RAN Discussions on SSNs only

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aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Thanks for the insight with regards to the UK production. Was not aware of this.

The block iv uss Vermont the most recent sub that was built, was launched 18 months after being laid down and was commissioned after about 3 years of being laid down. Wonder if there was a refinement in the production program or possibly a reorganisation of the build process? I think the 6-7 year time frame you mentioned was possibly for the earlier blocks.
No probs at all, just a little clarification on the US way of making submarines and the misconception of how the laid down date is not all that is seems with the US compared to the UK, it does not tell the full story.

There are 2 yards in the US that are capable of building nuclear powered submarines, GD Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Each yard is responsible for building specific blocks of each boat, they also take it in turns, think it is still the case, on the reactor plant, blocks are then sent to the required yard for consolidation, they alternate as to who actually put the blocks together and final integration, fitout etc.

The US says laid down when these blocks are brought together for integration and final assembly and fitout, this is what skews the dates, as opposed to the UK only having one yard so they start their "laid down" time from a much earlier stage of block construction and consolidation,

Hope that make sense

Cheers
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
Agree, it really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question when it comes down to timeframes in submarine, or ship, construction.

Usually we only get to know about dates of laying down, launch and eventually commission, some appear to be slow, some appear to be fast.

It would be far more accurate if there was reporting of: first cutting of steel, fabrication of blocks, start/end of block fit out, lay down of first block, consolidation of blocks, launch, final fit out, trials, etc, and finally commission.

Then we would have a much clearer picture of how long production actually takes.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
To make it very simple the first Block IV boat SSN-792 had the long lead materials ordered on 17 April 2012, She was commissioned on 18 April 2020. Its not just a matter of when you first lay the boat down as I am pretty sure you are confusing that with but rather from when you first order the pieces needed to actually start building it.

They aren't a lego set, Nor can we just pop down to Bunnings and get a DIY kit, You need to cut, shape, weld, bend etc etc all the peices just to make the sections that go into producing the blocks before you can even assemble the blocks into an entire submarine.

It will be 18 months before any direction is truly known, so that puts us into early 2022, If we want US industry to help speed it up it will then depend if said industry actually has the capcity to expand or if it needs an investment to increase capacity as well as if the US will be able to spare any of that capacity to help us or if they need it for their own needs.

Under the very best circumstances if they have the capacity, willing to do so, a design is chosen and negations all done in 18 month period (I know that wont happen) would still be 2030 before first boat. Under a realistic scenario with need to identify design, make changes if needed, negotiate contracts both domestically and internationally, best case dont see long lead materials being ordered until give or take 2025 and another 10 years or so to get the boat built and a couple more to commission it.
 

Bob53

Active Member
Given the USN demand for new Virginia boats I cannot see the US just handing over production slots for Virginias without causing issues in the US politically.

However I think there is the palatable option to increase capacity by set up a line in Australia for building 1 or possibly 2 block sections here and shipping to the US for consolidation. This would increase the overall drum beat and would mean Australian could be contributing to the build line and would not have to build a nuclear industry over night.

The Nuclear capability and increase whole of boat capability could then be ramped up over time. It might mean boat 1-6 are a combined build before we get to the stage of being able to build a full boat. Or possibly never build a full boat but assist with increasing the overall build rate. This delivers several benefits.

1. We can potentially increase the overall build to 3+ boats per year between the 2 countries.
2. There is no need for the initial massive transfer of knowledge that I believe would swamp us.
3. It gives us time to build the capability without slowing the delivery time frames into the late 30s.
4. Its keeps the domestic ship building work force rolling
5. Gives ability to start with the simpler blocks (if there is a such a thing) and build to a complete boat in Australia over time.
6. Potentially keep costs under control.
 

ddxx

Well-Known Member
2. There is no need for the initial massive transfer of knowledge that I believe would swamp us.
You posed a rather interesting potential pathway, however, can you clarify what exactly you mean by this point?

We’re not constructing reactors in Australia, so the point seems to imply our science and technology sector is to some level inept? If that’s the case, I’ve got to thoroughly disagree.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
You posed a rather interesting potential pathway, however, can you clarify what exactly you mean by this point?

