Australia’s Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, issued the following joint statement, February 15th, 2020 while attending the 56th Munich Security Conference:
Today we have reviewed the implementation of the Strategic Partnering Agreement that underpins Australia’s Future Submarine Program.
Both of us reaffirmed our full commitment to the program, in particular with respect to schedule and Australian Industry Capacity.
We have agreed on an ongoing process to review, at our level, the implementation of the program on a quarterly basis for the rest of this year, meeting again in France in April and Australia in mid-year.
We acknowledge the Future Submarine Program is key for both our countries and our strategic partnership.
We are committed to work together to make it a success.
This joint statement follows an interview of John Davis, Naval Group Australia’s CEO, casting doubts over the level of Australian industry share in the program. Davis explained that this share could be lower than 50% because of local subcontracting issues. In an interview with The Australian, Naval Group Australia’s CEO said the company was encountering “specific challenges” regarding Australian industry that were “new to Naval Group”.
On February 13, 2020, Naval Group Australia and the Australian Department of Defence issued a joint statement on Australian industry involvement in the construction of the 12 Attack-class submarines (and disclosed a long list of Australian companies with subcontracts for the future submarine program).
About RAN Attack-class Submarine
Construction on the first ship of the class (the future HMAS Attack) is expected to start in 2022 and its delivery should take place in the early 2030ies. The next units will follow with a cadence of one submarine every two years.
The Australian Government selected Naval Group (then known as DCNS) as its preferred international partner for the design of 12 Future submarines for the Royal Australian Navy on April 26 2016. In the SEA1000 project, DCNS was competing with the Shortfin Barracuda design against Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) Type 216 and Japan’s Soryu-class designs. Based on the new Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) of the French Navy (the first ship of the class is set to be launched this summer), Australia’s Attack-class submarine will be 97 meters in length and 8.8 meters in diameter.
In September 2016, Lockheed Martin was selected as the preferred combat system integrator and signed the contract for the Future Submarine Combat System Design, Build and Integration in January 2018.
Naval Group partnered with services provider KBR to support the design of a new construction yard at the Osborne Naval shipyard (South Australia) where 12 Attack-class submarines are expected to be built (with technology transfer from Naval Group).
The submarines are considered the backbone of the Australian government’s US$63.8 billion (A$90 billion) National Shipbuilding Plan. Unveiled in May 2017, the unprecedented plan calls for 54 new naval vessels to be built locally.
A number of contracts were awarded throughout 2019, including:
- Australia signed the Attack-class submarine Strategic Partnering Agreement with Naval Group in February 2019
- Naval Group signed the first phase of the Submarine Design Contract in March 2019
- In October 2019, MTU was selected for the design of the Diesel Generator Rectifier (DGR) of the Attack-class submarine
- Naval Group selected Schneider Electric for the procurement of the Main Direct Current (DC) Switchboards
- Lockheed Martin selected Safran to deliver optronics search and attack mast, navigation radar and navigation data distribution components.
- Lockheed Martin unveiled a conceptual Attack-class submarine Control Room
- Naval Group signed a subcontract with Jeumont Electric for the design of the Main Electric Propulsion Equipment
- Naval Group selected Babcock for the Attack-class submarine Weapon Discharge System
- In December 2019, the largest Attack-class contracts to date were signed with Australian companies