21 January 2015
Why Australia should build its own submarines
By Peter Briggs
Submarines are a critical strategic capability for the uncertain times ahead.
This paper considers the design and build of Australia’s future submarine including the possible acquisition of Japanese submarines by Australia to replace the Collins class and a hybrid approach of constructing the hull modules in Japan and assembling them here. It provides lessons learned from the Collins project.
The paper concludes that Australia’s requirements and geography demand at least 12 large submarines. Trying to stretch an existing design is a high-risk proposal with limited capability to grow to meet future changes. An integrated design process based on a designer experienced in producing designs for foreign customers, working with the Australian builders and the ‘in service’ industries, is the low-risk path. The current focus on a Japanese-built solution is misdirected and a distraction.
Peter Briggs says that building in Australia will be cheaper overall, provide better control of the project, guarantee quality, and achieve improved stealth from sensitive Australian and third-party research and development. Just as importantly, an Australian build program would develop Australia’s in-service and design support, encourage hi-tech Australian industry and boost employment by creating high-quality jobs.