14 Mar 23. The first generation of AUKUS nuclear submarines will be built in the UK and Australia, based on the UK’s world-leading submarine design.
- A new fleet of submarines will be built by the UK and Australia based on the UK’s nuclear-powered submarine design.
- UK’s submarines will be in operation by the late 2030s following massive, trilateral building project which will create thousands of jobs in the UK.
- Next stage of AUKUS submarine project announced by the Prime Minister, Australian Prime Minister Albanese and US President Biden in San Diego.
The first generation of AUKUS nuclear submarines will be built in the UK and Australia, based on the UK’s world-leading submarine design, the Prime Minister has announced today alongside the leaders of Australia and the United States.
In September 2021 the UK, Australia and the United States of America announced an historic, trilateral endeavour to support Australia to acquire a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine or ‘SSN’ – a partnership known as AUKUS.
Following an 18-month scoping period to establish the optimal pathway to Australia acquiring this capability, a model has been chosen based on the UK’s world-leading design and incorporating cutting-edge US submarine technology.
Australia and the UK will both build new submarines to this design, known as ‘SSN-AUKUS’, with construction of the UK’s submarines taking place principally in Barrow-in-Furness. Australia will work over the next decade to build up its submarine industrial base, and will build its submarines in South Australia with some components manufactured in the UK.
The first UK submarines built to this design will be delivered in the late 2030s to replace the current Astute-Class vessels, and the first Australian submarines will follow in the early 2040s.
The SSN-AUKUS submarines will be the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in one vessel.
This massive multilateral undertaking will create thousands of jobs in the UK in the decades ahead, building on more than 60 years of British expertise designing, building and operating nuclear-powered submarines. As the home of British submarine building, most of these jobs will be concentrated in Barrow-in-Furness with further roles created elsewhere along the supply chain, including in Derby.
Choosing an interoperable submarine design will allow the Royal Navy, with its Australian and US counterparts to work together to meet shared threats and deter aggression. This includes in the Indo-Pacific where the refresh of the UK’s Integrated Review, published today, has confirmed the importance of increased engagement in this febrile region. The strategy confirms the Indo-Pacific ‘tilt’ as a permanent pillar of the UK’s international policy.
The UK’s SSN-AUKUS submarines will also help us maintain our commitment to defending the Euro-Atlantic region, adding to the work we do through NATO as the alliance’s largest European contributor.
The Prime Minister said: “The AUKUS partnership, and the submarines we are building in British shipyards, are a tangible demonstration of our commitment to global security. This partnership was founded on the bedrock of our shared values and resolute focus on upholding stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. And I am hugely pleased that the plans we have announced today will see pioneering British design expertise protect our people and our allies for generations to come.”
The Prime Minister announced today (Monday) that an additional £5bn will be provided to the MoD over the next two years, which will be spent in a number of areas including modernising the UK’s nuclear enterprise and funding the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme.
This will be followed by sustained funding over the next decade to support the SSN-AUKUS programme and will build on the £2bn invested last year in our Dreadnought-class submarine programme.
Construction will start on the UK’s SNN-AUKUS submarines towards the end of this decade. Decisions about how many submarines the UK requires will be made in the coming years, based on the strategic threat picture at the time. The UK’s SSN-AUKUS submarines will be built by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. Once they are operational, the UK’s new SSN-AUKUS submarines will replace our current Astute-Class submarines.
The Defence Secretary said: “This is a significant step forward for our three nations as we work together to contribute to security in the Indo-Pacific and across the world. Supporting thousands of jobs across the UK, with many in the north-west of England, this endeavour will boost prosperity across our country and showcase the prowess of British industry to our allies and partners.”
To deliver the new submarines by the earliest possible date, Royal Australian Navy personnel will be embedded in the Royal Navy and US Navy, and – subject to necessary arrangements – at British and American submarine industrial bases, by the end of this year. This process will accelerate the training of Australian personnel required for them to operate a submarine fleet.
