RAN Discussions on SSNs only

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Stampede

Well-Known Member
But is AUKUS a trilateral security pact between the three nations or is it a commercial agreement for the US and UK to equally and equitably flog their respective Defence wares to Australia ?

The purpose of AUKUS is as a security pact for the Indo Pacific region, part of that, among other announcements when it was "launched" so to speak was the keystone piece of Australia obtaining the keys to the nuclear submarine club. And yep got no doubt lots has happened behind the scenes that we will never know and both the US and UK will expect their own fair share in the TOT to Australia.

But it must be remembered that the overall owner of the tech we are talking about is the US, the UK would not and can not give us anything without express US permission under ITARS and the US-UK MDA. Before any of this can happen there must be US Congressional approval to do so, and while I don't see that being an issue with the Biden admin and the current favourable state of the US Congress, plenty of powerful members in the US will be looking for their pound of flesh out of this for their support. The UK holds a little less in this equation.

Having said that, as stated by the Government, we have a 12-18 month process to work through what we will do and how we will do it :) Funny thing is a lot of this talk is about what boat, from who and where it will be built, and the biggest issue we have is who will crew it !!

I will put up again a paper that highlights some of the issues we will face in standing up and getting a SSN capability up and running in an Australian context


Sorry John, not all specifically at you, just trying to inject some reality into the fantasy. All good to throw out different ideas, but lets at least keep them in some actual form of what is actually possible :)

Just my two cents :)
Yep too many unknowns at this stage.
The Brits are in the "Club" for a reason. They have something to offer and will want something in return.
The same for the US.
On some levels I'd like it to work, but on most I find this chapter most concerning.
Plan C.................no idea.

The whole Collins replacement has been a debacle for over a decade.

Looks like we are investing a lot on a maritime Maginot Line.

I think the public are entitled to some more answers before the 18 Month " sort out bit "



Regards S
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
@aussienscale Had a look at the ASPI article you referenced. Good read and it certainly highlighted the huge demands required for crewing the future submarine fleet.

WRT no nuclear power industry, I feel the author minimizes this to a certain extent. He correctly points out the RAN will have to pay for setting up education centres, training and regulatory institutions and continue to support them. An existing nuclear power industry would continue to share these costs with RAN. I don’t think the commercial sector would be an overall negative on retaining personnel. A nuclear career in the RAN will excite young people to consider this field in the first place and when they get older and want to settle down, they can move to the commercial sector and utilize their skill sets rather than taking on something unrelated. Both organizations benefit.

SSNs for Canada make just as much sense for Canada as they do for Australia. We have the advantages of a commercial nuclear power industry (both as operator and manufacturer) along with all the regulatory infrastructure in place. Unfortunately this likely won’t change many minds here.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
But is AUKUS a trilateral security pact between the three nations or is it a commercial agreement for the US and UK to equally and equitably flog their respective Defence wares to Australia ?

The purpose of AUKUS is as a security pact for the Indo Pacific region, part of that, among other announcements when it was "launched" so to speak was the keystone piece of Australia obtaining the keys to the nuclear submarine club. And yep got no doubt lots has happened behind the scenes that we will never know and both the US and UK will expect their own fair share in the TOT to Australia.

But it must be remembered that the overall owner of the tech we are talking about is the US, the UK would not and can not give us anything without express US permission under ITARS and the US-UK MDA. Before any of this can happen there must be US Congressional approval to do so, and while I don't see that being an issue with the Biden admin and the current favourable state of the US Congress, plenty of powerful members in the US will be looking for their pound of flesh out of this for their support. The UK holds a little less in this equation.

Having said that, as stated by the Government, we have a 12-18 month process to work through what we will do and how we will do it :) Funny thing is a lot of this talk is about what boat, from who and where it will be built, and the biggest issue we have is who will crew it !!

