IN the Defence White Paper, Australia is to build or buy a new fleet of 12 submarines to replace the six Collins class now in service.
The estimated cost is $50 billion to build them and a further $100 billion to service them during their lifetime.
The six Collins class subs have never been reliable and they spend more time under repair than underwater. Between 2009 and 2012, the Royal Australian Navy has never had the crews to have more than two boats at sea at one time.
Another submarine solution came from the Australian National University in 2009 for Australia to buy or lease 12 US Virginia Class nuclear-powered subs at a cost of $1.8 billion each to build, less than half the amount earmarked for replacement of the Collins class subs.
These will be larger, faster and more lethal than any conventional submarine we could build here.
Another plus is their operational time at sea would be limited only by the amount of food they had.
Conventional submarines need to breathe where they are then extremely vulnerable to attack. These nuclear-powered boats can remain on station underwater for long periods.
Australian submariners could be trained on an operational Virginia Class sub and be ready to crew them when or if Australia takes its first delivery
Coupled with American warheads, as the Royal Navy nuclear submarine fleet is, this would go a long way to protecting the Australian coast and projecting its influence in our region.