Royal Australian Navy Discussions and Updates 2.0

John Newman

The Bunker Group
Just cos the sub itself and the program has changed, doesn’t mean the names have to.

Perhaps future generations will look upon whatever the potential Attack class names could be and think the same of them as we now look at past O-boat names?
Will we name our new subs inspired from their parent design, like we did from Oberons ?

For a submarine, what’s wrong with Attack?
I disagree, the Attack class subs never happened, the ‘O’ class did, twice actually.

Two O boats in the late 1920s and the latter six O boats.

There is history with the O boats, none with the Attack boats.

And lastly, there will be a political aspect to it as well, we won’t want to remind the Froggies on what they missed out on.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
When it comes to ‘the plan’ for the RAN fleet structure, or should I say ‘change of plan’ you actually have to go right back to the very beginning.

Prior to HMAS Australia and it’s accompanying flotilla arriving in Sydney Harbour on 4th October 1913, the planned fleet structure had been modified.

And it’s continued to change and evolve ever since, no one decade can really be singled out.
Have you seen the Pre WWI Henderson Plan? Eight battle cruisers, multiple squadrons of cruisers, multiple flotillas of destroyers and multiple flotillas of submarines, several depot ships and multiple fleet and secondary bases, supported by multiple dockyards.

The UK treaty with Japan removed the threat driving this plan and the "Frazer" Fleet unit acquired instead was more attuned to counter the German Asiatic Squadron.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
That would be the equivalent of the current RNZN having 20 odd Burkes, 40 odd 7,000t Frigates, and 20 odd SSKs, 10-12 AORs
 
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ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
That would be the equivalent of the current RNZN having 20 odd Burkes, 40 odd 7,000t Frigates, and 20 odd SSKs, 10-12 AORs
Gawd, in your dreams. Jeez we'd have to train up our sheep to crew the flammin' ships. Be cheap though; we wouldn't have to pay them.
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
Gawd, in your dreams. Jeez we'd have to train up our sheep to crew the flammin' ships. Be cheap though; we wouldn't have to pay them.
All you’d have to do is for the NZ Govt to officially approve the taking of wooly girlfriends to sea.

You Kiwi sheep shaggers will be tripping over each other to join up. Lot’s of seamen, heh?

“What goes on at sea, stays at sea”
 

oldsig127

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Just cos the sub itself and the program has changed, doesn’t mean the names have to.

Perhaps future generations will look upon whatever the potential Attack class names could be and think the same of them as we now look at past O-boat names?
Will we name our new subs inspired from their parent design, like we did from Oberons ?

For a submarine, what’s wrong with Attack?
Personally, the names used for the nine Attack class PBs look tailor made for subs. Perhaps you could drop Arrow and add Ambush and still have 9 RAN names to reuse.

That aside, I would love the Hunters to reuse the Scrapiron Flotilla names but I don't get a say ( justifiably!)

oldsig
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Drop Arrow? Arrow is the one you would certainly want to continue; she was lost in Tracy (sorry Assail). And addding a name from a TV Series? There were 20 Attacks, btw, although admittedly 5 of them had PNG names and were transferred to the nascent PNGDF in 1975.
 
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oldsig127

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Drop Arrow? Arrow is the one you would certainly want to continue; she was lost in Tracy (sorry Assail). And addding a name from a TV Series? There were 20 Attacks, btw, although admittedly 5 of them had PNG names and were transferred to the nascent PNGDF in 1975.
Yeah, sorry, I'd forgotten that Arrow was the casualty, she should stay. Also left out that there were nine "A" names, and the rest "B names or PNG assigned. Added Ambush because it's the way submarines work
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
IMO an expansion of the fleet is inevitable. It would make the yards, suppliers and process more efficient. At some point our fleet size will standardize around our production capability. Like pretty much every other sizable Navy on the planet. Ultimately most navies its a balance between what they can manufacture and how much they are willing to spend, and ulimately each line adds so many ships at its optimal output.

From a production view (leaving aside cost and manning):
16-18 major fleet units - made here
24-36 minor vessels - made here
10-12 Subs - made here

Wow, I haven't looked at the actual document before. He breaks it down for training, recruitment, basing, operations, maintenance, replacement ships, base command structure, electricians, chefs, etc. He breaks Australia into east and west, but victoria, sa, Tas are part of the "west". Some interesting ideas there about basing and operating and how to recruit, train and operate crews.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
IMO an expansion of the fleet is inevitable. It would make the yards, suppliers and process more efficient. At some point our fleet size will standardize around our production capability. Like pretty much every other sizable Navy on the planet. Ultimately most navies its a balance between what they can manufacture and how much they are willing to spend, and ulimately each line adds so many ships at its optimal output.

