Australian Navy facing up to 20 years without submarines: report

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/28 12:19:47

The Australian Navy could be without submarines for two decades, an independent report has found.

The Australia's Future Submarine (FSM): Getting This Key Capability report, compiled by a group of public servants and defence analysts for Insight Economics, found that the schedule to replace Australia's aging Collins Class fleet is "wildly ambitious."

Under the plan proposed by the government, the first new submarine would be launched into action in 2033, the same year the last Collins Class boat will be decommissioned.

But the report, commissioned by businessman Gary Johnson, said that delays for the project were highly likely due to the complex design of the replacement fleet.

"A number of expert investigations and Parliamentary reports on military procurement have concluded that Defence repeatedly proposes overambitious capability requirements that push against or beyond the barriers of currently available technologies," the report said.

"By far the most important risk around the FSM is that, because of the delivery schedule and the probability of further delay, from the early 2030s Australia will be left with a submarine capability that is either seriously inadequate or, in the worst case, non-existent for several years."

French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) in 2016 received the 36 billion US dollars contract to build 12 new submarines.

The report found that delays of five to 10 years were common for submarine projects and that such a delay could have side effects for the navy, suggesting that captain's skills would deteriorate and crew numbers would dwindle.

"There is a material probability, therefore, that Australia will be faced with a lengthy gap in submarine capability in the 2030s," it said.

"The number of seagoing personnel would decline rapidly and, without the experience of high-end submarine operations, the skills and expertise of those who remained could be rapidly eroded, not to mention the difficulty in maintaining their morale," said the report.

"The need to rebuild such skills and recruit, nurture and train a whole new and much larger group of submariners into the 2030s and well beyond would mean that it could be much longer before the FSM could be deployed operationally in meaningful numbers," it said.


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