Replacement of Australia's Collins Class Submarines

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
784

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Sorry GTX, I missed your response.
And I say yet again, the ALP opposition has expressed support for the buy

Labor has three conditions for the support of nuclear-powered submarines, which we have sought assurance on. Firstly, that there be no requirement of a domestic civil nuclear industry.

And I say, yet again, that building and maintaining nuclear powered subs in Australia will require nuclear infrastructure and logically, a local nuclear 'industry' to support it. As I said above, they might try a special miltary nuclear technology legal carve-out to get around the existing legislation but that would still be politically fraught.

The alternative is to accept that they are a permanently locked in "client" of the US (or the US via the UK) military nuclear industry and 100% reliant on the US govt for repairs, maintenance, fuel and cores.

Naturally, under those conditions, if Australia decides at some point that it needs 10 rather than 8 boats to defend its shores, it will be a US decision that makes it happen, not an Australian one. Indeed, even operating them will require a certain amount of US permission and support so as to fit Australian needs into the already busy US/UK SSN maintenance schedule.

So once again, from a sovereign capability standpoint, the French nuclear option works better for Australia because Australia could buy in and store a multi decade supply of nntp unproblematic LEU ( for which there is already a mature international trading system) and build and/or refuel their own boats completely on their own schedule, and do so without having a local 'industry' beyond a LEU storage facility.

EDIT: Well not NO local industry but not a significantly larger government nuclear industry than it already maintains through their ANSTO nuclear facility.
ANSTO is home to Australia's only nuclear reactor OPAL in Lucas Heights, Sydney. OPAL stands for "Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL)" - OPAL is a state-of-the-art 20 megawatt multi-purpose reactor that uses low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel to achieve a range of nuclear medicine, research, scientific, industrial and production goals.


ANSTO has over 60 years of experience in nuclear science and technology...

It's going to be very interesting to see the results of the 18 month review. Very, very interesting.
 
Last edited:

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Yeah, when you read these articles from ASPI you're reading the US Govt, US defence industry point of view as they're a lobbyist organisation funded by those entities.

This article in particular talks about Australia aquiring Virginia Block V SSGNs. Thats a significant step up in cost (and strategic strike capability) on the Block IV pure SSN version (which still has 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk anyway).
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,223
Reaction score
675
Perhaps the point is that Australian adoption of nuclear submarines will require various compromises including, at least to some degree, nuclear related infrastructure that may not be especially popular.

Hence in abstraction there would currently appear to be quite a broad support for “going nuclear” re: the submarine fleet it is possible (very probable?) that this apparent consensus may fray when the trade-offs and complications (and costs) become clearer.
 

TomS

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
5,079
Reaction score
2,772

This article in particular talks about Australia aquiring Virginia Block V SSGNs. Thats a significant step up in cost (and strategic strike capability) on the Block IV pure SSN version (which still has 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk anyway).

Despite the phrasing in the article, not all Block Vs will have the Virginia Payload Module, so Australian adoption of Block V would not necessarily suggest a strategic strike role. Block V would have the VPTs (potentially 12 Tomahawk) up front, but deleting them would be a trivial change. Or the VPTs could be retained as margin for UUVs and other systems even if Tomahawk is not fitted.

Edit: And of course, retaining Tomahawk in the VPT doesn't mean a strategic strike role either. Block Va Maritime Strike Tomahawk could be acquired primarily as an antiship weapon, though it would retain a land-attack capacity as well.

 
Last edited:

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Edit: And of course, retaining Tomahawk in the VPT doesn't mean a strategic strike role either. Block Va Maritime Strike Tomahawk could be acquired primarily as an antiship weapon, though it would retain a land-attack capacity as well.

Good point about the non-VPM Block Vs, I referred to the Block IV because Australia, if it gets Virginia, would likely be getting an updated SSN version of these boats rather than an SSGN as per the article and the Block IV's are all primarily SSNs (as far as I know).

Tomahawk could be acquired primarily as a anti-ship weapon but at this point it's probably better suited to the land-attack role because subsonic anti-ship missiles must be getting pretty marginal at this point, depending on target defenses of course.

