October 26, 2021

Strangely Sobering AUKUS SSN Sermon

“Bureaucratus Lex” in a comic yet insightful way, clearly knows alot about the likelihood Australia will mainly turn to the UK for any future AUKUS submarine (aka Aus SSN) program. 

Bureaucratus on October 26, 2021 commented below: 

Yet more AUKUS SSN Observations 
If deftly executed, the nascent Australian SSN program could meet the key force capability goals set by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as provisionally approved by Australia's cabinet and endorsed by the loyal opposition Australian Labor Party. 

Yet I would bet an all-expenses paid long weekend at a Hyatt resort that this initiative will go pear shaped. 
There is little chance of Australian Labor Party (or UK Labour Party (thy are spelt differently!)) parliamentarians taking the risk/wearing the blame for a highly foreseeable SSN fiasco. 

Therefore, in my humble opinion, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have less than three years, to conjure up: 
(a)  a signed bilateral contract, blessed by all three AUKUS partners, for the UK and Australian future submarine construction programs to be seamlessly joined, with Australia and the UK jointly building (and separately operating) at least eight SSNs of the same design each - including a mix of Astute SSN and their successor class, aka SSN(R) [due to be delivered first to the UK Royal Navy (RN) in the 2040s or 2050s.] 
(b)  live video of an impressive looking new nuclear boat, underway in UK waters, flying the Australian ensign 
(c)  a UK Treasury disclosure document showing rivers of gold flowing to the UK under a line item titled “Leasing Fees for HMS Agamemnon and HMS Agincourt from the RN to the RAN” 
(d) footage shot at Osborne shipyard, South Australia or Henderson shipyard, Western Australia of Australian workers cutting metal for the fin/sail or forward pressure hull of an Astute boat No. 8, and 
(e)  other proof of an actual (not projected) hiring surge at both Osborne and the UK’s Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, etc. 
From the UK perspective - without landing a whale of an AUKUS SSN contract, UK (own use) submarine production volumes are unlikely to support even the minimum required design and production infrastructure needed to produce SSBNs. 
It follows that the UK continuous at sea nuclear deterrent will eventually have to be abandoned, as nobody except France (oh what delicious irony) would be prepared to sell the UK an SSBN if the UK loses its current ability to build them itself at Barrow Infernal. 
RN leadership might talk Boris down from agreeing to gap Astute boats six and seven and wet lease them (with crews and full logistic support) to the RAN until Rolls Royce and BAE can crank up the tepid production lines for UK Pressurized Water Reactor No. 2 (PWR2and Astute to get the eighth and subsequent Astute boats into commission. 
If Boris declines to agree to an urgent loan to the RAN of Astute boats six and seven, then Australia might be just as likely to abolish its submarine service (as Denmark did) to punish the RAN (and avoid a Collins SSK sinking after 32 years in service), than to press on to create a viable SSN force prior to the 2040s. 
Somebody pass me the popcorn, this saga is 'must-sea' viewing. 
Bureaucratus Lex, October 26, 2021, with some editing by Pete.


GhalibKabir said...

Barrow Infernal? LoL!! this typo (?) could be an unwittingly fit parody of the multiple issues that brexit britain faces in maintaining its capabilities at Barrow-In-Furness...

Otherwise, Senor Lex is bang on the 'Aureus' about the fears of Australia's politicians making an egregious pig's breakfast of the Aussie SSN plan.

I doff my hat humbly to you Sir Lex!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

I can only speak as a novice armchair observer, not knowing any particulars of the engineering and logistics involved, but superficially, the Astute, or even Virginia class looks like a better bet for Australia than the French over budget and behind schedule Attack Class.

The French basically had to build the entire Australian workforce and supply chain, and had to redesign the whole sub, including propulsion, in order to give Australia the capabilities of a nuclear powered sub.

By the time the costs blew out, the French had, in the eyes of the RAN chiefs, pushed us into the almost impossible- looking at nuclear subs.

And with the nuclear powered subs, we have everything. We have 2 strong allies who have all the designs, production and actual experience with actual subs in the works, a supply chain with BAE in Australia, and no language barriers. In fact, unless the UK needs all the Astute workforce to move to the Dreadnaught Class production, there's some UK staff who can come to sunny Adelaide, who can kick things off, have a pint, and have a friendly game of cricket.

