Australia’s submarine fleet should be managed not as a succession of essentially distinct projects and equipment types, but in a holistic capability-focused way.
The future submarine project is potentially the nation's biggest ever engineering undertaking. But at the moment it is making little progress. In part that's because the ongoing saga of the Collins fleet is making decision makers uncomfortable with the idea of "throwing good money after bad". And in part it's because the principals in charge of the project aren't able to make an authoritative case for the way ahead.
The national submarine capability needs to be managed holistically – treating Collins and the future submarine as stand-alone problems increases the chance that there will be a future capability gap between the two classes. Fixing the problems with the Collins and developing the technologies that will go into the future boats can be the same activity. At this stage an 'evolved Collins' might be the best bet. But whatever we decide to do, we need to get the best possible people into the top management jobs. And that means the best that the world market can provide—people with experience in delivering big industrial projects and, of course, building submarines.