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Sunk Before Service: Australia’s Disastrous Submarine Project

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Sunk Before Service: Australia’s Disastrous Submarine Project

IMAGE: shoalgroup.com

Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

One only gets into the submarine procurement business to spite government treasurers and economic managers.  Efficiency and effectuality are bonus additions, but hardly necessary.  Witness the evolving disaster that is Australia’s SEA 1000 Future Submarine program, won by France’s DCNS, now Naval Group, in 2016.

From the start, this seemed an audaciously peculiar choice. Australia had avoided purchasing more appropriate, medium-sized submarines from a conventional submarine maker, opting, instead, for a nuclear submarine design that would be retooled for conventional use.  For a country that is the third largest exporter of uranium, this was ironic as much as it suggested castration.

Australia’s then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was all assurance about what would be a new class submarine, the Shortfin Barracuda.  “The competitive evaluation process (CEP) has provided the government with the detailed information required to select DCNS as the most suitable international partner to develop a regionally-superior future submarine to meet our unique national security requirements.”

Defence Connect also noted such lofty expectations, with the Attack Class submarine “expected to deliver a quantum leap in the capability delivered to the Royal Australian Navy and its submarine service by leveraging technology and capabilities developed for nuclear submarines, implemented on a conventional submarine.”  Be wary of leaping submarines with leveraged technology.

This pompous assertion of faux strategic value was initially to cost AU$50 billion.  But by May 2018, it became clear that the picture was somewhat dearer.  Rear Admiral Greg Sammut had to concede to Australian senators in an estimates hearing that another AU$50 billion would be required to sustain the submarines for the duration of their operating life.  In explaining this to Senator Rex Patrick, Sammut had obviously heeded lessons from the civil service school of obfuscation.  “Many of the detailed costs of acquisition and sustainment will be determined during the design process through choices made but at this point early estimation of the sustainment costs for the fleet are of the order of up to $50 billion on a constant price basis.”

Combing through this dull, turgid answer, and the implications were ominous.  The expenditure for the submarine program would only rise, with the cost of sustaining the naval brutes being anywhere from two to three times that of their acquisition price.  “It’s disturbing that Defence has done this,” remarked Senator Patrick at the time.

In any other context, this would be regarded as gross negligence, but defence costs operate in another realm of insensible practice.  And just to illustrate the point, over the course of five months in 2020, the submarine project cost Australian taxpayers a further AU$10 billion, occasioned by currency fluctuations and an oversight on the planned commencement date for the construction of HMAS Attack, intended as the fleet’s lead boat.

The rising cost of the program has caught the attention of other politicians as well.  One Nation’s Senator Malcolm Roberts might be risibly dotty on such matters as climate science, but when it comes to defence expenditure, his feet are firmly planted.  In May 2020, he, in his own words, “took time to condemn the new contract signed to build 12 new submarines.”

To his fellow senators, he asked whether the government had taken leave of its senses during times of COVID-19.  “In the middle of this pandemic we cannot afford to proceed with this contract.  This money will be far better spent to support the Australian recovery from the economic pit, that is caused by this pandemic.  By the time these submarines are delivered, they will be obsolete.”

These are not the only problems associated with this profligately foolish exercise.  Questions have been asked about what has politely been termed “the amount of Australian industry content in the program” and the commitment of Naval Group to developing Australian industry.  Suspicions remain that this is, at heart, a French driven enterprise, with a duped Australia limping along with the cash.

In January 2020, the Australian National Audit Office weighed in with a report outlining the risks in the SEA 1000 program, even at its incipient stages.  “The decision not to acquire a military-off-the-shelf submarine platform, and instead engage a ‘strategic partner’ to design and deliver the submarines with significant Australian industry input, has increased the risk of this acquisition.”  Delays were already taking place in the design phase; “contracted milestones” had been extended.  The ANAO also had a nugget of enlightenment: the government’s own Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board, comprising US admirals previously receptive to the French proposal, suggested that Australia walk away from its contract with Naval Group.

In February 2020, such concerns worried the Department of Defence and Naval Group sufficiently to warrant a firm rebuke to naysayers in a joint statement.  “Sovereign control over the Attack Class submarine fleet and maximising Australian industry involvement throughout all phases of the Attack Class Submarine program are contracted objectives in the strategic partnering agreement between Defence and Naval Group.”  Australian industry would also be “systematically” approached “to identify suitable suppliers of the vast array of equipment to be fitted to the submarine, ranging from hydraulic systems to galley equipment.”

