By JR on Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The defence bureaucracy don't have a clue -- which will be no news to most diggers
AUSTRALIA'S Collins Class submarines are more than twice as costly to operate as US Navy nuclear submarines. New figures obtained by The Advertiser show the six Collins boats cost about $630 million a year or $105 million each to maintain, making them the most expensive ever put to sea.
At present, just two of the fleet of six boats could go to war and with a maximum of three available at any one time, the costs are even higher when applied to serviceability.
The annual price for "sustainment" (maintenance and support) is $415.9 million for 2011-12, with operating costs (fuel, rations, wages, weapons) running at $213.4 million.
By comparison, a US Navy Ohio Class nuclear attack submarine, which is more than three times the size of a Collins boat, costs about $50 million a year.
The disturbing cost figures come as Defence officials revealed that at least two possible contenders for the navy's new submarine fleet, the Spanish S-80 and French-Spanish Scorpene class boat, have been ruled out of the future submarine project.
Answering questions on notice from Opposition spokesman David Johnston, Defence said both vessels did not meet "Australia's broad needs as outlined in the Defence White Paper". They are smaller than the Collins and the White Paper calls for 12 larger submarines to cost up to $36 billion.
In 2008, an embarrassed navy brass ceased to report on the performance of the Collins fleet in the Defence annual report. The 2007-08 performance outcome for the Collins fleet showed that it achieved just 64 per cent of its mission capability or 559 days of actual availability.
Since then the figures have been classified as "secret", but assuming a similar outcome then sustainment and maintenance of the subs now cost taxpayers a total of $1,643,835 a day for the six vessels or $273,972 a day each. With only two or three available for duty that cost blows out to more than $500,000 a day.
Senator Johnston accused the Government and Defence Minister Stephen Smith of taking their eye off the ball when it came to the submarines. A decision on the direction of the future submarine project is due to be made late this year or early in 2012.