RAN Discussions on SSNs only

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OK I get all that, the information on the Magnox reactor was useful, I was not aware of that. As to using a nuclear submarine to make a bomb,, obviously that is a round about way of doing things, however it is 'A' way. Imagine a scenario in 60 years with fifty countries all going about with nuclear submarines, most of them using bomb grade uranium for energy. Then one country gets into a spat with another country.. the leader says,,, I want an a-bomb.

The military says we dont think that is a very good idea. However the boss is the boss, and orders are orders.. They take one submarine out of service,,, remove the uranium,, melt it down into blocks,,, say 25 blocks of 1 kg each...How much U 235 in a reactor ,,, I dont know,, lets guess 250kg... Now I have ten a-bombs.. How long will the above take,,, remove the uranium, make an a-bomb, assuming you have the design worked out in advance... say you are in a massive rush...... could you make some a bombs in 4 weeks? I am not talking about the best of the best,,, just get me a weapon that will go bang in a big way....(the leader says get on with it or get shot,,, you choose) , by 2060s you are looking at 120 year old technology..

For my delivery system I will use a stealth drone, along side of that stealth drone I will fly ten sacrificial drones with the sole purpose of getting shot down and letting the nuclear one go through. Dont like those odds, OK I use 32 drones, 2 with nukes, the other 30 as sacrificial, flying low level,, using ECM jamming,, and some of my drones have air to air missiles and chaff launches,,, are feel confident in getting all 32?

So country A, lead by a Mr presidentee, his greatness, the most holiness, Dr A Z Gaddafi the third; has now lost one submarine but gained ten atomic bombs... what does country B do,, then country C,,, then.. everyone sleeping well tonight?

I read this thread over and over,, am yet to find anyone state the darn obvious, at least as it seems to me, that the replacement for the Collins class has been a complete stuff up... Am I delusional.... Has the process been truly awful,, so-so , or good,, am in missing something

If I am ranting on,,,, it may be because I am in isolation despite being double vaccinated and having had two negative covid tests and zero symptoms.,, just another 7 days to go.... work in construction,,, 8 of my coworkers have Covid,,, and yes if your read the Canberra Times you would know EXACTLY where I was working last week..... I really hate isolation.......... I will need to go into the looney bin in solitary confinement,, to deal with the effect of me being in Covid isolation for 14 days... rant over,,,,,,,,,you can PM me if u want, to ask about the Canberra covid cluster

@peterAustralia

This is off topic as it is not something Australia would contemplate and is not relevant to the RAN. This thread is getting derailed pretty regularly so can we please stick to the topic.

I know the SSN announcement has opened a large can of unknowns but we need to stay on topic. If it is desired to discussion this issue please start a thread on it.

alexsa
 
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StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
Australia isn't going to sacrifice a SSN to make a nuclear weapon. SSN is the more valuable equipment. However, in theory as it involved the transfer of HEU, if the US or the UK ever wanted to, they could transfer Australia perhaps a few tons of HEU, to "help us in the manufacture of our own reactor". As long as the transfer is for "SSN" use and not weapons there is a frame work it could happen. Highly unlikely. More likely is the US enters a nuclear sharing arrangement with Australia under a dual key system. Australia isn't really that interested in having its own separate sovereign nuclear capability, we just want to make sure if we are exposed, we rate as a priority as part of the solution, and not "forgotten" or left as a 2nd or 3rd rate ally. A dual key would make all the neighbors much happier too, because Australia couldn't unilaterally threaten them with "the nukes" every time we were unhappy. I think dual key is unlikely, Australia isn't under that much of a direct threat. US can strike out from its continent, Hawaii, Guam, or rain them out from subs. It doesn't need to have them here in Australia unless its due to pressure from within Australia. That isn't happening, right now. If China brandishes nuclear threats to Australia that option will develop very quickly.

Australia, like any high tech, advanced wealthy country has plenty of dual use and scientific expertise when it comes to nuclear weapons. Australia already has a supply of LEU that we use for opal. We even helped the Argentinians fix their fuel rod issues. ANSTO has pilot refining capability. Australia has tremendous uranium reserves. The Argentinians already refine our LEU. Plenty of options if we wanted to go down that road, but it would be a waste of time and money. Australia isn't interested in that. The US has more than enough nuclear weapons, of all the worries, we don't have to worry about the US having a nuclear shortage... The Question has always been leadership and commitment.

