SSNs for Australia

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by jehardiman, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Biden announced transfer for SSN propulsion technology to Australia with UK concurrence. It will be fun to watch the political fallout (no pun) on this. France and China are already screaming. Waiting for Canada, New Zealand, and India to pipe up. Going to go get popcorn and a beer...
     
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    We're going to need a lot of popcorn.
     
  3. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    France is pissed because they already had a contract to build subs for Australia, and Australia canceled it in favor of the US subs. China is pissed because now there will be a new threat to their bogus claims to everything (at least everything in the South China Sea). The rest of them are pissed because they missed out and we didn't tell anyone what we were doing. Don't know about New Zealand though. Australia and New Zealand have joint forces so New Zealand might benefit, but New Zealand doesn't allow nuke powered ships to enter their waters and ports.
     
  4. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Pretty much.
    The Australian Collins class SS is worth less than the recycling value of their hulls. French government owned companies stood to gain billions of euros to replace and maintain them with new AIP boats.
    Canada has been begging for SSN's since the North Slope discoveries when USSR/Russia claimed the whole basin. They got the MIZ capable Upholder/Victoria class, but they have proved less than useful, with a propensity to burn. They don't even have a new AIP boat in the works.
    India rented one SSN from the Russians, and are now trying to home grow one like the Chinese did.
    The Chinese program, like the Indian, is based on older Soviet/Russian boats and has issues with quality and noise. The first Australian boat out of the box will likely be better than what the PLAN is now operating.
    New Zealand is staunchly anti-nuke, but is interwoven into defense agreements with Australia.
    An interesting time if you know what you're looking at...going to get me another beer...
     
  5. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Defence procurement in Australia is just an ongoing shemozzle, in any case 2040 is a ridiculous lead time for anything. Australia has no defence guarantees worth much more than a handshake. The nuclear subs and weapons should have been the policy long ago.
     
  6. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Pretty much. In 1994 when they closed Mare Island, the Collins Class (laid down in 1990) was such a cock -up that there was a group of us that considered emigrating to Australia just to fix it...That was 25-26 years ago and the last Collins was delivered in 2003, 41 months (3.4 years) late. 2040 is 19 years from now. Normal lead time for a reactor is 10-12 years. They could make it if they started now...
     
  7. wet feet
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    wet feet Senior Member

    Would any of the better informed here care to speculate on the year in which the first of these vessels enters service?
     
  8. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    There is talk of leasing nuclear subs from the US or UK, in the interim, we seem hell-bent on being a "running dog" ! :)
     
  9. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Somewhere in the region 7-10years.
     
  10. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    The leased subs, or the projected ones to be built in South Australia ? Those are slated for 2040
     
  11. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Depends on the exact phrasing of the agreement.

    FWIW, I think we need to look at the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defense Agreement. In that the US agreed to supply a complete S5W PWR and engineering/training which allowed HMS DREADNOUGHT to be launched in 1960 and commissioned in 1963. Note that until now, this and the 1963 Polaris Sales is the only nuclear technology sharing agreements the US has made and they restrict the UK from further dissemination. Also note that these agreements are about Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) which is tracked by the IAEA; French and Indian ( and it is also believed the Chinese) PWR programs do not use HEU.

    From a totally technical perspective here are what I believe the time nominal lines are:
    _With full technological knowledge; to develop a PWR (HEU or LEU) SSN design from scratch takes 8 to 12 years.
    _With full technological infrastructure; to build a core takes about 4 years.
    _With full shipbuilding infrastructure it takes about 6 years to build a SSN, the core is normally started before the ship is laid down and completed in-situ.
    _With a technologically complete command structure, it takes 4 years to train and initially qualify a submariner on a SSN.
    Here is how I think this is going to play out..
    _The US is only involved because of the 1958 treaty and to hold the HEU (which we currently do for the existing UK boats).
    _The UK just finished the last of the ASTUTE SSN class and the DREADNOUGHT SSBN class is under construction (4 boats by the 2030's); the tech and shipbuilding infrastructure is there as well as the cultural comity between the two services.
    _The UK builds 1 or 2 ASTUTE-like boats for Australia and trains their crews while a suitable technological and shipbuilding infrastructure is developed in South Australia. These two things will take 6 to 10 years.
    _I expect AU could have an SSN (built or loaned/leased) within 6 years. A new build within 8 years. Homebuilt construction starting in the early 2030's with delivery of the first boat late 30's to early 40's.

    Edit: clarified 8-12 years for total SSN design, including new PWR.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  12. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    If we had the balls, we would steal the Chinese Tang sub design and give it to Oz. It sucks when you are staring down your own handiwork and realize that you paid for all it's development to boot.
     
  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    The PLAN Tang Class is an SSBN, and an improved copy of a Soviet copy of a GEORGE WASHINGTON/LAFAYETTE classes which was a spliced and diced SSN 585/593 classes. I really think that the Australians want a all ocean/all waters capable SSN.
     
  14. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Playing up the "yellow peril" is a political staple for well over a century in Australia, it seems to me Australia needs NATO-strength security commitments from the US, that leave no doubt about mutual defence obligations, before embarking on this, with that settled one way or other, we know where we stand, and what needs to be done. I think the US prefers to keep that nagging doubt going, as it makes large scale arms sales much easier to seal
     

  15. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Stop race baiting, this is a technical discussion. Realistically, I think the US has little to do or gain with this. The US does not have capacity to build them any SSNs. My opinion is that this is a UK-AU post-Brexit initiative based upon Chinese actions in Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
     
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