From a production view (leaving aside cost and manning):
16-18 major fleet units - made here
24-36 minor vessels - made here
10-12 Subs - made here


Wow, I haven't looked at the actual document before. He breaks it down for training, recruitment, basing, operations, maintenance, replacement ships, base command structure, electricians, chefs, etc. He breaks Australia into east and west, but victoria, sa, Tas are part of the "west". Some interesting ideas there about basing and operating and how to recruit, train and operate crews.
What I would love to see is Chauvels detailed plans for the Militia post WWI to be based on five motor rifle divisions and (I could be miss remembering) two mechanised cavalry divisions.

Jellicoe definately recommended two RAN fleet units, while Williams was totally committed to providing airpower supporting military and naval operations, without any delusions of nation destroying air armardas, and Gobel was all for buying/building carriers and establishing a Fleet Air Arm.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
Fleet numbers for the last 50 years.

In general terms

9 to 12 Destroyers / frigates
1 to 3 combination of Aircraft carrier / Amphibious Ship ( not at the same time )
70's onward, 6 Submarines
Various smaller craft for MCM / logistics / Survey work.
12 to 15 patrol boats.

In broad terms the fleet size is fairly stable.

Platforms improve with each generation and sometimes there is a loss in capability, such as with the aircraft carrier Melbourne in the 80's.
Then again we gained a couple of impressive LHD's, so some swings and roundabouts along the journey.

Now I know some will pick this apart, but what I'm really comparing is how the RAN has fared over the last 50 years compared to many other Navy s which again in broad terms have fluctuated considerably.

eg the Royal Navy

Most importantly we have always had the constant of the LCM8's ;)


Regards S
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Fleet numbers for the last 50 years.

In general terms

9 to 12 Destroyers / frigates
1 to 3 combination of Aircraft carrier / Amphibious Ship ( not at the same time )
70's onward, 6 Submarines
Various smaller craft for MCM / logistics / Survey work.
12 to 15 patrol boats.

In broad terms the fleet size is fairly stable.

Platforms improve with each generation and sometimes there is a loss in capability, such as with the aircraft carrier Melbourne in the 80's.
Then again we gained a couple of impressive LHD's, so some swings and roundabouts along the journey.

Now I know some will pick this apart, but what I'm really comparing is how the RAN has fared over the last 50 years compared to many other Navy s which again in broad terms have fluctuated considerably.

eg the Royal Navy

Most importantly we have always had the constant of the LCM8's ;)


Regards S
It could be argued that the reason the RAN has remained fairly stable in terms of numbers is because those numbers have been below the minimum required due to geography.

To have a single ship of one type available most of the time you need a minimum of two. To have one available almost all the time (you can still have an engineering casualty while one is in long availability and the other an assisted availability) you need three. This is mostly applicable to carriers, amphibs, auxiliaries, but also our one and only battlecruiser, Henderson's report flagged that to cover Australia's strategic needs eight battlecruisers were needed to cover deployments, training and long refits.

As for cruisers and destroyers, (now destroyers and frigates) tactically useful squadrons (min three ships), and flotillas (min five ships but usually eight, nine or ten) have rarely existed in the RAN. Most often we deploy individual ships and integrate them with allied forces.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
It could be argued that the reason the RAN has remained fairly stable in terms of numbers is because those numbers have been below the minimum required due to geography.

To have a single ship of one type available most of the time you need a minimum of two. To have one available almost all the time (you can still have an engineering casualty while one is in long availability and the other an assisted availability) you need three. This is mostly applicable to carriers, amphibs, auxiliaries, but also our one and only battlecruiser, Henderson's report flagged that to cover Australia's strategic needs eight battlecruisers were needed to cover deployments, training and long refits.

