January 24, 2014

Australian media debate on efficiency of Collins submarine

Steve Ludlum,  Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).

A Collins submarine at the Australian Submarine Corporation's (ASC's) shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), Steve Ludlum, has rebutted January 2014 criticism from Australia's Fairfax media group ( Future Submarine project a farce...and ...the Fleet of Foolishness...) regarding the Collins submarine. The Collin's high maintenance costs and problems through much of its career probably places it efficiency wise between the January Fairfax criticism and Ludlum's comments.

 Ludlum's comments Collins Class submarines are performing, despite naysayers of January 22, 2014  are as follows:

"Collins Class submarines are performing, despite naysayers"

It may not suit naysayers to hear it, but Australia's fleet of Collins Class submarines is actually performing at world class standards.

Yet myths about “dud subs” and poor maintenance performance continue to be perpetuated.
As the Collins Class submarine maintenance contractor, ASC is meeting the Royal Australian Navy's expectation of availability.

Recent maintenance have been completed above expectations with the number of days the submarines are available exceeding targets. As the Sydney Morning Herald itself reported last October, “experts inside and outside Defence say that, after years of repairs and adjustments, the Collins is now a formidable submarine".

Last September, Chief of Navy Ray Griggs said: “The Collins Class submarine remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world. There has been significant improvement in submarine availability over the last 15 months.”

Even so some in the media appear fixated on the design and number of the proposed new submarine fleet even though the most important issue is the talent pool needed for such a building project.

Commentators pushing for future ships and submarines to be built offshore seem to think a domestic naval industry is beyond Australia's capabilities. Yet Australia is capable of building large scale defence projects; Australian workers do have the skills to achieve complex engineering tasks.

Preparations are under way to equip a workforce of thousands to design, build, operate and sustain a fleet of submarines to protect and defend Australia's interests.

ASC won't advocate what should be built but we have the talent to build anything the government needs.
The Future Submarines project – from construction through to maintenance - is expected to last half a century or more. Today's 10-year-olds could expect to work on the project, provided they make the appropriate subject choices and receive the proper education.

The Australian Industry Group predicted 5000 permanent jobs will be created during the construction phase and servicing of the new submarines, involving more than 1000 Australian companies.

Despite assertions by some, Australia's Future Submarines is not a program we expect to fall in our laps. ASC is committed to showing that we'll be ready for this challenge and we will be efficient.

Steve Ludlam is the managing director and chief executive of ASC.

the article is at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/collins-class-submarines-are-performing-despite-naysayers-20140122-318pi.html


Anonymous said...

I am not a naysayer but I say ASC does not provide reasonable value for the money. For the money ASC needs to maintain six Collins-class submarines one brand new submarine with AIP could be bought each year.

The Collins-class might "now a formidable submarine" but at what amount of money and time?

What is the definition of "formidable" or "capable"? German Navy operates submarines with AIP since 2007.

I am also not pushing for the next Australian submarine to be built offshore. This is the story of the nuclear powered boys (the boys with fertile US connections like the F-35 fanboys).

I am pushing for a offshore designed submarine with very little changes to the basic design. Therefore just two foreign companies are worth looking at: DCNS and HDW. All other contenders have no experience with licensed building of submarines. The Australian should remember the Collins-class with Kockums. Kockums builds good submarines but without the experience how to license it properly.

ASC may have the workforce and engineers to built a submarine.

I say "nay" to ASC's management.


Pete said...

Hi MHalbaub

I agree that the Collins recent increase in availability does not mean that its cost effective. The maintenance costs for the existing Collins powerplant remain uneconomic.

Given the rundown in manufacturing in Australia especially in South Australia building a sub built in Australia is probably the only politically viable course.

Then it goes down to selecting DCNS or HDW as the prime contractor. Navantia's relative inexperience and worrying mistake with the S-80 should eliminate it.

I think HDW is ahead especialy if its 216 can effectively be an evolved Collins. I see a new powerplant (with AIP or very high battery capacity) as the main requirement for a Collins II.

The need for a Collins II to be able to operate with US SSNs in the South and East China Sea means that extra fuel and higher crew requirements would not be met by an off-the-shelf design. This assumes the Soryu is not obtainable.