Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2015 Contents SEA 1000
30 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter APRIL 2015
CUTTING SUBMARINE STEEL IN
2016 - A SEA 1000 RISK MITIGATION
STRATEGYRexPatRick // Sydney
AN AcquISITION STRATEGY
Minister Andrews announced in February an
acquisition strategy for the future submarine that, as
a first step, will determine a best international design
partner to work with Defence on an ‘aspirational’
design to meet Australia’s needs.
The next steps, beyond the selection of a partner,
are not clear. David Gould did tell the Senate
in February that after the international partner is
selected, we will work with that design partner to
mature the design through the stages of engineering
design. Presumably from there, development and
build will occur followed by testing and commissioning
of the said submarine. All of that’s good, provided the
project tracks well. But it may not.
As has been previously discussed in this series
(during a time when Defence was pursuing the
most risky of paths; an own design boat), what
brings projects down is ‘risk’. It eats away at
performance, consumes resources and blows
out the schedule. Risk is the enemy of all large
projects. And yet, as the SEA 1000 plan slowly
comes to light, very little has been said by
Defence about risk mitigation.
AN INTERIM SOluTION
The strategy is simple: upon selection of a design
partner, Australia should immediately sign a build
contract for four off-the-shelf submarines from that
same design house.
Four Scorpenes would be procured if the design
partner were DCNS; 214s for a TKMS selection
and Soryu’s for a Japanese. Whichever interim
submarine falls out of the partnership selection, the
idea would be to go with their proven at-sea platform
with minimal changes; only those required to meet
essential legislative requirements and to integrate the
Mk 48 torpedo and Harpoon.
The benefits for doing so are many; as explained
FROM A PROjEcT dESIGN
Australia runs the real risk of a capability gap. In a
recent answer to a Question on Notice (QON) by
Senator Xenophon, Defence answered that “Twelve
years in not a realistic time frame for a domestic
build of a new design”. This is consistent with former
DMO CEO, Warren King, when he described to
the Senate the situation we find ourselves in as “an
Defence has looked at extending the life of Collins
and sensibly realised this is not an option; the cost
would be high and the outcome would not redress the
increasing capability differential between Australia’s
Collins Class submarines and the more modern
submarines proliferating throughout the region.
Australia is under time pressure.
With that in mind, we look to Normal Augustine’s
24th law on Project Management.
“The only thing more costly than stretching the
schedule of an established project is accelerating it,
which is itself the most costly action known to man”.
An interim solution eases the design pressure.
If the build of an off-the-shelf submarine were
to commence in early 2016, immediately after the
design partner had been selected, RAN personnel
would experience the technologies of the partner
much sooner. This would allow enough time for
design feedback into the ‘aspirational’ design being
progressed at an orderly pace in the background.
FROM A PROjEcT BuIld
Looking at the French and Germans (the Japanese,
with a total lack of overseas builds, give us no clues
here) it is notable both of these candidates build first-
ever-of-class boats in-country.
The first (French Navy) Agosta 70s was built in
France, as was the first (Pakistani) Agosta 90 and
the first (Chilean) Scorpene. 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
Navy. There is a strong empirical and technical case
for an overseas build for the first-ever-of-class boat,
and probably the second; problems found during
construction, testing and sea trials are best sorted
out with full access to the OEMs design and support
personnel and their sub-supplier’s experienced
design and development teams.
Whilst the first conventional Barracuda, Type
216 or Soryu MK II is being designed in detail, the
Australian build program will already be underway.
The interim boats will warm the welding equipment
and re-establish an indigenous Australian submarine
assembly capability at Techport using a known
product; reducing risk by not mixing two unfamiliar
activities (i.e . new design and new build). The
AN INTERIM SOluTION
2/04/2015 3:20 pm
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