This background note aims to consolidate publicly available information on the Government's plan to acquire 12 new submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s six Collins Class submarines and highlight the project's progress and current status to date.
Australia’s Future Submarine project (SEA 1000) was first announced by the Rudd Government in May 2009 at the unveiling of the Defence White Paper. SEA 1000 seeks to acquire 12 new submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s six Collins Class submarines making it ‘Australia’s largest ever single defence project’. Given the scale and the long lead times required for this project, the Government has attracted criticism for delaying key decision points. This has led to speculation that there will be a significant capability gap in Australia’s submarine force.
The 2009 Defence White Paper (2009 DWP) originally forecast that the Future Submarine fleet would be developed by the mid-2030s. Some commentators have since flagged, however, that the mid-2030 timeframe has now been pushed out due to Government delays in progressing the SEA 1000 program.
This background note aims to consolidate publicly available information on SEA 1000 and highlight the project’s progress and current status to date, in light of the Government’s recent announcements about the next stages of SEA 1000.