AUKUS : US, UK and Australia forge military alliance to counter China


Senior member
Jun 22, 2021
La Défense, France

Former submariner Rex Patrick looks under the hood of the second-hand Virginia-class nuclear submarines to see what Australia has bought. Even AUKUS fans might not like what they see.


In what Paul Keating has described as ‘the worst deal in all history’, we’ve decided to buy into more second hand military hardware from the US; this time Virginia class nuclear submarines.

Under questioning from Senator Jacqui Lambie at Estimates last week, the Navy revealed that the submarines we’ll likely get in the mid-2030s are boats built from 2020.

The estimated reactor life of the Virginia-class boats is 33 years. So we will hope to get about 20-years out of these second-hand vessels. The actual time they’ll be available for operations will be much less when you take into extended maintenance and refits.

(…) the fact is that the Virginia Class program has some problems Australia is unlikely to be able to deal with.

The first highly noticeable issue with the Virginia class is a problem that has surfaced with the submarine’s acoustic coating that’s designed to reduce the ‘target strength’ of the submarine (how much sound energy from an enemy active sonar bounces off the submarine, back to the enemy).

The coating is prone to peeling off at high speed leaving loose cladding that slaps against the hull, making dangerous noise, and causes turbulent water flow, which also causes dangerous hull resonance (where the hull sings at its resonant frequency, like a tuning fork) and extra propulsion noise. I know a bit about this as a former underwater acoustics specialist.

The issue, reported in 2017 and again in 2019, is easily seen on the side of the submarine and almost certainly without a fix at this stage.


(…) It’s not OK for our submariners to find that the boats they are using to keep us safe become noisy, and thus increasingly vulnerable to detection and destruction, halfway through their deployment.

Lack of availability

The bigger problem for Australia is the challenge the US Navy is encountering keeping (particularly) aging Virginia-class submarines at sea. Part of the problem is parts supply difficulties, with cannibalisation (taking parts from other submarines) regularly happening to keep a diminished number of boats at sea.

(…) If the US Navy is having difficulty with keeping its boats at sea, with significant in-country industrial capability, how will Australia hope to keep our Virginia subs at sea? Our second-hand, ageing boats may spend as much time undergoing maintenance at Australian dockyards, or more likely waiting in a queue at a US dockyard, as they might be available for operations.

We may be eventually end up getting eight AUKUS submarines, only to find we can only keep two, instead of three in a fully operational state.


That would be $368 billion to have only one or two submarines are sea. And that’s just absurd. There were, and still are other, more sensible and cost-effective paths available.

Sometime in the future Australia may face the strategic equivalent of Cyclone Yasi, a defence contingency in which the number of operational submarines we have available will be of vital importance to our national security.

Tragically, however, absurd is ‘operation normal’ for Defence procurement. Situation Normal: All *censored*ed Up.


Well-Known member
Oct 31, 2021
If he thinks the Virginia is such a mistake. Imagine what he thinks of all the other subs, that aren't as capable?

Google's answer to "Who has the best attack submarine?" No french sub in the top 5, They could still be in the top 10?
Nope, france didn't make top 10 either. It is a sad story.

Top 5 best submarines in the world - M5 Dergi

Top 5 best submarines in the world
  1. Seawolf-class, US.
  2. Virginia-class, US. ...
  3. Astute-class, UK. ...
  4. Yasen-class, Russia. ...
  5. Sierra-class, Russia. A Soviet project of the late 70s of the last century belongs to the multipurpose generation of submarines, in which special attention was paid to increasing their search capabilities. ...

Top 5 best submarines in the world - M5 Dergi › defence-news › top-5-best-submar...
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Senior member
Jun 22, 2021
La Défense, France
Today, as we mark the second anniversary of AUKUS, we look forward to continued progress with our UK and Australian partners to sustain peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. (Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor)

(breakingdefense, sept.15):

Aussies to pour $3B into US nuke boat yards, long-lead items for AUKUS subs

"It's partly long-lead items but it's also partly working on those yards where our submarines will come out of for us,” Vice Adm. Jonathan Mead told Breaking Defense.
CANBERRA — Australia plans to make a $3 billion AUKUS investment in the US over the next five years for long-lead items and to help fund the expansion of American shipyards that will build and retro-fit Australia-bound Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack subs, Vice Adm. Jonathan Mead told Breaking Defense today.​
“It’s partly long-lead items but it’s also partly working on those yards where our submarines will come out of for us,” Mead said on his way out from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference here.​
While he did not provide many other details, it’s clear that most of that money will not start to flow for at least two years, since Australian defense spending is actually dropping $1.5 billion during that period. Previously an Australian lawmaker said the $3 billion would go to US as well as UK shipyards. Mead only mentioned Virginia-class subs made in the US, and American lawmakers have suggested the $3 billion is all US bound.
Mead also told the ASPI conference during a moderated session that Australia is “investing early in the US industrial base in order that we can have those Virginias fast-tracked to us in the early 2030s.” That will include “the deep maintenance done before they come to us,” he added.​
Australia faces a vast defense spending bill over the next three to five years as it begins grappling with the expansion and transformation of its own naval infrastructure to handle resupply and maintenance of Virginia-class submarines.
For example, the defense subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade recently visited several defense bases. “Committee members were particularly disturbed at the state of disrepair while visiting the pier supporting diesel refueling of the Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station,” a committee statement said today. Holt is the site of a huge Very Low Frequency array used to communicate with US and Australian submarines.​
“The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ seems to have been ignored, and urgent action is required within the next few months as this is a critical capability for Australia and the United States,” Julian Hill, chair of the subcommittee, said in a statement today.​
The main facility for Virginia-class submarines (and much later SSN AUKUS) is expected to be HMAS Stirling, a base near Perth in Western Australia. The base will need to be upgraded substantially over the next three years, with roughly $1 billion to be spent over next four years, with another $7 billion committed to be spent over the next decade.
But the Australian money Mead discussed today will be spent in the United States. How it will be transferred and whether it will be paid to the US government or to companies or to a mix of the two remains unclear. /end