Australia’s troubled Collins class submarines are to be the subject of an official Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Seaworthiness Board (SwB) for the second time in just over a year, Jane’s Australian correspondent (and ADM stalwart) Julian Kerr has learnt.
In addition to earlier and well-publicised difficulties with noise propagation and the need to replace their original combat systems, more recently the six 3.061-tonne submarines have experienced a series of problems with their diesel engines, generators and electric motors.
Confirming that a SwB was to be convened for the Collins class in 2011, a Department of Defence spokesperson said on 2 November that the Board would “make recommendations to the Chief of Navy (CN) on the continued certification and ongoing release to service of the subject system”.
Informed sources said the board would begin work early next year.
The SwB will consist of two senior Navy Reserve officers with extensive operational and technical experience, appointed by the CN and reporting directly to him.
Other specialists in the submarine domain may assist them.
A pilot SwB was convened for the Collins class in November 2009.
No details have been released, although the CN, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, told a parliamentary committee on 19 October the board’s findings had been positive.
Although operational details involving the RAN’s submarine force are classified, limitations are understood to currently be in force on both the distance and the duration of Collins class deployments.
According to the spokesperson, no “additional” restrictions had been placed on Collins class operations pending the outcome of the forthcoming SwB.