Tag Archives: Australia

Australia Reviews Plan to Double Submarine Fleet

Decision to Revisit $32 Billion Purchase Comes as Asian Neighbors Bulk Up Military Muscle

The first of Australia’s six Collins class submarines hitting the water at Port Adelaide in 1993; Australia is reviewing a plan to replace its fleet with 12 new subs at a cost of more than $30 billion.

CANBERRA, Australia—Australia will review plans to double its fleet of submarines, with the new conservative government under pressure to rein in its budget even as Asian neighbors dramatically ramp up military spending.

Defense Minister  David Johnston  said he was unconvinced that Australia needed as many as 12 new conventional submarines currently foreseen by military planners. It comes as regional neighbors, led by China, build up their naval and air arsenals amid disputes over territorial waters, especially in North Asia.

At a cost of up to 36 billion Australian dollars (US$32.28 billion), doubling the submarine fleet would be the country’s largest single military purchase.

“It’s a mystery to me [where that number of 12 came from],” said Mr. Johnston, who has called for a review of military-equipment spending as part of a yearlong strategic planning process launched by the conservatives, who swept to power in September elections on a promise of fiscal restraint.

“That is a technical issue that the current circumstances will dictate and I want [the] navy to tell me what they foresee is the way forward. It might be more than 12, it might be less. I’m not sure,” he said in an interview.

Australia’s former Labor government in 2009 released a defense planning paper that called for a dozen large, conventionally powered submarines to replace the country’s existing six-boat fleet of Collins class submarines.

Although much larger than submarines operated by regional neighbors, the Collins class submarines have been plagued by technical problems. On Thursday, a fire erupted on the submarine HMAS Waller off the West Australian coast, Australia’s Defense Department said. There were no casualties.

A new fleet of larger, more powerful and longer-range submarines would counter a growing undersea presence in Asia. Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia are fielding new submarines to counter threats to some of the world’s most important energy-trade routes, as well as to hedge against Chinese ambitions.

China in January sent a surface warship fleet—possibly backed by a submarine—into waters between Indonesia and Australia, demonstrating Beijing’s naval reach. The move prompted some alarm in Canberra, which sent a maritime patrol aircraft to keep watch.

Southeast Asian nations typically operate submarines of about 2,000 submerged tons, while Australia envisages boats of 4,000 tons or more, possibly equipped with submarine-launched cruise missiles for land attack and capable of deploying special-forces soldiers.

Australia’s submarine-replacement program, no matter how ambitious it turned out to be, wouldn’t add to regional rivalries, with the close U.S. ally having long fielded a small but highly capable military that was well respected regionally, Mr. Johnston said.

“For many, many years we have owned and operated the world’s largest conventionally powered submarine, so the neighborhood is well used to us having a large and unique diesel-electric submarine,” he said.

Australia already has embarked on an expensive buildup of military equipment, including two 27,000-ton amphibious assault ships, new attack and transport helicopters, guided-missile destroyers, tanks and Super Hornet strike and electronic attack aircraft.

Australia has a defense budget of some A$26 billion in the fiscal year to June, or 1.6% of gross domestic product. The government plans in the next few years to buy up to 100 F-35 Lightning joint strike fighters to provide radar-evading air power, at a cost of up to A$16 billion.

But the military has come under pressure to reduce costs as the world’s 12th-largest economy retreats from a mining boom, driving up joblessness and eating into government revenues. The government in December forecast budget deficits totaling A$123 billion over the next four fiscal year to June 2017, and said it would cut billions from spending.

Mr. Johnston said he was open to the idea of Australia’s far-flung Cocos islands, in the Indian Ocean southwest of Indonesia, being developed as a base for U.S. or Australian Tritons. But he said there was no proposal currently to upgrade the islands’ dilapidated airstrip to expand maritime reach, as Chinese vessels increasingly patrol further from home.

China’s growing assertiveness in the East China Sea and elsewhere was to be expected of any country with growing energy needs, Mr. Johnston said, including a demand for Australian oil and gas resources. China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

“They are hostage to the importation of food and energy. I think they would be dilatory were they not to want to protect those sea lanes,” he said. “I’m not reactive to these things that are happening in the South China Sea.”

