Dreadnoughts and Virginias: why is Australia paying more than twice the price for submarines?

by Michael West | Jun 13, 2023 | What's the scam?

Paul Keating described the AUKUS submarines deal negotiated by the Albanese government as the “worst deal in all history”. Is he right, and if so, just how bad is it?

It’s worth turning to a couple of contemporary and related programs. The United Kingdom’s new Dreadnought-class ballistic nuclear missile submarine programme has a current estimated total cost of $76B for four subs, or $19B for each 17,200-tonne boat.

The US Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines have procurement cost of $6.4B for each 7,800-tonne boat.

So, what’s the scam?

Australia’s AUKUS submarine program budget is $368B for eight nuclear attack submarines. That’s $46B per boat. That’s more than twice the per-unit-cost of a new design ballistic missile submarine that weighs twice as much, and more than four times the cost-per-tonne.

That’s $46B per boat for submarines that will arrive well after they are likely needed.  They’re most unlikely to deter China’s rapidly expanding navy, and they’ll come without appropriate sovereign capability to sustain them in time of conflict.

Paul Keating hit the nail on the head. AUKUS subs are the worst scam in all history.

AUKUS Fissile or Fizzer? Rex Patrick on the trouble with Virginia Class second hand submarines

Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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