What submarine capability does Australia need?
The committee recommends that Defence and the government
start immediately to:
strengthen and build a more collaborative relationship with
Australia's Defence industry and engender a co-operative environment in which
industry is encouraged to marshal its resources in support of Australia
acquiring and building a highly capable fleet of submarines;
listen to the technical community's concerns about risk—the
technical community, supplemented by outside expertise from industry and
allied technology partners, understand the state of technology and the degree
to which a new design extends that technology;
consult with retired naval engineers and submariners,
especially those who have been involved in reviews of the Collins class submarines
and subsequent reforms, and include the most knowledgeable and experienced in
a first pass gate review;
work with Australian and Australian-based businesses, from
prime contractors to small and medium businesses, to ensure that the
contribution that can be made by Australian industry is identified and
integrated as much as possible into the project plan;
ensure that opportunities to improve skills and upgrade
facilities, particularly those that have multiple uses are identified so that
investment in the human and physical capital required for this project is
risks associated with the transfer of technology are
anticipated, identified brought promptly to the government's attention and
managed effectively—such risks go beyond securing the rights to IP and also
take account of potential or real political and cultural incompatibilities;
experienced and senior people in key management positions are
involved in the project—this requires a strategy to grow people so they are
experienced in various disciplines.
The current fleet of Australian submarines comprises six Collins class
boats. Both the 2009 and 2013 Defence white papers recognised the importance of
Australia's submarine capability and of the need to replace its ageing Collins
class submarines. In this chapter, the committee considers the strategic
importance of acquiring submarines that would give Australia the leading-edge
capability it was seeking to achieve.
The requirement phase in the capability development life cycle of a
major naval acquisition is critical. Decisions made during this stage are
central to a project's success and to delivering the best capability that Australia
can afford. Vice Admiral Barrett explained that, as the Chief of
Navy, he sets the capability requirement for naval vessels. Although he will
not define the specific submarine that will eventually be chosen, he will
specify requirements in terms of range and endurance and operational needs when
on site. He explained that it is capability development and then the actual
project that will determine how those requirements would best be met. He
It is then a
consideration with the DMO to confirm that we are in a position to afford the
requirements that I have set, not just for the build but to sustain it through
its life with the numbers that have been modelled as being necessary to be able
to produce that effect.
According to the Chief of Navy, 'all parts of the system are trying to
achieve the best result for Australia based on those capability requirements'.
Critical importance of right decision
A number of witnesses highlighted the central role that submarines have
in protecting Australia's interests. Commander Owen, SIA, noted that over the
past 100 years, submarines have demonstrated their importance to Australia's
defence and foreign policy. He argued that they 'are no longer an optional
extra in the Australian order of battle': they are 'critical to the pursuit of
an independent foreign policy and are part of the Australian armoury for the
foreseeable future and for at least the next 100 years'. The SIA stated further
that submarines are 'the only means available
to allow the government to exert consistent influence along the full length of
our sea lines of communication'.
Commander Owen highlighted the numerous areas in which Australia's submarines
have a critical role. He was not suggesting that submarines were the only means
of protecting Australia's sea lines of communication, but they would be the
only means when access to the sea surface and the air above it was denied. He
Australia relies on
trade for its prosperity, most of which is carried by ships, and thus our
maritime security is of vital importance. Long-range submarines, capable of
stealthy operations over the length and breadth of our trading routes, are
Australia's primary maritime deterrent. Their ability to operate covertly in
sea areas denied to other Australian forces deter others from military action
and guards against the disruption to our economy that would result from
conflicts on and around our trade routes. Australia can and does deploy other
forces in support of its maritime security...
In peace time,
government has the option to exert quite subtle influence through its use of
Execution of that
influence and support of government policy through the full spectrum of
contingencies can be achieved by a single submarine through a six-week patrol.