If you don't like the idea of Iran buying a nuclear submarine, just apply the same sort of pressure nations apply whenever some foreign country do something you don't like. Turnbull is not some paragon of character who is squeaky clean, nor is Australia, nor is any country ever. Is Australia clean of human rights violations when they pressure China about their human rights violations?
Iran isn't exactly a completely stable, transparent and peaceful nation, in a region heavy on conflict. However, honestly Iran rates quite low for Australia. Australia's concerns with Iran are basically around the US/UAE etc concerns, as the US is, and the UAE is effectively an ally to Australia. Australia also has ties with Israel, and so their concerns would be with our concerns as well. I could certainly see a situation in the future where fairly normal relations are established between Iran and Australia. Australia would like to ship them a lot of grain, and Iran would like to ship us a lot of oil.

Anyway, as an Indonesian, I do have concerns about Australia getting nuclear submarines. I can understand the reasoning, but I'll be lying if I say I'm not concerned. But my concern is not about Australia cutting the sub open to get at the HEU so they can make nuclear weapons. My concern is because Australia will have advanced submarines with indefinite endurance.
Unfortunately this seems to be the path Australia is heading down. A much more capable, more nationalistic and much better armed nation. However, Australia has no territorial issues with Indonesia at all. Even in trade, we are less and less competitors, as we seem to have different strengths and are more complimentary. Indonesian leadership currently is very well liked in Australia. I would go as far to say Joko Widodo would probably rate higher in popularity in Australia, than either the Australian prime minister or the opposition leader, by Australians.

Hopefully Australia and Indonesia will continue to improve their relationship, long before any Australian SSN becomes operational. Hopefully by the time they arrive, they are seen as positives for the region as a whole. At the end of the day they should be seen in the context that they are supported by the US. They will be used in strategy set by the US.
Kym Bergman wrote an article in APDR a while back. He is generally OK, may not have the best sources but attempts to make the best arguments he can with the information he has at hand. His main point was that Australia has spent a good decade or more stuffing around with a replacement for the Collins and we are still at step 1. He wrote, and I dont know it is true or not true. that the reason why Oz did not get a Collins II, was that a small handful or defence bureaucrats had a dislike of the swedes. If this is true I find it deeply troubling. Looking back a Collins II would have been a pretty good fit, something more modern, a bit larger, a bit quieter, bit faster, longer range, and also available. We could have started building 7 or 8 years ago
IMO an evolved Collins II was probably the way to go. We would have gotten further by ourselves IMO, basing it off our existing design and with US/UK help as required.

Turnbull's criticisms, are valid. We aren't really any closer to a submarine. Its going to be ~2023 before we know what is happening. Collins will be older than the sailors grandfathers before she retires. While the SSN is dandy thing to dangle, with no how and when, its far off. We don't even have a plan to crew em.

I guess we will be rolling the old chariot along for a while yet.

We had issues with the Swedes but by the end of Collins we probably knew more about submarine design and construction than they did. It was such a lost opportunity to stop at six. It would have been such a cheap investment in Australia's defence future.
 

Reptilia

Member
5 warning points awarded for ignoring prior guidance
Do we still need a conventional sub for sovereignty after the collins?. A bunch of type 214s or a26s along with 6-8 nuke subs.
 

SteveR

Active Member
We had issues with the Swedes but by the end of Collins we probably knew more about submarine design and construction than they did. It was such a lost opportunity to stop at six. It would have been such a cheap investment in Australia's defence future.
Yes - but the Spaniards thought they knew about designing subs with current experience co-producing Scorpions and then had the S80 fiasco, and the UK also thought they knew how to design an SSN after maintaining their own Trafalgar class and designing the Valiant SSBN's about a decades earlier. but again a major cost and schedule blowout on Astute. There was an article about 20 years ago by HDW explaining that unless you have a current team of designers who know all the system engineering trade-offs you will make many mistakes, as both the Spanish and UK had to make before being rescued by the experienced team at GD, even as we did on the Collins,
 

SteveR

Active Member
Anyway, as an Indonesian, I do have concerns about Australia getting nuclear submarines. I can understand the reasoning, but I'll be lying if I say I'm not concerned. But my concern is not about Australia cutting the sub open to get at the HEU so they can make nuclear weapons. My concern is because Australia will have advanced submarines with indefinite endurance.
Thanks for your perspective @tonnyc - I have a high regard for Indonesia and trust that together we can keep our region safe.

Do you not have the same concern about Peoples Republic of China having SSNs and SSBNs as well as their fields of nuclear missile silos being built in North China? They are even closer neighbours to Indonesia, now that China has claimed it nine-dash line against international ruling and have armed many of the atolls? I look with alarm how they broke the agreement on allowing Hong Kong to have its own elected representatives - this reminds me very much of Nazi Germany's expansion through Europe from 1935.
From a historical respect Australia remembers the time about 85 years ago when we thought that South East Asia was a safe barrier against any threat from our north - though SE Asia was then colonised and I am glad countries there are now independent.
However in 1933 militarised Japan invaded China as you know, but we still thought we would be safe. On 7th December 1941 things changed and in just over 2 months Singapore fell and Japanese bombers were attacking Darwin, dropping more bombs than they did at Pearl Harbour. The Japanese were able to take the back door route because Thailand allowed them to land on its shores and proceed across to the west of what is now Malaysia.

