Given the troubled history of the Collins class submarine and now the French Naval group, it’s surprising Australia is still trying to build submarines.

The history of the building of the Collins Class was a disaster with problems with the combat system, excessive noise, and engine breakdowns were recurring and appeared across the entire class.

It took nearly 20 years after the boats came into service, before more 2 of the fleet was operational at any one time.

A Collins Class submarine

And no one seem terribly worried about that for nearly 20 years. Now suddenly national security and submarines are on the front pages.

This is because Scott Morrison has ditched the French Naval Group which was building the replacement for the Collins class in favour of a nuclear powered option the UK and US governments will be sharing and which will also be built in Australia.

No consideration has been given to the fact that Australia doesn’t have the industrial infrastructure to build nuclear powered submarines. it’s a minor point.

But we shouldn’t delude ourselves. Here’s a list of the top ten submarines in the world

  • Nr.1 Seawolf class (USA) … 
  • Nr.2 Virginia class (USA) … 
  • Nr.3 Astute class (United Kingdom) … 
  • Nr.4 Graney class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.5 Sierra II class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.6 Improved Los Angeles class (USA) … 
  • Nr.7 Akula class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.8 Soryu class (Japan)
  • Nr.9 Ohio class (USA)
  • Nr.10 Oscar II class (Russia)

It will be interesting to see if the Americans or the British give the Australians any of their top ranked submarines.

There’s been considerable tension between Australian government and the naval group over quality issues, local content, all the normal suspects and enough for the Australian government to pull the plug.

The French government is understandably outraged. No doubt they will find some way of retaliating.

But Morrison thinks he is clearly ahead on points in terms of local politics. He has put submarines (and coincidentally himself) on the front page of newspapers

He looks as if he is making Australia a safer place by building some locally-built, nuclear-powered submarines that will be ready by 2040.

Which is absolute nonsense. The Collins class will remain in operation until well into the late 2030s.

So what’s the difference between what we’ve got and what were going to get.

The Collins class is a diesel electric submarine and the new one will be nuclear powered which means essentially it’s much more difficult to detect. Neither of these submarine classes will be carrying nuclear weapons.

The main role of the submarine is to engage the other submarines and other surface vessels. It has an important but minor role in naval warfare.

A nuclear-armed submarine can launch missiles against land-based targets. They are the ones that we should be worried about.

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