May 5, 2016

Turnbull's Pre-Election Shipbuilding Rush - Table of Ship/Sub Acquisitions

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (left) may remain ahead in the polls (as at May 1, 2016) while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (right) continues his naval shipbuilding spending offensive.

Prime Minister Turnbull is hurling vast sums at naval shipbuilding, prior to the July 2, 2016 Election, in the hope that it will slow any lead by the Labor Opposition and the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT). If Labor wins (meaning yet another new Prime Minister!...) the Labor heartland shipbuilding State of Victoria (neglected by Turnbull) is likely to win more of the shipbuilding action.

Submarine Matters thinks its time to tabulate the avalanche of Australian shipbuilding announcements on:

February 25, 2016 – the 2016 Defence White Paper documents including the At A Glance summary Maritime Operations and Anti-Submarine Warfare

April 26, 2016 – that Media Release on announcement that DCNS won, - see Sub Matters article, and

May 3, 2016 – Turnbull Government Budget which included a Defence Budget Media Release and within that a “Naval Shipbuilding Strategy” Section. On May 3, 2016 the Government announced that the Defence Budget 2016-17 had risen to A$32.3 Billion [US$24.24 Billion] representing 1.9% of GDP.

The 2016-17 Defence Budget for 23 million Australians (when added to the list) will exceed the Defence Budget for 60 million Italians.

Over the next 10 years the Australian Government’s naval shipbuilding strategy will invest around $90 billion in the naval capability and shipbuilding industry.

I’ve used figures from the February to May 2016 announcement to compile the Table below.


SHIP class/typeDETAILS

12 x DCNS Shortfin SSK Submarines (announced April 26, 2016)

Raytheon and/or Lockheed Martin Combat System
$50 Billion + $5 Billion Combat System. Expensive planning began years ago. Build at/near Techport Australia, Adelaide. High degree of interoperability with USN. Likely begin to enter service in early 2030s to around 2050. Rolling acquisition program to maintain a fleet of 12 subs as sub and ASW technologies develop. A review of strategic circumstances and developments in submarine technology will be conducted in the late 2020s to consider whether the configuration of the submarines remains suitable or whether consideration of other specifications should commence.
Raytheon and/or Lockheed Martin participating in a Integration CEP for the AN/BYG-1 (and other components) Combat System - to be decided later in 2016. 
6 x Collins Class
Total sustainment costs around A$600 million/year. Mid-life upgrades will cost $Billions to extend life into the 2030s when Shortfins will be enter service.

9 x Future Frigates (FFs)
$35 Billion build. Announced April 18, 2016 has shortlisted: BAE Systems with the Type 26 Frigate; Fincantieri with the FREMM Frigate, and Navantia with a redesigned F100. First Pass Approval by Cabinet. Shortlist stage. Build starts 2020. ASW, air warfare and land attack cruise missiles. Entering service from the late 2020s. Replacing 8 existing ANZAC frigates.

12 x Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPVs)
$3 Billion to build. Will replace the 13 Armidale Class patrol boats. Announced April 18, 2016 has shortlisted: Damen of the Netherlands, Fassmer of Germany, and Lurssen of Germany. First Pass Approval by Cabinet.  First OPVs will begin build in Adelaide, 2018 before moving to Henderson, Perth, when the Future Frigates begin construction in Adelaide in 2020.

2 x Replacement Replenishment ships
Contract announced May 6, 2016 for 2 new Replenishment “Supply” ships to replace HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius for A$640 million (total). New ships (Spanish Cantabria class) to be built by Navantia in Spain. Can carry 2 - 3 MRH90 helicopters.

1 new Icebreaker
Not a RAN ship - has military patrol value. Australian Antarctic Division ship, homeported Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.  24,000 tonnes. Built by Damen/DMS Maritime. Designed by KNUD E. HANSEN A/S.

24 x MH60R Seahawks
Naval combat helicopters being accepted into service for AWDs and ANZAC Class Frigates’ antiship and antisubmarine warfare operations.