As for cruisers and destroyers, (now destroyers and frigates) tactically useful squadrons (min three ships), and flotillas (min five ships but usually eight, nine or ten) have rarely existed in the RAN. Most often we deploy individual ships and integrate them with allied forces.
Hangabout, Henderson's plan aligned with IIRC Jellicoe's Hong Kong based Force with the eight battle cruisers etc., two of which were HMS Australia and HMS New Zealand. Australia may have afforded a second battlecruiser, but eight plus the rest of the fleet would've been far to much for the country then, ever if you put them on the never never. So there would have been RN battlecruisers and fleet units involved as well. However the whole plan was axed in 1912 / 13 by Jacky Fisher who wanted all the dreadnoughts in the UK for the war defining battle against the German High Seas Fleet. So HMS New Zealand went back to the UK and HMS Australia remained in Australian waters.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
It could be argued that the reason the RAN has remained fairly stable in terms of numbers is because those numbers have been below the minimum required due to geography.

To have a single ship of one type available most of the time you need a minimum of two. To have one available almost all the time (you can still have an engineering casualty while one is in long availability and the other an assisted availability) you need three. This is mostly applicable to carriers, amphibs, auxiliaries, but also our one and only battlecruiser, Henderson's report flagged that to cover Australia's strategic needs eight battlecruisers were needed to cover deployments, training and long refits.

As for cruisers and destroyers, (now destroyers and frigates) tactically useful squadrons (min three ships), and flotillas (min five ships but usually eight, nine or ten) have rarely existed in the RAN. Most often we deploy individual ships and integrate them with allied forces.
Volk I agree we need a navy of threes

Quality vessels in good numbers = availability = capability

Time to grow the fleet


Regards S
 
Hi all I understand that fantasy fleet talk is forbidden and I don’t want start a discussion about carrier strike groups or similar implausible bs. I am however interested in the optimal fleet structure/numbers for Australia. I don’t want to talk about what would be nice to have but more about what we could afford and actually crew. It does seem that the powers that be, may be considering/embarking on significant changes (nuclear submarines). With this all in mind I would be interested in to know opinions and based on previous discussions and my own understanding it does appear optimal, that a navy of three’s is the best course of action. Anyway cheers in advance. If moderators deem this to be a bad idea, I apologise and please remove this post.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Hangabout, Henderson's plan aligned with IIRC Jellicoe's Hong Kong based Force with the eight battle cruisers etc., two of which were HMS Australia and HMS New Zealand. Australia may have afforded a second battlecruiser, but eight plus the rest of the fleet would've been far to much for the country then, ever if you put them on the never never. So there would have been RN battlecruisers and fleet units involved as well. However the whole plan was axed in 1912 / 13 by Jacky Fisher who wanted all the dreadnoughts in the UK for the war defining battle against the German High Seas Fleet. So HMS New Zealand went back to the UK and HMS Australia remained in Australian waters.
Interestingly post WWI the plan for the RN Hong Kong force was recast with Courageous style light battle cruisers (cheaper with smaller crew than the dreadnaught style battlecruisers), with MTBs on davits and heavy weight catapults for torpedo carrying float planes, the number was still eight.

After Washington the eight light battlecruisers gave way to eight treaty / 10000ton heavy cruisers, but still with torpedo carrying float planes. The idea was they would form a tripwire role against the Japanese and (hopefully) slow them down with the torpedo float planes, as they retreated to Singapore, (again hopefully) giving the fleet time to deploy to the region.
 
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Morgo

Member
Hi all I understand that fantasy fleet talk is forbidden and I don’t want start a discussion about carrier strike groups or similar implausible bs. I am however interested in the optimal fleet structure/numbers for Australia. I don’t want to talk about what would be nice to have but more about what we could afford and actually crew. It does seem that the powers that be, may be considering/embarking on significant changes (nuclear submarines). With this all in mind I would be interested in to know opinions and based on previous discussions and my own understanding it does appear optimal, that a navy of three’s is the best course of action. Anyway cheers in advance. If moderators deem this to be a bad idea, I apologise and please remove this post.
This is a good question, but one that is difficult to answer, primarily because of your nested question - “what can we afford?” And the answer to that is not straightforward.

Notwithstanding covid relief funds Australia’s balance sheet remains in good shape. Our debt to GDP is low by international standards (although rising uncomfortably fast) and we have large pools of lightly or altogether untaxed activity. Our credit rating remains AAA. Our Defence spending, although increasing, remains well below post WW2 peaks (2.1% of GDP now vs 3.9% in the 60s).

My point being that we are largely unconstrained if the political will is there, which has been (but doesn’t now seem to be) the limiting factor. The key issue now is how to spend it sensibly. The ADF looks to be running hard to incorporate the current level of acquisitions as it is, and the shipbuilding plan has been (very sensibly) designed around avoiding valleys of death.

