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SSG 73 Collins SSK

With a displacement of 3000 tons, the Collins Class submarines are the largest, and possibly the most advanced and efficient conventional submarines in the world. HMAS Collins was launched in 1993 and delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in May 1996. The original proposal was for ten vessels. By May 1999, this number was reduced to six. The six Collins Class submarines ordered have all been delivered to the Royal Australian Navy.

When the Australian government planned the acquisition of their new submarine force, they aimed at a submarine more capable than any existing design in the world. Moreover, they made the bold and daring decision to build the submarines in Australia, a country with no experience of design and construction of submarines. From the competing contenders Kockums was evaluated as having the most capable submarine design and highest level of technology transfer ability. Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) was responsible for the construction and building of the Collins submarines. Kockums played an integral role in the technology transfer of the design and construction to Australia by utilising its advanced modular construction method.

A Collins Class submarine is a long-range, multipurpose patrol submarine capable of both short duration coastal missions, and long-duration open sea defensive and offensive operations. The submarines have a patrol endurance of more than two months, most of the time submerged. The Collins Class submarines have all the attributes expected of a state-of-the-art submarine, including high manuverability, low signature patterns, high firing rates, and excellent shock endurance.

They are also adapted to the specific environmental conditions and operational profiles applicable to the Royal Australian Navy. The characteristics and range of Collins Class submarines have been tailored specifically for its defence and two-ocean surveillance role in the Royal Australian Navy. Designed to be as quiet as advanced technology can achieve, Collins Class submarines have been developed from five generations of submarines designed and built by the Swedish Navy.

One of the first submarines to be totally designed by computers, these submarines boast a vast range of features. They include a high performance hull form, highly automated controls, low indiscretion rates, high shock resistance, efficient weapons handling, and an optional air-independent propulsion system. The submarine will move silently on electric power supplied by banks of new-technology lead-free batteries. The batteries are charged by three on-board diesel generator sets. The sophisticated combat system, which gathers its intelligence from its sensors, computes the input and then launches and directs weapons, is an advance on any system currently available.

Each ship has been named after a distinguished former member of the RAN, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, they are a formidable element in Australia's defence capability.

The Collins class submarines are home-grown and certainly had their teething problems. But, the principal obstacle for Australia is crewing its six vessels. As of 2009 it could only fully crew three of its submarines.

By early 2007 installation work worth $750 million had been completed on a new combat system and a new heavyweight torpedo the Australian Collins Class submarines. The work was completed within budget and on-schedule. According to Prime Minister Howard, close cooperation between the Royal Australian Navy and the USN was critical in delivering much more highly capable platforms, now equipped with the tactical command and control system 'AN/BYG-1', being back-fitted for the US Navy's Los Angeles, Seawolf, and SSGN-class submarines. AN/BYG-1 integrates the tactical control, weapons control, and tactical network subsystems, each of which incorporates a variety of advanced process build software algorithms developed by a host of industry, government and academia sources. According to the Prime Minister, the arrangement allowed unprecedented access to US technology and capability, while the US gained the advantage of Australian experience in conventional shallow water submarine operations.

In September 2008 the Royal Australian Navy was set to move the fourth of its six Collins-class submarines into dry dock because of crew shortages, undermining Kevin Rudd's plans for a massive upgrade in naval resources to counter a military build-up in Asia.

In June 2009 a new submarine rescue system that will cut response time for underwater emergencies was delivered to Australia. The LR5 submarine rescue system from Britain had previously been "on-call" but was on the other side of the world if needed. The relocation improves response times and allows the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to exercise the capability with Collins Class submarines. The LR5 is a manned submersible in operation with the British Royal Navy. It is designed for retrieving sailors from stranded submarines and is capable of rescuing 16 sailors at a time.

In June 2009 submarine builder ASC shed more than 80 permanent staff and contractors in a major restructuring aimed at boosting the efficiency of its submarine maintenance business. The ASC submarine workforce was reduced to 950. ASC said that 65 white and blue collar staff associated with the Collins Class submarine through-life support program had their employment terminated along with 21 contractors. Another 35 staff working on submarines were expected to transfer to ASC's shipbuilding business to work on the air-warfare destroyer (AWD) program. The wholly government-owned ASC was negotiating with the Defence Materiel Organisation over the terms of the $3 billion long-term through-life support contract for the Collins submarines with the commonwealth seeking to reduce its maintenance bill for the six vessels.

Maintenance of the Collins Class submarines is undertaken at ASCís submarine facilities in South Australia (ASC North) and in Western Australia (ASC West). In the third quarter of 2010, DMO initiated negotiation of the TL SA replacement contract Ė the ISSC. In June 2011 an initial Heads of Agreement was signed by ASC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ludlam and Collins Class Program Manager Air Vice-Marshal Chris Deeble. The full contract was expected to enter into effect in the last quarter of 2011. The ISSC is a performance based contract.

During 2009/10 an Integrated Project Team (IPT ) comprising of the RAN, DMO and ASC personnel was established as part of the Australian Submarine Program Office (ASPO ) to jointly manage the Collins Class maintenance and upgrade project to meet required submarine availability and capability objectives. The establishment of the IPT played a significant role in the successful delivery of ASCís Sustainment and Generation services to DMO in support of the Collins Class submarines (CC SM) during 2010/11. The benefits of close engagement and tripartite cooperation between the RAN, DMO and ASC in managing the CC SM Integrated Master Schedule (IM S) resulted in a number of positive highlights during 2010/11 [the financial year ended 30 June 2011].

The period 2010/11 ended with two FCD s taking place at ASC North. The first of the FCD s had progressed from 38 percent complete in the 2009/10 period to 69 percent complete during the 2010/11 period. The planning for an additional FCD , due to start in the third quarter of 2012 at ASC North, had also commenced. At ASC West, ASCís purpose built submarine support facility, the year ended with the significant achievement of turning around an emergency docking, to replace a damaged propeller, in one week. Also significant was the docking of two submarines simultaneously at ASC West, proving the capability of the facility. The implementation of a Contingency Store also greatly improved the availability of spares for maintenance activities.

As of early 2011 the navy was still one submarine crew short of the Australian Defence Force's manpower target for the submersible fleet. While the situation had improved markedly since the period from June to October 2009, when only one submarine could put to sea, the navy only had crews for three of the six Collins Class boats. "Navy's submarine target is four submarines crewed and in various stages of their routine operating, maintenance and training cycles," a Defence spokesman said. "This allows navy to meet its training and operational preparedness requirements." Asked how many boats were ready for sea, Defence declined to provide a specific answer for security reasons. "Three submarines are fully crewed in Western Australia. Submarine programs are prioritized and the submarine force continues to meet scheduled commitments. For the period January 1 to June 30, 2010, HMAS Collins, Waller and Dechaineux were fully operational with a full crew complement and capable of completing unit ready days."

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Page last modified: 20-09-2021 19:42:25 ZULU