USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine. By Official U.S. Navy Photograph -, Public Domain, link

Australia Embraces Zero Carbon Nuclear Power for the First Time

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova; Australia’s politicians have finally buckled on their blanket nuclear ban, in the face of Australia’s glaring strategic need for submarines capable of cutting four thousand mile ocean supply lines, in case of a hypothetical Chinese or other large power invasion.

Australia to get nuclear-powered submarines, will scrap $90b program to build French-designed subs

By defence correspondent Andrew Greene, political editor Andrew Probyn and foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic

Australia’s next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under an audacious plan that will see a controversial $90 billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines scrapped.

Key points:

  • Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement at 7:00am AEST
  • The ABC understands the Prime Minister convened a National Security Committee of Cabinet yesterday
  • It’s expected that there will be an increased presence of American nuclear subs in the region

The ABC understands Australia will use American and British technology to configure its next submarine fleet in a bid to replace its existing Collins class subs with a boat more suitable to the deteriorating strategic environment.

Australia, the United States and Britain are expected to jointly announce a new trilateral security partnership on Thursday, with a focus on aligning technology and regional challenges.

But Australia’s embrace of nuclear-powered submarines will have its political and technological challenges, given there is no domestic nuclear industry.

The new three-nation security pact – called AUKUS – will be seen by China as a bid to counter its regional influence, especially in the contested South China Sea.

The nuclear submarines would likely be based in WA.

Read more:

A decent Australian nuclear submarine fleet would make an invasion of Australia an absolute nightmare for the aggressor. Australia’s current diesel electric fleet has limited underwater range, they could be crippled by a long range bombardment of major Australian ports, or destroyed by aircraft carrier based aerial spotters as they attempt to approach the enemy fleet on the surface, before diving for an attack run.

But a stealthy nuclear submarine fleet could fight on, even if our cities were reduced to smoking ruins, by remaining underwater, striking anywhere along the enemy maritime supply route, then making a fast underwater dash to San Diego or Hawaii for resupply.

In terms of the likely impact on broader Aussie adoption of nuclear power, perhaps I am reading too much into this decision. Obviously it would still be a big step, from buying a few nuclear submarines to a wholesale embrace of civilian nuclear power. The decision to buy nuclear could still be derailed if our timid politicians chicken out. But the fact it is even on the table as a plan is a tremendous advance on the previous irrational blanket ban on all things nuclear.

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September 16, 2021 2:13 pm

An unadulterated assessment of fitness and adoption of a solution as suited to an application. One step forward.

Poems of our Climate
Reply to  n.n
September 16, 2021 4:19 pm

Why do I have the feeling that I, an American, am going to have to help pay for Australian “protection?” I thought that the world’s policeman thing wasn’t going so well.

Reply to  Poems of our Climate
September 16, 2021 5:05 pm

All these things are transactional, no sovereign nation acts out of altruism.

The Americans get to house their intel and satellite relay stations around Australia, get free access to friendly seaports and airports, and enjoy proper beer when they station defense personnel there.

Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 7:19 pm

Australia has vast minerals and energy reserves not yet being mined and exports from working mines and extraction of gas etc.

A Federal Treasurer once replied to questions about the sale of gold bar reserves for a significant profit why the sale took place, why Australia was reducing gold reserves. He replied that Australia’s known not yet mined gold reserves were substantial.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Poems of our Climate
September 17, 2021 3:48 am

Yes. Australia will protect you.

That’s a nice White House you have, Poems, be a shame if anything was to happen to it…


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Poems of our Climate
September 17, 2021 11:12 pm

Have Americans paid for Australian “protection” at any time in the past? Ok, you did stop the Japanese in the Pacific.

Reply to  n.n
September 16, 2021 6:47 pm

We will be subsidizing this to some extent. We are doing this for the tangibles and my continued employment. Yay

Reply to  Glen
September 17, 2021 5:17 am

It is not clear at all that the US or UK will subsidize anything for the Aussies. We will provide the Aussies access to our vast experience in building and operating and maintaining nuclear submarines, but the Aussies will foot the bill both for the boats and the infrastructure to build and maintain them.

Reply to  n.n
September 17, 2021 4:23 am

The paradox is that France does build SSNs.
Indeed, we only operate those!

John Tillman
Reply to  n.n
September 17, 2021 6:13 am

Geologically stable, U-rich Oz is ideal for nuclear power generation.

Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 2:15 pm

Yes, elsewhere there is note of an US comittment to share naval nuclear power technology with Australia. Also Columbia Class SSBN-826 technology as UK will build Dreadnought class.

