November 23, 2004: The United States, in a rare move, is giving Australia access to American sonar and underwater warfare systems technology. Australia is spending $355 to upgrade the sonar and fire control systems on its six Collins class subs, and this new deal with the U.S. means that those diesel electric subs will carry the most advanced electronics in the world. The Collins class boats, mainly because of the quality of their crews, have proved to be among the most capable diesel-electric subs in the world. This is known because Collins class boats often train with U.S. Navy ships and aircraft, and usually come out ahead. This has made the American admirals more concerned about the threat from diesel-electric subs. For the moment, however, none of America’s potential naval foes have submarine crews as well trained as the Australians. The Collins class boats were built in Holland during the 1990s, and are based on a Swedish design (the Type 471.) At 3,000 tons displacement, the Collins are half the size of the American Lost Angeles class nuclear attack subs. However, boats that size are nearly twice the size of subs Sweden and Holland are accustomed to designing and building for their own use. Australia needed larger boats because of the sheer size of the oceans that surround Australia. There were a lot of technical problems with the Collins class boats, which the media jumped all over. Australia didn’t formally “accept” all the Collins class boats until earlier this year, when everyone agreed that all the major technical problems were fixed, or at least identified. For the moment. Submarines tend to always be a work in progress. But the six Australian subs are a major factor when it comes to naval strength in the western Pacific.