US submarines will also increase port visits to Australia from this year with the UK increasing visits from 2026. British and American SSNs will make longer term deployments to Australia from as early as 2027 to accelerate the development of Australia’s workforce, infrastructure and regulatory system.
As part of the agreement, to fulfil Australia’s need for a nuclear-powered submarine until the SSN-AUKUS is operational, the US intends to sell Australia a number of Virginia-Class submarines in the 2030s.
The approach we have taken on the AUKUS programme has included extensive engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with all countries committed to developing an approach which protects classified information and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime.
Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on AUKUS Optimal Pathway Announcement
13 Mar 23. Today, I was honored to join President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Albanese, and U.K. Prime Minister Sunak as they announced the AUKUS Optimal Pathway, a commitments-based, phased plan for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines. This is the next step forward in the transformational partnership among our three great democracies.
In September 2021, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom laid out an ambitious vision for our countries that will strengthen our combined military capabilities, boost our defense industrial capacity, enhance our ability to deter aggression, and promote our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific. AUKUS is a shared, long-term investment that will allow us to build defense advantages that endure for decades to come.
One of the most important parts of this partnership is increasing each of our countries’ submarine capabilities. Under the first phase of the Optimal Pathway, the United States and the United Kingdom will immediately increase port visits of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia and then, as early as 2027, will begin rotating through Australia under Submarine Rotational Force-West. In the next phase, the United States intends to sell three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. Finally, Australia and the United Kingdom will develop and deploy SSN-AUKUS, a new conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine that incorporates critical U.S. technologies. Each phase of the Optimal Pathway will set the highest nuclear nonproliferation standards.
We’re also working to strengthen our countries’ industrial bases; to eliminate barriers to information-sharing and technological cooperation; and to develop and deliver advanced capabilities in such areas as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, and maritime domain awareness. All these investments will allow us to work more closely with our valued and highly capable allies to deter aggression in the Indo-Pacific—a region whose future is crucial for U.S. national security and the rules-based international order that makes us all safer.
I would like to thank the many public servants in all three proud democracies whose hard work has made this historic announcement possible. I look forward to working with my team and with our Australian and British counterparts to continue to move toward our shared vision of a stable, secure Indo-Pacific and an open world of rules and rights.
(Source: US DoD)
China cautions Australia against AUKUS submarine cooperation
The People’s Republic of China has cautioned Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom of “Cold War mentality” and “nuclear proliferation risks” in relation to the AUKUS agreement.
Unconfirmed speculation indicates an AUKUS announcement could be made by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in San Diego on 13 March.
That announcement could include supply of UK or US nuclear submarines and technology to Australia.
PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning made comments cautioning against pursuing nuclear submarine cooperation, during a regular press conference on 9 March this year.
“China has made clear its strong position on nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK, and Australia on multiple occasions,” she said.
“This trilateral cooperation constitutes serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, exacerbates arms race, and hurts peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
“It has been widely questioned and opposed by regional countries and the wider international community.
“We urge the US, the UK, and Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, honour international obligations in good faith, and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability.”
Australian Government reveals AUKUS Submarine workforce and industry strategy
14 Mar 23. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and Defence Industry Minister, Pat Conroy have revealed the Government’s plan to develop the Australian workforce and industrial base to help deliver the nation’s future nuclear-powered submarines.
The wait is finally over, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President, Joe Biden revealing the fruits of the trilateral AUKUS partnership with Australia’s optimal pathway to fielding a world-leading nuclear powered submarine fleet, to be known as the SSN-AUKUS at least for the time being.
The Australian Government recognises the central role a local industrial base and world leading workforce will play in shaping the cost effective and on schedule delivery of these future platforms, announcing they developing a comprehensive AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy to support delivery of advanced conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian Defence Force.
The AUKUS submarine program has been described as “the most transformative industrial endeavour in Australian history” – exceeding in scale, complexity and economic significance the creation of an Australian automotive manufacturing sector and the construction of the Snowy Scheme in the post-war decades.
