Steel cutting shaping our defence force

The Australian Navy has three Collins Class submarines and is building more underwater vessels to act as undersea deterrents. Two out of the three are due for multi-million dollar upgrades that will involve steel cutting as the first stage of the process.

The new submarines are not scheduled to be completed until after 2030, by which time the existing submarines will be decommissioned. Therefore, extending the lives of the currently active Collins Class submarines is important to maintain a working fleet until the new ones are in working order.

How important is this?

Submarines are a potent tool for deterring attacks. So much so that to replace the existing fleet will be one of the largest scale and most expensive infrastructure projects that Australia has ever seen. Australia is in the geographical position to require the biggest and most powerful submarines. In order to utilise the subs in any attack, we are the only navy in the world that would first have to flog the machines for several thousands of kilometres before then putting them on patrol. Most other nations’ submarines don’t have to travel the distance that ours do.

What needs to happen?

Australia’s decision to enhance the current fleet in order to maintain protection of the seas until the new fleet is created is an important one that will affect the Australian steel industry. The first decisions made will involve the design of the upgrades to the Collins Class submarines, and then selecting a steel cutting professional to cut the steel for the hull of the subs. Design and drafting of the new submarines will take at least seven or eight years. Each submarine will then take a further five years or more to build.

Who will get the business?

Other countries are in the running to potentially build the submarines. There is a high chance that, depending on how quickly the current competition involving Germany, France and Japan can be resolved, the steel cutting of the hulls for the submarines may have to be done overseas.

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Image Source: © Commonwealth of Australia