Royal Australian Navy Discussions and Updates

Stampede

Well-Known Member
A key part of the plan is to build these larger support ships in Australia. They may have been budgeted for but that was for future years, not now. Bringing forward such projects to have the jobs go overseas won't do anything for us. The entire issue if such an issue actually exists is a possible work gap between the OPV's and Hunters. Building ships in Spain, acquiring corvettes etc won't fix anything. The one and only solution that can be quickly implemented is building an extra 2-3 OPV's while waiting on the hunters. They can either come from existing orders, be add one if budget and manpower allow or simply interim vessels before sold/gifted to border force, or any one of our neighbours that have the capability to use and maintain them. That is the only ship that can fill the gap if it exists, anything else is fantasy.
The build of eight additional Arafura sized vessels for the MCM role suggested in the Defence strategic review coupled with existing naval programs will satisfy any bridging capability if a gap appears in the Hunter Class program and provide additional employment in the Naval building sector nationally. Some prudent flexibility in construction between completing needs of SA and WA will need to be managed, but there is an abundance of work here .

Building the two new supply / Amphibious vessels overseas is not necessarily a bad thing!
There is a point where you have to draw a line in the sand and look at what you get for what you pay.
I have on previous post suggested there maybe an opportunity to combine this project with New Zealand's need for similar sized vessels. But at best you would only build four ships and stop.
Have we learnt the lessons of the need for a continuous build? Realistically we simply don't have the domestic market to build ships in the 20000K range. Our two Canberra Class are relatively new, New Zealand has just received a new supply ship and we will receive two of our own shortly. Sadly I just don't see the market for enough large ships to warrant a continuous build vessels of this size and the cost premium we will pay to have them is just not worth it.

I think the largest ship ever built in Australia was HMAS Success and that was laid down 40 years ago.
Building large ships in OZ is just not our gig so why do it?

We need to balance our domestic skills sovereignty with value for money

Navy and our ship building sector compared to most maritime nations around the world are doing very very very well.
Content with building Destroyers and smaller craft locally

Maybe we could ask the RAAF how many of their planes are of local build.
Ask Army how many more SPG's, Land 400 Phase 2 and 3 vehicles they could of had if they'd sourced them form over seas.


Part of my proposal of getting three vessels form OS and having a more robust OPV was the concern I have regarding time.
The "fantasy" I see is our fleet as is satisfying our maritime defence needs at the end of this decade.
Time and value for money must play apart in defence acquisitions.

Defence is not just about creating domestic employment.

Regards S
 

DDG38

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Defence is not just about creating domestic employment.
Ha! There are plenty of industry lobbyists and MPs in the big building in Canberra you'd have to explain and get them to accept as fast first. ;)
I agree that we shouldn't be constantly talking about and pursuing large ship builds, but it's too easy a political football for MPs to kick around that it probably won't disappear from the national conversation anytime soon.
 

alexsa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
The numbers need to match the need that results from your strategy.

Personally I think we could reduce the Hunter buy to 6, with a target fleet of 3 Hobarts and 6 Hunters.

But my strategy may well be different to yours.

Regards,

Massive
I will bite... on what basis do you think a 9 ship MFU combat set will work? It may be your view and you may have a justification .... so can you please provide it!
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
The build of eight additional Arafura sized vessels for the MCM role suggested in the Defence strategic review coupled with existing naval programs will satisfy any bridging capability if a gap appears in the Hunter Class program and provide additional employment in the Naval building sector nationally. Some prudent flexibility in construction between completing needs of SA and WA will need to be managed, but there is an abundance of work here .

Building the two new supply / Amphibious vessels overseas is not necessarily a bad thing!
There is a point where you have to draw a line in the sand and look at what you get for what you pay.
I have on previous post suggested there maybe an opportunity to combine this project with New Zealand's need for similar sized vessels. But at best you would only build four ships and stop.
Have we learnt the lessons of the need for a continuous build? Realistically we simply don't have the domestic market to build ships in the 20000K range. Our two Canberra Class are relatively new, New Zealand has just received a new supply ship and we will receive two of our own shortly. Sadly I just don't see the market for enough large ships to warrant a continuous build vessels of this size and the cost premium we will pay to have them is just not worth it.

