Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Smaller Overseas Submarines and Australian Tenders

The Australian Government is reported to be having negation difficulties with the French builder selected for the Collins Class submarine replacement. Perhaps it is time to consider not attempting to build very large bespoke submarines in Australia. Instead a smaller proven design could be ordered from an overseas shipyard, with recent experience in submarine building. Australian shipyards could instead build small submarine tenders to resupply these vessels.

Australia's unique requirement for a very long range conventionally powered submarine to transit from Australian ports meant that no proven designs were suitable. However, recently it was announced Australia and the USA would return to their former naval base on Manus Island, which is capable of operating submarines. Australia could complement the base with a small fleet of submarine tenders, based on the Arafura class multipurpose warship, or an Austral multi-hull design.

The small tenders could be fitted for the same modular mission payload system as the Arafura class. The tenders could dash at high speed to a suitable sheltered location to re-provision a submarine. The ships could be built in Australia in the shipyards currently building the Arafura class, meeting the political need for employment, as well as maintaining a shipbuilding capability.