Saturday, April 21, 2012

-UPDATE-Statements by sub commander finish any hope for Collins fleet

In today's The Australian, Cameron Stewart reports that a newly retired sub commander proclaims that the Collins-class submarine program is 'a lost cause' by virtue of being obsolete and unsustainable.

In comments that will rattle the Defence hierarchy, Commander James Harrap, a 20-year navy veteran, said Australia's submarines had "the least reliable diesel engines ever built", and attempts to upgrade the boats would be a waste of money because their performance would only get worse.

"I don't believe the Collins-class are sustainable in the long term and many of the expensive upgrade plans which have been proposed would be throwing good money after bad," he said in a written account of his time as commander, obtained by The Weekend Australian.

Commander Harrap, who has commanded both HMAS Waller and, until last month, HMAS Collins, said: "Lack of available stores inventory, increased equipment failure rates and submarines living with reduced capability is something I expect will persist for the remaining life of the class.

Harrup adds:

"I do not believe we have the capability to independently design and build our own submarines.

In response to a recent negative report of Australia's submarine prospects in the coming years authored by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), top Navy brass released a statement to the fleet which claims confidence in the Collins subs to meet the operational requirements of the government.

Yet, the hard truth seems otherwise. Harrup also states:

"Over the last two years, I believe these problems have become worse," he wrote. "Throughout my command of both Collins and Waller, full capability was never available and frequently over 50 per cent of the identified defects were awaiting stores.

"Collins has consistently been let down by some fundamental design flaws, leading to poor reliability and inconsistent performance. The constant stream of defects and operation control limitations makes getting to sea difficult, staying at sea harder and fighting the enemy a luxury only available once the first two have been overcome."

Tying up the Collins subs and scrapping them could be a big money saver. They offer no credible capability.

The first boat of an off-the-shelf sub purchase could start to be fielded within only a few years. Then, as the capability proves itself, further boats could be added. This would provide a real submarine force as opposed to a dream submarine force that only consumes billions and has no return on investment.

For the capability it delivers (or doesn't deliver) the $27B per year defence budget needs a haircut. A bloated civilian workforce (over 21k and counting), an incompetent Defence Material Organisation (DMO), way too many flag-ranks and senior executives, a corrupt leadership environment, along with a variety of useless items on the Project of Concern list means a house-cleaning is in order.

The condition of Australia's submarine fleet is iconic of the state of the entrenched Defence bureaucracy.

Moribund and dysfunctional.


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UPDATE--- "Barking mad".

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15 comments:

Horde said...

And what is at the root of all this?

Just like was shown here:

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/04/12/3476114.htm

Where have we all heard this said, and repeatedly, before:

"The Politicians and the Generals (and Admirals) say -

Yes we are on track;
Yes, we are making progress; and,
Yes, things are getting better!

What are they smoking?"

Quote by
Suzanne Schmeidl,
Research Head
"The Liaison Office”, Kabul, Afghanistan

And people wonder why this ("a total indifference to what is real") is called a Western Global disease?

..

So? said...

Virginia split buy.

Anonymous said...

Stopgap: 'Lease' 3x Ula Class from Norway for 5 years? Pay for any remaining previously planned upgrades for this class... conducted according to plans.

They've apparently either been 'tropicalized' too for warmer climate operation, or are currently under tropical upgrades.

That should give RAN 5-6 years to decide on and receive at least the first of series of new replacement subs delivered on the fast-track?

A-US ComIntel said...

I totally Eric that Collins should be scrapped. Its lost any deterrent capability in the region and is a noisy and unreliable intel gathering platform.

I'll pass on this rather long but informative comment from a rare US submariner who has gone semi-public on the diesel or nuclear propulsion issue. Pete:

"Anonymous said...
As a former US nuke submarine officer:

I think it's very desirable that Australia invest in nuclear submarines - if not US, then French or British.

Diesel boats are quiet when running on their batteries or on their AIP systems (air-independent propulsion such as fuel cells). Unfortunately, such subs can only creep at very low speeds -- just a few knots. Traveling from Perth to Darwin might take 2+ weeks using AIP and/or a battery (except the battery doesn't have anywhere near that range).

Diesel subs can stay submerged and run on their diesels using a snorkel, but there are still problems. First, diesel engines are extremely noisy and easy to detect, acoustically. Second, snorkeling exposes a mast to radar, generates smoke, and produces a very visible wake. Third, snorkeling limits the boat's speed to under 10 knots to avoid snorkel mast problems.

Diesel boats are great for countries like Singapore, Sweden, Germany, and Israel that use them close to their own waters to passively "lurk". They're lousy for sending distances of more than a few hundred km.

If it was just about any other country, I'd say buy diesels, but Australia has such long distances to contend with, even in its own coastal waters.

Tellingly, when new diesel boats are sent from the shipyard to faraway customers, they're sometimes shipped in floating drydocks -- it's faster and easier than sending them under their own power.

Much has been made of Australia's lack of a civilian nuclear power industry -- the US didn't have one either when it developed nuclear submarines.

Australia can get its supplier to help it build the domestic infrastructure to maintain these boats.