Australia’s industrial base will be just the second in history to be granted access to highly sensitive US nuclear propulsion capability and afforded the ability to access, handle, build and sustain this sensitive technology.
Australians have already commenced training and working on UK and US nuclear-powered submarines and in UK and US facilities. The Government expects that between 2027 to 2032, an additional 500 direct jobs are expected to be created to sustain the Submarine Rotational Force-West US and UK presence in Western Australia.
This will mean Australia has a trained and experienced sovereign workforce for the arrival of Australia’s Virginia class submarines from as soon as the early 2030s- at its peak up to an estimated 4,000 Australian workers will be employed to design and build the infrastructure for the new submarine construction yard in South Australia.
The Australian Government explained that a further 4,000 to 5,500 direct jobs will be created to build the nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia when the program reaches its peak in 20 to 30 years, almost double the workforce the former Government forecast for the Attack class program.
As part of developing the AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy, the Government expects the strategy will detail how Australia will:
- 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; and
- Support and build the capabilities of Australia’s world-leading defence industry.
Key elements of the Strategy the Government is planning include:
The new fleet of submarines will require extensive new sustainment infrastructure in Western Australia at HMAS Stirling including wharf upgrades, warehousing and sustainment facilities.
These facilities will be supported by new submarine construction infrastructure in South Australia at the Osborne shipbuilding precinct, including site identification and design, land transfer discussions, civil works and prototype facilities and national engineering and technology facilities as part of the whole-of-nation strategy to develop the world leading workforce required to support the delivery, operation and sustainment of the nation’s nuclear powered submarine fleet.
The Government’s strategy will place a heavy emphasis on building the workforce necessary, the Government’s strategy will conduct detailed workforce planning to include identifying the Australian submarine industrial workforce through forecasting workforce demand and supply, identifying priority skills areas, identifying education and training requirements and finalising a workforce strategy.
The Commonwealth will also work with the South Australian Government on a dedicated Skills and Training Academy to deliver tailored education, training and skilling for Australia’s submarine and naval shipbuilding workforce including:
- Career training programs to bring new people into the workforce, such as apprentices, undergraduates and graduate apprentices;
- Lifting the skills of the existing naval shipbuilding workforce; and
- Transition programs to bring in people from adjacent industries in the defence, manufacturing and technology sectors.
This work will be expanded to include work force training and development in Western Australia, to develop a skills and training program, leveraging existing relationships with WA vocational and tertiary institutions – this will also include opportunities for early opportunities to embed industrial, Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel in UK and US facilities and shipyards to build the necessary skills and experience on active submarine construction lines.
Finally, the workforce development strategy will also include a suite of new education and training courses including:
- Expanding the Sovereign Shipbuilding Talent Pool (SSTP), commencing with an initial cohort of 74 apprentices, undergraduates and graduates in coming months;
- Developing nation-wide education and skilling plans with the university and vocational education sectors; and
- Supporting an existing cohort of over 50 Australians to commence new specialised courses in the UK and US and new tertiary courses for nuclear engineering at the University of New South Wales and nuclear science at the Australian National University.
Having the necessary industrial base in country will prove equally critical to operating and sustaining, not just Australia’s own fleet of nuclear powered submarines, but also supporting those of the US and Royal Navy’s respectively, accordingly, the the Government’s strategy will:
- Developing opportunities for Australian industry to carry out maintenance for US Virginia class and UK Astute class submarines during their rotational presence in Western Australia;
- Opportunities to embed Australian industry in the UK and US nuclear-powered submarine construction and sustainment programs and supply chains with our partners, including Australian industry supplying Australian-manufactured materials and components to the UK and US submarine programs; and
- Establishing mechanisms for Australian industry to register interest in participating in the Australian, UK and US nuclear-powered submarine programs.
The Government states, “The AUKUS Submarine Workforce and Industry Strategy will be finalised and implemented in consultation with our trilateral partners and state and territory governments, industry and unions.” (Source: Defence Connect)