Given the above, my layman’s view is that the current planned fleet is pretty close to the mark.
The RAN will be enormously capable for a country of our size if delivered as planned. I just wish we started building it 10 years ago.
 
On the question, “what can we afford”, we need to be realistic. Few countries in the OECD spend more than 2% of GDP on Defense. Australia already spends more than that, without the nuclear subs spending under way. Total government spending is roughly 1/4 of GDP and there are lots of other things demanding funds including roads, schools, hospitals and police. Health (8% in Australia) is the biggest item of government spending in almost every OECD country. We will not return to 1960s levels of Defense spending because of the cost of an ageing population.

I think any realistic long term spending plan should assume Defense spending will not increase above current (high) levels in real $. If naval spending goes up, other areas will need to decline. This is why I question buys like the recent $3.5 billion on more M1 tanks. It is inconsistent with policy to seek to project power at a distance and that is $3.5 billion not available to buy other things.

Overall I think we would be better off getting more economies of scale with a smaller number of larger programs. That is why I hope we go ahead with a more affordable SSN (Astute), get a viable number of them (8 or 9) and maintain current numbers of surface combatants. I would rather we had enough money to properly maintain and sustain what we are already committed to than build lots of things we then cannot afford to crew, stock with weapons, or repair. We should forget carriers IMO. Even for the RN the cost of two new carriers crippled the rest of the RN budget for a decade.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
This is a good question, but one that is difficult to answer, primarily because of your nested question - “what can we afford?” And the answer to that is not straightforward.

Notwithstanding covid relief funds Australia’s balance sheet remains in good shape. Our debt to GDP is low by international standards (although rising uncomfortably fast) and we have large pools of lightly or altogether untaxed activity. Our credit rating remains AAA. Our Defence spending, although increasing, remains well below post WW2 peaks (2.1% of GDP now vs 3.9% in the 60s).

My point being that we are largely unconstrained if the political will is there, which has been (but doesn’t now seem to be) the limiting factor. The key issue now is how to spend it sensibly. The ADF looks to be running hard to incorporate the current level of acquisitions as it is, and the shipbuilding plan has been (very sensibly) designed around avoiding valleys of death.

Given the above, my layman’s view is that the current planned fleet is pretty close to the mark.
The RAN will be enormously capable for a country of our size if delivered as planned. I just wish we started building it 10 years ago.
A good reason to avoid the valleys of death is because they end up costing us more for less and worse, result in a degradation of required skills and experience.

Artificial limitations on budget affects numbers and capability meaning that we always end up spending more in the long run, while simultaneously being left unable to do what we used to do due to the unforseen (by some) consequences of decisions.

In the mid 90s it was planned to replace the Perth Class DDGs, and the first four Adelaide class FFGs with new ships, while upgrading the remaining pair of FFGs with new systems. The resulting "cost saving" of not replacing the DDGs and attempting to upgrade all six FFGs to higher standard, had a number of very serious flow on effects to RAN capability and industry capacity, while increasing costs astronomically.

It also indirectly led to a number of other troubled programs, (FFGUP, AWD, Hunter) as well as successful programs, that while worthwhile, delivered less than than they would have otherwise. For instance ANZAC ASMD has been a resounding success but limited by the size of the platform it has been installed on. The combat system improvements and CEAFAR radars are scalable, imagine them scaled up and installed on four FFG replacements with SM-2, as well as scaled down and fitted to the twelve cancelled corvettes (that were to replace the Fremantle's), with the ANZACs, still receiving a version of the upgrade.

Then there was the delayed replacement of the Fremantle's and the cancellation of the proposed corvettes that shared many ANZAC systems. Much has been said about these corvettes being unaffordable but because they weren't ordered there was a ship building black hole, a Fremantle Life extension program, fourteen Armidale PBs (that were never fit for purpose), two plus six Cape Class PBs (that are little better), the requirement to supplement the PBs with one or more frigates (due to the PBs lack of durability and endurance), and now a program for twelve OPVs. The OPVs are still less capable than even the original minimum baseline proposed for the corvettes and incapable, despite calls to do so, of being upgraded to actual survivable combatants.

IMO, the amount of money wasted by "cost saving" is more than the cost of Beasley's fantasy fleet.
 
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