Columbia Class will have 43 year hull life and reactor fuel life.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 8:49 pm

The subs Australia will be building are hunter/killer attack subs, not SSBN “boomers”.

Tom Halla
September 16, 2021 2:18 pm

Considering just how much uranium Australia has, going to nuclear power in general would be sensible. Avoiding the “safety changes” made at the behest of the anti-nuclear lobby, and going to something like a 1970’s French design would be much more affordable.
Nuclear subs are much more capable than any diesel-electric sub, period.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 16, 2021 2:47 pm

There won’t be nuclear power as replacement,as nuclear power has eveything it takes to replace traditional energy production 1:1 while renewables are barely more than a glorified placebo.

As AGW is not about climate but about the controle of the economy of a country and about the its massive reduction they’d never allow a successful alternative.

To paraphrase an (in)famous banker: Let me controle the co2 output of a country and i don’t care who makes the law as I’ve become the law by controling the economy.

Tom Halla
Reply to  SxyxS
September 16, 2021 2:50 pm

I believe the greens oppose nuclear power because they oppose industrial society. Remember, having cheap and unlimited power is like giving an idiot child a machine gun, according to Paul Ehrlich’s.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 16, 2021 3:39 pm

I don’t know what all the fuss is about, Homer seems to have it sorted out.
You just put the green thingy in when you need the power.
No worries.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 17, 2021 4:24 am

Spot on.
Legend says that JP Morgan instantly shut down his founding of Teslas Mega Power Generator in NY after he found out that tesla wanted to give away the energy for free.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 17, 2021 11:17 pm

It’s not just the greens, it’s the entire political and societal scene here largely driven by decades of fear. Totally insane. So we have millions of tonnes of coal and gas being mined, transported on un-manned trains to ports and sent overseas. We are in a silly situation that we have to import hydrocarbons for domestic use.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 16, 2021 7:21 pm

Australia’s Uranium(Updated June 2021)

  • Australia’s uranium has been mined since 1954, and three mines are currently operating. More are planned.
  • Australia’s known uranium resources are the world’s largest – almost one-third of the world total. 
  • In 2019 Australia produced 7798 tonnes of U3O8 (6612 tU). It is the world’s third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada. All production is exported. Uranium comprises about one-quarter of energy exports.
  • Australia uses no nuclear power, but with high reliance on coal any likely carbon constraints on electricity generation will make it a strong possibility.
  • In May 2016 the South Australian government’s royal commission on the nuclear fuel cycle reported. Its main recommendation was for an international high-level nuclear waste repository, though this was not accepted.

The Australian economy is unique in the OECD in that about 20% of GDP is accounted for by mining and mining services (in 2012). Uranium is a small part of this economically, but in energy terms, uranium (4200 PJ in 2015-16) comprises about one-quarter of energy exports.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Dennis
September 16, 2021 10:03 pm

Amazing that 7800 tons is 1/4 of all energy exports considering all the LNG they ship

Just shows how much more energy there really is in nuclear

Edit, just looked it up, Oz exports 80 million tons of LNG and 560 million tons of coal
So that is 640 million tons of hydrocarbons, so 7800 tons of uranium is equivalent to ~213 million tons of hydrocarbons?


Craig from Oz
Reply to  Dennis
September 17, 2021 3:54 am

Yeah ago I got into a chat with a nice Greenpeace girlie while in town shopping.

She tried to horrify me we the story of us attempting to build a nuclear waste dump and wanted to know what I thought.

I told her it was a great idea. We have other countries pay us to take and safely store nuclear waste in the middle of nowhere.

“But But!!!”, she said. “Nuclear Waste!!! We should reject it!!!”

I countered,

“But if we don’t take ownership of the problem then we run the risk of other less ethical countries just dumping it into the ocean.”

Yeah… it was a short friendship.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
September 19, 2021 12:51 am

You should have just gone with I really think we should build nuclear weapons if anyone is going to sleep with a finger on the button it should be me 🙂

Reply to  Craig from Oz
September 20, 2021 4:58 am

As you probably know Craig a nuclear waste dump was proposed when the Hawke Labor Government was in power by an Aborigine Land Council in the NT, they understood and wanted the revenue, understandably.

During the 1970s a nuclear physicist from the CSIRO told me that a nuclear waste dump in Australia made good sense, one of the most stable land areas on Earth where the crust is thickest, few and then only minor earthquakes occasionally, and enormous remote and empty land areas. He said an area the same as a football field with holes drilled would accomodate the world’s depleted nuclear waste for decades into the future, each container stored at a fair rental rate paid by the country of origin.

