Updated August 26, 2016 12:30:06
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in April that French company DCNS would build 12 submarines in Adelaide in a $50 billion contract to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s ageing Collins Class fleet.
The decision brought to an end the Federal Government’s competitive evaluation project and ended months of speculation.
DCNS — who beat out bids from Japan and Germany — will design and build a scaled down version of its nuclear submarines to be called the Shortfin Barracuda.
Take a look back at how the announcements on the future build of Australia’s next fleet of submarines unfolded.
Defence paper recommits to future submarines made in SA
May 3, 2013
A Defence White Paper (DWP) released by the then Labor government said Australia’s existing Collin Class submarine fleet would be replaced with an expanded fleet of 12 conventional submarines.
It was first proposed in a 2009 DWP.
“The future submarines will be assembled in South Australia,” it said.
The government decided it would focus on two design options for the Future Submarine Program, either an “evolved Collins Class” or new options suited to Australia’s strategic requirements.
Importantly, this meant Australia would not use an “off-the-shelf” design.
When asked whether he would like to see new Collins Class submarines built, then opposition defence spokesman David Johnston said he thought the Collins Class fleet was a “very expensive disaster”.
“I wouldn’t want to go back near Collins if it was the last thing on Earth that we had to do,” he said.
The white paper also highlighted there would be a large gap between the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program and commencement of work on a new submarine fleet , putting jobs at risk.
Coalition commitment to build subs in SA
May 8, 2013
Senator Johnston said the Coalition accepted and would deliver the white paper’s commitment to build the next fleet of submarines locally.
“The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide,” he said.
“We will get that task done, and it is a really important task, not just for the Navy but for the nation.”
At the time, Mr Johnston said it would take 18 months to make a decision on replacement submarines.
Coalition election policy
September 2, 2013
The Coalition released its defence policy, a week before the federal election.
It reiterated its commitment to build the next fleet of submarines in Adelaide.
“We will … ensure that work on the replacement of the current submarine fleet will centre around the South Australian shipyards,” the Coalition said.
But the defence policy said the Collins Class submarine would be subjected to a review.
Final review into Collins Class released
April 9, 2014
Seven months after the Coalition was elected, the final review into the sustainability of the Collins Class submarine was released .
It found both the Collins Class’ maintenance and performance had significantly improved.
The review was led by expert John Coles.
In 2009, only two of the six submarines were available to be put to sea for only 10 per cent of the time.
The final Coles review said that now two or three of the submarines are materially available 90 per cent of the time and that the Collins is on track to meet international benchmarks that will see three subs available at all times by 2017.
Then defence minister David Johnston reaffirmed the Government’s support for building the new submarines in South Australia – as long as the project was cost effective and met international benchmarks
Mr Johnston made the comment while addressing the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s conference.
He told the conference the Government was “up against the wall” in finding a replacement submarine design and would not comment on how many submarines would be built.
Australia and Japan agree to pursue closer military ties
June 6, 2014
Australia and Japan announced they would create a framework pact to cooperate on military technology.
The move was seen to pave the way for Japan to supply stealth submarine designs and components to Australia.
The agreement came during talks between defence minister David Johnston, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and their Japanese counterparts, Itsunori Onodera and Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
Japan and Australia ‘enhance future relationship’
July 3, 2014
During a visit from Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe , Senator Johnston signed measures to initiate further defence cooperation and steps that would make it possible for Australia to purchase Japanese submarines.
“This evening, we have carried out important and productive discussions to enhance our future relationship going forward. These relationships are very natural and we very naturally relate to each other on defence and security matters,” Senator Johnston said.
“In terms of the submarine, may I say that in terms of a non-nuclear, diesel electric submarine, the Japanese submarine is very good indeed.”
Senator Johnston said Australia had a program to build a new submarine and was engaging with a number of countries “seeking assistance and guidance with respect to this very complex technology”.
“We have also, in admiring the Japanese submarine, had the benefit of assistance from prime minister Abe in being able to talk to Japan about its submarine technology,” he said.
