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Australian submarines criticized

Dec. 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Each Australian Collins class submarine spends up to twice as long in maintenance as foreign submarines.

A harsh report by British submarine expert John Coles stated that Australia's submarine fleet is operational half the time of comparable navies in Europe.

Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith is backing a plan to replace the country's six Collins submarines with 12 new boats, The Australian Financial Review reported on Wednesday.

Opposition defense spokesman David Johnston has repeatedly voiced concerns about the cost of maintaining the country's Collins class submarines, built by the Australian Submarine Corp.

"The sustainment of Collins is at the top of the government's Projects of Concern list, yet eight months after Coles finished his extensive review, we are none the wiser on how the minister intends to address the multitude of problems," Johnston said.

One senior defense source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Coles report should "put paid to any plan by government to build a submarine using the Collins class as the base model" for the new fleet. "That idea should just be put to rest."

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