Mark Collins – Canberra/Tokyo U-Boat Axis=Poor Procurement? (Washington in background)

It’s all very well to try to design anti-Chicom ententes but, further to this post,

Tokyo-Canberra U-Boat Axis? Part 2–Plus US/Japan

how to keep strategic desires in line with industrial and naval realities? At SubWeek:

Opinion: Aggressive Politicking Threatens Australia’s Submarine Program
Australia’s submarine project does not need added risk
Bill Sweetman

Next to combat aircraft, submarines are often the most expensive weapon programs in any nation’s budget. They are also regional-strategic weapons in any conflict that has a maritime dimension, even if that is confined to a belligerent’s need to import energy. The submarine’s combination of stealth and persistence gives it a unique capability: It’s a threat, even if it isn’t there…

Australia’s Sea 1000 project is one of the largest defense programs outside the nuclear powers, aiming to replace six Collins-class boats with 12 larger craft, which will be among the largest diesel-electric submarines (SSK) ever built. Unsurprisingly, it is also rapidly becoming politicized, with many observers concerned that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government has already settled on a favored solution—to team up with two Japanese zaibatsu, Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, on a development of the Soryu-class submarine (see photo).

In a widely quoted statement in February, Abbott called the Soryu “the best conventional submarine in the world.” The same description was used by Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, who was quoted last October as having told Australia’s then-minister of defense: “You want to find the finest diesel-electric submarine made on the planet—it’s made at Kobe works in Japan.” Reuters reported in July that Britain’s Babcock and BAE Systems were interested in joining the Soryu team.

Credit: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

A Japanese-Australian marriage with the U.S. Navy as matchmaker is politically attractive. All three parties are focused on the Pacific and China. The U.S. likes to see Japan more outward-looking as an alliance partner, and may be happier to see the General Dynamics BGY-1 combat control system and U.S. weapons—both Australian desires—on a Japanese-Australian SSK than on an alternative.

This trend is nevertheless unwelcome to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and France’s DCNS, the world’s leading exporters of SSKs and the alternative suppliers for Sea 1000. Also, it is not a low-risk solution to a risky project, following the major delays and overruns in the Collins-class program…

At any rate Canada won’t be in the market for new subs–if ever–for a long time to come:

Mark Collins – RCN Subs Life-Extension to 2030s? Why? Part 2

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


9 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Canberra/Tokyo U-Boat Axis=Poor Procurement? (Washington in background)”

  1. RAND corp. study, note costs for building in Australia (Canada likely worse)–imagine a Canadian gov’t commissioning such an outside, foreign, review!
    “Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise
    Preparing for the 21st Century

    Key Findings

    Australian Policymakers Face a Trade-Off Between Paying a Price Premium and Benefiting from Broader Economic Development

    The Australian government must choose among three options: build the naval surface ships on Australia’s acquisition list entirely in-country, build them partially in-country and partially overseas, or have them built at shipyards overseas. Each strategy carries costs and risks.

    Our examination concludes that domestic production of naval ships in Australia currently carries a price premium — estimated to be between 30 to 40 percent compared with similar ships built abroad.

    The premium to build in Australia could be lower than the 30 to 40 percent range if Australia adopts a continuous build strategy to avoid rebuilding an industrial and management capability with each new ship program, starts with mature designs at the onset of production, and minimizes changes during production. With such measures (and a cultural shift in industry toward continuous improvement), we can envision this premium being cut in half.

    Our examination of shipbuilding’s economic effects suggests that there may be economic benefits associated with shipbuilding, especially when it occurs in areas that would otherwise have slack in their labor forces. The benefits are unclear and are largely dependent on broader economic conditions in Australia.


    The Australian government faces a trade-off between paying a price premium for indigenous production and benefiting from some broader economic development from such production. The 30- to 40-percent price premium for building in Australia could drop to approximately half that level over time with a steady production program that leads to a productive workforce.

    Supporting an Australian shipbuilding industry that is cost-effective will require specific steps, including filling the gap between the end of the air warfare destroyer program and the start of Future Frigate construction and adopting a continuous build strategy that starts a new surface combatant every 18 months to two years. There will be some challenges with replacing the Anzac-class ships in a timely manner, but those challenges can be overcome with careful management of the current and future fleets…”


    “Absurdly Extravagant Cost of Canadian Navy, Coast Guard Ships”

    And from 2010:

    “Canadian shipyards can’t competitively build large civilian vessels–but the government insists they build naval ones”

    Mark Collins

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