Honestly, it seems that the RAN has backed itself into a corner when they decided to go non -nuclear. The US, and UK are off the table simply because they don't offer any DE conventional submarines (not counting the UK abomination known as the Upholder class). That leaves you with France, which will gladly build you a conventional submarine, but the most recent class available (at the time the Collins were being procured) was the Agosta class which are Oberon era ships. The Scorpene class is still in the planning/works so unless you are willing to hold out to the early/mid 2000's France isn't exactly an option rn. The French iotl offered a conventional powered version of their Rubis class (which imo would have been theoretically one of the best options on the table assuming no design problems arose from converting from nuclear to diesel).

Next are the Nordic countries/ Germany who make great subs, but they are built for the Baltic sea/ North Atlantic, totally different operating conditions from the Hot, Humid, South Pacific. Not to mention said subs are usually smaller (once again defending the Baltic sea and not usually far from a friendly port) so if you choose one of the designs you will have to enlarge it to fit the needs of the RAN who have a greater distance and are to patrol/secure. And thats how the Collins class fiasco started.

A nation that was not given a chance to compete though is Japan. Their Oyashio-class submarine seemed somewhat closer to the RAN specifications (well closer then the OTL choice of the Kockums Vastergotland proposal). However given Japans strict weapons export policy i can see why it was not considered.
 
As a proud Canadian, I would gladly have exchanged your Collins-class program for our Victoria-class program. Seriously, if you're looking at an ability to mismanage procurement program, we "win" that competition without breaking a sweat.
 
Australian options and what those options entailed.

McPherson

Banned
The Netherlands offered the Walrus class type submarines, which fitted nearly all Australian practical, tactical and strategical needs and demands for a long range conventional powered submarine.
Rfad36fe7fc4754957e1c25832c84739e

Notice the obvious telltales. The five scimitar bladed prop / screw is one. The turbulence deflector at the sail top which is a tadpole tail is also obvious. The X-cruciform tail control implies a computerized helm. The sail planes indicate the same for awash or mast depth high speed to prevent roll-out during turn maneuver conditions. This thing was designed as a submarine fighter, intended to get in close and shark-fight another submarine if the creep-stalk ambush failed. She uses, according to published sources, Mark 48 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles^1
^1 https://web.archive.org/web/2018032...nside.nl/frontpage/onderzeeboten_walrusklasse

I would not be surprised to learn the same Honeywell weapon systems are aboard the Collins class as of this date. Since Harpoons CAN attack land targets, I wonder at the science fiction that Collins class submarines lack land attack capability. They just have to get in closer than would be comfortable.
The only drawback was it was a relative complex, double hulled, design which probably would not be build in Australia, while domestically construction was one of the main demands of the Australian government.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walrus-class_submarine

Notice the automated torpedo missile loaders and the conn. Also notice the compartmentation pass through and the power train details. This sub was designed by fatalists.
Honestly, it seems that the RAN has backed itself into a corner when they decided to go non -nuclear. The US, and UK are off the table simply because they don't offer any DE conventional submarines (not counting the UK abomination known as the Upholder class). That leaves you with France, which will gladly build you a conventional submarine, but the most recent class available (at the time the Collins were being procured) was the Agosta class which are Oberon era ships. The Scorpene class is still in the planning/works so unless you are willing to hold out to the early/mid 2000's France isn't exactly an option rn. The French iotl offered a conventional powered version of their Rubis class (which imo would have been theoretically one of the best options on the table assuming no design problems arose from converting from nuclear to diesel).
Have commented on this option. Let one add that the engineering spaces volumes for the Rubis fission reactor steam plant are HUGE by ratio compared to the life and work spaces set aside for the crew. The diesel electric drive might be about 1/2 the volume. Alternatively, the battery which is rather small on a fission reactor heated steam turbine electric motor propelled boat; is definitely an auxiliary and would be much larger on a D/E conversion of such a design. The ballasting of the float sausage sections would have to be recalculated as to segmented mass distribution. Compartmentation and hull framing (hoops and decks in the modules) would have to be recalculated. This would actually be a new boat for all practical purposes which "might" account for the cost blow-out in the current Australian program.

