HMAS Sterling naval base

Collins Class submarines at HMAS Sterling

Duncan Lewis secretary of Defence has quit his job in less than a year amidst rumours he was less than impressed with the political and financial direction he was getting from the Labor government.

But this is just the latest symptom of a democracy destroying its defence forces whilst other dictatorships and terrorist organisations are rapidly building their armed forces and profiles.

After 9/11 the Islamist jihadists boasted that by 2090 there would be an Islamic kingdom stretching from the Middle East to large areas of Northern Australia. The ivory tower academics, defence think tanks, government advisers and politicians all ridiculed this idea as farfetched.

Yet a decade later the Islamists virtually control Libya, Egypt, and a host of Middle Eastern countries and are having a running battle with the Indonesian government with protests, bomb making and embassy attacks at regular intervals.

Sydney is subjected to a brutal rally by Islamist supporters where police were savagely attacked and injured and yet the so-called experts still cannot see the light.

HMAS Sterling Naval Base W A

There is never a time for a 1.5% of GDP defence budget in a democracy as this breaks the morale of the military hierarchy and troops alike as well as draining the defence force of the last vestiges of deterrence needed to secure the nation.

The enemies of democracies become emboldened by this lack of commitment by the democracies to fund, build and support their defence forces.

This weakness of all western democracies gives the Taliban in Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, and any other tin pot outfit encouragement to push their human rights destroying agendas not only on their own populations but also on the citizens of the rest of the world.

The US with support from Britain is the only democracy attempting to defend our principles and security. This nation is growing exhausted by the effort. Their blood and treasure is constantly being sucked dry by the thankless parasite nations seeking a free ride on the coattails of Uncle Sam.

But never has there been a greater opportunity for Australia to secure its future than in these times of ever increasing turmoil. The US has shown interest in a shared naval base at HMAS Sterling in Western Australia to cover Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Australia should fully fund the expansion and updating of this base as an investment in its future. The US could share the technical skills needed to maintain nuclear powered submarines and missile systems etc until we become proficient in this field.

Australia should dump the ridiculous idea of sending our sailors to sea in WW2 technology diesel dinosaur submarines to fight nimble nuclear powered attack submarines which will mean almost certain death to our crews. Virginia class nuclear attack submarines should be leased and purchased from the US to be serviced at HMAS Sterling under the direction of American specialists.

Over time it is possible Australia could become the dominant force in this region and the US could reduce its forces to be better used in other hotspots in the world.

If Australia chose this option it would be the first time we fully committed to the ANZAC Alliance since WW2. As Australia’s sense of purpose grew and our contribution to the Alliance became real this nation may finally cast off its sense of hopelessness when faced with the defence of a 36,000 kilometre coastline of a massive continent with a small population.

Such a transformation in our thinking will take real political courage but the end result may be a nation capable of defending itself for the first time in its short history.

Defence before personal gratification

               Indonesian Islamists have gathered in Jakarta to celebrate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Why Australian citizens are prepared to let our politicians get away with leaving this country defenceless is a life or death question that needs to be answered?

Any sovereign nation needs a functioning modern defence force at all times regardless of whether there are threats or not. Australia needs this more so than many other nations who have spent some silver pieces on their nation’s security.

We live in the most isolated region on the planet bordering the Great Southern Ocean and have billions of Asians to our north with limited food, water and resources fully aware that Australia has limitless resources and a very scant population to fill a vast continent.

It is extremely dangerous to think that Australia can survive in this environment for any length of time without the most high technology weapons and trained personnel constantly honed to operational excellence with the capacity to defend this nation against the unexpected and the unknown.

Indonesia is just one case in point. The recent export cattle crisis displays the brittleness of the relationship between us and our close neighbour even when Indonesia has the most pro western government in its history.

This nation of 250 million people has the highest proportion of Muslims per head of population of any nation in the world. Indonesia is in a constant battle to contain the violent Islamist element and its many sympathisers. Westerners are regularly being targeted and murdered in that country.

