Thursday, January 4, 2024

Columbia Class SSBN 826

The Navy expects to award a contract for the lead Columbia-class platform (SSBN 826) by late 2020. The only problem is that our Navy is unclear on what it is buying or how much it will cost.

The Navy's goal is 83 percent design maturity by the time it awards the contract...the GAO is expressing skepticism. Our submarine builders are good but are unlikely to meet expected cost or schedule goals within existing capacity.

RAN Future Submarine

Australia's Minister of Defense, Joel Fitzgibbon MP, has announced the appointment of Rear Admiral Rowan Moffitt to head its Defense Materiel Organization (DMO), Future Submarine Program (aka SEA 1000, follow-on to the Collins-class).

Rowan will immediately assume responsibility for the submarine program and report to DMO, Capability Development Group Future Submarine Project Office headed by Dr. Stephen Gumley.
The concept design phase1 is expected to take place between 2010-11 time period—IOC and Collins-class replacement around 2025.

The new submarine will be built in Adelaide. A forthcoming government White Paper and Defence Capability Plan is expected to note the rising major powers of China2 and India are developing indigenous nuclear submarines.


UPDATED 02/25/2016 AuMoD, 2016 Defence White Paper
UPDATED 02/24/2016 CSIS, PacNet #11A - Australia’s submarine decision: a matter of grand strategy
UPDATED 02/04/2016 AuDoD, Some Aspects of Submarine Design Part 2. Shape of a
Submarine 2026 (pdf)
UPDATED 05/03/2013 Au DoD, Defense Whitepaper 2013
UPDATED 10/24/2012 CIS, Future Submarine Project Should Raise Periscope for Another Look (pdf)
UPDATED 04/21/2012 ASPI, Strategic Insights 57 - Mind the gap: getting serious about submarines

UPDATED 02/24/2012 RAND, Australia's Submarine Design Capabilities and Capacities Challenges and Options for the Future Submarine
"Australia will need roughly 1,000 skilled draftsmen and engineers in
industry and Government to create and oversee the design of a new,
conventionally powered submarine for the RAN."
UPDATED 03/01/2012 Austrialia DoD, 2011 Public Defence Capability Plan Primary discussion of the Future Submarine-Sea 1000 acquisition begins @ pg 255 and Australia DoD, Collins Class Sustainment Review Phase One Report (Coles Report).

UPDATED 11/04/2009 Australia DoD, From Collins to Force 2030: The Challenge of the Future Submarine.

The Honorable Greg Combet AM MP Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science speaking at the Sydney Institute, an open debate policy forum.

The focus appears to be on leveraging existing design experience, design freeze before production, and strictly avoid any tendency to turn a pumpkin into a crystal coach3.

UPDATED 05/05/2009 Australia DoD, Defence White Paper 2009.

9.3 For the reasons spelled out in Chapter 8, the Government has decided to acquire 12 new Future Submarines, to be assembled in South Australia. This will be a major design and construction program spanning three decades, and will be Australia''s largest ever single defence project. The Future Submarine will have greater range, longer endurance on patrol, and expanded capabilities compared to the current Collins class submarine. It will also be equipped with very secure real-time communications and be able to carry different mission payloads such as uninhabited underwater vehicles.

9.4 The Future Submarine will be capable of a range of tasks such as anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare; strategic strike; mine detection and mine-laying operations; intelligence collection; supporting special forces (including infiltration and exfiltration missions); and gathering battlespace data in support of operations.

9.5 Long transits and potentially short-notice contingencies in our primary operational environment demand high levels of mobility and endurance in the Future Submarine. The boats need to be able to undertake prolonged covert patrols over the full distance of our strategic approaches and in operational areas. They require low signatures across all spectrums, including at higher speeds. The Government has ruled out nuclear propulsion for these submarines.

9.6 The complex task of capability definition, design and construction must be undertaken without delay, given the long lead times and technical challenges involved. The Government has already directed that a dedicated project office be established for the Future Submarine within Defence, and will closely oversee this project.

9.7 The strategic importance of this capability is such that Australian industry involvement will need to be factored into the design, development and construction phases, and the sustainment and maintenance life cycle of these boats, which will extend well into the 2050s and possibly beyond.  The Government will give early consideration to the complex capability definition and acquisition issues involved in this substantial undertaking. The Government will also consider matters such as basing and crewing, and will seek early advice from Defence on those and other issues.

9.8 For this project to succeed, we need to engage with a number of overseas partners during the design and development phase. In particular, the Government intends to continue the very close level of Australia-US collaboration in undersea warfare capability. This will be crucial in the development and through life management of the Future Submarine.

9.9 The Government has also agreed to further incremental upgrades to the Collins class submarines throughout the next decade, including new sonars, to ensure they remain highly effective through to their retirement. The construction program for the Future Submarines will be designed to provide the Government with the option to continue building additional submarines in the 2030s and beyond, should strategic circumstances require it.

9.10 The Government is determined to respond decisively to deficiencies in the current availability of operationally ready submarines. The Navy will embark on a major reform program to improve the availability of the Collins class fleet, and will also ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the expanded future submarine force. These reforms will change how we attract, remunerate, train and manage the submarine workforce, and improve the deployment and maintenance of the submarines.


You do not use nuclear-powered submarines to counter China's "influence"; you use them to defeat China if (some might say when) its experiment with party-state capitalism fails and the "dragons" morph China into a malignant state like Russia under Putin's leadership.