Lewis Buckingham
September 16, 2021 2:24 pm

The opposition leader was clear that Australia would maintain its adherence and signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
However the kicker was that we were not to develop our own nuclear industry.
This is unusual since to run these submarines we need trained scientists and technicians who understand nuclear power plants and can service them, here in Australia.
That way we have a sovereign independent capability to pursue our defence even when and if our ‘great and powerful allies’ don’t show up.
It also, like France and India, allows us to have an independent foreign policy if the US goes isolationist.
We have endless uranium supplies.
As the late Bob Hawke said, we should export them and allow the third world to use them to build nations.
He was a big fan of CO2 causing global warming.
We then get the spent uranium back and glassify it to store it in the Australian Plate, a huge stable structure, so the waste can slowly burn out harmlessly.
This would mean that there was no reprocessing as nuclear explosives.
Unless the importing country agrees then we don’t sell the uranium.
We , with a home based nuclear industry, bring power to the remotest areas of Australia for defence and agriculture.
If the opposition does not understand we need a nuclear industry to support defence and , by their lights, save the planet, then here is a wonderful opportunity for the Lib/Nats to wedge them.
At least we have the elements of leadership in our country.
It was hard for the opposition leader to say what he did.
It took courage.
However, if he thinks about it, by denying home grown nuclear training and industry, he wasted his effort.

Reply to  Lewis Buckingham
September 16, 2021 3:25 pm

Way too much rational common sense from you there Lewis.

Bob Hawke expounded the most elegant and practical approach to nuclear power development / use / safety / disposal I have seen in my lifetime.

Unfortunately, Bob had earlier cozied up to the greenies for political support, and as we have seen demonstrated time after time all around the world, the greenies never embrace any rational, practical approaches to anything.

They will leave this world far, far worse than they entered it.
And mostly of their own doings.

Reply to  Lewis Buckingham
September 16, 2021 4:25 pm

Nuclear industry and nuclear defence are different animals. A nuclear industry can peacefully coexist within the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. 😉

Reply to  Lewis Buckingham
September 16, 2021 6:45 pm

Chemistry and nuclear engineering and electrical engineering are a must have at any nuclear site.

J Mac
September 16, 2021 2:31 pm

Hurrah for our Australian friends!

Reply to  J Mac
September 16, 2021 8:57 pm

Friends and very close allies for a very long time, and The Australian Defence Forces often support the US and train together regularly.

Reply to  Dennis
September 17, 2021 2:24 am

Like in Afghanistan?
See :

A war started on lies, running for 20 years, then lost. At least Biden’s order to declassify 9/11 which Trump started, is having explosive revelations.
Then let’s see what happens in Canberra….

Craig from Oz
Reply to  bonbon
September 17, 2021 3:58 am

Trump started 9/11??


Is there anything that guy can’t do? I mean we established he was so powerful that Biden was completely powerless to change a single part of the Kabul farce in the 6 or so months Joe had in the White House before it happened.

D Clothier
Reply to  Craig from Oz
September 17, 2021 10:08 am

Fairly certain that bonbon meant Trump had started the 9/11 declassification push and Biden continued it.

Reply to  bonbon
September 17, 2021 1:39 pm

Brereton can shove that report up his and ABC collective a$$.

Reply to  J Mac
September 17, 2021 12:04 am

Especially that the French are furious and blubbing. Pity we couldn’t have sold them Astutes but Virginia class is capable.

Rud Istvan
September 16, 2021 2:52 pm

As I understand it, the subs will be based on the current UK hull design. Easy to fit them with the newest US sub reactors and silent propellers sold turnkey. Can also sell them US torpedos, as these will have to be hunter-killer subs. Will be built in Australia like the now cancelled French diesel electric deal, which never made strategic sense given the issue is China and long AUS supply lines.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 16, 2021 3:20 pm

Several years ago Canada bought a bunch of used UK subs and the retrofitting cost so much it would have been cheaper to buy them brand new. The government happily proclaimed it a win/win all around.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 16, 2021 4:28 pm

Rud, I don’t think the French diesel subs were ever meant to make any sense at all … merely a nod by the vacuous leftie Turnbull towards defence whilst keeping the country equally poorly defended. The big boys are running the show now.

