HMS Astute, a nuclear submarine deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group, has arrived in Perth, Australia.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and vessels assigned to her Carrier Strike Group have visited dozens of countries on the groups maiden deployment, you can read more about that here.

Where has HMS Queen Elizabeth’s strike group been?

UK High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell, said:

“This visit, and the warm welcome our Royal Navy has received exemplifies our commitment to the region, and the spirit of mateship that underpins the bonds between our two great nations.”

The Astute class are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel.

The class have provision for up-to 38 weapons in six 21-inch torpedo tubes. The submarines are capable of using Tomahawk Block IV land-attack missiles with a range of 1,000 miles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

HMS Astute fires a Tomahawk missile.

For detecting enemy ships and submarines, the Astute class are equipped with the sophisticated Sonar 2076, an integrated passive/active search and attack sonar suite with bow, intercept, flank and towed arrays. BAE claims that the 2076 is the world’s best sonar system.

All of the Astute-class submarines will be fitted with the advanced ‘Common Combat System‘, the system acts as the submarine’s brain – controlling its ‘eyes’, ‘ears’ and ‘nervous system’. You can read more about that here.

The manufacturer say that no other attack submarine is as technologically advanced. In the words of BAE, the Astute class is “designed and engineered to be the stealthiest submarine of her type, equipped with the latest and most powerful sonar suite and secure communications facilities, while exhibiting a low noise signature and optimum detection avoidance characteristics”.

Astute class submarines in build at the BAE facility in Barrow.

Astute class facts and figures:

  • over 100km of cabling and pipe work is installed on board each submarine
  • fitted with Sonar 2076 providing the Royal Navy with the ‘biggest ears’ of any sonar system in service today
  • each submarine is 97 metres in length
  • over 7,000 tonnes total displacement
  • the Astute class is the first class of Royal Navy submarine not to be fitted with optical periscopes, instead they employ high specification video technology
  • able to manufacture its own oxygen and fresh water from the ocean
  • can circumnavigate the world without surfacing, her endurance is only limited by the amount of food that can be stored
  • armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

You can read more about the submarine here.

Britain’s stealthy hunter-killer submarine – The Astute class

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maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago

A fine vessel but why haven’t we sold them to other counties? I’d like to see the RN get at least another two Astute, though I understand preliminary design work has been commissioned for a future replacement?

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Erm potentially we will – AUKUS. I think we would sell to more if they were not nuclear powered. Are we ever likely to see a diesel/electric conversion for local waters?

Daddy Mack
Daddy Mack
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

Let’s just whip out the nuclear reactor and chuck in a couple of diesel electric genny’s – jobs a good ‘un

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Daddy Mack

I See you’ve read tha French export paper as well D M

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

No we won’t see one, it’s the wrong design/size for a SSK conversion.

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Too big/too small? Or is ssk a complete shape redesign to enable you to do diesel and then I guess need to worry about battery tech and safety too

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

Astute size is too big, far to much internal space especially back aft, and the shape isn’t the best design for a SSK.
SSKs all have large battery compartments, often more than one, modern designs incorporate some form of AIP too, which lets the SM stay submerged for far longer then it otherwise could.
The Japanese have now moved away from AIP systems, and have gone over to Lithium batteries with all that entails, they seem to believe it’s the way ahead for SSK propulsion.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

And you can’t throw a couple of Shrimps on a reactor but you can on a diesel

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Don’t forget the spuds!!

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Those were the days prior too health and safety bacon wrapped in tin foil

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

What the eye doesn’t see………

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

If you had the Middle , could always garrantee a pot mess of the stoker’s

Brenton Puls
Brenton Puls
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

I don’t think the U.K would sell them to anyone except a reliable and close as family partner.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

why haven’t we sold them to other counties?”

There are assets you sell and those that you don’t, unless it is to a very elite club.

I’m quite happy the UK is in that club and I do not want other nations getting their mitts on our tech!

Australia, being a 5 eye anglosphere ally a welcome exception.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

Australia yes New Zealand if they have a government change Daniele

klonkie
klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Geez Tommo- I wish. Seriously though, we in NZ need to pull our weight. We should be investing 2% of GDP on defence like our Aussie cousins, A small glimmer of hope in that NZ has ordered 4 P8s to replace the P3 Orions and 5 C130J ‘s.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  klonkie

KLONKIE OK was rather harsh , I know that being led by Ms Ardern and her dislike for Nuclear, in any form have a great idea that might go some way too non reliance on Aus Solar powered Hunter killers Subs OK just joking , if Aus supply’s the Subs NZ could supply the Surveillance over the both countries sea ways that should go someway too appeasing Ms Aredern

klonkie
klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

No probs Tommo- pretty funny!. I agree with you & I’m no friend of Tax- inda Ardern!

maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago

I agree, and the Australian link will need to strengthen in the coming years. They have a somewhat fluid defence procurement policy with new APC’s being sourced from Korea as one example. The UK must be proactive in providing attractive equipment options, in a similar fashion to the Type 26 contract.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

Can we add a clause to the contract? Astute designs for Largs Bay? 😎

Just a Lusty Friday moment. Twinged with sadness as we say farewell to two fine vessels from ’82.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

Sold. That was a crazy cut. CRAZY. Of such versatility in HADR roles and not in the least tanks and jets over Germany as that clown Cameron said.

klonkie
klonkie
1 month ago

but well looked after and valued by the RAN.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

Agree, when you make the worlds most capable weapon system you don’t want anyone else having it. Worth noting the US UK treaty also prohibits us from selling without US consent. They used this to block sales to Canada of Trafalgar class in the 80’s.

James William Fennell
James William Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Joint UK-USA technology used, lots of US ITAR. AUKUS or similar agreement needed – no chance US (or UK for that matter) would agree to selling to other potential SSN users like India and Brazil (France has a sovereign nuclear-sub production capability, albeit probably without some of the UK-US bells and whistles). We gave up SSK production in 1990s -and really in 1970s. RN would need to order SSKs for us to begin that again and its a crowded market these days, with Spain, South Korea, China, India and Japan all joining the SSK production club which was dominated by… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by James William Fennell
BB85
BB85
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

There are a lot of US restrictions around the tech, so they would prevent us selling them even if we wanted to, I believe India was a bit miffed that the US and UK had turned down opportunities to sell them SSN’s.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Only a handful of countries could even consider operating something as complicated as Astute and we need to get our hands on as many as we can make, no room for exports.

Quentin Drury
Quentin Drury
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Being a bit optimistic but if the last three Astutes are being completed maybe they can slip in another 1 for the UK and 2 for Aus if they want their subs sooner? Do subs need RFA support, can they actually be replenished for some stores at sea?

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin Drury

Morning @QD, nothing wrong with being ban optimist, but no it’s not possible to slip in any more Astutes, as Barrow are now gearing up to build the Dreadnoughts.
SSNs dont need RFA support, and while they replenish stores at sea, it’s not usually an activity they do, as anything that comes across usually has to come down via the fin. It’s narrow, awkward and dangerous, so only normally done in an emergency for small items.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks for the reply Deep. If no more Astutes I do wonder if the any Trafalagars can have an extended life and even if the Vanguards can be repurposed for a time? Just to keep our sub numbers up.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi Quentin, The problem is the hull life. Remember the Indonesian submarine that sank. When they found it it had broken into three sections. Although we may never know what caused the disaster the age of the boat was probably a factor suggesting a catastrophic hull failure. Similar suggestions also surround the loss of the Argentine submarine a couple of years ago. Running subs past their sell by date is a danagerous business, especially when you consider that the Indonesian boat had recently been thoroughly refitted and upgraded, I think by South Korea. If you do run a boat past… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi Quentin, in short the answer is no, it’s not a good idea to keep them past their OSD. Apart from a safety factor, the systems are just worn out and suffer from a greater frequency of failures. This in turn becomes increasingly expensive to rectify and maintain. Vanguard is currently undergoing a refit to keep her going past her OSD to allow for the Dreadnoughts to come on line. The refit was scheduled to last 3 1/2 years, she is now some 2 years late, such are the issues with these systems. The cost is North of £250 mill,… Read more »

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin Drury

No actual room in the UK for extra production. Atleast not an entire submarine. UK capacity is built up around sustaining the RN’s set amount of submarines and trying to build more Astutes in the UK would delay the Dreadnaught class. Should also note that the domestic industry for building the reactors is also geared around that particular number of boats and that the facilities to build the PWR2 no longer exist as they have been rebuilt to produce the PWR3. If Australia acquire’s the Astute boats they will likely be with the US S9G reactors (Which the PWR3 is… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Matthew

Thanks for your reply too. I do hope the UK gets something from this three way partnership with the US and Australia. How good was it for an actual live and operational Astute to visit Perth Naval Base at Stirling. That’s got to count for something.
I’d like to see the UK SSN sub count up to 8 just for some added undersea security to the fleet and that they can be forward deployed anywhere.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Great subs, no doubt about that. Although I do wonder about BAES claims for the Sonar 2076 – best is a very subjective absolute. I am aware that the USN was reportedly very impressed with Astute when they first saw what they could do so I accept that 2076 is very good. The above article also suggests that the 2076 is the ‘biggest ears’ of any sonar system fitted anywhere in the world. Now that is an interesting little snippet as size matters in this context… I’m sure the RN will be giving the RAN submariners the red carpet treatement… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Morning CR.
Yes, remember reading that in Navy News. The USN admiral was stunned how Astute “held” the US SSN from range.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Yeh, chests puffed out with pride at that story… 🙂

We may not have the largest ‘battle’ fleet in the world anymore, but it is quality and very well crewed as well.

