Australia Navy Australia SSN Program

Nilgiri

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Reports seem to be coalescing around the same story:

1) USN submarines forward-deployed to Western Australia by 2027.

2) Australia to buy 3x Virginia class with option for 2 more in the "early 2030s". Implied but not explicitly stated that these would be used ships - presumably the oldest in the fleet which would be ~25 years old by then.

3) Australia will join the UK SSN(R) programme, with some production for it taking place in Australia.
 

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We have the statement @DAVEBLOGGINS et al:

Essentially, SSN(R) is now "SSN-AUKUS" (I really hope they change that name).

First UK boat is late 2030s, with the first Australian one a few years later.

Reactors are all going to be built in the UK and shipped over as sealed-for-life units.

From 2027 there is going to be "rotational basing" in Australia for a number of Astute and Virginia class boats.

=========================================================================================


MARCH 13, 2023
Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS
HOME
BRIEFING ROOM
STATEMENTS AND RELEASES

In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced AUKUS – a new security partnership that will promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable.

The first major initiative of AUKUS was our historic trilateral decision to support Australia acquiring conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). Today, we announce our pathway to achieve this critical capability.

Together we will deliver SSN-AUKUS – a trilaterally-developed submarine based on the United Kingdom’s next-generation design that incorporates technology from all three nations, including cutting edge U.S. submarine technologies. Australia and the United Kingdom will operate SSN-AUKUS as their submarine of the future. Australia and the United Kingdom will begin work to build SSN-AUKUS in their domestic shipyards within this decade.

In order to deliver conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines to Australia at the earliest possible date, we intend to pursue the following phased approach, moving through each phase based on mutual commitments from each nation:


Beginning in 2023, Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy, and in the United States and United Kingdom submarine industrial bases to accelerate the training of Australian personnel. The United States plans to increase SSN port visits to Australia beginning in 2023, with Australian sailors joining U.S. crews for training and development; the United Kingdom will increase visits to Australia beginning in 2026.

As early as 2027, the United States and United Kingdom plan to 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, pending Congressional approval, the United States intends to sell Australia three Virginia class submarines, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. This step will systematically grow Australia’s sovereign SSN capability and support capacity.
In the late 2030s, the United Kingdom will deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Navy. Australia will deliver the first SSN-AUKUS built in Australia to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.

This plan is designed to support Australia’s development of the infrastructure, technical capabilities, industry and human capital necessary to produce, maintain, operate, and steward a sovereign fleet of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines. Australia is fully committed to responsible stewardship of naval nuclear propulsion technology.

When we announced the AUKUS partnership in September 2021, we committed to set the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard. The plan we announce today delivers on this commitment and reflects our longstanding leadership in, and respect for, the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. We continue to consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency to develop a non-proliferation approach that sets the strongest precedent for the acquisition of a nuclear-powered submarine capability.

Our plan elevates all three nations’ industrial capacity to produce and sustain interoperable nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come, expands our individual and collective undersea presence in the Indo-Pacific, and contributes to global security and stability. In these outcomes, AUKUS reflects the principle that shared action, taken in partnership, can benefit all.

Implementing AUKUS will also require robust, novel information sharing and technology cooperation. Our nations are committed to further trilateral collaboration that will strengthen our joint capabilities, enhance our information and technology sharing, and integrate our industrial bases and supply chains while strengthening the security regimes of each nation.

For more than a century, our three nations have stood shoulder to shoulder, along with other allies and partners, to help sustain peace, stability, and prosperity around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific. We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order. The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come.
 

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@Gary get ready, your security planners are going to have some major headaches in the next decade.
 

DAVEBLOGGINS

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We have the statement @DAVEBLOGGINS et al:

Essentially, SSN(R) is now "SSN-AUKUS" (I really hope they change that name).

First UK boat is late 2030s, with the first Australian one a few years later.

Reactors are all going to be built in the UK and shipped over as sealed-for-life units.

From 2027 there is going to be "rotational basing" in Australia for a number of Astute and Virginia class boats.

=========================================================================================


MARCH 13, 2023
Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS
HOME
BRIEFING ROOM
STATEMENTS AND RELEASES

In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced AUKUS – a new security partnership that will promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable.

The first major initiative of AUKUS was our historic trilateral decision to support Australia acquiring conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). Today, we announce our pathway to achieve this critical capability.

Together we will deliver SSN-AUKUS – a trilaterally-developed submarine based on the United Kingdom’s next-generation design that incorporates technology from all three nations, including cutting edge U.S. submarine technologies. Australia and the United Kingdom will operate SSN-AUKUS as their submarine of the future. Australia and the United Kingdom will begin work to build SSN-AUKUS in their domestic shipyards within this decade.

