Indian Ocean

 

Some parts of the government’s response to the review of the RAN surface fleet were expected, such as the reduction in the number of Hunter and Arafura classes to a total of six each.  What was unexpected was the acquisition of six Large Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels from the US that do not yet exist.

While six Anzac class frigates will be upgraded and remain in service for years to come, there will now be a competition between four suppliers for between 8 and 11 new general purpose frigates.  The first three are likely to be built in yards in either Germany, Japan, South Korea or Spain.

Taken together, this package will substantially increase the size of the RAN surface fleet, something that the government says is essential to protect Australia’s sea lanes of communication during a time of enhanced strategic risk.  The report indicates that there will be an increase in funding of $11.1 billion over the next decade – something that will presumably be detailed in the May budget.

The report also calls for the upgrade of the three Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers to be accelerated, but since work is scheduled to begin in 2026 there’s not a lot of room for improvement there.  The decision to bring forward that upgrade should have been taken years ago.

The 11 general purpose frigates will be in the 3,000 – 4,000 tonne range with the choice being:

  • Meko A-200
  • Mogami 30FFM
  • Daegu class FFX Batch II and III
  • Navantia ALFA3000

How they were selected is unknown – though they are all modern designs of similar size and capability.  An obvious problem is schedule – if this is managed as a classic four-way competition with a mandated Aegis combat system and a CEA radar suite that screams delay.

In the unlikely event that the RAN has a specification ready to go, companies will need a year to respond, followed by a possible short list, then offer definition activity, source selection, contract negotiations and so on.

If all goes well, construction in a parent European or Asian yard might start in 2028.  If Hanwha of South Korea is selected they might deliver the first ship in 2030 – for all the others it would be a year or two after that.

For BAE Systems, six Hunter class frigates seems to be the least-worst outcome. However, there is zero chance of that program being accelerated – and the government says it has discovered a massive cost blowout in the project.  If correct, this increase would seem to eat up most, if not all, of the foreshadowed Defence budget increase.

It’s a disappointing result for Luerrsen with the Arafura class cut to a mere six down from 12.  The ships have been heavily criticised as being under-armed – but that was a decision taken by the RAN themselves.  As we have frequently pointed out, the parent ships for Brunei pack a decent punch with four surface-to-surface missiles and a potent 57mm main gun.  It remains a perpetual mystery why the RAN took a useful ship and turned it into the opposite – and then blamed the shipbuilder.

The only way of fast tracking capability and maintaining the Australian supply chain would have been to transition from the Arafuras to the C90 corvette being constructed by Luerssen for Bulgaria.  This could have seen a heavily armed 2,000 tonne warship with 70% AIC delivered in 2028.

The big mystery are the six large optionally crewed ships.  The concept is great since the RAN has huge problems with shrinking personnel numbers – but these ships simply do not exist.  The review recommends that these imaginary ships be purchased from the US – but why?

In a truly surreal twist, Defence Minister Richard Marles has said that the optionally crewed ships will in fact be fully manned.  This begs the question: why building in all those hugely expensive AI-enabled systems if you have no intention of ever using them?  This sounds like an acquisition shambles in the making.

A cynic would say this is yet another perfect job for a retired USN Admiral.

(PHOTO: Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Hobart off Australia’s east coast during Exercise Diamond Seas 2022. (DoD photo/Annika Smit)

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75 COMMENTS

  1. The review is a bit of a mess to me some nice idea but no actual capabiity.
    The only real immediate effect was the retiring of HMAS ANZAC and decommissioning of HMAS Arunta, both a mere 4 years after completing their AMCAP upgrades.

    But I feel that the Luerrsen cut backs are the real missed opportunity here. The Arafura class are able to be up gunned, quite significantly, and further, the final 6 being built to the C90 standard was an obvious chance for real capability with a low crew as soon as possible.. isn’t that what this review was all about?
    But no we had to pick six fantasy unmanned ships from the US delivered sometime.