Cheers CR

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Read elsewhere in relation to that story a debate where a US submariner who served in exchange backing up just how good the sensors are and even more the skill of the crews who use them.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Hi Spyinthesky,

I was not aware of that report, interesting.

Thanks CR

BB85
BB85
1 month ago

Astute was designed primarily to be a sub hunter as well, while US subs are more multirole and mass produced in nature. The latest Virginia subs are like underwater battle ships for the amount of TLAMS they can carry now.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Warships IFR did a better write up. Astute was pitched against 2 hunting Virginia class that were acreening a USN carrier battle group. Astute had track and lock on both Virginia class without being detected and could have sunk both. Then proceeded to lock onto 2 cruisers and an Arleigh Burje in essence stripping away the carriers defensive screen. In reality Astute might have got a firing solution on the Nimitz class carrier and would have made a real mess of the battle group. That is a little bit more than being impressed with the Astute package. I think most… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Wow that is the most detailed account I seen and clearly a very impressive showing for the RN’s silent service.

Thanks Mr Bell, more than 7 would be nice but no longer possible sadly. Let hope the SSN(R) comes along on schedule and we can afford a couple more.

Cheers CR

Skippy
Skippy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Really impressive thanks for the detail. Am currently reading ‘Hunter killers’ for the second time. In the book it says the Russians respected the US submariners but feared the British.

Last edited 1 month ago by Skippy
Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR, not sure about the best in the world, but it is a very very good bit of kit. My guess is that it’s up on the top step of systems, possibly along with others!
In the world of passive sonar, big is good, bigger is better!👍

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I’m sure the RN will be giving the RAN submariners the red carpet treatement as well…”

Going by that flag hanging off the top, an admiral has found an excuse to get a jolly out of it, no doubt his ‘expert’ knowledge will clinch the deal…. 🙄

Robbo
Robbo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Everyone that has been in the mob knows about flag officers and “jollies” Andy. The RAN to it’s credit in recent times has had a few flag officers that are ex-submariners. In fact the last couple of RAN Chief Flags have all been submariners. Where on earth would you put a flag officer on any class of boat? At least an SSN would have a bit more room.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbo

Not just Flag Officers mate, anywhere remotely ‘bronzy’ was enough for half of Squadron to find an excuse to fly out to the boat. Funnily enough, when tied up alongside in Fassers you never saw them down a boat. 😂

Robbo
Robbo
29 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

New to this, so tried answering from my email in box. It doesn’t appear to work. We went through Fassers once Andy but that was because we were mere colonials (an HMAS/m Oberon). I still know a few over FBW (Stirling, fleet base West). Talk is there that Astute class and/or Virginia SSN’s are shortly going to be permanently home-based at FBW. So SSN crew will have somewhere “bronzy” to go on a permanent basis. There is substantial submarine refit and dockyard capability over there to dry lift boats for maintenance and repair. Plus FBW has no public access to… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
29 days ago
Reply to  Robbo

Cheers for the info Robbo, that would be a cracking draft. 😃

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

The RAN could well have a mixed sub fleet for a while then which might sit better with some of our neighbours. I do hope the 🇬🇧 gets a fair crack at this sub deal with 🇦🇺 and not just be steam rolled by the 🇺🇸 grabbing everything. We can hope for a win-win-win and soon!

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

There is still a 4th spot to be filled on the advisery panel which is expected to go to a current or former member of the RN sub community. The rest are filled with US personnel from navy and industry. On the surface seems US stacked at the moment though may also come down to the RAN and USN having closer relations over last few decades between training, operations and US industry support in the Collins so that may have given a solid knowledge on who we could grab straight off the bat while for the UK we will need… Read more »

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Look at a picture of astute then a Virginia and you can see how big the sonar arrays are on astute for comparison. Virginia was optimised for versatility and land attack where as astute tends towards the attack submarine role like sea wolf. Both are excellent however.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Eyebrows raised, especially considering the Aussie Secretary of Defence has literally just issued a statement that they will not be buying a novel design SSN or a hybrid of Virginia and Astute but will instead buy a mature, proven design – I.e, will either buy a Virginia or an Astute

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago

In which case it’ll be obsolete by the time it enters service, given it’s unlikely to be before 2040? My bet is that they will buy an improved short version (Blocks I to IV) of the Virginia with a number of technology insertions from the SSN(X) programme (Improved Virginia)?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

I tend to agree, fact is they are much more reliant on the US than us so I suspect it will be fundamentally a US design with possible sensor tech from UK if ours is still superior by then, I don’t know what now or in the future UK/US cooperation means in regard to any sensor transfer in the bigger picture. The US don’t usually give without take. The Virginia is more of an all round design the Astute the better specialist sub killer from what I read.