Suppose I was the French Marine National and I wanted to design a new D/E boat for own use and for export, and suppose I did not want to eat the cost for designing the new D/E boat? Could I "get" a customer onboard to bear the costs for me?
Next are the Nordic countries/ Germany who make great subs, but they are built for the Baltic sea/ North Atlantic, totally different operating conditions from the Hot, Humid, South Pacific. Not to mention said subs are usually smaller (once again defending the Baltic sea and not usually far from a friendly port) so if you choose one of the designs you will have to enlarge it to fit the needs of the RAN who have a greater distance and are to patrol/secure. And thats how the Collins class fiasco started.
Have commented on this one.
A nation that was not given a chance to compete though is Japan. Their Oyashio-class submarine seemed somewhat closer to the RAN specifications (well closer then the OTL choice of the Kockums Vastergotland proposal). However given Japans strict weapons export policy i can see why it was not considered.
This is not the case, now. Get an ally to talk to the Japanese. They "could" fix their boloed proposal to insist that they build it and try again with an in Australia construction option. The problem is the politics and long memories.. It is not quite too late. Next year it WILL be.
As a proud Canadian, I would gladly have exchanged your Collins-class program for our Victoria-class program. Seriously, if you're looking at an ability to mismanage procurement program, we "win" that competition without breaking a sweat.
I would point out that the Canadians have accomplished marvels with the Upholders / Victorias. They went into it with too much misplaced faith in the vendors who sold them the subs. They, the Canadians, proved that they were miracle workers. The Victorias are capable at the costs of a steep learning curves.
 
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I would point out that the Canadians have accomplished marvels with the Upholders / Victorias. They went into it with too much misplaced faith in the vendors who sold them the subs. They, the Canadians, proved that they were miracle workers. The Victorias are capable at the costs of a steep learning curves.
The Victorias are outdated and god help the poor RCN sailors if they have to go toe to toe with an Akula, Yasen or Laika class sub.
 

McPherson

Banned
The Victorias are outdated and god help the poor RCN sailors if they have to go toe to toe with an Akula, Yasen or Laika class sub.
I know, but the "difference" is always the crew and the navy, more than the machine. The Russians might be "able" somewhat with their technology, but the other end-users current or projected (Exception India)? Not a chance. Bet Canadian.
 

mial42

Gone Fishin'
The Victorias are outdated and god help the poor RCN sailors if they have to go toe to toe with an Akula, Yasen or Laika class sub.
God help everyone in the Northern Hemisphere and most of those in the Southern if the RCN is facing off against the Russian Navy.
 
God help everyone in the Northern Hemisphere and most of those in the Southern if the RCN is facing off against the Russian Navy.
Won't even be a fair fight tbh... At least the Aussies have a somewhat capable AAW DDG. Granted the Hobart class also ran into project delays and overruns....im beginning to see a pattern here with Australia and its procurement of ships.
 
I know, but the "difference" is always the crew and the navy, more than the machine. The Russians might be "able" somewhat with their technology, but the other end-users current or projected (Exception India)? Not a chance. Bet Canadian.
Also IMHO it seems unlikely to me that the RCN would be currently operating submarines if Canada and the UK had not been able to work out the deal for the RCN to acquire the Upholders. I have my doubts Canada would actually have been prepared to pay cash for new or lightly used submarines from anyone else after the end of the cold war.
 
Won't even be a fair fight tbh... At least the Aussies have a somewhat capable AAW DDG. Granted the Hobart class also ran into project delays and overruns....im beginning to see a pattern here with Australia and its procurement of ships.

Delayed acquisitions has been an ongoing problem for Australia since the 50s. We put in an order for F104 in 1957 but didn't get the mach 2 Mirage until 1963 for example, building another batch of sabres in between.
 
How long would it take for a sub to transit the shallow water out of Darwin? Could it do a nightime fast surface run covered by other ADF assests and be in a decent place to submerge by morning? It strikes me as strange that the waters are so bad that subs can't transit through there.
 

McPherson

Banned
How long would it take for a sub to transit the shallow water out of Darwin? Could it do a nightime fast surface run covered by other ADF assests and be in a decent place to submerge by morning? It strikes me as strange that the waters are so bad that subs can't transit through there.

Taking the Skorpene as an example?

About 35 hours once Darwin breakwater is cleared to the Timor "lane". (*See previous maps upthread). The run has to be made surfaced, due to numerous reefs, and shoal patches. The rate of advance assumed is 10 knots or 18.5 km/hour to cover the 650 km run.
 
Taking the Skorpene as an example?

About 35 hours once Darwin breakwater is cleared to the Timor "lane". (*See previous maps upthread). The run has to be made surfaced, due to numerous reefs, and shoal patches. The rate of advance assumed is 10 knots or 18.5 km/hour to cover the 650 km run.

So our subs head west from Perth to deep water then head north in a deep channel? Wouldn't a predictable route make them vulnerable to ambush?
 
The Fremantle Problem explained.

McPherson

Banned
So our subs head west from Perth to deep water then head north in a deep channel? Wouldn't a predictable route make them vulnerable to ambush?
Subs move like airplanes for they can hide in a lane or underwater canyon vertically and horizontally in the baffled sound paths. Sub versus sub in that terrain is "iffy" in my Darwin example. The guy with the better ears and who knows the terrain will have the ambush edge. If a Russian wants to die inside the Timor Lane to Australian ASW birds overhead, let him. In war that would be "sanitized" anyway before a Aussie sub ever entered the lane.