Now, I've seen some commenters who have said that the Virginia Class might be better because of the use of US systems,so it's still up in the air. I agree with Mr Lex, that the PM/President better come to a firm agreement within a 18-36 months, because we've already lost 3-4 years and can't afford to lose anymore. We're stuck with our 1980's designed AnZACs and Collin's for at least another 15 years.

Still, I have a secret feeling/hope that our subs will be built sooner than if we had stayed with the French Attack Class, by being able to buy designs that already exist off the shelf, rather than a completely new, untested one.


Pete said...

Hi Ghalib

Actually yours truly, in editing, added "infernal". All part of Pete (the Dwarf) standing on the shoulders of Lex (the Giant) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_on_the_shoulders_of_giants

If the voting trends continue it will be Australia's opposition Labor Party (ALP) (forming Government by May 2022) that will need to handle the huge AUKUS Submarine job.

- the ALP have lately maintained a 6%-8% lead over the Morrison Government for the next Federal Election by May 2022

- the ALP's usual partner in government are the very anti-nuclear (in all its forms) Greens https://www.miragenews.com/greens-announce-plan-for-peace-demilitarisation-654126/

Pete said...

Hi Andrew

This is an immensely complicated issue. But my short response to some of the questions you raise is:

In April 2016, the Australian Government prematurely, but before the July 2016 Federal Election, chose Naval Group/DCNS to build the Attack class conventionally propelled subs. This was, in part, to gain votes/seats in Adelaide, South Australia (where Australia was to build the subs). But this premature Aus Gov announcement and action led to an unmanageable situation with Naval Group.

Now in 2021, prior to the Federal Election probably in April 2022, Morrison has announced a very un-nailed down "vision" to build nuclear propelled subs, again in Adealaide.

Everything is up for consultation with, not one, but two countries, the UK and US. To be cynical is fully justified that escaping the Naval Group unmanageable situation may lead to something worse.

But rest assured gaining votes and seats in South Australia is Morrison's essential, political, aim. This is noting Morrison is behind in the polls.

1. Morrison merely says Australia will build the nuclear subs in Adelaide.


2. All of these submarine issues, including WHERE TO BUILD AND HOW MANY, are up for review, by an Australian Department of Defence research project, in consultation with the UK and US, within the next 17 months...in theory.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold much hope of an Astute or Virginia boat for Australia would arrive all that much sooner than the Attack would have arrived. ScoMo himself says it's gonna take longer. See, the thing is that American shipyards are already cranking up subs for the US Navy as fast as they can. The USN needs to replenish its submarine forces urgently and will not accept any delay. So Australian subs will have to wait for the American order to be complete. Likewise, British shipyards also don't have all that much capacity. Just for fun, I invite you to look upon the HMS Vanguard, which entered drydock for refit in 2015, was to sail back to sea in 2018, and at the latest news is actually stuck in drydock at least until 2025.

As for Australian shipyards, well, remember why the Attack class was shitcanned? It was because building them in the first place took a lot of time and money. What existed when you built the Collins is long dead. (In fact, the Attack deal was planned to build the ships relatively slowly so that the shipyards would remain active throughout the service life of the class so that they would still be active when it would be time for a replacement.)

Another point that was never mentioned in English-language press about why the French subs are awful and must be cancelled ASAP is that despite all the scary numbers pushed forward, the part of the money that actually went to France was a tiny portion. Most of the money went into building the industry in Australia (and that goes beyond just building the shipyards, there are thousands of specialized subcontractors for various parts); and of the money that went into the ships themselves? The French still got less than half. Because the subs' weapon systems was to be provided, at the customer's request, not by Naval Group but by Lockheed Martin.

Anyway, GL;HF.

Anonymous said...

What scares me the most is that BAE Systems builds the UK boats. That's the BAE Systems that has enjoyed an almost continuous presence on the Projects of Concern list ...

Pete said...

Hi Anonymous [at Oct 28, 2021, 12:54:00 AM]

1. Yours is a very accurate description. I've long argued the Attack class project was a slow and expensive Federal Government subsidy to buy votes in submarine shipyard South Australia.

The April 2016 announcemnet of the Attack class mega-project was Turnbull effectively buying 2 electorates in South Australia - enough for the Coalition to win the July 2016 Federal Election.

2. You're right to mention Lockheed Martin (LM). As Combat System integrator LM won about 40% of the Attack class budget. Strange that all the Australian vitriol has been directed at French Naval Group and nothing directed at American LM.

