(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued December 13, 2011)
Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, and Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, today provided an update on the Future Submarine Project, SEA 1000.
The 2009 Defence White paper outlined the Government’s commitment to acquire 12 new Future Submarines, to be assembled in South Australia.
Minister Smith said that the Future Submarine project is major national undertaking and is of a scale, complexity and duration never before experienced within Defence. The submarines will be constructed over the course of the next three decades.
Options for the Future Submarine range from a proven, fully military off-the-shelf design through to a completely new submarine. All options are being considered, other than nuclear propulsion which the Government has ruled out.
Development of the Future Submarine Project is being informed by careful consideration of lessons learnt from the Collins Class project.
Minister Smith said that “Problems with the Collins Class are of long standing and well known. It is essential that Navy and Defence learn everything they possibly can from the experience with the Collins Class to inform development of the Future Submarine project”.
The release today of the Interim Report of the Coles Review is an important part of that process.
The Government and the RAND Corporation today also released the RAND study into Australia’s Submarine Design Capabilities and Capacities.
The RAND Report has identified that Australia has a considerable amount of expertise, but there are gaps. One key area in which we need to build expertise is submarine propulsion systems. RAND has suggested that land-based test facilities are a useful way to begin to build that expertise.
The RAND report also found that Australia will need a significant amount of help from overseas to deliver the Future Submarines.
This year, the Government has held high level discussions with the United States on the future submarine project.
Minister Smith said that at AUSMIN in November 2010, Australia and the United States agreed that Australian-United States cooperation on submarine systems was strategically important for both countries.
The high level of submarine interoperability between Australia and the United States and our technical cooperation will extend into future submarine acquisition program.
The Government also announced today that three important steps had been taken in the development of the Future Submarine Programme:
• The Government has approved the release of Requests for Information to three overseas submarine designers offering off-the-shelf submarine designs, which will provide a better understanding of the capabilities of off-the-shelf options. The designers are:
-- DCNS (France), designer of the Scorpene
-- HDW (Germany), designer of the Type 212 and Type 214 submarines
-- Navantia (Spain), designer of the S-80 submarine;
• Defence has entered into a contract with Babcock for a study into the establishment of a land-based propulsion systems test facility, which will inform engineering development of the future submarines.
• The Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation will develop in close consultation with the Australian Defence Industry a Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan.
Minister Clare said: “The Future Submarines Project is the biggest and most complex Defence project we have ever embarked upon. It will involve hundreds of companies, thousands of workers and a lot of skills that do not currently exist in sufficient numbers.
“Some of those skills are available overseas, others will have to be grown here. Now is the time to develop a plan to make sure we have the skills we need when we start designing and building the submarines.”
Government will make further announcements regarding the Future Submarine project in 2012.