I think the largest ship ever built in Australia was HMAS Success and that was laid down 40 years ago.
Building large ships in OZ is just not our gig so why do it?

We need to balance our domestic skills sovereignty with value for money

Navy and our ship building sector compared to most maritime nations around the world are doing very very very well.
Content with building Destroyers and smaller craft locally

Maybe we could ask the RAAF how many of their planes are of local build.
Ask Army how many more SPG's, Land 400 Phase 2 and 3 vehicles they could of had if they'd sourced them form over seas.


Part of my proposal of getting three vessels form OS and having a more robust OPV was the concern I have regarding time.
The "fantasy" I see is our fleet as is satisfying our maritime defence needs at the end of this decade.
Time and value for money must play apart in defence acquisitions.

Defence is not just about creating domestic employment.

Regards S
Agree, just like the Berlin class AORs being built in Canada are not value for money. Perhaps with two more and a commitment to build a couple of JC class amphibious ships, domestic large vessel construction could be justified even if the costs were somewhat higher than foreign builds. “Somewhat higher” and Berlin class JSS built in Canada in the same sentence is an oxymoron. The Australian decision for building subs domestically is already a major addition to domestic ship building.
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
Large ships need large yards, which we don't have for building large ships. But most large ships (AOR etc) are mostly empty space and voids, so they amount of actual labor in steel fabrication is quite low. Compared to something like a submarine, which has huge amount of labor in welding, shaping, inspecting etc. Submarines are space shuttles, AOR's are shipping containers.

Destroyers have lot of compartments, compared to a OPV which tends to have less compartmentalization and bulkheads etc. OPV are so quick to fabricated because they are a lot simpler ship. Osborne is designed to build large complicated ships. OPV just aren't meaty enough.

If we are really keen to get a LHD, we could do as we did before. Get Spain to fab up the hull, fitout and island in Australia. BAE did it last time, they would just be doing it as Osborne. Probably ~60%+ of the money on labor would be spent here. The LHD's are certainly getting a work out, I think they have now spent more time at sea than just about anything the RAN currently operates, as flag for every indo-pacific mission we have conducted so far, and every major operation (rimpac and talisman). We can't afford even a minor issue with these ships, they are ADF center pieces.

Most of the LHD crew would come from de-crewing Choules to RFA levels or selling her, by the time another LHD is operational, she will be over 20 years old. Not tired, but also, not a spring chicken, will only be another few years before a big mid life refit. She would be the sort of ships that would find another home quickly, either in SEA or in South America. Crewed to 40-50, we could easily keep her operational until someone was interested.

I don't think cutting surface combatant fleet numbers is helpful. 12-14 is what we need and what we have always had. Cutting sub numbers threatens to derail the entire build program.

At this stage I just think we should be spitting our ships as fast as we can build them, even if they are going straight into reserve or low rotation use. Clearly things are not going well globally. China is getting worse. The US's problems are worse, the USN is openly having issues, the pandemic and economic issues it has created has further de-stabilised the situation.
 

Massive

Active Member
I will bite... on what basis do you think a 9 ship MFU combat set will work? It may be your view and you may have a justification .... so can you please provide it!
Hi Alexsa,

Thank you for you reply. I am happy to. I would add that I haven't seen a clear argument as to why the correct number is 12 - I would love to see this.

My argument for 9 is essentially one of prioritisation - there are other places I would rather see funds spent - and not necessarily on the RAN,

Please note that my strategic emphasis is on DOA - protecting against a very low probability, very high potential impact outcome.

My belief that the RAN destroyers and Frigates will typically be used in the following scenarios:
1. Supporting a Australian-led peace making/keeping mission in the South Pacific - acting as escorts for Australian amphibs and supply vessels and providing localised sea control in a relatively permissive environment
2. Contributing to an international coalition by providing an escort group - in an environment right up to intense conflict

I think this can be achieved with

While accepting that there are a whole range of other activities MFUs engage in, I am prepared to accept a smaller number of MFUs to trade off for other assets, focusing more on land power and, to a lesser extent, air power.

