Australian interest in American Nuclear Submarines Growing – India obtains Russian models

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In December a DEVASTATING report into the nation’s Collins-class submarine fleet has warned of profound safety risks arising from inexperienced crews, a paucity of experts, poor reliability and a dysfunctional maintenance system.

The report, commissioned by the Gillard government, concluded that the problems have become so widespread that the entire submarine organisation was now “unfit for purpose”.

Australia has asked three European companies to submit designs to replace its submarine fleet at a cost of up to A$36 billion ($36 billion) in a defence buildup aimed at protecting resource exports and countering an accelerating arms race in Asia.

Australia plans to build a fleet of 12 submarines to enter service around 2025.   Australia’s Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare said;  “The Future Submarines Project is the biggest and most complex defense project we have ever embarked upon.”

A large submarine travelling on the surface of the ocean.
A large Collins class submarine travelling on the surface of the ocean.

Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James told The Australian that the existing fleet of six Collins-class submarines could be replaced with several state-of-the-art Virginia-class nuclear subs from the US. The Collins class is a class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The submarines have been the subject of incidents and technical problems since the design phase, including accusations of foul play and bias during the design selection, improper handling of design changes during construction, major capability deficiencies in the first submarines, and ongoing technical problems throughout the early life of the class.

U.S. officials have been pressing Australia to commit to the submarine fleet, and some security and naval analysts had called for the government to consider buying U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines off the shelf.

Mr James said that in future Australia would inevitably have nuclear-powered submarines and getting them now would jump a generation.  The government plans to replace the Collins with 12 big conventional submarines to be built in Adelaide.

Mr Reith said that to get around the issue of Australia having no nuclear industry on which to build a maintenance system for submarines, a joint submarine base could be set up with the Americans in Western Australia.

The Indian Navy is set to receive a major boost when the much-awaited Russian ‘Nerpa’ nuclear attack submarine would join its fleet “in the next few days” on a 10-year lease worth USD 920 million.

The Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine has finished sea trials and is now ready to be leased to the Indian navy in the next few days, a Russian engineer said today.

“The submarine is now fully ready to carry out its tasks,” a senior executive at the Amur Shipyard, where the submarine was built, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.

“It will be handed over before the end of the year,” the unnamed official said.

Source: Reuters

Source: India Times

Source: The Australian

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