Reply to  Streetcred
September 16, 2021 5:21 pm

Turnbull needed his Adelaide-based MP Christopher Pyne to retain his marginal seat at the forthcoming election to keep Turnbull as Prime Minister.

So no expense was spared by Turnbull to buy votes from Adelaide.
It was a taxpayer-funded financial sacrifice he was prepared to make.
What a guy!

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 4:04 am

Pyne was never really marginal to be honest.

Your implied point about Pyne then milking the sub deal for all it was worth – he campaign posters that election were a submarine and “Pyne Delivers” plastered above it – is completely valid, but the number of swinging voters in Pyne’s electorate who would have been objectively better off by the sub deal to the extent that they changed their vote was probably about six.

(side note – on North East Rd that year someone had gone up to a “Pyne Delivers” poster and replaced the submarine with a picture of a pizza. Hey, I smiled 😀 )

Reply to  Streetcred
September 16, 2021 7:24 pm

A proudly self confessed “globalist”.

Reply to  Streetcred
September 17, 2021 5:24 am

Diesel electric submarines are not without value. After all most of China’s sub fleet are DEs. But nuke attack boats are much more capable than diesel boats, as they can cruise endlessly at any speed they choose, while the DE boats have relatively short endurance at high speeds.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 17, 2021 5:22 am

It’s not clear which sub design the Aussies will use, at least as a starting point … only that they will get assistance from both the US and UK on designing both the subs and the infrastructure it takes to build and maintain the subs.

The US has a lot more nuke boats and a longer history with them than the Brits do, so it would make sense to base their designs on the Virginia class boats. But we’ll see.

D Clothier
Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 17, 2021 10:11 am

The explanation for diesel subs that I heard, was diesel was chosen over nuclear because NZ doesn’t allow nuclear subs in their territorial waters. According to this source of information, France had offered nuclear in 2017 but AUS said that they wanted diesel.

Reply to  D Clothier
September 17, 2021 2:44 pm

It would make zero sense for France – a notable, but often failed exporter of reactors – to not propose the nuclear option.

September 16, 2021 3:36 pm

Eric, I found this bit interesting in (of all places), a Guardian article –

The Guardian understands Australia does not plan to build the submarines’ nuclear reactors domestically. Instead, the reactor modules would be delivered, sealed, to Australia from either the US or the UK, where they would be installed into the vessels.

So if these ‘sealed’ reactor power plant modules can be readily shipped, installed and commissioned all around the world, why aren’t they being used to power suburbs all around the developed and undeveloped world?

Just shows that CO2 emissions from fossil fueled power plants can’t be all that problematic after all?

Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 3:40 pm

I got a further chuckle from the same article over this –

She also warned it could make Adelaide a target for attack.

A nuke attack on Adelaide would wreak untold $millions in improvements. 🙂

Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 7:43 pm

As long as the wine regions are OK.

Reply to  Mariner
September 16, 2021 8:41 pm

I prefer Heathcote region shiraz.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 10:44 pm

Chateaux cardboard for me. After all, I am an OAP and live in a cardboard box.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 4:08 am

A nuke attack on Adelaide would wreak untold $millions in improvements.

We would be fine. Our ‘Expect’ health adviser assured us that the only risk to our health is touching footballs accidentally kicked into the crowd by interstate AFL teams.

Tis a virus vector! True!

So nuke attack? Nah, it will be fine!

B Clarke
Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 3:46 pm

There controlled in a military sense, I would assume there cheap to run after the initial build ,probably cheap to build compared to a normal sized power station.

I doubts theres much of a profit for any company using them to supply power to towns ,cities.

So cheap power for the people not gonna happen.

Reply to  B Clarke
September 16, 2021 4:17 pm

I do recall some efforts at creating community-owned & operated power generation, mostly windmills & solar farms though. So of course they weren’t viable as continuous reliable electricity sources.

But the idea of community ‘crowd-funded’ (and subsidized to at least the extent that solar & wind are) modular nuclear plants should be researched in my opinion.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 5:40 pm

Submarine nuclear power plants are not appropriate for power production as they are TINY compared to a grid NPP. They are optimized for rapid power changes on particularly expensive highly enriched uranium.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 6:44 pm

OK, but shirley the technology is scalable to optimize output to a defined power demand level for a ‘community’ grid?

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 6:11 am


Else it would have been done, just like thorium and molten salt reactors.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 6:54 pm


Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 6:51 pm

These submarine reactors are not good for terrestrial power generation.

Reply to  Glen
September 16, 2021 9:50 pm

they only work under water?

Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 5:27 am

Submarine nuke power plants, while theoretically the same, have very large differences with land based power plants, mainly because of the need to conserve hull volume. Consequently the US Navy has always used highly enriched metallic fuel plate reactors, while civilian power plants use low enriched ceramic pellets which occupy much greater volumes. Also, submarines have a natural emergency cooling system, i.e., the ocean, in the event of a loss of coolant flow, that land based plants don’t have.

Reply to  Duane
September 17, 2021 2:46 pm

What? They fill the reactor in sea water? They dump the fuel in the sea?

John Tillman
Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 5:40 am

Naval reactors run on weapons grade, highly enriched uranium. Not recommended for power reactors in every suburb.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 17, 2021 2:20 pm

Why do people hate HEU?
Stop the hate speech!

Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 2:44 pm

Sealed as in “no serviceable part inside” computer power units?

Gary Pearse
September 16, 2021 3:55 pm

Perhaps Australia will make the next sensible step and build nuclear power. You couldnt build safer than the Canadian Candu reactor which does not use enriched fuel.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
September 16, 2021 4:25 pm

Enrichment levels needed for commercial reactors are not a problem.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
September 17, 2021 2:47 pm

CANDU is considered very risky from that POV. Enriched fuel isn’t, as long as it’s in the “low” range. (“Low” can mean anything here, from 5%, to 20% to 50%… depending on who you listen to.)

September 16, 2021 4:20 pm

I read too, that Jacinta Astern, the NZ prime minister, has declared that the new Aussie subs won’t be allowed in NZ territorial waters … apart from the fact that she won’t know, what are they to do ? Send out a couple of ‘war’ canoes ?

At the same time she has ‘welcomed’ the extra security of the new Australian nuclear submarines … and as they weren’t invited to the AUKUS alliance, consequence of their ‘5-Eyes’ unreliability, they shouldn’t bank on leeching ‘protection’ either.

Reply to  Streetcred
September 16, 2021 5:13 pm

Remember back when ex-Prime Minister of NZ Helen Clark (now a fixture at UN headquarters) declared that NZ didn’t need an army, because they had Australia between NZ and any potential foreign invasion threats.

She subsequently drastically cut NZ defense funding.

Many voices in NZ called for her prosecution as a traitor.

Of course, this only enhanced her credentials as a natural fit for a UN post.

Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 7:29 pm

AT that time Wellington New Zealand, the capital, was called “Helengrad” by the locals.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Dennis
September 18, 2021 11:10 pm

I recall that time well. She was also nicknamed Herr Clarkenfuhrer.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Mr.
September 18, 2021 11:06 pm

She does not “work” for the UN anymore. She not only ruined much of the country during her tenure as PM, she thought anyone earning NZ$60,000+ was “rich” and raised top rate taxes to 39%. She was also, while minister of health in the 80s, responsible for destroying one of the worlds best health systems.

Reply to  Streetcred
September 16, 2021 7:28 pm

New Zealand has no fighter aircraft, they sold the last they had and ordered new F/A-18 Hornets when they were being assembled in Australia for the RAAF.

But before delivery the New Zealand Government cancelled the Hornet order.

They apparently prefer to rely on Australia and the US for defence.

Before the Commonwealth of Australia, Federation of States, was formed New Zealand was part of the Colony of New South Wales and at the time of federation they decided not to remain in the Commonwealth of Australia.

Reply to  Dennis
September 16, 2021 8:46 pm

So still just another a mendicant state for Australia, along with PNG.

Reply to  Streetcred
September 17, 2021 12:02 am

Yes, Jacinda, because you’ll be able to enforce that, right? Stupid leftard.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Streetcred
September 17, 2021 4:18 am

The New Zealand government will defend their country to the last Australia, then Belt and Road.

The New Zealand military has 2 ANZAC class frigates (with associated ASW helicopters) and one squadron of 6 P-3K Orion (to be replaces by Poseidon aircraft in the near future).

(I understand film director Peter Jackson is a bit of a Warbird buff, so maybe he could be called into help. I am pretty confident in saying he is the only one with flying fighter aircraft in that country)

So two warships and 6 aircraft capable of detection and identification of submarines.

So… yeah… good luck with that little miss Long White Tyrant. Only thing stopping Australia from completely annexing your country are the All Blacks and the fact we already have enough sheep.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
September 20, 2021 5:01 am

Kiwi military join with our ADF quite often, the NZ SASR are reported to be highly trained and capable.

September 16, 2021 4:33 pm

Understatement of the week ..