Source – The Wall Street Journal

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Aus – Collins one of the most capable conventional submarines

THE navy has defended its troubled Collins-class submarines, saying it had to identify properly all of their faults in a report to help determine whether their service life could be extended.

Defence said the Collins remained one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world despite a report, revealed in The Australian this week, that found 68 critical faults that could force the boats into early retirement.

The report by the Defence Materiel Organisation late last year found hopes of extending the life of the six Collins submarines until the 2030s when new submarines could be built would be “unachievable” unless urgent action was taken to fix major systems faults aboard each boat.It revealed that the submarines were getting hotter, heavier and noisier each year and detailed flaws in the diesel engines, command and control systems, periscopes, sonars and other key systems and equipment.

This contrasted with the sanitised public summary of the report given by the former Labor government that focused on a single sentence in the report saying that there was “no single technical issue” which would prevent the service life of the boats being extended.The report’s findings have left the new Coalition government with difficult choices about whether to attempt to extend the life of the submarine fleet or purchase or lease smaller submarines as an interim measure to ensure Australia continues to have submarines to defend it into the early 2030s.

Defence said the submarines were subject to a rigorous safety and certification system and were operated by a dedicated and well-trained team of officers and sailors.It said The Australian’s articles were based on “an internal report prepared by the Defence Materiel Organisation which examined the feasibility of extending the life of the Collins-class submarine”.

“The purpose of the report was to identify potential issues and risks that would need to be addressed to extend the life of the class,” Defence said.”This is a common and normal process to be followed if consideration is being given to the life-extension of any system. It was always expected that the report would identify systems that would require attention should a life-extension be required.”Defence said many of these were already known and some were being addressed in planned upgrades or through continuous improvement programs.”As with any risk analysis, a risk must first be identified before it can be assessed and determined whether controls will need to be put in place to manage the risk,” it said.Defence said there had been “significant improvement” in submarine availability over the past 15 months. It said its submarines were “busy operating domestically and as far afield as conducting exercises in Japan and Hawaii”.

“This is a testament to the hard work being conducted by all members of the submarine enterprise involved in the sustainment of the Collins-class submarine,” it said. The DMO report made it clear that any plan to extend the life of the Collins fleet would be high risk.

Source – The Australian

CHRIS’S Poignant Submarine Trip Down Under

CHRIS Davidson made a family trip to the other side of the world and was able to see a submarine his late father helped to build on the Clyde.

 

Chris from Greenock travelled with his wife Theresa to visit their daughter Pamela who emigrated to Australia just over a year ago.

During their stay they visited the maritime museum at Fremantle, south of Perth, which has former Australian Navy submarine HMAS Ovens on show. Chris enjoyed a tour of the vessel which was built at Scott’s of Greenock in the late 1960s.

He said: “I took photos of the engines with a tear in my eye, as my late dad Peter Davidson fitted them back in 1967.”

HMAS Ovens was one of six Oberon-class submarines built for Australia and remained in service until 1995.

More Information about HMAS Ovens Australian Navy Website

Source – Inverclyde Now

Singapore and Australia sign submarine rescue arrangement

RAN's Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs (left) and RSN's Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng (right) at the signing the Submarine Rescue Arrangement on board the RSN’s submarine rescue and support vessel, MV Swift Rescue.

RAN’s Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs (left) and RSN’s Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng (right) at the signing the Submarine Rescue Arrangement on board the RSN’s submarine rescue and support vessel, MV Swift Rescue.

SINGAPORE – The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)’s Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng signed the Submarine Rescue Arrangement with Royal Australian Navy (RAN)’s Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs earlier today.

The agreement was signed on board the RSN’s submarine rescue and support vessel, MV Swift Rescue.

The Submarine Rescue Arrangement establishes a framework between the RSN and RAN in the area of submarine rescue support and cooperation. Under the arrangement, the RSN will make available to the RAN MV Swift Rescue and other resources to render support and assistance in the event of an RAN submarine incident.

The Ministry of Defence said that the Submarine Rescue Arrangement reaffirms the close and long-standing bilateral defence relationship between Singapore and Australia, where both armed forces interact frequently through exercises, visits, professional exchanges and military courses.

