• HMAS Waller is the third of the six Collins class submarines to enter service in the RAN. (Defence)
    HMAS Waller is the third of the six Collins class submarines to enter service in the RAN. (Defence)

The Collins-class submarine HMAS Waller will return to service in September, five months after being damaged by an onboard electrical fire while alongside at HMAS Stirling. 

Responding on notice to questions raised in Senate Estimates by Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, Defence disclosed the fire occurred on 8 April in an auxiliary machine space.

Although the blaze was successfully extinguished it reignited approximately four hours later and was again extinguished. The cause was attributed to a flash-over of an electrical motor.

At the time HMAS Waller was preparing to conduct an operational workup and unit readiness evaluation, Defence said. 

The Defence response did not mention a flooding incident on 22 March in which water flowed into HMAS Waller through the conning tower hatch while the submarine was surfaced in a heavy swell off the West Australian coast.

“All procedures and safety systems operated correctly. However, this water ingress caused numerous electric failures which required the submarine to return to Fleet Base West for repairs," Defence subsequently explained. 

In February 2014 a fire broke out in a starting resistor cabinet for Waller’s main propulsion motor in the aft compartment of the 3,407 tonne submarine while surfaced off the West Australian coast.

The fire was smothered by an emergency fire suppression system but four crew were evacuated by helicopter after inhaling halon gas from the suppression system.

Repairs were carried out in conjunction with a scheduled major docking which was advanced by several months, and the submarine was out of service for about two years.

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