Besides, with Fremantle, the eastern Indian Ocean sea bottom terrain is much better for Australian operations. See Map.

Map-of-the-eastern-Indian-Ocean-and-western-Australian-continental-margin-along-with-th.png

1. Map of the eastern Indian Ocean and western Australian ...

2. The run to Zeewyck sub-basin is a quick one and there is lots of sea room to dodge a mouse-holer stupid enough to park near Fremantle. Just have to watch for ambushes from Covier Plateau and Quook's Rise (spelling?) as one threads Houtman Basin to reach operations areas north around Christmas Island.

3. Or one could run west and watch for ambushes from that ragged patch of sea mount about 1300 kilometers west. But Soviet detection ranges are not that good, so Houtman Basin should be "fairly safe" to transit.
 
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I think when you talk about "Quook's Rise" your actually referring to "Quokka Rise". A Quokka also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby, is a small, native herbivore which lives mainly on Rocknest Island off of Perth. There are also patchs of Quokka in the South West of West Australia but they are fairly insignificant.

Russian subs are not the main enemy of the COLLINS class. Indeed Russian subs are quite rare in the southern hemisphere. The main enemy of the COLLINS class are Chinese subs. They are not that prevalent outside of the western Pacific.
 

McPherson

Banned
I think when you talk about "Quook's Rise" your actually referring to "Quokka Rise". A Quokka also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby, is a small, native herbivore which lives mainly on Rocknest Island off of Perth. There are also patchs of Quokka in the South West of West Australia but they are fairly insignificant.

Russian subs are not the main enemy of the COLLINS class. Indeed Russian subs are quite rare in the southern hemisphere. The main enemy of the COLLINS class are Chinese subs. They are not that prevalent outside of the western Pacific.
Thanks for the correction on Quokka. Russian subs consider the Indian Ocean a prime operating area. They have to if they want to protect the southern flank of the Rodina.
 
Thanks for the correction on Quokka. Russian subs consider the Indian Ocean a prime operating area. They have to if they want to protect the southern flank of the Rodina.
The prime operating areas of the Russian submarines are as far as I know, the bastion areas - near Murmansk and Valdivostok. Everywhere else is of secondary importance to the Russian fleet because that is where their weapons of last resort reside underwater. The Atlantic has secondary importance because of the REFORGER effort in case the balloon goes up in Western Europe (highly unlikely now). The Indian Ocean is a tertiary or lower importance, particularly considering that Trident has range that allows it to be launched well away from there. The Indian Ocean is usually covered by the Vladivostok based Pacific Fleet with c. 21 Submarines (of which about 2/3 active as of 2020). They have hardly enough to cover their bastion let alone the Indian Ocean as well.
 
Notice the automated torpedo missile loaders and the conn. Also notice the compartmentation pass through and the power train details. This sub was designed by fatalists.
Just for my knowledge, what do you mean; designed by fatalists?
I know the Dutch submarine division was relative large compared to the rest of the RNN, pre-ww2. During the interbellum this submarine division developed a very advanced submarine tactic, close cooperation with aircraft, focused on destroying a Japanese invasion fleets in the at that time Dutch East Indie. This was the transport ships carrier the invasion forces. Due to a change in Command at a crucial time, were the commanding officer had a very different view, this hunter pack tactic never materialized.
Any how, the submarines of that time already were designed for long distances and the pre WW2 tactic was very aggressive with could risk the boat and crew.
This history still have an echo in Dutch submarine designs or submarine wishes of the RNN to have conventional submarines with long range capabilities.
 
This was far from the first time the Aussies had a shot at unique locally produced vehicles, and at least it led to something.

The light destroyer of 1966-72 was originally meant to be on the low end of the RAN fleet as a COIN unit with a downgraded sensor/armament fit than conventionnal war ships, but was more or less killed when it turned into a destroyer replacement with helicopters and the Tartar SAM.

There was also the Waler AFV project meant to produce 500-1000 vehicles locally (bid given to the winning foreign designer-local contractor duo) with an emphasis on advanced armor (the French AZUR armor kit was made for it), hull layouts, powerpacks, started in 1981 with entry into service in 1995. New Zealand was interested in joining.

This was based on an army plan "to build a mix of light and mechanised capability based amongst the population centres of Australia ready for deployment rather than isolated in the far north west. The 1st Brigade located in Sydney in the 1980s was to relocate to Victoria (Pucka) where it was to join with the reserve 4th Brigade as a new mechanized 3rd Division. The reserve brigade was to be boosted with higher numbers of regular personnel (as was later tested on this brigade) and brought up to a mechanised standard. The division HQ which had been reserve but was winding down was to be a reestablished as a regular HQ. The existing 1st Division with 3rd and 6th (regular) Brigades was to stay in Queensland and focus on the light role. The Waler AFV was to be the primary equipment of the new 3rd Division".