Its pretty much guaranteed LM will be Combat System Integrator for Australia's nuclear sub project.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

A bit off topic, if you haven't seen it, it seems that the USS Connecticut lost its sonar dome in the collision according to Sub brief.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

A article Australia could build front half of nuclear-powered subs about "More details on Australia's intended acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines have come to light this week following a Senate Estimates hearing and an interview given to the AFR by Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

Both confirmed that Australia is seeking an unchanged mature design - either the UK Astute class or the US Virginia class – but sources told the AFR that Defence is leaning towards the Virginia class.

The sources also indicated that the rear half of the submarine and the nuclear reactor would be built overseas and joined together with a locally-built front half. According to the AFR, Defence has told industry that the submarine will include about 40 per cent local industry content.

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead told a Senate Estimates hearing that British and American designers are coming to Australia next year as part of the 18-month planning and evaluation process, which VADM Mead said would report to government 'regularly' and government will then decide whether that information is made public."


Pete said...

Thanks /Kjell [your Oct 29, 2021, 9:31:00 AM]

All interesting but its Very early days yet.

The "18-month planning and evaluation process" means all the plans and intentions reported in italics at Oct 29, 2021, 9:31:00 AM are subject to:

Major Change and Revision.

Also, as the Australian Labor Party, in alliance with the Greens are most likely going to win the Australian Election by May 2022

the whole AUKUS sub project is likely to be Cancelled.



Pete said...

Thanks /Kjell

For your Oct 29, 2021, 7:41:00 AM

With the USS Connecticut losing its sonar dome I think at high speed it hit a rock projecting up from the seabed. That assessment is part based on no reports about another sub or surface vessel being it.

So its not surprising the USN would want to coverup up such a basic navigation-sensor error.

Given that the Connecticut's Seawolf-class has been out of production for so many years there may be no spare-parts process to repair it. So repairs may run in the 10s or 100s US$millions or even beyond economic repair.

Time will tell.



Anonymous said...

Now US shipyards have a new priority 1, repair that Seawolf submarine. Anything else can and will wait. The queue just gets a bit longer.

BTW, there is another US DOD Priority 0, and that is anything hypersonic related, given the US needs to catch up, after a soon to be retired general uttered the hyperbolic word "Sputnik".

Pete said...

So true KQN

And I suspect it might be some weeks or months until the USN's of Defense Secretary's PR machine publicizes that USS Connecticut will cost $10s of millions, $100s of millions or simply be Beyond Repair.

And yes catching up or getting ahead of the Russian Bear and Chinese Dragon on "Hypersonic" missiles is now made out to be essential. Although US ICBM warheads travelling hypersonically for the last 62 years seems to be forgotten https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM-65_Atlas


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

"Also, as the Australian Labor Party, in alliance with the Greens are most likely going to win the Australian Election by May 2022

the whole AUKUS sub project is likely to be Cancelled."

If so what do you think will happen then?


Pete said...

Hi /Kjell [at Oct 30, 2021, 11:18:00 PM]

I honestly don't know.

Perhaps the highly paid Australian professionals and their even better paid US and UK contractors

contactable via https://www1.defence.gov.au/about/taskforces/nuclear-powered-submarine-task-force

can assist you on that possibility.



Anonymous said...

USN says it still does not know. Apparently, USS Connecticut was damaged in the forward section, including the forward ballast tank section.

Yes, an ICBM is still the most optimum way. But we need a hypersonic scapegoat to ask for more money. Even though, FOBS can be detected by SBIR (space-based infrared systems).


under water canoe enthusiast said...

This whole thing is so painful to watch.

What a pile of absolute raging puke it is.

If Australia wanted a nuclear boat (which we have for a long time) we were already working a contractor and a nation capable and willing to deliver such a product.

France can help erect a nuclear industry in Australia to support the boats and Naval Group, I'm pretty sure, not 100% but pretty sure that may have a working design that looks somewhat like the design Australia was already about to start building... So that would fulfil the RANs request for fully working off the shelf design... Seems like the NSC, Defence and RAN all started drinking some pretty heavy duty spiked cool-aid and smoking something.

As soon as the LNP get booted into the gutter in the next 6 months we're going to send Malcom over to France to unfuck everything and get the ball rolling again. This whole thing is a bloody scam.

Scomo has done it again. The greatest prime minster ever...