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How a Single Swedish Submarine Defeated the US Navy

How a Single Swedish Submarine Defeated the US Navy


This episode of Real Engineering is brought
to you by Brilliant, a problem solving website that teaches you to think like an engineer. The US military has the strongest and most
diverse navy in the world. The US militaries fleet of aircraft carriers
is so large, it makes the US navy the second largest airforce in the world, second only
to the actual US Air Force. A single Nimitz- class aircraft carrier like
the USS Ronald Reagan, a 6.2 billion dollar nuclear powered ship, can carry the twice
aircraft as any other foreign carrier, which makes it even more shocking that it was sunk
by a single diesel powered swedish submarine during war games in 2005. A single submarine that cost the same as a
F-35 at 100 million dollars managed to sneak by an entire carrier task force, with anti-submarine
defences to enter the red-zone and score multiple torpedo hits on the USS Ronald Reagan, sinking
it virtually, before shrinking back into the vast ocean undetected. This was just one of many exercises where
the Swedish Gotland class submarine proved too stealthy for the world’s strongest navy. The new submarine proved so threatening that
the US military leased the Swedish sub for an additional year to develop strategies to
counter the silent threat. So what set the Gotland apart from other subs. Submarines’ primary instrument to detect
enemy subs is sonar. Sonar is essentially a finely tuned ear that
works like a whales or dolphins echolocation to create a 3D map of ocean around it. There is active sonar where the submarine
will send out a sound pulse called a “ping” and listen for the reflections, but in warfare
this isn’t a sound strategy, as that ping is detectable by enemies to give your exact
location, so passive sonar is used where no ping is emitted and instead you simply listen. These electronic ears are so accurate that
the nationality of submarines can be determined based on the operating frequency of the alternating
current used in it’s power systems. The 60 Hz alternating current of a US sub
could be differentiated from the 50 hz of European subs, if the transformers and other
electronics were not adequately insulated from the hull. The Swedes managed to create a submarine so
silent that it was practically undetectable by passive sonar, so how did they do this
at such a low cost? The Gotland was the first submarine in the
world to use a stirling engine as it’s power generator. Stirling engines are not a new concept with
the first being created and patented by Robert Stirling in 1816. Inspired by a series of high pressure steam
boiler explosions at the beginning of the industrial revolution, Stirling wanted to
create a safer engine that did not require such high pressures. I can’t be arsed trying to animate this
old drawing, let’s go for something simpler. He did this by creating a closed cylinder
containing a fixed mass of gas permanently sealed within. Here one side of the piston cylinder has a
large buffer space, which allows for a relatively constant pressure on this side of the piston,
while the other side fluctuates in pressure due to alternating heating cycles. When heat is applied to the outside of the
cylinder, the pressure increases causing the piston to move until the pressure equalizes. Now, if we cool the outside of the cylinder
with a heat exchanger, the pressure will drop and once again the piston will move. This is our basic pressure cycle to create
mechanical work. But, this is an insanely inefficient system,
as most of the energy we put into the system as heat is lost during the cooling cycle,
not to the gas, but to the actual cylinder wall, which provides no mechanical work. Robert Stirling solved this by adding a displacer
piston, which can drive the gas from one end of the cylinder to the other. Allowing this end to be permanently hot, and
the other permanently cold. So the cylinder wall is no longer experiencing
a temperature cycle. The pressure cycle here works slightly differently. First the air in the hot end expands and causes
the displacer to move into contact with the power piston, displacing more air from the
cold end to be heated and expanded, allowing work to be done on the power piston. The air on the hot end now has nowhere to
go, and so is driven to the cold end, where it is cooled and contracts causing work to
be done once again on power piston. This is our new pressure cycle. The efficiency of this system can be increased
further by placing what is essentially a heat battery in the tubes between the hot and cold
cylinder. This conserves a huge amount of heat that
would otherwise be wasted during the cooling cycle, and gives the heat back to the air
as it travels back to through. Robert Stirling dubbed this the regenerator. Now we have the foundations of a useful engine. By incorporating a coolant system and a heating
chamber we create a larger temperature differential to drive the engine, and the efficiency can
be future increased by increasing the number of tubes connecting the hot and cold spaces,
along with the number of regenerators, and adding fins to increase the surface area of
these tubes to allow for heat transfer. Did I say simplified? Sorry I meant easier to read. Maybe I like the misery” Stirling engines ultimately fell into obscurity
as stronger steel became available to make steam engine boilers safer, but have seen
a resurgence in recent decades with the Gotland being the most famous implementation. The Gotland uses two Stirling engines that
use diesel and liquid oxygen to provide heat, which in turn runs it’s 75kw generators. These generators can run an electric motor
directly, or charge batteries that can provide a huge boost in speed when needed. All the while the exhaust is compressed and
stored on board, allowing the sub to stay submerged for up to 2 weeks vastly longer
than any other diesel power submarine. So why is it so silent compared to other submarines,
it doesn’t require much explanation as to why using an internal combustion engine using
tiny controlled explosions for power tends to cause some noise. While the the multi-billion dollar nuclear
powered submarines need to pump huge volumes of coolant to their reactors to prevent a
meltdown, causing enough noise to be detectable by passive sonar within a certain range. On top of this, recently declassified intelligence
suggest that Russian subs are using these instruments to detect the faint trail of radiation
left in the wake of these nuclear powered submarines. Giving the swedish submarine another way of
avoiding detection. This is a fascinating application of the laws
of thermodynamics. Understanding and applying the laws of science
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Reader Comments

  1. Well, I learned a hard lesson from the video: I like machines but I wish I had worked hard back in college, because I did not get all, What a regret for me!

