Nuclear Subs the only defence

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

Nuclear subs the only defence

 Paul Dibb, the Ivory Tower academic from Australian National University, and advisor to the South Australian government on defence matters is highly critical of any suggestion that Australia acquire modern nuclear attack submarines. He not too subtly suggests that South Australia is the only location for the construction of outdated diesel electric submarines that are incapable of the task of defending our 36000 kilometre coastline.

This political intrigue destroys any confidence concerned citizens for defence may have had in his opinion as little consideration is given to what submarine would most effectively protect Australia into the future.

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. If the Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, feels the US has reneged on this undertaking he should formally request a confirmation instead of mouthing off unfounded opinions.

If Australia could purchase ten nuclear submarines in cooperation with the US it would alter the balance of power in the south pacific region.

These state of the art submarines can maintain a speed of 32 knots submerged for months on end travelling tens of thousands of kilometers in that time compared with an Australian built dieselectric submarine that will do little more than 25 knots for a distance of 50 nautical miles or 500 nautical miles at 4 knots.

In addition, the Virginia class submarines are equipped with five cutting edge sonar systems ranging from new active/passive sonar, to world leading low and high frequency towed sonar array backed up by the advanced electromagnetic signature reduction system built into it.

As well, this submarine has photonics masts instead of traditional periscopes located outside the pressure hull. Each mast contains high resolution cameras, along with light- intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated electronic support measures array.

Australia will need all this high technology equipment and more in the next fifty years if it is to adequately defend its borders.

It is a sheer waste of money to blow upwards of $60 billion on eighty year old technology submarines with a view to saving some Australian jobs when these submarines will be blown out of the water by the far more nimble nuclear attack submarines they will be opposing in any future conflict.

The US is world leader in nuclear submarines and we should buy this proven technology from them. The US has 12 Virginia class submarines in service at present and all their state of the art systems are operating flawlessly.

It is an insult to this nation to suggest that we are incapable of operating nuclear submarines because we have no nuclear industry. This is the type of typical backward thinking that has seen Australia defenseless for decades and reliant on the goodwill of the US for security. This nation would still be firing cannon balls from wooden ships if our forbears had displayed the same level of helplessness as our present politicians and Paul Dibbs.

The US is our ally and has offered us the opportunity to purchase nuclear attack submarines. The US has shown an interest in berthing an aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines at a joint facility at HMAS Sterling in Western Australia. This seems like a golden opportunity for Australia to expand HMAS Sterling at our cost to accommodate the US ships and maintenance facilities where our nuclear submarines and other ships could also be serviced.

Other alternatives would be for nuclear expertise to be bought in from overseas sufficient to operate nuclear submarines with major servicing to be done at Guam or Pearl Harbor until we develop the necessary expertise.

The Virginia class attack submarine is an ideal match for the vast Pacific, Indian and Great Southern oceans that surround our continent. Our weak kneed politicians and academic advisors should show some backbone by finding the ways and means of acquiring and operating this modern technology for our defence instead of lumping us with Neanderthal technology submarines incapable of the most basic defence needs of this nation.