In order to deliver conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines to Australia at the earliest possible date, we intend to pursue the following phased approach, moving through each phase based on mutual commitments from each nation:


Beginning in 2023, Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy, and in the United States and United Kingdom submarine industrial bases to accelerate the training of Australian personnel. The United States plans to increase SSN port visits to Australia beginning in 2023, with Australian sailors joining U.S. crews for training and development; the United Kingdom will increase visits to Australia beginning in 2026.

As early as 2027, the United States and United Kingdom plan to 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, pending Congressional approval, the United States intends to sell Australia three Virginia class submarines, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. This step will systematically grow Australia’s sovereign SSN capability and support capacity.
In the late 2030s, the United Kingdom will deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Navy. Australia will deliver the first SSN-AUKUS built in Australia to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.

This plan is designed to support Australia’s development of the infrastructure, technical capabilities, industry and human capital necessary to produce, maintain, operate, and steward a sovereign fleet of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines. Australia is fully committed to responsible stewardship of naval nuclear propulsion technology.

When we announced the AUKUS partnership in September 2021, we committed to set the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard. The plan we announce today delivers on this commitment and reflects our longstanding leadership in, and respect for, the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. We continue to consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency to develop a non-proliferation approach that sets the strongest precedent for the acquisition of a nuclear-powered submarine capability.

Our plan elevates all three nations’ industrial capacity to produce and sustain interoperable nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come, expands our individual and collective undersea presence in the Indo-Pacific, and contributes to global security and stability. In these outcomes, AUKUS reflects the principle that shared action, taken in partnership, can benefit all.

Implementing AUKUS will also require robust, novel information sharing and technology cooperation. Our nations are committed to further trilateral collaboration that will strengthen our joint capabilities, enhance our information and technology sharing, and integrate our industrial bases and supply chains while strengthening the security regimes of each nation.

For more than a century, our three nations have stood shoulder to shoulder, along with other allies and partners, to help sustain peace, stability, and prosperity around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific. We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order. The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come.
A lot of "hoops" (and headaches) to go through over the next years and decades to come for all concerned, before Australia can become an SSN nation. My only hope is that Canada can at some point be a part of this alliance and have it called "AUCANUKUS" as well. But yes, the SSN-AUKUS needs to have a name change. HMAS Australia class SSNs?. Cheers!
 
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Afif

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I am still wondering why Australia chose the British option in the long run.
 

DAVEBLOGGINS

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I am still wondering why Australia chose the British option in the long run.
Hello Afif. Probably because the Aussies felt it was the most prudent way to go over the next couple of decades. You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run, and run before you can fly. When all is said and done, it should be the best way for Australia considering it will cost them dearly (around $368B AUD when all is said and done). the UK SSN (R) will be larger and heavier than the current Astute or Virginia class (around 9000 + tonnes it has been said). More in line with the UK SSBN Dreadnought class now being built but on a smaller scale. Sort of like a baby brother to the SSBN, but with no SSBNs aboard.
 
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Afif

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Hello Afif. Probably because the Aussies felt it was the most prudent way to go over the next couple of decades. You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run, and run before you can fly. When all is said and done, it should be the best way for Australia considering it will cost them dearly (around $300B AUD when all is said and done). the UK SSN (R) will be larger and heavier than the current Astute or Virginia class (around 9000 + tonnes it has been said). More in line with the UK SSBN Dreadnought class now being built but on a smaller scale. Sort of like a baby brother to the SSBN, but with no SSBNs aboard.
Yeah, I know. But I was wondering about SSN(X) given you guys are already buying three Virginia.
 

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Yeah, I know. But I was wondering about SSN(X) given you guys are already buying three Virginia.
Hello again Afif. "We" (Canada) are not buying 3 Virginia class SSNs. Although I wish we were. This is an Australian initiative as part of AUKUS that may or may not fall "flat-on-its-face" and is frought with may blockages including the US Congress to deal with. IMO an "AUCANUKUS" deal should give Canada an in for this technology. The SSN (X) which is the replacement for the Astute class in the future is strictly an American thing which Australia has decided not to go that way probably because of costs for Australia.
 

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@Gary get ready, your security planners are going to have some major headaches in the next decade.
A senior Indonesian official says the country’s sea lanes should not be used by Australian nuclear-propelled submarines because “AUKUS was created for fighting”.

Blindsided by the original announcement of the AUKUS agreement in September 2021, Indonesia had warned Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines could instigate a regional arms race that would heighten tensions in the Indo-Pacific.




We don't know if we are capable enough to constantly detect the latest SSN in our ocean, but this is what Indonesia's elite thinks of AUKUS, Off course this doesn't hide the fact that China is by far the larger threat of the two.

