Uninformed claims aim to sink subs

Businessman Dick Smith and his cohorts are wasting their money making totally unsubstantiated, ill-informed claims in an advertisement about Australia’s new submarine fleet, Welding Technology Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Crittenden says.

Mr Smith and several other businessmen purchased a full-page advert in yesterday’s The Australian newspaper headed ‘Submarine fiasco?’.

French company DCNS won the contract to build Australia’s next submarine fleet in April, but the businessmen questioned the plan to modify its nuclear submarine design, among other aspects of the contract.

Mr Crittenden says Mr Smith “and his mates are denigrating Australia’s defence professionals in a bid to get cheap publicity”.

“I have spoken to key stakeholders in the tender selection process and am convinced it is one of the most thorough and fair procurement evaluations conducted by the Department of Defence,” Mr Crittenden said.

“It’s true the French Barracuda design is a nuclear-powered boat but the Australian version, which will be built in Adelaide, will be a new design using the latest diesel- electric power plant. This has tactical advantages for operations in our waters.

“Before wasting money on their advert, these businessmen didn’t even bother to thoroughly research the tender process and the current state of the project,” Mr Crittenden said.

“They pretend to be patriotic but are just the worst kind of bar-room knockers.”

The advert suggested scrapping the plan to build the subs in Adelaide in favour of buying overseas-built nuclear submarines.

Mr Crittenden said Mr Smith should stick to making malt extract instead of criticising a project with which he and his colleagues were obviously unfamiliar.

“I understand DCNS Australia has yet to sign a contract and therefore the final operational requirements are yet to be settled. These businessmen are scaremongering by claiming the planned design will ‘condemn submariners to their graves’.

“This is at least a 30-year project so we need to relax and trust the defence professionals managing it to get on with their jobs,” Mr Crittenden said.

He called on the advert’s backers to instead donate to Submarines Association Australia, an organisation that supports submariners around the nation. “That would do far more good than wasting money on ill-informed adverts,” Mr Crittenden said.