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Upgrade for Two More Subs

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, and the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, today announced the Federal Government's decision to modify an additional two Collins Class submarines and to approve other submarine-related work, at a total cost of $72 million.

Two submarines, HMAS FARNCOMB, and the yet-to-be launched sixth submarine, RANKIN, will be upgraded with the same platform modifications that were approved for submarines DECHAINEUX and SHEEAN in December 1999.

In December 1999, the Minister for Defence announced the upgrade of DECHAINEUX and SHEEAN to an increased operational capability by December 2000 at a cost of $266 million. Mr Moore today confirmed that work on these two submarines has progressed on schedule and within approved expenditure, and that both submarines are expected to arrive at their operating base in Western Australia by mid-December 2000.

"A range of modifications being fitted to DECHAINEUX and SHEEAN, some of which were prototyped in the first submarine HMAS COLLINS, have demonstrably improved the noise signature and mechanical reliability of those submarines," Mr Moore said.

Changes include modified propellers, modified casing sections, improved hydraulic system components, and improvements to diesel engine reliability.

"HMAS FARNCOMB will enter refit later this year, and the sixth submarine, RANKIN, is due to be completed next year. As these proven modifications can only be incorporated during build or during scheduled refits, the Government has approved their incorporation now in FARNCOMB and RANKIN to resolve known deficiencies and reliability shortcomings," said Mr Moore.

Senator Minchin welcomed the decision as a boost to South Australian employment and industry.

"The additional work is timely for the Australian Submarine Corporation and for the RAN. It comes at a time when the workload for the build contract was winding down and will provide important work for the skill base which has been built up at Osborne in Adelaide.

"Approximately half the value of the work will be directed to the Australian Submarine Corporation, further demonstrating the Federal Government's commitment to viable industry support for submarines," said Senator Minchin.

"Long term support for Australian defence capability is only one element underpinning employment prospects in South Australia generally and in the Australian Submarine Corporation in particular. Sustainable levels of employment for highly skilled workers also depends upon a restructured Australian Submarine Corporation being attractive to purchasers.

Mr Moore confirmed that the decision to proceed with the upgrade of an additional two submarines reiterates the Government's commitment to the Collins Class, in advance of broader issues which will be canvassed in the upcoming Defence White Paper.

"The Government is committed to bringing all six Collins submarines to full operational capability. A final decision on recommended options to achieve this capability will be considered in the context of the strategic outcomes of the White Paper," Mr Moore said.

Ends

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