March 31, 2023

Breakneck Training Risks Nuclear Mistakes

"Australia faces an ‘incredibly difficult’ task over the next 15 to 20 years to

enough people to support the AUKUS nuclear submarine program."


Training Australians at the required breakneck pace to support

Australia based US submarines from 2027 and then Australian SSNs

from the early 2030s risks nuclear mistakes.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete
This article is spot on,Its takes 30/40 years to built that kind of competence

It is in short supply everywhere , incl in France where the desastrous , decision to limit N energy in 2013 lead to a drastic drop of training enrolment and competence that the Fr N Industru had a taste this winter.. (N certified N welder flown in from Canada , paid a 6 digits salary as an example

The modern Defense (the Industry , the support and the units deployement) is mainly limited by the recrutement , trainig and hiring of specialist (a small pool of people , motivated to "Serve",able physically and mentally,Engineerinfg /Science trained, vetted..)
(Many naval assets in Germany , Italy are just idle);No where is the problem more acute than in Subs (incl in the US)
The following picture of the "blue" crew of the Duguay-Trouin,the second Barracuda sub,is very revealing about the subs Human Ressources issues
-The Barracuda is much larger , with a reduced crew , to accomodate real cabins( designed by a cruise ship architect) incl for women (a talent pool to be tapped)
-The crew is made,the ranks are visible,(with one exception)exclusively of petty Officers and Officers(25%) which is an indication of training /education and ..salaries
-there is as in surface ship,2 crews, not only to allow high rate of operations (260 to 280 days/years , of typical one month missions) of rare/expensive assets but as important to allow for the crew to spend half a year on shore,on training, ..and family life

Pete said...

Hi French Anonymous

The 30/40 years to build competent nuclear crews means Australia will not have competent all Australia crews for its 3 x 2030s Virginias until the 2040s.

I hear the UK also has major problems finding enough nuclear engineer officers. This is because the civil nuclear power sector offers:
- higher pay per hour worked
- a safe and social (including internet connected) working week
- and a far better family life.

Only the US does not report problems retaining submarine crews?

If France and the UK are having problems just imagine Australia without the second nuclear career path of a civil nuclear power reactor sector in Australia.

At looking at the 60 blue crew for Barracuda Duguay-Trouin I counted 2 non-officers (with horizontal blue and white striped shirts and red pompoms.

Yes the smaller Rubis-class had 68 crew. Russia also has an all officer crew system for their nuclear subs.

For the Australian Virginias with their extreme crew requirements of 135 per sub Australia will have difficulty sparing any crew for the still operating Collins subs in the mid-late 2030s.

Australia might only have a submarine force of two training Virginias (all up) by the late 2030s.

Regards Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

How long did it take the UK to develop it's nuclear sub fleet after the US passed it's technology to them? I can't find anything in a Google search



Pete said...

Hi Andrew

Noting that the UK situation is/was very different from Australia's. The UK was:

- conducting nuclear fission research from 1932 (if not earlier) onwards

- The Royal Navy had been researching designs for nuclear propulsion plants since 1946,

- the UK had a very active nuclear weapons program from 1946 and

- the UK was building a sizable civilian nuclear energy sector from 1954 beginnings.

The UK had the financial and industrial base resources of a Great Power as against Australia a middle power

The history of the UK first nuclear sub, HMS Dreadnought as a part prototype partly answers your question of laid down 1959, launched 1960, commissioned 1963.

But the UK's first fully British nuclear fleet submarine were the Valiant-class SSNs, in commission 1966

Dreadnought and the Valiants were considered quasi-wartime national top priorities from the 1950s.

Unlike Australian waiting for the US to send whatever vintage Virginia the US decides on in 2033. Or maybe nothing if a Republican candiates wins the November 2024 Election.

Regards Pete