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HMS invincible to be acquired by RAN



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EMBARGOED UNTIL DE LI VE RY

(3Γ)

STATEMENT BY

THE HON. D.J. KILLEN, M.P.

MINISTER FOR DE FE NC E

HMS INVINCIBLE TO BE ACQUIRED BY RAN

25 FEBRUARY 1982

SUBJECT TO NEGOTIATIONS OF DETAILS THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED THAT AU STRALIA IS TO PURCHASE THE AI RCRAFT CARRIER HMS .INVINCIBLE FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM TO REPLACE HMAS MELBOURNE. THE PLAN IS TO TAKE DE LIVERY OF THE SHIP

IN LATE 1983. ON COMMISSIONING INTO THE RAN, THE SHIP W I LL BE RENAMED.

THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE INVINCIBLE IS 175 MILLION POUNDS STERLING, WHICH AT THE AUGUST 1981 EXCHANGE RATE WAS- 285 MILLION DOLLARS AUSTRALIAN. THIS WAS QUOTED AS A FIRM PRICE NOT SUBJECT TO ESCALATION. THE "TOTAL PROJECT COSTS, INCLUDING PROVISION FOR SPARES,

TEST AND TRAINING EQUIPMENT, NECESSARY MODIFICATIONS AND OTHER SUPPORT, BUT EXCLUDING MISSILES, IS ESTIMATED AT 478 MILLION DOLLARS AUSTRALIAN IN AUGUST 1981 PRICES AND EXCHANGE RATE. ; .

THE ACQUISITION OF THIS SHIP WI LL ENHANCE OUR MANIFEST CAPABILITY TO DETER AGGRESSION IN OUR NEIGHBOURING REGIONS IN THE DECADES AHEAD.

/AIR

- 2 -

AIR POWER IS FUNDAMENTAL TO MA RITIME OPERATIONS. THIS CAN BE PROVIDED BY EITHER, OR BOTH, SHORE-BASED AMD SEA-BORNE AIRCRAFT. THE VA LU E OF SHORE-BASED AIRCRAFT TO AU STRALIA'S MA RI TI ME DE FE NC E WI LL REMAIN OF PARTICULAR

IMPORTANCE FOR AS FAR AHEAD AS ONE CAN SEE. THE CARRIER W I LL PROVIDE THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY WITH ADDITIONAL OPTIONS, PARTICULARLY IN AREAS FURTHER FROM OUR SHORES AND REMOTE FROM OUR MI LITARY AIRFIELDS. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS CANNOT BE OVER EMPHASIZED FOR A COUNTRY LIKE AU STRALIA

SURROUNDED ON TH R E E SIDES BY V A ST OCEANS, AND D E P E ND ENT FOR ITS VERY LIVELIHOOD UPON TRADE CARRIED IN SHIPS.

TH ER E IS NO SINGLE SCENARIO: OR CONTINGENCY FOR WHICH THIS SHIP IS BEING ACQUIRED. IN FACT OUR DEFENCE FORCE. AS A WH OL E IS NOT STRUCTURED TO MEET ONE PARTICULAR THREAT. THER E IS A WIDE VARIETY OF CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH

COULD OCCUR DURING THE LIFE-TIME OF THIS SHIP. OUR MANIFEST ABILITY TO DETER THREATS FROM DEVELOPING INTO" A CONFLICT, AND, IF NECESSARY, OUR ABIL IT Y TO WIN OUT IN A CONFLICT IF IT WERE TO RESULT MUST REMAIN OF PRIME

IMPORTANCE TO GOVERNMENT.

• THE IMPORTANCE OF AU STRALIA BEING ABLE TO STAND

ON ITS OWN FEET AND FEND FOR ITSELF IN REGIONAL DEFENCE , MATTERS HAS BEEN EMPHASIZED AND GENERALLY ACCEPTED FOR SOME YEARS NOW. THERE IS NOTHING SINGULAR ABOUT THIS.

/IT

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IT DOES HOWEVER INVOLVE A HEAVIER BURDEN THAN EARLIER POLICIES SUCH AS FORWARD DEFENCE. THE GOVERNMENT FREELY ACKNOWLEDGES THIS AND BELIEVES IT IS A BURDEN WHICH WE MUST BE PREPARED TO PAY FOR IN THIS UNSETTLED WORLD.