Indicatively, my target RAN would be something like:

12 Submarines
3 AWD
6 FFG (ASW)
3 AOR
3 Large amphibs (Mil spec) (as per current plan)
4 LST (~1500-2000t) (Mil spec)
20 Multi-role patrol/Min warfare ships (~1500-2000t) (Mil spec fitted for but not with self-defense suite)
5 Sealift ships (20-25,000t) (Civ spec - potentially leased)

Not that different from the current plan IMHO, but with significant resource savings.

Always interested in peoples thoughts and happy to be convinced otherwise.

Regards,

Massive
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
@Massive How do you define Defence of Australia?
  1. Is it just the physical aspect of the island continent of Australia?
  2. If so where is the defined limit of the continent?
    1. The Mean Water Level?
    2. The 12 nm limit?
    3. The EEZ, or
    4. The edge of the continental crust?
  3. What about the airspace above the continent. How high up do you declare sovereign Australian airspace?
  4. What about essential supplies that you have to import. How are they protected outside of the DOA area?
  5. How are you going to pay for all of this if your exports are in danger once they leave the DOA area and no ADF assets to protect them?
Australiamay be a continent, but it is still an island that is dependent upon the freedom of the seas for its economic survival. How can you possibly protect your SLOC if you pull up the drawer bridge? Last time I looked Australia SLOC didn't go from Brisbane to Perth via the Great Sandy Desert. They went from Australia to Asia, North America, Middle East, Europe and across the ditch. If you don't trade you don't collect any treasure and all you end up is with a bare treasury and grumpy populace.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
Large ships need large yards, which we don't have for building large ships. But most large ships (AOR etc) are mostly empty space and voids, so they amount of actual labor in steel fabrication is quite low. Compared to something like a submarine, which has huge amount of labor in welding, shaping, inspecting etc. Submarines are space shuttles, AOR's are shipping containers.

Destroyers have lot of compartments, compared to a OPV which tends to have less compartmentalization and bulkheads etc. OPV are so quick to fabricated because they are a lot simpler ship. Osborne is designed to build large complicated ships. OPV just aren't meaty enough.

If we are really keen to get a LHD, we could do as we did before. Get Spain to fab up the hull, fitout and island in Australia. BAE did it last time, they would just be doing it as Osborne. Probably ~60%+ of the money on labor would be spent here. The LHD's are certainly getting a work out, I think they have now spent more time at sea than just about anything the RAN currently operates, as flag for every indo-pacific mission we have conducted so far, and every major operation (rimpac and talisman). We can't afford even a minor issue with these ships, they are ADF center pieces.

Most of the LHD crew would come from de-crewing Choules to RFA levels or selling her, by the time another LHD is operational, she will be over 20 years old. Not tired, but also, not a spring chicken, will only be another few years before a big mid life refit. She would be the sort of ships that would find another home quickly, either in SEA or in South America. Crewed to 40-50, we could easily keep her operational until someone was interested.

I don't think cutting surface combatant fleet numbers is helpful. 12-14 is what we need and what we have always had. Cutting sub numbers threatens to derail the entire build program.

At this stage I just think we should be spitting our ships as fast as we can build them, even if they are going straight into reserve or low rotation use. Clearly things are not going well globally. China is getting worse. The US's problems are worse, the USN is openly having issues, the pandemic and economic issues it has created has further de-stabilised the situation.
Yep

However we indulge in the fantasy fleet conversation, the basic premise is we need a fleet with more and sharper teeth earlier than is accommodated in our current build program.
This may sound indulgent given the healthy state of naval construction but as you said," things are not going well globally"

Regards S
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
@Massive How do you define Defence of Australia?
  1. Is it just the physical aspect of the island continent of Australia?
  2. If so where is the defined limit of the continent?
    1. The Mean Water Level?
    2. The 12 nm limit?
    3. The EEZ, or
    4. The edge of the continental crust?
  3. What about the airspace above the continent. How high up do you declare sovereign Australian airspace?
  4. What about essential supplies that you have to import. How are they protected outside of the DOA area?
  5. How are you going to pay for all of this if your exports are in danger once they leave the DOA area and no ADF assets to protect them?
Australiamay be a continent, but it is still an island that is dependent upon the freedom of the seas for its economic survival. How can you possibly protect your SLOC if you pull up the drawer bridge? Last time I looked Australia SLOC didn't go from Brisbane to Perth via the Great Sandy Desert. They went from Australia to Asia, North America, Middle East, Europe and across the ditch. If you don't trade you don't collect any treasure and all you end up is with a bare treasury and grumpy populace.
Always an interesting exercise to jump on the Marine Traffic website.
Gives a good perspective of both the volume of ship movements and the clusters of corridors that these ships follow.
Interesting for Australia is the corridor just north of the PNG coast and of course the shear scale of traffic to be found all along the Chinese coast.
Yes we are a island

