• Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne delivering the opening keynote. Credit: ADM Philip Smart
    Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne delivering the opening keynote. Credit: ADM Philip Smart

The Submarine Institute of Australia’s fourth Submarine Science, Technology and Engineering Conference (SUBSTEC) in Adelaide this week has offered lessons learned from Collins Class build and sustainment and updates from those who will build and operate the Future Submarine.

Based on the theme “The Australian Submarine Capability – Consolidating Emerging Technologies and Developing the Submarine Workforce”, the three-day conference has seen a balance of focus between Naval Group presentations on its four-step submarine focus and discussion of Collins Life Of Type Extension as a means of ensuring there is no capability gap between old and new.

Federal Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne opened the conference with his view that Collins Class sustainment is now seen as an “exemplar” program, with CASG general manager (Submarines) Rear Admiral Steven Johnson laying out the steps taken and strategy of establishing an enduring Australian industrial base to build and sustain the Future Submarine.

“Our goal is to have a sovereign supply chain which is healthy from the beginning of the program to the construction of the last future submarine,” Johnson told the audience.

Plenary sessions included presentations on building the workforce, maintaining Australian sovereignty in supply chain and intellectual property, issues of STEM education and training and how universities and Defence will work together on research. Later, more technical sessions included Naval Group Australia’s CTO Gerard Autret laying out the company’s process for submarine design and technical papers on technologies from acoustic detection to combat systems integration. ASC’s Tanya Pimblett offered a study on lessons learned in the Collins submarine and Hobart-class DDG builds and sustainment.

Submarine Institute of Australia secretary Frank Owen said the conference had already fulfilled its purpose of providing a forum for informed discussion.

“We have nearly 300 delegates from around the world, from the UK, France, America, as well as Australia,” he told ADM. “It’s been a cross section from all sorts of industries, academia and defence. We’ve had the political as well as the technical.

“Every second year we hold a technology conference over three days which has refereed technical papers which are published and contribute to the continuing professional development of the engineers, as well as plenary sessions that have a more strategic focus.

“The Institute promotes informed discussion, so these conferences play a big part in informing a range of stakeholders, including those that might have their position and assume they’re informed, but may take on a different perspective when they hear from others.”

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