Australia began to have second thoughts about the contract in recent months. Nuclear submarines can run for decades without refueling, giving them a much longer range than conventional submarines, which are powered by diesel.


September 16, 2021 4:49 pm

And when solar and wind fail they can use them as generators.

September 16, 2021 4:51 pm

Lars at ThorCon Power can provide Australia with thorium powered MSRs that offer low cost reliable electricity…CO2 is not a problem but just use it to help seal the deal.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Anti_griff
September 16, 2021 5:43 pm

Vapor ware. There is no operating thorium NPP nor Molten Salt coolant.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 6:57 pm

ICE powered motor vehicles were ‘vapor ware’ for quite a while too back in the day.

Ironically, as soon as they went into general production, ICE vehicles replaced the battery powered electric horseless carriages that were the first cars almost overnight.

History has a habit of repeating itself repetitively time after time again and again once more.

Reply to  Mr.
September 16, 2021 7:48 pm

ICE cars once didn’t exist. Now they do.
Therefor the fact that Thorium reactors don’t currently exist proves that they will someday exist?

PS, there was never any doubt that ICE cars could be built, once the other technologies had been developed. The only question was finding a way to build cars that were reliable and affordable.

There are a fair number of technological problems remaining before commercial level thorium or molten salt reactors can be built. With no guarantee that they ever will be solved.

Reply to  MarkW
September 16, 2021 8:52 pm

No I think it’s more a matter of human ingenuity always identifying a deficiency in a current product, and building a better mousetrap.

I probably won’t be around to see it, but for the sake of my grandkids, I fervently hope it comes about.

Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 9:10 am

Engineering problems don’t go away just because you wish real hard.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 16, 2021 8:57 pm

Wrong. China will be starting up a thorium molten salt proof-of-concept reactor shortly.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  tetris
September 17, 2021 6:16 am

LOL. Not a grammarian are you? Future imperfect.

VAPOR WARE – See the Three Gorges Dam for bleeeding edge Chinese engineering – or the Wu-Flu.

Gerard Flood
September 16, 2021 5:18 pm

Actual supply of civilian nuclear power would be up to two decades away from the removal of existing legal and political vetoes, and the irrevocable all-of-government commitment. In 2020, the AEMO was forced to issue NSW ‘insufficient capacity’ warnings at a record rate of up to one every four days, exposing a crippling impoverished and avoidable “Third World” standard of basic infrastructure capacity in Australia’s largest – by far – state, with over a 32% share of the national economy. That liability must be removed urgently as a state and national priority. Re-furbish Liddell PS now!

Ozzie Bloke
September 16, 2021 5:34 pm

A newly formed political party in Australia which is gaining traction for its “no Covid lockdown – no Covid passport” policies is also advocating for a nuclear power industry and nuclear subs for Australia. That’s the United Australia Party headed by Craig Kelly MP – policies here…

Australia does need the nuclear subs, the diesel subs we have are for coastal defence, they can’t protect our supply lines.

Reply to  Ozzie Bloke
September 16, 2021 7:02 pm

On a clear morning, the NZ South Islanders can hear the Collins class subs operating off Adelaide.
I hear they’ve put in a noise complaint to the UN.

Reply to  Ozzie Bloke
September 20, 2021 5:04 am

Nuclear submarines are significantly faster than conventional submarines and Australia’s coastline is huge, also nuclear does not need refuelling ship support.

The above based only on operation near Australia and ignores deployment to support our allies elsewhere.

Allen Stoner
September 16, 2021 5:55 pm

If you overbuild for nuclear, you can turn coal into gas, aviation fuel and diesel. Fuel that can have shelf lives of a decade or more. Some good strategic stockpiles.

Peter K
September 16, 2021 6:00 pm

This is good news for Australia. Some left media outlets are already encouraging street protests. The original contract with France to build diesel electric subs over a thirty year contract was an absolute no brainer. Given how much technology would have changed over that thirty year period. The original contract was a political decision to bolster South Australian employment. Unfortunately it has already cost tax payers billions to build, nothing more than horse and cart technology.

Reply to  Peter K
September 17, 2021 2:58 am

The decision is taken very badly in France, as that was an absolute success of a socialist French government.

(France has enough difficulty exporting good military stuff, thanks to US interference.)

Reply to  niceguy
September 17, 2021 3:11 am

What good military stuff? The Rafale they stole from Eurofighter?

Climate believer
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
September 17, 2021 4:17 am

The Charles de Gaulle nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Crotale SAM system.


Famas Felin assault rifle.

