AUKUS: US, UK Australia announce nuclear-powered submarine project
15 March, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Anthony Albanese, and UK PM Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that Australia will buy nuclear-powered attack submarines from the US to modernise its fleet.
US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that Australia will buy nuclear-powered attack submarines from the US to modernise its fleet. The agreement seeks to limit China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Addressing a joint statement after holding in person bilateral talks on a US naval base in San Diego, California, the three leaders underscored their shared commitment to the 18-month-old trilateral security partnership given the acronym AUKUS — for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. “Today, we’re announcing the steps to carry out our first project under AUKUS and developing Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine capacity. The submarines are nuclear-powered and not nuclear-armed,” said US President Joe Biden at the Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego.
Biden, flanked by Albanese and Sunak, also highlighted that the agreement’s purpose was solely not only to sell submarines to Australia but also to develop something new together.
Biden said, “United Nations will sell three submarines to Australia with the potential to sell two more if needed. The ultimate goal is not just selling submarines to Australia, it is developing something new together, we are calling it the SSN-AUKUS.”
In an address to the press on board Air Force One ahead of the San Diego meeting, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the partnership will lay out a multi-phase process that will begin immediately with the training of Australian sailors, engineers, technicians, and other personnel to be able to take on the responsibility and stewardship of nuclear propulsion.
“And a few years down the line in the 2020s, you’ll start to see the regular rotational deployment of US and UK subs in Australia,” Sullivan was cited as saying by the White House.
The US official said that by the early 2030s, US will deliver three conventionally armed nuclear powered Virginia-class submarines to Australia over the course of the 2030s, “with the possibility of going up to five if that is needed.”
Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese underlined the important features of the AUKUS agreement such as building a future in Australia while investing in skills, jobs and infrastructure.
Albanese said, “AUKUS agreement represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defence capability in all of our history, strengthening Australia’s national security and stability; building a future made in Australia with record investments in skills, jobs and infrastructure.”
Albanese said that it was the first time in 65 years, and only the second time in history, that the United States has shared its nuclear propulsion technology.
“We are also proud to partner with the United Kingdom to construct the next-generation submarine, to be called SSN-AUKUS. A new, conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine, based on a British design and incorporating cutting edge Australian, UK and US technologies. This will be an Australian sovereign capability, built by Australians, commanded by the Royal Australian Navy and sustained by Australians in Australian shipyards, with construction to begin this decade,” Albanese said.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak cited growing challenges such as “Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness, and the destabilising behaviour of Iran and North Korea all threaten to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division.”
Sunak stated that as part of the collaboration, the UK will provide “world-leading design and build the first of these new boats, creating thousands of good, well-paid jobs,” as well as share its knowledge and experience with Australian engineers so that they can build their own fleet.
“Our partnership is significant because not just are we building these submarines together, they’ll also be truly interoperable,” Sunak said.
The UK Prime Minister said that the Royal Navy will operate the same submarines as the Australian Navy and both will share components and parts with the US Navy.
Submarine crews of the three countries will train together, patrol together, and maintain their boats together and will communicate using the same terminology and the same equipment.
Terming it as a powerful partnership, sunak said that through AUKUS they will raise the standards of nuclear non-proliferation.
“For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come,” Sunak said.