Apr 15, 2011

Future of the Australian Navy

She will face (and deal with) an arms race in Asia...

Cartography :

Of the entire Australia land aera, only 1% were of water (rivers/lakes).
Coastlines: The Australian mainland has a total coastline length of 35,876 km (22,292 mi) with an additional 23,859 km (14,825 mi) of island coastlines. There are 758 estuaries around the country and claims an extensive EEZ zone of 8,148,250 square kilometres (3,146,060 sq mi).

Personnal Strenght :
Personnal: +/- 12 000 (and 1800+ reserve); Naval-Aviation: +/- 900.

12 Destroyers/Frigates (Fewers and Biggers !)
Up to 3 AAW Destroyers (3 Hobart)
(Hobart, Brisbane, Sydney). 7000 tons, 146 meters, AAW large frigate (derived from the Spanish F-100 design). Currently under building process, construction of first ship experienced some problems due to Australian shipyards skills shortcoming, a fourth ship in option now unlikely. All three expected to be commissioned by 2014/2018 (and replace directly in the Aussie Fleet the four ageing FFG of the Adelaide class), with probable +/- 30 years of service, to be retired around mid 2040’s decade.

Up to 8 Future FFX
Expected to replace the Anzac’s frigates during the 2020’s. A displacement of 7000 tons and cruise-missiles capable was hoped...Wait & See...

8 Anzacs
(Anzac, Arunta, Warramunga, Stuart, Parramatta, Ballarat, Toowoomba, Perth). 3600 tons, 118 meters multi-purpose frigate (modified German MEKO 200 design). Commissioned by 1996-2006, with probably +/- 30 years of service expected, to be retired by late 2020’s/early 2030’s.

4 Adelaide
(Sydney, Darwin, Melbourne, Newcastle). 4000 tons, 139 meters, ASW oriented frigate (of US O.H.Perry design). Commissioned by 1983/1993. These remaining four ships were expected to be replaced around 2014/2018 by 3 AAW frigates of the Hobart class.

Large Amphibious ships (a total renewal for the largest ships)
Up to 2 large LHD (2 Canberra)
(Canberra, Adelaide). 27 000 tons, 230 meters LHD of Spanish design. Currently on building process. To be commissioned by 2014/2015, with probable +/- 30 years of service, to be retired around mid 2040’s.

2 Kanimbla (large LST, to be retired soon)
(Kanimbla, Manoora), 8000+ tons, 159 meters LST (Ex-US ship built by late 1960’s/early 1970’s). Transferred by 1994, now ageing and unreliable ships. To be retired very soon by 2012/2014 and replaced by the 2 Canberra LHD

Up to 1 Ex-Largs Bay (LPD)
(Ex-Largs Bay) 16000 tons, 176 meters LPD (Ex-British HMS Largs-Bay, initially commissioned by 2006), likely to be transferred (65 £ million) by late 2011/early 2012. With probable +/- 25+ year of service, to be retired around 2030.

1 Tobruk (medium LST, to be retired soon)
(Tobruk), 3600/5800 tons, 126+ meters LST (derived from the 1960’s UK design). Commissioned by 1981. Now ageing ship, to be retired very soon and replaced early 2012 by the “second-hands” (but very young, larger and more capable ship) Ex-British HMS Largs-Bay.

Others Amphibious Crafts (LCT/LCM)
6 Balikpapan
(Balikpapan, Brunei, Labuan, Tarakan, Wewak, Betano), 300/500 tons, 44 meters LCT design. Commissioned by 1973/1974 4 LCVP (T-4/7), 5+ tons, 13+ meters, carried on Tobruk LST and Success AOE. Built by 1993.

Originaly intended to replace ageing LCM 8, but this design suffered from major problems (Fragility, crafts not reached fundamental requirement). Likely to be scrapped without reach frontline service

14 LCM (Mk-8)
34 tons, 22 meters, built by 1967. Many already retired Mineweespers and Patrol-Ships.

+/- 26 OPV, IPV, MCM (Biggers and Fewer....)
Up to 20 Ocean Patrols Vessles (Project SEA 1180) ?
Up to twenty OPV of +/- 2000 tons expected (hoped...) around 2018-2030 to replace 26 ships of the Huon MCM (6), Armidale MPV (14), Leeuwin SV (2), Paluma SV (4) class

6 Mineweespers
6 Huon (Huon, Hawkesbury, Norman, Gascoyne, Diamantina,Yarra). 700+ tons, 52 meters (a design variant from the Italian Gaeta MCM design). Commissioned by 1999/2003, likely to be retired around 2030.

2 Auxiliary Mineweespers/tugs
(Bandicoot, Wallaroo), 500+ tons, 29 meters, Ex-civilian ships, transferred by 1990 1 Bermagui (Bermagui), 110 tons, 19+ meters, Ex-fishing boat transferred by 1994.

