Do any other nations currently expect to use conventional submarines in all the roles that Australia does ?
1. Russia, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Israel, Taiwan, South Africa, maybe France, Beazil (If they can get their act together), Chile and any nation that expects to power project and sea deny with a D/E boat.
Mmmmmm. I'm not a great fan of how the Collins played out but Australia is in a unique situation which requires unique solutions, this is particularly relevant for nukes. I'm very interested to see how @McPherson
addresses this reality.
2. At the end of this long post, I will do a systems and situation analysis. Bear in mind, that I am not privy to the Australian government's data or intent, but I hope to avoid the Air Power Australia pratfalls (I hate that guy, because he gives analysis a BAD name.), that come from superficial understanding of the problems, the available means and the necessary compromises one has to make in a central strategic program like this one.
For mine I'd try to work on making Australia less unique rather than trying to fit submarines into this niche by establishing Darwin and Cairns as forward operating bases for submarines. Much of the Collins and future sub's size comes from the need to sail an extra 8,000km per patrol from Perth or 5,000km from Sydney to get to the threshold of the operational area. If say 2/3 of patrols were launched from Cairns and Darwin and much smaller submarine, one that much more closely approaches an 'off the shelf' design could be utilised.
3. The long transit times are a direct consequence of harbor and operating sea depths up north and terrible tidal conditions. The geography and infrastructure problems have not changed since WWII either. This is well known to me as I have researched the reasons why the Americans operated from where they did and why. There are sustainment and sea hazard reasons to want DEEP water and shallow tides for sub bases.
I'd also attempt at least to use existing naval ship building yards and organisations rather than attempt to develop them from scratch. It's likely a small thing, but a yard building FFGs should be more easily able to transition to building subs than developing a greenfields site from scratch.
4. Submarines are not frigates. I would be leery of Whyalla for example, which was kind of old fashioned. To build a modern sub, is a barrel and internal hoops process, with the more advanced sub builders, building the boats in modules. DCN and Electric Boat built that way.
Going to nuclear subs.
Interesting idea but I don’t think the USN, NAVSEA08, or NNSA would ever agree to it. USN reactors use highly enriched uranium (Our own NNSA wants them to go to 5% due to, well not really having a mission), just don’t see that being sold. The USN is crazy secret about their sub technology, even older 688s. Then the Nuke problem. Where does the RAN get people to operate the reactor plant? Send them to the USN pipeline for 1.5-2 years? That’s every officer and around 40 enlisted per boat. The Nuke pipeline is designed for just the amount of people the US needs. The prototypes don’t have the capacity for extra people. Then you need replacements and shore based repair people. I’d love for them to buy 12 Virginia’s instead of a new conventional class. Just can’t see it happening though.
5. What @gatordad699
references is submarine powerplant training ASHORE. There are marine reactor plants that duplicate US submarine systems currently in use. Like telescopes and observation of targets time, the time in those "schools" is metered by training slots down to the exact students and exact minutes. If Australia buys into the US program, that means one of two things; Australia has to buy the scarce time slots and expert instruction or Australia has to BUILD her own school marine reactor power plant ashore and both nations will then have to share it, because such a school in Australia would have excess slots for a small fleet. Otherwise Australia does what Russia does, designate a training school boat and accepts the inevitable low standards of operator expertise and casualties both mechanical and human.
To get SSNs you need to be willing to continue to mobilise the population against the government in the decade after 1975. Historically parties chose to demobilise the population and the end result was the self-castration of the union movement and the evaporation of working class mobilisation through the labour left and communist party.
6. I do not see the parallel with Scotland and the British Labour party and those two giant LPHs the British crown government built, but I do understand the Australian PTBs, both left and right, trying to generally sabotage the labor movement and existent industry as a matter of social policy knifing the other fellow every other election. Kind of shooting one-self in the face with a shotgun loaded with jello, but that is socialist me. MOO. YMMV. How does a communist support the Collins program? That one I do not get at all. Not unless Australia goes Non-aligned and decides for nationalist reasons to assert local MEEZ zones and play the offshore MAHAN card. (Which she should do anyway, but I'll get to that one in the analysis.).
