Nuclear Submarine deal

 
Topic moved from The Lounge by bevans on 17 Sep 2021 08:03
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I thought that it was pretty widely reported Albo was briefed before the announcement and supported the decision
BrentonGolding
That's correct, but given the limited time in which to absorb and analyse the implications of this change in strategy as well as the diplomatic tensions created between allies, then if Labor wins government, they have every right to scrutinise any agreement which is yet to be formalised.  If it doesn't suit our strategic interests, particularly with regard to sovereignty, then we should stand our ground.  However, I wouldn't expect that from the LNP, which is a lackey to whatever the US asks.

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  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

Macron was 'briefed' by Morrison a couple of months ago.
  8502 Chief Train Controller

What bases will the submarines use and will Darwin be a potential base?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
What bases will the submarines use and will Darwin be a potential base?
8502
Only if the Chinese to whom we sold the place agree.
Imagine if the British had sold Scapa Flow to the Nazis?
Are we stupid or just happy to sell our souls and/or our country to anyone?
It's treason!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
What bases will the submarines use and will Darwin be a potential base?
Only if the Chinese to whom we sold the place agree.
Imagine if the British had sold Scapa Flow to the Nazis?
Are we stupid or just happy to sell our souls and/or our country to anyone?
It's treason!
YM-Mundrabilla
Didn't sell anything, leased it! And what are they leasing, mostly a container, fuel and minerial terminal for a small city.  Treason, no!

Port of Darwin isn't that big, there is plenty of room for a sub base in the area and the existing naval base is seperate to the port faciilties and had the Chinese nto leased the port, then they would be in no worse position to monitor goings on, satilite would likely be better. Hell you could buy a house less than 800m as the crow flys from the nearest warship currently at Dock in Google Satilite.

For the record, many other "ports" are foreign leased, many to the UAE, some India. No one complained when they were writing cheques.

With regard to Darwin or NT as a port, I'm not sure if this is an ideal location for a nuclear submarine due to the limited and shallowish waters involved and how to move out of the area without crossing Indonesian waters or being exposed moving along the Australian coastline, so likely the sub bases would be WA and Qld only were there will be few protests and they are when at berth away from a large population although the risk of a nuclear style accident while at port is SFA.

My guess is that they will use probably Townsville and Fremantle as bases. Cairns unlikely, as I think as there will be more opposition there than the tourist desert and more industrial hub of Townsville.

If Freo is too hard they will likely relocate to Geralton, although unlikely as they need large centres for basic supplies and repairs.

Would Sydney be used as the East coast option or additional east coast location?
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

What bases will the submarines use and will Darwin be a potential base?
Only if the Chinese to whom we sold the place agree.
Imagine if the British had sold Scapa Flow to the Nazis?
Are we stupid or just happy to sell our souls and/or our country to anyone?
It's treason!
YM-Mundrabilla
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-12/why-did-northern-territory-sell-darwin-port-to-china-what-risk/10755720

The deal was completed for in my view SFA. $506 million.
Announced earlier today, the sepos are going to build a strategic fuel store in Darwin. Ironically, Angus Taylor decided our strategic fuel reserve should be in the US.
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Announced earlier today, the sepos are going to build a strategic fuel store in Darwin.
michaelgm
Finally going to use those tunnels for something, are they?
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

Announced earlier today, the sepos are going to build a strategic fuel store in Darwin.
Finally going to use those tunnels for something, are they?
apw5910
???

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-21/darwin-fuel-storage-facility-us-defence-construction-tender/100478894
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Announced earlier today, the sepos are going to build a strategic fuel store in Darwin.
Finally going to use those tunnels for something, are they?
???

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-21/darwin-fuel-storage-facility-us-defence-construction-tender/100478894
michaelgm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_oil_storage_tunnels
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
It wasn’t about ‘fleets’ of submarines and the tactics employed. It was about having sufficient submarines in the fleet to pose a threat. One submarine would be easier to deal with than eight coming from different directions.
kitchgp
One decent submarine well and truly poses enough of a threat, again, this is why the US/NATO and the Russians generally only had, and needed on submarine operating on station at a time. They could have sent out ‘fleets’ or even had a ‘fast attack’ escorting a ‘boomer’ but they didn’t need to.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Having a nuclear powerplant enables the RAN to project power closer to enemy shores. Is it possible that these boats will carry tactical nuclear weapons at some point in the future? If the regional situation dictates it, why not?

One thing is for sure, the Collins boats will need to carry the can for a while to come.
They could in theory launch a tactical cruise missile like a Tomahawk with a nuclear warhead.

The US and UK both carry Tomahawks on some of their submarines, but they are not nuclear armed. The US fires them from vertical launch tubes and the UK from the torpedo tubes.

Australia is acquiring Tomahawks to be fired from the Hobart class destroyers.
Mr. Lane
I am not sure that there are any operational W80 warheads for the Tomahawks left - which is awesome if it’s true.

The US and NATO would never say this, but I don’t think submarines are the primary vehicle for carrying nuclear weapons anymore, if they are, it would be the SSBN and SSGN boats only I would think. The missile launching tubes would be well shielded and the concept of a nuclear torpedo or other nuclear weapon launched through a torpedo tube would be gone.

Crew safety is just too impacted by having any form of nuclear warhead contained in the general internals of a submarine with a hundred or so sailors working for hundreds of days at time in close proximity.

Larger surface ships can have shielded and ventilated spaces if necessary for storing such weapons, and air crews can load/unload nuclear weapons relatively speedily, and their missions are only maybe a few percent of a submarine mission time. Both of these options would be much ‘safer’ - although that is a purely relative use of the word here.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Having a nuclear powerplant enables the RAN to project power closer to enemy shores. Is it possible that these boats will carry tactical nuclear weapons at some point in the future? If the regional situation dictates it, why not?

One thing is for sure, the Collins boats will need to carry the can for a while to come.
They could in theory launch a tactical cruise missile like a Tomahawk with a nuclear warhead.

