AUKUS Nuclear-powered Submarine Announcement

14 March 2023

In San Diego, USA, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was joined by President of the United States Joe Biden and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak to announce a new stage in the AUKUS trilateral security partnership.

Building on the establishment of AUKUS in 2021, today’s announcement confirms the pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs).

Today’s announcement is the biggest investment in Australian defence capability in history and contributes to the Albanese Government’s commitment to a future made in Australia with significant investments in skills, jobs and infrastructure.

The acquisition and development of SSNs is expected to result in a $6 billion investment in Australia’s industrial capability and workforce over the next four years and create 20,000 jobs over the next 30 years.

Acquisition and development of nuclear-powered submarines

The three AUKUS partners will combine technologies to produce SSN-AUKUS, a nuclear-powered submarine based on the United Kingdom’s design. Set to begin development domestically in Australia and the UK this decade, once delivered SSN-AUKUS will be the submarine operated by both countries.

Conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines will be delivered as part of a phased approach, with the following developments to take place in coming years:

  • From 2023, Australian military and civilian personnel will join the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy, and their industrial bases to accelerate training of Australian personnel. This will include an increase in SSN port visits by the US from 2023 and the UK from 2026.
  • From 2027, the US and UK will begin forward rotations of SSNs to Australia to accelerate the development of the Australian naval personnel, workforce, infrastructure and regulatory system necessary to establish a sovereign SSN capability.
  • Starting in the early 2030s, the US intends to sell Australia three Virginia class submarines, with the ability to sell more if required.
  • Australia will deliver the first SSN-AUKUS built in Australia to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.

This phased approach aims to support Australia’s development of the capabilities to produce, maintain, and operate a sovereign fleet of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy

To compliment today’s announcement, the Albanese Government has committed to developing an AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy (the Strategy) to guide the delivery of SSNs to the Australian Defence Force.

The Strategy will aim to:

  • Attract, recruit, develop, qualify and retain a highly-skilled trades, technical, scientific and engineering workforce.
  • Invest in new infrastructure for sustaining and building nuclear-powered submarines in Australia.
  • Support and build the capabilities of Australia’s defence industry.

The plan presents significant opportunities for the development of new industries and expertise in science, technology and cyber. This includes opportunities for Australian businesses, with an expected $2 billion investment into South Australia, and $1 billion in Western Australia over the next four years alone.

The Strategy will contribute to the development of new infrastructure and facilities at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, and the Osborne shipbuilding facility in South Australia.

The Federal Government will also partner with the South Australian and Western Australian Government’s to develop education and training opportunities to train and skill a workforce to deliver SSNs and their ongoing operation.

The Strategy will be finalised and implemented in consultation with AUKUS partners and state and territory governments, industry and unions.

The joint statement on AUKUS from Prime Minister Albanese, President Biden, and Prime Minister Sunak can be found here.

The Prime Ministers speech from Naval Base Point Lomas in San Diego, USA can be found here.

The media release on the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine pathway can be found here.

The media release on the AUKUS submarine and workforce and industry strategy can be found here.

For more information, please contact Hawker Britton’s Managing Director Simon Banks on +61 419 648 587.

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