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds was distinctly unimpressed with Naval Group Australia CEO John Davis, who had expressed his frank concerns about the project to journalists, generally approving of the findings of the ANAO report.  “I am disappointed by comments attributed to Naval Group Australia as they do not reflect the strong collaboration between Naval Group and Australian industry on this program of national significance.”

The literature of expert doubt is also growing.  A report commissioned by Submarines for Australia, conducted by Insight Economics last year, was damning.  It noted how Naval Group was pushing back on incorporating “Australian content”; a “dangerous capability gap” given delays in the project; and the “questionable strategic value” of the entire effort.  Gary Johnston of Submarines for Australia was crushing in his critique: the Australian-French contract was based on “dumbing down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine.”

The suggestion by Insight Economics, building on concerns from the Defence Department that some mitigation strategy might be in order, was revisiting the Collins class submarine – Australia’s current operating submarine platform – and modernising it.  “On the basis of expert professional advice, we consider that an evolved Collins 2.0 submarine, with a comparable ability to Attack, could be delivered at least five years earlier, at a much lower cost and with 70 per cent of local content.”  Dare they dream?

The SEA 1000 effort is misfiring masculinity at worst, a striking example of Maginot Line thinking: we need this to make a statement, because other countries so happen to be playing in the same waters.  The tendency towards error and bungling, notably when it comes to acquiring and maintaining a submarine arm in defence, are consistent.  The Collins class submarine itself, intended as Australia’s “Holden amongst submarines,” should have furnished sufficient warning.  Instead, it laid the grounds for another colossal blunder, showing defence procurement to be a game for dunces.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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Just Me

Australia is a corrupt British penal colony with am IQ of a wombat. It just barks a lot for its US and Zionist masters.

Volker

That’s an insult to associate them with those cute little wombats because they would outsmart them.

Just Me

Sorry, it was either Wombat or Koala. Wombats are just slow and stand in the middle of the road and get hit.

PM Scott Morrison’s comment that January 26, 1788, “wasn’t a particularly flash day” for convicts either has drawn criticism for stoking insensitive racism and denigrating the genocide of Aboriginal people.

JIMI JAMES

Your not going anywhere with your blm concept,right onto you soros clowns!

JIMI JAMES

Thumbs up because you are correct in regard to this failed turnbull/homosexual/pine deal
Maybe you ain’t aware though we are right onto the sht,just like 13 sas dishonourably discharged murder cases to follow,so whats in it for you,can yoiu name other with the balls to justice? be my guest,name me one whom had the balls to bring justice to ethics,
(exclude ccp/russia/communists)

occupybacon
JIMI JAMES

The abc media is not the government,nor is soros,cia,biden,abbott,rudd,shorten,turdbull (period)
Biden is scam,no more corrupt colony than cia/nazi is there,fk no! What do you p00fs know!

JIMI JAMES

Correction British Commonwealth,you need to discern bettween media/cia + factual evidence,
The calculator never lies,do they not teavch you 30 trillion debted wannabes this fact in school?

Ashok Varma

Australia amounts to nothing they just lost the cricket match to India, despite racism. It also has the most stupid and ignorant bogans and are a patsy for the US and UK. Their British masters tested nuclear weapons on the ignorant Australians and US now occupies most of the penal colony.

JIMI JAMES

Compared to 30 trillion debted apple homosexual pay $6.79 pm,you have a severe mental issue!

Potato Man

Australia population: 25.36 million (2019)
They got rich thanks to China and as a lot of people can see, China can take that away if Aussie bitch.
Australia buy weapons, tanks, subs, etc ofc no-one saw much hope as no-one talk about this sub project much. BTW don’t forget Julian Assange, Australia government is Zion+yankees cu*ts and FUK fat Trump for not freeing him.