THE DECISION CONCERNING THIS SHIP FOLLOWS THE DECISION TAKEN IN 1980, AND ANNOUNCED BY ME IN THIS HOUSE AT THE TIME, TO ACQUIRE A PURPOSE-BUILT SHIP TO REPLACE HMAS MELBOURNE. I ALSO ANNOUNCED THAT COMPACTS WOULD BE LET FOR FUNDED STUDIES OF TH RE E D E S I G N S - THE SEA

CONTROL SHIP, THE ITALIAN GARIBALDI CLASS HELICOPTER CARRIER AND A VARIANT OF THE US IWO JIMA CLASS.

THE INVINCIBLE CLASS DESIGN WAS NOT SELECTED FOR FURTHER STUDY. BECAUSE OF ITS RELATIVELY HIGH COST.

HOWEVER, FOLLOWING A BRITISH DECISION LAST YEAR TO RETAIN ONLY TWO OF THREE INVINCIBLE CLASS SHIPS FOR THE ROYAL NAVY, THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT OFFERED HMS INVINCIBLE TO AU ST RA LIA AT A LOWER, AND MORE THAN COMPETITIVE, PRICE.

THE EARLY AV AILABILITY OF HMS INVINCIBLE WILL ALSO ALLOW THE REFIT OF HMAS MELBOURNE, SCHEDULED FOR 1982-83, TO BE CANCELLED. THE ME LBOURNE WILL BE PAID OFF AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE TO SAVE REFIT AND RUNNING COSTS.

THIS WILL ALSO ENABLE RETRAINING FOR THE NEW SHIP'S C O M P A N Y .

/THE ACQUISITION

THE AC QUISITION OF A PU RPOSE-DESIGNED SHIP PROVIDES A BASIS UPON WHICH TO RETAIN AND FURTHER DEVELOP A CORE OF SKILLS WHICH COULD BE USED IN RESPONSE TO AN EMERGENCY OR A CONTINGENCY; IT PROVIDES BOTH FLEXIBILITY

FOR RESPONSE AND A BASIS FOR EXPANSION.

LATER OPTIONS FOR EXPANSION WOULD NOT BE CONFINED TO THE AC QUISITION OF PU RPOSE-DESIGNED CARRIERS, BUT COULD INCLUDE THE CONVERSION OF MERCHANT SHIPS FOR LIMITED ROLES. THIS WAS DONE WITH GOOD RESULTS IN WORLD WAR II.

THE ACQUISITION OF THE INVINCIBLE SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS MERELY A REPLACEMENT FOR MELBOURNE. THE INVINCIBLE IS A VERY MODERN SHIP WITH A WIDE RANGE OF CAPABILITIES BEYOND THOS E NOW AVAI LA BLE TO US.

FIRSTLY, T H E SHIP IS PARTICULARLY SUITED TO OPERATING AMD MAINTAINING LARGE ANTI-S UBM AR INE HELICOPTERS. INVESTIGATIONS HAVE SHOWN THAT TO COUNTER A SUBMARINE THREAT A COMBINATION OF WEAPON PLATFORMS IS NECESSARY.

THIS COMBINATION INCLUDES LAND-BASED MA RI TI ME AIRCRAFT, ASW HELICOPTERS AND WARSHIPS. THERE IS NO SIMPLE SOLUTION.

/WHILE

- 5 -

WHIL E ONE OR TWO A N TI -S UBM AR INE HELICOPTERS CAN OP ER AT E FROM A SPECIALISED DESTROYER, EXAMINATIONS HAVE SHOWN IT IS MORE COST-EFFECTIVE TO GROUP A NUMBER OF HELICOPTERS TOGETHER IN A LARGER SKIP WITH CENTRALISED COMMAND AND CONTROL, MA IN TENANCE AND SUPPORT FACILITIES,

SECONDLY, THERE IS A NEED FOR A SHIP CAPABLE OF PLANNING, COMMANDING AND CO-ORDINATING OPERATIONS BY A GROUP OF SHIPS AND AIRCRAFT. ' ME LBOURNE IS NO LONGER AD EQUATE FOR THIS TA SK AND OTHER SHIPS LACK THE MEANS. ABOUT 25 PE RSONNEL WILL REQUIRE LIVING AND WORKING SPACE

FOR PLANNING AND CONTROL WITH EXTRA COMMUNICATIONS AND DEDICATED COMMAND DISPLAYS.

