Australia facing submarine capability gap, report suggests

The complicated process of designing and building new submarines from scratch could leave Australia with no submarines in its fleet over a period of several years, an independent report has warned.

The Insight Economics report, commissioned by Gary Johnston from Submarines for Australia, suggests that there is a possibility for the new submarines to be delivered too late, which would be after 2036, when the current Collins-class submarines are scheduled to be decommissioned.

“So in a time of a heightened strategic threat, we may lack any credible submarine capability for a decade or more. And it takes a long time to restore that capability, not just by building platforms but in retaining personnel and being able to train new people,”  Johnston says.

Another issue highlighted in the report is the cost which is, according to Australian National University professor Hugh White – who contributed to the report, too high for what the submarines will be offering in capabilities.

The report suggests that an estimated price of $40 billion in 2016 prices, or over $3 billion per submarine, is too expensive for a conventionally-powered submarine with no air-independent propulsion system. Purchasing off-the-shelf submarines was a more sound option, the report argues, giving comparative prices for both conventionally and nuclear-powered submarines.

You can read the full report here