Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Questions on Notice

Defence: Submarines (Question No. 1622)

Photo of David JohnstonDavid Johnston (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 5 March 2012:

As at 31 December 2011:

(1) Is it still planned to acquire 12 submarines as per the White Paper direction 'the Government takes the view that our future strategic circumstances necessitate a substantially expanded submarine fleet of 12 boats in order to sustain a force at sea' (Defence White Paper 2009, p. 64, paragraph 8.40).

(2) What plans and strategies are in place to man the 12 future submarines given the great difficulty, in 2010 11, of manning and operating the current fleet of submarines.

(3) What is the expected cost of acquiring 12 future submarines, over the next:

(a) 12 months;

(b) 5 years;

(c) 10 years; and

(d) 15 years.

(4) What funding has been provided to assist in the planning for the 12 future submarines.

(5) When is it expected that the first pass approval will be provided to advance the purchase of the 12 future submarines.

(6) What are the expected through life support and operating costs of a fleet of 12 future submarines over a 30 year operating period.

(7) When is it envisaged that the first of the 12 future submarines will be launched and fully operational.

(8) What is the expected cost per year of maintaining and operating the existing 6 Collins Class submarines until they are de commissioned, broken down by year until 2025.

(9) What is the specific phasing out program for the existing Collins Class submarines.

(10) What are the projected costs and project time-lines of the Submarine Lifetime Extension Program.

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1). Yes.

(2) Crewing requirements for the future submarines are yet to be determined and will depend on a range of factors that will be examined by the SEA1000 program. Appropriate crewing strategies will be developed as part of this process.

(3) Options are currently being developed and are yet to be considered by government.

(4) Funding allocated to date is $19.377 million.

(5) On current schedule, first pass approval is planned for late 2013-early 2014.

(6) and (7) As a decision is yet to be taken on the platform to be acquired, this has not yet been determined.

(8) The Department of Defence estimates Defence Management Finance Plan (DMFP) costs over a 10-year period. A Collins Class submarine program budget for 2021-22 has not as yet been allocated.

Table 1 details current allocations for sustainment costs for the Collins class submarine, which are primarily incurred for contracted services to support the platform. These costs also include provision of Escape and Rescue Services, the Submarine Escape and Rescue Training Facility and support to the combat system. Additional funds are being sought through the Defence committees for financial year 2012-13 and beyond.

Table 1- Current Funded DMFP financial years 2011-12 to 2020-21

The expected operating budget for the six Collins Class submarines in each of the financial years 2011-12 to 2021-22 is outlined in the table below:

Table 2 - Submarine Capability Direct Operating Cost Budget

The Collins operating cost estimates methodology has been revised subsequent to the answer in previous QoN responses, such as QON 504 (8). This revised cost estimates methodology includes Defence (inclusive of DMO) operating costs that directly contribute to submarine capability. Direct operating costs include the cost of suppliers, military workforce, civilian workforce, fuel, explosive ordnance, maritime ranges and communications sustainment. Table 2 does not include Collins sustainment cost, project costs or depreciation. Depreciation is estimated at around $160 million per annum.

(9) The Collins Class notional disposal/phase out dates are from 2025.

(10) The Service Life Evaluation Program is focussed on conducting an evaluation of the Collins Class to determine if the class can reach its planned withdrawal dates and potentially one operating cycle beyond. No estimates have yet been made in respect to schedule or cost for a life extension.