BB85
BB85
1 month ago

They could lease US subs for a while to train crews, their current diesel subs are on their last legs and need to be replaced before 2030, never mind 2040.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Evening SR, don’t believe your comment ref obsolescence is correct. That would imply the last 3 A boats will all be obsolete by 2040, midway through their service life!! Agree with you that the front runner for the programme will come from the USA, but not due to obsolescence. The only issue with it being a A boat is the difference in the UK reactors between now and the Dreadnoughts. We are switching from PWR 2 to PWR3, which don’t fit into a Astute. That is also partly why we are getting a new design SSN as well as it… Read more »

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

I feel confident the USN will shoot down any attempt for Australia to get Virginia as they want every single boat they can get.

Sean the real Sean
Sean the real Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Yeah no , Rickover is the last block 4 Virginia for the US Navy , all the rest ; pre-named and pre-payed at that are destined for Australia . What gets me is the naivety of this forum , is anyone here actually Defense or former Defense ? Electric boat New London has pretty much given the game away . Astute would have been my choice as has a more advanced acoustic stealth hull though not quite as advanced sensors as is stated by members on this board . US Navy does not give compliments if it see’s something with… Read more »

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

Sorry don’t understand your comments, it’s not up to electric boat who does or does not get boats. The program literally just came together in the last few months so no one has had any time or previous inclination to plan who does or does not get boats. As you will be aware, the USN has been pushing the yards for years to get every boat they can. I can’t imagine the USN suddenly turning around and reversing that for some exports to Australia. The US ship building base is not exactly big on the idea of exports. As for… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Got to agree [email protected] ref your comments on V Blk4 boats? Think the USN might well have something to say about them all being paid for and going to Aus!!!!
USN is in process of replacing it’s older LA class SSNs, so won’t be sending any to Aus just yet.
Not sure what your basing your comments about sensor capabilities on, as no navy will reveal how good or bad they actually are, but safe to assume they will all be somewhat capable otherwise they wouldn’t have them.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

I have no idea what he’s basing his opinion on. As is there is a great deal of concern that the current plan of 2 Virginia’s a year will not be fast enough to replace the scheduled decommissioning of older subs. To suggest that the USN would then be ok with forgoing all the remaining blk IV Virginia’s, I just can’t see that happening.

Last edited 1 month ago by Netking
Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

No, neither can I. I believe that the US still needs to build another 45ish Virginia class SMs in whatever block form to compensate for the decommissioning of the LA class, even at 2 per year that will 2042ish before they are completed.
The Aussies will want something in the water long before then I would imagine!

Robbo
Robbo
28 days ago

Many are ex-submariners Sean. Electric Boat won’t get this SSN contract as the RAN had 100% of its submariners trained by the RN from the early 60’s up into the 90’s with the Scottish built Oberons. I was one of them. Some only did basic training (part 1 and 2) while others served for years on RN conventional submarines both upper and lower deck sailors as fully RN qualified submariners. The RAN will also choose a “mature” design so says the current Defence Minister Peter Dutton and not a mish-mash of SSN designs and that favours the present Astute boats… Read more »

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

I wouldn’t get your hopes up – the panel advising the Australian government on submarines is full of yanks.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi Levi,

That’s shame as it puts us at a disadvantage. The new SSBN and SSN’s will be equipped with a new reactor which has already gone into production. My understanding is that it will not fit into an Astute boat and I suspect that Roll Royce do not have the capacity to build the two designs side by side at the rate that would be required – I hope I am wrong, but the US have the advantage of scale on us as usual.

Cheers CR

JohnH
JohnH
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Except I believe the US are fully booked with orders…Not sure if the PWR3 will fit in the Astute design, though they are fairly close in the beam which was increased on the Astute to fit the PWR2, so maybe s design change that could be justified if it will fit. Otherwise, keep it as is as changes make trouble.

