By Rear Admiral C. MENDENHALL USN (Rtd) 

    There are many very valid reasons why diesel boats should be in the US Navy's mix of combat ships,  however, the current submarine leadership has been brainwashed by the RICKOVER nuclear-only philosophy. Consequently, no one in the US Navy now knows - or wants to know - what diesel  submarines' capabilities are. 

    I attended the International Submarine Convention in Fremantle, Western Australia on 20-24 March 1995. Among the presentations was one by the Commander Australian Submarine Squadron, Captain  Denis Mole RAN. 

    Captain Mole made a superb presentation about the RANs Collins class submarine program. Later, he conducted a tour of the almost complete submarine base and training station, HMAS STIRLING, with special attention to the base's impressive offshore instrumentation facilities. 

    To an old diesel boat sailor like me, the characteristics of these new Australian boats - their stealthiness,  advanced sonar, potent missiles, quiet torpedoes, great maneuverability, continuous submerged endurance, excellent shallow water capability, near total automation and overall technological sophistication - were striking. Equally striking is the RANs commitment to a strong building program -  i.e. six Collins class boats scheduled with two more in next year's budget. 

    The cost of one Collins class boat is a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of one nuclear submarine. With current budget restraints in the United States, we should be buying a few of them from Australia. Our shipyards have long forgotten the art of building small, cost effective submarines. 

    Clearly, the Australians are up to task. 

    The above letter by Rear Admiral MENDENHALL war published in the September 1995 issue of "US Navy Proceedings". 
    RADM MENDENHALL is author of "Submarine Diary: 
The Silent Stalking of Japan".