    I had heard that Italy were looking to off load their fine Thaon di Revel-class offshore patrol vessels, as in looking to sell their already made vessels. Some fine capability in those ships is available.
    If not then a strategic alliance with Japan I think is essential so the Mogami class for an Immediate direct purchase Government to Government with an announcement in a months time. We need capability now, but these decisions needed to be made a decade ago.

    • Absolutely bizarre. We have our own development program in WA with Austal adapting their decommissioned Armidale class patrol boats for testing uncrewed surface vessels. Are we going to abandon that now?

      • The six LOSV will probably be built by Austal, according to the recommendation and government response in the report.

      • And where exactly would the 32 missile cells go on a boat that size? Did we all miss the LARGE part of the name.

        • The Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial development program “…will establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a patrol boat, providing a proof-of-concept demonstrator, for optionally crewed or autonomous operations for the RAN into the future.”

          https://www.austal.com/ships/autonomous-ships

          The accompanying artwork includes concepts of “High Speed Missile Launch Vessels”. Are we going to ditch our sovereign program to just follow whatever the U.S is doing?

      • Austal were selected by the US Navy as one of several companies to further develop concepts and tech for that program. Australia will join that program with the US obviously to take advantage of being a development partner as opposed to a sole developer. I date say that Austal would be the eventual builder of the successful vessel in Australia for the RANs vessels.
        The work Austal is doing with one of the retired Armidale PBs is using it as a test bed for the tech. An Armidale wouldn’t be the final vessel.

        • Looking at Austal’s website though it appears they are suggesting an unmanned Enhanced Cape Class could be used as some sort of platform for missile launching/ MCM duties?

  2. I expected some kind of U.S. buy from the Fleet Review but imaginary ships is a surprise. Then the F35 was only an idea and that turned out well ( insert sarcastic grimace) . On paper the 11 new Combatants ( watch it shrink to 7) looks promising but knowing how CASG and the DoD work I will be surprised if any thing happens anytime soon. As for the Arafura , it was to be expected but the option of building the last Six as C90 instead of investing in non exsistant ships is typically Marles. This has all the Hall marks of another Fiasco

    remaining

  3. The announcement is a real mixed bag but overall isn’t too terrible but not what I was hoping for. I have not yet read to Surface Fleet Review and this opinion is just based on the information provided from the press release and accompanying articles.

    We finally have a long overdue increase in the number of surface combatants. But only 9 (3 Hobart + 6 Hunters) “Tier 1” surface combatants? I don’t see how we are increasing lethality at all with this. This means only the Hobart’s with the upcoming Aegis upgrades will be capable of intercepting ASBM. I’m glad they are bringing this upgrade forward but as Kym points out this work was to start in 2026 anyway so not much improvement. We should have taken Navantia’s offer for the 3 additional Hobart’s (Spanish build) to dramatically increase our air warfare capabilities by 2030 and we already have the other fundamental inputs to capabilities (training, workforce etc.) set up.

    Reducing the number of Hunters was expected but unfortunate. I know I’m probably alone on this but the concerns over the Hunter’s air warfare capabilities aside the forward looking design including a multi-mission bay will prove invaluable for the future of naval warfare. In the end BAESMA really only have themselves to blame however.

    The addition of 11 new “Tier 2” surface combatants is probably the only part of this announcement that makes any sense. I’m not sure how the reached the number of 11 ships (perhaps it’s in the review) but this adequately addresses the problem of our navy not having enough mass or presence. I’m very curious though about the designs that made the short list however as completely absent was Babcock’s Arrowhead 140. With a hot production line in Rosyth and Babcock pushing hard for the A140 in New Zealand and group A+NZ purchase should have been considered. Out of the short listed options TKMS’s newest Meko 200 (32 VLS) and Navantia’s Alfa 3000 (16 VLS) seem the best options. Both companies had Australianised versions of these designs already (for the Australian build of 8, not the 3 express MotS) and we have worked with both before, especially Navantia. The Daegu class FFX Batch II or III are great ships but feature extensive South Korean indigenous sensor and weapons technologies that will need to be adapted such as the K-VLS to Mk.41 VLS. Ditto the Mogami class is also good especially if we go with the newer version Japan intends to build (32 VLS) but also comes the challenge of adapting Japanese sensors and weapon systems. Also not sure how any of these ships will deal with the rapidly proliferating ASBM threat.