Indonesia has had several coup d’état in the past where dictators have reigned with great loss of life. Yet our Ivory Tower Academics have stared into the future and infallibly advised our government that an Islamist takeover will not happen and we need no defence preparedness.

The truth is the Islamists have already claimed northern Australia as part of a future Islamic kingdom and in the event of any Coup they could have a million militia with machetes and wearing sandals roaming the north and there would not be a single thing we could do to prevent them.

Give them their trusty AK 47 submachine guns and grenade launchers and who knows where events like this could end. The north is a comfortable overnight rubber duckie ride from Indonesia and given the lack of security, small population and remote locations it is possible for thousands of militants to land undetected.

Then there is China sending its nuclear submarines down to circumnavigate Australia on a regular basis for political purposes or intimidation. Worse still, China is pouring billions of dollars of aid into the small undeveloped nations surrounding our northern rim and it may be only a matter of time before there is Chinese military bases established directly threatening Australian security.

Communist nations regularly use military might for political and trade purposes and for Australia to be put in this position without any defence is a criminal act by our politicians.

There are literally dozens of such scenarios where the unknown unknowns outnumber the known unknowns and no soothsayer academic or government adviser would have a clue what is likely to eventuate in the future.

If the Australian citizens are prepared to sit back and accept the immediate gratification of government handouts for every human need from the cradle to the grave as is occurring now with the mad rush to make everyone in the country dependent on the government for their very existence, then national security becomes a distant second.

Yet national defence should never come second to personal gratification just as life as we know it should never give way to being raped, pillaged, or murdered because we failed to provide the wherewithal to defend ourselves.

US Warships Welcome


US warships welcome

Basing a US aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines at HMAS Sterling is an opportunity for Australia that needs to be taken now.

We cannot continue to be the unarmed jewel glinting in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Great Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean waiting to be intimidated or invaded by nations to our north looking for better opportunities for their billions of citizens.

Nor can we expect to survive on 1.5% of GDP defence spending. Strategic Analysts paid by the government can print fifty pages of analysis agonising over war and peace in the next forty years but end up with the lame comment that if there is peace we need a 1.5% of GDP defence budget to cover border patrols, disaster relief, and ceremonial duties. But if there are the dark clouds of conflict we need 4% of GDP for war equipment.

Who knows what lies ahead in the timeframe needed to purchase modern weapons and bed them into operational efficiency? Most weapons systems take ten to fifteen years to become operational. Threats are maddeningly unpredictable through history and usually creep up on nations unnoticed.

A modern high technology defence force maintained at peak efficiency is the only real way of providing insurance against the unexpected and the unknown. Any other strategy is gambling our nation’s sovereignty for the sake of a few pieces of silver.

Australia cannot expect the US to provide for our security without us contributing to the best of our ability to the US security. Yet we seem to have a cringe factor ingrained in our psyche that goes back for many generations. Australians know they are isolated at the bottom of the world and hope that by being unarmed and inoffensive we will be left to live in peace.

We have been an extremely lucky country in this regard with the US saving us from the murder, rapes and pillaging that would have occurred to our population if the Japanese juggernaut had not been stopped short of our shores in WW2. Ever since the US has unselfishly looked after our interests by supporting us in East Timor and other areas.

The US desire to share an Australian base is a golden opportunity for our politicians to try to repay the US for some of the goodwill and generosity it has shown to this nation over seventy years. Again, Australian security will be the main beneficiary of US forces sharing our bases so the event will be to our mutual benefit.

It would involve bringing HMAS Sterling up to world standard which would entail major expansion as well. Australia should bear all this cost and look on it as a long term investment.

The US would probably supply all the high technology equipment needed to service and repair modern war ships and planes. This equipment could be shared with Australia to maintain our ships and planes.

