Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, Minister for Finance and Deregulation Senator Penny Wong and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today released the Final Report of the Coles Review into Submarine Sustainment.
The Government received the Final Report at the end of November.
The sustainment of the Collins Class submarine fleet is an essential part of Australia’s national security. It is a complex task that has proven very challenging since the first Collins Class submarine, HMAS Collins, was commissioned in July 1996. The sixth and last of the Collins Class, HMAS Rankin, was commissioned in March 2003.
Sustainment of the Collins Class submarines is at the top of the Government’s Projects of Concern list.
In August 2011, the Government announced the Coles Review, a Study into the Business of Sustaining Australia’s Strategic Collins Class Submarine Capability.
Mr John Coles, an expert from the United Kingdom, was commissioned to undertake a detailed examination of the complex engineering issues associated with submarine sustainment and to develop a plan to improve the repair and management of Australia’s submarine fleet.
In December 2011, the Government released the report of Phase 1 of the Coles Review, which set out a number of interim recommendations about how to address longstanding and entrenched difficulties.
In May this year, the Government announced that a senior Department of Defence position would be dedicated to focusing exclusively on the oversight of all existing and future materiel-related submarine activities in Defence.
Mr David Gould was appointed as General Manager Submarines and is responsible for all materiel-related aspects of submarine support across Defence. Mr Gould reports to Mr Warren King, Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO).
In May, the Government also allocated an additional $700 million for Collins Class submarine sustainment as part of the 2012-13 Defence Budget.
In June, consistent with the recommendations of Phase 1, a new maintenance and support contract for the Collins Class Submarines was signed following negotiations between the DMO and ASC Pty Ltd.
This In Service Support Contract will deliver more efficient and effective sustainment services that will improve the availability and reliability of the Collins Submarine fleet.
In June, the Government received Phase 2 of the Coles Review. Phase 2 was a highly technical and classified examination of commercial, operational, sustainment and management issues around Collins Class sustainment. Over 2500 separate pieces of evidence were examined and over 150 interviews were conducted.
The Final Report of the Coles Review, released today, found that although the Collins Class Submarine fleet of six was competently designed and is well crewed by the Royal Australian Navy, there has been no proper sustainment system in place since the Collins Class entry into service in 1996, some 17 years ago.
Mr Coles has made a number of observations which include:
- Submarines designed in the 1980s and 1990s, which conduct distant and long patrols such as the Collins Class, are maintenance heavy and will spend around half of their lives in maintenance;
- Attaining acceptable availability and reliability of the Collins Class is achievable within about three years;
- Expectations for Collins Class submarine availability have in the past been optimistic; and
- Establishing the necessary logistical arrangements now and sustaining them into the future will be more challenging than it would have been to establish them when the Collins Class first entered service in 1996.
The Report recommends the target levels of availability for a fleet of six submarines should be:
- Two submarines available 100 per cent of the time;
- Three submarines available 90 per cent of the time; and
- Four submarines available 50 per cent of the time.
The Report made 25 recommendations to restore the Collins Class fleet to an international benchmark by 2016. These recommendations include:
- Reducing the length of Full Cycle Docking from three to two years;
- Implementing a maintenance cycle comprising a two-year Full Cycle Docking, one year Mid Cycle Docking and six-month Intermediate Docking;
- Having only one submarine at a time undertaking a Full Cycle Docking; and
- A 100-day plan, including the appointment of a Transformation Program Manager, to implement the Report’s recommendations.
The implementation of these recommendations are expected to deliver a consistently higher level of availability for the Collins.
Implementation also continues on the recommendations of Phase 1 of the Coles Review, which included:
- Resources should be directed to the provision of spares leading directly to increased availability (implemented);
- The classification of Priority 1 Urgent Defects by the submarine commander should be moderated by Commander Submarine Force to avoid over classification purely to increase priority of spares (implemented); 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 other key suppliers to gain a better insight into some of the intrinsic submarine design and equipment characteristics (implemented).
Lessons learnt from Defence’s experience with the Collins Class submarines along with the outcomes of the Coles Review will also importantly inform development of the Future Submarine project.
The Coles Review into Submarine Sustainment is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/aboutdmo/currentreviews/colesreview/.
Minister Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton 0467 784 528
Minister Clare’s Office: Annie Williams 0428 040 522