Australian shipbuilder ASC has warned that the country’s programme to build next-generation submarines under Project Sea 1000 could pose a serious risk to Australian capability to sustain its Collins-class platforms.

In a recent submission to the Australian Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Legislation Committee, ASC pointed to concerns about the availability of human resources within Australia to support the Collins-class submarines given the large scale of the Sea 1000 project which features the construction of 12 boats. In its submission, ASC also called for closer engagement between the Collins-class sustainment project and Sea 1000 to ensure that “one programme’s success does not come at the expense of the other’s failure”. ASC added that Australia’s capability to sustain its six Collins-class submarines is framed around a wider industrial sector it terms as the country’s “submarine enterprise”. The company noted that Naval Group, the French shipbuilder that will partner ASC on the Sea 1000 project, is currently not part of this enterprise.

“As the Future Submarine [Sea 1000] programme gathers momentum, the submarine enterprise’s ability to deliver the Collins-class capability will be tested by higher demands for key human resources such as senior submarine platform engineers and designers,” said ASC in its submission. “At present the Commonwealth’s partner for the Future Submarine programme, Naval Group, is not part of the Australian submarine enterprise … While Naval Group remains separate from the submarine enterprise, its growth and impact on the sector poses a serious risk to a key Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority of the government – the Collins-class [submarines].”

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