Nuclear Submarine deal

 
Topic moved from The Lounge by bevans on 17 Sep 2021 08:03
  303gunner Train Controller

This is getting discussed across a couple of threads, so let's bring all talk about it here.

News: Australia has entered into an agreement with the US and UK to form a new defence co-operation group, the first part of which will be the agreement to initially secure 8 Nuclear Powered Submarines. This will result in the cancelling of a contract with France signed in 2016 to supply Diesel-Electric Submarines, which were to have been built in Australia, but have not yet begun construction.

While the Nuclear propulsion system is the standout novelty for any vessel in the RAN, these submarines will be radically different for the RAN in the fact that both the Royal Navy's Astute Class and the US Navy's Virginia class (it is not yet announced on which class of Sub Australia will proceed with) are not only armed with conventional anti-ship torpedoes, but they are also equipped with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles (both Anti-Ship and Anti-Land) which have a range of up to 1600km. No vessel in the RAN currently has this capability.

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  303gunner Train Controller

One of the drivers to get out of the French deal has been the cost blowouts and the delays in getting production started in Australia.

The Deal with the French was for 12 conventional diesel-electric subs, initially for $40 Billion, but that has reputedly blown out to $80 Billion. Blowouts and delays have arisen from the redesign required to increase the fuel range required to operate in Australian waters, and the political requirement to have the capacity and technology to build the boats in Australia.

Fuel range has been a major stipulation for Australian use, and at the time, Nuclear was not an available technology. A Nuclear Sub has unlimited endurance, with mission range limited only by crew food supplies. In US service, Nuclear Subs typically operate for months at a time. Diesel-Electric boats are typically at sea only for weeks, and must surface every day or two.

This compares with the individual cost for a US Virginia Class sub at US$1.8 Billion off-the-shelf built in America, so a deal for 8 of these would have cost us US$15 billion or around AU$21 Billion. While this seems quite attractive compared to the initial French contract, the option of US Nuclear Subs wasn't available to us in 2016. Also, a proportion of the French Contract price was to build the facility to manufacture here and increase Australian technologies and jobs.

UK Astute Class subs are built for around 2.3 Billion Pounds, or a total for 8 would be around AU$30 Billion. Either seems favourable (cost-wise) to the cost of the French subs.
  303gunner Train Controller

While the loss of the ability to construct the French Submarines in Australia would be an inhibiting factor, no doubt the "Co-operation" part of the deal with the UK and US would see their boats visiting Australia to utilise RAN servicing and repair facilities, so we will need to develop some capacity for hosting more than just our 8 Subs, therefore spreading the cost.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thank you for starting what will be an interesting thread.

From your post am I right in assuming your point was the nuclear option was not available to Australia at the time we placed another dud deal with the french?  If any country needed an alternative power source for submarine operation and given the distances then surely it was Australia.

I am glad the decision has finally been made and this could open up discussion about energy (power) generation using nuclear in the future.
  8502 Chief Train Controller
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Should have gone nuclear from the outset.
What level of decision making was governed by the 'political requirement' to build 'the Pyne class' in Adelaide. Will this remain a destroying factor so far as cost and time are concerned with the new subs?
There are simply some things that should be imported from countries that have the technology, experience and facilities to build them as a matter of course but probably won't happen as we will have to spend a $ squillion to confirm for ourselves that nuclear subs do not have portholes.
We did not build 747s and A380s (even in Adelaide).
  8502 Chief Train Controller

Nuclear should be the way forward for Australia with all the damn uranium we have.
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

Would someone be kind enough to answer this?
Was the French designed and built, nuclear powered boat available  to us as an off the shelf product back when the contract was signed? 2016?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I would also think twice about the Pom's contribution to this exercise:

  1. Remember Singapore
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-58571232
  8502 Chief Train Controller

Would someone be kind enough to answer this?
Was the French designed and built, nuclear powered boat available  to us as an off the shelf product back when the contract was signed? 2016?
michaelgm

Yes it was and the design had to be changed for the diesel electric with added fuel and range.  I think they purchased a type of Agosta Class
  1771D Train Controller

The Greens are already calling them “floating Chernobyls” Laughing
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

Surely not just another announcement?
Not from the socialist guide for dummies daily.

  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Scottie from Marketing strikes again.  Prime Marketeering at its best.  What a crock.

