Shipyards have to compete

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence


Virginia control room

Virginia control room

Shipyards have to compete

bobUnless Australian shipyards can produce world class ships and submarines they have no future. The future submarine is doomed unless Australia can build a Virginia clone or equivalent with nuclear propulsion and all its high technology features.

Politicians are just throwing taxpayer money away if they persist in building a 4000 tonne submarine with state of the art combat and communication systems and then power it with a century old diesel electric propulsion system. This limits the submarine to a range of 60 kilometres submerged at 21 knots compared with a Virginia class nuclear attack submarine that can travel at 32 knots submerged far in excess of 60,000 kilometres.

Australia has to embrace nuclear energy for its own survival. Our small population means we have to have big effective weapons to protect our 36000 kilometres of coastline. Former US Rear Admiral John B Padgett 111 has cited studies indicating that ‘it takes 2.2 to six diesel-electric submarines to obtain the equivalent effectiveness of a single nuclear submarine’.

It is time for the politicians to put up or be exposed for their utter disregard for the security of this country by condemning this nation to rely on 100 yr old diesel electric technology which is only 20% as effective as nuclear technology. The sickening spin of the politicians should be put to the test in the mid Pacific Ocean with five Collins class subs and one Virginia-class sub undergoing a series of exercises to determine the effectiveness of each boat.

This armchair admiral suggests having a big warship travel in an anti submarine random zigzag pattern at 25 knots with the Virginia sub defending the ship and the Collins subs attacking the ship. They could have exercises where the Collins subs are in front, to the sides and at the rear of the warship with hits recorded and the whole process observed by independent observers instructed to report to the Australian people.

It is a sad state of affairs when one cannot trust the judgement of politicians on defence issues anymore, especially when the whole submarine project will cost over $50 billion which is 2 years of our pathetic defence budget. The fact is Australia has never had anything like 5 subs available for active duty at the one time in the last decade and this just highlight the pathetic performance of our politicians in the whole sorry defence debacle.

Virginia sub being built

Virginia sub being built

Brazil is building a nuclear submarine which includes the reactor with help from the French. The British have the new Astute-Class nuclear submarine, and the US ambassador to Australia has said that the US would supply Virginia subs to Australia to improve our defence forces. Surely our paralysed politicians could start to consider the defence of this nation by approaching these nations for a joint venture arrangement where we can acquire modern submarines.

BAE systems already are expected to build our diesel dinosaur subs and they build the new British Astute-Class. General Dynamics Electric Boat Company build the Virginia-Class sub in the US and already supply Australia with most of the combat and communications systems. The US has supplied Britain with nuclear propulsion technology in the past and hopefully would do the same for us provided the Electric Boat Company set up a subsidiary in Australia to assemble the boats.

It is high technology fire power that Australia desperately needs in its defence force and if Australian shipyards cannot provide it at a competitive price it has to be sought elsewhere.

The issue will never be settled even if the government arrogantly foists last century submarines on the Australian defence force.


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