The US and UK both carry Tomahawks on some of their submarines, but they are not nuclear armed. The US fires them from vertical launch tubes and the UK from the torpedo tubes.

Australia is acquiring Tomahawks to be fired from the Hobart class destroyers.
I am not sure that there are any operational W80 warheads for the Tomahawks left - which is awesome if it’s true.

The US and NATO would never say this, but I don’t think submarines are the primary vehicle for carrying nuclear weapons anymore, if they are, it would be the SSBN and SSGN boats only I would think. The missile launching tubes would be well shielded and the concept of a nuclear torpedo or other nuclear weapon launched through a torpedo tube would be gone.

Crew safety is just too impacted by having any form of nuclear warhead contained in the general internals of a submarine with a hundred or so sailors working for hundreds of days at time in close proximity.

Larger surface ships can have shielded and ventilated spaces if necessary for storing such weapons, and air crews can load/unload nuclear weapons relatively speedily, and their missions are only maybe a few percent of a submarine mission time. Both of these options would be much ‘safer’ - although that is a purely relative use of the word here.
Aaron
I think you are right.

I get the feeling that countries don't actually like having nuclear war heads off shore in the hands of a few people in a sub.

While there are numerous safety and security systems in place and no doubt improved over the years there has been more than enough near misses through misscommunication on nuclear warhead subs that could have started a nuclear conflicts for the powers at be to collectively $hit themselves. So without an immediate threat that requires first strike capability parked off-shore of your enemy, its better to keep these toys on home soil and focus on other means of obtaining first strike.

Also didn't some years back the US cease having air born missiles kept in the air at all times?
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I have a few thoughts on this.  But firstly, I've started watching Sub Brief on Youtube too.  And I'm surprised this thread wasn't in the lounge, as I would hope our Subs aren't to be used for narco transport.

1) I am F****G furious we are in the current position.  It's been one F-up after another, both diplomatic, strategic and tactical.

When the current gvt came to office, we had an established Sub program with domestic manufacture and support capability.  We've trashed that.  

We then went for new the Japanese Sub.  An unorthodox approach to procurement selection, but we'd be a reasonable position if we'd followed through it that.

We then went with the "Attack" class - which IMHO is a camel: horse designed by a committee: something trying to be all things to all people.  We got the contractor we deserved given it's specification.

We're now going with AUKUS subs - still unspecified, with all sorts of associated potential problem.  Our 4th sub-program in a decade, at a time when our security situation is degrading badly - in no small part to our current gvt deciding it would be a good idea to push back against .... from a position of weakness

IMHO, it means SSNs off the peg are now necessary, in a way they probably shouldn't have been.

2) On-shore maintenance/manufacture.
We learnt the hard way with the Oberon class subs that we need domestic manufacture and maintenance capability to keep our subs in the water.  Obviously we can never be as efficient as the US/UK/Japanese or almost anyone else, but we still need that capability.  Wherever we go, we go from here, we are going to have to sacrifice that capability to get viable boats in the water.  That should *never* have been allowed to happen IMHO, and I'm really P*** about it.

3) SSK vs SSN

SSKs have advantages over SSNs.

a) Quieter (when in theatre).  Nuclear rectors have to keep running, and have to stay cooled, which means continuous movement of cooling fluids, hence pumps and they make noise.  We don't know - and probably won;t know until the shooting starts - if the SSNs we get will retain their stealth.  (Same for SSKs too, but on battery and very very slow/still - SSKs are theoretically harder to detect).

b) Lack of range.  Tactically this is bad.  But strategically this is good.  An SSK *can't* easily be forward deployed, so represents less of a threat that induces less need to develop neutralizing counter measures amidst our adversaries.  IMHO we're past that being a valid reason for an SSK progam, and we're going to have to cope with the adverse security implications of having an SSN program.

c) We can be completely self sufficient with them.   Even if we started today (and I hope we don't), we'll never have enough of a nuclear industry in OZ to properly support our SSN fleet.  Hopefully this won't be such a big deal: if the reactor is 30 year set and forget (with one fuel rod change) we might be able to get away with it.

4) Which Sub to get?

AFAIK, we have the choice of the US Virginias or the UK Astutes.  

As I see it, this is a choice between firepower (US) and (perhaps) better stealth.  Also speed of deployment vs appropriateness for us.

The Virginias are 20+years old, potentially not as stealthy.  Who knows.  Their big advantage is we could - in theory - get them in the water ASAP.  Lease one, buy one currently under construction off the peg, order 2 more from the US as we develop our domestic maintenance and construction capacity in parallel.  

The UK don't have the ability to supply is with enough subs fast enough - but they are probably keener to sell us their product to help pay for their program.

4) VLS tubes?  They are a provocation, but also a potential self defense capability for our (noisy American) subs once they are found.

FWIW, I think the next gvt could do worse than send the French an Olive branch and order 3 SF Barracudas off the shelf as an apology - even though they are underspece and we'd have little use for them.  IMHO we need to either keep the Collins program running with another refit (LiPo batteries and better weapons than harpoon), or get some of the Japanese SSKs to augment our SSN fleet.

5) What do we *really* need?

IMHO Australia is - for the first time since the 1940s - facing a genuine threat of invasion.  I can't see the US "recovering" a certain island like they did Kuwait.  If some nameless Asian power adopts a policy of expansion, I expect it will result in a trade blockade - that could easily precipitate the reaction it got from the Japanese in 1941 (ie, compel them to secure by force the resources they need).  This is the strategic danger of hitching our wagon to the Americans.

To defend Australia/deter our adversaries from the Japanese we need the ability (or at least the credible threat of the ability) to stop the arrival of an invasion force.  A sub capable of retaining stealth that can quickly take out a fleet of amphibious assault ships might do that.  We also need credible air defenses the location of which can remain concealed - ie (sub) surface to air missiles in VLS tubes in subs.

