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Photo Essay: Australia’s silent assassins

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Australia’s Collins Class submarines form a critical component of the nations deterrence capabilities  while the fleet has faced issues throughout acquisition and availability, the Collins Class provides the Royal Australian Navy with a lethal submarine capability.

Navies throughout Indo-Pacific Asia have increasingly recognised the advantages provided by submarines, leading to growing numbers of submarines operating in Australia’s direct proximity. Meanwhile, Australia has a long history operating submarines, ranging from the AE1 and AE2 to the highly capable Oberon Class and now, the somewhat maligned Collins Class.


Despite their reputation, the Collins Class vessels provide Australia with a leading-edge deterrence capability tailored specifically for its defence and two-ocean surveillance role in the Royal Australian Navy. Designed to be as quiet as advanced technology can achieve, Collins Class submarines have been developed from five generations of submarines designed and built by the Swedish Navy.

One of the first submarines to be totally designed by computers, these submarines boast a vast range of features. They include a high performance hull form, highly automated controls, low indiscretion rates, high shock resistance and an efficient weapons handling and discharge system.

The Collins Class submarines will move silently on electric power supplied by banks of new-technology batteries. The batteries are charged by three on-board diesel generator sets. The sophisticated AN/BYG-1 combat system gathers intelligence from its sensors, computes the input and then launches and directs weapons, and is an advance on any system currently available.

Australia's fleet of Collins Class vessels are slated to be replaced by the Attack Class beginning in the 2030s the Attack Class is expected to deliver a quantum leap in the capability delivered to RAN and its submarine service by leveraging technology and capabilities developed for nuclear submarines, implemented on a conventional submarine.



The 12 vessels will be built by Naval Group at a specialist submarine shipyard at Osborne, South Australia. The Commonwealth government’s Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) program will support the development of the future submarine shipyards.

The Commonwealth formally signed the strategic partnering agreement (SPA) with Naval Group in February 2019 ahead of confirmation of the final design specifications and requirements for the Attack Class submarines.

The Attack Class will enter service with the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.



Photo Essay: Australia’s silent assassins
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