I will put up again a paper that highlights some of the issues we will face in standing up and getting a SSN capability up and running in an Australian context


Sorry John, not all specifically at you, just trying to inject some reality into the fantasy. All good to throw out different ideas, but lets at least keep them in some actual form of what is actually possible :)

Just my two cents :)
Ouch. There might be some rather inconvenient truths in that report.

If I am understanding the report correctly it means we might need around 9 full crews to man 8 submarines and then triple that number for the extra personnel you would require to operate them efficiently. Using that rule of thumb 8 Virginias would require over 3600 personnel and Astutes around 2650.

Another way of looking at this is that the USN has around 347,044 active personnel and out of that manages to support a submarine fleet of around 68 subs. The RN has about 34,000 regulars and supports a fleet of 11 submarines while Australia is struggling to find enough personnel to man its six Collins subs out of its 13,650 sailors. Based on those figures Australia would be lucky to man maybe 3 Virginias or 4 Astutes. Either they intend to dramatically increase the amount of funding to the navy or we are just kidding ourselves if we think that we can man 8 of these things.

Ironically the only nuclear subs that we might be capable of manning would be the French nukes, and it is pretty safe to assume that we have burnt those bridges.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Money talks so the RAN nuke guys will
have to be paid a significant premium to justify all the effort they will be putting into education and training in order to be part of the FSM fleet. I think the government is well aware of this. This extra cost is is value for money considering the huge increase in capability…IMHO.
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
RAN making is based on a sea shore ratio, the aim for which varies by rank and category. So the vast majority of ABBMs are at sea while the aim at the CPO level is to get at least equal time ashore and at sea. So you cannot generalise about the numbers required, it is a very complex issue.

On conditions of service, nuclear boats are much more comfortable than conventional, and submariners are already paid (much) more than those in the surface fleet.

As to the public’s right to know - why? The government is entitled to do research without every Australian citizen knowing all the details; and there is such a thing a security; and that is pretty intense when it comes to nuclear stuff. Given how closely this decision was held, it is going to take Jonathan Mead and his team time to get up to speed, and to acquire enough information to provide government with a basis for decision in 18 months is going to require working all hours anyway. There won’t be time for miscellaneous reporting or PR exercises, although I suppose there will be at least some of the latter.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
With respect to submarine crew already being paid at a premium, that is true. The onboard nuke submarine technology guys will have to commit to additional intense education studies and training well beyond conventional SM crew. They will have to be paid more.
 

seaspear

Active Member
There seems to be a lack of discussion on what possible differing roles the choices of submarines bring and the technology they can deploy to meet newer quieter submarines and even deeper diving submarines posing a threat to communication cables, certainly, Orca can be used as a cheap patrolling option for the R.A.N that could be potentially deployed before even the first build of any submarine
Another option to increase the capability of submarines is the acquirement of Blackwing U.A.Vs which are torpedo launched and able to take flight to scout an area providing information back to the submarine aiding its torpedo attacks from a greater distance
Though any submarine should also be considered for the ability to deploy vessels or u.a.v,s
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
I think the lack of discussion is understandable. Secret stuff, just like submarines. I agree this technology will be very important and all first tier navies are no doubt studying unmanned options very carefully, especially technology that can be deployed from submarines minimizing their exposure to the enemy.
 

ddxx

Well-Known Member
while Australia is struggling to find enough personnel to man its six Collins subs out of its 13,650 sailors
According to this article below, the latest crew numbers from Defence indicate that the RAN had 881 submariners as of early 2021, and with 55 crew per boat, in simplistic terms, that’s effectively 2.67 crews per boat. ‘Struggling’ would imply a rather dire situation, which clearly isn’t quite the case.
It's unfortunate that this unfounded rumour keeps being accepted as fact without any evidence.


