Capability a quantum change

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Jason Tuffrey (author), Concept Image by DCNS (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Topic(s): Submarines (SSG), HMAS AE1, HMAS AE2

A Short fin Barracuda Block 1A pre-concept design. (photo: DCNS)
A Short fin Barracuda Block 1A pre-concept design.

Submariners, industry partners, the Australian Defence Force, foreign defence forces, personnel, and those with an interest in all things submarine converged in Canberra last month for two days of high-quality presentations from the cream of the submarine community. 
 
The eighth biennial Submarine Institute of Australia conference was held at the Shine Dome in Acton from 14-16 November.
 
In a year where the government has selected DCNS of France as its design partner for the Future Submarine, this conference was a pivotal week in the submarine calendar. 
 
The objective of the conference was to promote informed debate. 
 
This was achieved through a variety of activities, conferences and sponsorship of submarine-related initiatives, including efforts to preserve AE2 and locate AE1.
 
The theme of this year’s conference was, ‘From Collins to Future Submarine – the challenge of sustaining an effective submarine capability’.
 
One of the keynote speakers, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, said the past 12 months had been a period of significant change for the Australian Defence Force.
 
“I am in the fortunate position of having a clear and unequivocal decision by government to build a force of 12 submarines,” he said.
 
“These are submarines which will provide Australia with the decisive lethality in the maritime domain the nation needs if it is to guarantee its long-term strategic security.
 
“I need to bring not only the members of our service along with us as we transition to a more demanding and more efficient future, but also to bring the broader community along with us.
 
“We need the total engagement of Australia’s technological, industrial, educational and research communities to work with us seamlessly to deliver a Navy appropriate to the demands of the 21st century.”
 
Vice Admiral Barrett said Navy had evolved beyond the fledgling days of the introduction of the Oberon and Collins class submarines into service.
 
“We now speak of a national naval enterprise – an enterprise that embraces the submarine service as the key to the Navy’s ability to strategically deliver decisive lethality,” he said.
 
“We have formed and fostered collaborations with industry, and fostered partnerships between the different organisations within Defence who share in the responsibility for our submarine capability.
 
“This, in conjunction with the lessons learned from Oberon and Collins, will help to meet demands which will follow from the Future Submarine, and reinforce that we have truly evolved from that time.”
 
Vice Admiral Barrett said the business of submarines was far from being the exclusive business of the Australian Submarine Squadron.
 
“It is an enterprise that depends upon almost countless constituent and interlocking parts,” he said.
 
“Reliance on the way we have always done things will not work if we hope to design, build, support, sustain, crew and operate a force of 12 submarines.
 
“This is not a simple doubling of our historical submarine effort; it is a quantum change that takes us beyond segmented force structure, planning and delivery, to a systems approach to the operational art.”
 
Vice Admiral Barrett said the bar was set high.
 
“Our submarines are very capable – a submarine force, though, is more than a collection of hulls,” he said.
 
Vice Admiral Barrett said submarine capability included:
·  Workforce.
·  Command and control systems.
·  Safety systems.
·  Combat systems.
·  Weapons and decoys.
·  Training capacity at sea and ashore.
·  Search and rescue capability.
·  Effective logistic and support structures.
 
“Doubling the size of our submarine force – and transitioning to new platforms – demands we focus our energies on ensuring we get it right from the outset,” he said.
 
Vice Admiral Barrett said this required:
·  The necessary training systems.
·  Appropriate through-life support arrangements.
·  Adequate shore-based infrastructure to produce and sustain our Future Submarine. 
 
“We simply must get these systems, arrangements and infrastructure right if we are to realise the Future Submarine capability,” he said.
 
“As the Naval Capability Manager, I am responsible to government for delivering the naval capability necessary to contribute to our deterrence efforts, and to respond to threats should deterrence fail.
 
“As Chief of Navy, I have a responsibility to ensure Navy delivers the necessary platform systems, and their supporting architecture and facilities, against the significant national investment the government has made.”
 
The ninth biennial conference will be held in Fremantle in November 2018.