The hopes of a 12-boat class of submarines for the Royal Australian Navy are in jeopardy. Continued problems including mechanical failures, fires, and other assorted gremlins have called into question whether or not to continue production of the Collins-class submarine fleet.
The Government's Defence white paper released last year outlined plans for a 12-strong submarine fleet.But Mr Baldwin says the Government must make sure the six submarines it has now are operational."This Government needs to make sure the time, the resources, the
dollars are placed into our submarines to make sure they are capable,"
he said.Last October Defence Minister John Faulkner admitted to a Senate
Estimates committee that he had "majorconcerns" about the fleet.He also confirmed that out of the six submarines, three were due for
major overhauls, one had "urgent defects" and the remaining two had
"various levels of availability" as they underwent routine maintenance."Significant improvement to submarine availability is vital for the
submarine capability and particularly for Navy's ability to grow the
submarine work force," he said.
Hopefully, this can worked out, and that sooner rather than later. Australia is a strategic ally, and will be counted upon should things develop badly in the Pacific in the coming decade or two.