Australia's sub fleet may serve longer

Dec. 13, 2012 at 10:41 AM

BORDERTOWN, Australia, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Australia's fleet of six Collins class submarines may see their expected service life extended.

A recent report by British submarine expert John Cole severely criticized the Australian navy's six Collins class submarines, noting among other things that they spent nearly twice the time in port on repairs as boats from comparable navies.

"It's quite clear from Cole's report that we fall substantially below any comparable international benchmark," Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said in a news conference.

A less damning separate study of the service life of the Collins class concluded, however, that there was no technical reason why the six boats, built by the Australian Submarine Corp. and based in Osborne, South Australia, shouldn't reach their expected 2024-31 decommissioning dates.

The second report even suggested the vessels could be maintained in service for an additional seven years.

Political dissent over the submarine program remains however, with coalition defense spokesman David Johnston stating, "Labor announced 12 new submarines in the 2009 white paper but since then have done nothing except rip money from the defense budget, and these submarines simply do not materialize overnight."

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