Delivering the second industry update for the Future Submarine program at Pacific 2015 on Wednesday, project SEA 1000 chief RADM Greg Sammut has confirmed he is expecting nine options for acquiring between eight and 12 submarines to be presented to the Department of Defence for evaluation on 30 November 2015.
As per the requirements of the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) determined for project SEA 1000, each of France’s DCNS, Germany’s TKMS and the Government of Japan are expected to lodge proposals to have the new submarine fleet built either: completely offshore, partially offshore and onshore (hybrid bid) or fully built in Australia.
While all of the three bidders are expected to respond to each of the three build options – hence the need to prepare nine different submissions in total – media briefings at Pacific 2015 have generally confirmed a preference from all three bidders for either the hybrid or full onshore build approaches.
And each has respectively conceded that the full offshore build will not be politically digestible in Australia – a supplementary evaluation criteria that is not formally part of the CEP criteria.
RADM Sammut was at pains to emphasise that the submissions of all three CEP respondents would be subject to the same common evaluation criteria, with emphasis being given to:
Capability (platform and combat system); commercial and government considerations; Australian industry involvement; cost; schedule; project management; design and safety management (ie: it would be the Australian Government that had to sign-off on the boat’s safety case in the first instance); sustainment; crewing and training (ie: including the incorporation of Australian crewing concepts); and risk.
Across the three build options, RADM Sammut also emphasised that the Australian Government was looking for a future submarine solution that would guarantee Australian sovereign control over operations and sustainment, saying: “We need to be able to put the boats to sea when we need to, and we also need to be able to upgrade them over their projected life-of-type of 25-30 years.
“As such,” he added, “we are not just after a commercial relationship with a submarine supply company, we are after a real strategic partner.”
Asked if the evaluation of nine proposals from the three nominated CEP partners would be the end of the SEA 1000 competition – and there was no prospect of any other ad hoc fourth-party proposal being added into the Future Submarine evaluation construct following the CEP submission date – he replied no such scenario was currently in the SEA 1000 project’s vision.
He added: “We don’t have time to go around the buoy again if we are to meet the Collins class retirement schedule.”
An announcement is expected soon on the process to be followed by Defence in selecting the Future Submarine combat system integrator.