  2. Remember Admiral Rickover (a no nonsense sailor and father of the nuclear navy) and his quote about the survivability of massive carriers in a genuine war. He said they'd last "about 2 days" when facing a modern adversary,—that's why we look so Bad'A##ed when obliterating 3rd World nations but wouldn't fare too well against any country with up to date missiles. Carriers are great for crushing near defenseless countries like Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, but are just big sitting ducks for modern Chinese or Russian anti ship weapons. Remember the effectiveness of the French Exocet missiles in the Falklands mini war? France traditionally sells to almost anyone with a fisftull of cash. As long as enormous carriers carry enormous tonnage of fuel and bombs, they'll always be big beautiful targets. Maybe that's why most nations are content with one, or like Russia, NONE. Tremendous, powerful, and wildly expensive they are, but I'd hate to serve on one in a genuine war, and if it went nuclear, all the fancy radar controlled cannon would just be more melted metal for Davy Jones' locker…..

  3. Ah, the good old days when Sweden was still Nordic.

    Now Sweden is Muslim and instead of diving the sub yells Allah Akbar and blows itself up before it even submerges.

  4. This reminds me of a sequence in Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" novel, depicting a modern (1980's) naval campaign between NATO & the Soviet Union.
    In one battle, the protagonist vessel, USS "Chicago" (Los Angles/688 Class Nuclear Attack Sub) was preparing to attack the Soviet Battlecruiser Kirov with Harpoon missles when the sonar operator suddenly hears explosions & break-up noise coming from Kirov's bearing.
    It's later revealed in a drinking session at a NATO naval base that Kirov was blasted by a Norwegian diesel powered sub. It's captain had used the sounds of other ships being destroyed to sneak into the Soviet formation, blast the flagship & retreat without counter-detection…..

  5. That was during the Swedish-American war when Sweden conquered Alaska with icebear troups. After that Sweden regretted the whole affair and abandoned Alaska, only to try to conquer the Lomonsov Ridge.

  6. Rickover gave these flat top targets 48 hours in a war in 1982 – I don't think their odds or expected life time in war has improved. But it's all about retirement money for the triple dippers.

  7. So why do europeans always give away all their good ideas instead of just keeping it a secret and having an advantage to the others? As if the US. or other Nations would provide us Europeans with the knowledge of their newly developed weapons and defense mechanisms

  8. do you like messing about with code? if so join our server to help 3(and maybe a few more) friends with some code and maybe make some friends yourself!

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  9. So you just need to make a distractive noise to cheat these mega carrier's radars to penetrate their red zone and torpedo and sink them.

  10. If they were in a real war and Sweden were an enemy, 5000+ crews there would die, $6 billion dollars gone.
    US aircraft carriers aren't as invincible as I thought.

  11. People need to realise whenever America loses in a war game it's so a general can use it an an excuse to up his budget lol.

  12. It's easy for a country to blow 6 billion when it rapes its citizens with insane tax rates to such a degree that its police force is armed at a level of most militaries…

  13. No fuck whoever made this video if America really wanted to fuck a country up it could easily we are the world super power and a little wimpy country like Sweden would get crushed.

  14. This is not usual soviet Union diesel powered submarines were sneaking in Caribbean waters for years, the only way they were discovered was when they developed engine troubles

  15. Might be a bluff . To advertise Swedish shipyards. I mean why would US tell its weekness to the world, that may lose them 6.2b$
    *meanwhile russia starts building Swedish subs*😛

  16. 2:32 Thought this kind of stuff was not allowed on YouTube. lol

    The Gotland class subs is already history. The new and more advanced A26 “Blekinge” class will be delivered this year, 2019. Luckily for the US, we are “on the same team”.
    https://saab.com/naval/submarines-and-surface-ships/submarines/submarines/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwsvrpBRCsARIsAKBR_0LPboWUtHGQ_sAYVatLSE047p2KMU-zAXwtrYHke9a7TQgRAVJiYWEaArjIEALw_wcB

  17. Makes 3 Billion Dollar Submarine, sinks because someone left the hatch open

    Hint: This is their flag 🇮🇳

  18. DARPA has done new Bioengineering : RELEASE THE KRAKEN ! https://sites.google.com/site/ddnewinfo/beasts/kraken

  19. War games are no use of its always one sided.
    The swedes were merely providing a good natured dose of humility to the yanks.

