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HMAS Farncomb incident another Collins class calamity



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HMAS Farncomb incident another Collins class calamity

September 12, 2011

The Opposition has asked for an urgent briefing from the Defence Minister to explain exactly what happened to HMAS Farncomb last month off the Western Australian coast.

Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston said he was growing increasingly concerned about the continuing problems faced by the Collins Class Submarines and the incident with HMAS Farncomb was just another in a growing list of calamities.

Both the main propulsion unit and the emergency propulsion units failed during a late night exercise on the 13-year-old submarine, forcing the Commander to order an emergency blowing of the ballast tanks to get back to the surface.

Senator Johnston said the Collins Class submarines are costing the taxpayer $443 million in maintenance this year and barely two out of the six are available for operational service at any one time.

“This lack of availability is having a detrimental effect on personnel who have limited opportunities to train and test new technologies, as well as weakening our overall defence posture,” Senator Johnston said.

Senator Johnston said under the previous Government in 2007 Collins Class Submarines met 98 per cent of readiness targets and mission capability was substantially achieved.

“Now this Government is so embarrassed with its lack of capability it no longer publishes Unit Ready Days figures to the Parliament,” he said.

“To make matters worse, the Defence Minister has declared he will not turn his attention to a new submarine project until problems with Collins are sorted, ordering a review into

maintenance issues that is not due to report until April 2012.”

Senator Johnston said since Labor formed Government in 2007 there had been three Defence Ministers, none of whom seem to grasp the gravity of the looming capability gap the nation will face.

“It is fast moving from a matter of maintenance problems to one of national security, and I am seeking assurances from the Minister that he appreciates that.”