21 x Pacific Patrol Boats (PPBs)
A$280 million (total) Austal to build up to 21 steel-hulled PPBs in Henderson, Perth, beginning 2017. Announced April 18, 2016. PPBs mainly for some Pacific Island nations.

hydrographic survey vessels
Current fleet of 2 x large and 4 x smaller to be retired from early 2020s.
3 x Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs)
AEGIS equipped, being built in Adelaide. In service by early 2020s.
2 x Canberra class
Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) have just entered fleet.

8 x MRH90 helicopters
will support the LHDs.
4 more P-8As
Maritime surveillance and response aircraft with ASW, anti-shipping, over sea and land intelligence gathering capabilities in addition to 8 x P-8A’s already ordered, 3 more to be ordered = total of 15 P-8As.

2 more Airbus 
Multi-Role Tanker Transport [MMRTT] [which can refuel P-8As] aircraft to bolster the Royal Australian Air Force’s existing fleet of five = total of 7 KC-30As


Australia is undertaking the largest naval shipbuilding program in its history (this is including the WWII period when most major ships (cruisers, destroyers and the 2 post-war carriers) were built in Britain).

With the many shibuilding programs competing for limited defence funds DCNS may be making efforts to commence the Shortfun program early. 

Just prior to the July 2, 2016 Election the Coalition Government of Prime Minister Turnbull has been  pouring money into shipbuilding because this allocation of scarce Australian funds cannot be criticised by the Labor Opposition. This is because the money benefits a key Labor constituency – the Shipbuilding Unions. Turnbull hopes that this money might drive a wedge between the Labor Right, the Unions and the anti-Defence Labor Left.

Whether this shipbuilding spending will reverse the slight Labor lead in polling (as at May 1, 2016) is unknown. Arms exporters would need to be philosophical about yet another new Australian Government with a new Prime Minister.

This high spending is in an economic climate of reduced government revenue due to low prices for all the minerals and energy Australia exports. 

Any suggested additions/changes (with a kind donation :) welcome.



imacca said...

Shorten did his budget in reply tonight and objectively, it was a good example of that art. Turnbull is toast, or maybe a roast with a few weeks left to cook?

The shipbuilding stuff is now politically neutral i reckon. ALP will "me too" on it, and the Libs will not get as much benefit as they could because they have faffed around too long after Abbott brought the "Local" aspect of the subs build into question.

I dont think that shipbuilding will be a wedge. ALP machine is to well oiled, tuned and focused for that this time around. Libs have been a rolling omni-shambolic cluster$%#^ since before Turnbull took over.

All that said, the overall plan for the Navy and future equipment is, actually, a good one i think. Thanks for tabulating it like that.

But, Libs have screwed up in too many other ways for it to save them politically. will have to read up more on the ALP's defense policies as they are what will be most relevant to 2020 now.

Ztev Konrad said...

And yet the Budget allocation for defence fell back from 1.94 to 1.88% of GDP. Its the same party which has 'promised' an increase to 2%.

Its quite a juggling act, to both promise future defence projects and show they are reducing government spending . The actual result is fake it all until the election.

BK said...

That's the thing with the magic 2% rule - it does not only depend on the defence budget spendings, but also on the GDP...

Just imagine Japan or Germany spending 2% of their GDP on defence: all neighbours would get really nervous, just like the French and the UK after the German Reunification.

The Commonwealth is not reducing the spending, just look at the actual figures.


MHalblaub said...

The biggest question still is what you get for your military spendings. A Victoria-class submarine capable to fire a torpedo since two years ago but paid in 1998.

Peter Coates said...

Hi imacca

Yes Turnbull's rushed series of shipbuilding announcements won't excuse his months of policy denial (especially concerning tax). Turnbull was quiet on the supply ships contract in Spain build - but he is vulnerable to ALP and Xenophon's criticism over that.

I reckon Turnbull:

- may lose the 2 July Election or

- just have a bare majority with a hung Senate.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Turnbull's smoke and morrors defence funding - and much of the shipbuilding schedule is subject to change after the Election.

Re change - a Turnbull Shipbuilding Strategy Paper is due to be published later this year.

Ztev Konrad said...

Does the RAN have the capability to define and manage all these new projects. And do it well ?

Anonymous said...

Just like Mr. Clinton proclaimed after his presidential election,
"It is the political economy that matters, not the performance; Stupid! "

Regards, MMM