Late in June, the Australian Defence Ministry released a report on the status of the Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarines, the largest current Australian defense procurement project. It was damning.
Completed three years ago, HMAS Collins, the lead ship, cannot yet be considered operational, according to the report, and could be sent into combat only in a national emergency. The last of the six-submarine class, HMAS Sheean, is about 95% complete. The situation was so bad that the planned decommissioning of the last Australian Oberon-class submarine, HMAS Otama, planned for December 1998, had to be delayed; there is a serious possibility of a project to extend her life.
The new report is particularly embarrassing because leaks of earlier reports were vehemently denied, and even attributed to companies competing with the Australian Submarine Corporation for orders from some Far Eastern navies, such as Korea. Now it turns out that many of the rumors were, if anything, understated.