If the US will sell Australia its Virginia class boats, it's a very good financial risk. That program is very economically stable (unlike so many other defense programs like the F-35). They've been making these boats for a while. You can probably get them under $2 billion each. The maintenance and life cycle costs will also be very predictable.

You've had a hard time retaining your submariners but that's a very fixable problem that the US has dealt with for years.

Finally, if you buy nukes, you probably won't need 12 nukes to get the same coverage as 12 diesels. The diesels would waste much of careers time at sea just creeping to and from their destinations. Nukes would have much more useful time on station.

Friday, April 20, 2012"

Still Perplexed said...

Horde you are correct.
However I may have a solution?

Hey Eric, I have a solution.

These are some quotes from Gary Fairlie of the DMO. He appears to be very senior.
Now surely with his experience and qualifications, it should be a doddle to turn the program around.
Some recent quotes from another blog:

“I 've just worked on 3 different countries submarines, have worked on acoustic and hull management technologies for subs and have also been a supplier of sub-systems on a couple of different subs,

I was around when we looked at getting the Upholders as a short squadron to backfill Collins when it was being built - we rejected them as a being a major problem - everything identified wrong with them in 99 has come to pass. we dodged a bullet.

I spent a number of years playing with NAVSEA, DARPA, SAIC, DSTO, CSIRO and the original DERA. I've played in UDT, ballistics and the ewarfare space

having worked for BAE I'd not be putting too much stock on what some individual bitches about wrt process

Having worked as a contractor, as a consultant, (in a number of countries, not just Aust)
I attended the last SIA on australias future subs, the RADM who ran that (and is ultimately responsible for determining what capability we need) made it pretty clear to all and sundry why nukes aren't suitable.
It's been a while since I was able to see the real data behind them, but what I saw a few years back in the US was fairly impressive
we could build Virginia sized boats now and run them with some of the newgen conventional engines. The technology is here how. I've been lucky enough to see it when I worked in the US a few years back
I've worked on various sub projects both here and overseas, I've also been involved with a series of light skimmers (OPV's). I've been involved in armoured vehicle programs, ballistic weapons programs and various turbine projects including ring generators. I do have some idea about the intricacies of major platform builds”
There is another post which I have lost, however he stated he actually welded them together as well.
All problems solved.

Bonza said...

Horde knows exactly who Gary is, Perplexed.

He even knows Gary's bosses, enough to know who to complain to anyway.

Gary is the Project Manager for the Special Operations Command Support System, which is one of the deliverables within the DMO's JP 2030 - Joint Command Support Environment. So he is reasonably senior within DMO, but not as much as you seem to think.

This stuff is easy enough to find with Google...

Amazingly Perplexed said...

Well with the amazing achievements boasted about, he should be able to leap in and fix the program.

DMO,7,500 employees and rising,a budget of 1.3 billion a year.To do what?Not many achievements of note?

It is also interesting that Gumley told a joint sitting that he had trouble getting qualified staff, and that was one of the reasons they had problems.
Could be a clue?

Bloody Perplexed said...

Bonza, I know you have some problems with tunnel vision, however the reality is,DMO and Defence are incompetent.
Do you wish me to list the major failed/delayed/caneri akesioncelled projects again?

So? said...

It's been a while since I was able to see the real data behind them, but what I saw a few years back in the US was fairly impressive
we could build Virginia sized boats now and run them with some of the newgen conventional engines. The technology is here how. I've been lucky enough to see it when I worked in the US a few years back


No, you've had your chance already.

Still Perplexed said...

Sorry, not all who work for DMO et al are incompetent, just the leadership.

Amazingly Perplexed said...

Bonza ,who is Horde?

Bonza said...

You know exactly who he is Perplexed. "Peter Goon of the APA".

AS to your recent comments, I guess even you realised how ridiculous you were starting to sound.

DMO manages more than 300 individual acquisition projects and about $10b in funding for capital acquisition and sustainment per year, the priorities for which have been determined by the Services and CDG and approved by the Minister or the NSC.

With more than 86% coming in on time and on budget, clearly they are not all "incompetent" as you have at last begun to realise somewhat.

Good for you. Don't let the learning stop there though.

Cripes I am Perplexed said...

Lieutenant Colonel Bonza ,thanks I did not know.

If you read Hansard regarding the Joint sittings, and regarding the evidence given by DMO, they admit that the % metioned by you is shoe laces and socks.The major projects have failed.

You continue to be dishonest.
Once again, do you want me to repeat the major projects(ie.and the dollars wasted)that failed.

Once again, 7,500 employees and $1.3 billion managing some 300 projects,(to distribute $10 billion?) most of which are minor, and failing all the large ones.

I wonder what BHP or Rio Tinto (and their shareholders)would say if they had the same overheads and failures?

You defend the indefensible and make a fool of your self.

Just think groupthink and you will feel better.

Anonymous said...

Anon do you work for Boeing?
Anon2

rogdog48 said...

Supposed to be big enough to carry troops great distances and small enough to land them covertly on say, the chinese coast
Then pick them up

See hms unbroken

This is fantasy