Washington –
The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded a nine-ship -- eight with Virginia Payload Module (VPM) -- Block V contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) Dec. 2. The contract includes an option for one additional submarine with VPM. The Block V contract is a $22.2-billion fixed-price incentive fee, multi-year procurement contract for fiscal years 2019 through 2023.

So is that one additional Block V boat with a VPM (for a total of 10 boats) or building all 9 contracted Block V boats with VPM? They could have worded that better...
 
Last edited:

TomS

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
5,079
Reaction score
2,772
So is that one additional Block V boat with a VPM (for a total of 10 boats) or building all 9 contracted Block V boats with VPM? They could have worded that better...
Total of 10. That's fairly standard contract language.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,592
Reaction score
6,748
Perhaps the point is that Australian adoption of nuclear submarines will require various compromises including, at least to some degree, nuclear related infrastructure that may not be especially popular.

Hence in abstraction there would currently appear to be quite a broad support for “going nuclear” re: the submarine fleet it is possible (very probable?) that this apparent consensus may fray when the trade-offs and complications (and costs) become clearer.

If they are smart enough, Australian politicians could make a 180 degree turn over global warming, justify a civilian nuclear power industry for that reason... and tie that with nuclear submarines

This is how France did it, in the 70's (except global warming wasn't the reason, but oil shocks).

It's a difficult argument to make given how expensive nuclear power is compared to renewables. Back in the 70's renewables weren't a cost effective option, now they are. There might be a market (maybe/one day) for SMRs but they'll likely only be for small and/or very remote, particularly power hungry applications (like submarines).

Somewhat ironically, nuclear is trapped in that deadly corner... because of submarines. And Rickover. There are tons of designs much better and safer than PWR / BWR but Rickover, Shippingport and Atoms for peace have "imposed" BWR / PWR more than 60 years ago, and few others reactor types have managed to break through.
Which is a pity.
 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594

Interesting article. Australia facing a big hill to climb to get their 8 boats by 2040-2060.

Can't help but think that the stated reasons for doing so - countering the rise of China - will either have already come to a head or be completely irrelevant by then.

"You needed the submarines 10 years ago," he told 7.30.
 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Link to article originally posted in "Alternative scenario: UK went with Nuclear propulsion for CVF/QE Class" by Manuducati that provides some good background on some of the complications involved with nuclear powered naval vessels as well as some info on the state of the UKs Naval nuclear biz.

(Couldn't figure out how to just provide a link to the original post that looked nice, so recreated it. Apols, if wrong).

 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Article from magazine "Arms Control Today" discussing proliferation issues resulting from the US decision to include Australia in it's special arrangement with the UK. Discusses implications for Brazil's, South Korea's and Japan's plans to field nuclear powered subs as well as proposals for the US to switch to life of boat LEU reactors.

 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Only a lazy $171 billion....hmmm


Regards
Pioneer

For me, the obvious corollary from the article above is that the simplest build possible is the best bet. That if the subs are to be built in Australia as promised, modifications of existing designs if any, should be kept to an absolute minimum, and the design (of at least the first two boats) should rely on as much off-the-shelf technology as possible in order to keep risk at an absolute minimum.

Based on history though, I predict Australia will choose to go with a highly complex, highly modified variant of the UK's Astute.
 

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,592
Reaction score
6,748
What my post was deleted ? moderators... It has a relation with the thread subject.

Attack subs were only the tip of Macron strategy to contain China, with an alliance including Australia (and India). Why France wants to keep China contained in the Pacific ? because of New Caledonia and its nickel ore. China eyed that resource, and hoped NC would vote "independance" to then influence (= vampirize) it, BRI style.

So I stick to my guns.

Otherwise, move that to the "other" thread: AUKUS treaty. But I can't remember if it is locked or not.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
784

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594

While the headline of this article talks about bureaucratic back and forth and seems off-topic, a large section talks about the Australian government's internal manoeuvring on acquiring nuclear subs in the lead up to the AUKUS deal. Most of the information appears to have been gained via FOI. Interesting background (well, for me anyway) so I thought I'd include it.
 

