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no astute for australia. realistically.


More realistically likely to be SSN(R).




I have been wondering broad stroke as the international picture changes as extra capacity is needed for the RAN boats then perhaps it could be used to generate more hulls for the RN. I think 12 even 16 boats is a realistic number for the RN. Especially if missile technology pushes maritime strategy towards one of denial. We could keep pace with the PLAN.


Larger numbers of subs are realistic for land powers like the previous Soviet Union and in WW2 Germany. Its hard to think the RN competing branches will let the submariners grab all the new construction funding


If you look at production we can realistically sustain around 15 boats build every 25 years if there are no gaps ordering or big issues. So probably our maximum fleet of SSNs would be 11 unless we went for longer lifetimes than 25 years or new production. Capability.


RAN did want an in production design , it’s perfect in the circumstances. They even want to fit them out in Australia and Cammel laird were sub contracted on Astute hulls . It’s just a matter of will , and I guess we will know this month sometime

John Charles

This is interesting:


The design of Australia’s first fleet of nuclear-powered submarines is expected to be a three-way effort, with the defence minister indicating the AUKUS agreement would result in all countries increasing their military capabilities.

It is understood that there is “appetite” for a brand new design between the countries.

Richard Marles said he believed the AUKUS agreement would result in increased capabilities for all countries.

“The kind of spirit of AUKUS is about the three countries working together to collaborate on cutting-edge military technology, to improve that and to share it and I definitely think you will see a benefit for Australia, but to the US and the UK as well,” he said.

And he said the expectation was that the three countries would be responsible for building different sections of the submarines.

“We are talking about trying to get an integrated industrial capacity across the three countries,” he said.

“We are building a three-way ecosystem and I think that’s how people need to understand it and then there’ll be a lot in this for Australia.”

Last edited 7 months ago by John Charles


It’s what Australia will most likely end up with, to the point that I think it’s pretty much a done deal.

It keeps the yards running through the “valley of death” period between the end of production of one class and the production of the SSN (R). It also “scales” the program and the economies that brings with it. The RN can push out procurement of a boat or boats until after a boat or two has been produced for Australia whereas, with no exports, funding would be needed to ensure back-to-back procurement. As stated in the first article in the series, you don’t just turn sub production on and off.

An extra one or two boats might not seem much, but it will add around a decade of work for the yard ensuring the workforce remains in place until SSN(R) is ready for production.

Put your money on Astute being Australia’s next submarine.

Matt Harding

Agreed. The Australian paper Australian Financial Review ran an article this week speculating that the Australians may be lining up to buy Astutes HMS Agamemnon and HMS Agincourt. This would provide some much needed cash for the government, and would push the UK’s new boats to positions 8 & 9. An additional benefit would be apparently to fill a production hole in the Barrow-in-Furness pipeline.


The RN badly needs Agamemnon and Agincourt, the Aussies will have to wait in line or lease LA Class boats from the US. In reality, neither we or the US have a capacity to build Nuclear powered boats for anyone other than ourselves at present.

Supportive Bloke

ASTUTE needs PWR2 which is now out of production by RR.

PWR3 doesn’t fit into the ASTUTE hull.

So it is all nonsense talk.

Ben Wallace was very clear that there would be no more ASTUTES built.

What this maybe saying is that the drumbeat can be upped and faster hull production for SNR can be achieved directly after the new boomers hulls are fabricated with the outfitting being done in AUS. It may be that SNR is more advanced in design than we realised. Building the hills to a commercial drum beat would cut costs.

Although AUS then risks creating a series of camels that they then have to support themselves.

John Charles

I posted this earlier with link with but it was quarantined when I tried to edit it.

From ABC news Australia 04/02/23

Richard Marles hints at three-way AUKUS submarine design as White House unveiling looms

Key points:

Defence Minister Richard Marles suggests Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines could be a cutting-edge new design shared with the US and UK

The three allies are expected to share manufacturing of the new design, making specific components in each country

Mr Marles said thousands of jobs would be created in Australia as a result of the submarine deal, and defended shipbuilder Austal as a “national asset”

Supportive Bloke

Oh, I agree the core design will be shared.

Ben Wallace already said as much.

My issue is that USN will want something and RAN will want an all singing g and dancing version. Whereas RN has boomers so a more austere specialist version is likely their want/need. Risk is that RN ends up with something very big and very expensive and locked into it like F35z

John Charles

I see what you are saying but maybe, just maybe the USN does want, (or think it needs), a more austere boat to complement Virginia/SSN(X).  


