Nuclear-Powered Australian Submarines - Challenges and Opportunities

In addition to ongoing debates around the non-proliferation concerns of Nuclear weapons, crew training, and the nuclear regulatory system, the presentation focuses on the challenges to host and maintain nuclear-powered submarines in Australia. Australia would require dedicated port facilities for its nuclear fleet, either by converting existing harbor facilities or by developing new sites. The first section of the presentation is dedicated to the supporting infrastructure needed to maintain the safety during crew’s activities and maintenance, including, for example, the non-interrupted power supply, and water, to comply with the nuclear requirements, issued from safety analysis that has to be considered during the fleet life cycle. For example, buildings are requested to be designed to consider a large range of potential aggressions. A strategic approach to the nuclear infrastructures, in terms of how it might be delivered and maintained for example through the Building Information Modelling (BIM) is also important to consider for the success of the nuclear program. To field a nuclear-submarine fleet, Australia would have to address the workforce challenge. The government would need not only trained crews but also a skilled workforce for the supporting infrastructure of nuclear submarines. The second part emphasizes the fact that even if there will be minimal need for refuelling, significant activities still need to be performed regularly, to maintain primary coolant integrity or to deal with radioactive waste treatment, which requires an experimented workforce. The above-mentioned nuclear-oriented safety obligations will stimulate new needs in logistics methods. This final part highlights how requirements should be transmitted and considered at all levels of the supply chain, from the organizational level to the suppliers, in terms of data flow or specific traceability. Consequently, many challenges and opportunities for Defence SMEs will arise, which will contribute to developing our nuclear capabilities.