And according to this paper, the US Navy's SSNs only have one crew assigned per boat, as apposed to their SSBN and SSGN boats which have two crews per boat: the "Blue Crew" and "Gold Crew":

 
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Andrew Probin was on insiders on ABC this morning, he remarked that the ability of Australia to have high local content in the build phase is going to be very difficult. This was one issue with the French (can only assume there were many others,,, delay of ten years being one). It appears the first few submarines will be leased or bought, after which local build starts. Australia will not be in a strong negotiation position to dictate a high level of local build content as the Collins project has now slipped so many years, that now Australia is in a almost desperate position.

On Youtube, an Australian Submariner was talking and he stated that the Attack class subs, being conventionally powered but with a pump jet, are going to use significantly more power at low speed that a propeller. Thus the Attack class were in effect trading off submerged range for lower noise.

I know it is not popular point to make, but once Australia receives its first nuclear submarine, we in effect becomes a nuclear weapon state. Some may beg to differ on this point, going down this route is very very unlikely, however from a technical point of view, the option is there.

Now is this making of atomic weapons likely? no,, it is exceptionally unlikely, however it remain a technical possibility, and there may be extreme circumstances many decades ahead where such a drastic action is deemed necessary. One such scenario might be a nuclear weapon state behaving very aggressively towards Australia and the US alliance not quite as strong as it is now. Australian prime ministers decades into the future might ask a question, if we really really wanted atomic weapons could be do it? The technical answer is that yes it could be done at huge cost to the international alliances and cooperation, risk of sanctions etc, and loss of at least one submarine, However the capability would be there, in fifty years from now, it is possible that more nations have nuclear weapons making the strategic outlook more dangerous. Australian Prime ministers many decades from now, may behave more aggressively than they might otherwise would, knowing that if the absolute worst came to worse, that capability would be there

We gain great capability in going into nuclear submarines, but the downside is that we have now created a precedent that may now allow other nations to use nuclear powered submarines as a foil for a nuclear weapons program. If this were to happen the benefits of this great capability might be outweighed by the risk of more nuclear weapon states
 

Depot Dog

Active Member

The new nucs are fantastic news. But as they say for doors to open some may close. There were 200 contractors who had joined the Attack class build. We should pause and reflect for these people.

Anyway this article is about opertunity in the SA defence industry. It discusses little known or reported plans like moving NASAM to Edinburgh. The most interesting quote was from the GM of BAE Osbourne shipyards about the Hunter delay "I would use the phrase it's as if are going a bit slower to go fast".

Kind Regards
DD
 

Depot Dog

Active Member
Andrew Probin was on insiders on ABC this morning, he remarked that the ability of Australia to have high local content in the build phase is going to be very difficult. This was one issue with the French (can only assume there were many others,,, delay of ten years being one). It appears the first few submarines will be leased or bought, after which local build starts. Australia will not be in a strong negotiation position to dictate a high level of local build content as the Collins project has now slipped so many years, that now Australia is in a almost desperate position.

On Youtube, an Australian Submariner was talking and he stated that the Attack class subs, being conventionally powered but with a pump jet, are going to use significantly more power at low speed that a propeller. Thus the Attack class were in effect trading off submerged range for lower noise.

I know it is not popular point to make, but once Australia receives its first nuclear submarine, we in effect becomes a nuclear weapon state. Some may beg to differ on this point, going down this route is very very unlikely, however from a technical point of view, the option is there.

Now is this making of atomic weapons likely? no,, it is exceptionally unlikely, however it remain a technical possibility, and there may be extreme circumstances many decades ahead where such a drastic action is deemed necessary. One such scenario might be a nuclear weapon state behaving very aggressively towards Australia and the US alliance not quite as strong as it is now. Australian prime ministers decades into the future might ask a question, if we really really wanted atomic weapons could be do it? The technical answer is that yes it could be done at huge cost to the international alliances and cooperation, risk of sanctions etc, and loss of at least one submarine, However the capability would be there, in fifty years from now, it is possible that more nations have nuclear weapons making the strategic outlook more dangerous. Australian Prime ministers many decades from now, may behave more aggressively than they might otherwise would, knowing that if the absolute worst came to worse, that capability would be there

