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Australia Confirms Life-Of-Type Extension For Collins-Class Submarines

The upgrade work (which could cost up to AUD $6.4 billion) will be much needed in order to avoid a capability gap for the Royal Australian Navy’ submarine fleet. The recently cancelled Attack-class program was set to see the first of twelve new submarines delivered in the mid-2030s. The new plan under the AUKUS initiative aims at starting to build the first of at least eight nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) from the 2030ies.

The Government will also invest up to $5.1 billion in upgrades to the Hobart Class destroyer combat management system upgrades at Osborne from 2024

Australia’s Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the Government’s investments would ensure Australia maintained a strong and agile submarine capability for decades:

“The Collins class submarine to this day remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world. The planned Life-of-Type Extension, through the replacement of key systems, will help deliver Defence’s strategic objectives. The upgrade to the Aegis combat management system will ensure our fleet of Hobart class air warfare destroyers maintain their capability-edge into the future. Both of these projects announced today are vital for Defence’s ability to act with greater independence in an increasingly contested strategic environment.”

Collins class submarine HMAS Farncomb will be the first to undergo a Life-of-Type Extension when it enters its next Full-Cycle Docking in 2026.

About the Collins-class SSK

The Australian Department of Defence has awarded Phoenix International Ltd a contract for a Submarine Rescue Service (SRS) to include the acquisition and support of the SEA1354 Ph 1 Submarine Escape, Rescue, and Abandonment System (SERAS), the Australian subsidiary of Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. said on March 6.
Collins Class Submarines, HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean in formation while transiting through Cockburn Sound, Western Australia (Credit: Royal Australian Navy)

According to H I Sutton, the 3,100 ton Collins-class were the largest diesel-electic (SSK) submarines in the world when they were commissioned in the late 1990s. The boats are still among the largest and are noted for their long operational range. Work on the class started in the 1980s with design work by Swedish submarine builder Kockums. Construction took place in Australia at ASC. The Collins-class features American combat systems (control, sensors and weapons).

Collins-class main specifications:

  • Displacement: 3,100 tons surfaced (3,353 tons submerged)
  • Length: 77.42 meters (254 feet)
  • Beam: 7.8 meters (26 feet)
  • Speed: 20 knots submerged
  • Depth: classified
  • Propulsion: 3x Garden Island-Hedemora VB210 diesels with 3x Jeumont-Schneider generators
  • Crew: 58 sailors
  • Weapons: 6x torpedo tubes with 22 torpedoes (Mk 28 Mod 7 CBASS) and UGM-84C Harpoon anti-ship missiles or up to 44 mines
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