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Subject: Oh what a surprise, another Collins cock-up
Aussiegunneragain    10/21/2009 8:18:39 AM
Faulkner orders review into Collins class submarine fleet UPDATED: Patrick Walters, National security editor | October 21, 2009 Article from: The Australian DEFENCE Minister John Faulkner has ordered a review into the operational availability of the RAN's Collins class submarines, conceding that technical issues affecting their performance are a major concern for the government. Play 12345Loading…Please login to rate a video.You can't rate an advertisement.(8 votes) Collins class sub fleet faulty The Collins class submarine fleet could be pulled out of action after faults were uncovered. Views today: 260Sorry, this video is no longer available.Senator Faulkner told a parliamentary committee hearing earlier today that he had directed the Defence Materiel Organisation to review all aspects of the availability of the Collins class for sea duties. "Submarine platform availability remains a major concern," Senator Faulkner said. "Submarines are a critical component of the ADF’s force structure and they perform a wide range of tasks. The government places a very high priority on ensuring that this capability is effective." Senator Faulkner said he would not comment in the detailed operational availability of the Collins boats for security reasons. But he said the DMO review had already recommended some significant organisational changes which were now being implemented, including increased DMO management oversight and scheduling input at ASC in Adelaide, and improved logistic support for both operational submarines and those in long-term maintenance. The Navy will also place senior personnel in Adelaide to work alongside the DMO and ASC. "Significant improvement to submarine availability is vital for the submarine capability, and particularly to Navy’s ability to grow the submarine workforce," Senator Faulkner said. "Like any complex piece of equipment, some unexpected issued and defects occasionally occur that require repairs to be undertaken out side of routine maintenance cycles." "While the current situation is far from ideal, their timely maintenance and repair is vitally important. The safety of the men and women serving aboard them is a paramount consideration." Senator Faulkner said three Collins class boats were currently crewed and in various stages of operating in maintenance cycles. Two of these three boats were in routine maintenance and the other was at ASC for an urgent defect repair. "The remaining three are awaiting longer term docking cycles which involved major overhauls and refurbishment by the original manufacturer, ASC," Senator Faulkner said. The Australian reported today that the navy's $6 billion Collins-class submarines face serious operational restrictions after being hit by a run of crippling mechanical problems and troubling maintenance issues. Some senior engineering experts now contend that the Swedish-supplied Hedemora diesel engines may have to be replaced - a major design and engineering job that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to complete. So serious are the problems that the Defence Materiel Organisation has put the Collins boats at the top of its list of "projects of concern" - the key equipment issues troubling Australia's Defence leaders. The Australian understands that in recent times only a single Collins-class boat has been available for operational duties but it is unclear whether this involves more than extended training missions. Senior Defence leaders are also vitally concerned about the productivity and efficiency of ASC, the Adelaide-based wholly government-owned builder and maintainer of the Collins class. One senior Defence source characterises the level of concern in senior government ranks about the availability of the Collins submarines as "extreme". In the recent defence white paper, Kevin Rudd announced that the government would double the size of the RAN's submarine fleet from six to 12 when it came to replacing the Collins-class boats from 2025. "If you can't do this right, how do you do the next one," observed one senior Defence source last night. "We spend a lot of money on this core defence capability and they aren't working properly." Defence Minister John Faulkner and Defence Materiel Minister Greg Combet have now demanded monthly updates from the navy and Defence about the operational state of the Collins-class vessels. ASC, the Adelaide-based builder and maintainer of the Collins class, is now working through a range of mechanical issues affecting the performance of the six submarines with the state of the diesel engines a fundamental concern. The trouble-plagued diesel engines are expected to last at least another 15 to 20 years before they are progressively replaced by the planned next-generation submarine from 2025. While ASC believes they can still last the expected life-of-type and has called in a Swiss consultan
 
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Volkodav       10/23/2009 7:36:38 AM
AG with all due respect you do not know what you are talking about, then again nor does the reporter whose story you posted or for that matter the auditor, who was assigned to find problems (real and imagined), not to provide an honest assessment.
 
I am not in a position to say very much but this is a highly politicised issue with much exaggeration on the part of individuals and groups trying to push their own agendas, in some cases I could quite fairly suggest some are even trying to divert blame.
 
Look at it this way, ASC is government owned and as such is not in a position to contradict the official line even when it is inaccurate to the point of being dishonest.  ASC have to do what they are told when they are told even if it stuffs their schedule and wastes money.  There is carrying on about how long FCD's take yet the fact ASC was directed to extend one FCD and delay two others to bring the RCS and HWT into service slightly earlier is completely ignored by the government and the media.
 