The next step could be to see if the US would supply us with one or two Virginia class nuclear attack submarines which would introduce Australia to the latest technology submarines. Normally it would take ten years to have a submarine delivered but the US might consider giving Australia one of their submarines that are nearing completion for their navy in a shorter time frame considering it would be used to bolster the Coalition forces in Asia. The US has already built twelve Virginia class nuclear submarines and these are all performing very well.

If Australia was fair dinkum it would increase its defence spending to at least match the US but preferably be in the 4-5% of GDP range for a decade to bed down these changes. Australia could build up a modest battle fleet of its own using US cutting edge technology.

If Australia could overcome its aversion for a robust defence force needed for our survival and grasp the opportunities available with the US presence we could once and for all set our nation up with a modern defence security system.

US has Collin’s-class replacement


US has Collins-class replacement


Virginia Class Attack Submarine


7500 Tonnes

32 knots underwater

Endless endurance

250 metre depth range

38 + torpedoes & Missiles

S9G reactor 40,000 SHP

Aus$2.5 Billion bare


The Collins class submarines built in Australia in the 1990s have proven an utter failure as a weapon to defend our vast oceans and leaves our 36,000 kilometres of coastline undefended.  This was first recognised in the 2009 defence White Paper and yet three years on we are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years of delays on a fruitless search for another design for a new Australian submarine.

This crazy decision by the government to even attempt to build diesel electric submarines with technology dating back to WW1, 90 years ago must make these boats the most expensive antiques of all time.

These new diesel dinosaurs will weigh 4000 tonnes and probably have a submerged range on batteries of 50 nautical miles at an optimistic 25 knots or 500 nautical miles at 4 knots. Compare this performance with the 7500 tonne Virginia class nuclear attack submarine which has endless endurance at a speed of 32 knots.

Our Collins class submarines are a joke now with one of the six submarines operational some of the time. The one that engages in the yearly multinational exercises off Hawaii usually embarrasses this nation by having to limp to harbour to have hose repairs or have major generator malfunctions such as the January 2010 issue with HMAS Farncomb involving failures in 1 of the submarine’s 3 French Jeumont-Schneider, 1,400 kW/ 440-volt DC generators, and this has served in many respects as the final straw.

These submarines are economically unrepairable with two years in dry-dock for maintenance for every three years of use. The engines need replacement and this will require the pressure hull to be cut to replace them. This will take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars as the pressure hull will have to undergo extensive recertification testing.

The new submarine dinosaurs are to be built in Australia and it seems that they may provide some second rate defence deterrence around the middle 2030’s and if Collin’s performance is any indication these new boats will be lemons. Our close neighbour, Indonesia, plans to have 10 submarines by 2024 and probably 15 by 2035. Common sense alone dictates that we have only one choice.

The Virginia class is 3500 tonnes larger and yet at $2.5 billion without weapons is more than financially competitive with anything Australia can build. These submarines are being built in the US at present with delivery less than ten years from the order and under budget.

This nation needs state of the art submarines now to replace the Collins disaster.

Yet this ineptitude of politicians is self inflicted by their own narrow vision and failure to plan.

In 2009 when it was first publically identified that Australia had no submarine defence immediate action could have been taken to place an order for several Virginia class Nuclear Attack submarines which would have started delivery by 2019.

The American Ambassador, Jeffrey L. Bleich, has advised Australia that the US is more than willing to lease or sell nuclear powered Virginia class attack submarines to this nation to improve our defence force.

In the immediate future we could have leased several US submarines for our immediate defence and this would also provide a familiarisation period with the new technology.

The US desire to have access to HMAS Sterling to service military vessels including nuclear submarines would be a golden opportunity for this nation to maintain any of our nuclear submarines at this facility.

There is no second choice. Governments refuse to take their responsibility to defend this nation seriously. They delay and muddy the waters. They withdraw funding from defence and refuse to fund new weapons. They employ an army of spin doctors to hoodwink the Australian public into believing they have an effective plan for our defence.