Cockburn Gazette - - OPINION -

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.

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