AUSTRALIA could evolve a much larger navy as the government
embarks on a national shipbuilding program which turns out
new vessels every two years.American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies
HMAS Warramunga, an existing ANZAC frigate, USN Photo ID 100707-N-0641S-247
Presently Australia has eight ANZAC frigates, and three air warfare destroyers in its fleet of naval surface combatants. It should be noted that Australia has no unified coast guard service and those it does have are unarmed and non military. Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently signaled the government was close to embarking on a new shipbuilding plan featuring a rolling build program, most likely to replace Anzac frigates. The ANZAC frigates start to reach retirement age in about 2025. The nature of this rolling build plan could give Australia a surface warfare fleet of 13 to 15 vessels in the foreseeable future. A most welcome improvement in Australian naval power being so close to China and its growing giant of a navy, coast guard team, now joined by a "naval militia" virtually militarizing portions of China's merchant marine. The new editions may be a bit cheaper than the retiring frigates and may remain in service for a shorter period than the previous models, about 20 years vice the present service life expectancy of 30 years.
Australia's shipbuilding industry suffers from a mixed record. The project to build ten new Anzac frigates was delivered on budget and close to schedule. The current project to build three air warfare destroyers is now more than two years late and as much as $1 billion over budget. Australia's planned new submarines are to be foreign built. Building the subs foreign isn't sitting well with Australian shipbuilding labor considering significant job layoffs in shipyards in Melbourne and Newcastle. At least as far as surface combatants are concerned the Australian government appears to be taking the approach that history has shown that privately owned shipyards perform well in combattant construction but that the traditional boom and bust approach undermined performance. The Aussies are starting to build a navy and given their proximity to the Dragon, none too soon.