James William Fennell
James William Fennell
1 month ago

When was that? He said they would have the first boat in the water by the end of the next decade, but nothing about design. I’m sure Aus will join either SSN(R) or SSN(X).https://thewest.com.au/politics/defence/dutton-confident-of-submarine-timeframe-c-4366601

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Here you are, from the ABC https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-27/defence-scraps-local-ship-build-for-overseas-purchase/100572926: The navy is “very unlikely” to select a hybrid nuclear submarine design that combines both British and American technology, as it looks to replace Australia’s ageing Collins-class fleet. The head of the nuclear submarine taskforce, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, told the committee that Australia intended to select a “mature design” for its nuclear submarine, to be built under the AUKUS security partnership. “All options are on the table, but the plan is that the design is mature at the start of the build.” Under questioning from Labor senator Penny Wong, Defence secretary Greg… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Just to let you know – I have replied but with a link so it has to be moderated. Watch this space!

Sonik
Sonik
1 month ago

I think you are right, SSN(R)/SSN(X) fits with the timeline and gives Aus potential opportunity for a genuine (albeit limited) two-way workshare in a program. Regarding design I think that Aus are simply keen to avoid excessive RAN customization due to hard lessons learned from Barracuda and Hunter. Aus do buy a lot of US kit but they also seem quite happy to buy whatever is the best fit for their needs from wherever. So SSN(R) would seem to be absolutely the front runner, in terms of potential for genuine workshare, suitability for RAN needs and costs.

Graham
Graham
1 month ago

Actually I doubt Australia would consider the SSN(R) or the SSN(X), at least not for the first batch. Those designs won’t be ready until the 2030s Australia would need to start construction sometime later this decade to have a sub in service by the late 30s early 40s. I think the Block V Virginias will be too large and expensive so I would say either the Astute or Blk IV Virginia will be considered.

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

We’re probably offering HMS Astute…

Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago

The Astute production run is coming to an end, could it be possible to shift the production facilities to Australia? I believe the Virginia class is going to be built for a number of years and their yards are at capacity. It would seem, superficially, that an Astute hull with combined US / UK fit out could be on the cards.

Roger
Roger
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

Production facilities in UK will be more than busy with Dreadnought class builds.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

They are looking at building the Subs in Australia, work is currently underway at the ASC site at Osborn in South Australia on a brand new facility, originally to build the Attack class, reportedly able to build Subs up to 120m in length. There has even been a suggestion that maybe the entire rear half would be built overseas(Reactor to the Pump Jet) and the front half in OZ

Robbo
Robbo
28 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael if you are not aware Osborn is used for the initial submarine builds and full cycle refits only? All the other submarine maintenance and refits are done in the adjoining Fleet Base West shipyard facilities in Western Australia. The current lift facilities in WA favour the smaller Astute or its’ SSN replacement boat. The Virginia’s also have larger crew requirements, thier sensors appear not quite up to the RN ones and Australia has used the RN to train its submariners in the past. All this gives the UK the front running in my humble opinion.
Robbo.

Michael
Michael
27 days ago
Reply to  Robbo

Henderson can be upgraded to handle the bigger sub and a Virginia Block IV is only 18m longer then the Astute and not as wide, I don’t think the 140m long Block V is in the running. One big problem with the Astute though is the RR PWR2 Reactor is no longer in production, so would need to either fit the PWR3 Reactor or the US Reactor.

Robbo
Robbo
27 days ago
Reply to  Michael

All true Michael. Have you seen one of the Collins boats on the dry lift at Henderson? It’s a reasonably tight fit. I think, but it’s only opinion that the RAN will finish up co-funding the development and manufacture of the Astute class replacement and in the meantime train RAN crews in the Astute boats. The reason for that opinion is that this working arrangement will be identical to what went on when the Oberons were still in the water when all RAN submariners were trained in part or in full in the RN. That is the RAN, Australian Defence… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Virginia class is big, very expensive and 2x crew of an astute. My money would be on anAustralian Astute class with US supplied nuclear support infrastructure and training.

JohnH
JohnH
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Yeah, not actually correct. The Astute & Virginia are roughly the same size, being mid 7000 tonnes in displacement, except for the Virginia Block V which is about 2200 tonnes larger. The Virginia has ~20-30% larger complement, the cost advantage is for the Astute vs the Block IV Virginia.
Whatever decision is made, the sub ordered should not have significant changes made, that way leads to silly cost overruns and delays. Buy what is known to work, build to spec on the next generation of boat.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

Astute already out of production as RR don’t make PWR2 any more. Astute with PWR 3 was outlined as an option for astute 8 but never taken forward and it may be too big for astute hull although I have no confirmation on it. So Aussies would either need a hybrid Astute with PWR3 or wait for SSN(R).