It can observe and report without being detected and it can deploy its weapons,
should that be required. A capable submarine force is a vital contributor to
Australia's prosperity in the 21st century.
Rear Admiral Briggs, whose naval career spanned 40 years with over half
involved in submarines in various roles at sea and on shore, endorsed the
comments that emphasised the critical importance of the submarine fleet to
Australia's national security. He wanted to underline the uniqueness of
submarines, indicating that no other platform in the ADF provided Australia
with the reach that 'gives the same punch, the same bite and is useful in
situations where you do not own the surface of the sea or the air above it'. He
They are high
pay-off. They are one of the few offensive assets if need be. If we need to
throw it, they are the tip of the spear. You better make sure it is a sharp
spear and an effective one. They are equally effective in peace time scenarios
and, in periods of tension, they are absolutely critical to understanding what
is going on and to giving you some lead time as to what people on the other
side of the problem are thinking about.
There can be no doubt of the integral role that Australian submarines
have in Defence capability and in securing Australia's strategic interests. To
fulfil this function, Australian submarines cannot be second best. The 2009 and
2013 white papers clearly indicated the government's intention to acquire world
class submarines designed to meet Australia's unique strategic needs. Evidence
supported this objective. For example, Commodore Greenfield, a qualified
weapons and electrical engineer, stated that Australia’s Future Submarines
should be 'the most capable vessels possible within a reasonable and affordable
Royal Australian Navy Collins Class submarines
exercising off the West Australian coast. HMAS Waller and HMAS Dechaineux were
involved in the extensive training exercise which tested both the crew and
(Image courtesy of the
Department of Defence)
In this regard, Mr King explained that DMO wanted the ADF 'to have a
Range and endurance
Australia's geography imposes certain demands on its submarines, which
means they require special features to be an effective force. Many witnesses
argued that Australian submarines need endurance, range and reasonable mobility
to be able to get into and operate in the areas of strategic importance to
Australia. Most notably, Australian submarines operate under extremely
demanding circumstances especially their very long transit times and routes. Rear Admiral
Briggs referred to the huge distances that Australian submarines traverse:
We are the only
submarine navy in the world that steams a submarine halfway around the world
and then expects it to go on patrol and, when it is finished, to come back. It
is a huge driver. The transit requirements will determine the size of the submarine.
The ability to cover 3,000 miles of open ocean, some of it under other people's
surveillance, to do it quickly with good mobility and to arrive in a patrol
area without having been spotted and to do your job is absolutely critical to
the success of the submarine and no-one else has the geography or the problems
that we are dealing with.
Likewise, Commodore Greenfield referred to the long distances to be
travelled at speed, which determines the large size of Australia's submarines:
It requires more
generating capacity...it requires more fuel, more crew with good habitability to
mitigate against fatigue, more food, more weapons and, importantly, extra-large
water tanks to ensure a balanced trim and to compensate for changes in buoyancy
due to water temperature and salinity, the use of fuel and consumables and
weapons et cetera.
Importantly, the long transit and time spent undetected in the patrol
zone defines the Australian submarine's mission and is the main driver of the
boat's design. According to Commodore Greenfield, the submarine's mission is
'like no other country's defining mission'. He recalled the observations of a
retired submarine engineer officer who said:
Australia has the
only navy in the world which flogs its diesel-electric submarines, dived across
thousands of miles across the ocean and then sends them on patrol.
Commodore Greenfield explained further that the word 'flog' is naval
jargon referring to the very heavy punishment received by the machinery during
the transit phase. He stated:
The rapid and partial
charging and discharging of the battery severely reduces its performance.
Remember, we have 400 tonnes of lead acid battery. It is not like the lead acid
battery in your car. The reliability of the diesels is affected due to heavy
fluctuations in the load, the suction and back pressures, and the masts suffer
reliability problems due to high usage rates and vibration.
Such extreme demands on a submarine create a raft of engineering
requirements and challenges.