We’re not constructing reactors in Australia, so the point seems to imply our science and technology sector is to some level inept? If that’s the case, I’ve got to thoroughly disagree.
There is no real reason why Australia can't learn to operate and maintain SSNs, as long as the GOTD is willing to put the Money, resources and time into doing so.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
You posed a rather interesting potential pathway, however, can you clarify what exactly you mean by this point?

We’re not constructing reactors in Australia, so the point seems to imply our science and technology sector is to some level inept? If that’s the case, I’ve got to thoroughly disagree.
Either he has the wrong understanding or more likely to be fair he may have misworded his thought in this regard. Its not so much the knowledge but the scale of the project, They are a lot bigger with likely a lot more built into them then either the Collins or even the Attack class had or would have had. Trying to get Australian industry from the get go to build a large amount of it would be a nightmare under ideal conditions. Ton for ton from the Attack class to hypothetically the Virginia block IV its a 17% increase in tonnage with who knows what other little gadgets trying to be built in a time frame not far off that of the Attack class with possibly less prep time.

-----

If they are still building them similar to how they built the Block I's then initial work if such an approach was taken would be to build some of the rafts (if my understanding is correct they are sections that are pre built then slid into the appropriate spot in the block) before expanding upto entire blocks followed by entire boat (exc reactor and associated systems/gear/section).

What I am wondering is if we may do with the Virginia boats (if that becomes our choice) a system similar to F-35 and have each nation proudcing X amount of parts though rather built in one nation built in both. ie: Australia supplying X amount of content, US like wise and assemble their own boats respectively. On one hand it may (I dont know, just keeping an open mind) effect our in depth knowledge on how to work with and maintain every part however it may also lead to economies of scale keeping costs down for us (ie: build 100 parts for 8 boats or build 10 parts of 80 boats, Former has more diversified work but low numbers meaning low scale per a part thus more costly while latter small amount of parts but potentially continuous build making them cheaper). Time will tell in any case.
 

Bob53

Active Member
You posed a rather interesting potential pathway, however, can you clarify what exactly you mean by this point?

We’re not constructing reactors in Australia, so the point seems to imply our science and technology sector is to some level inept? If that’s the case, I’ve got to thoroughly disagree.
What I meant is exactly what I stated. Not really to do with ineptitude, more to do with experience. Capability and capacity to take on the volume of work without adding another 20 years to get the first boat in the water.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Either he has the wrong understanding or more likely to be fair he may have misworded his thought in this regard. Its not so much the knowledge but the scale of the project, They are a lot bigger with likely a lot more built into them then either the Collins or even the Attack class had or would have had. Trying to get Australian industry from the get go to build a large amount of it would be a nightmare under ideal conditions. Ton for ton from the Attack class to hypothetically the Virginia block IV its a 17% increase in tonnage with who knows what other little gadgets trying to be built in a time frame not far off that of the Attack class with possibly less prep time.

-----

If they are still building them similar to how they built the Block I's then initial work if such an approach was taken would be to build some of the rafts (if my understanding is correct they are sections that are pre built then slid into the appropriate spot in the block) before expanding upto entire blocks followed by entire boat (exc reactor and associated systems/gear/section).

What I am wondering is if we may do with the Virginia boats (if that becomes our choice) a system similar to F-35 and have each nation proudcing X amount of parts though rather built in one nation built in both. ie: Australia supplying X amount of content, US like wise and assemble their own boats respectively. On one hand it may (I dont know, just keeping an open mind) effect our in depth knowledge on how to work with and maintain every part however it may also lead to economies of scale keeping costs down for us (ie: build 100 parts for 8 boats or build 10 parts of 80 boats, Former has more diversified work but low numbers meaning low scale per a part thus more costly while latter small amount of parts but potentially continuous build making them cheaper). Time will tell in any case.
In theory the AUKUS agreement may provide a pathway for an eventual AUKUS class SSN or maybe SSGN that would see production sections produced by the three members with likely final assembly in the US, similar to the JSF program. However, there could well be political opposition to this in the US.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
I don't know how critical it really is that we have a domestic submarine construction capability.

We aren't just talking about the difficulties of building nuclear submarines either, it is the sheer physical size of the things. The Virginia block V will be over 11,000 tons while the SSN(X) might be even larger. I don't know how big the SSN(R) will be but I would guess it would be around the 10,000 ton mark. That is more than 3 times larger than the Collins class and twice the size of the planned Attack subs.

Could we find enough skilled welders and tradies to even take on something that size?

