In May 2021, the committee published an interim report: Future submarine program: ringing of bells, wringing of hands. The committee felt compelled to do so for two reasons:
- the status of the Future Submarine Program (FSP) was causing deep concern not just within the committee but within the defence and security policy community generally; and
- the increasingly concerning recalcitrance of the Department of Defence to provide requested information on the projects included in the Naval Shipbuilding Program.
The committee concluded that it was abundantly clear that all is not well with the FSP. There had been little good news since the April 2016 announcement that Direction des Constructions Navales (DCNS) (now Naval Group) had been selected as the international partner to design and build the nation’s new fleet of submarines. Since then, there had been nothing but delays, cost blow-outs, changes of personnel driven by dissatisfaction with the program’s outcomes, secret agreements on local industry content way below the level initially promised, and a strained relationship between Defence and Naval Group.
As it turns out, the first interim report was a remarkably prescient document: the Naval Group agreement was in serious trouble, and even more so than the committee realised. Although it was at the time believed that the political cost of the cancelling the Attack-class would be too high, the government has decided to make that decision and accept that risk.
This report should be read in conjunction with the first interim report— particularly with regard to Defence accountability and transparency. It consists of three chapters: the introductory chapter; a second examining the AUKUS announcement and the cancellation of the agreement with Naval Group to build the Attack-class boats with the third providing an update on Defence accountability and transparency.