Tuesday 11 November 2008

Darwin


Darwin, of course, is the capital city of Australia's Northern Territory. Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist who proposed evidence that species evolved from common ancestors through natural selection.


Australia certainly will not likely name its new class of submarine (currently in early planning stages) after Darwin, but the evolution of ultra-modern designs will certainly be incorporated into the new class of boats.


When it comes to submarines, what is stated must be suspect, and what is unstated must never be dismissed. It is not known how many new submarines will eventually be built for Australia, or other countries.


Defence planners will focus on producing a larger, quieter, faster and more deadly version of the existing six Collins-class submarines. ... [O]ne of the options to be considered for the new submarine fleet will be small unmanned mini-subs that can be launched from the "mother" submarines. ... These unmanned mini-submarines, crammed with high-tech sensors, could travel remotely tens of kilometres away from the mother vessel to conduct surveillance, detect enemy submarines or carry an SAS team. Another priority for the new submarines will be the new generation air-independent propulsion systems, which allow conventional submarines to stay underwater for longer periods, greatly increasing operational effectiveness. Defence says the new post-Collins submarines will have more flexible designs, allowing them to be quickly reconfigured for different types of missions, from intelligence gathering to strategic strikes. source


Quickly reconfigured implies modular design offering access to and replacement of critical equipment packages. This applies to the pressure hull exterior as well as inside sub-safe boundaries. SSN-21 and Virginia class subs now share such features.


New generation of improved fuel cell (or simply RTGs) AIP propulsion system contradicts the larger and quieter rhetoric, but certainly does not eliminate the potential for motherships suited for UUVs or SAS teams. This point was made here. Compare the dimensions to those of today's current Collins class: Submerged Displacement - 3,353 tons; Length -77.8 m; Beam -7.8 m with this (between 72m and 78m in length, around 3,000 tons displacement and still crewed by 30 sailors and room for 20 or so SEALs or mission hardware).


Considering that the Collins class itself had been the evolution of five generations of Sweden's non-nuclear submarine development, would anyone be surprised by super upgrades based upon this? Hint: Gotland class require only relatively small crews of about 25. Larger submarines may be in Australia's future, but it contradicts the obvious difficulties involved.

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