Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Government admits serious problems with subs -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Defence Minister John Faulkner says there have been major problems with
the Navy's $6 billion fleet of Collins Class submarines.

The Minister says the Navy has faced a number of unanticipated problems arising from the design and
manufacturing process and that now only two of the six submarines are operational.

Brigid Glanville has our report.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: In a frank speech delivered to an international navy conference in Sydney, the
Defence Minister admitted there are serious problems with the country's $6 billion Collins Class
submarines.

They have been hit by a number of crippling manufacturing problems. The latest came on Monday with
the generator failing on HMAS Farncomb.

Defence Minister, Senator John Faulkner.

JOHN FAULKNER: The availability of the Collins Class submarines has been less than optimal. We've
faced a number of unanticipated problems arising from issues with the design and manufacturing
process. It's true to say that the complex and sophisticated nature of modern submarines adds to
the challenge of design and manufacture.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The Government is now investigating whether the electrical fault on HMAS
Farncomb, which caused the generator to fail, will be a problem across the whole fleet. Senator
Faulkner says he's still waiting for advice on that question.

JOHN FAULKNER: At this stage I don't know the answer to that question. Obviously it's a question
that, as you'd appreciate, that I've asked. What I have said and let me repeat it to you - the
generator failure in HMAS Farncomb is as a result of a manufacturing fault. As a result of that it
is a matter of genuine concern in relation to our submarine fleet.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Senator Faulkner wouldn't comment on the efficiency of the ASC, the
Adelaide-based government owned builder and maintainer of the submarines. But he did say that the
Government will consult an overseas based company to look at the problems.

JOHN FAULKNER: One of the steps we are taking as we consider the requirements of Australia's future
submarine capability and how best to deliver that capability is the contracting of the US-based
Rand Corporation to examine the nature of the required design capability. We'll be receiving their
analysis and findings shortly.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Findings the Government desperately needs to get their submarines back in working
order. The Federal Government owns six of them. It's been reported that only one is currently
operational.

Senator John Faulkner is more optimistic.

JOHN FAULKNER: In South Australia there are three submarines - Rankin, Sheehan and Dechaineux. In
Western Australia there are the other three submarines in the fleet - Collins, Farncomb and Waller.
I'm being advised by chief of Navy that Collins and Waller are available for sea.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Senator Faulkner was speaking at an international conference in Sydney. The New
South Wales Government's one of the many exhibitors going after Navy's contracts for upgrading the
fleet.

The Premier Kristina Keneally is aiming to use defence sites in Sydney, Nowra on the South Coast
and Newcastle on the Central Coast to attract funding for a new maritime hub.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: We have the natural advantages here in New South Wales, indeed some 40 per cent
of the Navy's workforce is based here in Sydney, we have 80 defence sites across the state, we are
well placed with our natural advantages - our beautiful harbour and the capability that is already
here, the skill of our workforce, our large and diverse economy - to capture a significant portion
of that investment.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Premier of New South Wales Kristina Keneally ending that report by Brigid
Glanville.