Regards S
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Always an interesting exercise to jump on the Marine Traffic website.
Gives a good perspective of both the volume of ship movements and the clusters of corridors that these ships follow.
Interesting for Australia is the corridor just north of the PNG coast and of course the shear scale of traffic to be found all along the Chinese coast.
Yes we are a island

Regards S
A very big Island, a long way from anywhere with a relatively small population mostly jammed into the Corner furtherest from anywhere, relying very heavily on trade that is at the end of a very long supply line that has to pass through multiple choke points.
 

Massive

Active Member
@Massive How can you possibly protect your SLOC if you pull up the drawer bridge?
Hi Ngati,

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Three additional FFG will not materially change Australia's ability to protect its SLOC in a hot war with an opponent of any size.

I would aim to:

1. Maintain a deterrent to interference in our SLOC with the submarines - our only truly strategic asset
2. Maintain the freedom to act in a relatively permissive environment in the region - with the ability to deploy and sustain a significant land element
3. Make a significant contribution to an international coalition

I would not spend the additional funds and resources on the three additional FFG - I believe that there are other capabilities (new and expanded existing) that should be prioritised first.

Regards,

Massive
 

Massive

Active Member
the basic premise is we need a fleet with more and sharper teeth earlier than is accommodated in our current build program
I feel that the biggest concern here is submarines. The current plan does not see a significant improvement in fleet size of sharpness of teeth for a very long time.

Regards,

Massive
 

ASSAIL

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I feel that the biggest concern here is submarines. The current plan does not see a significant improvement in fleet size of sharpness of teeth for a very long time.

Regards,

Massive
You seem to downplay the capability provided by the Collins boats. They already provide a more than adequate deterrent to potential hostiles and although those capabilities will be improved by the introduction of the Attacks, Collins will play an active deterrent role for decades.
The challenge for SUBFORCE is to maintain the currency and reliability of Collins until each is replaced.
 

Takao

The Bunker Group
Hi Ngati,

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Three additional FFG will not materially change Australia's ability to protect its SLOC in a hot war with an opponent of any size.

I would aim to:

1. Maintain a deterrent to interference in our SLOC with the submarines - our only truly strategic asset
2. Maintain the freedom to act in a relatively permissive environment in the region - with the ability to deploy and sustain a significant land element
3. Make a significant contribution to an international coalition

I would not spend the additional funds and resources on the three additional FFG - I believe that there are other capabilities (new and expanded existing) that should be prioritised first.

Regards,

Massive
Again talking carefully....

The number of MFUs in the fleet was a major consideration point....recently. I think you can comfortably assume that a reduction in fleet numbers wasn't feasible (after all, cuts weren't announced in the DDG or FFG world). A larger fleet required compromises in workforce and dollars, a question that has probably not been definitively answered one way or another just yet. But it's likely that 'things' have occurred which would smooth the transition to a larger MFU fleet if such a decision was needed/made.

As a simple, less sensitive guide to some of the thinking, MFUs are used much more than detterence. The three additional FFGs give us additional units for peacetime activities, additional escorts for vessels (either high priority military or civilian ones) and (frankly) attrition vessels. The submarines are vital, but need to be not seen. The FFG gives a presence - either positive or negative. And finally, the FFG can eat a missile or torpedo if needed. While Australia remains without a land border, we need to import significant amounts of 'stuff' and the MFUs are vital to that. Even in wartime we'll be importing fuel, ammunition and spares. MFU are super valuable for instance, the DDGs have long been seen as a critical Army enabler by Army folk.

As it stands we've done the prioritisation of capabilities, and as the FSP shows, 9 FFGs are still a higher priority than many other things.

Just have to change their names....
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Hi Ngati,

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Three additional FFG will not materially change Australia's ability to protect its SLOC in a hot war with an opponent of any size.

