Australia to undertake service life extension upgrades for Collins-class submarines


Four of the Royal Australian Navy's six Collins-class submarines. Photo c/o RAN.

Australia will be conducting major life-of-type extensions (LOTE) on its entire fleet of 6 Collins-class diesel-electric attack submarines of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), as it anticipate delays in the construction and commissioning of the initial Attack-class submarines to the mid-2030s.

Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that an investment of approximately A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion) would be spent to extend the service life and improve the capabilities of its entire Collins-class submarines for the class to remain suitable for combat operations in the future.

Originally the new Attack-class submarines, design and built by France’s Naval Group, will be coming online starting the early 2030s, but this has been pushed back due to several issues encountered during the pre-construction phase.

It is now expected that all 12 Attack-class submarines will reach final operational capability in 2054.

Defence Minister Dutton said “We need to be realistic about what lies ahead by way of threat in our own region and the submarine capacity is a significant part of how we mitigate that risk and it’s important we get the program right. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to pursue a life-of-type extension and we are working on that program now. All six would be on the schedule.”

The LOTE program involves the rebuilding of each of the Collins-class submarines once they reach 30 years of service, with each submarine undergoing upgrades that will take around 2 years.

The program would be undertaken by ASC in Adelaide, South Australia, supported by the Collins-class’ original prime contractor Saab. The first submarine is expected to start its LOTE works by 2026.

The Attack-class submarines are being procured under the Australian Department of Defence (DOD) under the SEA 1000 program for the Royal Australian Navy. France’s Naval Group (previously DCNS) won the contract in 2016 to build 12 diesel-electric submarines based on the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A design, which was derived from the French Navy’s Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine.

The Australian DOD has encountered several setbacks in its deal with Naval Group, including the increase of the projected cost of the program from A$40 billion (US$30.7 billion) to A$69 billion (US$53 billion), on work and technology sharing agreements, and share of involvement of the Australian shipbuilding and defense industry.

[1] Defence Connect

[2] Jane’s

[3] The Drive

Australia to undertake service life extension upgrades for Collins-class submarines Australia to undertake service life extension upgrades for Collins-class submarines Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on June 16, 2021 Rating: 5

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