1 Koraaga
(Koraaga), 120 tons, 21+ meters, Ex-Tuna boat transferred by 1989

3 mine-coutermesures drones
(MSD 02/04)

14 Armidale (Mid-shore patrol vessels)
(Armidale, Larrakia, Bathurst, Albany, Pirie, Maitland, Ararat, Broome, Bundaberg, Wollongong, Childers, Launceston, Maryborough, Gleneg). 270 tons, 56 meters IPV design. Commissioned by 2005/2008, with probable +/- 20 years of service expected.

2 Leeuwin (Mid-shore Patrols Vessels)
(Leeuwin, Melville), 2500 tons, 71 meters. Commissioned by 2000.

4 Paluma
(Mid-shore Patrols Vessels)
(Paluma, Mermaid, Shepparton, Benalla), 300+ tons, 36 meters. Commissioned by 1989/1990.

6 Submarines (toward up to 12 ?, a unrealistic future requirement !!!)
Up to 12 newer Subs ?
(project SEA 100), maybe 2500/3000+ tons SSK design, intended to replace the Collins class by 2025+, but the current figure expected (12 ships) seems too unrealistic (.....up to 8 max)...WAIT & SEE

6 Collins

(Collins, Farncomb, Waller, Dechaineux, Sheean, Rankin), 3000 tons, 77 meters SSK of Swedish design (Type 471). Well effective subs but this class have been subject of numbers of incidents/technical problems from the beginning. Commissioned by 1996/2003, with probable +/- 30 years of life, to be retired by late 2020’s.

2 Fleet Oilers
1 Sirius
(Sirius), 25 000 tons, 191 meters, ex-civilian ship converted. Commissioned by 2006.

1 Succes
(Succes), 17 000 tons, 157 meters (design derived from French “Durance” AOE). Commissioned by 1986

+/- 17 Patrol Boats
8 Roebuck Bay patrol boats
(Roebuck Bay, Holdfast Bay, Botany Bay, Hervey Bay, Corio Bay, Storm Bay, Dame Roma Mitchell, Arnhem Bay), 28 tons, 38 meters, built by 1998/2000

1 Southerly 65
(Malu Baizam), 85 tons, 19+ meters, built 2003.

8 Fantome class
(SMB-1105/1012), 7+ tons, 10+ meters, built by 1992/1993.

5 Auxiliary Ships
1 Antartic survey ship
(Wyatt Earp), 5+ tons, 9+ meters.

1 Training ship (sail)
1 Young Endeavour 200 tons, 44 meters, built by 1987

2 Large Tenders
(Seahorse Spirit, Seahorse Standard), 3900+ tons, 72+ meters, built by 1980/1981

1 Navigational training ship
Seahorse Horizon, 390+ tons, 42 meters, transferred by 1990

Dozens of Harbors Small Crafts
+/- Twenty 30/60 tons lighters
18+ meters

3 Southerly 65 class
(Seal, Shark, Dugong), 85 tons, 20 meters, built by 1993/1999.

Few concrete ammunition lighters.

10 Steber 43
(NGPWB-01/10), 13+ tons, 13+ meters, built by 1998

4 Noosacat 930
(0901/0904), 9+ meters, built by 1994

4 Shark Cat 800
8+ meters, built during 1980’s

12 Naval Work Boats
12+ tons, 12+ meters, built by 1979/1981

A half-dozens of radio-controlled surface target

4 Waters/fuel lighters
(Wallaby, Wombat, Warrigal, Wyulda), 260 tons, 39 meters, built by 1983/1984

Maybe few torpedo-recovery crafts
(Tuna, Trevally, Tailor), 93 tons, 26+ meters, built by 1970/1971

Some very small training yachts and dinghies ?

1 ASI-315 class navigation craft
(Seahorse Mercator), 165 tons, 31 meters, built 1998

4 Tugs
1 Tammar
260 tons, 27 meters, built 1984

2 Coastal
(Seahorse Quenda, Seahorse Chuditch), 23 meters, built 2003

1 Quokka
110 tons,18+ meters, built 1983

(2nd) Comandos (Naval Troops):
12 LARC-V Amphibious vehicles.
Up to 27 RHIB of the 7,2 meters type (N° 0701/0727).

Naval Aviation:
- 15 S-70B Seahawk
- 4 Sea-King Mk4
- Up to 6 MRH-90
- 6 AS-350 Ecureuil
- 3 A-109 Augusta

The Australian navy, like many Western navies, undergoes the (in)famous rule "fewer and bigger. " But the arms race in Asia pushes Australia toward some naval ambitions (up to 12 future submarines, a fourth AAW DDG...). But many problems:
- limited budgets
- problems in Australian shipyards
- problem of recruitment and reputation in the RAN...
Most likely will reduce and slow down these ambitions...