I would aim to:

1. Maintain a deterrent to interference in our SLOC with the submarines - our only truly strategic asset
2. Maintain the freedom to act in a relatively permissive environment in the region - with the ability to deploy and sustain a significant land element
3. Make a significant contribution to an international coalition

I would not spend the additional funds and resources on the three additional FFG - I believe that there are other capabilities (new and expanded existing) that should be prioritised first.

Regards,

Massive
Well you haven't answered my questions because you haven't defined the spatial or geographical area that you are going to defend.

Secondly, you haven't looked through history, especially within the last 100 years to determine a course of action. I strongly would suggest that you study the Fall of France in June of 1940 and not look at what the Wehrmacht did but at the French and British strategy from September 1939 through to the French surrender.

Thirdly, in the same vein look at US WAR PLAN ORANGE for war against the Imperial Japanese Empire and what actually happened in the Pacific War. The only real difference was the start of it with the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Japanese running amok for 6 months. Even Adm Yamamoto said that he would run amok for 6 months and then the Americans would start pushing back. Look how that war impacted upon Australia and where those threats came from. Where's the biggest threat to Australia going to come from today?

Fourthly, look at the Russian defeat of the Wehrmacht. How did they blunt the Nazi invasion? What did they trade for time? Forget about lives because the Russians put a different value on human life to that in the west and back to then it was the USSR and Stalin was in charge. They traded space, lots of space to gain time to build tanks, planes, guns and put new armies in the field. They did to Hitler what their forefathers did to Napoleon in 1812.

When you finally have a grand strategy sorted out maybe then you can start drilling down into specifics, but remember today it's not platform centric like it was even 10 years ago; its about capabilities operating across multiple platforms simultaneously so it's a system of systems force structure now that's operating across not just the RAN, but across the whole ADF. Therefore I would suggest that you go away and have a really good think.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The point many seem to miss when discussing numbers of high end destroyers and frigates is the bleeding obvious need to escort three large amphibious ships that could potentially transporting a large chunk of our land force plus precious army aviation elements, at any given time. This is a mission that did not exist when the never achieved total of sixteen or seventeen majors, supported by a dozen missile corvettes was proposed in the early 90s. The surface fleet not only needs to cover off the missions it has traditionally undertaken since the end of the cold war, it now needs to protect vital maritime assets we didn't used to have.

There's also the small matter of Chinas actions, not just in the South China Sea, but potentially extending into the Indian Ocean and Pacific, if we don't have sufficient platforms to maintain a presence on both the east and west coast, as well as our northern waters you can expect sabre rattling and deliberate efforts to embarrass us. Imagine PLAN ships seizing a commercial vessel off our coast because they know we can't stop them, just to show who's boss.
 

hairyman

Member
I see nothing wrong with reducing the number of new frigates to six, providing the lost three are still built, but as destroyers, either GP or AWD. Three additional destroyers appropriately armed would be of much more value than the three frigates. They coud still do anti submarine work, as well as Air Warfare. I imagine they would have 64 VLS or more.
 

oldsig127

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I see nothing wrong with reducing the number of new frigates to six, providing the lost three are still built, but as destroyers, either GP or AWD. Three additional destroyers appropriately armed would be of much more value than the three frigates. They coud still do anti submarine work, as well as Air Warfare. I imagine they would have 64 VLS or more.
Give away the superior ASW performance at a time when most of the world's submarines are in our hemisphere? That feels wrong to me.

oldsig
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
Our very recently introduced class of destroyers have 48 VLS cells. The Hunters will have 32. There is zero chance of being able to convince Government that a third class is required, with what they would see as, and really is, marginally different armament, so soon after they have received the considered advice of all departments involved, not just Defence, leading to a decision that the capabilities required are those of the Hunters.

I’m afraid that, even if we wanted to, we could not now build more Hobarts - to coin a phrase, that ship has sailed.
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
I don't think most people really care if you call the hunters frigates or destroyers, as long as they are capable.

It seems like they will be. I am curious why there are these leaks about them becoming oversized, or delayed. If they go over 10,000t, won't this exceed the lift capacity of the shiplift at Osborne?

Can't we just start building uk spec type 26's, worst case? That would make more sense that some new design, or trying to build more hobarts.
 
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