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December 9, 2010
RADM Moffitt says SEA 1000 is a program
that offers the prospect of developing and
sustaining a new industry sector.
"What we generally do is buy equip-
ment from a supplier, start the program of acquisition
and finish it when we buy it. The Future Submarines
Program is very different. We have to build a very dif-
ferent foundation on which to execute the program,"
RADM Moffitt says.
Australia currently operates a fleet of six Collins-
class diesel-electric submarines. The first-of-class,
HMAS Collins, was launched in 1993 and commis-
sioned into service in 1996. The final ship, HMAS
Rankin, was commissioned in 2003.
However, Government has foreshadowed a much
larger role for submarines in the ADF's future. The
2009 White Paper states that by the 2030s the Collins-
class fleet will have been replaced by a new class
of vessel, and that the fleet will double in size to 12
It says their mission will be to, "Defend our
approaches, protect and support other ADF assets and
undertake certain strategic missions where the stealth
and other operating characteristics of highly capable
advanced submarines would be crucial."
SEA 1000 began in 2008 and is in the phase where
Defence's needs are being defined. Design work has
yet to start and the construction phase will not begin
for some time.
Compared with the current subs, future subma-
rines may have features like an air-independent pro-
pulsion system, which would allow them to remain
submerged much longer, cruise missiles for land
strike and autonomous or uninhabited underwater
Fundamentally an offensive weapon
RADM Moffitt says with their combination of
range, firepower and stealth, submarines perform a
vital function in the ADF's mission.
"A submarine brings the same sort of thing the
F-111 bomber used to bring to the fight," he says.
"It has very long range, a large weapon load, an
ability to strike an adversary at long range without
warning and is very hard to detect. The F-111 has
reached the end of its ability to do that, because air
surveillance systems have increased dramatically in
technology and spread throughout the region since the
aircraft's introduction in the 1960s.
"The submarine is fundamentally an offen-
sive weapon, too. So it really serves the defence of
Australia concept: a shift of the long-range maritime
strike function from Air Force to Navy.
"The submarine is something that is going to be
very hard to detect coming."
RADM Moffitt went on to say that Defence and
Navy had a number of challenging factors and con-
siderations to take into account to deliver this capabil-
ity. Foremost among these was operational range and
"Our enduring circumstance is that we have to
travel a very long way in our subs; far further than
any other conventional non-nuclear submarine opera-
tor," he says.
"It drives the range we have to have in the subma-
rine and the endurance we have to have. Endurance
comes from how much food and how many people
you can carry, how much oxygen you can generate
and how many weapons you want to take with you
-- it's a long way to have to come back and replenish.
And the people have to endure the lengths of time
needed to execute the mission.
"Secondly, we are doing it in circumstances that
differ quite dramatically from other long range sub-
"In Europe, people who design conventional sub-
marines generally operate in fairly low water temper-
atures. We operate in tropical waters, where warmer
water temperatures drive a far higher demand for air
conditioning and cooling systems to maintain both
people and combat systems capable of enduring those
long range, long duration patrols.
"So we have really quite demanding strategic and
geographic circumstances for our submarines and our
submariners," RADM Moffitt says.
Future submarines herald
Head of the Future Submarines Program RADM Rowan Moffitt says
delivering Australia's next generation submarine will be one of the most
ambitious and challenging defence programs ever undertaken in this
country. RADM Moffitt recently spoke to Navy News where he outlined
some of the parameters and considerations involved in a program known
as SEA 1000. Ben Wickham and LCDR Fenn Kemp report.
HMA Ships Waller and
Dechaineux exercise off the
Western Australian coast.
Photos: Richard Gale
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