That’s a massive domestic win for the kind of people who build submarines. Probably worth more than a nuclear capacity. I’m not going to propose that Fraser or Hawke had such prescience but both those and potential Peacocks or Early Howards would be pushed away from a nuclear option due to the central issue of taking generalised Australian manufacturing out the back and putting it out of its misery. All while knackering the unions for 20 years until my ban on contemporary politics horizon kicks in 20 years ago.
The only thing that comes to mind, is that Fraser knew as much about submarines as Hawke knew about moon rockets (zero), but both were governance technicians of a high order in that they knew their constituencies and how to gin an elections. Beyond that observation, I think industrial policy by both was kited into the wrong direction during that period of inflation and severe unemployment. Think from my PoV of Jimmy Carter as an example and his style and lack of substance or governance expertise, when it came to economics and political compromise and or realism. Knew he, how to get elected one-time, but once in there, clueless as to what the polity needed in the macro or in the specifics of a coherent defense policy.
Nuclear is off the table for domestic reasons. And not “oh but it’s nasty,” instead, “it’d give life to that annoying 100 year old social movement that is busy tearing its own life support out hand over fist.”
8. I would think that the failure to invest in a fast breeder reactor (Israel), would be the decision killer as the Australian option is a practical bottleneck more than an ideological one.
Darwin and Cairns basing (not forward basing, but basing) makes expensive sense and plays perfectly into a nationalist production narrative right when you’re killing off bonds undies or Eveleigh railway workshops.
9. But not hydrographic sense.
Just to provide some context around Australia's nuclear industrial capacity.
- 1958-2007 10mW thermal, HEU reducing to LEU HiFAR research reactor from Britain
- 1961-1995 100kW thermal, HEU MOATA training reactor from USA
- 1965-1983 secret, small scale centrifuge uranium enrichment, reduced from small scale to very small in 70s.
- 1996 SILEX laser enrichment developed, not used on a large scale in Australia
- 2007 20mW thermal, LEU OPAL research reactor from Argentina
None of this is remotely close enough to provide a basis to support the operation of nuclear submarines.
10. One commercial complex of at least 100 mW output and a fast breeder for HEU and plutonium. Problem? Austrailia has just joined the H-bomb club. Plus the HEU paths will need to be robust enough to provide the fuel cores for 10 reactors.
A possible route might be getting a small power reactor from the US rather than MOATA in 1961, and then using the enrichment plant to partly supply it. This might give us enough momentum to support nuclear submarines, but would be vastly less than other SSN operators.
11. About enough for three boats.
While Australia has since WW2 often struggled to make its own equipment and ships on time and on budget I can fully understand why it wanted to pick a design that it had the ability to make and support and use as it saw fit.
12. See 1,2,3,4,5,7,9, and 10..
Take for example the use or lack of use of RAAF Mirage III fighters during the Vietnam war.
They were prevented from using the Aircraft due to the 'Embargo controversy'
Sweden and Switzerland had also restricted use of their equipment in the Vietnam war
So Australia has several issues with the building of the submarines
- It has to be built domestically to prevent the above situations from occurring - so they cannot and will not buy from abroad
- It has to be none nuclear - because Nuclear is bad (meanwhile would you like to buy some of our uranium)
- It has to be capable of delivering on its role
- It has to be capable of being built by Australian industry
In the 80s when the design was being picked the obvious designs for the type of Submarine required are the Vickers Type 2400 and the Dutch Walrus (both long range long endurance D/E boats with an advance sensor and a heavy weapon loadout)
13. The Upholders were competent but high maintenance designs. They were not easy to build and if one got the piping or welds wrong in the builds, as the British DID , it would be VERY expensive to fix these mistakes as the Canadians discovered.
14. The Walrus boats based on a mix of French and American technology had a tortured design and construction industry, mainly due to the electrical systems and possibly poor industrial practices by the builders, Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij
. Whether ASC could have done a better job with the Dutch design, is open to others to decide. I think the Dutch design was sounder than the Upholder to build, but QCA was very substandard.
