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Monday, January 25, 2010

Collins submarine's generator fails

The Collins class submarine HMAS Farncomb is undergoing repairs after one of its three main generators failed last week.

The setback is only the latest to hit the Collins fleet, which was beset by a series of breakdowns last year which left just one boat available for sea operations and training.

Inside Collin Sub

Navy chief Vice Admiral Russell Crane said he was very disappointed by Farncomb being put out of action.

"Navy will continue to work with the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), industry and ASC Pty Ltd (formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation) to determine the extent of the issue and rectify this problem," he said in a statement.

"We are working hard to ensure this fault is rectified as soon as possible. The Australian public, the defence organisation and our navy family expect nothing less."

Admiral Crane said Australia's maritime defences remained strong.

"We continue to have a credible submarine capability available," he said.

"The multi-layered approach to our defence enables us to minimise the impact of contingencies such as this."

Defence said the problems with Farncomb stemmed from the way some of the generators were manufactured but at no time was her crew at risk.

Cutaway model of a Collins-class submarine

Investigations were continuing in order to determine the impact this deficiency might have on the remainder of the submarine fleet, defence said.

Farncomb will remain docked until this issue has been rectified.

Australia has six Collins submarines. Once labelled "dud subs" after a series of well publicised problems, the Collins boats underwent a protracted remediation program in the past decade which seemed to have overcome all defects.

But DMO head Dr Stephen Gumley told a Senate estimates committee hearing last year that the submarines had now gone to the top of the list of troublesome projects because of breakdowns and maintenance problems.

In another incident last year, one Collins submarines lost two of its three diesel engines in a catastrophic bearing failure shortly after undergoing engine maintenance. (source