‘Wallace said as much’ . Thats because hes has the Treasury and their acolytes in MoD whispering in his ear. You would have to take all the US equipment and systems to go with it and it would ‘only’ have the UK reactor. The US Virginias already have the main non power/reactor forward systems built as a ‘block’ outside and then installed on a raft inside the hull.
If they go down this path it will lead to tears and wasted money. Britain couldnt even agree on a common destroyer platform- a much simpler design- with the French/Italians

Supportive Bloke

I’d tend to agree it will end in tears and the needs are very divergent.

RN will want an austere crew whereas USN will want 2-3x that crew level.


Yes I would imagine the RN would not want to go above the 98ish crew of an astute, but USN SSNs have crews of around 130.


” Acolytes” Haven’t heard that since the days of UKDJ when Herodotus used it to belittle a really funny bunch before he was banned for having multiple accounts and a huge Ego problem and spending way too much time on there “Lording” it over everyone else who dared to comment. I wonder what became of him ? Cheers Phil, still in Wales.


A design that worked with common components. Just sayin’ 🙂


A common reactor would only be the section that makes sense (It was done once only)
Theres is some technology shared but for obvious reasons Britain wants its own reactor development and build, maybe theres a ‘conversation’ coming up on that.
I think Rolls Royce marine provide the pump jet propulsors for USN already


It’s a American reactor. The UK tagging on that it’s somehow theirs is retarded.


Do they have the time to wait till 2040 for this paper boat to enter service?
For construction reasons and to avoid HEU uranium restrictions their obvious choice is the nuclear version of Frances Suffren with LEU ( they have spent A$900 mill on this already for the diesel powered Barracuda version).
For political reasons this is a no no.
Im inclined to take everything the politicians there say as blather. The enriched uranium would breach their own signatory to nuclear material treaties.


why? Australia has had HEU safely and reliably since our first research reactor in the went live in 1958 fueled with it, we slowly reduced the UEL level over time in line with trends to reduce risk – reaching LEU level in 2006 – That reactor has now been replaced.


Theres a production hole at Barrow ?

They have already started on hull 2 of new Dreadnoughts!

Supportive Bloke

Realistically the pressure hulls won’t be in fabrication for that long.

It is all very well retaking those workers to other yard jobs but there will be pressure hull fabrication experience and team fade.

Given the glacial pace of these things then, yes, there may well have a pressure submarine hull production hole sooner than some might think.

This is glossed over by the overall build Gantt chart which dribbles on forever with the outfitting and static testing.


Actually, it’s Hull 3 they are working on now. Thought you would have known that ?


There is no product positions 8-9 as the dreadnoughts are being built.


There are already talks suggesting the boats would be built in the UK then sailed to Australia for final fitting out. Aussie engineers will fly to the UK to join in the build and learn on the job. RAN crews will do the same.

Last edited 7 months ago by DJE

Can’t be done as PWR2 can no longer be used once PWR3 begins to be installed in the ‘boomers’.


This is a wonderful article, thank you. It has often been stated, especially recently as Nuclear submarines grow more and more complex, that placing 100 human beings in a steel tube and transporting them at depth, at speed, in the Oceans is a far more complicated process than placing a man on the moon. Reading this article goes a long way to explaining why this is true. As an ex skimmer when the my early world had HMS Dreadnought and Sputnik I am in absolute awe of the submarines, and spacecraft for that matter, that now exist. As for the crews of submarines, well it almost looks cosy until the realism strikes you about their existence at sea. I am full of admiration for these people


To be honest, I sometimes wish I was back on Torbay at times, this land stuff is a terrible bore, at least we all smelled the same. Cheers, Phil.


I just don’t understand why they were missing from Astute. USN were getting rid of torpedo tube launched TLAM. It isn’t a small hull so there is plenty of room. Mystery.


But were the USN getting rid of tube TLAM back when the main layout was frozen on Astue? As part one made clear that was a long long time ago.


Mk41 has been in service since 1986. Which way do you think USN thinking on missile munitions was going?


Additional tube launched TLAM IV was ordered in 2014. It hasn’t been a problem so far. Besides, money talks – it may just mean larger orders need to be placed


There is also the French option (naval version of Storm Shadow). 1,000km range from a torpedo tube. There are alternative options.