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Astute is still in production, with the 7th less than half built, and the 5th fitting out in test in the pond.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Pete
Pete
1 month ago

Reports in Australia yesterday that design had to be both existing and still in production. If true it rules out Astute. Given some key components in US subs are UK ip I suspect it will be a U S design but the 3 way Agreement was necessary to allow technology transfer to take place.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

Which begs the question ( politics aside ) why Australia didn’t just revert to the Nuclear Barracuda Submarine rather than try and get Naval Group to cobble together a Diesel Electric version of it.To me it would have been the quickest and cheapest route to having a SSN Capability.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

Nuclear has been a debate in Australia for past 10+ years. However, when original DE contracts were awarded 5-6 years ago the regional threats were at a lower level. In past 2-3 years the relationship with China has broken down with very aggressive dialogue and no sign of it changing anytime soon. Add to that the near 50% increase in DE outcome from original estimate and the decision became easier. Just hope they don’t screw it up with and bespoke mods. Also think it would be in UK long term interest that they do go with a US solution. The… Read more »

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

Barracuda requires multiple refuelling so Australia would have to develop a domestic refuelling industry or rely on foreign yards. Neither was politically acceptable. No offence to barracuda but it’s just not as capable as astute or Virginia.

Paul T
Paul T
29 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Obviously the Barracuda does look inferior to the Astute and Virginia classes in regards to Refuelling, but the option of using someone else’s facilities surely would make the project cheaper, I just think the Barracuda would be a quicker cheaper option,and for a country which would literally have to start from scratch to design, manufacture and support such a project id say it offers a better starting point.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

The French Reactors need to be re-fuelled about every 10 years unlike both the UK and US Reactors and that could not be done in Australia. The Reactors coming totally sealed and not requiring to be opened for the life of the Sub is a major factor in the change of policy by the Australian Government and there is no way the US is going to allow either a US or UK(ITAR issues) Reactor to be put into a French Submarine, even if it could be done, same as the Attack DEs could never have been be built in France,… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
29 days ago
Reply to  Pete

Asture is both existing and still in production – 5, 6 and 7th boats are still building. The issue is the reactor – PWR2 which has been replaced in production by PWR3 for Dreadnoughts. PWR3 or a US S9G reactor from Virginia might fit in Astute.

Pete
Pete
29 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Pwr3 won’t fit in Astute as-is. Astute production will be long done by time the Australian boats commence construction. Pwr2 safety notice issues would preclude a same again solution and the Australians baracuda problems in terms of project delay and cost escalations all stemed from trying to accommodate (re-engineer) the Diesel Electric engine and fuel tank solution into the original nuclear design. They will not want to go through a reengineering / major design review exercise again.

andrew
andrew
26 days ago
Reply to  Pete

Hi Pete Can anyone confirm the following; In June 2012, the MoD awarded Rolls-Royce a GB£600 million contract to produce reactors for the Dreadnought-class and also for the final boat of the Astute-class HMS Agincourt. The MoD also awarded Rolls-Royce GB£600 million to refurbish their Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations reactor core manufacturing plant at Derby to manufacture the PWR3 and to extend the plant’s operational life to 2056. In January 2020, the National Audit Office reported that the construction of the plant was five years behind schedule and was now forecast to be in service in 2026. Looks like Australia… Read more »

pete
pete
26 days ago
Reply to  andrew

i cant see the UK leasing any Astute’s to Australia Andrew. They will be the only asset available to the RN that could sink another major warship for the next decade probably. Perhaps they might offer the Trafalgar boats…but Australia already seems committed to doing mid / late life upgrades to the Collins class to keep them going for another 20 years.

andrew
andrew
26 days ago
Reply to  pete

How about this idea Oz Does a Lend Lease of several Astute Class subs as a “stop gap” and place the order shortly  Lets say we “lend lease” 3 Astute SSN’s we would receive the boats 8,9 and 10 in 2030, 32 and 34. At that time the UK will have a developing capability gap as HMS Astute will be 30 years old. And highly likely the Astute replacement will be behind schedule.  So by the time our “lend lease UK manufactured boats are 15 years old HMS Astute will be 45 years old. Hence as our first home manufactured… Read more »

pete
pete
26 days ago
Reply to  andrew

The UK is only planning 7 Astutes..thats it. Will be lucky to have 2 on patrol at any one time as it is. Delaying availability of 3 boats would mean you might only have 1 boat available globally at any one time….and building 3 new boats would delay the 4 x Dreadnoughts the CDAS replacements. Its also unlikely Australia will have the infrastructure or capability to support / operate Nuclear boats inside of 15 years. More plausible they might lease a couple of old boats from the USA and operate them out of Hawaii utilising the US support facilities there…[possibly… Read more »

Robbo
Robbo
29 days ago

We in Aussie Levi have a pretty good hook up already with BAE and Thales and that goes back to the Oberons and later the Collins boats being progressively upgraded with predominantly UK sensor technology. So, although the US appears to be the front-runner right now I wouldn’t mind a small wager that the Astute SSN will finish up the preferred choice. Those reasons being crew training with RN boats in the past that worked very well, the fact that Astute SSN’S require a smaller crew, spare crew etc to operate. They are physically smaller than the Virginia boats and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

1st “UK in Australia” photo.

