Originally Posted by [bQuote[/b] ]'Dud' subs defeat US in exercise
Ian McPhedran, defence reporter
THE Australian Navy's troubled Collins Class submarines have sunk the pride of the US nuclear submarine fleet plus warships from Singapore and are now regarded as a lethal undersea force.
At certain speeds they are virtually undetectable and can transform themselves into underwater black holes, according to submarine group commander Commodore Mike Deeks.
"The Americans expect to hear us easily but we are not there," Commander Deeks said. "It is hard for them to find us, but meanwhile we have already found them."
The boats, which have been plagued by mechanical, structural, system and noise problems, are still troubled by an unreliable combat system but during a recent exercise against a US nuclear boat off Western Australia and warships from Singapore off northern Australia, they were deadly.
According to one observer HMAS Rankin "sank" a Singaporean ship fitted with some of the world's most advanced anti-submarine warfare equipment. And the Americans were shocked by the performance of the Australian submarine.
"We surprise them and they learn a lot about different ways of operating submarines," Commodore Deeks said. "The Americans pour billions into their submarines but we are better at practical applications."
During the exercise at a special undersea range off the WA coast, the Collins boat was invisible to the Americans, who were caught off guard on several occasions.
The US boat was "sunk" by practice torpedos fired by HMAS Waller.
The torpedos, with dummy warheads and in-built safety systems, pass over or under the enemy vessel and record a hit when they are later recovered on the surface.
Noise is crucial in undersea warfare and the early noise problems of the Collins boats have been fixed and the crews know exactly how to operate the boats in near silence.
"We are a lot better at avoiding noise and we know exactly what speed to make them a black hole in the water," Commodore Deeks said.
Stealth and an ability to operate in shallow water make the Collins fleet an ideal partner for the larger and faster deep-water US nuclear boats.
The Collins boats are fairly big at 3300 tonnes, but pale by comparison with the US nuclear boats which range to 18,750 tonnes for the inter-continental ballistic missile boats.
The Collins boats will be fitted with a new combat system progressively from 2006.
"We are looking forward to it being fitted and it will be a nice improvement," Commodore Deeks said.
Despite the good news, a question mark remains over the fate of the first boat, HMAS Collins, which has thousands of weld defects due to poor workmanship.
Those problems, plus some intellectual property issues, must be resolved before the Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation can be sold.
DEADLY ... the Collins Class submarine is proving to be lethal. The craft showed its stealth during a recent exercise off Western Australia.