Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Curious: Aussie Admiral Pushes Nuclear Sub Fleet

The former head of Australia's submarine team, Rear Admiral Peter Briggs, and one of that nation's top security analysts, Allan Behm, argue that emerging security imperatives will require Australia's defence forces to respond to "short-notice contingencies" over the next 15 to 20 years, with the assistance of nuclear-powered submarine fleets.

Political posturing? Why now? Suppose another country expects to have some servicable nuke subs to lease to allies several years down the road (circa 2012)? Bringing up the issue now forces the loyal opposition to go on record stating that nukes would be nice, but are too costly for Australia. Later, the leases appear to be bargains.

In fact, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, architect of Australia's Collins-class submarine program as defence minister during the 1980s declared his party's opposition to any move by the Howard Government to develop a nuclear power industry in Australia. Leasing avoids that problem nicely, too.

Australia would still have one major problem. The Sydney Morning Herald said "The navy has such a shortage of engineers and marine and electronic technicians to crew its submarines, it has been forced for the first time to recruit straight off the street." In a more telling story from The Age Company Ltd. "In a bid to ease problems recruiting submarine crews, the navy will introduce in July a system allowing civilians to apply to join the submarine arm directly. Until now submariners have been recruited from volunteer seamen and women in the navy." Underlying psychology (Australia's potential male recruits): Why volunteer for forced celibacy in a job that females now do? Answer: The young males do not volunteer; glamour has been compromised. For married submariners, moreover, the divorce rate among submariners is huge - about 80 per cent, the Aussies report. Not everyone is happy. A male submariner states that the women are only being introduced for public-relations purposes.

Guess who is the Admiral behind females in Australia's submarine crews? Admiral Briggs, of course. No worries for women of child bearing age in a potentially radioactive and heavy metal environment, hmmm!


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