel is the risk of being given dated
information; a risk mitigated by the fact that all of
the officers interviewed had only recently departed
the Navy and the fact shipbuilder partnerships
In Chile APDR spoke with recently retired Chief of
Staff Navy and submariner, Vice Admiral Francisco
Guzman who retired in 2012 and to a ‘to-remain-
anonymous’ command qualified serving submarine
The primary purpose of the Chilean Navy is to
defend the country in the event of war. Whilst
Directemar, the Coast Guard Agency of the Armada,
has primary responsibility to protect and police its
territorial and economic waters, clearly the Navy
can and does assist in this regard also.
Figure One: Chilean Maritime Extent
Its coastline is 6,435 km long and
stretches from latitude 17 in the north to
latitude 56 in the south. East to west the
country has an average width of 177 km,
but relevantly its area of maritime interest
(EEZ and Contiguous Zone) extends to
Easter Island, three and half thousand
miles to the east of the mainland, and
to the Chilean Antarctic Territory in the
South. For those who promote Australia as
having special geographic characteristics,
Chile’s geographic extent is sobering (The north-south
distance from Hobart to Cape York is only 4,600km
and the east-west distance from Perth to Byron Bay
In the last century Chile kept a watchful eye on
Argentina, which had threatened Chile with invasion.
Tensions with Argentina have largely abated, although
there is an extant Antarctic territorial dispute between
Other potential sources of national conflict includes
Bolivia, with whom there are maritime territorial
disputes (Bolivia is a land locked country seeking
access to the sea), and Peru, which has running
border disputes with Chile.
However, it would be fair to say that the Chilean
armed forces direct their day-to-day attention to issues
relating to illicit trafficking, terrorism, illegal migration,
organised crime and environmental pollution.
Armada de Chile has more than 60 vessels including
a number of second hand Dutch and British frigates,
a former French amphibious ship and three OPVs
designed in Germany but built in Chile.
The Chilean Navy has two TKMS Type 209/1400s and
two DCNS/Navantia Scorpenes based in Talcahuano.
Both submarine classes were built in the country of
design origin, but the refits are undertaken by the
ASMAR Talcahuano shipyard, a State Autonomous
Company managed by the Navy.
The two German submarines were procured in
the mid-eighties. The submarines were contracted
for delivery in four years and were so delivered. The
boats have been running for 30 years now. They
were updated recently with the French SUBTICS
mission system, SM39 Exocet missiles and WASS
Black Shark torpedoes such that they are compatible
with their newer Scorpene boats. The Chilean
personnel interviewed spoke positively of the Armada’s
experience with the eloquently simple and highly
reliable Type 209s and the in-contract and post-
delivery support received from TKMS.
A process to procure two more submarines to
replace Chile’s Oberon Class submarines, which were
becoming problematic to keep in service on account of
lack of spares, was commenced in 1990. In response
to the project’s start the Armada received responses
from companies based in France, France and Spain,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. By
1996 the list of contenders had been whittled away
Chilean navy Cmdr. Carlos Schnaidt, commanding officer of the Scorpion-
class submarine CS Carrera (SS 22) reports that his crew is prepared for
departure, concluding the 2011 Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI).
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class
Torrey W. Lee/released
29/01/2016 4:09 PM
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