We should always take note of history and be prepared when we see a country demanding its right to expand anywhere it wants.
 

tonnyc

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your perspective @tonnyc - I have a high regard for Indonesia and trust that together we can keep our region safe.

Do you not have the same concern about Peoples Republic of China having SSNs and SSBNs as well as their fields of nuclear missile silos being built in North China? They are even closer neighbours to Indonesia, now that China has claimed it nine-dash line against international ruling and have armed many of the atolls?

(Snip)
Of course we are concerned about China. Which is why I said I understand Australia's reason.

But that doesn't mean I'm not concerned. Because "oh shit if there's a shootout we are going to be in the middle". :)

Now, in real life I'd dive out of the way, but a country's geographical position is fixed. We can't lift ourselves with helicopters to join the Eurovision.

Joking aside, I am hoping that my country will step up the modernization of equipment and training of our defense personnel. Now, I think our current defense minister is mediocre at best, but if his political influence can get our congress to cough up more funding for modern equipment, then maybe he can do some good.

Best of luck to Australia in that regard too. Ensuring long term funding commitment from politicians is hard.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
This article from Naval News summarizes Australia’s options for their future SSN fleet. Taking a year or so to determine which of the these options fits best is not unreasonable. My non-expert view is Astute with a US reactor which seems reasonable as this provides for UK and Australian input with construction mostly in Australia along with US input, the reactor hull plug. Probably about as accurate as the no SSN option for RAN prior to September 15/2021.;)

 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
This article from Naval News summarizes Australia’s options for their future SSN fleet. Taking a year or so to determine which of the these options fits best is not unreasonable. My non-expert view is Astute with a US reactor which seems reasonable as this provides for UK and Australian input with construction mostly in Australia along with US input, the reactor hull plug. Probably about as accurate as the no SSN option for RAN prior to September 15/2021.;)

One interesting point he makes is, with the wind down of Astute production in the UK, a lot of the Tooling used will become available.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
One interesting point he makes is, with the wind down of Astute production in the UK, a lot of the Tooling used will become available.

Timing would be about right to bring in Australian people on the final astute and then maybe one hull built in the UK with Australian people. Having done that, the tooling and people can be moved in tandem resulting in the second hull being stood up in Australia as the first hull is floated out in the UK?
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Defense spending bill promises historic support for submarine production, Courtney says


Defence spending bill passed voting that approves facility upgrades to support 3 Virginia's a year from 2025. The article goes on to talk about this also having implications for aukus.

Hard to tell if this ties into having our boats being built in the US initially. Guess we will find out soon enough.

Scomo has also hired a former us navy secretary as a liason between us and the US who advised the scrapping of the french deal. Wonder also if he will also push for the Virginia's and lobby his friends abroad to make that happen. Pure speculation or course.


Don Winter has been involved in RAN submarines and general RAN shipbuilding issues for a number of years now; knows his way around Canberra and is respected by all (well, I suppose nearly all) for the independent view of issues that he takes.
 

Mark_Evans

Member
One interesting point he makes is, with the wind down of Astute production in the UK, a lot of the Tooling used will become available.
Agreed. Go for that Astute tooling to build the first 3 to 4 while we work with UK on the SSN(R) to slip into that build cycle.
 

Reptilia

Member
Agreed. Go for that Astute tooling to build the first 3 to 4 while we work with UK on the SSN(R) to slip into that build cycle.
build 3-4 astutes and follow with 4-5 ssnr?
the ssnr is supposed to be 20%+ larger With a new reactor.

safer to just begin ssnr program later and focus on hosting aukus subs and getting crewing, training, facilities and everything else sorted.
Collins life upgrade + hosting fills the gap till late 2040s. The first ssnr coule be in the water as early as 2038 in the uk.
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
This article from Naval News summarizes Australia’s options for their future SSN fleet. Taking a year or so to determine which of the these options fits best is not unreasonable. My non-expert view is Astute with a US reactor which seems reasonable as this provides for UK and Australian input with construction mostly in Australia along with US input, the reactor hull plug. Probably about as accurate as the no SSN option for RAN prior to September 15/2021.;)
An off the shelf Virginia bk IV class would be awfully tempting. Australia is going to have its hands full with the Collins LOTE. The Americans have hot production lines. You want a few hatches to accelerate your build? just tack it onto the next order. Whole Propulsion unit, not a problem. The design has also been optimized for production. The Americans have a lot of expertise and capabilities. Americans tend to think, American. If we wanted the subs the fastest this would be the way we would go.