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,592
Reaction score
6,748
A different angle, though one that I doubt will get traction:


If Australia is interested, France has second-hand Rubis nuclear subs, for sale... :p
:D
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
784
Wow, as much as I concur that these questions are seriously warrented and needing answering, if this isn't the pot (Turnball government) calling the kettle (Morrison govenment) black, when he as PM decided to selected the French Attack class with the same ambiguity and stonewalling sensible and legitimate questions......:rolleyes:



Regards
Pioneer
 
Last edited:

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com
That article was published about 2wks after the AUKUS Treaty and the mention of RAN SSNs was originally announced so it is expected to have many questions. Many of these are already addressed/in work though and/or will be addressed as part of the 18mth Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force study headed by Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead.
 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Wow, as much as concur that these questions are seriously warrented and needing answering, if this isn't the pot (Turnball government) calling the kettle (Morrison govenment) black, when he as PM decided to selected the French Attack class with the same ambiguity and stonewalling sensible and legitimate questions......:rolleyes:

Not sure what you're getting at here, Pioneer. Turnbull was PM when Defence picked the French bid, but I hadn't heard he'd influenced the decision at all. The French bid won the tender. As I understood the requirements at the time, the "Attack" class was the only one that came close to meeting those requirements which was for a large and very capable non-nuclear boat.

What's tipped everything into a cocked hat since is the Morrison government's decision that Life-of-boat reactors somehow get Australia around the need for a domestic nuclear industry. As is becoming more and more obvious, they don't.

Eventually the grown ups are going to have to sit the Australian government down and straighten them out.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
784
Wow, as much as concur that these questions are seriously warrented and needing answering, if this isn't the pot (Turnball government) calling the kettle (Morrison govenment) black, when he as PM decided to selected the French Attack class with the same ambiguity and stonewalling sensible and legitimate questions......:rolleyes:

Not sure what you're getting at here, Pioneer. Turnbull was PM when Defence picked the French bid, but I hadn't heard he'd influenced the decision at all. The French bid won the tender. As I understood the requirements at the time, the "Attack" class was the only one that came close to meeting those requirements which was for a large and very capable non-nuclear boat.

What's tipped everything into a cocked hat since is the Morrison government's decision that Life-of-boat reactors somehow get Australia around the need for a domestic nuclear industry. As is becoming more and more obvious, they don't.

Eventually the grown ups are going to have to sit the Australian government down and straighten them out.
G'day jeffb

Yes, on reading my comment again, you are right in having reason to question me on what I was trying to say.
My use of 'Turnbull influencing the selection of the French design' wasn't intentional, my emphases was Turnbull's use of his position and title to not answer so many sensible and straightforward he as PM and leader of his political party could have/should have answered. Instead, as is the case with Morrison, he employed unprecedented politics and an abuse of National Security to block any staightforward questions....hence my comment "pot calling the kettle black".

As for your comment:
"Eventually the grown ups are going to have to sit the Australian government down and straighten them out"

I appreciate your sentiment, but I have no faith in this government ever doing so, as they've become very versed in being the tail (Political Party/Government) that wags the dog (People of Australia).

Regards
Pioneer
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,948
Reaction score
4,524
For once, a good (but too short and partial) analysis in french (summary: AUKUS and the NG contract cancelation is UK centric):

 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,948
Reaction score
4,524

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
Did you read the linked article? Patrick got to a lot of government reports and advice via FOI.

The documents – some dating to the first consideration of nuclear submarines in 2009 and up to 2021 – have only been revealed by a Freedom of Information application by Senator for South Australia and former submariner Rex Patrick.

Secret documents have revealed successive federal governments were warned by the Defence Department against building nuclear submarines.

In an undated briefing to judge Australia’s ability to go with US Virginia class submarines, one of two design options now being considered, the federal government was told the 3024 submariners required would be: “A major and perhaps deciding factor against the feasibility of this proposal”.

Seemed pretty relevant to me.
 

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
4,039
Reaction score
2,784
Website
beyondthesprues.com
He's a lone noisy individual who is a one man show in the Australian Senate and who has a history of digging up FOI bits related to Australian subs. He is a ex-submariner himself but whilst undoubtedly passionate about it, has no real influence or ability to change anything. Moreover, an interesting fact is that, as I understand it, he has never actually been elected. He became a Senator in late 2017 when nominated by the Parliament of South Australia under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate following the resignation of Sen Nick Xenophon, to whom he was an adviser at the time. He has subsequently left Xenophon's party to form his own one-man band. It will be interesting to see if he keeps his role in this year's election.
 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
So you want to discuss who Patrick is, not what the Defence documents released under FOI say?
 

starviking

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
1,320
Reaction score
504
Did you read the linked article? Patrick got to a lot of government reports and advice via FOI.