However both are top shelf complex and expensive designs that while right for the role are not capable of being built by Australia's Industry of the day
15. I tend to agree. But I object to Kockums, and I will explain why in a moment.
So 'lesser' designs are looked at and eventually the Kockums Type 471 is picked
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Such was the perception of changed practice in the early development of the submarine project that it confounded many in political, naval and public spheres. This was especially the case with the selection of Kockums, a Swedish submarine design and construction company, to build Australia's new submarines. Swedish defence materiel suppliers had been held in bad odour in Defence circles since the Vietnam War, when Sweden banned the supply of ammunition for equipment operated by the Australian Army. Furthermore, Kockums had built only small submarines, suited to the Baltic Sea and not the deep ocean deployments intended for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) submarines.
To some, the only explanation for such a decision lay in reasons outside the quality of the company's offering. Rumours of corruption, political influence and mistaken judgment came to be heard. Indeed, allegations of improper conduct were investigated. These produced no evidence to substantiate claims that they might have had an effect on the selection of Kockums. In the future, when the relevant documents become public, the clams of 'irregular' practice can be more fully evaluated. In the meantime there is evidence enough to suggest that the influences behind the decisions in the project lay elsewhere.
16. The rest of the critique is not relevant to my objections. If one is going to design a submarine to customer blue water specifications, then one BETTER NOT SCALE UP a coast defense submarine. Somebody tried it, and found it did not work. (Mackerels). See Next.
Barbel Class drawings | Submarines, Blueprints, Nuclear ...
|Class and type:||Barbel-class diesel-electric submarine|
- 1,744 tons (1,778 t) light
- 2,146 tons (2,180 t) full
- 2,637 tons (2,679 t) submerged
- 402 tons (408 t) dead
|Length:||219 ft 6 in (66.90 m) overall|
|Beam:||29 ft (8.8 m)|
|Draft:||25 ft (7.6 m) max|
- 12 knots (22 km/h) surfaced
- 25 knots (46 km/h) submerged
- 30 minutes at full speed
- 102 hours at 3 knots
- 712 ft (217 m) operating
- 1,050 ft (320 m) collapse
|Complement:||10 officers, 69 men|
|Armament:||6 × 21 inch (533 mm) bow torpedo tubes, 18 torpedoes|
17. Somebody had the blueprints and the experience. (^^^) Since they had fought in Australian waters and knew the conditions and BUILT to them, themselves, why were they not asked?
That is the question that has always perplexed me. Only one outfit has ever fought a successful submarine campaign in the Pacific Ocean and it could be argued anywhere, period. That campaign was in the very waters the RAN would operate.
Now remembering the 4 points above it was always going to be a difficult and expensive process regardless of the design they chose and given no prior SS building experience.
18. Keep It Simple, Stephen. The Albacore was barrel and hoop and modular construction with internal ballast. The Barbel built off her, was basically a D/E designed to be a sea-fighter like the WWI US boats, but with the performance and endurance of a US WWII fleet boat. The planform was evolved with GUPPY lessons and best USN practice. Nothing fancy was involved. It was a simple effective design. Modern Japanese and RoK boats trace their heritage to Barbel, not Europe. There is a reason for that.
I equate the Collins to the F22 Raptor production (other examples are available) which due to politicians wanting to show that every state in the USA had an equal share in its construction, rather than a proper tendering process ensuring that the best bidder and best cost were chosen this resulting in increased cost and time (in this case resulting in the fleet being limited to 200 odd airframes and not the 500 it should have been).
19. US Air Farce politics abounded. The service's fighter mafia wanted a dogfighter instead of a signal emissions controlled missile ambush bird that could also BIM in Deep Battle as Northrop thought it should . Well, the FM bozos got neither a dogfighter, nor BIM bird. They bought a Turkey and the next bird, the F-35? Is a signal emissions controlled missile ambush bird and a limited BIM deep battle platform. Sheesh, the USAF was stupid.