Beyond that, we'd need tactical nukes - and a viable delivery platform - which ain't tomahawk.

All this points to us needing to get a fleet of Virginias ASAP, while retaining/replacing the Collins program.

None of this is good news.  And I'm thoroughly P***d its' come to this.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Also didn't some years back the US cease having air born missiles kept in the air at all times?
RTT_Rules
Chrome Dome? That ceased five DECADES ago!
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I have a few thoughts on this.  But firstly, I've started watching Sub Brief on Youtube too.  And I'm surprised this thread wasn't in the lounge, as I would hope our Subs aren't to be used for narco transport.

1) I am F****G furious we are in the current position.  It's been one F-up after another, both diplomatic, strategic and tactical.

When the current gvt came to office, we had an established Sub program with domestic manufacture and support capability.  We've trashed that.  

We then went for new the Japanese Sub.  An unorthodox approach to procurement selection, but we'd be a reasonable position if we'd followed through it that.

We then went with the "Attack" class - which IMHO is a camel: horse designed by a committee: something trying to be all things to all people.  We got the contractor we deserved given it's specification.

We're now going with AUKUS subs - still unspecified, with all sorts of associated potential problem.  Our 4th sub-program in a decade, at a time when our security situation is degrading badly - in no small part to our current gvt deciding it would be a good idea to push back against .... from a position of weakness

IMHO, it means SSNs off the peg are now necessary, in a way they probably shouldn't have been.

2) On-shore maintenance/manufacture.
We learnt the hard way with the Oberon class subs that we need domestic manufacture and maintenance capability to keep our subs in the water.  Obviously we can never be as efficient as the US/UK/Japanese or almost anyone else, but we still need that capability.  Wherever we go, we go from here, we are going to have to sacrifice that capability to get viable boats in the water.  That should *never* have been allowed to happen IMHO, and I'm really P*** about it.

3) SSK vs SSN

SSKs have advantages over SSNs.

a) Quieter (when in theatre).  Nuclear rectors have to keep running, and have to stay cooled, which means continuous movement of cooling fluids, hence pumps and they make noise.  We don't know - and probably won;t know until the shooting starts - if the SSNs we get will retain their stealth.  (Same for SSKs too, but on battery and very very slow/still - SSKs are theoretically harder to detect).

b) Lack of range.  Tactically this is bad.  But strategically this is good.  An SSK *can't* easily be forward deployed, so represents less of a threat that induces less need to develop neutralizing counter measures amidst our adversaries.  IMHO we're past that being a valid reason for an SSK progam, and we're going to have to cope with the adverse security implications of having an SSN program.

c) We can be completely self sufficient with them.   Even if we started to day (and I hope we don't), we'll never have enough of a nuclear industry in OZ to properly support our SSN fleet.  Hopefully this won't be such a big deal: if the reactor is 30 year set and forget (with one fuel rod change) we might be able to get away with it.

4) Which Sub to get?

AFAIK, we have the choice of the US Virginias or the UK Astutes.  

As I see it, this is a choice between firepower (US) and (perhaps) better stealth.  Also speed of deployment vs appropriateness for us.

The Virginias are 20+years old, potentially not as stealthy.  Who knows.  Their big advantage is we could - in theory - get them in the water ASAP.  Lease one, buy one currently under construction off the peg, order 2 more from the US as we develop our domestic maintenance and construction capacity in parallel.  

The UK don't have the ability to supply is with enough subs fast enough - but they are probably keener to sell us their product to help pay for their program.

4) VLS tubes?  They are a provocation, but also a potential self defense capability for our (noisy American) subs once they are found.

FWIW, I think the next gvt could do worse than send the French an Olive branch and order 3 SF Barracudas off the shelf as an apology - even though they are underspece and we'd have little use for them.  IMHO we need to either keep the Collins program running with another refit (LiPo batteries and better weapons than harpoon), or get some of the Japanese SSKs to augment our SSN fleet.

5) What do we *really* need?

IMHO Australia is - for the first time since the 1940s - facing a genuine threat of invasion.  I can't see the US "recovering" a certain island like they did Kuwait.  If some nameless Asian power adopts a policy of expansion, I expect it will result in a trade blockade - that could easily precipitate the reaction it got from the Japanese in 1941 (ie, compel them to secure by force the resources they need).  This is the strategic danger of hitching our wagon to the Americans.

To defend Australia/deter our adversaries from the Japanese we need the ability (or at least the credible threat of the ability) to stop the arrival of an invasion force.  A sub capable of retaining stealth that can quickly take out a fleet of amphibious assault ships might do that.  We also need credible air defenses the location of which can remain concealed - ie (sub) surface to air missiles in VLS tubes in subs.

Beyond that, we'd need tactical nukes - and a viable delivery platform - which ain't tomahawk.

All this points to us needed to get a fleet of Virginias ASAP, while retaining/replacing the Collins program.

None of this is good news.  And I'm thoroughly P***d its' come to this.
djf01
Thanks fjf01.

A very informative post but as SSN and SSK appear to have varying definitions to different people can you define the terms in the light of your post, please? Also what is a 'narco' in defence speak, please?

Forgive me as I only speak English and am not in Defence or Medical who only seem to speak in acronyms.

I know virtually nothing of submarines and their operation and cannot help but wonder whether the Collins boats are the lemons we are led to believe and, if so, how long they will last or, heaven forbid, how long before we lose one.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

A very informative post but as SSN and SSK appear to have varying definitions to different people can you define the terms in the light of your post, please? Also what is a 'narco' in defence speak, please?
YM-Mundrabilla

Narco - Narcotics. Colombians have recently started building home-made submarines to ship illegal drugs to the USA.  They are called narco-subs.  I had a chuckle when I saw this thread in "other transport" (didn't think to look for it here), because that's really the only thing you can transport in a sub.