“We are interested in carefully and sensitively seeking Japanese assistance and guidance with the way we should go forward in building our own submarine.”
$250 billion industry under threat
July 29, 2014
A defence discussion paper was released sparking concerns that future large contracts could be awarded to offshore shipbuilders , threatening a $250 billion industry helping to keep Australian manufacturing afloat.
The paper said tough choices needed to be made on defence spending, in particular how Australians can get the best value for money to ensure that defence personnel receive the best equipment possible on the available budget.
It fuelled fears that the Coalition would buy submarines and military ships from overseas rather than build them locally.
Fears for submarine project as Japanese experts visit SA
August 27, 2014
The group toured ASC’s base in Osborne, which heightened fears the Federal Government may build the next generation of submarines overseas.
The State Government said it knew nothing about the visit, and demanded an explanation from the Federal Government, which said it was just “business as usual”.
Liberal senators urge against buying overseas subs
October 16, 2014
Among those who spoke out was David Fawcett, a Liberal senator who spent more than two decades in the Defence Force, spending much of that time as an experimental test pilot.
Independent South Australia senator Nick Xenophon called for an open tender process.
But just days later, Senator Johnston requested Japanese help to develop the new fleet from Japan’s defence minister Akinori Eto.
The Japanese minister said they would first talk about how a deal could benefit both countries and proceed from there.
The Australian Government would not conclude a submarine deal until next year (2015) and was also said to be keeping its options open with Germany, France and Sweden.
Senator Johnston later indicated the submarines would be designed overseas.
SA Government proposes ASC privatisation
November 3, 2014
It made the submission to the Commonwealth’s Defence White Paper as “one possible” solution to how the Federal Government could protect local industry capabilities.
Johnston ‘wouldn’t trust’ ASC to build a canoe
November 25, 2014
He launched the scathing attack on ASC in the Senate during a debate about where Australia’s next submarine fleet should be built.
He said ASC was at least $350 million over budget in building three air warfare destroyer ships.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott later released a statement saying ASC plays a vital role in supporting the Royal Australian Navy.
South Australia’s Opposition demanded an apology and the Federal Opposition called for Senator Johnston to be sacked.
The Prime Minister defended Senator Johnston, who later said he regretted making the comments.
Johnston dropped as defence minister
December 21, 2014
After months of pressure, Senator Johnston was dropped as defence minister when Mr Abbott announced a major reshuffle of his frontbench .
Kevin Andrews was announced as Senator Johnston’s replacement whom the Prime Minister said was a “safe pair of hands”.
Abbott announces ‘competitive evaluation process’
February 9, 2015
South Australian senator Sean Edwards said Mr Abbott had given him an assurance that Australian companies would be able to bid to build the submarines.
Mr Abbott was facing a leadership spill and Senator Edwards said the Prime Minister made the pledge after he told Mr Abbott his support would depend on it.
Later Mr Andrews tried to clear up confusion and confirmed instead the contract would be awarded through what Mr Abbott called “a competitive evaluation process” .
When pressed by reporters on whether it was a tender process or not, Mr Andrews replied: “I will use the words I choose to use.”
Japan, France and Germany to compete for build
February 20, 2015
Mr Andrews said the Defence Department would seek proposals from potential partners looking at options to either design and build overseas, in Australia or a hybrid approach through a “competitive evaluation process”.
But there were no guarantees the submarines would be built or designed in Australia.
The minister said he expected significant work would be undertaken in Australia, particularly during the build phase leading to the creation of at least 500 new, high-skilled jobs.
Submarine advisory panel appointed
June 5, 2015
Mr Andrews appointed an expert advisory panel to oversee the so-called “competitive evaluation process” for the Navy’s future submarine fleet.
The four-member panel includes former US secretary of the navy Donald Winter, as well as a former Federal Court justice, and the chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
“This competitive evaluation process is due to have the bids finalised by the three potential partners — Germany, France and Japan — by the end of the year,” Mr Andrews said.
“In the first part of next year we expect to make a decision about the preferred international partner.”
