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Collins class

Patrol submarine

Collins class submarine

The Australian Collins class boats are typical of modern submarine design

Entered service 1996
Crew 42 men
Diving depth (operational) 300 m
Dimensions and displacement
Length 77.8 m
Beam 7.8 m
Draught 7 m
Surfaced displacement 3 051 tons
Submerged displacement 3 353 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 10 knots
Submerged speed 20 knots
Diesel engines 3 x 6 035 hp
Electric motors 1 x 7 345 hp
Missiles and torpedoes 6 x 533-mm tubes for a total of 22 Sub-Harpoon missiles or torpedoes
Other or up to 44 mines


   Needing a successor to its obsolescent Oberon class diesel-electric submarines, the Royal Australian Navy decided in the first part of the 1980s to consider the full range of foreign-designed submarines that would meet the RAN's operational requirement and also be suitable for construction in an Australian yard. The decision eventually went to a Swedish design, the Type 471 designed by Kockums, and in June 1987 the Australian Submarine Corporation contracted with Kockums for six such submarines, to be built in Adelaide, South Australia, and known in Australian service as the Collins class. The contract included an option for another two boats, but this option was not exercised.

   Fabrication of the boats initial assemblies began in June 1989, and the bows and midships sections of the first submarines were produced in Sweden and shipped to Adelaide to be mated with locally built sections. The boats were laid down between February 1990 and May 1995, launched between August 1993 and November 2001, and completed between July 1996 and a time in 2003, and are named HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Waller, HMAS Dechaineux, HMAS Sheean and HMAS Rankin.

   The armament and fire control/combat system, the latter proving very troublesome during development and initial service, are along American lines, while the sonar is basically of French and Australian origins. As noted above, the Boeing/Rockwell combat system has been plagued by problems, and only after the Raytheon CCS Mk 2 system has been installed will the boats be regarded as fully operational from about 2007. All but the Collins, which was retrofitted, were built with anechoic tiles on their outer surfaces, and the periscopes are British, in the form of the Pilkington (now Thales) Optronics CK43 search and CH93 attack units. The tubes are all located in the bows, and are designed to fire either the Mk 48 Mod 4 heavyweight torpedo or the UGM-84B Sub-Harpoon underwater-launched anti-ship missile, of which a combined total of 22 can be shipped. An alternative is 44 mines. The Mk 48 Mod 4 is an wire-guided dual-role weapon with active/passive homing, and can carry its 267-kg (590-lb) warhead to a range of 38 km (23.6 miles) at 55 kts or 50 km (31.1 miles) at 40 kts. The tube-launched weapons are discharged by an air turbine pump arrangement.

   Great development effort has improved the boats reliability and quietness. The revision of the boats with a Stirling air-independent propulsion system in a lengthened hull is being considered, and a test rig has been bought from Sweden.