Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Submarine Sustainment Review Phase 1 Report

Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, and Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, today released the report of Phase 1 of the Review of the Sustainment of Australia’s Collins Class submarines, the Coles Review.

The review is being led by Mr John Coles, an independent expert from BMT Defence Services in the UK.

Sustainment of the Collins Class submarines is at the top of the Government’s Projects of Concern list.

Mr Smith said the sustainment of the submarine fleet was a complex task that has proven challenging for Defence and ASC for a lengthy period of time.

In August, Minister Smith and Minister Clare released the terms of reference for the Review of the Sustainment of Australia’s Collins Class submarines.
This Review is examining complex engineering issues associated with submarine sustainment.
Just as the Rizzo Report provides a plan to improve the repair and management of the Navy’s amphibious fleet, Mr Coles is developing a plan to improve the repair and management of our submarine fleet.

“The Coles review is an important step in implementing improvements to the way the Collins class submarines have been sustained over a long period,” Mr Smith said.



Key Findings

Phase 1 of the report identifies a range of key issues that need to be addressed:
• Poor submarine availability caused by a crew shortfall, lack of spares and unreliable equipment;
• A lack of cohesion in strategic leadership;
• Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Navy and Industry not working collectively as an “Enterprise”;
• A lack of clarity around accountability, authority and responsibility;
• Submarine knowledge thinly spread;
• Lack of robustness of Navy’s contribution to manning and sustainment;
• No long term strategic plan for efficient use of assets;
• DMO seeking direct involvement at the tactical level;
• A performance-based ethos not being embedded in ASC;
• No long term strategic plan for efficient asset utilisation; and
• Unclear requirement and unrealistic goals.

Interim recommendations

Phase 1 makes interim recommendations about how to address some of these issues. 

Mr Coles’ interim recommendations are:

• Resources should be directed to the provision of spares leading directly to increased availability;
• Any decision to reduce the agreed Materiel Ready Days in a year should only be taken by the Collins Class Program Manager. 
• The In-Service Support Contact (ISSC) between the Defence Materiel Organisation and ASC, currently under discussion, should be placed as planned;
• The classification of Priority 1 Urgent Defects by the submarine commander should be moderated by Commander SUBFOR to avoid over classification purely to increase priority of spares; and
• As part of the crew training program, Commanding Officers, Marine Engineering Officers and Weapons Electrical Engineering Officers should undertake a pre-joining course at ASC and Pacific Marine Batteries (and other key suppliers) to gain a better insight into some of the intrinsic submarine design and equipment characteristics.

Implementation of these recommendations will commence immediately.

The Phase 1 report proposes the scope of work for Phase 2 of the review.  Mr Coles has proposed four areas for detailed analysis:

(i) Integration and Program Management
(ii) Commercial
(iii) Engineering Reliability and Navy, and
(iv) Costing.

In Phase 2, the review team will gather and analyse data to put forward well-evidenced findings and recommendations on how to improve performance in Collins submarine sustainment.

Mr Coles will provide the Phase 2 report in April 2012.

The Coles Review will also inform development of the Future Submarine Project.

Minister Smith said that “Problems with the Navy’s current Collins Class are of long standing and well known.  It is essential that Navy and Defence learn everything they possibly can from the experience with the Collins Class to inform development of the Future Submarine project.”

“The implementation the Coles Review will help build confidence in our capacity to sustain our current fleet of submarines, so that we can turn with confidence to the acquisition program for our Future Submarine.”

The report of Phase 1 of the Review of the Sustainment of Australia’s Collins Class submarines is available at:

Mr Smith’s Office: Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473

Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan (02) 6277 7620 or 0418 251 316

Department: (02) 6127 1999



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