20. How does that apply to the Collins class? Australia wanted to build her subs, herself, and wanted as close to top of the line performance as she could afford. Reading the specs, she wanted a non-nuclear Sturgeon (and still does.). Kockums promised that performance. Did they deliver? Current 33% deployment availability and no land attack capability, I would suggest "maybe".
Due to the nature of way in which Australia decided the Collin class needed to be built domestically and the same sort of Politics that hamstrung the Raptor also in play here we end up with domestic Australian Industry attempting to deliver the majority of the construction and parts for the Collins - with the corresponding increased cost and increased time and issues due to inexperience.
21. Well, building a submarine without experience indicates 2 ways of doing it.
a. Invite a company who builds subs to come in and venture capital and stand up an Australian subsidiary. Management and technical experience would be foreign until a domestic management and workforce was trained up. Neither Fraser or Hawke is going to invite in RDM or VSEL (politics) and Ixnay on the Electric Boat-ay.
22. Do a foreign technology transfer and cross train with the host company that designed the boat and learn by trial by error the HARD WAY.
That teaches from day one, deep knowledge, but it is expensive and unless the hard earned experience is kept current, the institutional lessons learned will be forgotten. Sub-building is a perishable skill. One needs to be building one continuously to keep the welders trained and to keep the spare parts contractors in business.
The only way to avoid this would be to buy from abroad but as we have already established this was not politically acceptable - so we are left with only the OTL process which was always going to be fraught with issues and the subsequent overruns and technical issues that plagued the subs and of course made apparently worse as it was used as a useful political bat for the then opposition and hostile press to beat the labour government of the day over the head with.
23. YMMV. Should have hired Electric Boat, from day 1. They DID hire Electric Boat... eventually. Choose option a.. and build off a proven blueprint. Sure the costs would have been frontloaded, but American combat system, American weapons, American methods, and American fixes, and crew training, so why not an AMERICAN design from the start?
So the only real alternative - is not to have submarines in the RAN
24. See 16-23..
There would be a limit to what level of maintenance could be undertaken at a regional city like Darwin or Cairns so they'd have to go back to Perth or Sydney after a certain number of patrols. This might be 2 or it might be 5, but the intervening patrols could be of reasonable length and undertaken by a much more reasonably sized submarine.
25. Actually, this is a good argument if one wants a limited out of area deployment capability. Patrol time on station (subs today can refuel and replenish at sea) in the South and East China Seas or into the Indian Ocean means a bigger boat.
The single biggest factor behind the purchase of a Submarine for Australia is not self defence it is instead as a deterrent. Our Collins class Submarines got designed and ordered back when the expected operational area was just like in ww2 up around Japan and further afield. The real problem with forward basing in Darwin and Cairns is one of strategic vulnerability. Sydney and Perth are far enough away from the rest of the world to have a significant defence by distance. This is not perfect but the advance towards those ports is not going to be fast. Cairns and Darwin also have choke points and other vulnerability.
26. See MAP for the battlespace conditions.
Abb4_Pacific Ocean Floor Map_Detail | Die bemerkenswerte Karte
Map - 1969 - Pacific Ocean Floor | Unique maps
27. Note that the shallow basins are < 200 meters? That includes the shelf waters between Australia and Indonesia off East China and around Japan.
There are submarine lanes well known to the USN PACFLT, an example is the Exmouth Plateau boundary that S curves past Cebu and twists through the Palawan Passage into the South China Sea. That is why Fremantle was selected
. Good route to evade ASW forces.
The Conventional Submarine as ordered from DCNS is seen as highly capable by the Submariners who have the expertise and as a joke by the same experts who claimed the F-35 was not as good as an F-16. DCNS is a very experienced submarine manufacturer and apart from the price i can see no reason to complain.
