French-Australian Cultural Challenges and the Submarine Program


In an article by Andrew Greene, defense correspondent for Australia’s ABC news, the author leveraged Pierre Tran’s article published on Second Line of Defense to discuss the French-Australian working relationship around which a new submarine is to be designed, built and launched.

The story was published on April 26, 2019, and was entitled: “Cultural Clashes Dividing French, Australian Officials Working on $50 billion attack class submarine Program.”

Clearly attenuating the cultural differences and shaping effective working relationships is a work in progress.

We will write more on this challenge in the coming months, for it is at the heart of a strategic opportunity both for Australia and the French.

Ensuring that the strategic opportunity is fully realized is the challenge.

According to Greene’s article:

The ABC has been told of numerous frustrations between French and Australian officials working on the contract

One official said Australians needed to understand the sanctity of the lunch break — not just a sandwich snatched at the screen

The French Naval Group is developing “intercultural courses” for French staff being posted to Australia

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced French company Naval Group, then known as DCNS, had been awarded the lucrative contract, beating rival bids from Germany’s TKMS and the Japanese Government.

Since that time the ABC has been told of numerous difficulties and frustrations between French and Australian officials, although a long-awaited strategic partnering agreementwas finally signed earlier this year.

In a series of candid interviews with the defence industry publication, Naval Group officials have now offered insights into the problems the French company is facing in dealing with Australia.

The author concluded his article as follows:

Earlier this month, the ABC revealed Australians working on the future submarine program in France were sending their children to a $53,000-a-year British boarding school at taxpayers’ expense, because local classes are not taught in English.

The first of the new French-designed submarines are not due to be in service until the mid-2030s.

The Chief of Navy has signalled Australia’s entire fleet of ageing Collins Class submarines might need upgradingbefore the French-built replacements are read