SSN - Nuclear "Attack" sub (attacks shipping, aircraft etc)
SSBN - Nuclear Ballistic Missile sub - strategic MAD weapons platform - attacks cities/countries.  Think Sean Connery and Red October.
SSK - Konventionally powered  "attack" submarine.  As for SSN, just without the rector

Why these acronyms?  
BIIK.

Also: VLS: Vertical Launch System (I think).  The ability to launch a missile (not big enough to be a strategic nuke) at someone/something straight up.  Can be done for some systems from horizontal torpedo tubes.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
A very informative post but as SSN and SSK appear to have varying definitions to different people can you define the terms in the light of your post, please? Also what is a 'narco' in defence speak, please?

Narco - Narcotics. Colombians have recently started building home-made submarines to ship illegal drugs to the USA.  They are called narco-subs.  I had a chuckle when I saw this thread in "other transport" (didn't think to look for it here), because that's really the only thing you can transport in a sub.

SSN - Nuclear "Attack" sub (attacks shipping, aircraft etc)
SSBN - Nuclear Ballistic Missile sub - strategic MAD weapons platform - attacks cities/countries.  Think Sean Connery and Red October.
SSK - Konventionally powered  "attack" submarine.  As for SSN, just without the rector

Why these acronyms?  
BIIK.

Also: VLS: Vertical Launch System (I think).  The ability to launch a missile (not big enough to be a strategic nuke) at someone/something straight up.  Can be done for some systems from horizontal torpedo tubes.
djf01
Thanks Comrade. Much appreciated. Several things that I have leant today. Smile
Regards.
YM
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
1) I am F****G furious we are in the current position.  It's been one F-up after another, both diplomatic, strategic and tactical.
djf01
It's not that bad. The French will get over it, much like the Japanese did. Secretly, I think in the end the French are glad to be free of a project with constraints that made it a near impossibility. Macron is a politician too - his country/government owned business just lost a big contract, as I say, I suspect they didn't want it in the end, but he has to behave at least a bit butt hurt for his voters too.

When the current gvt came to office, we had an established Sub program with domestic manufacture and support capability.  We've trashed that.
djf01
Support? Yes. Manufacture? No, we don't have the skillset since we built the Collins. We lost that well before the current government came to office.

As soon as the project was complete and moved to only maintenance, building knowledge generally moved on (some of it back to Sweden), retires, or is otherwise lost through attrition without replacement. This is one of the reasons organisations like Electric Boat keep themselves continuously in build contracts so they don't lose their build ready workforce.

We then went for new the Japanese Sub.  An unorthodox approach to procurement selection, but we'd be a reasonable position if we'd followed through it that.

We then went with the "Attack" class - which IMHO is a camel: horse designed by a committee: something trying to be all things to all people.  We got the contractor we deserved given it's specification.
djf01
I absolutely agree. We should have gone with the Japanese offer, a complete and sailing design, then half way through that program construction signed with deal with the US/UK.

We did indeed get the 'contractor we deserved'.


We're now going with AUKUS subs - still unspecified, with all sorts of associated potential problem.  Our 4th sub-program in a decade, at a time when our security situation is degrading badly - in no small part to our current gvt deciding it would be a good idea to push back against .... from a position of weakness

IMHO, it means SSNs off the peg are now necessary, in a way they probably shouldn't have been.
djf01
I disagree, it was more likely that we were never going to be in a position to push back, our current position is not entirely of weakness, and for Australia, SSNs have always been a necessary thing, the dopey Australian political situation surrounding 'anything nuclear' just made it impossible before, not unnecessary.

2) On-shore maintenance/manufacture.
We learnt the hard way with the Oberon class subs that we need domestic manufacture and maintenance capability to keep our subs in the water.  Obviously we can never be as efficient as the US/UK/Japanese or almost anyone else, but we still need that capability.  Wherever we go, we go from here, we are going to have to sacrifice that capability to get viable boats in the water.  That should *never* have been allowed to happen IMHO, and I'm really P*** about it.
djf01
The Oberon were capable boats, they just got old without planned replacement, they were well maintained in use, but when you go too far past date of manufacture there are just things that are not maintainable. The Oberon's just arrived at their use-by date, before we had a planned succession.

3) SSK vs SSN

SSKs have advantages over SSNs.

a) Quieter (when in theatre).  Nuclear rectors have to keep running, and have to stay cooled, which means continuous movement of cooling fluids, hence pumps and they make noise.  We don't know - and probably won;t know until the shooting starts - if the SSNs we get will retain their stealth.  (Same for SSKs too, but on battery and very very slow/still - SSKs are theoretically harder to detect).

b) Lack of range.  Tactically this is bad.  But strategically this is good.  An SSK *can't* easily be forward deployed, so represents less of a threat that induces less need to develop neutralizing counter measures amidst our adversaries.  IMHO we're past that being a valid reason for an SSK progam, and we're going to have to cope with the adverse security implications of having an SSN program.

c) We can be completely self sufficient with them.   Even if we started to day (and I hope we don't), we'll never have enough of a nuclear industry in OZ to properly support our SSN fleet.  Hopefully this won't be such a big deal: if the reactor is 30 year set and forget (with one fuel rod change) we might be able to get away with it.
djf01
a) I don't know for sure, but I suspect that US submarine reactors don't require primary coolant pumps to run at low power whilst loitering on station. Even if they do run the pumps, dampening and rafting I suspect make the things damn quiet. The numerous reports of 'brushings' of submarines at sea don't exactly suggest the things are noisy.

When shooting starts, I suspect the noise of a reactor coolant pump isn't a big deal. Transient noise from weapon door opening and weapon firing are a bigger concern, and then there's the 'we don't care, the sub already knows where we are' situation, meaning that active sonar is now your new best friend.

b) SSKs can't be easily forward deployed - correct, but that is only a strategic advantage if you imagine (likely falsely) that your adversary is going to bother to sail all the way to within your territory of influence to launch an attack. Even if you never plan to attack, it's always nice to be able to loiter in a potential enemy's 'backyard' and listen to what they're doing, at least you have some idea of their intentions and what to expect.

c) We likely already would have enough nuclear industry in Australia to support a fleet of SSNs. We don't need a NPP or even OPAL to service SSNs, even IF they do need refuelling. If they do need refuelling, in 30 years I would certainly hope we had a huge nuclear industry here, and if for whatever reason we don't, or we cannot carry out those refuellings in Australia, that's a task we can outsource to the US, UK, or French (we'll be friends again by then) without too much difficulty.

