Construction of the pressure hull for the first of the RAN’s 12 Attack-class submarines is scheduled to begin in 2024 but details of the construction contract have yet to be decided, program head Greg Sammut has disclosed.
Sammut, general manager submarines in Defence’s Capability and Sustainment Group (CASG), told ADM that work on the first-of-type’s pressure hull at Osborne North would follow completion there in 2023 of a hull qualification section to prove procedures, equipment and skills.
“We may choose to sign a contract which combines detailed design, which is scheduled to start in May 2023, and construction of the first boat. This would enable Naval Group Australia and combat system integrator Lockheed Martin Australia to get into detailed design, produce the work instructions and have a seamless transition into construction,” Sammut said.
While the number of submarines to be included in the first construction contract was still being decided “it will certainly not be for 12,” Sammut commented.
“We would want to make sure that we’ve got the opportunity to look at updates to technology over the life of the program. We will also be considering the different pricing models that would apply to different stages of the program as we get more familiar with the build process,” he added.
Sammut confirmed that cultural differences had resulted in different approaches to the disciplines involved in delivering the Attack-class, the first of which is expected to be delivered to the RAN in 2032 for initial testing and the last in the early 2050s.
“We’re ensuring there are strong program management practices in place so we can deliver a submarine with the capability required by the Navy, on time and on budget,” he commented. “Those factors do make us a demanding customer. We don’t shy from that in discharging our responsibility.
“For a program this size we do need to be exercising very robust management and diligence at each stage so that we understand what the risks are, and we are taking appropriate steps to manage those risks as we move forward.”