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consideration as to the handling equipment that might
assist in equipment removal and replacement. Modern
software tools which offer precise 3D modelling can
assist in this regard.
All three of the CEP competitors are likely giving
strong regard to this. Indeed, DCNS promoted this
need at the aforementioned SIA conference. The
Shortfin Barracuda concept design will come with
soft patches, presumably for easy removal of large
equipments during refits.
SHIP LOGISTIC INFORMATION
As to information and sustainment management tools,
TKMS is likely offering their Ship Logistic Information
System (SLIS) to the RAN.
SLIS consists of installations on-board each
submarine and installations ashore.
The on-board system holds a complete software
description of all the submarine’s equipment. Each
piece of equipment comes with a full history including
installation information (set to work dates and data),
configuration data, in-use information (historical
workloads), a complete maintenance log, current
status and previous use information (which follows
the equipment/component wherever it may be used).
The system also contains manufacturer’s information
and predefined maintenance and related material,
which allows the system to keep track of dates and
prompt users as to a planned maintenance event, also
providing supporting information for conducting the
The shore system (e.g. for the Navy’s technical
authority or local shipyards – ASC perhaps) can be
connected and synced with the on-board systems,
with the level of information exchange determined
by the connected pairs (e.g . data shared with local
shipyards can be sanitised). It can view data from three
different perspectives. The first is from a particular
submarine’s perspective, showing the breakdown
of the vessel, the history of component use over
time, equipment workloads (including during different
activities) etc. Using information stored in the system it
can plan, manage and support major refits. The second
is from a component perspective, showing component
use and availability. The third is from a component
type perspective which can be used for type specific
analysis to identify cost drivers. It can identify individual
components which are less reliable than others and
can even look for components which fail during a
particular on-board activity which may suggest a
problem or fault in surrounding equipment. This can be
done using data across the entire fleet of submarines.
SLIS was presented at TKMS’ SUBCON
conference in Kiel in October, an event attended by
28 customer, or potential customer, navies (APDR was
invited along). Additionally, DCNS advised APDR that
they also have logistic information tools.
As to spares availability enhancement, TKMS
presented an interesting “Spares Club” concept at
The “Spares Club” aims to improve submarine
availability (a concept that will, after the Collins spares
experience, be close to the RAN’s heart).
The concept involves the sharing of spares pools
across navies (recognising overlap in componentry
between the proposed Australian solution, Types 218,
216, 214, 212 and the more modern variants of the
Type 209s). Each participating country shares their
spares data with TKMS who de-identifies the owner
and adds it to the worldwide virtual spares pool which
is then shared with the club members. If a problem
arises in one country, TKMS requests a country with
the real spares to act as a donor. If they agree the
spare is transferred back to TKMS in Kiel where it is
checked for functionality and, if necessary, overhauled
and then sent to the country in need of it. At the time
of spares donation, an order is also placed to replenish
the donor’s stock. TKMS handles all the transport
and export approval aspects, noting TKMS already
holds a German government export licence from the
original submarine sale, and underwrites a warranty to
the recipient. Donor and recipient information is kept
Countries can, of course, still use the conventional
spares purchasing method in situations where time is
not of the essence and submarine availability will not
No investment is required by the user country with
respect to the spares club.
DCNS advised APDR that a similar arrangement
could be put in place with the French Navy (noting
commonality between the Barracuda and the
Shortfin Barracuda) and it is presumed the Japanese
could so the same with spares common to the Soryu
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT TO
SUPPORT DECISION MAKING
Another idea of interest, complementing the “Spares
Club”, is a TKMS information user’s club.
This is a program which allows the sharing of data
and experience with other TKMS customers. It’s akin
to the Australian Oberon days when the RAN could
(and did) pick up the phone and discuss problems with
either the Royal Navy or Royal Canadian Navy, only
using a much more sophisticated platform and with
TKMS acting as the information hub.
TKMS uses an airline analogy; describing each
country as an airline (Qantas in our case) and TKMS
as an Airbus or Boeing, with TKMS issuing notices
to all users in much the same way Airbus and Boeing
do. Current members of this club include the NATO
countries of Germany, Italy and Portugal.
DCNS and Mitsubishi will no doubt offer similar
information support and sharing with their parent
navies, although their schemes have not been
THE STRUGGLES AND LESSONS OF
At the start of this article the Navy and ASC were
praised for their recent success with respect to
improving availability and shortened refit time.
But in honour of Senator Johnston’s greatest
contribution to the Collins Class, namely continuous
and brutal administration of truth serum, a postscript
must be offered.
The RAN has set itself an availability target of “two
deployable submarines consistently available with four
submarines available to the Fleet Commander and of
these four, three submarines consistently available for
tasking, with one in shorter term maintenance”. This is
yet to be achieved ... a task that is challenging noting
where Collins sits on the reliability bathtub curve and
issues faced with end-of-life issues for many of the
orphaned submarine’s components ... and the price of
maintaining the submarines which is still way too high;
the FY2015/16 budget for submarine sustainment is
set at $521 million.
Caution must also be added with respect to the
pace of the current FARNCOMB refit. Progress looks
good but they have not yet reached the end, and the
proof of the pudding lies in its eating.
Submarine sustainment can be challenging. The
SEA 1000 project team will no doubt be looking at the
CEP contenders’ sustainment methods and ideas as
they draw on the lessons of Collins sustainment and
the Coles review.
The good news is that some capable tools and
interesting approaches are there for the taking.
After his initial anecdotal study, Coles conducted a more forensic
examination of the situation and set about writing a remedy script
3/12/2015 6:38 pm
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