Plan B flagged on Adelaide submarines

Defence is considering an alternative to French designed submarines in case the project cannot go ahead, senate estimates has been told.

An alternative to French-designed submarines is being considered for Australia in case the multi-billion dollar project cannot go ahead, the defence department says.

Defence secretary Greg Moriarty said the department was doing “contingency planning” in the event the Future Submarines project, to be built in Adelaide, doesn’t proceed.

“I wouldn’t refer to it as Plan B, I’d say prudent contingency planning,” Mr Moriarty told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday.

Mr Moriarty said he had thought more about the issue over last 12 months and had a number of discussions with senior officers about how to proceed if the project to build the 12 Attack Class submarines falls through.

“It became clear to me that we were having challenges with the Attack class program, over the last 15, 12 months,” he said.

“So, of course, you do reasonably prudent thinking about what one of those options might be or what you might be able to do if you’re unable to proceed.”

However, Mr Moriarty said no decision had been made and the government was committed to the project with French submarine company, Naval Group.

“The government is absolutely committed to trying to work through with naval group and build a regionally superior submarine in Adelaide.”

Mr Moriarty said ministers had been briefed about the situation but would not elaborate, when pressed, about the “alternative capability pathways”.

“Some of it is highly classified and has to do with our interpretation of the threat environment,” he said.

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