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Collins Class Submarine Program

HMAS Waller three-quarters through a two-year full cycle docking, rolling out of the maintenance service tower at ASC North.
HMAS Waller three-quarters through a two-year full cycle docking, rolling out of the maintenance service tower at ASC North.

As a member of Australia’s Submarine Enterprise, ASC supports the nation’s submarine capability through the provision of platform system integration services, design, engineering, maintenance, supply chain services, training and submarine lifecycle support.

Together with the RAN, CASG within the DoD, and our industry partners, ASC has met and continues to exceed international performance benchmarks, and is focused on delivery of beyond benchmark performance in CCSM submarine availability.

In 2018/19 ASC completed the second year of Performance Period Three of the ISSC for CCSM sustainment, which commenced on 1 July 2017, and introduced the beyond benchmark targets. The financial year again saw ASC exceed the RAN’s maintenance performance targets, delivering submarine availability at historically high levels.

ASC again provided increased submarine reliability and deployed boat support, including support of numerous international deployments.

Collins Class Submarine Maintenance Progress

HMAS Waller is the third CCSM to undergo a two-year FCD, which commenced on 1 June 2018 at ASC North in Osborne South Australia and is the first two-year FCD which will not have a rotable pool of key material to utilise.

A number of key initiatives were implemented to achieve schedule reductions including; the purchase of rotable components, main motor initiatives, workshop optimisation, multiple work fronts and continued process improvements.

These initiatives proved effective in delivering expected outcomes to support the two-year FCD and generated efficiencies which included the reduction of both, the diesel engine refurbishment time by 40 percent ​​and the main motor refurbishment time by 32 percent.

During the reporting period work commenced on installation of a new sonar system for HMAS Waller, the first of the Collins fleet to have the new system installed and ASC, as the platform system integrator of the CCSM, is working closely with combat systems integrator, Raytheon Australia and sonar systems designer, Thales Australia, for its installation and integration into the platform. This capability upgrade will ensure the CCSM remains potent and agile today, and well into the future.

HMAS Rankin is undergoing its 12-month MCD at ASC’s facility in Henderson, Western Australia. This is the second MCD to be conducted at ASC West and ongoing development of skills and experience continue to increase capability in both long term maintenance and high end integration work. ASC West’s operational tempo is at an all-time high with MCDs, Intermediate Dockings (ID) and Intermediate Maintenance Periods (IMP) all being conducted in Western Australia. As the home of international support coordination for the CCSM fleet, ASC West supports operational submarines with an increased focus on deployability and reliability of the fleet.

Customer Focus

ASC is committed to delivering improved outcomes for our customer around submarine availability, reliability and cost performance to ensure customer satisfaction. ASC works closely with key suppliers and the Submarine Enterprise to deliver these outcomes.

Consistently striving for improvement, ASC has strengthened the lessons-learned process to identify, assess and action lessons, ensuring issues do not reoccur. Across the reporting period improved analysis of root cause identification and analysis of issues raised was implemented, with clear accountabilities assigned to correct and prevent issues from reoccurring in future.

The Future

In the short term, ASC and CASG are working collaboratively on the future performance period, Performance Period Four of the ISSC, which is due to commence on 1 July 2020.

ASC’s primary focus remains on the sustainment of the CCSM fleet, working with our partners to ensure it remains regionally superior and available for service at, or beyond international benchmark levels.

In the longer-term, the CCSM fleet will remain Australia’s frontline submarine for the next 15-20 years, requiring maintenance and upgrade, with a number of CCSMs requiring LoTE into the 2040s.

ASC is working with CASG and the RAN to develop the requirements to support CCSM LoTE.

Throughout the reporting period, focus was on both the development of business cases and supplier engagements, as well as a business case to CASG to support Government approvals for LoTE.

ASC is Australia’s only established sovereign submarine industrial capability and possesses the skills and capabilities to support the necessary growth of the nation’s overall submarine industry capability.

With Australia transitioning to a two-class submarine fleet, it is estimated the nation will need to double its submarine industrial capacity. The challenge of meeting this estimated demand continues and as the nation’s leading submarine capability, ASC, along with its partners in the Submarine Enterprise, is managing the competing demands for skilled and experienced personnel to ensure that CCSM capability is not adversely impacted.