Commodore Greenfield noted the need to have stealth as a priority for
the future submarines.
Having transited to the main area of operation, a submarine must remain
undetected. Commodore Greenfield emphasised the importance of maintaining
stealth during the long, speedy transit, which, he argued, created a unique
challenge for Australian submarines. In his view, Australian industry understands
this need for stealth and was constantly developing new ideas and concepts to
improve it. He underscored the fact that Australian submarines are sent in harm's way.
Based on firsthand experience, he told the committee that the crews 'need blind
faith and confidence that systems will work as advertised in
emergencies—whether it be fire, flood, battle damage or some other emergency'.
...in these situations,
our crews need absolute confidence in the supporting contractors, suppliers and
maintainers. And later, of course, they will need quick access to remedial
action—and they will only get that from Australia.
The SIA also referred to stealth in submarine operations and the
all-pervading need for the highest levels of security throughout the life of
the submarine, in order to protect that capacity for stealth. Commander Owen
explained further that once
a submarine has a low signature or what is called a low indiscretion rate—not
exposing the boat's masts and making noise—in regions far removed from its
it has to operate in an area where there are now several nations that have
acquired submarines. He underscored the importance of stealth:
So, once you are in
that area, you then need to be able to preserve your stealth when you are
operating slowly and quietly to perhaps not be put in a situation where you are
counter-detected first and the reaction of that less-experienced submarine is
to classify you with a weapon. So you need better sensors, better capability
and therefore better stealth in order to achieve that.
Clearly, stealth is essential for the safety of the submarine crews and
their operations and for the effectiveness of government policy. According to Commander Owen,
stealth is a fundamental characteristic of successful submarine operations. He noted
that stealth in the operational area depends on technology, construction and
sustainment; the competence of the operators; and stringent security.
Commander Owen spoke of a submarine that, having made the long transit,
may need to remain in a patrol area undetected for several weeks or months with
50, 60 or 70 people working in close confines and operating completely
independently, perhaps without the benefit of communication back home. He noted
that in order to sustain that capability with the onboard technical skills, the
crew needs to be able to remedy defects that might occur and to have the
logistics support, which requires 'the habitability that really only a larger
submarine can possess'.
ANZAC Frigate HMAS Stuart tracks Collins class
submarine HMAS Sheean as she sails past Christmas Island on return to her home
port of HMAS Stirling, Freemantle, Western Australia.
(Image courtesy of the
Department of Defence)
Earlier, when comparing the Soryu and Collins submarines, the committee
referred to the very demanding sea conditions in which Australian submarines
Commodore Greenfield cited these very different operating surrounds of
Australian submarines as another factor when considering the specific
requirements for the future boats. He noted that unlike all Northern Hemisphere
submarines, Australian submarines have to deal with tropical, highly saline
waters. According to Commodore Greenfield, this environment promotes higher
rates of corrosion and biological growth. He referred to 'high machinery and
main storage battery operating temperatures—40 degrees, rather than the
Mediterranean 25 degrees—and the need for much higher capacity cooling
systems'. In his view, these conditions have 'a consequential effect on
energy and fuel usage, hence range and endurance'.
The designer has to take all these factors into account. Mr Pacey, a private
sector consultant with wide-ranging experience in defence and national
security, also noted that Australia's areas of operations are primarily in warm
waters that are characterised by high levels of salinity.
Recent Defence white papers have ruled out the option of a nuclear
submarine. Evidence to the committee was consistent with this view.