    Finally the worst part of the announcement. The decision to acquire 6 LOSV is a total head scratcher. This a very risky option both in terms of developing the technology but fielding and maintaining it. If these are in fact are intended to be crewed why not simply order more “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” combatants? LOSV absolutely have a part to play in the future of naval warfare as both missile barges and re-supply ships but I think it’s much too early to go down this route and could very easily become an endless money pit.

    Thoughts?

    • My thoughts are roughly similar – no new capability for a while. Two Anzacs to go out of service quickly; AWD MLU beginning in 2026 means we only have two Hobart class available until about 2032 when the program is complete. The money is a concern. If there really is a $25 billion black hole in the Hunter class program and there’s only an $11 billion increase, basic maths says the RAN is $14 billion worse off. The idea of fully crewing optionally crewed ships sounds completely insane.

        • OK. Two thirds of $25 billion is still a $16.7 billion black hole. I’m always suspicious when governments come up with numbers like these designed to smear their political opponents. I’m not saying there isn’t a black hole – I don’t know – but I would like to see some evidence of the claim.

  4. “It remains a perpetual mystery why the RAN took a useful ship and turned it into the opposite – and then blamed the shipbuilder.”…Where’s the mystery ? RAN has plenty of form with this kind of bs, did the same with its Seasprite then Taipan helicopters remember ? So Australia’s in imminent danger yet government can afford to waste ANOTHER year on tendering for current general purpose frigates ? Give me 17 (half of them built o/s) over 11 + 6 ridiculously priced Hunter class hoaxes any day (especially when they remain over a decade away). And yeah, insisting that missile barges for the AWD & Hunters be crewed would tend to suggest that the whole ADF recruitment crisis thing hasn’t really sunk in yet…

    • I stand corrected, Jennifer Parker has clarified Richard Marles emphasis on crewing the LSOV is down to the legal question marks hovering over the lethality of uncrewed vehicles

  5. Whatever happened to the urgency the world is currently in, about a possible WWIII.

    Another delaying tactic by the federal Government.

  6. Typical, as the bluster settles, it’s Corvettes for RAN after all, the Meko A-200 EN’s 32 VLS cells appear to make it the only vessel worthy of the ‘Frigate’ tag, with every other boat on the list packing just 16 cells.Wondering about that noise in the background ? it’s China’s non-stop laughter at Australian hubris.

  7. Surely the RAN could add another 32 VLS to the Hunter Class to make them more useful, having 64 VLS cells total wouldn’t necessitate the removal of the ASW equipment making them very good surface combatants and better value for money.

    • The RAN will actually have more MH-60R helicopters than they can ever possibly use. They have 24 and have 12 more on order. That’s an interesting point about supply ships.

    • I’d suspect will we find out in the first National Defence Strategy due to be released this year. We could order another couple of Supply class vessels from Navantia or we could bring the Joint Support Ship program forward. Either way they will most likely have to be built overseas as the 30,000 tonne dry dock facility to be built at the Australian Maritime Complex in Henderson that was supposed to start construction last year and be ready by 2028 has been put on hold by the current government.

  8. The biggest worry is that there is always a lot of talk about We will do this or we will do that and it never eventuates into We did.

