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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 66

(Question No. 4707)


Mr Tickner asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 7 October 1986:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to a document entitled ``Western Australian Port Safety Scheme for the visits of Nucelar Powered Warships to Fremantle and Cockburn Sound''; if so, does paragraph 109 of that document provide a list of berths and anchorages evaluated by the Government as suitable for use by nuclear powered warships.

(2) Does paragraph 110 state that anchorage D is cleared for use by nuclear powered warships with reactor power ratings above 100MW, i.e. NIMITZ class vessels; if so, (a) what basis exists for the assertion that the NIMITZ class has a reactor power rating in excess of 100MW, (b) who conducted the studies leading to this conclusion and (c) what sources were used to arrive at this conclusion.

(3) Does Australia's ability to make reliable assessments of nuclear powered warship reactor outputs conflict with the US non-disclosure policy; if not, why not.


Mr Beazley —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

(a) The general characteristics of NIMITZ class vessels are well known-including dimensions, observed speed, displacement and the number of reactors. From these characteristics the minimum shaft horsepower of the vessel can be determined by a competent naval engineer. By making standard allowances for the energy efficiency of the propulsion system, and estimating the power requirements of ancilliary systems, a reasonable estimate can be made of the minimum power requirements of any naval vessel. In the case of NIMITZ class ships this is assessed as being in excess of 100MW (thermal) for each reactor.

(b) The Australian Atomic Energy Commission in consultation with the Royal Australian Navy.

(c) Unclassified technical literature together with standard principles of naval and nuclear reactor engineering.

(3) No. See my answer to (2) (c) above.