Vice Admiral Jones, Chief, Capability Development Group, informed the
committee that both sides of politics have decided that they would not pursue a
Mr King also noted that as a matter of policy Australia was a conventional boat
Furthermore, he acknowledged the practical obstacles that would currently make
a nuclear choice unworkable for Australia:
With such a decision
[to have nuclear-powered submarines] comes an enormous overhead. First of all,
you have to change people's attitude towards nuclear power and then, beyond
that, the industry behind it to sustain that capability and the cost of
operating it. It is an interesting comparison that Japan, which has a nuclear
industry and has a substantial nuclear base, chooses to operate conventional
The committee has heard evidence that there are a number of different
non-MOTS options open to Australia that would enable it to acquire a fleet of
world class conventionally-powered submarines suited to the nation's
Changing technology and the global
Changing technology and the increasing costs associated with the design
and development of state-of-the-art communication and combat systems for naval
vessels means that few countries or companies in their own right can produce
sophisticated, highly complex and expensive systems. Recent decades have
witnessed an increasing trend toward globally integrated production systems.
Countries that seek to remain at the cutting edge of technology quite sensibly
explore promising technologies developed elsewhere in the world. Some engage in
collaborative developments— alliances or joint ventures, teaming and licensing
arrangements—which offer them the opportunities to share research and
development costs and combine technical capabilities to produce a more innovative
product than might not otherwise have been possible.
Need for partnerships
Based on the evidence before the committee and the numerous reports
dealing with shipbuilding, it is widely accepted that Australia cannot
undertake the future submarine project without overseas assistance. For
example, the expert industry panel involved in the future submarine industry
skills plan was unanimous in its view that:
...Australia had a good
range of skills that could contribute to the design of a complex warship like a
destroyer or submarine, with such a project requiring the partnership of an
established, overseas designer.
Witnesses to the inquiry observed that Australia would need a design
partner for the submarines and that there would have to be technology transfer.
They agreed that there were limited contenders for designing and building
conventionally powered submarines. Commodore Greenfield noted that all the
submarines that are in production at the moment, the so-called MOTS submarines,
are either European or Japanese.
Rear Admiral Briggs said that there were four valid starting
points for the future submarines—the French, Swedish, German or Japanese boat.
Likewise, Professor Roos agreed that Australia needed a partner in the design
phase with only France, Germany, Sweden and Japan as likely partners.
According to Mr King, Defence had been in discussions with Japan,
Germany, France, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Evidence suggested that some of
the European designers and builders had flagged their interest in tendering for
the future submarines. For example, Mr Jackman, Chief Executive, Defence SA,
indicated that TKMS, builder of the German submarine, was pressing its case to
be included in the process. He was also aware that the Swedish, with the Saab organisation,
were also keen to do exactly the same. He stated:
organisations have put their hands up to meet with the minister and the Premier
to discuss what support they would want from this state to build those
submarines in this country.
Also, according to Mr King, Defence had paid for some work to be done on
submarines by France and Germany and by Sweden to look at the evolved design.
He stated further:
We have paid them
money to do work for us. We paid them on the MOTS options. So, yes, we have been
engaged with them and, yes, we have paid some of their costs.
For Rear Admiral Briggs, it was simply a matter of the starting point,
the baseline and the chosen partner 'to go forward on the journey to do the
He suggested that those factors come together to build a risk. He said:
Every solution will
have a different level of risk and a different range of factors in it. Picking
the right starting point, picking the right design to do the job is the key
question in front of Australia at this point.
Dr John White said that the MOTS option—submarines currently in
production—had no chance of any success as it was 'well known that no existing
submarine design would meet Australia's requirements'. To his thinking,
a MOTS design, which allowed for modifications to meet minimal essential RAN
requirements, held the most promise because:
...it recognised the
advantage of evolving a proven MOTS design from a prominent submarine company
to include specified RAN requirements.
Ultimately, Dr White formed the view that there were three plausible
overseas contenders. They were:
the German TKMS design based on the current 214AU and the
conceptual design 216AU for Australia;
the French SMX OCEAN class conceptual design based on a barracuda
an updated Japanese Soryu class submarine.
Witnesses generally referred to four possible bidders, including an
evolved Collins. Most of the evidence taken by the committee, however, related
to the Collins class and Japanese submarines as the potential basis for future
Commander Owen observed that the French both design and build very good
submarines and have experience in exporting that technology. He indicated that
they were currently exporting a mix of diesel and nuclear submarines to Brazil.