Strategic Investment

A concept design for the construction of a Commonwealth owned Modern Submarine Enterprise Support Facility at Fleet Base West commenced during the 2018/19 reporting period. The facility is expected to house various members of the Submarine Enterprise, including Commonwealth and industry, to provide efficiency of work practices in supporting submarine maintenance from the Garden Island HMAS Stirling Naval base. The facility is expected to be occupied from late 2020.

In providing greater capacity for testing off-boat at ASC North, further strategic investment into enhancements to the Diesel Generator Test Facility in South Australia, were also undertaken during the reporting period.

Future Performance Targets

As part of the ISSC, ASC aligned performance targets with the Submarine Enterprise partners to increase availability, reliability, cost performance and deliver agreed outcomes.

Agreed improvements included:

  • An increase in Materiel Ready Days (MRD) (to international benchmark levels and above);
  • Increased focus on implementing submarine capability;
  • Increased focus on implementing submarine reliability and addressing obsolescence issues (utilising a prioritised and agreed plan to measure performance against); and
  • Delivery of maintenance activities to schedule and budget, whilst conducting in service support activities and support of operational submarines.

Business Improvements

ASC’s business improvement capability continued to drive significant initiatives in 2018/19 through the delivery of change projects including:

  • Conduct of a requirements phase of the digital transformation program to improve efficiency and effectiveness across the business and CCSM program;
  • Implementation of key initiatives to resolve critical path scheduling challenges for HMAS Waller’s FCD and the partnership with relevant teams to optimise the maintenance of four major submarine systems enabling FCD success; and
  • Radio Frequency Identification for improved material tracking.

In addition to the discrete improvement projects, the improvement team continued to focus on building a culture of continuous improvement across CCSM.

The Submarine Enterprise

The Submarine Enterprise Board (SEB) is the senior committee for governance and management of the Submarine Program, optimising wherever possible, the conditions for achieving Submarine Enterprise Performance Targets through collaboration and continuous improvement.

ASC works closely with the Submarine Enterprise to deliver outcomes for the sustainment of the CCSM fleet, contributing directly to the potent and agile submarine capability required by the Australian Government which included:

  • Ongoing upkeep, update and upgrade activities to ensure consistent delivery of materially capable submarines to the Fleet Commander;
  • Transition from an availability-based model to a deployed-based model to measure and report capability;
  • Consistent efficiency and effectiveness improvements to move beyond benchmark;
  • The development and implementation of LoTE plans; and
  • Supporting the growth of Australia’s sovereign submarine capability.

The Submarine Enterprise expanded in 2018/19 to include Attack Class FSM Industry Participants and through regular meetings, key decision makers came together to form critical relationships, enabling understanding and resolution of key issues and improved outcomes within the Submarine Enterprise, ultimately delivering improved outcomes for the RAN.

Submarine Training School

ASC has been delivering initial and advanced submarine training at the Submarine Training and Systems Centre (STSC) since 1992. Training has not only been delivered to RAN personnel but has extended to other defence and industry personnel. A new five-year training service contract (with two, three-year extension options) commenced in July 2018. The new contract expanded coverage of training courses delivered into the Warfare Department and secured long term contracts with long term subcontractors.

During 2018/19, ASC:

  • Exceeded all the Submarine Training Services Contract set KPIs for the period;
  • Delivered 297 training courses;
  • Trained 91 new entry Submariners and provided advanced training to 192 Submariners;
  • Provided training to 124 CASG CCSM staff and SEA 1000 personnel;
  • Continued to develop and refine the 3D submarine virtual walk-through to enhance initial and advanced Submariner training; and,
  • Developed virtual reality training aids from proof of concept to a full virtual reality classroom to supplement simulation training with five Standard Operating Procedures and plans for seven more Standard Operating Procedures during FY19/20.

ASC is investing in the capability and capacity of its dedicated training team through recruitment, training and engagement with the ASC maintenance workforce. Moving into the warfare area has allowed increased potential for future growth.

Additionally, opportunities are anticipated with the increase in training requirements to support the Submariners workforce growth needed to support Australia’s future two-class submarine fleet.