John Tillman
Reply to  Climate believer
September 17, 2021 5:55 am

FAMAS is so great that France is replacing it with a German assault rifle. Among its many failings and disadvantages is a cyclic rate too high by a factor of two.

Crotale was developed by Rockwell International.

Climate believer
Reply to  John Tillman
September 17, 2021 7:34 am

The reason the HK416 replaced the FAMAS was Verney-Carron couldn’t make the guarantees to the French defence ministry that they asked for.
That’s business, but it’s still a very good precise assault rifle.

I didn’t say it was the greatest but it did it’s job very well for 40 odd years.

Rockwell were not alone, you’re forgetting Thomson-CSF, and things have moved on a bit from 1967, Crotale NG.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 17, 2021 2:52 pm

FAMAS is so great that France is replacing it with a German assault rifle”

Which is evidence of what exactly?

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
September 17, 2021 2:50 pm

What does the comically failed and useless Eurofighter have to do with the Rafale?

Reply to  niceguy
September 17, 2021 9:11 am

Competition is now called interference?

Reply to  MarkW
September 17, 2021 2:53 pm

How can the Rafale and the F-35 even “compete”? Who would need or have a use for “either one”?

September 16, 2021 6:03 pm

The biggest danger is having a wok admiral.

Reply to  Olen
September 16, 2021 7:06 pm

Yes, I tried stir-fried admiral done in a wok once, and I had the worst diarrhea afterwards.

Reply to  Mr.
September 17, 2021 12:05 am

Maybe you should have cooked him for longer?

Reply to  Mr.
September 20, 2021 5:06 am

Is a chop stick more dangerous than a sword?

September 16, 2021 7:12 pm

i thought it was for people trans-ocean sailing without masks

September 16, 2021 7:15 pm

The defence of Australia is undergoing a major upgrading programme and including new longer range missiles for RAAF aircraft, “Patriot” missile defence system and long range missile production under licence to the USA.

A new navy port is being constructed in Darwin Harbour Northern Territory, another in East Timor and the WW2 port in PNG at Manus Island is to be upgraded, for use of Australia and allies, US already have many personnel and assets in Australia. The Tindall RAAF Base near Katherine in the NT runways will be lengthened for the largest US strategic bombers.

The Pine Gap Military Base joint venture is claimed to be the most important overseas base for the US offering communications and many other operations. And other locations in Australia.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Dennis
September 17, 2021 4:20 am

The comment I heard was there is now more money available than CASG can actually spend.

September 16, 2021 8:37 pm

America’s 1970’s designed Trident II nuclear submarine fleet exceeded its original lifespan in 2020 and is now completely reliant on service life extentions. The same is true of the nuclear missiles they carry while on patrol.

September 16, 2021 11:24 pm

Why isn’t it possible to take submarine nuclear power reactors, that are well tried and tested, and use them as modular power reactors for grid use?

It seems like SMRs are being reinvented from scratch, while perfectly good and reliable ones already exist on submarines.

John Tillman
Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
September 17, 2021 5:49 am

Naval reactors use HEU fuel.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 17, 2021 12:47 pm

Yes – that’s a snag.
Thanks John.

Barry James
September 17, 2021 12:09 am

Maybe the LINOs are acting rationally for a change. Now if we can just get them to realise that CO2 is not a problem so we can go full bore with fossil fuel power to sustain us while we build a fleet of modern waste free nuclear power stations using our own uranium and thorium. Ahh, I can dream can’t I?

September 17, 2021 2:14 am

As Caitlin Johnstone accurately observes see Mearsheimer showing Australia’s situation :
AUKUS is all about Australia buying UK nuclear powered (US engines) subs to protect itself not from China but from the wrath of the USA!
Talk about the old Mob protection rackets!
While China is likely upset, imagine what they think of the racket!

France being the top nuclear energy country, had diesel-electric subs ready for sale – could it be they mistook the green fog in the south Pacific as being the doldrums?

Climate believer
September 17, 2021 2:31 am

“Australia, the United States and Britain are expected to jointly announce a new trilateral security partnership on Thursday, with a focus on aligning technology and regional challenges.”

Who in the hell trusts the United States military after Afghanistan?, they’ll leave you in the shit as soon as spit on you. I’m talking about the top brass not the poor sods on the ground.

September 17, 2021 4:20 am

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told franceinfo radio

What a Maroon!

Trump was always clear about what he wanted and the requirements for other countries were actually those in the NATO alliance!!! He never stabbed official allies in the back!