Dr White noted that the French SMX OCEAN class conceptual design was the
next generation SSN of the French Navy fitted not with a nuclear propulsion
system but a conventional propulsion system, SSK, with air-independent
propulsion, or AIP, technology. He informed the committee that this development
in France seeks an endurance of 14,000 nautical miles and a continuous transit
speed of 14 knots for one week utilising its AIP system and fitted with two fuel
cells. This concept was
to be released at the end of October 2014 in France.
Commander Owen considered that the Germans, who have vast experience
in building and exporting submarines and supporting their export arrangements
around the world, build very good submarines. In his view, the fact that
countries keep going back to the German submarines would suggest that they
build and design good boats. Commodore Greenfield observed, however, that we
often hear stories that German submarines can do so many days dived but, when you
really do the calculations,
it is probably at four knots. He surmised that they are talking about the
patrol area but not the transit route. Dr White thought that the German TKMS
should be an option open for further consideration offering a MOTS evolution
As noted earlier in this chapter, Australian submarines need to transit
great distances—3½ thousand miles away. To do so, they have to travel that long
distance and come back again. In Commander Owen's assessment, none of the other
submarines were designed to be able to do that.
The Australian Submarine Corporation (later ASC) was established in 1985
through a joint venture between Kockums, the Australian Industry Development
Corporation, Wormalds International and Chicago Bridge and Australia Iron.
It was chosen in 1987 as the prime contractor for the design, manufacture,
upgrade and delivery of the Collins class submarines. This project
was one of the most ambitious and highest profile naval shipbuilding projects
The May 1987 decision to award the Collins class contract to ASC
established a highly capable prime contractor. The decision
reflected Navy's view that considerable benefits would accrue from having one
organisation build and maintain the vessels. An Australian build with close
access to the building yard promised reduced operating and maintenance costs
and increased length of service between refits. In addition, it was argued that
building the vessels in-country would economise on the high initial capital
outlay on the integrated logistics support needed to bring
the submarines into military service. As a result of the Collins class project,
ASC was the likely choice for the 25-year, A$5 billion contract for the
through-life support of the submarines, announced in 2003.
The Australian-built Collins class submarine illustrates some of the
complexities faced by a modern naval shipbuilder:
Aboard the Collins,
we have 108 systems integrated into a pressure hull, one of which we are
required to safety certify. It is a safety-critical piece of equipment. That
alone makes it an engineering and technical challenge. The shipbuilder, or the
submarine builder, in that case, is responsible for integrating those systems
into the vessel. The combat system constitutes a system and there are the
communications system and other systems. Even by the time we are done with
everything that can be construed as a related part of the combat and C3I system,
we still have 100 systems that are integrated which work to keep the platform
in motion, keep the crew safe at deep-dive depth and a lot of other things.
The Collins class submarine is well known to Australians both for its
well-publicised problems but also for its achievements. In his 2012 paper, Sub
Judice: Australia's Future Submarine, Mr Pacey suggested that the Collins
was 'the only available conventional submarine approaching the range and
endurance to meet the capability requirement for the Future Submarine'.
Witnesses did not deny that the Collins class submarine had experienced
problems throughout its construction and service life. In his
submission, Commodore Greenfield noted that while the Collins program was far
from perfect it was 'much better than the press would have you believe'. He
suggested that Australia was in a much stronger position now than at the time
of the last submarine acquisition and, if lessons from the past were learnt, could build
on this to good effect.
In his view the 'least risky pathway was to re-design the Collins—we know what
works well and what doesn't'.
Mr Chris Burns told the committee that many mistakes were made in
negotiating and establishing the Collins submarine contract. He then stated:
industrial tenacity and innovation turned the project around to the point where
we now operate among the most capable conventional submarines in the world.