THIR DL Y THE SHIP HAS THE CAPACITY TO CARRY FOR A SHORT PERIOD A ROYAL MARINE COMMANDO - THE EQUIVALENT OF· AN AUSTRALIAN BATTALION GROUP. THIS COULD BE A VERY USEFUL ADJUNCT TO OUR AMPHIBIOUS SHIP; HMAS TOBRUK.

FURTHER THE SHIP IS CAPABLE OF OPERATING SHORT TAKE-OFF AND VE RT IC AL LANDING AI RCRAFT OF THE HARRIER TYPE, ALTHOUGH AT PRESENT IT IS INTENDED ONLY TO EMBARK ASW HELICOPTERS. THE SHIP IS FITTED WITH A "SKI JUMP"

TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF SEA HARRIER TYPES, BUT COULD NOT OPERATE CO NVENTIONAL CARRIER AIRCRAFT. THE

/QUESTION

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,'·*·. ;

QUESTION OF WH ET HE R TO ACQUIRE THIS TYPE OF AI RCRAFT WILL BE MADE AT A LATER DATE.

I NOW TURN TO SOME DETAILS OF TH E SHIP. THE COMPLEMENT, INCLUDING TH E AIR GROUP, OF ABOUT 950 MEN SHOULD BE AT LEAST 300 FEWER THAN THE MELBOURNE. T H E . PRECISE NUMBER DEPENDS ON THE COMPOSITION OF T H E AIR GROUPS.

' THE SHIP IS DRIVEN BY OLYMPUS GAS-TURBINE ENGINES. THESE ARE NOT USED ELSEWHERE IN THE D E FE NC E FORCE BUT W I L L ' BE SERVICED IN AN EXISTING FACILITY FOR MAINTAINING OLYMPUS INDUSTRIAL ENGINES IN VICTORIA. UNLIKE STEAM

PROPULSION SYSTEMS, A DEFE CT IVE GA S- TURBINE ENGINE CAN BE CHANGED BY SHIP'S STAFF IN ABOU T 48 HOURS.

T H E INVINCIBLE IS FITTED WITH THE LINK 11 COMMAND DA TA -E XCH AN GE SYSTEM. IT IS FULLY COMPATIBLE WITH THAT FITTED TO OUR GU ID ED-MISSILE DESTROYERS, OUR P3C ORION AIRCRAFT AND PLANNED FOR OUR GU ID ED-MISSILE FRIGATES.

THE SHIP IS SUITABLE FOR COMMANDING AN AUSTRALIAN T A SK GROUP AND HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVED IN THIS ROLE WITH US AND OTHER NATO FORCES IN THE ATLANTIC.

/A LIMIT

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A LIMIT OF COST OF 5 MILLION DOLLARS IS TO BE ALLOWED FOR RAN MODIFICATIONS. THES E WI LL INCLUDE ADDING 450 TONNES OF FUEL TO INCREASE THE SHIP'S OPERATING RANGE TO MEET OUR BASIC REQUIREMENT.

W H IL ST THE LIVING ACCOMMODATION IS OF A VERY HIGH STANDARD AND AIR-CONDITIONED FOR TR OP I C A L SERVICE, SPACE, WEIGHT AND POWER PROVISION EXISTS TO UP-RATE THIS WITHIN THE MODIFICATIONS LIMIT IF TR OP I C A L TRIALS LATER THIS YEAR SHOULD SHOW THIS TO BE NECESSARY.

THER E W I L L ALSO BE OTHE R MINO R CHANGES; FOR EXAMPLE TO COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT: TO TRANSFER .

SOME ITEMS FROM HMAS MELBOURNE; AND THE REMOVAL OF UNWANTED ITEMS. .

THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT TO RETAIN THE SEA DART AREA AI R- DEFENCE MI SS IL E SYSTEM WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF A SP EC IA L STUDY.

I WOULD NOW LIKE TO LAY AT REST SOME POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE SHIP AND AI RCRAFT CARRIERS IN GENERAL. ' '

/THE ALTERNATIVE

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THE AL TE RNATIVE OF GETTING A SHIP FOR OPERATING CONVENTIONAL CARRIER AIRCRAFT, SUCH AS THE F/A-18, NOW ON ORDER TO REPLACE THE MIRAGE, IS NOT AN OPTION FOR US. MODERN AI RC RA FT OF THE WE IGHT OF THE F/A-18 REQUIRE A LARGE D E C K WITH CATAPULTS AND ARRESTING GEAR. THERE

IS NO SHIP AVAILABLE AND EVEN THE SMALLEST PRACTICABLE WOULD BE FAR BEYOND OUR MEANS BOTH TO ACQUIRE AND MAN.

