30 April 2012
HMAS Stirling (photo : Naval Technology)
Defence Minister Stephen Smith says key decisions will soon be made on
next generation submarine to replace the ageing Collins class boats. Australia
With the backdrop of the USS Michigan, a visiting nuclear-powered guided missile submarine moored at HMAS Stirling navy base in Western Australia, Mr Smith told reporters all options remained on the table, except that of nuclear propulsion.
The minister said if
was to acquire
nuclear-powered submarines all maintenance and sustainment would have to be
outsourced to another country because of the lack of a local nuclear industry. Australia
Mr Smith said defence was working on the array of options for the boats which will replace the navy's six Collins class vessels, provisionally set to retire around 2025.
"We are not too far away from making an announcement about the first stage of what will be the single largest capital works program the Commonwealth of Australia has ever engaged in," Mr Smith told reporters.
"That is why we have been proceeding very sensibly, very methodically and very diligently before we start the design and construction stage of the program."
The 2009 Defence White Paper calls for 12 new advanced submarines to provide
with a formidable defensive and offensive capability. These vessels would be
built in Australia . South Australia
Defence has moved to test the current submarine market, inviting three European builders to submit details of their latest designs.
There are four options - buying an existing design, an existing design with some Australia-specific systems, an existing design with modifications to meet Australian requirements and an all-new design.
Mr Smith said interoperability with the
important factor for the new submarines. US
"It doesn't make sense for us to have a submarine fleet that is not interoperable with the
fleet so far as communications
and weapons systems are concerned," he said. US
But that doesn't mean
would aim to buy US
only has nuclear submarines so that option is not open to us," he said. US
Mr Smith said he'd had talks at the highest level about the need for
Australia and the US to cooperate on 's new submarine fleet. Australia
"And that's occurring. There is support at the highest level and support at officer level and the
has indicated any assistance
they can give so far as design is concerned, they will do that readily,"
he said. US