  9. For tier 2 could Aegis be overkill, would SAAB 9LV and CEA combo get us what we need, this is same as ANZAC class. 1/2 the options are designed to have buyer’s choice of systems (Meko A-200 and ALFA 3000) and have proposed Aust versions. So a quick knock down to these could be possible. (the others would have to offer something pretty exceptional to warrant the delays caused in Auss’zing them. Navantia has Aust arm so it would support already established Aust design office + Navantia offered to build 2 of these in Spain in only 35 months for the Greek frigate program. So if we go Tasman class (alfa 3000) we might get them sooner then we might otherwise think. and remember Navantia, CIVMEC and Austal have already signed up together to build these for navy in Henderson. My only Q’s would be can it operate towed of variable depth sonar and can a sea mine layer function be incorporated too.

    • All good points. I think Aegis would be overkill but I have seen next to nothing from the government about the combat system part of the equation – other than they will be on the fully crewed optionally crewed vessels (sounds insane) – that I don’t know what they are thinking. It’s clear that Richard Marles will do whatever Navy wants.

    • With the exception of the express overseas build of three MotS ships the future T2’s will most likely incorporate at the very least Saab’s AusCMS (Australian Combat Management System) based on 9LV. After all we signed an Enterprise Partnering Agreement with Saab Australia for them to provide AusCMS to our future vessels. Depending on the maturity of the designs presented at Indo Pacific 2023 CEA sensors could be incorporated during build or at the very least as part of the future ship systems upgrade. As for Aegis I would agree that full baseline suites would be overkill but instead the simplified CEC capability should be installed to allow larger Aegis T1 ships to push/pull sensor and targeting information with the T2’s.

    • This was a surface fleet review not a defence white paper and I would expect the inaugural national defence strategy due this year to answer this question. Until then we have a development program for uncrewed surface vessels with Austal in WA and a 3 year development contract with Anduril Australia for uncrewed underwater “Ghost Shark” vessels.

  10. Yes, this Govt has always given me the impression of not having any idea, so whatever their told gets up. I think the whole LOSV is a good in theory but pipe dream in reality if it ever makes it, it’ll be 20-40-200% more expensive anyway to quote the movie ‘tell ’em their dreamin’. On the SAAB 9LV the previous govt said that Aegis was to be for ‘Tier1’ and 9LV for everything else. and they were working it up to do everything Aegis could eventually. but can only hope. The Tasman’s won’t need sm2-6 or tomahawk and NSM will give a land attack capability to them, model of it showed 16 NSM. add mine laying and towed sonar and it would make a great little GP warship to do almost anything you need.

  11. Am viewing all this with a degree of scepticism (who can blame me). Seems to me we have had reviews before and they have signalled capability and strategic changes – to my way of thinking it is simply a delaying tactic until it becomes the next Government’s problem.

    I hope that there is real progress with this. Logic dictates that Navantia is the choice for General Purpose frigates given our track record with them. They already have an established infrastructure here in Australia and should be able to shorten the design to launch process – particularly given that the ALFA 3000 is a proven design. While we are at it we must look also at procurement of additional support ships (ie perhaps 2 more Supply class).

    OPV’s – sadly mis-managed from the start. As you have said Kym – the RAN took a good design and turned it into a shell of what it needed to be.

    Still no mention of any mine warfare vessels in all of this? Maybe build the remaining OPV’s as dedicated mine warfare vessels – fit the 57mm gun and at least some NSM or other missile system for protection?

    As has been suggested it would be good if the RNZN came onboard for the General Purpose Frigates – could be a good opportunity for them to modernise their fleet?

    Biggest elephant in the room remains crewing these new ships. Not sure how or if that can be overcome.

  12. Don’t count your chickens. The Hunters are going from 9 to 6, Arafuras 12 to 6, 12 SS went to 0, 4 Hobarts ended up being 3, well you get the idea. When they say 11 new frigates the actual number will probably be less. Don’t count on a second tranche of Hunters either.

