Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Australia may get Japanese subs

A great coup if it happens.  Toyota reliability would be a big change

ALMOST 72 years after Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbour killing 21 sailors, Australia could buy Japanese subs for its $30 billion replacement program.

Possible access to Japanese technology and even a so-called "military off-the-shelf” deal to buy the boats is on the agenda during high-level defence talks in Tokyo between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and senior Japanese officials.

Mr Abbott’s talks follow a top-secret mission to Japan in February by the nation’s defence purchasing guru and head of the Defence Materiel Organisation Warren King to open negotiations with Japan’s defence agency for possible access to its Soryu Class submarines.

Defence Minister David Johnston has also met Japanese officials to discuss submarines and senior navy officers have been on board the Japanese boats to examine technologies such as the Swedish-designed air independent propulsion (AIP) system.

The AIP system allows the diesel-electric vessels to remain submerged for long periods of time without the need for fresh air for diesel power-plants.

When asked yesterday what aspects of the Japanese boats might be included in an Australian design, a senior government source replied: "Everything.”

When pressed on whether that included buying the boats off-the-shelf from the Japanese the answer was an emphatic "yes”.

At a submarine conference in Canberra tomorrow Senator Johnston will tell Defence and industry that "all bets are off” when it comes to options for the future Australian submarine fleet.

He will also debunk the myth that Australia needs 12 submarines and will make it plain that the government is not a job-creation agency for local shipbuilders.

That means shipbuilder ASC would need to prove its credentials as a competitive and skilled shipyard.

Japanese officials have visited the ASC shipyard at Port Adelaide, where the navy’s six Collins Class boats were built.

The Japanese vessels cost about $600 million each, or less than half the price of an Australian-made alternative.

The 4200-tonne (submerged) Soryu submarines would be an ideal fit to replace the ageing 3400-tonne Collins boats.

It is understood the Japanese technology could also be used to extend the life of the Collins boats beyond the late 2020s.

Senator Johnston will also urge Defence to get moving quickly so a decision can be taken by March 2015.

He will point out that it took Singapore just 10 months to move from concept to decision for its new submarine.


HMAS Canberra Landing Helicopter Dock gets set to hit the ocean

Pleasing to see such a significant addition to the fleet.  Initiated during a Liberal party government.  Mostly built in Spain

It's the biggest warship the Royal Australian Navy has ever had. And the HMAS Canberra Landing Helicopter Dock is nearly ready to put to sea.

The 230-metre long, 27,000-tonne amphibious assault ship is being put through its paces in Sydney Harbour by builder BAE Systems and the ship’s new crew, led by inaugural commanding officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir.

"The builders are on board, making sure everything is in good working order. And we have navy ship’s personnel standing beside them to learn the ropes as it goes," a Defence spokesman said.

"She’ll then go down and conduct sea trials around Victoria and Gippsland, after which there’ll be a handover to Defence some time in the third quarter."

The Canberra, one of two LHDs being built for the navy at a cost of about $3 billion, is bigger even than Australia’s last aircraft carrier, the HMAS Melbourne, which was retired in 1982.

Once commissioned in the second half of the year, she will carry up to 1600 soldiers, effectively marines who can be deployed to troublespots around the region, particularly for disaster relief and peacekeeping operations.

The massive flight deck, measuring more than 200 metres long and 32 metres across, can carry 16 helicopters, including Blackhawks, Chinooks and Tiger armed reconnaissance choppers.

The lower decks will be able to hold more than 100 trucks and other vehicles and up to a dozen Abrams battle tanks.

Four mechanised landing craft will be able to ferry the troops and their equipment to shore.

A new aspect for the navy is the Canberra’s pair of azimuth thrusters - propellers that can be rotated in any direction, meaning the ship doesn’t need a rudder.

It’s a new way of steering that makes the vessel far more manoeuvrable, but which hasn’t been used by the navy before.

Though it will be based at Garden Island, the Canberra will spend much of its time up at Townsville, where the 2nd Battalion Royal Australian regiment will provide the Army manpower.


Must not refer to illegals as "Fu**ers"

Up to six Navy sailors have been sacked or ordered to justify their jobs over racist and anti-Muslim Facebook posts.

But despite suspicions raised by Fairfax Media in January,  a formal investigation has found that no sailor belongs to the racist Australian Defence League.

Chief of Navy Ray Griggs said in a statement on Tuesday that the investigation had found that "a number of personnel have … been found to have made inappropriate comment on social media or to have an affiliation with different social media groups that are not consistent with our values”.

"Several sailors have had their employment terminated or have been issued with notices of cause for termination,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.

"Others have received a range of disciplinary punishments or other administrative sanctions.”

It is understood that at least three, and possibly as many as six, sailors have been sacked or ordered to show cause whey they should not be sacked.

Fairfax Media revealed in January that a Navy member working on border protection duties had posted comments on the Facebook page of a friend who claimed to be a member of the Australian Defence League.

The friend had written that asylum-seekers whose boat had sunk were coming to Australia "to jump on Centrelink and get free government housing".

The navy member commented: "I'm about to head out today to deal with these f---ers."

Vice Admiral Griggs said sailors should be proud to identify themselves as Navy members on social media sites but the job carried "responsibility to act in accordance with our values and behaviours at all times”.


Qld. Health Minister Lawrence Springborg set to block `conscientious objection’ excuse for vaccination refusers

PARENTS would find it more difficult to become "conscientious objectors" to vaccination, under a proposal to health ministers by Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

Mr Springborg has placed the controversial issue on the agenda for discussion at this Friday’s Standing Council on Health meeting of state and federal health ministers.

The current system allows parents who do not immunise their children to receive the same financial benefits as parents that do immunise, as long as they and a doctor sign a form stating they have "conscientious objection" to vaccination.

Mr Springborg believes the rules need to be tightened to make it harder for parents to become conscientious objectors.

"I think the whole issue of conscientious objection has been abused and misused and really we are dealing here with people who are vaccine refusers," he told The Courier-Mail.

Vaccination no-shows prompt top-level measles outbreak warning
Data released by the National Health Performance Authority last month found more than 400

Data released by the National Health Performance Authority last month found more than 4000 Queensland parents were conscientious objectors – the highest number in the country.

"What we now have is a significant growth in the number of vaccine refusers and we think that for a lot of those people it’s just because it’s easy – you tick the form and that’s it."

He said he believed the definition of conscientious objector should be limited to medical and religious reasons, with the term currently "too loosely used".  "There are loopholes in this a mile wide and it does need to be tightened," he said.

Data released by the National Health Performance Authority last month found more than 4000 Queensland parents were conscientious objectors – the highest number in the country.

The Parenthood executive director Fiona Sugden said thousands of parents had indicated they wanted to see the rules tightened.

"As a parent, we are sick of having to be terrified about taking our newborn babies into public places and childcare centres," she said.  "It is so important that Queensland tightens up the rules.”

The Federal Government confirmed earlier this year that it was conducting an audit into the issue, with the intention to review childcare payments to conscientious objectors.



Paul said...

I'm sure Springborg means well, but it opens a fundamental question about freedom, and the role of Government in our lives making decisions for us. I really prefer our ethical dilemnas to not be solved by the dead hand of government.

tim said...

when you say garden island. which one ? is it the fleet base west island?