  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Scottie from Marketing strikes again.  Prime Marketeering at its best.  What a crock.

james.au

Keane knows his stuff and the summary is very very interesting.  France off side is not a good idea.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Thank you for starting what will be an interesting thread.

From your post am I right in assuming your point was the nuclear option was not available to Australia at the time we placed another dud deal with the french?  If any country needed an alternative power source for submarine operation and given the distances then surely it was Australia.

I am glad the decision has finally been made and this could open up discussion about energy (power) generation using nuclear in the future.
bevans
The beauty of the French design was the boat was designed for either diesel or nuclear, but must be buitl that way froms scratch and the Navy/govt document expressed an option of converting last 6 boats to nuclear if required.

US has not made available nuclear technology and in general military sub technology for export for 70 years, they have now made an exception, so UK boat, USA propulsion, joint Tomahawk missles.  

It also appears Albo was brought into the discussion and signed it off so should there be a change of govt the project will continue.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Should have gone nuclear from the outset.
What level of decision making was governed by the 'political requirement' to build 'the Pyne class' in Adelaide. Will this remain a destroying factor so far as cost and time are concerned with the new subs?
There are simply some things that should be imported from countries that have the technology, experience and facilities to build them as a matter of course but probably won't happen as we will have to spend a $ squillion to confirm for ourselves that nuclear subs do not have portholes.
We did not build 747s and A380s (even in Adelaide).
YM-Mundrabilla
Going nuclear propulsion in 2016 was politically more challenging that today and as it was we hedged a bet with the option to convert the final 6 in the order to nuclear should this be required.

Considering the money and time frame of construction involved, being built in Australia was and should have always been an absolute must. Other nations such as India don't just import military hardward willy nilly and require X amount fo local content as well as technology transfer for purposes of self reliance should there be a conflict. As France is half a world away we needed the skills to maintain and upgrade outselves. You get that from construction.

From local jobs perspective, this is what a $30B or what ever project. If 1/3 of that can remain in country from trades and other jobs in construction who and then trained for ongoing maintaience and upgrades, a win for the economoy, especially SA.

B747's and A380's are commerical, not defense and from a project point of view very different to subs as not military and look at the $hit fight mud throwing at Qantas in this group when Qantas annouced off-shoring of maintainence for these fleets due to their reducing fleet size and near future retiring.

It appears the new subs will still be built in Australia, so common sense remains.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Would someone be kind enough to answer this?
Was the French designed and built, nuclear powered boat available  to us as an off the shelf product back when the contract was signed? 2016?
michaelgm
Yes, diesel option choosen for first 6, final 6 was option to convert to nuclear which as it stated in the white paper, "should the situation require it"

The boat is capable of both propulsion options.


The Barracuda class (or Suffren class) is a nuclear attack submarine, designed by the French shipbuilder Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS and DCN) for the French Navy.
DCNS/Naval Group has also put forward diesel-electric variants of the Barracuda, for several other navies.

One conventionally-powered concept, dubbed the SMX-Ocean, features fuel cells and vertical launchers.[12] This variant has been offered to the Indian Navy.

In 2016, another variant, known within Naval Group as the Shortfin Barracuda – with a diesel-electric powerplant and scaled-down missile capabilities – was offered to both the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). That same year, the Shortfin Barracuda was selected by the Australian government, for a major expansion of the RAN submarine fleet during the 2030s.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Scottie from Marketing strikes again.  Prime Marketeering at its best.  What a crock.


Keane knows his stuff and the summary is very very interesting.  France off side is not a good idea.
bevans
Keane doesn't appear to much about why this has happened.

France had lead the way by changing conditions of the contract to reduce local content and pushing the price up, the French thought they were in the box seat, but the deal lets them know otherwise. Also puts them on notice for their other potential customers such as Canada for the same class of sub.

It would also appear to have bi-patisan support.

"Mr Albanese has endorsed the new submarines but has also asked to be involved in future government decisions made in the area."
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Thank you for starting what will be an interesting thread.

From your post am I right in assuming your point was the nuclear option was not available to Australia at the time we placed another dud deal with the french?  If any country needed an alternative power source for submarine operation and given the distances then surely it was Australia.

I am glad the decision has finally been made and this could open up discussion about energy (power) generation using nuclear in the future.
The beauty of the French design was the boat was designed for either diesel or nuclear, but must be buitl that way froms scratch and the Navy/govt document expressed an option of converting last 6 boats to nuclear if required.