Next fleet review/editorial: Future of the Spanish Navy.

As usual, It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistakes ?, especially for the auxiliary and smaller ships), then SAID IT ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !


  1. Kanimblas have gone already pretty much, Manoora was decomed awhile back and Kanimbla will go when Largs Bay is in service. I also believe the Tobruk will serve alongside this as it is the Manoora's crew that are switching over to the new ship.

    Australian Marines aren't called Marines just (2nd) Comandos, even though they do the Royal Marine training, the Royal Marines have a history in Australia with the colonial era so it was decided to not use that name.

  2. My Opinion, Since Australia does not have good shipbuilding skills, they should just shop around for their fleet and while they are at it, shop for people with good shipbuilding skills. They might as well go with what Spain has to offer.

  3. Australia needs to build and establish a solid indigenous shipbuilding base. But thats a different thing from what was done in the past, namely throwing contracts at companies, who just claim, they can deliver, then muck up due to incompetence (unfortunately a typical Australian business attitude). The new submarine-project will be THE exemplary indicator demonstrating, if the respective parties will finally wake up regarding this matter.

    By the way, a requirement for a sub force of 12 boats is in itself not over the top for a country with such a coastline and different maritime responsibilities (homeland defense, maritime cooperation, overseas missions etc). However from a manning- and financial point of view there are certainly big question-marks.

    In regard to the frigate replacement I hope they will not make the mistake of sizing up ships too much and incur respective procurement costs. A fleet of multi-mission frigates around the 5,000 tons-mark should be just fine to replace the Anzacs. Wether these ships need cruise missile-capability, is debatable.

  4. As usual, interesting Opinions Guys ;)

  5. Australia does have good shipbuilding skills; but they are never used. With Incat and Austal we are effectively the world leaders in Trimaran vessels such as the JHSV and LCS but we haven't had one in service for nearly a decade. This is what we are good at so surely we should use it instead of looking abroad for conventional ships.

    A JHSV-type ship has been proven (with the Jervis Bay) to be capable in fulfilling the logistics transport role, the same role we bought the Bay LSD for, and would have the benefits of being easily maintainable in Australia saving it from the pittfalls that faced the Kanimblas of sinking in Sydney Harbour.

  6. No offense, but a multi-vs monohull-debate is hardly the only aspect of building Australian competences in naval shipbuilding. Hull-design is one aspect of building a warship (or any ship for that matter) and depends entirely on requirements, just as all the other aspects such as C4I, propulsion, armament and logistics. Multihulls are not always better and the Jervis Bay is not even close to fulfilling the same role as Largs Bay, but thats beside the topic.

    Whats relevant is, that the Australian industry builds up knowledge in all aspects of naval shipbuilding (including quality control and stringent fiscal oversight) to be able and offer a competitive solution. If all they can offer are multihulls build to civilian standards, than they are not competitive in the warship business.

  7. My point is that the Australian government has to accept that their decent shipyards are multi-hull builders and will remain like that for the foreseeable future. The issue that came about with the recent ships and subs is when the government rejected the high quality and reliable companies (incat/austal), because they don't do monohulls, and tried to form their own shipyards that had the faults you mentioned, like lack of knowledge and experience, to produce their vessels. You cannot start a shipyard that is instantly going to build quality warships which is something the government did not realize and led to our current faults.

  8. Austal is involved with the US navy in a big way and has been working on the littoral type ships The contract to build USS Independence was awarded to Austal USA of Mobile, Alabama, on 14 October 2005 and her keel was laid down on 19 January 2006. Delivery to the United States Navy was scheduled for December 2008. This type of trimaran vessel is going to be use in a large way in the coming years the customs department operates the Triton to patrol Australia's northern waters as one of the service's fleet of patrol vessels. Australian Customs Vessel Triton has been fitted with two .50 calibre heavy machine guns and carries up to 28 armed customs officers. So I think Austal is in a perfect place to be working on and designing future warships for the RAN.

  9. A fourth AWD is on the cards. It is rumoured that this will be added to the 2013 whitepaper.

    The idea is to give the Adelaide ship building industry something to do until work is started on new submarines .

  10. Australia would get belted up by any armed force including poor countries around the world.

    Australia is a bunch of dress wearing males who run and tug on mummy's skirt if there was any trouble!!!!!!

  11. anonymous - you bag the navy to much mate

  12. I like Anonymous post. Pity he is an Indonesian and doesn't have a brain fit to use. Do you notice that MANY of Australia's warships are decommissioned early? This is a sign that only new technology will do. Small yes, power to use power , yes, this is really where it is at.