Amidst growing suspicions that a Japanese option was being favoured, Mr Andrews said the panel would ensure the assessment “is conducted in accordance with probity and accountability principles”.
Mr Andrews insisted all three bidders would be treated “fairly and equitably”.
“We are ensuring that Australia obtains the most capable conventional submarines in the world while avoiding a capability gap after the current Collins Class submarines,” he said.
ASC flags future job cuts
July 22, 2015
ASC told the Economics References Committee into the future of Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry it expected further job cuts as work dried up.
The committee also heard 266 jobs had been lost from the company in the past three months.
The head of German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) told the senate committee a local build would be the cheapest and most viable option for the Federal Government.
Australian branch chief executive of French company DCNS, Sean Costello, said the company was focused on preparing a strong proposal for an Australian build.
A Japanese representative was not present at the inquiry.
‘Historic’ $40b Navy deal announced, subs contract still uncertain
August 4, 2015
The Federal Government announced it would build $40 billion worth of new surface ships for the Navy in South Australia, but would still not say where the next generation of submarines would be built.
The plans included a fleet of frigates to be built at ASC from 2020, and a fleet of Offshore Combatant Vessels to be built from 2018.
Mr Abbott said there would be a “separate process” with regard to a fleet of 12 submarines that the Government promised to build in SA prior to the election, but subsequently threatened to send offshore once in power.
Malcolm Turnbull topples Abbott
September, 14, 2015
The former communications minister defeated Mr Abbott 54 votes to 44 in a party room ballot, which also saw Julie Bishop re-elected as deputy leader ahead of Kevin Andrews 70 votes to 30.
WA shipbuilder eyes submarine contract
December 14, 2015
WA shipbuilder Civmec teams up with a Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Australia to show interest in the project by building part of a submarine hull to prove its ability.
Australian build of subs will be in Adelaide
February 25, 2016
Then industry, innovation and science minister Christopher Pyne said after the release of the Defence White Paper (DWP) that any Australian build of submarines would be based in Adelaide .
It said the frigates would be built in South Australia, but did not say where the patrol vessels or submarines would be constructed.
SA Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said there was a lack of detail about where the paper’s shipbuilding projects would be built.
Delaying subs would be ‘politically suicidal’ for Pyne
April 19, 2016
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said delaying a submarine announcement until after the election would be “politically suicidal” for Liberal Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne .
The pair were on ABC radio celebrating a state “win” after Adelaide gained the early work associated to the construction of 12 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from the Federal Government.
Mr Weatherill said the OPV work was a good sign that the state was well-placed to build the subs.
Mr Pyne remained tight-lipped about the Government’s intentions.
Speculation subs contract announcement close
April 20, 2016
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was not prepared to confirm whether the subs decision would be announced prior to the election.
France to build Australia’s next submarine fleet
April 26, 2016
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that French company DCNS would build 12 submarines in Adelaide in a $50 billion contract to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s ageing Collins Class fleet.
The decision brought to an end the Federal Government’s competitive evaluation project and ended months of speculation.
DCNS will design and build a scaled down version of its nuclear submarines to be called the Shortfin Barracuda.
Submarine plans leaked from French builder
August 24, 2016
A reported total of 20,000 pages of sensitive material relating to a DCNS project in India were leaked, sparking suggestions of an overseas hack .
Mr Turnbull downplayed the effect of leaks, saying India’s submarines were different to those planned for Australia.
Mr Pyne, now Minister for Defence Industry, said he had received advice from the Department of Defence that the leaks had “no bearing on the Australian Government’s Future Submarine Program”.
Defence issues warning to DCNS over security
August 26, 2016
The Defence Department has warned the French shipbuilding company building submarines in Adelaide to keep designs for the project safe following leaked documents relating to the company’s Indian project.
Defence has told DCNS Australia wants the same level of protection as the United States gives for information on Australia’s submarines.
Topics: defence-industry , defence-forces , defence-and-national-security , government-and-politics , federal-government , federal—state-issues , state-and-territory-government , adelaide-5000 , sa , australia
First posted August 04, 2015 22:14:19