Craig from Oz
September 17, 2021 4:34 am

Two Points;

First, Eric? You know I love you in a creepy and inappropriate way, but please never take up defence writing. Your heart is in the right place, but those paragraphs are pure Pirate Pete.

Second? Really did not see this coming. Up to Thursday morning I would have argued long and hard that there was no way we Australians were even mature enough to debate the suggestion of the idea that we one day might consider looking at a nuclear reactor.

Colour me surprised and wrong.

Third point – reading between the lines there has been a shift in our long term strategic goals. I feel this is a good thing because if you are not constantly checking your plans and showing a willingness to adapt when the situation demands it you end up with such pig headed plan as the Covid Roadmaps that our Experts refuse to update or modify.

SS and SSN type boats are different beasts. The main thing is that a SS is typically a lot smaller than a SSN which makes it more suited to coastal operations where you may or may not being doing things that are not directly related to messing with opponents shipping. If that was what you wanted to do of course.

And if you take a quick look at your atlas there are one or two islands to the north of us.

However if you look in other directions there are a lot of big wide oceans and if you are intending to operate in big wide oceans having a bigger SSN is a more practical choice.

So, like I said, reading between the lines there has been a change in Australian long term plans. Also note that the Collins boats are now to be extended in life. I am guessing of course but I would say we will be operating both SS and SSNs together for a while because a smaller SS can sometimes do things a larger SSN cannot.

Interest and pro-active I would say.

September 17, 2021 5:32 am

There was one mis-statement in this post by the author. Diesel electric submarines are not limited to making surface approaches, diving at the last instant for attack. Virtually all DE boats these days feature snorkels, as developed by the Germans in WW Two and used by the US Navy ever since, that allow the sub to remain submerged during long range cruises and approaches to attack. The sub’s cruising speed is limited with the snorkel up, and the snorkel itself can be picked up by a surface search radar a relatively short ranges (within 20 miles of the ship with the radar), or at longer ranges if deployed aircraft employ look down radars.

Clearly a nuke attack boat is far more capable than any DE boat. It can cruise forever at any speed clear up to flank speed, with no concerns about running out of battery juice or even fuel. A DE boat is very quiet on battery power, but the newer nukes are also very quiet and difficult to detect with sonar.

September 17, 2021 8:05 am

I hope you know what you are doing, Australia – the support infrastructure, build cost and ongoing support costs for these things will be enormous.

And you’ve annoyed the very people your coal mining industry relies on.

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2021 9:48 am

Annoying communists is a very bad thing to do. Why, the next thing you know, Australians will be insisting that Chinese communists start honoring human rights, stop prison slave labor and free Tibet.

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2021 12:57 pm

Maybe Australia could be potential future customers for Chinese nuclear submarines?

Reply to  griff
September 19, 2021 1:02 am

No Griff the troll the one thing you can rely on is we will do nothing you want or approve of.

Kit P
September 17, 2021 4:47 pm

they can’t protect our supply lines.

Looking at the issue differently, list the navies of the world that can protect world supply lines.

The answer is none. The US navy operating with other navies, including China, keep the supply lines open.

Now list the countries that could use DE boats to sink commercial shipping and disappear. The list is long, I will start with North Korea. Suicidal warfare on the cheap!

This would be terrible. Australia could not ship coal to China. China would collapse. Without color TV from China, American children would have to go outside and play.

Just horrible!

Australia needs SSN to exercise with other SSN of the coast of North Korea. China and North Korea will know we are there. North Korea will test a missile. China will publicly denounce western imperialism. Privately the CCP will be happy to import coal and export TV.

Patrick MJD
September 17, 2021 11:08 pm

The French are moaning about Australia joining the UK and US and ditching the AU$90billion submarine contract.

September 20, 2021 4:49 am

Regarding the faux anger being expressed by France since The Australian Government announced cancellation of the “contract” for supply of a still not completed plan to build a custom design conventional power diesel-electric submarine would be cancelled.

There was no contract signed for the being custom design based on a nuclear submarine design, there was a series of progressive contracts issued as each stage of development was reached by the designers in France. Australia had indicated concern about the length of time taken to this stage and about the delivery schedule indicated.

Also, the project commenced before China started to openly challenge Australia with orders cancelled for various goods China had been importing from Australia and tariffs applied contrary to the free trade agreement signed between the two nations.

In short the not yet ready for building submarine is no longer suitable to meet Australia’s future defence needs as a deterrent. And to buy nuclear submarines from our two closest allies makes sense.

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