Try reading "Collins Class Submarine Story: Steel, Spies and Spin". It gives a pretty balanced history of the project and the truth about the issues encountered.  Once you have read it you may well reconsider what I see as unfounded criticism.
 
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Aussiegunneragain       10/24/2009 1:30:37 AM
AG with all due respect you do not know what you are talking about, then again nor does the reporter whose story you posted or for that matter the auditor, who was assigned to find problems (real and imagined), not to provide an honest assessment.

I am not in a position to say very much but this is a highly politicised issue with much exaggeration on the part of individuals and groups trying to push their own agendas, in some cases I could quite fairly suggest some are even trying to divert blame.

Look at it this way, ASC is government owned and as such is not in a position to contradict the official line even when it is inaccurate to the point of being dishonest.  ASC have to do what they are told when they are told even if it stuffs their schedule and wastes money.  There is carrying on about how long FCD's take yet the fact ASC was directed to extend one FCD and delay two others to bring the RCS and HWT into service slightly earlier is completely ignored by the government and the media.

Try reading "Collins Class Submarine Story: Steel, Spies and Spin". It gives a pretty balanced history of the project and the truth about the issues encountered.  Once you have read it you may well reconsider what I see as unfounded criticism.
 
Volkodav, with all due respect when it comes to a choice between what the chief of DMO, an expert external consultant hired by Defence to look at ASC's operations and a well connected reporter who has been reporting on the sorry state of the Collins Class program for a decade on one hand have to say about ASC, and a net surfer with an apparent fiduciary interest in continued government tit feeding of the Australian defence industry on the other, then I'm going to weigh the evidence and come down on the side of the former group.
 
 
 
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Volkodav       10/24/2009 3:41:05 AM
AG the reason I am not in a position to discuss the issue in detail is because it is more than my job is worth.  I could list dozens of performance and reliability enhancements that have been stalled for years by either the Commonwealth or the specific contractor concerned.  I could detail similar improvements that are on again off again wasting time and money when making either decision and sticking to it would have been more efficient.
 
Submarine maintenance is unique in that it is like key hole surgery.  There is no easy ingress or egress; anything too big to fit through the aft accommodation hatch or the torpedo loading hatch is not going to happen unless you cut the pressure hull which isn't done lightly.  What does that mean exactly?  Well the main motor, diesels and generators can not be removed and sent off for refurbishment, or replaced for that matter, without very major (not to mention expensive) structural surgery.  This means any work has to be done insitu and as this work usually cannot be done concurrently with much of the other work required during the docking there is no choice but to do one job at a time.  Many systems onboard can not even be worked on until other systems have been dismantled and removed.  Above all there is stuff all room to work onboard, making scheduling a nightmare.
 
On top of this the Collins is an aging platform which means it will become more difficult and expensive to maintain, not cheaper and easier, as the years go by.  Japan replaces their subs after 16 years of service instead of upgrading them for this reason.  The original contract had options for an additional two boats for a reason, defence knew 6 hulls was not enough to sustain the required force levels through maintenance and upgrade cycles.  The original plan was also to provide two crews for each in service submarine to avoid the crewing issues caused by the challenges of submarine service.  A final note on maintenance, ASC is now reasponsible for many more tasks than originally intended as the Commonwealth was unable to manage the tasks themselves, now ASC, although doing a better job, more efficiently, than the CoA was able to do themselves, is being attacked for not doing well enough!
 
On the issue of the audit, why was an external auditor employed instead of the ANAO, DSME or the SPO?  ANAO has never shied away from hammering poorly performing defence contracts, while DSME and COLSPO have intimate knowledge of the program and its product, as well as, according to the current media, are the blameless victims of nasty incompetent ASC.  Why, if this audit was fair and honest, did the Chairman of the board complain to the PM about the conduct of the audit and the treatment of ASC by the DMO, specifically the personal dislike between Gumley and Tunny?
 
Finally, AG, if you are speaking of the same auditor I am, I can assure you that neither he nore Patrick Walters have anywhere near the hands on experience with, or knowledge of the history of, the Collins class submarines I have.  I was not there for the design or build but have, like many others in the DMO, ADF and industry, spent years working on sustainment and generation of the class.  It just really gets my goat when uninformed individuals make blanket statements that completely devalue everything that has been achieved and then even worse attempt to blame one (gagged) party for the decisions / actions of many.
 
I strongly suggest anyone interested in Australia's submarines also research how other countries have panned with their fleets to see just how well we are doing in comparison to most.
 
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Volkodav       10/24/2009 4:59:13 AM
As an aside I would rather see the funding earmarked for the new subs used to develop a domestic nuclear energy industry as well as to buy a smaller number of SSN's.  We could still build hull sections for transport to the builder as well as setting up a domastic maintenance capability for all the non nuclear systems.
 
