The Collins-class diesel-electric submarines has been in service with the Royal Australian Navy since 1996, the last completed in 2003. These are considered one of the most feared conventional submarines in the world, thanks to its quiet performance and powerful weaponry.

Introduce

According to information from Australian media, the project to build 12 Attack-class submarines of this country is likely to be capitalized up to nearly 90 billion Australian dollars. The deadline for the first delivery will be delayed until 2034 and the last submarine will be completed in the mid-2050s. The delay in handing over the Attack-class submarines is prompting the Australian Department of Defense to consider increasing the expiry date of the 6 Collins-class submarine fleet.

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According to Navy officials, six of the Collins-class submarines are about to extend their service life by another 10 years. It is expected that the overhaul program will be implemented from 2026, at a cost of about 6 billion Australian dollars. The overhaul items will include replacement of main engine and diesel generators. The modernization of the submarine fleet will help Australia maintain military deterrence across the region’s waters. However, until the Attack-class submarines are commissioned, the Royal Australian Navy will continue to depend on the Collins-class submarines.

The Collins-class diesel-electric submarines has been in service with the Royal Australian Navy since 1996, the last completed in 2003. These are considered one of the most feared conventional submarines in the world, thanks to its quiet performance and powerful weaponry.

Background

The request for a new design to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines was introduced in the late 1970s. The Australian Defense Department has approved a Kockums proposal of a Swedish Vastergotland-based design. A contract for six submarines was signed, including an option for the onother two more, which were not implemented. Manufacturing work was carried out in Adelaide, South Australia, and was known as the Collins class. The name of the class was taken from the name of Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins, which was also the name of the first submarine, the Collins SSG 73. All other submarines were named after significant personnel in the Royal Australian Navy, who were prominent in World War II.

Collins-class diesel-electric submarines
Collins-class diesel-electric submarines

Design

By design, the Collins submarines displaces 3,100 tons when surfaced and 3,400 tons when submerged. The submarines are 77.42 m long (254.0 ft), a beam of 7.8 m (26 ft) and a draft of 7 m at waterline (23 ft). To operate the submarines, a crew of 42 to 58 people is needed, the endurance is about 70 days.

The submarines are single-hulled, and have two continuous decks. The hull is constructed from a high-tensile micro-alloy steel, developed by Swedish steel manufacturer SSAB, and improved by BHP of Australia, which was lighter and easier to weld than the HY-80 or HY-100 nickel-alloy steel used in contemporary submarine construction projects, while providing better results in explosion bulge testing. The submarines are covered in a skin of anechoic tiles to minimise detection by sonar. These tiles were developed by the Australian DSTO.

Collins-class diesel-electric submarines
Collins-class diesel-electric submarines

Propulsion

At the time of launch, these were the largest conventionally powered submarines in the world. Australian submarines use a conventional power source, including three Garden Island-Hedemora 18-cylinder diesel engines, which are each connected to a 1,400 kW Jeumont-Schneider generator. The combined electrical generation capability of each submarine is 4.2 megawatts. Fifteen fuel tanks are located throughout the submarine: they must be used in specific sequences to preserve the submarine’s buoyancy and trim. These supply a single Jeumont Schneider DC motor, which provides 7,200 shaft horsepower to a seven-bladed, 4.22m (13.8 ft) diameter skewback propeller.

Most sources believe that the ships can reach a depth of over 180m, some say the maximum depth is over 300m. Submarines can reach a maximum speed of 10 knots when surfaced and periscope depth, or 20 knots when submerged. The range of the Collins class submarine reaches 11,500 nautical miles (21,300 km) when surfaced at 10 knots, or 480 nautical miles (890 km) when submered at 4 knots (7.4 km/h).

Sensors and processing systems

The Collins class has an integrated electronic system including the Thomson Sintra Scylla active/passive bow sonar, linked to a passive intercept and ranging array distributed along the flanks of the submarine; three panels on each side. There are also Thales SHOR-TAS towed passive sonar array, deployed at the stern. When surfaced or at periscope depth, the Collins-class boats can use a Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 surface search radar, which is situated in a retractable mast on the fin. The combat management system is the Raytheon CCS Mk2. Countermeasures include a Condor CS-5600 ESM intercept and warning unit, and two SSE decoys.

Collins-class diesel-electric submarines
Collins-class diesel-electric submarines

Armament

The weapons of the Collins-class submarines include six 533 mm launch tubes, carrying a mixture of heavy Mark 48 Mod 7 torpedoes and UGM-84C Sub-Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles. The standard payload is 22 torpedoes. The Royal Australian Navy has considered buying Tomahawk cruise missiles, but so far no contract has been made.

Operational

Since its commission in 1996, Collins-class submarines have been actively involved in military operations in the area. Most recently, in early 2019, the Collins class participated in a multinational joint military exercise called Ocean Explorer 2019, which took place in Cockburn Bay, Henderson, Western Australia. The Ocean Explorer 2019 exercise was particularly noted by the Chinese media, because the Royal Australian Navy has repeatedly stated its support for the United States in guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean. The Australian Navy says it is ready to send modern warships and its elite troops to fight alongside their allies, in the event of a war.

Collins-class diesel-electric submarines

Although not too new, Collins-class submarines are still extremely scary thanks to their quiet operation, state-of-the-art electronic equipment and powerful weapons. In the future, when receiving the French-built Attack-class submarines, Australia’s submarine fleet will be even stronger.

According to military experts, if the war broke out in the Pacific, Royal Australian Navy submarines could block the supply route from the South, causing their opponents to quickly disintegrate.

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