Woman on right looks like Theresa the Appeaser.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

See my reply to our friend Geoff – it’s Vicki Treadell. A woman who has held many fancy posts. Pun not intended.

Charles Verrier
Charles Verrier
1 month ago

What an amazing coincidence that it turns up just as Australia is re-evaluating its submarine procurement plans…

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Do my eyes deceive me or is that Theresa May standing in the background next to the Naval Officer?

Dave Kay
Dave Kay
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Certainly looks like her.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

That’s Vicki Treadell – British High Commissioner to Australia.

Some likeness at a glance I’d agree!

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

Thanks Lusty! Hows the weather by you?

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Late reply, but bloody horrible my friend. Rain, rain and more rain. Standard Blighty I guess!

How about you?

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

We stopped sending criminals to Australia over a Century ago I think it’s a lookalike Geoff

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

😀😅 I’m much of your opinion Tommo!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Love it.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

When are we going to see the David Cameron lookalike? 😎

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

😆 I thought the same geoff.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Hi Daniele-indeed an extraordinary likeness at a glance! Good chance for the Aussies to inspect the finest of its type in the world. 18 degrees C and overcast here-weather all over the place at this time of the year-worst time to visit us(I think I told you that before) 😂

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Unfortunately for the crew, Perth, Western Australia will be out of bounds to them, as here in Perth, we are cut off from the rest of the world via a hard international and state border closures…. We are one of the few places in the world that has remained Covid free…

John Mayall
John Mayall
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Hi Andrew, where in Perth are you? My brother lives there.

Edward Gardner
Edward Gardner
1 month ago
Reply to  John Mayall

It will obviously be Freemantle, or “Freeoh” as the Aussies call it.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  John Mayall

I’m at Joondalup…. It’s like little Britain here!

John Mayall
John Mayall
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

So I believe! Our kid is in Mandurah, along with numerous others I know who moved over there!

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  John Mayall

It’s not the worst place to move to! Have you been over for a visit?

John Mayall
John Mayall
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Not yet but I hope to sometime mate!

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago

Our Navy gets around a lot. Good. The AUKUS agreement was largely political, a welcome response – perhaps reaction – to Chinese belligerence towards Australia. The Australian public will have to be comfortable about hosting a base from U.S and U,K. submarines and that needs careful handling. Sovereign R.A.N. nuclear submarines are along way off.

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry Larking
Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Oz will want to be able to build and service as much of their subs as they can without reliance on another nation. We are about to hand over our crown jewel , interested to see how it plays out.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

People are missing this point. The Aussies want to build their own nuke boats to appease local spending targets. It’s going to be a sh*t show.

simon
simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Oz understandably would want control over its top weapon system. They may want to go back to the French design boats. Just wondering what they want to do, build a copy astute or virginia or new design which will add years to the project. the game changer is US will slot in the nuclear reactor fuelled for life, hardly any nuclear infrastructure needed for aussie.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  simon

What a total load of rubbish mate, you can’t operate nuclear SMs without the infrastructure not support them!!!! Just what do you think happens to the nuclear systems when a SM returns to port after a deployment? You just switch everything off and go home I suppose! Nuclear SMs require constant and costly maintenance, you need a nuclear authority to oversee everything and a infrastructure to support it – that doesn’t include anything to do with refits either! Part of said infrastructure is how you deal with a leak with regard to the local population, you will be surprised at… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Pills for the population for a start! Off site contingencies location. NARO called in…quite a list!

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Absolutly mate absolutely, and all this needs to be in place before you start operating SSNs. Refits would probably be item 135 of a list of 250 things you need in your infrastructure set up.
It will take Aus a good decade to get everything set up and the right people in place to start this project. I know both UK and US will fully support the Aussies, but it wont be quick or cheap.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

The point about the complexity and timeframes for the portside infrastructure needed to safely maintain and operate SSNs is well made. However, Australia does already have a nascent nuclear industry (albeit without experience in commercial power generation, maritime or naval nuclear operations) and a nuclear regulator ARPANSA that would oversee naval nuclear safety. Australia has operated a nuclear reactor (primarily for research purposes and medical isotopes) at Lucas Heights in Sydney since the 1950s with the original HIFAR reactor replaced with a more modern OPAL reactor in 2006 so we have some skin in the game already and a small… Read more »

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
1 month ago
Reply to  Oscar Zulu

The export of uranium is subject to range of controls through a complex international regulatory framework overseen in Australia by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) including ‘nuclear security’.