Aint going to happen though.
 
What will happen is we will build a new class of SSG's in Australia, they will become a poltical football and each change of government will see an enquiry into how their predicessors stuffed the project and a series of tortorous fixes designed more to demonstraight how badly the former government stuffed up and how well the new government is doing fixing things.
 
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gf0012-aust       10/24/2009 5:21:03 AM

As an aside I would rather see the funding earmarked for the new subs used to develop a domestic nuclear energy industry as well as to buy a smaller number of SSN's.  We could still build hull sections for transport to the builder as well as setting up a domastic maintenance capability for all the non nuclear systems.

 6 nukes is a better choice than 12 conventionals, even if they do have HTC engines...

Aint going to happen though.

 sadly prophetic

What will happen is we will build a new class of SSG's in Australia, they will become a poltical football and each change of government will see an enquiry into how their predicessors stuffed the project and a series of tortorous fixes designed more to demonstraight how badly the former government stuffed up and how well the new government is doing fixing things.

rinse, wash and repeat previous.....

 
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Aussiegunneragain    Volkodav   10/24/2009 9:15:30 AM
Well thats a better and more polite answer than "you don't know what you are talking about so shut up" now isn't it ... you even managed to provide some new information so you can't be that worried about your job.
 
As for this latest issue with the Collins we'll see who is right over coming months. There will undoubtedly be questions asked in Parliament, and the Government and Opposition will be madly trying to pin responsibility on each other rather than ASC. The amount that it will cost us as well as the impact on the operational capabilities of the sub fleet will undoubtedly become public.
 
One point that I will make about the external consultant's report is that I can't see how benchmarks it was using about workforce efficiency would require specialist knowledge about submarine maintenance. Any idiot can see that you don't need to have an electrician sitting being paid around all day to spend 10 minutes changing a fuse.  This inefficiency  as well as your points about the problem that ASC faces with government gags is just another good reason why government owned corporations being drip fed on the public purse are a bad idea.
 
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cjskinner    Engineering professional Management needed   10/25/2009 4:17:26 AM
There is no shortage of sensational lessons to be learned from the Collins Class submarine project, and none of them is more important than the profound lesson that assuming design authority for a complex syetm like the Collins class is a daunting and risk-prone undertaking. Readers will recall that ASC assumed the Design Authority role in 2005 when Kockums, the original desgner, finally withdrew from the consortium after a protracted legal contest over intellectual property rights and contractual obligations.
 
However as the continuing saga shows every day, the role of design authority is onerous and requires the very best engineering expertise in a well-managed framework. We must doubt that these criteria are being met in ASC as it is today.
 
It also shows what Yule and Woolner's book on the Collins Class observed, that Australian engineering and DMO and Navy management has not yet learned how to act maturely in the role of design authority and parent organisation for a complex system design that is extrapolated far from its notional source.
 
This should not be seen as reason for a timid approach to the Future Submarine Project (SEA 1000). On the contrary we should make very best us of these painful lessons from the Collins project and the growing pains of ASC to ensure we can do much better in future.
 
PS there are also aspects of the Air Warfare Destroyer [AWD] project for which ASC is prime contractor that are affected by Collins expertise. So ASC has the opportunity to apply the lessons from Collins immediately.
 
 
 
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gf0012-aust       10/25/2009 5:04:05 AM
However as the continuing saga shows every day, the role of design authority is onerous and requires the very best engineering expertise in a well-managed framework. We must doubt that these criteria are being met in ASC as it is today.

 they're not

It also shows what Yule and Woolner's book on the Collins Class observed, that Australian engineering and DMO and Navy management has not yet learned how to act maturely in the role of design authority and parent organisation for a complex system design that is extrapolated far from its notional source.

there are a few things that are wrong in woolner and yules tome, so its not the be all and end all of the history of Collins.  what ASC haven't come to grips with is the fact that they are not sub designers and are not in the same league as HDW or the cousins.  they seem to forget that all of the design improvements were made by either ex RAN/RN submariners who set up separate companies and came back in as sub contractors - or due to assistance by the cousins.  in fact, most of the extraordinary work was done by DSTO.  Somehow ASC think that they've been instrumental.  They haven't.   There seems to be some confusion about the delivery process.  Navy set the specs.  DMO manage the project on behalf of Navy.  ASC are the builders. within DMO there are accountabilities set by Govt and Cabinet.  They cannot be modified and DMO thus works to a mandated Govt process.  There's a message in there for the astute

This should not be seen as reason for a timid approach to the Future Submarine Project (SEA 1000). On the contrary we should make very best us of these painful lessons from the Collins project and the growing pains of ASC to ensure we can do much better in future.

