Below are excerpts from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s June 29, 2017 Speech on Australia's submarine selection decision http://tonyabbott.com.au/2017/06/address-centre-independent-studies-sydney/:
"When a Russian naval task force appeared to our north at the time of the Brisbane G20, I was told that neither of our two deployed submarines could shadow it. They simply couldn’t get there in time.
It was a stark reminder of the limitations of a strategic deterrent comprising just six conventional submarines of which two are in deep maintenance, two are in training, with only two available at any one time – and limited by an underwater cruising speed of just 10 knots.
...The whole point of the next submarine acquisition was to avoid the problems of the Collins – to find the submarine that could be brought swiftly into service with the least possible modifications – but what we have done so far risks an exact repetition.
We’ve based our proposed sub on an existing design but one that will need to be so extensively reworked that it’s effectively a brand new submarine and our intention is to build it entirely in Australia.
...A unique Australian boat is precisely what we wanted to avoid; but it’s exactly what we now face because of our insistence on a submarine that as well as being large, and long-range, was also conventionally powered.
The competitive evaluation process conclusively showed that there’s no such thing currently in existence. All the submarines on which the bids were based are excellent for their countries’ needs – but none, it seems, for ours.
The Japanese sub lacked range.
The German sub lacked size.
And the French sub lacked conventional power.
But instead of changing what we wanted, we’ve decided – again – to bring an orphan submarine into being.
Instead of taking a small Swedish submarine designed for the Baltic and seeking to double its size and range to make it suitable for the Pacific – as with the Collins – this time we’re proposing to take a French nuclear submarine and completely redesign it to work with conventional propulsion.
...The resulting sub will have less power, less range, less speed and less capability than the existing submarine on which it’s based and it will come into service about a decade later than would be optimal at a time when strategic circumstances are changing against us.
Hence the basic question: why should we spend years designing a sub that’s inferior to one we could potentially have now?
...a conventional sub takes at least a fortnight to go from Australia to the South China Sea through which passes more than 50 per cent of our trade.
...I stress: I do not want to interrupt the process of acquiring new submarines given that it had languished for so long.
The design process with DCNS should continue and so should the build if that remains our fully considered assessment of what’s best."
Next week Submarine Matters will republish Abbott's comments on the need for Australia to acquire "regionally superior" NUCLEAR attack submarines.
Tony Abbott (left) on a warship. Photo courtesy Australia's news(dot)com(dot)au.