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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

Who’s really afraid of the Virginia-class, No 92.

Updated: Apr 21

No wonder Beijing is worried about the US subs- they’re vastly superior.

Paul Dibbs

Richard Brabin-Smith


‘There have been several commentators in Australia of late who have made rash pronouncements about the demise of US submarines will make them alleging that innovative technologies will make them vulnerable. …

‘The fact that the US has been so far ahead in submarine technology and secure under operations during the past 50-plus years that its submarines are virtually undetectable by China or Russia. …

‘The reason for this is that the US has persistency has invested vast amounts of research and development for more than half a century in superior underwater warfare technology. Naturally these capacities are among America’s most highly guarded secrets, …

‘However, we recommend two books: ‘Blind Man’s Bluff (1998) by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew and The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy since 1945 (2016) by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks’.

‘Those who talk about superior Chinese submarine operations being able easily to detect US submarines to detect US submarines do not know what they are talking about.

‘So when we take delivery of our initial three Virginia-class US SSNs, we can be confident that will be highly effective and difficult to counter.  This is why China is so angry about the prospect of our acquiring them.’

‘The geography of China and Russia means that their submarines, on leaving their bases, are relatively vulnerable. Waters nearby face relatively low founds of water. The US, by comparison, has submarine bases on the East and West of the North American continent that provide prompt access to secure deep waters in the open Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

‘In a similar way, submarines leaving Australian ports such as Sydney and Freemantle also have quick access to secure deep oceanic waters’.

‘Against this background, we reject the belief of those who say US submarines have had their day. The US has the world’s largest and most potent nuclear-powered submarine fleet and intends to keep it that way. No wonder China is so worried about the prospect of Australia acquiring such a vastly superior capability’.


Paul Dibb and Richard- Smith are both former Deputy Secretaries of Defence. Dibb was also a director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation and Brabin-Smith was also Chief Defence Scientist.

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