I think we should perhaps just leave the construction of these boats to the US or UK. It would be easier for them to increase their production tempo than it would be for us to try and build them ourselves. Instead we could negotiate some sort of workshare arrangement.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
I don't know how critical it really is that we have a domestic submarine construction capability.

We aren't just talking about the difficulties of building nuclear submarines either, it is the sheer physical size of the things. The Virginia block V will be over 11,000 tons while the SSN(X) might be even larger. I don't know how big the SSN(R) will be but I would guess it would be around the 10,000 ton mark. That is more than 3 times larger than the Collins class and twice the size of the planned Attack subs.

Could we find enough skilled welders and tradies to even take on something that size?

I think we should perhaps just leave the construction of these boats to the US or UK. It would be easier for them to increase their production tempo than it would be for us to try and build them ourselves. Instead we could negotiate some sort of workshare arrangement.
Someone posted a week or so ago on here that the new facilities being built at Osborn can cater for Subs up to 120m and the Attack class was actually the same length as the Astute, only skinnier. In dimensions the only difference between the Attack and the Suffren was length, 97m V 101m.
 

alexsa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Good day folks

This argument is getting derailed …. again. If you want to discuss how these will be built please start by looking at the announcements to date. They point toward the SSN being built in Australia but the reactor module being imported (as a unit or a hull module perhaps).

As noted … Australia is still building the Osbourne Yard for this purpose and is (re) expanding its technical skills to build in country (noting some of this will be built up by the LOTE Collins project). So the country is not without some expertise. There is also a the political imperatives.

If you want to propose a different build philosophy then you need to justify it against that back ground and the fact there have been no changes in this position from the government. The current flurry of speculation is simply causing angst.

Finally the Astute would be considered an SSGN in the Australian context given it fires guided missiles. Please note … there is no real difference in the missile and torpedo capacity of the Astute and the Virginia Block IV (in fact the Virginia nominally carries one less weapon). The Australian Oberon’s were referred to by the submarine squadron as SSG’s after the SWUP was completed in recognition of the carriage of Harpoons (in fact at that stage they were one of the few types that could launch a salvo).

Can we please keep this on track so a worthwhile discussion can be had.


alexsa
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
This is an interesting piece from the APDR.
It gives quite a bit of context and background to the project.

The decision to pursue nuclear submarines did come from Australia. Apparently our chief of navy kicked it off with a meeting with his UK counterpart back in March. This meeting was done without any advanced notice and it was test the waters to see if the UK and US would be willing to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear submarines. The whole thing was only known to a few people. The UK negotiated with Washington on Australia's behalf.

The last bit kind of surprised me because I assumed that it was instigated between Australia and the US directly.

Reading between the lines it would suggest that the UK would only go to this trouble if it saw some benefit for itself down the track.

Even many of those involved with SEA 1000 were unaware of what was going on. The whole process took place incredibly quickly with very few people in the know. Reading this I think there will be quite a few more twists and turns to come.
 
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cdxbow

Well-Known Member
Interesting article. It addresses how much of a black box the reactor really is. This has troubled me. Thought it sounded too simple from the pollies description. Significant infrastructure, both human and material is going to be needed. While the government did an admirable job of keeping it quiet, they didn't do the necessary spade work with the neighbors. Perhaps the very short time frame helps explain both. I don't agree with his assertions re AIP or downplaying the importance of range. Naval group sounds like they deserve what they got.
 
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hauritz

Well-Known Member
It is concerning that this whole thing was kicked off by a handful of politicians and their public servants 6 months before it was announced. It sounds like an episode of Yes Minister and this whole thing might be what Humphrey Appleby would call a "Brave Decision".

I am a nuclear advocate and to be honest I bought into the theory that the Attack Class was just a foot in the door to eventually acquiring a French designed SSN. As the true complexity of the program becomes more apparent it is difficult not to feel a little skeptical about its chances of success.

As for the French ... not a lot of sympathy.

Anyway it is now in the hands of industry to make it work.
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The Chief of Navy is the person you would expect to kick such a thing off, and in doing so he would need to be sure he had agreement from his political masters. Who else would be appropriate? The whole thing was, of necessity, closely held. But the background analysis which showed the desirability of SSNs as against SSs for Australia was done years ago. The geography doesn’t change, but the geostrategic position and the political appetite does. That IS the business off the Government of the day at the very highest level.
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
It is concerning that this whole thing was kicked off by a handful of politicians and their public servants 6 months before it was announced. It sounds like an episode of Yes Minister and this whole thing might be what Humphrey Appleby would call a "Brave Decision".