The Collins class project proved and improved the capacity and
productivity of the Australian industrial base to build from scratch, complex
warships to a high quality. Indeed, a number of witnesses referred to the
enormous challenge confronting Australia's defence industry in building the
Collins. Mr Whiley, who joined ASC in 1989, noted that the project started in
Osborne as a greenfield site with no production staff, no tools, no
infrastructure and no capacity. ASC was completely different from the current
hive of activity.
He then observed:
world's submarine community, the Collins class submarines are considered a
world-class conventional submarine with unparalleled capabilities, a sentiment
that extends to the team of personnel who built and now maintain them.
Mr Derek Woolner detailed some of the positive results achieved by the
Collins class submarine:
All six vessels, with the exception of the bow of the lead boat,
were constructed in Australia to a high standard of workmanship. In terms of
poor construction work, the main fault was with welding done in Sweden on the
bow of the first ship.
The Collins class project achieved 73.5 per cent Australian
industry content for the new platforms, exceeding the government's minimum
target of 70 per cent.
In so doing, the project promoted the establishment and development of many second
and third tier Australian companies.
The Collins class project greatly enhanced the skill base of the
naval construction and design industry. Institutions such as the defence
science facility and the local TAFE at Port Adelaide were important in the
training process. The project has provided the design and engineering skills
that will assist in ASC's development of the three AWDs and will be crucial
should Australia commit to a new generation of submarines.
The project indicated that ASC was more productive than its
overseas counterparts. It produced one submarine per year, a faster rate of
vessel construction than in Dutch and British yards.
Lessons learned from the
Mr Pacey acknowledged the criticisms directed at the Collins, including
'some straight talking from John Coles himself'. He suggested that:
Few of us would
disagree with those criticisms, but what has been overlooked is that the phase
1 report by John Coles stated: 'The scale of the achievement to acquire and
build these highly capable submarines is recognised internationally. These
achievements give us every confidence that Australia can and will achieve
success in owning and operating at a reasonable cost a fleet of sophisticated
and capable submarines, fully capable of protecting our maritime interests'.
A study produced by the Kokoda Foundation and authored by Mr Pacey
reached the same conclusions. In summary, the study found that Australia had
a unique capability requirement that could only be met by an ab initio design
an evolution of an existing design. It found:
Of the options that
were available three years ago, an evolved Collins emerged as the lowest risk
because it was the only available conventional submarine that came close to
meeting Australia's capability requirement in terms of range, endurance and
payload. The lessons learned from operating Collins were too valuable to throw
away. Any new option will need a comparable level of analysis.
Mr Pacey informed the committee that, whereas a few years ago he was
pessimistic about a successful outcome, during the course of the future
submarine study he became increasingly confident that the Collins could be
a reasonable level of availability at an affordable cost. He also came to
understand that the future submarine program could deliver a boat suited to
Australia's unique strategic circumstances at a cost significantly lower than
some figures that had gained traction at the time. Mr Pacey argued that a
future submarine based on an evolution of the Collins design would be the best
way to benefit from the experience of operating
a modern submarine fleet in Australia's maritime domain.
A number of other witnesses referred to the substantial body of
knowledge, skills and experience that had been built up over the years through
the Collins. Commander Owen described Australia’s submarine capability as
an insurance policy for uncertain times. In his view, the low risk path was to
build on Australia's 21 years' experience with Collins. He formed the view
that the Collins would provide 'a very much better place to step off from than
leaping into the unknown, where we do not have any understanding of the many
aspects of building
Commander Owen argued that while Australia's 'regional colleagues smile
uncomfortably at the Australian press criticism of the Collins-class
submarines, their own experience has told them that the assertions have little
In his opinion:
and the Australian submarine capability are the regional benchmark in the safe
conduct of operations and in matters of submarine escape and rescue.
