THE AUSTRALIAN COLLINS CLASS SUBMARINE HAS PROBABLY BEEN THE MOST TROUBLED NON NUCLEAR SUBMARINE DESIGN IN HISTORY BUT THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT THE PROBLEMS ARE MOSTLY RESOLVED
Wikipedia describes the Collins class:
" The Collins class is a class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy(RAN). The Collins class takes its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins; all six submarines are named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in action during World War II. The boats were the first submarines to be constructed in Australia, prompting widespread improvements in Australian industry."
To put it mildly the class has been ten years worth of trouble. This was Australia's first attempt at a home grown submarine and the learning curve was tough. Non nuclear doesn't mean simple in today's submarines. With our own complete reliance on nuclear submarines if Electric Boat tried to build a conventional sub today it might find it every bit as difficult as Australia's experience with the Collins class. But to our mind it was worth it for Australia to tough it out and perfect this capability. Australia is large only in land area, not population and the Land Down Under is long way from friends in the rest of the English speaking world.
The United States learned in the Pacific in WWI when so much of our fleet was lost or damaged at Pearl Harbor and the decision was made to pursue victory in Europe first, that Submarines are the weapon of choice for the outgunned Navy in a do or die contest. The American submarine force kept America in the game in the WW II Pacific for many months. Australia could face a war of attrition at sea with China at some point. The Dragon believes that Australia belongs in a Chinese led "Co-Prosperity sphere producing whatever China wants at the prices China dictates. With China building a 950 ship navy while the U.S. struggles to maintain something over 250 war ships submarines may have to play a big role in keeping the lines of commerce and supply open and reducing that Dragon surface fleet to something manageable for a combination of American, Canadian, and British surface forces. No matter how many subs you have at the start of this sort of war, you'll need more shortly. Hence the Collins experience was worth it for the boys in blue down under.
Now the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD reports:
" After more than a decade of controversy, shipbuilder ASC says it has finally solved outstanding problems with the navy's six Collins submarines. Steve Ludlam, managing director of ASC, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, said he believed Collins' much publicized problems were now behind them.