28. We will have to see if they can transfer the Rubis over to their Barracuda proposal. I have my (severe) doubts.
To be slightly controversial on the possibilities of building whole bases up north, and as a thought experiment on the limits of the possible:
North Queensland State movement
Strike at Lithgow and declining coastal coal => let the Yanks build Newcastle with SEZ regulations regarding union laws
Strike at Lithgow => Port Kembla
Couple of tram and rail strikes and coastal shipping comps and commo docks and “Jesus we need tanks” => Ford/Holden v8s and DMR funding to private roads constructors
If you can corruptly channel government money to private contractors while assuaging nationalism and the government has its head in a tizzy over an unnecessary defence capability while you castrate an active union movement full of lefties. Maybe still build it in Adelaide for the votes but base out of FNQ and WA for votes. Fifo the maintenance staff from Syd Perf and Use it to destroy a hold out red metals union or something. Yes I know the main metals were commo *and* invented the wages and prices accord to castrate themselves. But some kind of Nick Origlass and a pack of bastards who animate some cabinet member enough to build a major industry in a back water shithole. Obviously I’m not talking about wonderful Port Kembla as the comparison example, as I’m Novocastrian.
29. No politics involved. One must build the navy to function in the battlespace within the tech limits, budgets and human resources available or allocated to the purpose the leadership defines.
“let’s build it here,” has been done a bunch of times. Sometimes the product is eventually admirable. It’s construction is fraught, corrupt, political, anti-union mobilisation, and on the whole a sup to regions: Australian politicians are involved.
30. A navy exists to use and deny the sea (MAHAN). Anything political that corrupts that naval purpose for Australia, is contra-indicated.
I really don’t know what to make of your latest screed seemingly about mostly dead politicians and union movements, but I will say something about northern basing: It’s fallen out of favour somewhat because it does nothing for retention, and personnel funnily enough are our biggest challenge.
31. One can build or expropriate a resort for the morale reasons needed. Hotels and a Cocoa beach type community is CHEAP.^1 The real reason for no northern basing is Hydrography and infrastructure and human factors.
^1 NASA built a town on Florida deserted beach for the Astronaut Corps, Walt Disney showed up shortly thereafter.
Sorry, perhaps I was being obtuse, or the historical South Australian procurement was in response to existing Sydney or Newcastle capacities union antics.
32. Politics and sea-power only mix well when in collusion and not conflict. Ever since Corbett corrupted HMG and the RN, the British navy has gone downhill via rocket-sled. When one sticks to MAHAN, one does it right. A navy is a COMMERCIAL tool. It is there to regulate the use of the sea for oneself and to make sure no-one else dictates that use to oneself.
I was trying to gesture at the habit of Australian Governments in establishing Brand New Industries in opposition to existing problematic-union industries. Newcastle Steel came out of iirc a Lithgow strike and ongoing Newcastle Coal actions as an "American style" plant. Lysaghts Wollongong came out of definitely a Lysaghts strike as open to existing unions, but with a reconfigured terrain so they wouldn't be uppity like in Lithgow.
33. See 28-31..
I guess I was suggesting that Nick Origlass staying in the docks through the 70s or 80s with equal success to being Balmain Mayor might encourage rather than an Adelaide greenfield with Perth and Sydney basing, an Adelaide greenfield with Northern basing.
34. See 7.
Apart from Newcastle being safe labor, the death throws of the metals unions in Newcastle was a procurement risk compared to South Australian in real life.
35. Nationalize and knock heads together.
I'm trying to see what level of weight would actually push full base construction in the North. Absence of population isn't a reason as we've seen with FIFO mining, or the creation of Port Kembla. I wasn't trying to argue it was sensible, but see how much weight would be needed on the scale. I don't understand the pull factors of military science, having done most of my work after undergraduate in working class organisation, so I tried to see with "push" factors along the lines of, "I wouldn't get my tinnie serviced in Sydney, bloody painters and dockers." etc.
36. Inadequate population skill sets, infrastructure and wrong geography. Then one gets into regional politics. If one knows anything about how regional politics can screw up naval procurement and the "military" and economic systems logics, then wonder why an American Georgia peanut farmer and a !@# !@#$ submarine base parked in a Russian sub kill lane are congruous.
USGS OFR01-154: Introduction
Kings Bay Base, Georgia (GA) ~ population data, races ...
sorry for distractions, or friday night post quality,
I will have more to write later.