Coalition plans nuclear-powered submarine fleet over long term. Fin Rev, by Aaron Patrick and Phillip Coorey, 1 MAY 16
Some of Australia’s new submarines could be nuclear-powered by the time they enter service, making them much more potent against the huge Chinese navy.
One of the reasons French ship builder Direction des Constructions Navales Services, also known as DCNS, won the $50 billion contract was its ability to switch easily to a nuclear version of the submarines being designed for the Royal Australian Navy.
That is because the Australian diesel-powered Shortfin Barracuda will be a shorter, lighter version of a nuclear submarine already being manufactured by DCNS in Cherbourg on the English Channel.
Cabinet ministers and defence officials have already discussed the possibility of switching from diesel engines to nuclear power part-way through the construction contract, political, government and industry sources say.
The Coalition wants to keep the option open in case public opposition to nuclear power changes in the future. National polls taken from 2006 to 2009 found between 35 and 50 per cent of Australians supported introducing nuclear power, a study by the National Academies Forum showed.
DCNS, which is majority owned by the French government, is expected to start building the Australian submarines in Adelaide next decade. The last one might not be completed until 2050.
The other bidders for the contract, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, don’t make nuclear submarines………..
The government, which has been criticised for opting to build the submarines in Australia, said it was not considering switching to a nuclear-powered version………
Another drawback of nuclear reactors is that, unlike diesel motors, they can’t be turned off to make the submarine silent.
Australia’s submarines are unusual. They would be the only conventionally powered ones that used pump jets for propulsion rather than propellers, Stephan Fruehling, a defence expert at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, said.
The Coalition government quietly supports developing a nuclear industry in Australia and on Friday proposed storing radioactive waste on a remote South Australian cattle station.
It has encouraged the South Australian Labor government to push ahead with a debate over storing spent nuclear rods from overseas. Given the submarines will be built in Adelaide and South Australia has some of the largest uranium deposits in the world, the state could one day become the centre of an Australian nuclear industry. http://www.afr.com/business/manufacturing/coalition-plans-nuclearpowered-submarine-fleet-over-long-term-20160429-goieal