The documents – some dating to the first consideration of nuclear submarines in 2009 and up to 2021 – have only been revealed by a Freedom of Information application by Senator for South Australia and former submariner Rex Patrick.

Secret documents have revealed successive federal governments were warned by the Defence Department against building nuclear submarines.

In an undated briefing to judge Australia’s ability to go with US Virginia class submarines, one of two design options now being considered, the federal government was told the 3024 submariners required would be: “A major and perhaps deciding factor against the feasibility of this proposal”.

Seemed pretty relevant to me.
The thing is… where are the documents?

We have a story from an ex-submariner politician who is opposed to the AUKUS subs. He got previously secret documents, and has released snippets.

Questions: do the snippets reflect 100% the views of the reports quoted? Are all reports dismissive of the nuclear option? Were only dismissive reports sought?
 

jeffb

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
509
Reaction score
594
The thing is… where are the documents?

We have a story from an ex-submariner politician who is opposed to the AUKUS subs. He got previously secret documents, and has released snippets.

Questions: do the snippets reflect 100% the views of the reports quoted? Are all reports dismissive of the nuclear option? Were only dismissive reports sought?

Thing is, Patrick was highly critical of the Naval deal as well. Apparently (by a process of elimination but don't quote me) he is a fan of the wholly Australian built Collins 2.0 proposal. Which makes sense since he is a senator for South Australia where the subs would/will be built.

Rejection of the nuclear option is highlighted in one previously secret briefing which led to the 2016 Turnbull decision to pursue the now-dumped French design.

Given that Australia went with the conventional French design in 2016, that part seems reasonable. As I pointed out myself earlier in the thread, if Australia wanted to go nuclear, a French SSN would (in my opinion) have been the easier way to achieve it. But obviously, that option, if it was brought up, was rejected.

Throughout the documents, the Defence Department states that nuclear is a much more combat-capable option, but its advice is that Australia lacks the staff, infrastructure and public support to go nuclear.

That doesn't sound particularly dismissive to me, it merely reflects the reality that Australia has no nuclear industry to speak of, no nuclear safety or regulatory framework and a public which strongly disapproves of nuclear technology.
 

Rickshaw

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
2,141
Reaction score
264
Patrick is an annoying SOB by all accounts. A real "Barrack room Lawyer" apparently but he usually has a point and in this he is raising one against the adoption of nuke boats. Manpower has always been a problem for the RAN. In the case of COLLINS class submariners prefer it seems to spend time ashore than afloat. Which ever submerging Admiral's Barge we adopt we are going to face a serious problem when sailors' wives prefering their husbands to earn big biccies ashore at mining sites rather than absent on boat. Along with the problems associated with a lack of nuclear training and infrastructure...
 
Last edited:

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,808
Reaction score
3,448
I'd say the whole problem of whether or not previous Australian governmental or military studies thought nuclear submarine construction was practical or not is rather moot since at that time the USA and UK were adamantly against giving such technology and now they are not.

Infrastructure can be built, people can be trained, certification can be gained. If there is will and enough cash it can happen.

In an undated briefing to judge Australia’s ability to go with US Virginia class submarines, one of two design options now being considered, the federal government was told the 3024 submariners required would be: “A major and perhaps deciding factor against the feasibility of this proposal”.
Seemed pretty relevant to me.
3,024 submariners would equal enough to crew 22 Virginias, or 11 if you were running Blue/Gold teams.
Either way its a bit vague and sounds like an overstated figure.
 

TomS

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
5,079
Reaction score
2,772
3,024 submariners would equal enough to crew 22 Virginias, or 11 if you were running Blue/Gold teams.
Either way its a bit vague and sounds like an overstated figure.

Remember career management and ship-shore rotation. Submariners don't spend every day of their time in service assigned to a submarine. At least half their time would have to be in shore tours for training, support, etc.
 

Similar threads

Top