That was nearly 10 years ago. I love how so many here go really out of their way to defend poor Royal Navy decisions. The USN Virginia class was designed in the 1990s. If costs are a problem you go with the item available in bulk.


The USN may be building in bulk ( I think they have run out of states names) but it seems each Virginia is more expensive than UK Astutes


Also last year reconditioning of TLAM was ordered updating our existing stock to the latest version.


I always thought the T class had room for 20 reloads plus 5 if the tubes were loaded and the As had 30 reloads plus 6 in the tubes,


so T was dramaticly better at 30 stowage and astute a bit better at 36 stowage


Brilliant platforms but built at a glacial pace and with only 7 being built that means no more than 2 on active deployment at any one time.
They are our most capable ASW assets but there are too many missions for them; SSBN protection, CSG protection, ASW in the North Atlantic and cruise missile carriers.
Hopefully the arrival of T26 (if provided with a land attack missile in its Mk41’s) will release the Asute’s from being wasted as £1.3bn cruise missile carriers.


There has been little to no real strategic thinking about naval needs since the end of the Cold War. Imagine the RN 2 large destroyers / cruisers in the Med and Indian Ocean both with a silo full of cruise missile and our own recce constellation. We could reach most of what we would want to ‘strike’ on the planet.


Or fit out a few A400’s to carry cruise missiles. With tanker support they can quickly get where they are needed without the cost of the 6/7 ships (and 10 crews) needed to keep 4 ships on station.


For the Med yes. Further out, no.


Don’t forget you need assets to place. You need flight plans. And so on. With tankets and transports you are talking the cost of an escort give or take. You can just move a ship at sea.


You also need permission to overfly other nations airspace..which is not that easy.


A400s with cruise missiles? Its just biggles stuff.
Greenham Common AFB used heavy trucks for their cruise missiles, need to be closer , well just drive or even better use A400 to take the vehicles, otherwise use a ship if there’s ocean nearby.
Ukraine has shown how useful shoot and scoot can be for firing missiles


Makes as much sense as the RAF in the 1990s flying down a hostile runway centreline and dropping cratering munitions. Do it in the dark so they cant see you coming !




Perhaps a very ignorant question as I was not a silent service type but how grossly expensive would it be to retrofit Astute (at least the last few platforms) with VLS…requiring lengthening the hulls of course. I guess I am asking if it is even practicable.

Supportive Bloke


The idea of firing a VLS from a silent boat is a bit nutty as it gives anway its location straight away.

Yes, it makes sense to get a first punch into an oppose landing or such like.

You’d be better off putting VLS into T31 as that would be relatively cheap and easy to do.


Yet the USN does it. TLAM has a range of 900nm. How many states can say guarantee the oceans from their coast up to say, for example, 450nm is clear of submarines?

But you are safe putting it on a 7000-ish tonnes of ship that is highly visible? Really? And take it a step further a ship like T31 that is under armed and can’t look after itself.


Unless you have been to sea on one your comments here are flawed. Not going into detail but A Boats are very quiet. BUT diving depth and speed are not good. The conning tower cannot break through ice like the T class. Aus please ask Groton CN to build for you not Barrow.

Supportive Bloke

That is in the design and not in the build?

The issue with speed was fixed after #1. And is certainly fixed in the B2 boats which are subtly different.


Um. You serve in a ship not ON it. But hey ho……….


Is that a requirement for Australia in Indo-Pacfic…. to break through ice ? Apart from the Ballistic subs for say Russia to fire missiles attack subs should stay away from the surface let alone the sea ice when detection is even easier


No mention of the pump-jet propulsion?


Everyone has it now for nuclear boats. Another British invention thats immediately taken up. The Aussies wanted it too for their diesel Barrcudas where the advantages arent obvious


Where is the suction pump or what that term to pull in the water to spin the propellers?

A.N. Other

The Junior Rates’ Mess as illustrated in the photo very quickly became the Senior Rates’ Mess. As more and more roles onboard that were once the domain of Chiefs and POs are ‘de-enriched’ and taken on by JRs, it means their space is, frankly, inadequate. Queues for meals often stretch the entire length of 2 deck. It’s also not unusual to find people spread out through compartments due to the simple fact they cannot sit down in their own mess. By contrast, knock on the door of the Senior Rates’ Mess and step-in and it’s quite common to find the compartment occupied by two or three people at most.