Source – Asia One

Coalition vows to build new Collins-class submarines in Adelaide

HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller

Collins-class submarines HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller on exercise off the Western Australia coast. Picture:

THE man most likely to be Australia’s defence minister in less than six months time has promised 12 new submarines will be built in Adelaide and indicated they will be designed here too.

Federal Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston today said the subs strategy unveiled in a defence white paper released last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard is “what the Coalition accepts and will deliver”.

The Federal Government’s announcement contains no timelines, but says the new subs fleet will be built in Adelaide from a new design or as an updated version of the ageing Collins-class vessels.

Senator Johnston last week was highly critical of the idea of an evolved Collins.

However, in Adelaide today, he had softened his position.

Stephen Smith

Defence Minister Stephen Smith, visiting a shipbuilding yard in Adelaide, says the Collins-class submarines could keep operating until 2038.

“We will deliver those submarines from right here at ASC in South Australia,” he said.

“Right across Australia, there is only one place that has all of the expertise that’s necessary to complete one of the most complex, difficult and costly capital works projects that Australian can undertake.

“It’s ASC here in Adelaide. We believe that all of the expertise that is necessary for that project is here.”

SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the announcement was “fantastic news”.

Julia Gillard on Collins-class submarine

Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks to Vice-Admiral Chris Richie and other official on the deck of a Collins-class submarine as she visits Australian Submarine Corp at North Osborne in South Australia. Picture:

Current polls show the Federal Opposition is likely to claim power on September 14.

Senator Johnston said he accepted the Federal Government was “taking the best available professional and technical advice” and that he would “be picking up … the cudgels for this project as fast as we possibly can”.

“We will have a plan that you can pick over, you can point to, you can see dates, times and money,” he said.

“I accepted the Minister’s down-selected to those two options, the evolved Collins and a new design.

“He’s said that … the military off-the-shelf option and a modified military off the shelf option will be, and he’s used a bit of a weasel word, he said they will be suspended. Now I don’t know what suspended really means.

“If everything that the Minister has said is based on fantasy, we’ll tell you and we’ll revisit this. But at the moment I believe he has accepted the best advice technically and professionally that he can.”

Source – Adelaide Now

Coalition torpedoes Collins submarine plan in Labor’s defence white paper _ Video Clip

White paper a ‘disaster’ for defence

Click on Picture for Video Clip

White paper a ‘disaster’ for defence

Greg Sheridan believes the government’s defence white paper lacks both operational and strategic sense.

BIPARTISANSHIP on defence policy has been fractured after the Coalition today ruled out a “Son of Collins” submarine, which Labor is keeping on the table in its latest defence white paper.

The white  paper released today rules out an off-the-shelf design for 12 new  submarines, which would be either a more highly-evolved version of the  existing Collins Class boats, or an entirely new, tailor-made, design.

The  paper also commits Australia to the purchase of 12 new “Growler”  electronic warfare fighter jets at a cost of $1.5 billion, while taking a  more conciliatory position on the rise of China than the previous  strategic blueprint in 2009, which warned against China’s growing  military might in the Asia Pacific region.

The document, released  today, rules out an off-the-shelf design for the new submarine fleet to  replace the trouble-plagued Collins Class boats.

“We’ve come to  the conclusion, as reflected by the white paper, that an off-the-shelf  submarine does not give us the strategic or the operational reach that  we need for Australia’s interests as a maritime country and continent,”  Defence Minister Stephen Smith said.

He said Australia had gained  intellectual rights to the Collins Class design, “so we’ll progress  that”, while the alternative was a wholly new design.

Whatever the design, the fleet would be built in South Australia and be installed with US combat systems.

Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston said a new design could present problems, but the Collins Class design should be avoided at all costs.

“You know, I wouldn’t want to go back near Collins if it was the last thing on earth that we had to do” he said.

“I think Collins has been a very expensive disaster.”

Minister Smith and Julia Gillard said the upcoming May budget would include a modest rise in defence spending, after last year’s cut.

Mr Smith confirmed the government aspired to lift defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP, subject to economic circumstances.