Rear Admiral Briggs and Commodore Roach were of the view that the
Collins provided a 'sound starting point for the future submarines'. Indeed, the
Collins class experience has produced valuable lessons for the procurement of
Australia's future submarines. Commodore Greenfield suggested that 'the least
risky pathway was
to re-design the Collins—'we know what works well and what doesn't'.
Commodore Greenfield argued that the Navy, the DMO and Australian
industry now understand the Australian requirements. In his opinion, Australian
industry could provide engineering solutions as it did for Collins and was
Rear Admiral Briggs agreed with this assessment. He suggested that 'more
went right with Collins than went wrong'. In his view, there was a bit of a
national naivety that 'we could start with a patch of sand on the Adelaide
River and build this bigger, modern submarine and not have any problems'. He
explained that the problems were handled and at the end of the fixed program
'we had two modified, fast-tracked submarines, as they were called, with fixes,
hardware in the systems
and in the combat system that were able to be sent to sea and sent into harm's
According to Rear Admiral Briggs, Defence was over ambitious in its
specification. He also referred to the contract, which was a black-letter law
'This is what it will
do'—when in fact what we were setting off to do was to develop a combat system
and we should have had a lot more interaction with the contractors and be
prepared to move the requirement as we understood more about the technology. We
did not do that; we stood there with lawyers rather than with engineers.
Commander Owen, SIA, cited the key lessons he wanted to be learnt from
the Collins class experience:
it took time to learn that we were the parent Navy of our
we cannot give the responsibility for our sovereignty to another
country—to protect our most sensitive secrets, then we must take ownership of
we need ongoing and respectful relationships with suitable
a dedicated program of maintenance and investment is absolutely
to ensure that Australia's submarine fleet is fully operable, capable and
more than six submarines are required to provide an effective
While various numbers have been discussed, we calculate that at least
12 submarines are required.
The SIA underscored the importance of ensuring that Defence has
continued access to the submarine technology that is most relevant to the
nation's strategic environment. It argued that the government must guarantee
that Australia can sustain, maintain and upgrade its submarine capability
throughout the next 100 years.
Acknowledging that the diesels in the Collins were a major source of
unreliability, Rear Admiral Briggs explained that Defence adapted a diesel
because we needed one of that size and there was not an off-the-shelf one. In
his view, Defence and industry learnt a very, very hard lesson—'There is no way
in the world that anyone now would do anything except go and buy an accepted,
off-the-shelf diesel, and they are there'.
Despite the valuable lessons to be learnt from the Collins, a number of
witnesses were of the view that an evolved Collins was not a preferred course
of action. Mr Whiley observed that Collins was almost 30 years old and the
design has been moved on. Based on his understanding of the requirements, he
the design would have to be changed significantly for the current sets of
requirements. Even so, he was of the view that there were many lessons from
Collins that 'could be used in the future submarine design and build process'. Professor
Roos also thought that an evolved Collins, was doomed from the start, because
the pressure hull diameter was constrained to the current 7.8 metres. He
explained that this constraint 'required the hull to be stretched and this would
limit a future growth path because you can
only stretch a submarine so far before it becomes hydro-dynamically
As noted earlier, Dr White was of the view that the separate designation
the Collins upgrade as option 3 in 2012 was inappropriate, given that the
design was approaching its 30th birthday without evolution.
Australian submarines are an integral part of Australia's Defence
capability and central to promoting the nation's strategic interests. They are,
however, highly complex machines that operate in demanding and unique
environments that require special features.
There is no existing submarine that Australia can purchase off-the-shelf
that would satisfy Australia's requirements.
The government should rule out a military-off-the-shelf option for
Australia's future submarine fleet.
As the committee has heard, the government has a number of options
to consider for the future submarine project.
As recommended, the government should test these options through
a competitive tender process so that the Australian public has confidence that
the government is purchasing the best, most capable submarine, at a competitive
price for the taxpayer.
Senator Sam Dastyari
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