Commissioned on 31 January, the Royal Australian Navy's 3,353-ton-submergeddisplacement submarine Farncomb is the second unit of what is now the world's second largest diesel-electric combat submarine design, behind Japan's new 3,600ton Oyashio class. With four of the Collins-class boats in the water and the last of the six scheduled for delivery in 2001, Australian politicians are reconsidering ordering additional units of this or a new, smaller design to keep the Australian Submarine Corporation at Port Adelaide open. Despite vigorous efforts, the company has been unable to secure export orders for the very expensive (about $550 million each) Collins class, which also has been experiencing significant combat and ship-control systems software integration problems. Although commissioned in July 19%, the Collins now is not expected to be available for operational patrol duties until mid-2000.
By A.D. Baker, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World