    Reality is that the current combat fleet will almost immediately drop to just 9 ships and the first Hunter is still a decade away. We are to believe that a ship that hasn’t even been identified will be selected, go through the contract phase, production phase and then beat the Hunters into service.

    It is almost like the Chinese have won the war with the RAN without a single shot fired.

    • >”and then beat the Hunters into service.”

      Easily. The Hunters are huge, and production is also incredibly slow.

      • I’ve tried and failed to understand why construction of the Hunters is so slow. Contract award 2018 – first ship delivered around 2032. It’s a complex project but shouldn’t take 14 years.

  13. The whole Fleet Review is a Disaster waiting to happen ,this whole Fiasco is ridiculous, someone needs to say “ We got it wrong, we’re scrapping the whole Hunter thing and going with Navantia Alpha 3000 to replace ANZAC,the Alpha 5000 as replacement for Hunter and the Flight III as eventual replacement for Hobart. AUKUS is too far a reach for us at the moment and replace Collins with KSS III” Capability is needed now not 10 or 20 years from now, all these We’re looking at, We’re exploring the option, We’re planning on and all the somewhere in the distant future announcements need to stop and someone do something now….Either that or start learning Chinese…

  14. It is interesting to note that Navantia had a version of the Alfa 3000 being spruiked at the Sea Power conference which already included the Saab 9LV system and the CEA radar. The comments about the Optionally Crewed Vessels from the Defence Minister suggest that only the DDG and Hunter will work with the floating missile silos because they will have Aegis Baseline 9. That suggests to me that the General Purpose Frigates will NOT have Aegis and therefore will have the Saab 9LV system (especially noted it is government policy that all surface combatants have that system). All this together suggests that Navantia would have to be the front runner with the Meko 200 (which is just an modernised ANZAC) as a close runner up.

    The Math concerns me though. Others have noted that the fleet will shrink first by 2035 even with buying the first three FP Frigates from overseas. With the ANZAC TransCap program scrapped there is no way those ships will last as long as is needed so I can’t se how the fleet will grow before 2040; and that is assuming the WA and SA shipyards can actually ramp up production to the required 1.5 ships per year that would be needed to meet the timelines suggested. I have severe doubts about that.

    And finally, the devil is in the detail as always and more so for these optionally crewed arsenal ships. Why only 32 cells? What is the concept of operations? will they be stacked with Land Attack missiles to leave the mother ships cells free for Air Warfare missiles or will they be SM3 carriers for Ballistic Missile Defence? Having them haul around SM6 and or Maritime Strike seems ridiculous to my mind.

    There are a lot of questions that need answering and a price tag of $11.6B seems the most questionable of all.

    • I hope you are correct about a 9LV-only solution for the general purpose frigates being the only sane option but so far that hasn’t been spelt out. I’m also concerned about the math – and I wonder how Defence plans to handle the 4-way competition for the design. And since Austal has been mandated as the builder – I assume that remains the case – they are in a powerful position to extract maximum profit from all this.

      • My understanding was that Austal deal was specifically for building the LMV-M and LMV-H and now apparently the LOSV. Now that the Arafura class has been canned Civmec will have a large empty shipbuilding hall ready to build the new frigates. Depending on the design chosen four vessels could be built simultaneously. BAE will also have empty hard stands after AMCAP wraps up unless they are going to be utilised for NSM installation. Offering work to Austal, BAE and Civmec, similar to U.S method of utilising both BIW and HHI, could help keep the costs and schedules competitive.

  15. Surprising what they can squeeze into a hull now. Just found the PDF page for the Tasman ‘corvette’ on Navantia Aust site. I wondered earlier and now know, It can have towed array fitted in the mission bay, they designed for the Thales CAPTAS 2 which is the little brother to the ones we’re building for the Hunters. Second and biggest, good, surprise, for me, is that the VLS is Mk41 ‘strike’ length, 16 cells in total and is included so it can mount Tomohawk cruise missiles for a strike capability. This design keeps sounding better and better. Oh please Canberra, get it right and get it done. If the reality matches the design, just add smart sea mine laying and UUV options to the mission bay choices and it would be just about perfect.