UPDATED 08/26/2016 Reuters, France's DCNS says India submarine data leak may be 'economic warfare' and Australian, Raytheon boss Michael Ward vows no leak for our new submarine and BBC, India investigating French submarine company data leak and Cryptome, The Australian, Our French submarine [Shortfin] builder [DCNS] in massive leak scandal

UPDATED 07/22/2016 USSC, US Vice President Joe Biden's speech on the US-Australia alliance and UPI, Russia expands Pacific submarine fleet with quieter, better armed vessels

Pacific pivot attracts quieter and smarter submerged platforms, which may not necessarily mean more costly submarine platforms.

UPDATED 04/26/2016 Reuters, France beats rival bidders to $40 billion Australian submarine deal and Age, France wins $50b contract to help build Australia's new submarines and CT, Submarine deal: What's $50 billion between besties?

A DCNS conventional (Shortfin Block 1A) version of the nuclear Barracuda-class.


YouTube, DCNS Shortfin Barracuda submarine, Australia Five background video playlist on the submarine deal.

UPDATED 11/30/2015 JT, Japan submits bid for huge Australian submarine contract

UPDATED 11/14/2014 AuMOD, Minister for Defence – Opening address to the Submarine Institute of Australia Biennial conference, Fremantle WA

Defense minister welcomes submarine conference participants, who seem to be attempting the delivery of a follow-on submarine platform to the Collins-class, without first establishing a conception date.

UPDATED 10/08/2014 Nikkei, For Australia, Japanese submarine debate smooths history but riles industry
UPDATED 09/10/2014 Nikkei, Australia may buy Japanese submarines
UPDATED 05/22/2013 Diplomat, Australia Needs Strategic Rethink on Submarines by Ross Babbage (also, Diplomat, Australia's Folly Article does not contain near enough analysis to justify its hyperbolic title).
UPDATED 03/07/2013 UPI, Defense cuts threaten Australian subs and AuDoD, Search White Paper 2013
UPDATED 01/17/2013 NA, Nuclear not an option for next generation of submarines
UPDATED 12/09/2012 DefIndDaily, Australia’s Submarine Program in the DockAustralia’s Submarine Program in the Dock
UPDATED 11/16/2012 FR, Labor split on nuclear submarines and WPR, Australia Strengthens Military Ties With U.S. Amid Broader Defense Debate
UPDATED 11/09/2012 OLO, Facts favour nuclear-powered submarines
UPDATED 10/25/2012 National Affairs, We must build subs, not rent them, Cosgrove and Houston warn

It's difficult to imagine a more optimal South Pacific Hemisphere anchor nation or Pacific submarine partner than Australia.

UPDATED 09/28/2012 Australian, Japan tech deal could help power our subs and UPDATED 07/08/2012 SMH, Navy eyeing off new Japanese submarines (Soryu-class; Stirling Engine, AIP)

UPDATED 06/07/2012 UPI, Australia kicks off submarine replacement

UPDATED 05/03/2012 AdelaideNow, Submarine project on par with Olympic Dam, says Defence Industries Minister Jack Snelling

UPDATED 02/24/2012 MaratimeSecurity, The Future Submarine Project Implication for Western Australia

UPDATED 02/22/2012 Financial Review, US floats nuclear subs option and WSWS, US ambassador suggests nuclear submarine sale to Australia

It would be relatively easy and desirable for a Virginia-class submarine (VCS) producer to jointly transfer an indigenous VCS capability to the RAN as part of a lease or buy program.

Australia is currently debating its future submarine platform requirements, which may not include a nuclear platform. (paper Subaqueana australis—the future evolution of Australia's submarines)

Generally, nuclear propulsion requires a greater submarine displacement; and a greater submarine displacement requires greater propulsion and nuclear plant size; and submarine displacement is the primary driver of a submarine platform's total life-cycle costs (crew costs, training costs; maintenance costs, weapons costs, operation costs, logistic costs etc)

UPDATED 02/22/2012 Minister for Defence Stephen Smith MP Paper presented to the Australian Defence Magazine Congress
UPDATED 02/22/2012 Minister for Defence Stephen Smith MP Sea Power Conference 2012 (paper)

Defence Minister begins speaking at 40:00

UPDATED 11/07/2009 UPI, Rand Corp. wins submarine design study. Part of the "make-buy" calculus.
UPDATED 05/06/2009 AuBC, First new submarine contract awarded. Battery design.
UPDATED 05/06/2009 The Australian, China a ''peaceful force'' in Beijing''s response to defence paper.

UPDATED 02/24/2009 AuBC News, New submarine fleet a long way off.

The report contains nothing new, seems just trying to dampen speculative excitement a bit. In submarines, absent a break-through in state of the art, a few key parameters cascade to define a particular class—many trade-offs occur within that class-definition. Sea 1000 is exciting precisely because of its potential for advancing submarine state-of-art—all submarine designers enthusiasts are already watching closely.

UPDATED 02/24/2009 AuBC News, New submarines now biggest ever military project


1. SEA 1000 is expected to have a larger diameter than the Collins-class (9.6 m, 31.49 ft verses 7.8, 25.59 ft).

2. UPDATED 03/05/2009 "Huludao" is currently thought to be the only China shipyard building nuclear submarines (see Misblog, China Submarine Force Structure 2010 Projection). Aerial map of submarine base and shipyard (aka Bohai shipyard).

3. The vital conceptual and applied submarine research is done in smaller discrete projects.

When a "promising advance" is "mature" submarine policy makers and program managers begin looking at the feasibility of incorporating the advance into existing and future platforms.

Modular designs, in general, will make forward fit and retrofit "more feasible", but sometimes you're just stuck with the pumpkin you produced.

The massive cost and schedule overruns often result from misguided (a generous term) and mostly well intentioned efforts to turn the pumpkin into a coach, notwithstanding infeasibility.', '

Originally Published February 23, 2009; Last Updated September 16, 2021; Last Republished March 13, 2023:  [post may be altered by blogger software updates between latest update and last update...more than the software has changed between updates!]