Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR November 2014 Contents SING
the first (Pakistani) Agosta 90 and the first (Chilean)
Scorpene; although in truth, the first Scorpene’s aft
sections were built in Spain and then transported to
Cherbourg to be married to the French built forward
sections. The first (Greek) Type 209, (German Navy)
212 and (Greek) 214 class submarines were built in
Germany. Subsequent builds have been at customer
navy preferred location, either in France or Germany,
or at the ordering Navy’s local yards, even when the
submarine type was a first-of-class for that particular
If Australia was to buy a conventional French
Barracuda or German Type 216, there would be a
strong historical/empirical and technical case for
an overseas build for the first boat; problems found
during testing and sea trials are best sorted out with
full access to the OEM’s and their sub-supplier’s
experienced design and development teams.
There could be flexibility in this approach though if,
using TKMS’ Type 216 submarines as an Australian
solution example, a few Type 214 ‘interim solution’
submarines were built as a method for stemming the
Collins sustainment cost haemorrhage (now above
$600 million per annum) and mitigating the risk of
a capability gap. These Type 214s could be built in
Australia (perhaps to be sold later to an emerging
submarine nation such as the Philippines or Thailand
as part of a regional security engagement program)
while the first-of-class Type 216 is built in Kiel; with
Australian engineers present and involved in the
design and development of it.
Upon accepting that the majority of our future
submarines were to be built in Australia, a task
which involves assembly, integration and test and
evaluation, one would need to take care in selecting
the local supply chain participants to support that
build. The selection would have to be made on the
basis of price premium, technical risk, sustainment
support and commercial viability considerations.
Some example considerations follow.
Australia would not want to establish a diesel
production line for the 36 or 48 diesel engines likely
to be fitted across the new class of submarines.
Setting up such a line, likely to be shut down at the
end of the program, would be expensive and add a
significant price premium to a local build.
Australia would not want to sub-contract the
manufacture of a submarine main motor to a company
unfamiliar with the large permanent magnet motors
likely to be fitted to Australia’s future submarine. It
is a critical component of a submarine and, since it
can’t be removed from the submarine without cutting
the hull, needs to be built 100% right. This is just one
example of a technical risk consideration; there are
There may be a case to preference local build
for high turnover components and consumables.
The submarine’s battery may be a case in point;
but one might hope that the battery is made by
an extant Australian manufacturer; such that the
work is a complimentary addition to an existing
industrial capability, one which has a sustainable
non-submarine industry line of business.
And that leads us to the last example
for consideration; the commercial aspect.
As has been discussed over the past two
APDR issues, it makes no sense to spawn
a start-up company to build a component for
the submarines only to see it go to the wall
once the submarine supply task is complete.
Companies that do have extant submarine
component design, development and
manufacturing capabilities could compete
both for work here in Australia and additionally
within the selected submarine designer’s
global supply chain. Thales Underwater
Systems, which has an in-country transducer/
hydrophone design and production capability
and exports product into numerous foreign
submarine/surface ship programs, serves as
a good example. So too does Sonartech
Atlas, which is also a successful exporter of
submarine systems, particularly its Intercept
Detection and Ranging Sonar which has
been supplied to a number of TKMS origin
Other companies that are sustainable in
their own right and undertake work that has
synergies with submarine component build,
should be also be invited to contribute.
We should seek to maximise Australian
industry involvement, sensibly capitalising on
extant commercially viable local companies wherever
possible, thereby managing cost and risk.
Sustainment of Collins has been a troubled beast,
with unacceptable availability achieved for totally
None the less, Australia does have a track record
in sustainment of complex Defence capabilities,
including Collins’ predecessor, the Oberon Class
As has been discussed over the past two APDR issues, it makes no sense to
spawn a start-up company to build a component for the submarines only to see
it go to the wall once the submarine supply task is complete.
HMAS Sheean and HMAS Sydney docked at Sembawang Wharf, Singapore.
38 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter NOV 2014
23/10/14 3:54 PM
Links Archive APDR October 2014 APDR 01 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page