Frank

Well said, they jump a lot for their American masters, even though they have the population of LA and brains of a monkey.

occupybacon

You means 4 times bigger than Russian brains?

occupybacon

When Australia had aircraft carriers, Chinese were eating roots and grass, like Nord Koreans

JIMI JAMES

We still do!

occupybacon

What, eating roots and grass? :)

JIMI JAMES

Your concern seems logical,but did you consider assange is wanted dead by the cia?
its good you see things as it were before turnbull/deep state got the boot for good,Conversely
Trump wasn’t farewelled by the more robustive national biased reformed Commonwealth,whom I may add is the benchmark or this deluded concept called democracy,you name me one better?
For it’s worth this contract needs to be terminated,however you ain’t gonna get to assange(period)

JIMI JAMES

Point being,turnbull is soros trash,the trolls got it in for The Commonwealth are soros paid homosexuals,
See whenb it comes to conclusive adult resolutions,you don’t sqeal like a piggy reefed up de rear,but rather resort to practical solutions to rectify corrupted then leaderships,other wise that make them too only just the problem,either way left dust intheir wake,seens i fkn well can,they never the balls dare to try,see!

OZI DOLLA +STOCKS UP.NAZI BIOWEAPON DEATHS.DOWN,Thats the way biden cookie crumbles,good!

JIMI JAMES

This is a scam,There are changed circumstances which are ongoing at the present,this included revoking turnbulls stupid bisexual sub policy back then trying to suck on on french green cok,whist at the same time opting to go draconic diesel technology,in a vain attempt to destroy Commonwealth credentials(period)
turnbull is indeed the covert tranny,mental challenged,derranged sick fk,born defenctive in birth too!
Others mock as they may,but lest not distract from the real enemy of all civilisations being fascists ok!

Good wrap:Exposing how it were back then,need more exposing the deep state (powered by eu-epp)

JIMI JAMES

Told homosexual wannabe leader,ceo of (jp/morgans) aka qantas No reset in flights till 2022,if anything for being such a puny mindless,drug pushing asswhole,eat sht nwo p00fs!
Rex airlines stocks up,cool!

JIMI JAMES

Atleast we got something to show for,unlike certain others,whom cant even find intelligent logistics,to get them running more proper than not!Still though,indonesia would flog us with oldercomment image russian planes(period)

Arch Bungle

If your standard for performance is Indonesia, I got news for you friend: You ozzies are fucked!

JIMI JAMES

We may deploy quicker than them,Problem is going up against any make shift adversary with more powerfull russian gear,yep we’re fkd!
I suppose the initial placebo effect seems promising,before if it ever gets to hit the fan,no?
Appreciate the reality check,stay safe!

Arch Bungle

*I* can deploy quicker than Indonesia, mate.

JIMI JAMES

Not quicker than native emus though:

Arch Bungle

So, even emus can deploy faster than Indonesia. And Australia.

Arch Bungle

Australia is a military non-entity.

It has no military relevance.

Even as a US base and toilet.

It is insignificant in the global scheme of things.

Other than for murdering little Afghan children.

comment image

JIMI JAMES

That was homosexuals deep fake photo,why are you into deep fake musk con jobs,lets be real!
13 sas were dishonourablty discharged,for war crimes,now you tell me nwo/sportz which other democracy ever had the balls do do the right by their constituates,you name me one?

Are you on gender change pills or what,Australia is the 5th most traded currency on earth,
the largest coal exporter + to china,and one of the biggest exporters of natural gas and gold,
absolutely dwarfs you musk,bezos,gates fake stock regimes (period)

Irrelevant you say? Listen up zealout flog,you don’t know unless you live more dynamic cultured you insolent se’low nothing to show for zealout lousy bluff!Geta life blame it all on cia (period)

JIMI JAMES

comment image

JIMI JAMES

downvote because that is homosexual deep fake creation,but now we are on the topic of me injustice,let me share with you of some serious implications that must be put to justice,just so we may be of some purpose,other than deep state narrative getting dealt with in live time,shall we?

https://newmatilda.com/2019/06/10/a-tale-of-two-heroes-general-jim-molan-and-journalist-julian-assange/

Stay safe:

Arch Bungle

You really need to learn to do proper research. You have no idea what a “deep fake” is.

The picture is a painting done by a Chinese artist protesting against Australian war atrocities for which none of the perpetrators were convicted:

A Chinese graphic artist who created a doctored image of a grinning
Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child said
he would come up with another one after being “scolded,” according to a
report.

Fu Yu, who also is known as Qilin, created the fake image to
criticize Australia, whose military recently released a shocking report
describing war crimes by elite troops who allegedly killed 39 Afghan civilians, abc.net.au reported.

Here is another of his artworks. Not a deep fake. An artwork.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EaORCrwU8AAsmy3?format=jpg&name=medium

Tommy Jensen

Remember to take the vaccines folks.

John

Sounds like lodes of fun being had.

cechas vodobenikov

apparently many American advisors in Australia

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