A Pump-jet is a marine propulsion system which uses a jet of water to propel a boat, ship or submarine. The mechanical arrangement may be either a ducted propeller for low to medium speeds, or a centrifugal pump for high speeds, or they can be a mixture of both. The first time they were demonstrated was by the Italian inventor Secondo Campini, but his version had significant problems. The first person to make it commercially viable was New Zealander Sir William Hamilton in 19541. These pumps were once limited to being used on jet-skis and jet-boats. However, in the last couple of decades they have been used in naval vessels, including patrol vessels, missile boats, frigates and littoral combat ships. They have also been used in submarines, with the recently commissioned Virginia-class nuclear fast attack submarines in the United States Navy. These submarines use the pump-jet system originally developed for the Royal Navy’s Swiftsure class nuclear fleet submarines1,2.
In Senate Estimates hearings today, Pauline Hanson from the One Nation Party asked Rear Admiral Greg Sammut, who heads the submarine programme for the navy, the following question: “Is it true that pump-jet submarines can only stay underwater for 20 minutes?”3 I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t seen it. There are two explanations for this. Either Pauline Hanson is simply stupid, or she is exceptionally gullible. Whether one of her acolytes posted this garbage on facebook or e-mailed her, or one of her ‘staff’ told her this was a sensible question to ask seem to be the only options. Whichever it is, it is not a sensible question to ask when one considers what is termed air-independent propulsion, if that is indeed to be included in the Australian submarines3,4. One should be able to realise that an endurance of 20 minutes for a submarine is ludicrous, just by having been exposed to the news, or even reading Wikipedia. The fact that this was beyond One Nation is staggering.
This latest One Nation stuff-up just goes to show that for admission to One Nation, being affected by the Dunning-Kruger Effect is almost a prerequisite5,6. These people have seats in the Senate; they get to vote on legislation. That is frightening.