The replacement for the Collins-class fleet sub will be "an orphan" on arrival, according to Hans Ohff.Julian Kerr, Janes.com
17 January 2017
SYDNEY -- The concept behind the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A submarine selected to replace Australia's Collins-class fleet has been criticized by the person who was responsible for the construction of the Collins-class boats.
Should the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) hold firm to the concept offered by French shipbuilder DCNS, "it will acquire an orphan no informed navy would contemplate commissioning into service", said Hans Ohff, who was
managing director between 1993 to 2002 of what was then the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).
Writing on 16 January on The Strategist, the commentary and analysis site of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Ohff said that the RAN would own a submarine that would be expensive to build, maintain, and operate. "It will be a class that has no equals; sadly for all the wrong reasons."
The government in Canberra announced in April 2016 that DCNS had defeated Japanese and German bids to design and construct 12 next-generation replacements for the RAN's six Collins-class submarines. The design proposed by DCNS was selected to meet Australia's Future Submarine requirement under the SEA1000 program.
Notwithstanding Australia's considerable capabilities in naval construction, Ohff said he remained doubtful that a long-range diesel-electric submarine with a 5,100-tonne submerged displacement could be designed and built locally.
He also wrote he was not convinced that such a class would be more lethal than smaller long-range classes, noting that the Defense Science and Technology Group within Australia's Department of Defense (DoD) had argued in a recent report that as the size and power of a submarine increased, gains made in range, speed, and endurance eventually diminished.
Moreover, Ohff wrote that an "inexcusable blunder" by defense planners was behind the decision to procure a submarine that would not have air-independent propulsion and was based on lead-acid rather than the lithium-ion technology that would eliminate the dangerous process of hydrogen venting.