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New subs provide decisive sea lethality

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Max Blenkin, Defence Correspondent

Twelve new submarines will provide the decisive sea lethality Australia needs to guarantee long-term strategic security, the head of the Navy says.

Vice Admiral Tim Barrett says the navy needs to look to the lessons from past Oberon and Collins-class subs to make a success of these new boats.

"These are submarines which will provide Australia with the decisive lethality in the maritime domain that the nation needs if it is to guarantee its long term strategic security," he told the Submarine Institute of Australia Institute conference in Canberra.

The 12 new submarines, designed by French shipbuilder DCNS, will be constructed in Adelaide with the first set to enter service in the early 2030s.

In the meantime, the Navy will continue to operate its six Collins subs which only now achieving expected levels of availability and reliability.

Vice Admiral Barrett said Britain's Royal Navy supported Australian operations of the Oberon subs from their acquisition through to retirements when the Collins boats arrived.

But it took the Navy more than a decade to wholly realise the magnitude and complexity of being sole operator and therefore parent of the Collins subs.

He said the obligations of Collins parenthood were now properly grasped, although acquiring this proficiency was a very painful experience.

Vice Admiral Barrett said twice as many submarines of a new design demanded that Defence get it right from the outset.

"This includes the necessary training systems, appropriate through-life support arrangements and adequate shore-based infrastructure to produce and sustain our future submarine. We simply must get these systems, arrangements and infrastructure right if we are to realise the Future Submarine capability."

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