Australia set to build its first research submarine

Solstice Media
5 min readJan 8, 2020

A three-year project to design, manufacture and test Australia’s first yellow submarine will begin next month.

The fully reconfigurable Australian Research Experimental Submarine (ARES) will be used for hydrodynamic and crew efficiency testing of future submarine designs.

A full business case is still being finalised ahead of the kick-off meeting in Adelaide, South Australia, in February.

The project is collaboration between the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Flinders University, TAFE SA and the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College with Defence support from DST Group.

The four industry partners for the project are SAAB, ASC, Dassault Systemes and MOOG Australia.

ARES received $150,000 in Defence Innovation Partnership funding from the South Australian Government last month to boost a $350,000 in kind contribution from participants to fund the project’s first year. An estimated $3 million will be needed to complete the three-year project.

Project lead and University of Adelaide Director of the Shipbuilding Hub for Integrated Engineering and Local Design (SHIELD) Eric Fusil said the project would deliver Australia’s first reconfigurable research submarine.

He said the autonomous submarine would be used to test hydrodynamics — how a submarine behaves underwater — to aid in the design and safe operation of new submarines globally.

“Because you can’t see on board a submarine and you don’t really know where you are going, you need to know that when you are pulling on the controls from inside the submarine that you are setting the control planes outside at a given angle.

“You need to know the effect of these angles for each given speed on the trajectory of the submarine — otherwise you are at risk of breaching the surface or diving too quickly.

“Despite all our best efforts worldwide we’re still at a point where we cannot use computers to predict all of that. You need to go to actual testing with small-scale submarines to be able to deliver a safe analysis of how present or future submarines are behaving underwater.