US has not made available nuclear technology and in general military sub technology for export for 70 years, they have now made an exception, so UK boat, USA propulsion, joint Tomahawk missles.  

It also appears Albo was brought into the discussion and signed it off so should there be a change of govt the project will continue.
RTT_Rules
I think there are some pretty serious questions around the 'designed for diesel' bit...
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Scottie from Marketing strikes again.  Prime Marketeering at its best.  What a crock.

james.au
If it costs us $2B pre spent and $500M to escape the Naval deal, then at this point that is money exceptionally well spent.

$90B for 12 Naval units? The by ANY measure superior USN 688 class come in likely under $2B/boat, or we could buy Virginia's for around $3B/boat, so 12 of either of those would be about 1/3 of the Attack cost, hell, we could buy 12 of each of those for only 2/3 the money.

$2.5B to get out of the Attack class contact is literal chump change.

EDIT: I should mention that $90B is the projected cost, we have not even built one, and costs being costs, that suggests that this would be the absolute minimum expected cost, the figures quoted for the US product is current, built, in service cost.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The Greens are already calling them “floating Chernobyls” Laughing
1771D
Yeah, no RBMK reactor ever went to sea, and if your nuclear submarine is 'floating' you're doing it wrong.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Would someone be kind enough to answer this?
Was the French designed and built, nuclear powered boat available  to us as an off the shelf product back when the contract was signed? 2016?
michaelgm
Yes, it would have been available from the French end, but our government didn't have the cojones to introduce the paranoid public (I am looking at you Jim Green) to nuclear anything. So instead the AU Government and RAN produced an absurd design specification basically wanting a boat with the capabilities of a nuclear boat, but with a diesel power plant instead. The French DCNS/Naval engineers have been sitting around scratching their heads, and just being exceptionally confused ever since.

Once nuclear was off the table, what we should have done was buy Soryu, off the shelf, none of the dicking around with the 'build it here' stuff.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Scottie from Marketing strikes again.  Prime Marketeering at its best.  What a crock.


Keane knows his stuff and the summary is very very interesting.  France off side is not a good idea.
bevans
I don't know who Keane is, but he doesn't appear to know much at all.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Would someone be kind enough to answer this?
Was the French designed and built, nuclear powered boat available  to us as an off the shelf product back when the contract was signed? 2016?
michaelgm
I didn't see any documentation on the most recent submarine tenders.

I can confirm that the French offered a nuclear submarine for the tenders that resulted in the Collins Class.(in 1982-83)

I would be very surprised if they didn't offer a nuclear boat in the recent tenders.

I think the change in attitude has all been at the Australian end.

The RAN Chief of Navy suggested that nuclear submarines were an option at a conference in late 2019.
I don't think anyone expected a change in policy so quickly.

The Royal Navy never transferred to the RAN any ship they wanted to keep.
We could consider keeping the French on side by scrapping the British Type 26/Global Combat Ship and buying the French/Italian FREMM which has the advantage of actually having versions at sea rather than being on the drawing board.

Of course, that would involve further changing of horses in midstream.

Assuming that we are to buy the USN submarine, we could lease one to help cover the many years before we could build one.
That would give us trained crew ready for the new boats.

I would expect that Australians would be trained by both the RN and USN regardless of which boat we buy.

Peter
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Thank you for starting what will be an interesting thread.

From your post am I right in assuming your point was the nuclear option was not available to Australia at the time we placed another dud deal with the french?  If any country needed an alternative power source for submarine operation and given the distances then surely it was Australia.

I am glad the decision has finally been made and this could open up discussion about energy (power) generation using nuclear in the future.
The beauty of the French design was the boat was designed for either diesel or nuclear, but must be buitl that way froms scratch and the Navy/govt document expressed an option of converting last 6 boats to nuclear if required.

US has not made available nuclear technology and in general military sub technology for export for 70 years, they have now made an exception, so UK boat, USA propulsion, joint Tomahawk missles.  

It also appears Albo was brought into the discussion and signed it off so should there be a change of govt the project will continue.
I think there are some pretty serious questions around the 'designed for diesel' bit...
Aaron
Yes, it would appear the French oversold their product and Australia shouldn't be picking up the tab for their mistakes.

One of the key points of buying the French sub's were unlike some of the other proposals there was actually one of the nuclear ones in built and others underway. Susposed to be less risk.

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