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Australia’s Future SSKs to Cost A$36 Billion: Study

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) today released a Strategic Insight titled, ‘How to buy a submarine: Defining and building Australia’s future fleet’. This report, authored by Sean Costello and Andrew Davies, examines Australia’s options for acquisition of its future submarine fleet.

The Defence White Paper announced that the future submarine fleet would consist of at least twelve submarines that would be able to perform a wide range of missions and carry a varied array of weapons and sensors. As described, the resultant boats are likely to be the largest, most complex and, at $3 billion each, the most expensive conventional submarines ever built.

The industrial capacity and capability to produce these vessels does not exist in Australia at the moment. By the time construction commences, it will be over fifteen years since the last Collins class submarine was launched. Hard-earned lessons from that process will need to be re-learned in many cases and the necessary engineering and construction skills will have to be built up to the required level.

Managing all of the issues that are bound to arise will require a project structure and staff with the appropriate expertise and experience. This paper surveys the complexities that have to be negotiated and suggests a way ahead that makes best use of the resources available to government, owner of the country’s only firm with experience of submarine design and construction in the form of ASC.

Dr Davies said, ‘we need to be confident that our deliberations properly balance the costs, risks and benefits of the available options. And the structure of the project and the expertise available to the Commonwealth have to be matched to the very complex considerations that will be involved.’

Sean Costello is a partner with defence project consultancy Miller Costello. Andrew Davies is the Director of the Operations and Capability Program at ASPI.

Click here for the full report (28 pages in PDF format) on the ASPI website.

“How to Buy a Submarine: Defining and Building Australia's Future Fleet”