First Australian Collins-class submarine completes revised maintenance regime

HMAS Farncomb, Royal Australian Navy’s second Collins-class submarine, returned to the fleet after completing a two-year full cycle docking.

Farncomb is the first in its class to undergo the new and revised maintenance regime since the Coles Review into submarine sustainment.

Previously, a full cycle docking of a Collins submarine could take in excess of three years. The new operational cycle allows 10 years of operation before a two-year docking period.

The return of Farncomb as the fifth submarine in fleet service also marked a key milestone in the increased availability and lethality of the Australian submarine force as the nations principle strategic deterrent.

According to the Royal Australian Navy, Farncomb will soon be put to sea for the first time with her new crew and working towards an exciting program later in the year.

Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, announced Training Authority – Submarines had trained a record number of new submariners during the last year.

Able seaman acoustic warfare analyst submariner Mitchell Cowling said that the crew were excited to put the boat through her paces prior to full operational status in early 2017.

“We as a crew have made some very positive steps forward and well on our way to achieving Mariners Skills Evaluation in late July. It’s encouraging seeing the progress we’ve made since January, and we look forward to sailing from Adelaide as a worked up crew,” Cowling said.

Australian Submarine Corporation, the company in charge of carrying out the maintenance, invested AU$12.3 million to build a maintenance support tower alongside the submarine to bring the people and materials closer to the boat in order to improve efficiency.

“We’ve cut the hull of the submarine completely in half, removed the main motor and diesels, tested and refurbished them off the boat before reinstalling them and rewelding the hull.”

“We’ve built a state of the art diesel generator test facility at Osborne, which has been used to test and validate the diesels off the boat, simulating real world service conditions. This has reduced the risk to schedule later in the maintenance activity and improves the reliability of the submarine delivered to the Navy,” ASC Interim Chief Executive Officer Stuart Whiley said in October 2015.