 There are lessons in there that everyone is aware of.  What we shouldn't be timid about is the issue that ASC should not be gifted the work - and there is a very clear sense of purpose from those currently involved with 2020 that ASC need to be hobbled if they aren't going to be of benefit

PS there are also aspects of the Air Warfare Destroyer [AWD] project for which ASC is prime contractor that are affected by Collins expertise. So ASC has the opportunity to apply the lessons from Collins immediately.

 I can think of at least 2 x US companies that elected not to sub contract for work on AWD when it was gifted to ASC.  One of the individuals I met when in the US was contemptuous of ASC management and the fact that they were preaching to people who had 30+ years experience designing modern GM assets.

Personally, I am a firm believer in open tender solutions for major capital assets.  ASC needs a fire hose put through it.

 


 
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Volkodav    Read highlighted section for the real reason the Class gets so much bad press   10/31/2009 1:29:51 AM
New subs come with a $36bn price tag
IAN MCPHEDRAN

October 30, 2009 12:01am

REPLACEMENT of Australia's troubled Collins Class submarine fleet will cost taxpayers $36 billion, a report shows.

The project will be a boon for South Australia, with the Federal Government saying the 12 next-generation submarines will be built at Osborne regardless of who wins the contract.

But a report out today warns that trying to build the new subs in Australia would be fraught with danger and the purchase of smaller, short-range "off-the-shelf" overseas submarines should not be ruled out.

The report, from the Government-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute, predicts the Australian-made subs would cost a "staggering" $3 billion each - three times the price of the older Collins Class boats.

The bill for the project is more than the annual $35 billion federal education budget, just shy of the $42 billion spent on the Government's stimulus package and more than a third of the $100 billion the nation spends on health each year.

SHOULD SOUTH AUSTRALIA BE THE HOME OF AUSTRALIA'S DEFENCE INDUSTRY? have your say in the comment box below.

THE ASPI report says ASC should be only the "thin-prime" contractor for the new project so the Government controls what will become a massive supply chain.

"ASC should not be handed the build contract as a fait accompli. Indeed, there are good reasons not to do that," the report says.

If the company became the preferred builder the number of new hi-tech jobs would increase. The new submarine project will generate hundreds of new jobs for South Australia.

The six Adelaide-built Collins subs, which cost about $1 billion each, have been burdened by serious problems, including noise and engine and computer breakdowns, since they were launched in the early 1990s.

When fit for sea they are among the most effective conventional submarines in the world.

However, just one or two boats are currently available for operations and crew shortages mean no more than three can be operated at any one time.

The Government's Defence White Paper included the 12 new submarines in its wish list, but it did not include a plan for recruiting the hundreds of sailors needed to crew them.

The vessels will be about one-third bigger and require at least an extra 20 crew per vessel to operate than the existing 160m-long Collins Class boats.

The wish list says the boats will have greater range, be able to remain underwater for much longer and be capable of a variety of missions ranging from land strike using cruise missiles to electronic spying.

The ASPI report, written by former submariner Sean Costello and strategic analyst Andrew Davies, paints a gloomy picture of a high-risk and costly venture and it warns the Government not to rule out an overseas solution.

"The ability of the world market to provide an off-the-shelf solution as the basis for the new fleet should not be abandoned early," it says.

"If an existing submarine design can defend the nation and support national strategy at a lower cost to the taxpayer, the Government must consider it."

The report warns that delays in delivering the Collins boats had negative effects on the manning and capability of the boats that were still being felt.

"Entering the build phase with changeable requirements and/or unproven technologies will significantly increase the risk of cost and schedule blowouts," it says.

The new vessels will need to be in the water by 2022 and fully operational when the Collins boats leave service in 2025.

Junior defence minister Greg Combet said the ability to build the submarines in Australia was a matter of "national strategic importance".

"It is a pleasure to also be working on the next-generation submarines," Mr Combet said.

"It will truly be a nation-building program unrivalled in our history."
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
Mcphedran is the one who coined the term "Dud Subs", he is the one who reports every positive as a negative and just wont let the thing go. Yet some how after over a decade of being the self appointed expert on the Collins Class, making a substantial part of his career critising the boats, the crews and everyone associated with t
 
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gf0012-aust       10/31/2009 4:04:24 AM
I don't know who is feeding him the info but I get the feeling they are either uninformed or deliberately leading old Ian up the garden path for their own reasons.

it can't be anyone who's actually connected, because none of the numbers etc have actually been defined. eg, even 12 is the only empirical number avail and thats a finger pluck.

any boat dimensions quoted are just rubbish because we haven't even got assets to compare becasuse the capability is still being scoped.

what a dickhead.  

 
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