“What we have discovered over the time since then is it is very difficult, if not impossible, to map out precise funding for defence or any other area of government when you are facing changing economic and fiscal circumstances,” Mr Smith said.

“In this case, it is called the global financial crisis … the adverse consequences of which are ongoing,” he said.

Senator Johnston said the Coalition had a similar target, but it also had a plan to get there by lifting defence spending by 3 per cent a year.

He attacked the white paper for its lack of financial detail, saying the Coalition would redo the white paper in office, including the full cost of hardware procurement.

“What sort of a plan is this when the department cannot or is not permitted to put a dollar figure on any of these acquisitions?” he said.

“We have the biggest capital works program, not just in defence’s history but in commonwealth history, (and) there is no plan, no schedule, no money. So where does that leave 12 submarines?”

Defence Force Chief General David Hurley said he believed there had been a good budget process given the reality of the government’s fiscal position, which preserved defence capability into the future.

“I think this has been a good outcome for all,” he said.

The purchase of the 12 new Growler aircraft is a change of plan for the government, which had intended to refit 12 of its fleet of 24 Super Hornets as Growlers.

The government says that will not affect plans to buy around 100 fifth generation Joint Strike Fighters.

The government will also bring forward replacement of the navy’s Armidale Class patrol boats, which have been heavily used on border protection operations across Northern Australia.

Replacement supply ships may be built in Australia to replace HMAS Sirius and HMAS Success.

The white paper makes no commitment to acquiring a fourth air warfare destroyer.

Neither does it make a firm decision on long-running proposals to acquire long-range surveillance drones to watch over Australia’s northwest.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the white paper was a “long list of acquisitions without the money to pay for it”.

“The reality is this government talks a good game on defence, but defence spending as a proportion of GDP is at the lowest level since 1938,” Mr Abbott said.

But a leading defence analyst says the new white paper fixes some of the errors of the 2009 document and does a far better job of matching capability with available resources.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute defence capability expert Dr Andrew Davies said some unnecessary capabilities, such as offshore patrol combatant vessels, had gone, while the number of Joint Strike Fighters had been scaled back from 100 to 72, with future governments able to opt for more.

“Resources and aspiration have come back closer. It remains to be seen whether they will match but it’s certainly closer than it was four years ago. Let’s give credit where it’s due. This fixes some of the errors of the last one.”

Source – The Australian

Japan Submarine Relics Stolen By Vandals – Video Clip

Japanese mini sub taken from Sydney Harbour

Australian authorities investigate after divers damage the hull of a wartime mini submarine in the waters off Sydney.

Vandals have damaged the wreckage of a Japanese mini submarine that attacked Sydney Harbour during World War Two, stealing parts and protected relics.

The crews from two of the three vessels involved in the assault scuttled their boats and committed suicide, but the fate of the third was unknown until 2006 when scuba divers discovered it off Sydney’s northern beaches.

Authorities put an exclusion zone around the vessel, which is believed to contain the remains of the two crew members and personal items such as samurai swords and good luck charms. It is supposedly monitored by long-range cameras.

But divers entered the site, damaged the hull of the midget submarine and stole relics, Australia’s Environment Department said in an appeal for information, without specifying what had been taken.

“The resulting damage includes the breaking off and removal of two of three visible propeller blades … of the submarine, causing permanent damage to a significant piece of Australia’s WWII heritage,” the department said.

The damage was discovered during an archaeological inspection.

Anyone found guilty of damaging or disturbing a protected wreck faces up to five years in jail.

The site is also protected under New South Wales heritage laws, with a breach incurring a fine of up to AU$1.1m (£763,000).

The lethal assault in 1942 came after a Japanese reconnaissance flight reported Allied warships anchored in Sydney Harbour.

The commanding officer of a flotilla of five large Japanese submarines cruising off the city decided to attack with three mini submarines, each carrying a two-man crew.

They avoided the partially constructed Sydney Harbour anti-submarine boom net and attempted to sink the warships but were detected and attacked.

One submarine attempted to torpedo the heavy cruiser USS Chicago, but instead sank the converted Australian ferry HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 sailors.

Source – Sky News