Royal Australian Navy Collins-class Submarine
Royal Australian Navy Collins-class Submarine

Royal Australian Navy To Upgrade All Six of Collins-class Submarines

As Royal Australian Navy a waits for its 12 new Attack class submarines, Defence Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that all six of the Collins-class diesel-electric submarines will undergo major life-of-type extensions (LOTEs) to avoid a capability gap. Previous plans would have modernized just three of the Collins class, but the ministry has been forced to make the move since the first of the Attack class is not now expected to be delivered until around 2035, while the full fleet won’t achieve final operational capability (FOC) until 2054.

According to Defence Connect, approximately $6 billion would be invested in a LOTE. LOTE work will commence on each Collins class submarine as it reaches 30 years of service, with a thorough rebuild that will take around two years per boat. pgrade work will be carried out by ASC in Adelaide, which originally built the vessels, while the government confirmed by that Saab will be active in a supporting role. The Collins LOTE program is expected to involve rebuilding each submarine once it achieves 30 years of service, with each upgrade scheduled to take approximately two years.

Royal Australian Navy Collins-class Submarine
Royal Australian Navy HMAS Collins sails out through the channel in Cockburn Sound at sunrise. (Photo by Australian Government Department of Defence)

The Collins class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines is operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The Collins class takes its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins; all six submarines are named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in action during World War II. The boats were the first submarines to be constructed in Australia, prompting widespread improvements in Australian industry and delivering a sovereign (Australian controlled) sustainment/maintenance capability.

The submarines have been the subject of many incidents and technical problems since the design phase, including accusations of foul play and bias during the design selection, improper handling of design changes during construction, major capability deficiencies in the first submarines, and ongoing technical problems throughout the early life of the class. These problems have been compounded by the inability of the RAN to retain sufficient personnel to operate the submarines—by 2008, only three could be manned, and between 2009 and 2012, on average two or fewer were fully operational.

Royal Australian Navy Collins-class Submarine
Collins Class submarines HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean in formation while transiting through Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. (Photo by Australian Government Department of Defence)

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