4) Which Sub to get?

AFAIK, we have the choice of the US Virginias or the UK Astutes.  

As I see it, this is a choice between firepower (US) and (perhaps) better stealth.  Also speed of deployment vs appropriateness for us.

The Virginias are 20+years old, potentially not as stealthy.  Who knows.  Their big advantage is we could - in theory - get them in the water ASAP.  Lease one, buy one currently under construction off the peg, order 2 more from the US as we develop our domestic maintenance and construction capacity in parallel.  

The UK don't have the ability to supply is with enough subs fast enough - but they are probably keener to sell us their product to help pay for their program.
djf01
The US wouldn't sell us their top tier equipment right off the shelf, our best bet for a US submarine purchase would be a 688 (Los Angeles Class) which the US are slowly taking out of service, deleting some of the tech from these and giving them a refurb would be a good stop gap for the Australian order. We just won't get the SSN-774 (Viriginia) the US cannot complete them fast enough for US needs, let alone build ours too. I do need to add that I don't think the Virginia are less stealthy, yes, the design is '20 years old' but it's not as though these things have not had upgrading and improvement during their service and build life. You can bet the Viriginia's being currently produced are not exactly the same at those from the early 2000s.

4) VLS tubes?  They are a provocation, but also a potential self defense capability for our (noisy American) subs once they are found.

FWIW, I think the next gvt could do worse than send the French an Olive branch and order 3 SF Barracudas off the shelf as an apology - even though they are underspece and we'd have little use for them.  IMHO we need to either keep the Collins program running with another refit (LiPo batteries and better weapons than harpoon), or get some of the Japanese SSKs to augment our SSN fleet.
djf01
VLS tubes are not really a defensive capability, nothing quite gives away a submarine's location in quite the same way a missile exiting the water does...

Ordering Barracuda now would be a mistake, you think we will have a hard time maintaining the AUKUS sub, wait until we have multiple types of nuclear vessel to maintain.

We could get the Soryu - but if you want better weapons than the Harpoon, you need to know you're not getting it in the Soryu.

5) What do we *really* need?

IMHO Australia is - for the first time since the 1940s - facing a genuine threat of invasion.  I can't see the US "recovering" a certain island like they did Kuwait.  If some nameless Asian power adopts a policy of expansion, I expect it will result in a trade blockade - that could easily precipitate the reaction it got from the Japanese in 1941 (ie, compel them to secure by force the resources they need).  This is the strategic danger of hitching our wagon to the Americans.

To defend Australia/deter our adversaries from the Japanese we need the ability (or at least the credible threat of the ability) to stop the arrival of an invasion force.  A sub capable of retaining stealth that can quickly take out a fleet of amphibious assault ships might do that.  We also need credible air defenses the location of which can remain concealed - ie (sub) surface to air missiles in VLS tubes in subs.

Beyond that, we'd need tactical nukes - and a viable delivery platform - which ain't tomahawk.

All this points to us needed to get a fleet of Virginias ASAP, while retaining/replacing the Collins program.

None of this is good news.  And I'm thoroughly P***d its' come to this.
djf01
The Japanese are not invading anyone in the near future, certainly not Australia. You might be thinking Chinese, but I doubt they're 'invading' Australia any time soon, or if even at all. China's got a big military, and a big population, but they have to get an invasion force here first. An invasion force wasn't exactly easy for the Allies to arrange in WWII, and they were 'invading' a country that was looking forward to them coming, with no resistance other than an occupying army, AND they only had to cross the channel...

Submarines don't typically (have they even ever?) launch missiles for attacking aircraft, if they did, almost certainly not from a submerged position, for starters, how would they track an airborne threat from under the water? The air defense is the domain of land and surface based vehicle launching. Submarines are for attacking surface and submerged targets and land.

Australia most certainly does not need nuclear weaponry, if we acquire that, I am moving to Europe.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

1) I am F****G furious we are in the current position.  It's been one F-up after another, both diplomatic, strategic and tactical.
It's not that bad. The French will get over it, much like the Japanese did.
Aaron

I hope you're right.  But it could have been handled better.  In fact, it's hard to see how it could have been handled worse!


When the current gvt came to office, we had an established Sub program with domestic manufacture and support capability.  We've trashed that.
Support? Yes. Manufacture? No, we don't have the skillset since we built the Collins. We lost that well before the current government came to office.
Aaron

So when would that have been?  Mid 2000s?  In any case, it was a very expensive capability to acquire, and we (whoever it was) clearly should not have dispensed with it so readily IMHO.


We did indeed get the 'contractor we deserved'.
Aaron

We agree on something at last!

... - in no small part to our current gvt deciding it would be a good idea to push back against .... from a position of weakness
I disagree, it was more likely that we were never going to be in a position to push back, our current position is not entirely of weakness, and for Australia, SSNs have always been a necessary thing,

Hmmm.  My view is: if the Americans and us are going to play good cop/bad cop with the Japanese - *we* can't be the bad cop!  


the dopey Australian political situation surrounding 'anything nuclear' just made it impossible before, not unnecessary.
Leaving aside the politics of a domestic nuclear industry issue, our lack of one means simply don't have the capability of properly supporting SSNs on our own.  That is the strategic reason to go with SSKs.


a) Quieter (when in theatre).  ...

a) I don't know for sure, but I suspect that US submarine reactors don't require primary coolant pumps to run at low power whilst loitering on station.
[/quote]
I think the point is, no-one knows for sure - not us, not the Americans, not even the Japanese.  Saw explained recently the Astute's bow shape: flat angles surfaces for reflecting/confusing sonar like a stealth fighter.  It's newer, probably better.

b) SSKs can't be easily forward deployed - correct, but that is only a strategic advantage if you imagine (likely falsely) that your adversary is going to bother to sail all the way to within your territory of influence to launch an attack.

