The Bomber returned from the embassy in Washington and took up a role with ASPI where he writes the occasional piece, bringing a lot more insider knowledge than most analysts:
While I was Ambassador to the US, I visited Electric Boat’s yard in Groton, Connecticut, where the US Navy’s latest Virginia class nuclear submarines are under construction. This wasn’t an indulgence. Part of my job was to seek constant reassurance from the relevant officials of our ally that strong US support would be forthcoming when we finally decided on a process and partner(s) for the replacement for the Collins-class submarines. That reassurance was constantly but, lately, impatiently given. They came to wonder when we would get on with it. The US regards the Australian submarine as a potent addition to allied underwater strength in the Pacific.
I was taken aboard the then-latest Virginia-class submarine, the USS Missouri. The captain showed us the control room and asked me if I recognised anything. I said ‘yes’ and told him that I appeared to be standing in a Collins-class submarine. He responded, ‘Exactly’. The US had benefitted greatly from the structures we had put in place in the Collins. He had served as an exchange officer on one of them. ‘Best submarine I have served on’. It was polite hyperbole, but the USN has great respect for the class nonetheless. It has been a handful in joint exercises—so troubling, in fact, that a couple of years ago they hired the Swedes to practice on, as they tried to get to grips with finding modern conventional submarines. On my bookshelf sits a photo of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln taken on exercise through the periscope of a Collins. The submarine, undetected, had just put three “torpedos” into the carrier.