NavalNews has a tradition of running an April Fools article on April 1 each year. These are intended to amuse and entertain. There is no intention to genuinely deceive or mislead. At the same time, we hope that the content is thought provoking for those with a deep understanding of submarine topics.
Last year we introduced you to China’s new mega-super-submarine, the insanely large Type-100 Sun Tzu class. That highlighted Chinese submarine construction, and how little we know about it.
This year we chose the AUKUS submarine program. This will see nuclear submarines built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The boats will be built with British and/or American assistance.
The AUKUS submarine program came as a surprise. Not least to the preceding Attack Class submarine program. That would have seen the construction of 12 French-designed Shortfin Barracuda boats for the RAN. The Shortfin was a conventionally powered derivative of France’s Suffren Class nuclear submarine.
The AUKUS program is still ambiguous. There are unknowns which are filled with wild speculation. Different options, broadly the US Virginia Class versus the British Astute Class, each have a faction. Whatever the decision is, it won’t please everyone. In fact that is guaranteed.
And many observers will have mixed feelings about the program and likely outcomes. Not least whether politicians will be capable of making sensible decisions. A nuclear derivative of the Collins Class is an interesting paper exercise, but it encompasses these fears. It is a relatively small submarine by nuclear standards. And it is optimized for different things. It is exactly what the Virginia and Astute factions will fear most.
Hopefully soon we will learn more about the real AUKUS submarine design. Will it be Son-Of-Collins? We doubt it. But if it is, well you heard it here first.