Which is what makes an SSK a defensive rather than offensive weapon.  It's not to deter or stop an attack.  it's to deter or stop an invasion.

4) Which Sub to get?
The US wouldn't sell us their top tier equipment right off the shelf, our best bet for a US submarine purchase would be a 688 (Los Angeles Class) which the US are slowly taking out of service, deleting some of the tech from these and giving them a refurb would be a good stop gap for the Australian order. We just won't get the SSN-774 (Viriginia) the US cannot complete them fast enough for US needs, let alone build ours too. I do need to add that I don't think the Virginia are less stealthy, yes, the design is '20 years old' but it's not as though these things have not had upgrading and improvement during their service and build life. You can bet the Viriginia's being currently produced are not exactly the same at those from the early 2000s.

My thinking on this is the deal we should try to get is:
a) We lease one of the early Virginias.  A USN captain but a RAN crew & maintenance in SA (presumably).  It's a training ship, but still effectively under the American's command so that if they need it, they've got it.  We pay to operate it for them.

b) We buy one of their subs under construction now.  Similar deal.  Aussie skipper and crew, Aussie $ buy it - but it's new, we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it).  It' "our" boat, but the Americans effectively have full use of it whenever they need it.

c) We set up manufacturing in Oz - at least some/most of it - and effectively add another shipyard to the American's construction ability.

That's an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  We become a (minor) part of the Virgina program.

4) VLS tubes?
VLS tubes are not really a defensive capability, nothing quite gives away a submarine's location in quite the same way a missile exiting the water does...


In an Aussie context - where we are defending Australia from invasion: neither us nor any adversary are likely to have full escort capabilities.  Unless our subs area a one shot deal, the ability to deter/deal with ASW helicopters would improve our chances of recovering one of our subs IMHO.  I know that's not the usual use for VLS tubes, but it's what we'd have to use them for.

That, or anti-arcraft to deter/stop an airborne invasion.  Again, I agree it's not the traditional role of subs.  But it's what we'd need/use them for.

We could get the Soryu - but if you want better weapons than the Harpoon, you need to know you're not getting it in the Soryu.

I didn't know that.  I just checked the specs: both Soryu + Virginia have 533mm torpedo tubes?  I presumed we *should* be able to add American weaponry to that platform - and I presumed the Japanese designed them to allow that too.  But, would be easier if they boats didn't need modifications

The Japanese are not invading anyone in the near future, certainly not Australia.

I definitely did mean the Japanese.  Who else would want our trade embargoed Iron Ore? /s

[Japan]'s got a big military, and a big population, but they have to get an invasion force here first.

Which is why stopping the Japanese getting here should be our primary defense priority.  

Either that, or we could just "learn to live with them".  /s
  303gunner Train Controller

Nuclear power sub's are very hard to find at sea …
Diesel-electric subs are even harder to find, if they have a skilled crew who manage their battery usage well to avoid getting detected when snorkelling.

RAN Collins Class have killed US aircraft carriers and LA Class nuclear subs in exercises.

Not so good for the sort of patrols that the RAN needs to conduct to keep trade lanes open and conduct electronic surveillance.
justapassenger
I think part of the decision not to pursue Nuclear Subs in 2016 was resistance from within the RAN, who had developed superb Submarine skills in both the Oberon Class and later the Collins Class boats. The RAN was well aware that a Diesel-Electric Sub was superior in covert operations and avoiding detection compared to a Nuclear Sub.

Having worked with the USN frequently on exercises, the RAN had found that the US Nuclear boats were noisier than the Oberon and Collins boats, and also that the US Anti-Sub crews were more used to the noise of nuclear boats and were not well attuned to finding a skilfully handled diesel boat. On one memorable joint exercise, an Australian Sub tasked with "Attacking" a US carrier group (HMAS Onslow during RIMPAC98), not only successfully approached the US ships, but successfully "Sank" several including the Carrier USS Carl Vinson, and surfaced 300m away from it Completely undetected! This is the ONLY occasion in 65 years of joint naval training exercises (with multiple nations navies) that a US capital ship has been sunk by a submarine.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/cold-war-exploits-of-australias-secret-submarines/news-story/2b5a9a088125b1873777ec8cc60cd79b
  303gunner Train Controller


Which Sub to get?
The US wouldn't sell us their top tier equipment right off the shelf, our best bet for a US submarine purchase would be a 688 (Los Angeles Class) which the US are slowly taking out of service, deleting some of the tech from these and giving them a refurb would be a good stop gap for the Australian order. We just won't get the SSN-774 (Viriginia) the US cannot complete them fast enough for US needs, let alone build ours too. I do need to add that I don't think the Virginia are less stealthy, yes, the design is '20 years old' but it's not as though these things have not had upgrading and improvement during their service and build life. You can bet the Viriginia's being currently produced are not exactly the same at those from the early 2000s.
My thinking on this is the deal we should try to get is:
a) We lease one of the early Virginias.  A USN captain but a RAN crew & maintenance in SA (presumably).  It's a training ship, but still effectively under the American's command so that if they need it, they've got it.  We pay to operate it for them.

b) We buy one of their subs under construction now.  Similar deal.  Aussie skipper and crew, Aussie $ buy it - but it's new, we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it).  It' "our" boat, but the Americans effectively have full use of it whenever they need it.

c) We set up manufacturing in Oz - at least some/most of it - and effectively add another shipyard to the American's construction ability.

That's an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  We become a (minor) part of the Virgina program.
djf01
The RAN has developed World Class Submariners, with skills equal to any Navy in the world. The learning curve with these new subs will not be in how to handle or deploy these subs, it will be in the area of propulsion, and not in the way you immediately think!