Hot bunking is still quite common as well, as whichever boat is currently at sea is often sent as many trainees (those who have just left phase 2 training, who need to re-qualify in certain positions etc.) as they can possibly take which inevitably leads to some people doubling up. The bunks themselves also leave something to be desired. At one point a couple of years ago the A-boat I was on was carrying somewhere in the region of 120 people. This is a reality often factored into the submarine’s logistical planning and means every storage space for food is rammed full, including the fridges and freezers. The latter do break as it is, but filling them literally to the top of the compartment really doesn’t help.

I mentioned the above as they struck me as examples of reality versus intended design/expectation that probably wouldn’t be known to those reading the article without any experience of submarines.


Remember this study was supposed to only take 6 months.

Times almost up !


Was completed this week along with the wider Australian defence review which was completed last week, results to be announced in US with a press conference of the three leaders in mid to late March.


There are 3 wash basins in the photo; a 50% budget increase? 🙂

Last edited 7 months ago by GlynH

In my view the best way to secure the AUKUS contract for the UK is to offer boat 7 of the Astute Class (Agincourt I believe) to the Australians. Once Agincourt is completed and commissioned, send it to Australia with a British crew and they train the Australians in it operations and maintenance which would probably take a couple of years before the boat becomes fully Australian operated. This would give the Australians time to build up the support infrastructure required repair and support nuclear subs.

Meanwhile for the RN, I suggest that the last 3 T-boats be refurbished and activated to act as the 7th boat (2 of them) for the RN with the 3rd acting as the reserve for the RN and the RAN. Due to the age of the T-Boats the RN should essentially operate them close to home (North Atlantic). The 3rd T-Boat when sent to Australia can act as a training boat in Australian wateerd for additional Australians submariners once the Agincourt is fully crewed by Australians.

Once the next generation SSN(R) boats are approved and production authorized, the Australians orders should comprise 1 of every 3 boats constructed in the first 2 batch orders, after that RN and RAN orders per batch of 4 should be equal (50:50) all the projected 16 boats required by the RN and RAN are delivered.

Just my 2 cents on how to get SSNs quickly to the RAN while ensuring the UK gets the AUKUS contract.


That depletes Royal Navy forces. Really stuipid idea.


I don’t know what you mean by stupid idea. Currently the RN essential has only 5 hulls operational if you count the lat To boat which is being decommissioned soon and replaced with Anson. The last 2 Aboard Agamemnon and A gin our t are 2-4 always from being delivered to the RN.

So if the last An boat such is due in say 4 years time is passed to the RAN then to ensure a UK win on an 8 boat contract, what’s wrong without? Especially since my proposal essentially secures the RN a minimum of 7 hulls (in actual fact 8, due to availability of 2 older T-boat hulls, albeit of reduced capabilities to the A-boats), which is more than currently available to the RN.

The gentleman below @Bubblehead uses term “forward deploy” for placing an Ad boat with RAN. Call what you want, sale, lease, forward deploy, joint operation, the goal is the same, secure Australian order without reduction in the current number of deployable boats which to all intent and purposes will not exceed 6 for at least 8 years.

My proposal retains and in fact exceeds the projected deployable boats for the RN, yes with a caveat that the 7th boat consists of 2 older class of boats with lesser capabilities (that’s why I suggest 3 boats to support that 7th function, and limiting them to close to home role and training).


*Sorry Typos A-Boat not An Boat. Similarly with T-boat no To boat*


the solution is to forward deploy a platform to the asia-pacific for several years like the RN has done with the TY23’s in the Gulf. That way you can power project in that part of the world and also develop the skills the RAN will need to operate and maintain nuclear platforms. Hull availability prevents us from leasing one to them. Remember number one role of the SSN is to protect CASD.


Money does a lot of things. Show RR a billion $ and they’ll restart PWR2 production for more subs. It’s a business decision. If they have a customer for it, they’ll do it. Quite simple. Build 2 more Astutes in the UK, then MOVE the tooling for the forward end to Australia so they can build 4 to 6 more. Mate them with the aft end produced in the UK and shipped to Australia.

Modify the design to incorporate US CMS and weapons, and even insert a plug in the Australian-built versions for VLS if required. It’s just engineering and cost.

UK gets to extend production, keep highly qualified shipyard workers employed, and produce a 2nd line of nuclear reactors.

US gets to sell their CMS, Mk48 torpedoes, sub-Harpoon missiles and TLAM.

Australia gets their SSNs, initially from the UK, but later domestically built once their workers are up to speed, which will take at least 10 years.