We gain great capability in going into nuclear submarines, but the downside is that we have now created a precedent that may now allow other nations to use nuclear powered submarines as a foil for a nuclear weapons program. If this were to happen the benefits of this great capability might be outweighed by the risk of more nuclear weapon states
We have had prior opertunity since the 60s to get atomic weapons. Originally the F111 were wired to deliver atomic weapons. In the 60s and early 70s there were plans for nuclear power station at Jervis bay. It was rumoured that it could make atomic weapon grade material. When the project was shutdown we signed the NPT. To the best of my knowledge there have been no plans to acquire since. 'They actually started to build': Why this place was chosen as the 'perfect' site for a nuclear reactor

I think the most likely outcome is we eventually get nuclear power stations. This would be handy if we shut all fossile fuel sources.

Regards
DD
 

aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
We should definitely lease or buy the most worn LAs we could possibly find, even got the perfect names for them
Manoora
Kanimbla :D
S1 & S2, Following in the famous footsteps of their cousins B1 & B2 :D We can refuel them here in Australia, we can just take out the radioactive material in smoke detectors ;) Should be right mate.
 

Terran

Well-Known Member
Just to chime in here but the crew aspect is a huge deal. As one commenter I heard Earlier this week put it. Australia “has been handed the keys to a brand new Ferrari, and is about to go off road.”
The French SSK boat was a massive modification of their SSN Barracuda class but lacking the critical nuclear aspect farther you are going to have dramatically different operating systems for whatever boat they pick.. Operating a Nuclear boat is going to require an almost complete retraining. Best way to do that might just be to pick new RAN submarine crewm And fly them to the US and UK to join their nuclear boat schools. Perhaps even have them join the crew Virginia and Astute class boats as exchange crew to get hands on time in the fleet.
 

tonnyc

Well-Known Member
@peterAustralia As I already explained before, buying a nuclear submarine would be an extraordinarily expensive method to get nuclear weapons. To me, that would be like buying a car with all options to get at the gasoline and then use that gasoline to make napalm. Doable, but no one does it because it would be cheaper and faster to just buy the gasoline and skip the car. But if you want to worry about it, yes, the possibility does exist.

@Depot Dog
Anecdotally quite a bit of ex-USN nuclear crews do end up in civilian nuclear power jobs after they retired from the navy.

Anyway, if one is worried about nuclear weapons, mutual visits to each other facilities and tracking of nuclear material is what has been proven to work. The UN's nuclear energy organization, the IAEA, is tasked with tracking the nuclear material of countries who have signed the NPT. IAEA knows how much nuclear material Australia has and visits every few years to confirm that nothing was secreted away. Australia, the US, and the UK will all engage with IAEA to work on a protocol that will satisfy both the NPT and the three countries' military secrets.
 

SD67

Member
I know it is not popular point to make, but once Australia receives its first nuclear submarine, we in effect becomes a nuclear weapon state. Some may beg to differ on this point, going down this route is very very unlikely, however from a technical point of view, the option is there.
I don't believe that is true. If it were then both the UK and US would likely be in breach of their own laws under NPT and believe me here in the UK there are no shortage of well financed well connected lawyers of the green/left persuasion who would tie it up in the courts for years.

In terms of general risk level you've already got Pine Gap, Woomera, Olympic Dam and the OPAL research reactor plus regular visits by the USN.
 

Takao

The Bunker Group
The UN's nuclear energy organization, the IAEA, is tasked with tracking the nuclear material of countries who have signed the NPT. IAEA knows how much nuclear material Australia has and visits every few years to confirm that nothing was secreted away. Australia, the US, and the UK will all engage with IAEA to work on a protocol that will satisfy both the NPT and the three countries' military secrets.
The potential sticking point here is that fuel powering nuclear submarines can be excluded from inspections. It's one of the main reasons that purchasing SSNs potentially undermines our wider diplomatic efforts at non-nuclear proliferation.
 
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