Part of the Nuclear powerplant is the Nuclear Reactor itself, but this is combined with a steam turbine to actually propel the boat. While control and operation of the reactor will be relatively user-friendly and maintenance free, the steam plant would conceivably require engineering input while at sea. Remarkably, as a result of "Fleet Modernisation", the RAN has not dealt with any Steam powered vessel in over 40 years! The "corporate skills" and training has been completely lost from the RAN.

Any introduction of a Nuclear sub to the RAN WILL NOT need a major re-training of of officers or Crew in areas of Seamanship, weapons, or electronics, but WILL need a huge re-training of engineering and propulsion crews. I would suspect that crewing of the boats could be quite simply accomplished with RAN Officers and Crew, but would strongly benefit from a USN Engineering Officer AND engineering ratings (ie Engine Room Crew).

As this is Railpage, it might be of interest to note that WW1 Submarine Technology led to the development of Diesel-Electric Locomotives and also the NSWGR 46 Class Electric Locos. Could the RAN requirement to train Crews and Officers in the ins and outs of Steam lead to a positive spinoff for Heritage Steam? Both the US and UK have thriving private sector Steam workshops and engineering support, something that is quite frankly absent in Australia!
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller


Which Sub to get?
The US wouldn't sell us their top tier equipment right off the shelf, our best bet for a US submarine purchase would be a 688 (Los Angeles Class) which the US are slowly taking out of service, deleting some of the tech from these and giving them a refurb would be a good stop gap for the Australian order. We just won't get the SSN-774 (Viriginia) the US cannot complete them fast enough for US needs, let alone build ours too. I do need to add that I don't think the Virginia are less stealthy, yes, the design is '20 years old' but it's not as though these things have not had upgrading and improvement during their service and build life. You can bet the Viriginia's being currently produced are not exactly the same at those from the early 2000s.
My thinking on this is the deal we should try to get is:
a) We lease one of the early Virginias.  A USN captain but a RAN crew & maintenance in SA (presumably).  It's a training ship, but still effectively under the American's command so that if they need it, they've got it.  We pay to operate it for them.

b) We buy one of their subs under construction now.  Similar deal.  Aussie skipper and crew, Aussie $ buy it - but it's new, we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it).  It' "our" boat, but the Americans effectively have full use of it whenever they need it.

c) We set up manufacturing in Oz - at least some/most of it - and effectively add another shipyard to the American's construction ability.

That's an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  We become a (minor) part of the Virgina program.The RAN has developed World Class Submariners, with skills equal to any Navy in the world. The learning curve with these new subs will not be in how to handle or deploy these subs, it will be in the area of propulsion, and not in the way you immediately think!

Part of the Nuclear powerplant is the Nuclear Reactor itself, but this is combined with a steam turbine to actually propel the boat. While control and operation of the reactor will be relatively user-friendly and maintenance free, the steam plant would conceivably require engineering input while at sea. Remarkably, as a result of "Fleet Modernisation", the RAN has not dealt with any Steam powered vessel in over 40 years! The "corporate skills" and training has been completely lost from the RAN.

Any introduction of a Nuclear sub to the RAN WILL NOT need a major re-training of of officers or Crew in areas of Seamanship, weapons, or electronics, but WILL need a huge re-training of engineering and propulsion crews. I would suspect that crewing of the boats could be quite simply accomplished with RAN Officers and Crew, but would strongly benefit from a USN Engineering Officer AND engineering ratings (ie Engine Room Crew).

As this is Railpage, it might be of interest to note that WW1 Submarine Technology led to the development of Diesel-Electric Locomotives and also the NSWGR 46 Class Electric Locos. Could the RAN requirement to train Crews and Officers in the ins and outs of Steam lead to a positive spinoff for Heritage Steam? Both the US and UK have thriving private sector Steam workshops and engineering support, something that is quite frankly absent in Australia!
303gunner
There are a lot of people in Australia with steam experience, just not in the Navy. Reactor Engineers might be more scarce.
Well beyond time that we had a nuclear power capability.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The RAN has developed World Class Submariners, with skills equal to any Navy in the world. The learning curve with these new subs will not be in how to handle or deploy these subs, it will be in the area of propulsion, and not in the way you immediately think!

Part of the Nuclear powerplant is the Nuclear Reactor itself, but this is combined with a steam turbine to actually propel the boat. While control and operation of the reactor will be relatively user-friendly and maintenance free, the steam plant would conceivably require engineering input while at sea. Remarkably, as a result of "Fleet Modernisation", the RAN has not dealt with any Steam powered vessel in over 40 years! The "corporate skills" and training has been completely lost from the RAN.

Any introduction of a Nuclear sub to the RAN WILL NOT need a major re-training of of officers or Crew in areas of Seamanship, weapons, or electronics, but WILL need a huge re-training of engineering and propulsion crews. I would suspect that crewing of the boats could be quite simply accomplished with RAN Officers and Crew, but would strongly benefit from a USN Engineering Officer AND engineering ratings (ie Engine Room Crew).

As this is Railpage, it might be of interest to note that WW1 Submarine Technology led to the development of Diesel-Electric Locomotives and also the NSWGR 46 Class Electric Locos. Could the RAN requirement to train Crews and Officers in the ins and outs of Steam lead to a positive spinoff for Heritage Steam? Both the US and UK have thriving private sector Steam workshops and engineering support, something that is quite frankly absent in Australia!
303gunner
We have plenty of people who know steam ins and outs, expert in the field, already in this country. Many of them work in powerplants... The support for heritage steam in Australia generally isn't missing expertise, it's missing money.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

Tenders for the British Astute-class were called in 1993. The first was laid down in 2001. There are currently four operational boats in a planned fleet of seven. It has taken more than 25 years to build a decent-sized fleet and it will be 2026 before the project is completed. Their submarines are replacing existing nuclear-powered submarines. (They have 20-or-so decommissioned nuclear submarines lying about the place that they have not yet been able to dismantle.) Apart from the traditional delays and cost overruns, they had to seek the assistance of the Americans. Building the submarines in Adelaide would add years to the project, a luxury Australia can’t afford.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
1) I am F****G furious we are in the current position.  It's been one F-up after another, both diplomatic, strategic and tactical.
It's not that bad. The French will get over it, much like the Japanese did.

