The Australian Government has requested a tender for a complete domestic design study for the country's future submarine project, named SEA 1000.
The project aims to build 12 submarines using domestic technology at a cost of nearly $17bn.
Defence minister John Faulkner said that the competition is for the government to get a more detailed understanding of what domestic design and build capabilities Australia has to offer.
"The procurement of Australia's future submarine will be the country's largest ever single defence project and will form a critical part of the nation's future defence force," Faulkner said.
A document published by Future Submarine Project Office noted that the six Collins Class submarines in service with the Royal Australian Navy and built by state-owned company ASC will be replaced by 12 conventional submarines, with greater range around 2025.
The 78m-long, diesel-electric Collins Class boats have a crew of 42 and carry mk48 heavyweight torpedoes and sub-harpoon missiles.
Currently, ASC maintains the six Collins Class submarines under a $3bn contract.