Australia currently has 25 bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements in force covering 43 countries.

The point being that Australia is not entirely a novice when it comes to nuclear safeguards and regulations, though with still much to learn and put in place and learn specifically re: SSNs.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Oscar Zulu

Morning @OZ, many thanks for the informative posts. I wasn’t for on minute suggesting that Australia didn’t have any knowledge in the nuclear field at all. What you already have in place will obviously stand you in good stead for this project. One of the biggest challenges that you will face is getting enough qualified specialist workers into place to make it all work. I imagine that you will attract many from both our and the US shores over to your country to fill some positions should you wish to take that route. I also imagine that both UK and… Read more »

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

No worries. Agree that a skilled workforce is the greatest challenge for the project as it proved to be with the Collins class, but a nuclear boat will be another order of complexity again. Still, some of the workforce planning and recruitment and supply chain work already undertaken for the now cancelled Attack class may not be entirely wasted as is early construction work at Osborne SA. Australia has been putting some effort into the so called continuous national shipbuilding plan to ensure continuity of a skilled workforce – Hobart DDG to Arafura OPV to Hunter FFG to SSN. The… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Oscar Zulu

No offence taken. I would rather spend my winters in Fremantle then Faslane too, but then I live on the South coast, a much better climate then the cold North. Perhaps not as agreeable as Fremantle, but not bad nevertheless!

Meirion x
Meirion x
29 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

We could do with reducing the tilt of the Earth’s axis to shorten those Winter nights for you than?

Deep32
Deep32
29 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

If at all possible that would be most kind!🤣

Meirion x
Meirion x
29 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

The ship transporting the reactor compartment would also need to be escorted also.

Deep32
Deep32
29 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Yes, I imagine it would have to be, plenty of people about who would like to see that go wrong I think….

Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Deep32 thanks for correcting me.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

Don’t mind me mate, sometimes I just go off in auto mode!!

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago
Reply to  simon

It will be either or near identical design to the Astute or Virginia (Which block who knows). Government and RAN have already stated they want to limit/avoid any changes to reduce risk thus allowing for a more definitive delivery time.

Meirion x
Meirion x
29 days ago
Reply to  simon

There is a lot of Nuclear infrastructure in Devonport to support the SSN’S. Australia would need a similar setup.

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

While on the political front creating Oz jobs is a huge part for the Navy the biggest thing for the local build is our lessons with the O boats. Back when we had them because they were built in the UK and thus no industry was build around them the time and cost to sustain them was horrible, Great boats which we did wonders with but the availability and cost because of overseas build was horrible (in first 5 years of maintenance etc having to send to UK and back etc we spent an amount equal to the purchase price).… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

I wonder if this will be it?
Australia assesses submarine construction facilities following AUKUS decision
29 OCTOBER 2021

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/industry-headlines/latest/australia-assesses-submarine-construction-facilities-following-aukus-decision

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Well size should not be an issue, the Attacks were going to be 5000t and 97m long, same length as an Astute just a bit Skinnier

Meirion x
Meirion x
29 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

When the UK built is first SSN, we already had a Nuclear power station, and infrastructure at Windscale.
Australia will be starting from scratch!

Deep32
Deep32
29 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

See posts by @OZ above ref reactors in Aus.

Brenton Puls
Brenton Puls
1 month ago

Welcome to W.A

Brenton Puls
Brenton Puls
1 month ago

Everyone is asking why they haven’t been sold to other countries and I don’t think wanted to until a reliable partner nation comes along…maybe a Colony

Brom
Brom
1 month ago

Try before you buy?

Lindsay William Sargent
Lindsay William Sargent
1 month ago

That Sub’ cannot be in Perth as it would not passthrough the mouth of the Swan river , it is however in Fremantle

andrew
andrew
28 days ago

Can anyone confirm the following; In June 2012, the MoD awarded Rolls-Royce a GB£600 million contract to produce reactors for the Dreadnought-class and also for the final boat of the Astute-class HMS Agincourt. The MoD also awarded Rolls-Royce GB£600 million to refurbish their Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations reactor core manufacturing plant at Derby to manufacture the PWR3 and to extend the plant’s operational life to 2056. In January 2020, the National Audit Office reported that the construction of the plant was five years behind schedule and was now forecast to be in service in 2026. Looks like Australia will need… Read more »

JohnL
JohnL
27 days ago

Ah a sales visit I see! Just passin’ as it happens.