I am a nuclear advocate and to be honest I bought into the theory that the Attack Class was just a foot in the door to eventually acquiring a French designed SSN. As the true complexity of the program becomes more apparent it is difficult not to feel a little skeptical about its chances of success.

As for the French ... not a lot of sympathy.

Anyway it is now in the hands of industry to make it work.
Started six months ago? Rubbish, not true.

It has been well reported that this process started around 18mths ago, during the time of the previous Def Min Linda Reynolds.


On the day of the announcement, the PM at his press conference specifically thanked the previous Def Min for all of her work on this project.

As for being “kicked off by a handful of politicians and their public servants”, isn’t that how our Government/political system works?

Since 1901 we have held elections approx every three years, we the people of Australia select “politicians” to run the nation on our behalf, if we don’t like what’s happening we kick them out and put another mob in charge of the shop.

We, unlike a lot of the worlds nations, are not run by the military, we the people, via our politicians, set the course, not the Generals and Admirals.

Yes it was a huge change of direction when it comes to the nations national security, but that’s what we pay the Government/politicians to do.
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
Interesting article. It addresses how much of a black box the reactor really is. This has troubled me. Thought it sounded too simple from the pollies description. Significant infrastructure, both human and material is going to be needed. While the government did an admirable job of keeping it quiet, they didn't do the necessary spade work with the neighbors. Perhaps the very short time frame helps explain both. I don't agree with his assertions re AIP or downplaying the importance of range. Naval group sounds like they deserve what they got.
Interesting article, maybe?

What’s more often interesting is the ‘spin’ that the editor, Kym Bergmann, of APDR often puts on his articles/comments.

Often the focus, or colour, of his articles appear to ‘align’ with whoever is paying for full page advertisements in his magazine (unfortunately APDR is not the publication it once was, I used to buy hard copy magazines back in the day when it was PDR, not APDR, 45+ years ago, yes I’m showing my age).

As for the ‘balance’ between keeping this project under wraps and letting the ‘neighbours’ know what is boiling in the pot, well that answer is black and white, very black and white.

Secrets are hard to keep, very hard to keep, if during this process we had gone out of our way to tell the neighbours what was in the works, well it wouldn’t have been a secret for long.

Some will say we should have told the neighbours earlier, I would say that was impossible.

At the end of the day, our national interests come first, second and last too.

If the neighbours want to bitch about it, so be it, no apologies.

Cheers,
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Interesting article, maybe?

What’s more often interesting is the ‘spin’ that the editor, Kym Bergmann, of APDR often puts on his articles/comments.

Often the focus, or colour, of his articles appear to ‘align’ with whoever is paying for full page advertisements in his magazine (unfortunately APDR is not the publication it once was, I used to buy hard copy magazines back in the day when it was PDR, not APDR, 45+ years ago, yes I’m showing my age).

As for the ‘balance’ between keeping this project under wraps and letting the ‘neighbours’ know what is boiling in the pot, well that answer is black and white, very black and white.

Secrets are hard to keep, very hard to keep, if during this process we had gone out of our way to tell the neighbours what was in the works, well it wouldn’t have been a secret for long.

Some will say we should have told the neighbours earlier, I would say that was impossible.

At the end of the day, our national interests come first, second and last too.

If the neighbours want to bitch about it, so be it, no apologies.

Cheers,
Yes used to get the PDR Annual every year too, which had the current Military strength of every Nation.
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
Yes used to get the PDR Annual every year too, which had the current Military strength of every Nation.
You’re showing your age too, an old bastard like me!

Yes the PDR Annual yearbook, which included a reproduction of the updated IISS Military Balance, always made good reading, gave a very good, and reasonably accurate, look at the military direction of each of the worlds nations.

Believe it or not, in my garage is a large number of packing boxes full of decades worth of PDR and other military/defence related magazines.

That includes boxes full of Australian Aviation mags, including very early mags when AA was known as “Australian Aviation & Defence Review”.

Actually I’ve been thinking of doing a big clean out, but I don’t want to ‘bin’ them, maybe someone here on DT might be interested in them??
 
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