The Royal Australian Navy hosted the International Submarine Safety Forum at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, drawing delegations from Europe and North America.
The forum is rotationally hosted by member nations annually and is focused on technical and governance issues around submarine safety in partner nations. This year’s forum had 19 delegates from Australia, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Canada and the US.
It also marked the growth of the forum, with Germany attending for the first time and the US Navy’s Deputy Commander Undersea Warfare, Rear Admiral Edward Anderson, also in attendance.
The delegates comprised a mixture of people who work in naval and public service in their host nations, with backgrounds in managing safety in their submarines – from construction to in-service support and operation and through to decommissioning and disposal.
Many delegates this year presented their national issues around maintaining and operating their current submarine fleets, their new submarine build programs, skills and experience in their military and industrial workforces, challenges of organisational change and lines of responsibilities during that change.
Executive Director of the SUBSAFE Program, Commander Craig Johnstone, said, "All the nations present at the forum are facing similar issues regarding governance, organisational change, building new submarines, workforce manning and skills, extending the life of current fleets, and the relationship between navies and industry."
Other issues raised included rescue equipment for submarines, auditing and process governance, regulations and material issues that directly affect submarine safety.
"Forums like the International Submarine Safety Forum allow us to not only raise these issues, but also look at how these problems are solved in various countries, the effectiveness of those solutions, as well as lessons learnt along the way," CMDR Johnstone added.
"The benefits of the forum directly feed back into Navy’s capability with us bringing back new ideas and approaches to issues."
The next International Submarine Safety Forum will be held in the Netherlands in the third quarter of 2020.