  20. Everyone else: dick measurement exercises on <insert country here> is better than <insert country here>

    Me: isn't this tech featured on Surviving Mars?

  21. the Sterling engine really does have applications that are far and beyond what modern technology can do while being more efficient in operation. it's sad to see all these attempts at "solar" and "wind" power when a sterling engine can not only out perform but is vastly cheaper and has far less impact on the environment. the sterling cycle is typically used in refrigeration and air conditioning these days but one thing that is over looked is the fact that the engines are capable of being driven by nothing more than temperature differential alone! if you can provide a source of hot and cold you have a working engine, that heat can come from solar, nuclear, geothermal and pretty much ANYTHING you could burn! toss one of these things on a space ship and it's *literally FREE ENERGY(*minus the cost of parts and labor and the fuel used during launch as NOTHING is truly "free" in this world), one side facing the sun gives you hot and a shielded side exposed to the cold of space is your differential with ZERO need for any fuel source to provide unlimited power(within physical output limitations of engine WHICH is based entirely off of the working pressure in the cylinder and the temperature differential) and requires FAR less maintenance than solar panels and would shave weight and cargo space considerably. surprised they are not using these things at the Antarctic research base being that they have a natural temperature differential from the outside to the inside of the base and it would be THE ideal application for power in that setting. if you look up sterling engines here on youtube you can also find people making them out of literally trash and one guy in particular(think his channel was approtechie) has a few he's built that are quite impressive to see even work, the principle of the engine is so overly simple it's hilarious when compared to other engines with more moving parts and complicated fuel injection and valve timings.

  22. Didn’t the Nazi Type XXI Boat have the same engine ? It had many huge advancements over any other U-boats like staying submerged for weeks.

    They where introduced in 1944 (far too late to do anything about the war) but the ones that where captured where the basis of all modern submarines since.

  23. Is no one going to bring up the fact that the ships that they keep sinking are perfectly okay and they just sink them in these "games". Furthermore, there must be a crew on board to navigate the ship. What happens to them? This is such a waste of precious resources in an attempt to show who has the biggest dick between nations. I bet their space agencies would love the metal off of those sunken ships. What the ever flying fuck is wrong with this world?

  24. You think that was cool? An old RAN Oberon Class boat, HMAS Onslow, "sank" a US carrier off the coast of Hawaii, after the destroyer screen had gone past, a year before the boat was decommissioned! The evidence is on board the boat at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

  25. Who will win: 6.2 billion dollar aircraft carrier, belonging to the most powerful navy in the world
    One ikea sub boi

  26. This happened in 2005….
    By now, China may have their own version.
    So watch out President Trump… don't play with President Xi, China can build things so fast. Just look at their bullet trains….within 20 years, they have the largest network of HSR in the world. Of course, Xi is going to keep their submarine's technology a secret.
    Trump, would you like to test them out?
    Not only submarines, China also has super fast anti-ship missiles delivering system from outer space, assisted by their satellites.

  27. Well, us military media agency wasn't eager to talk about it. But the main topic here is that the sub had hell of a crew and had total awareness of usm tactics, and might know some Allie secrets…

  28. The Superior Institute of North (of France) ISEN (yes Sir) had been founded by usn about microwaves propagation in aquatics for over 2 millions and more who whows..

  29. Has anyone seen this device in this sub? I was thinking about some kind of Pelletier modules fitted for subs…

  30. That's it… The "noisy" cooling system. What about the electromagnetic noise, the nuclear radiations, water displaced volume?

  31. I heard that France's concept attack sub, SMX Ocean, is basically like the Gotland sub. Only much larger. At least the size of a current nuclear attack sub like the Virginias, if I recall correctly. A larger hull means more room for supplies, fuel cells and batteries etc DCNS claims that SMX Ocean has enough endurance to traverse the Atlantic 6 TIMES WITHOUT SURFACING!.

  32. The USS Ronald Reagan is NOT a Nimitz class carrier. I served on the USS Nimitz CVN 68 while stationed in San Diego.

  33. The 10 seconds of video starting at 1.48 ,show a sub passing an island which I recognise-I come from that area. British subs are built there (Barrow in Furness) so I suspect the sub shown is a British sub….sooooo…..what gives guys?

  34. First off, this is an exercise, so we do not know the parameters of this exercise. Second, a submarine, regardless of country of origin is very hard to detect. Third, sunk, hhhmmm did it simulate fire one torpedo, eight torpedo? One torpedo is not going to sink an aircraft carrier.

  35. Please post more videos about marine engineering! Another good video would be a more in-depth talk about the Liberty Ships and the stress fractures they dealt with in the cold waters and what was done to fix that.

  36. Could you believe if they sunk an aircraft carrier. It would become long range bombers and ballistic missile time. I’m surprised that in order for that sub to fire it’s torpedo that it has to come up to the surface and the satellites didn’t notice it. They use satellites in conjunction with a naval fleet.

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