I hope you're right.  But it could have been handled better.  In fact, it's hard to see how it could have been handled worse!
djf01
It's easy to see how it could have been worse; we could have allowed the French to mess around for further time on a 'design' specification they didn't really have an idea of how to meet.

I think the point is, no-one knows for sure - not us, not the Americans, not even the Japanese.  Saw explained recently the Astute's bow shape: flat angles surfaces for reflecting/confusing sonar like a stealth fighter.  It's newer, probably better.
djf01
You need to understand the difference between active and passive detection.

When you talk about 'how quiet a submarine is', you're talking about it's resistance to passive detection. Passive detection being when you're just relying on basically microphones (hydrophones) in the water to detect noise - this is basically what submarines spend almost 100% of their time doing, and how SOSUS works. The shape of your submarine is entirely irrelevant because these systems are only listening for noise coming from the sub.

Active detection is when vessels output actual 'sound' into the water (you know, 'One ping only Vasili'), or if you've heard them, like bats, essentially via a giant speaker (transducer). Then you hang out and listen for the sound to come back to you, knowing things like water temp, water density/salinity, you can accurately calculate range and bearing, the downside to this is that it's a loud sound that your opponent can probably hear too, and they will likely know where you are, at least they will likely know your direction from them.

This often the means by which surface ships search for submerged targets, they're on the surface, they're noisy because of the low water pressure over the screws, and they're not usually trying to be quiet to hide. The Astute, and the new German Type 212CD is an even better example are shaped to beat this, odd angles bounce incoming sound in a direction that is not reflected back to the original active vessel. I am amazed that the US has not realised this before, but they're always building a round hulled vessel, sure it's strong under the compressive force of depth, but a circle has a point perpendicular to every incoming direction on it, there will always be a patch of hull that is going to bounce sound back exactly where it came from.

The US will never tell us, but they must be supremely confident in the ability of their external coatings to absorb sound, OR, more likely, they know, despite what you think, that they're quiet enough not to encourage opponents to 'go active' on them in the first place.

Which is what makes an SSK a defensive rather than offensive weapon.  It's not to deter or stop an attack.  it's to deter or stop an invasion.
djf01
Don't kid yourself that SSKs are regarded as defensive, you might have forgotten, but the rest of the world has not, that German U-boats in particular, but also, Japanese and US submarines were well and truly regarded as offensive weapons.

My thinking on this is the deal we should try to get is:
a) We lease one of the early Virginias.  A USN captain but a RAN crew & maintenance in SA (presumably).  It's a training ship, but still effectively under the American's command so that if they need it, they've got it.  We pay to operate it for them.

b) We buy one of their subs under construction now.  Similar deal.  Aussie skipper and crew, Aussie $ buy it - but it's new, we are dependent on the Americans for the software and their network integration (we'd only get the latest downloads if they thought *they* needed us to have it).  It' "our" boat, but the Americans effectively have full use of it whenever they need it.

c) We set up manufacturing in Oz - at least some/most of it - and effectively add another shipyard to the American's construction ability.

That's an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  We become a (minor) part of the Virgina program.
djf01
The US will not sell the Viriginia, that's the end of it. Additionally, they don't have 'spare' Viriginia class boats, not even a 'Block I', and even if they did, they wouldn't allow Aussie crew, to run them 'if they need it', because removing all the classified technology that Australia wouldn't be allowed to see would mean the boat isn't available for them 'if they need it'. The US are just not building the Virginia fast enough for themselves, Australia getting one in any capacity is all but out of the question. A refurbished Los Angeles otherwise destined for retirement is the best chance we have for US 'off the shelf' hardware.

In an Aussie context - where we are defending Australia from invasion: neither us nor any adversary are likely to have full escort capabilities.  Unless our subs area a one shot deal, the ability to deter/deal with ASW helicopters would improve our chances of recovering one of our subs IMHO.  I know that's not the usual use for VLS tubes, but it's what we'd have to use them for.

That, or anti-arcraft to deter/stop an airborne invasion.  Again, I agree it's not the traditional role of subs.  But it's what we'd need/use them for.
djf01
I wrote earlier about the 'floating Chernobyls' that 'if your nuclear submarine is floating you're doing it wrong'. This remains true, VLS are not for defense against airborne threat, I don't think any navy in the world has submarine launched anti aircraft weapons. They just do not exist.

VLS is anti surface, rocket torpedo and land attack only.

I didn't know that.  I just checked the specs: both Soryu + Virginia have 533mm torpedo tubes?  I presumed we *should* be able to add American weaponry to that platform - and I presumed the Japanese designed them to allow that too.  But, would be easier if they boats didn't need modifications
djf01
Do we have the Japanese onside or do you think they're an invasion threat? - They're on our side.

Having the tube is one thing, having the comms and firing/guidance systems are another issue. I don't think the Japanese have them, else they'd be using them.

I definitely did mean the Japanese.  Who else would want our trade embargoed Iron Ore?

Which is why stopping the Japanese getting here should be our primary defense priority.  

Either that, or we could just "learn to live with them".
djf01
The Japanese are on our side... That's why we were intending to buy their product - Japan was so on our side, that Australia was keyed up to be the first ever Japanese military hardware export contract - they basically had to change Japanese laws to allow themselves to export to us! It's the Chinese that are currently the only serious problem, not DPRK, not Russia, not Pakistan.

Japan are a massively friendly, valued ally to the US, Australia, and most countries excluding China and DPRK. I really don't see why/how you would think otherwise.

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