Opinion: The Defence Strategic Review team have delivered their report and the Australian Government has published their response. What remains is mostly implementation planning and resourcing excepting in the vital area of naval surface ships and capabilities, subject to a further review reporting in September this year, writes former naval officer and defence industry analyst Chris Skinner.
Coincidentally the Australian National Audit Office has delivered its report on the SEA 5000 Hunter Frigate program of nine ships to be built in Adelaide by BAE Systems, which company is also the prime contractor for the joint SSN AUKUS nuclear submarine program for both UK and Australia.
Let us first consider the environment in which Australia’s maritime trade and travel take place. Located at the junction of three great oceans through two of which much of the world’s trade shipping travels carrying bulk and containerised cargoes that underpin the global economy. Interruption of that trade shipping would be a global economic and geopolitical crisis of similar proportions to that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DSR report and its predecessors in 2020 and earlier have all noted the need to protect so-called sea lines of communication [SLOC] that are the collective international connectivity for the trade shipping, and also for strategic goods such as military material, supplies and consumable items such as ammunition and fuel for vehicles and platforms.