New Defence Minister Kim Beazley cancelled it in 1985 and in 1987 the Aussies purchased some 257 ASLAVs. Now there were claims that the project was too ambitious, too expensive and that it was very hard to make it producible by Australia. However allegedly Kim's policy was to essentially sit out foreign conflicts and thus he wanted to slash the Army to reinforce the Navy and Air Force to defend against an invasion of the mainland. In hindsight however, this policy failed as Australia would have to intervene in multiple conflicts in the 1990s.

Personally, I think the Aussies could have pulled it off if they had looked at how the South Africans did it. The Rooikat program which was a Thyssen-Henschel vehicle tailored to SADF needs is pretty remarkable in this regard.
 
Australian defence thinking has long swung between two main poles - continental defence and expeditionary warfare ("forward defence"). In 1986, there was the Dibb Report, which was written by Paul Dibb a politics professor for Kim Beazley. He made the main points:

  1. Australia is a long way from anyone else, except New Zealand, who might be a potential enemy.
  2. Any encroaching enemy needed to first capture bases in the Indonesian archipelago in order to attack Australia.
  3. Australia was surrounded by a "sea-air gap" that a potential aggressor had to cross in order to attack the Australia continent.
  4. Australia's defence forces were based primarily in the SE Corner of the continent.
  5. Australia need to redeploy its forces to the "top end" in order to prevent a potential aggressor to gain a foothold there.
  6. Australia's primary defence forces were the RAN and the Air Force, followed third by the Army.
  7. Australia's defence budget needed to be directed to build up the RAN and the RAAF at the expense of the Army.
  8. The Army needed to re-equip to reflect this and needed to adopt light armoured vehicles and rapidly deployable forces.
  9. The RAAF needed to establish new bases in the "top end" (ie Tindal rather than Darwin, Learmonth, etc.).
  10. The RAN needed to establish a larger deterrent force - submarines for example.
This alarmed America coming at the height of the Cold War and not long after New Zealand had adopted it's anti-nuclear stance.

The 1987 Defence White Paper kept the core of Dibb's report.

Everybody was happy, until the Army realised that the RAAF and the RAN was getting all the glory and the medals when they were deployed overseas when the Army had previously been the main offensive arm. That resulted in the Army seeking a new chance to shine in overseas deployments and to gain once more a few medals and some glory. Along came East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq at just the right moment.

Submarines were intended to be a functional deterrent to any potential aggressor. The COLLINS class were purchased as a consequence. The COLLINS were built on a Knockum's design. Initial problems have been basically overcome. Afterall, they were the first submarines constructed in Australia. Everybody makes mistakes - the British once welded a complete hull section on, upside down on one of their SSNs, the Americans had to scrap an entire SSK on the stocks because the welds were done incorrectly. I feel that the COLLINS class has come under a lot intense scrutiny without anybody really understanding the problems.
 
However allegedly Kim's policy was to essentially sit out foreign conflicts and thus he wanted to slash the Army to reinforce the Navy and Air Force to defend against an invasion of the mainland. In hindsight however, this policy failed as Australia would have to intervene in multiple conflicts in the 1990s.

Rickshaw has given more of the background to this thinking, but you're broadly right. The Defence of Australia philosophy promoted in the Dibb Report was politically driven, and we still see that now non-event in Hugh White advocating similar thoughts.

The policy was always going to fail because it's a reality of both historical and contemporary Australian politics that this country will engage in military expeditions well beyond our shores. Dibb and his fellow travellers wanted to constrain future governments from actions they would wish to take. That's the opposite of good planning.

Australian defence thinking has long swung between two main poles - continental defence and expeditionary warfare ("forward defence").

I don't think it has "long swung" between those poles. For most of our history we've been firmly in the forward defence camp.

Everybody was happy, until the Army realised that the RAAF and the RAN was getting all the glory and the medals when they were deployed overseas when the Army had previously been the main offensive arm. That resulted in the Army seeking a new chance to shine in overseas deployments and to gain once more a few medals and some glory. Along came East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq at just the right moment.

I disagree everyone was happy. It hardly ushered in much greater capabilities for either of those services. Yes, there were the Collins, the subject of the thread, and I agree with everything you've said on that score. But the Anzacs were - as envisioned by Dibb - supposed to be much less capable. And what did the RAAF gain through this period? In truth, Dibb and the then Labor governments delivered very little other than the "block obsolescence" problem inherited by their successors.

As for the Army, I don't see any evidence to think they were "seeking a new chance to shine". I think the tail end of that is a bit offensive, painting them as glory-seeking warmongers. The Army had no influence on those conflicts erupting (not that you're quite suggesting that), and very little on the government of the day's decision-making in terms of getting involved. They did have influence on force structure and so forth, of course, and it is important to note that significant changes began under the Howard government before East Timor.
 
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