  16. When you sum it up, I think we did quite well from the review and the future plan.
    Instead of risking further delays to Hunter by further modifying it, I think Govt have decided to stick with what has been specified and let it get into production. Yes it’s slow, but we have to swallow that and try and not repeat it again. Sooner or later they have to decide on something and move on. They will not exactly be a slouch of a capability, and are definitely a step up from what they’re replacing.
    I think the idea to go for a near MOTS GP Frigate was good, and going with an initial off-shore build to ensure a quicker delivery was a wise move. I’d rather wait an extra 2 years to get a Frigate over a Corvette. Where the Corvette idea ever came from I’m not sure. Did Govt ever say anything about a corvette, or was that just an industry rumour or assumption that blew up?
    As for the shortlisted baseline examples of suitable models, they’re a good starting point. Note the language use in the announcement was ‘exemplars’ and ‘baseline’. Obviously used to give some room to move to include some minimum requirements such as CEAFAR and 9LV etc., and add extra models to the list should something else suitable appear. I’d see the Mogami as being a strong contender given Japan’s industrial capacity, the number being built, the age of the design, how it already incorporates the Mk41, and has a solid upper mast to support the phased array radar. I note several of the others have various other systems, leading to more baseline modification. It’s size and crewing requirement also make it very efficient given its size, and importantly room to grow.
    As for the LOSV, I think that is a good move getting into a program like that now where we have the ability to have a say in capability etc. especially where Austal are one of the companies engaged by the US to further develop options and enabling technologies. They already have their foot in the game with the Armidale test bed. Having a lower cost and more expendable platform, especially with autonomous capability to carry a load of weapons is a more efficient way to implement the distributed lethality model than just using a fleet of traditional combatants. While it will have Aegis to enable cooperative engagement, it will cost a lot less than a regular combatant. Even at a few hundred $ million, you can have several of these platforms spread out over an area for the cost of one regular combatant. I think I’d rather have a Hunter, a Hobart and an LOSV spread over an area rather than just the former 2. Three vessels are harder to take out than 2.
    Expand that to the GP frigates as well. The more expensive they are, the less you get. I’d rather have 7-11 GP frigates with 16 VLS cells than 3 or 4 heavier armed ones as you can spread more of them out on different areas to do different roles while the opposition has to devote more platforms to hunt them down.
    As for the LOSV being a fantasy vessel, test-bed vessels already exist and have been in use for a number of years, with one recently test firing missiles in the US.
    If Ghost Bat had been announced before a prototype had been built, would people have had the same response?
    Despite the history over the last 10-15 years, I’d like to be optimistic. You have to start somewhere.

  17. Why wasn’t a fixed wing air arm considered in the review?Without we lose a lot in surveillance ,fleet defence and offense particularly for the amphibious operations the LHDs are designed for or are we meant to remain within coastal waters so we don’t lose air cover?

  18. My prediction on the Frigate selection is this.
    Alpha 3000 not in the contention, it is a paper tiger and should be dropped.

    Daegu, this is resource hungry 140 crew. Low endurance 4500nm, only 16VLS. All this needs to change. To change this is too hard to do quickly.

    Meko A200: Great range 7200nm, 120 crew, design is mature. 5 years to build and commission. There is space to hold more than 8 SSM as well.

    Mogani: Range unknown, 90 crew, 3 years to build and commission. Has facility for UUV and USV. Politically a good choice.

    So I believe that it will be between the Meko and the Mogani. Both need more VLS, the Meko can fit 24/32 Mk41 but not sure if the Mogani can, at least 8 cells need to Tactical length.

    We are going to see more coordinated saturation attacks on ships in the future, refer to Red Sea/Black Sea. So the frigate solution will need better CIWS(2+).

