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Defence Minister warned of submarine gap



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Defence Minister warned of submarine gap

February 15, 2012

A senior Naval officer confirmed today the Government has been warned of a submarine

capability gap if they further delay a decision on the replacement of the ailing Collins Class

fleet.

Answering questions from Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston in Senate Estimates

today, the head of the future submarine project Rear Admiral Rowan Moffitt confirmed a

locally designed submarine based on the Collins Class would take 20 years after its ‘second

pass’ approval before it was ready.

This is the first time in the Senate that anyone in Defence has admitted it will be well after

2030 at the earliest that a submarine of this type could be in the water.

RAMR Moffitt did make the point that a Military Off The Shelf (MOTS) submarine would

take 10 years to be operational.

Senator Johnston said the Defence Minister was dithering on what was a vital issue of

national security and failed to give it the urgent priority needed.

“It has now been three years since the 2009 White Paper announced 12 new submarines

would replace the trouble-plagued Collins Class but no serious funding has been committed

by a succession of disinterested Defence Ministers,” Senator Johnston said.

“The Collins Class submarines are beset with sustainment and maintenance problems

currently costing the taxpayer $800 million a year,” Senator Johnston said.

“There is a very real possibility now that when they finally get to the point of mothballing the

Collins we will not have a replacement in the water ready to go and as an island nation that

leaves us in a very precarious position.”

Senator Johnston urged the Defence Minister to stop waxing lyrical about his intention to

take the future submarine project submission to the National Security Council to actually

make a decision.