Australia orders review on trouble-plagued submarine fleet

13:26, July 20, 2011      

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Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith on Wednesday announced a review to determine the reason Australia's Collins-class submarines spend most of their time under repairs and sometimes only one could be available for service.

Smith admitted there are "long-term difficulties" with the 6.38 billion U.S. dollars trouble-plagued Collins-class submarine fleet.

The submarines' diesel engines have never functioned well and there are now doubts about whether they are robust enough to last until 2025, when the fleet is due to be replaced.

Other mechanical issues include the performance of the electric motors, batteries and generators, and the armament and fire/ control systems.

Smith has appointed a British defense expert, John Coles to carry out the review to "give us a clear pathway" to getting "more subs into the water."

"We've got to get more subs into the water," Smith told ABC Television on Wednesday.

Smith wants the problems with the Collins-class subs sorted out before the government proceeds with 12 replacement submarines, which experts estimate will cost about 38 billion U.S. dollars to design and build in Australia.

"I don't want to start fully-fledged planning for that until I' m absolutely confident that we've got the sustainment issues of the Collins class right," he said.

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