FEATURE | Is this the near future of Australian naval shipbuilding?

This is an exciting time for Australian naval shipbuilding. Two patrol vessel programs are underway, the Anzac-class frigate midlife capability assurance program (AMCAP) is completing the first of eight ships, and Hunter-class future frigates are to start construction in 2020, running into the 2030s for nine frigates. The air warfare destroyers are joining the fleet, while in the submarine world both the Collins-class life extension and the Shortfin Barracuda projects are generating a lot of commentary but no construction contracts yet.

OPINION | Decisive action needed to avoid an Australian submarine capability gap

The recent advice from the chief of Australia’s navy that the first Shortfin Barracuda may not come into service until the mid-2030s is sobering news given Australia’s deteriorating strategic circumstances and the critical role the submarine capability plays in our defence force structure. Under some scenarios, we may not have all 12 future submarines until as late as the 2050s.

OPINION | The aggregate failure of Australia’s submarine policy

Australia’s future submarine capability isn’t in a good place. We started the program at least five years too late due to a combination of indifference from successive governments and a lack of drive from the Department of Defence to kickstart it. Then we settled on an approach that’s going to take more than another decade to deliver anything at all, even if things go according to plan. And we’ve loaded the program with enough technical risk to pretty much ensure that it won’t.

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