VU LN ER ABI LI TY IS AN OFT QUOTED CONCERN OF MANY.

I REJECT THIS. A SHIP OF THIS NATURE NORMALLY OPERATES AS PART OF A: GROUP EXPLOITING THE PRINCIPLE OF CONCENTRATION OF FORCE. SUCH A GROUP HAS AN INTEGRATED AND MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE RANGE OF OFFENSIVE AND DEFE NS IVE SYSTEMS. THE PRECISE COMPOSITION WOULD DEPEND ON T H E .'·

PERCEIVED THREAT, BUT IN ANY CASE WOULD BE VERY FORMIDABLE.

THE SHIP ITSELF, BEING PURPOSE-BUILT, HAS A'GOOD DEGREE OF SYSTEM REDUNDANCY AND WATE R- TIG HT INTEGRITY. THE DESIGN HAS SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED MINIMISING THE EFFECTS OF BATTLE DAMAGE.

. IS ONE CARRIER ENOUGH? IN PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES

THE ANSWER IS YES. OUR DEFE NC E FORCE MUST BE PROPERLY

/BALANCED

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BALANCED; ONE CARRIER IS AD EQUATE FOR LOWER-LEVEL CONTINGENCIES AND, LIKE THE REST OF OUR CAPABILITIES, WOULD PROVIDE A SOUND BASIS FOR EXPANSION. IN A DIVE RS E MARITIME THREAT, FOR INSTANCE,SHORE-BASED AIR WOULD BE USED WHER E THEY

COULD BE MOST EFFECTIVE AND OUR ONE CARRIER USED FURTHER AFIELD WHER E ITS SPEC IA L CAPABILITIES W E RE NEEDED.

OUR D E FE NC E FORCE MUST BE ONE COHERENT WHOLE.

I ENTIRELY REJECT THE CONCEPTS SOMETIMES ESPOUSED OF ALL SUBMARINES OR ALL PATROL BOATS. EACH WEAPON SYSTEM HAS ADVANTAGES AND EACH ITS LIMITATIONS.

THIS ST ATEMENT WOULD BE INCOMPLETE WITH OU T MENTION OF AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION. AS THE SHIP IS ALREADY BUILT, OPPORTUNITIES ARE NATURALLY RESTRICTED. HOWEVER THE UK GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN AN OFFSET UNDERTAKING AMOUNTING TO 17.5 MILLION POUNDS STERLING. AUSTRALIAN

INDUSTRY WI LL ALSO BE GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES TO PA RTICIPATE IN SHIP SUPPORT W O RK TO THE VALUE OF 25% OF ORDERS PLACED.

- 10 . -

I WISH TO ASSURE THE HOUSE THAT THE COSTS OF THE CARRIER WI LL NOT BE AT T H E EXPENSE OF OUR PROGRAMME FOR T H E DEVE LO PME NT OF THE D E F E N C E FORCE, ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO DO SOME RESCHEDULING.

TAKING ALL FACTORS INTO ACCOUNT, MR SPEAKER, THIS AL MO ST NEW SHIP - ONE OF A CLASS OF THRE E - IS A VERY CO ST -EFFECTIVE METHOD OF MEETING AUSTRALIA'S DEFENCE NEEDS.

IT REMAINS FOR ME TO EXPRESS' THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S APPRECIATION OF T H E AS SI ST ANC E AND PATIENCE SHOWN BY HER MAJESTY'S BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS MAJOR PROJECT. FOR MYSELF I AM DE EPLY GRATEFUL TO MY COLLEAGUE, THE RT. HONOURABLE

JOHN NOTT, THE BRITISH MI NI ST ER FOR D E F E N C E .

FINALLY, MAY I EXPRESS MY PERSONAL THANKS TO THE MANY OFFICERS WITHIN THE DE PA RT MEN T OF DEFE NC E WHO HAVE WORKED LONG HOURS OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME IN ADVISING ON THE PROJECT.