But the crewing(!).. If we got them we would have to totally rethink how the RAN training and crewing happens. But that may just be a solvable problem.

That said I could see the UK and AU having a better long term relationship. Say both countries end up producing 7+8 Astutes, there would be equal partnership, a lot of listening and respecting each other, I could see a very much joint arrangement. AU/RAN trying to get the USN to change a part or a design on the Virginia's would be a tough argument to have, as we would be the very junior partner in that relationship. IMO they would tend to be you can have any colour as long as its black.

The UK companies are already here, with lots of other work. Offering UK employees a chance to working in sunny, covid free, unlimited petrol, Australia might be highly attractive. Boris would move heaven and earth to make AU/UK deals happen..

I'm not sure Biden even knows who we are. I wonder what McCain would have thought of the deal.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #94
This thread is started on 30 Sept 2021 for RAN Discussions on SSNs only — prior posts before this was moved here from the RAN thread.

1. If it is a fantasy discussion on the surface fleet (to increase the number of VLS or we need more guns), please go here.

2. The Mods also created a daughter thread related to submarines in Naval Ship & Submarine Propulsion Systems, here.

3. All other RAN discussions can be found in the
original mother thread.
 
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ddxx

Well-Known Member
Do we still need a conventional sub for sovereignty after the collins?. A bunch of type 214s or a26s along with 6-8 nuke subs.
I'd argue the best move would be to bring forward investment in UUVs and start the design and construction of a sovereign XLUUV program which can work both in "teams" with future SSNs and independently. Just like RAAF's collaboration with Boeing on the Loyal Wingman, an Australian designed and made XLUUV is a very logical direction.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
Yeah ... good idea to split this off this forum although to be honest it is hard to separate fact from fantasy these days.

Just a couple of random thoughts about leasing or buying second hand nuclear submarines though.

The USN will be refuelling around half a dozen of newest Improved LA subs starting from 2023. This will extend the life of the submarine by an additional 10 years. They were originally intended to serve 33 years so that would push out the service life to 43 years. This means that even the newest of the LA class will probably not serve any longer than the late 30s. With the current indication that Australia won't be getting a new sub until the early 2040's it seems that a used sub won't last long enough to allow us to make an orderly transition to a new sub.

Incidentally there are those in US that are concerned about extending the life of a nuclear vessel beyond its original use by date. I am as pro nuclear as anyone, but even I would question the wisdom of buying a secondhand nuclear reactor that was originally intended for the scrap heap.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
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Verified Defense Pro
I'd argue the best move would be to bring forward investment in UUVs and start the design and construction of a sovereign XLUUV program which can work both in "teams" with future SSNs and independently. Just like RAAF's collaboration with Boeing on the Loyal Wingman, an Australian designed and made XLUUV is a very logical direction.
Such a program will be very expensive and with the acquisition of SSNs, there may not be enough funding available for a wholly Australian XLUUV program. It wouldn't surprise me if something like this is well within the purview of the AUKUS Pact. To me that would make far more sense.
 

ddxx

Well-Known Member
Such a program will be very expensive and with the acquisition of SSNs, there may not be enough funding available for a wholly Australian XLUUV program.
As an example, the USN Boeing Orca XLUUV program included ~$80M USD in development and ~$275M USD for the construction of the first five.

It's certainly achievable, and evidently not as expensive as it might sound, with the added benefit of supporting our sovereign industrial capability, and innovation in defence science.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
As an example, the USN Boeing Orca XLUUV program included ~$80M USD in development and ~$275M USD for the construction of the first five.
Provide links to support your claims please. It's a requirement of the rules.
It's certainly achievable, and evidently not as expensive as it might sound, with the added benefit of supporting our sovereign industrial capability, and innovation in defence science.
I can equally argue that the same goals can be achieved far better by an AUKUS program where the expense is split three ways and far more expertise can be bought to bear. Just because you might be able to, doesn't mean that you should go it alone. The US has quite a lot of experience designing and building UUV, how much experience does Australia have? Just because the US can undertake a program for a certain financial value, doesn't mean that Australia can. How much did previous projects and programmes inform the Boeing program? They didn't have to reinvent the wheel because they would have had previous classified research and development work to draw on. That's quite a cost saving benefit. Does Australia have the same advantage and institutional knowledge? If it doesn't it becomes an expensive proposition. Why do you think that Australia has outside expertise to build the Loyal Wingman? That's a joint venture with Boeing, not a wholly Australian program.
 
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