    Need to standardise on the 30mm canon, get rid of the 25mm. This provides compatibility with the Army canons.

    Good to see the Arafuras being used for the border security.

    The LOSV need to be 64cell VLS units with good CIWS (2+) and the ability to land a SH60. How else do you plan to transfer maintenane pople in the event of a breakdown.

    • Great recent article from ANI, Mogami 30FFM ‘Batch 2’ increases dimensions and standard displacement to approximately 5,000 tons. This adjustment doubles Mk41 VLS capacity to 32-cells, on what appears to be not only the stealthiest design but most versatile and needing a crew of just 90 thanks to extensive automation. Hopefully the Soryu sub debacle guarantees Japan’s support of building 8 in Aus (although I’d rather Japan built the lot, we need 11 of these yesterday)

      https://navalinstitute.com.au/from-rocks-to-tigers-advocating-for-japans-30ffm-frigate-acquisition/

      • Thanks for sharing that link. Very interesting. I didn’t know the Mogami was a contender for SEA 5000. I thought the RAN moved very quickly to narrow it down to: F-105 (Hobart class); FREMM (Italian version) and Type 26.

        • No worries Kym, will there be a podcast this week ? aware you’ve been os, interested to hear any insider takes on ex Aus army Abrams for Ukraine

          • Yes – I was hoping it would be live this afternoon but there must be a delay in production. I’m investigating the M1A1s. I had the impression they were going back to the US as part of a package deal for the 75 M1A2s, but if that’s not the case they should definitely go to Ukraine.

      • I’m definitely warming up the Mogami FMF-AAW “Batch 2”. Fastest possible delivery amongst its competition based on a proven hull form. Best in class armament with 32 Mk.41 VLS and SeaRAM and utilises the same Mk.45 Mod 4 naval gun as the Hobart, Hunters and Anzac’s. It also already supports the Seahawk MH-60R.

        Since Japan is pumping these out so quickly I wonder if they will let us buy or loan any of the existing ships in a similar fashion to some of the European shipbuilders?

  19. So with the Arafuras cut back to 6 what happens with the MCM/Hydro ship replacements?
    Are we going to go back to the market?

    • No one knows. The RAN might buy another used ex-Norwegian offshore oil and gas logistic support ship – or they might give up completely and cancel SEA 1905.

  20. You obviously thought my comments were too harsh to publish. Your magazine, your prerogative, but my views on this ramshackle debacle of a government and it’s continuous procrastinating with little or no idea on what to do with defence still stands. The fact the last time Labor was in power, not a single ship was procured for the navy illustrates the true level in which Labor hold defence. The statements by Albanese that the defence of the nation is a governments number one priority would be laughable if not for the fact that Labor’s relationship with defence is simply tragic.
    Naval ships with very little offensive capability, contract after contract after contract either being cancelled or reduced whether be the army or navy and not a single additional aircraft for the Air Force. Is it just me or are there other contributors that have come to the conclusion that Australian governments see defence as a bit of a plaything where it really doesn’t matter what you do so long as you appear to be doing something. It is a disgrace wrapped up in a tragedy that unfortunately we will witness in the not too distant future.

    • My apologies – I’m not aware of the previous comments of yours that you refer to. We believe in free speech here and I’m happy to let just about everything through, unless it’s a libelous personal attack or some sort of attempted prank. As it happens, many of my own views are close to yours. However, some of the greatest debacles – such as the deliberate down-designing of the Arafura class; the dubious selection of the immature Type 26 design; the retrograde Attack class design; the AUKUS methodology – were all the products of a Coalition government. I had been hoping that Labor would institute a major review as soon as they came to government, but instead they went along with all of this – and now have added to the mess firstly with the DSR and, possibly more seriously, with the surface fleet review.

  21. I’ll risk a silly question. Given our dodgy fuel supply situation, why don’t we have nuke propulsion in surface ships?

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