For our side is an increase in ASW assets, the 6 FREMMS that we're eyeing are FREMM ASW variant, there's also plans to install underwater listening device like SOSUS in Indonesia's choke point such as Sunda strait.

And our own submarine modernization program (Scorpene and U214NG, both will likely be purchased by Jakarta).
 

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A senior Indonesian official says the country’s sea lanes should not be used by Australian nuclear-propelled submarines because “AUKUS was created for fighting”.

Blindsided by the original announcement of the AUKUS agreement in September 2021, Indonesia had warned Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines could instigate a regional arms race that would heighten tensions in the Indo-Pacific.




We don't know if we are capable enough to constantly detect the latest SSN in our ocean, but this is what Indonesia's elite thinks of AUKUS, Off course this doesn't hide the fact that China is by far the larger threat of the two.

For our side is an increase in ASW assets, the 6 FREMMS that we're eyeing are FREMM ASW variant, there's also plans to install underwater listening device like SOSUS in Indonesia's choke point such as Sunda strait.

And our own submarine modernization program (Scorpene and U214NG, both will likely be purchased by Jakarta).
This from 2017

Monitoring Foreign Submarine, Government Installs Underwater Sonar Installation

The government will install a seabed sonar or 'deep ear' installation in the Indonesian Archipelagic Sea Channels (ALKI). In defense circles this tool is often called the SOSUS Array (Sound Surveillance System Array) (photo : Trishul)

KATADATA - The government will install a seabed sonar or 'deep ear' installation at the entrance strait of the Indonesian Archipelagic Sea Lanes (ALKI). The function of the installation is to detect the presence of other countries' submarines passing through this strategic crossing point.

Commander of the Indonesian Fleet for the West Region (Pangarmabar) Rear Admiral TNI Aan Kurnia revealed, for the initial stage, this underwater sonar installation will be installed in the Sunda Strait which is between the islands of Java and Sumatra. Another location that will be installed with this tool is the Lombok Strait, which is flanked by the islands of Bali and Lombok Island.

If the process goes smoothly, the installation will be installed at ALKI's strategic strait points. "So (the sonar installation) will guard our straits," Aan said after meeting Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan at the Office of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Resources, Jakarta, Monday (31/7).

Indonesian Archipelagic Sea Lanes (ALKI) are sea lanes designated as international shipping and flight lanes within the territory of Indonesia. ALKI is set to connect three free waters, namely the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. The implementation of the right of archipelagic sea lane passage is regulated based on international law of the sea conventions.

It is this channel for shipping and flights that is used by foreign ships or aircraft when crossing the sea and airspace of Indonesia. The determination of ALKI is intended so that international shipping and flights can be carried out continuously, directly and as quickly as possible and not be hindered by the territory of Indonesia.


Alur laut kepulauan Indonesia (image : MaritimNews)

ALKI is divided into three crossings. ALKI I crosses the South China Sea, the Karimata Strait, the Java Sea, the Sunda Strait and the Indian Ocean. ALKI II crosses the Pacific Ocean, Sulawesi Sea, Makassar Strait, Flores Sea, Lombok Strait and the Indian Ocean. While ALKI III crosses the Pacific Ocean, Maluku Sea, Seram Sea, Banda Sea, Ombai Strait, Sawu Sea, Indian Ocean.

ALKI I and ALKI II are indeed the most crowded crossings. So far, the Indonesian Navy's warship patrols have detected several foreign submarines passing under the sea at several ALKI points. The problem is that warships cannot patrol continuously because they periodically have to return to base.

Hence, the government wants to install underwater sonar installations at ALKI points. With this tool, monitoring of passing surface ships and submarines can be carried out continuously for 24 hours without the need to send warships to the location.

Aan also said the installation would rely on technology made by Indonesia itself. But unfortunately he did not reveal which institution or company would make this 'deep ear' system. "The domestic technology used is extraordinary," he said.

To increase anti-submarine operations capabilities, last year, the Indonesian Navy ordered 11 anti-submarine helicopters to rebuild the world-respected Squadron of 100 submarine hunters in the 1960s. The eleven AKS helicopters are produced in stages in France by Airbus Helicopters in collaboration with PT Dirgantara Indonesia.

The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan a few weeks ago also asked PT PAL (Persero) to be able to supply all the needs of the Indonesian Navy fleet in 2018. This target is expected to improve the company's performance, which currently only produces 10-15 percent of factory capacity. "We want next year to have a maximum (production capacity)," said Luhut.

 

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@Gary after watching Indonesia's geography I just realized it is pretty advantageous in this context.

However, in my opinion Indonesia needs at least 12 FREMM ( preferably 18 ) to achieve sufficient ASW capability in that vast area of indo-pacific region.
 

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Hello again Afif. "We" (Canada) are not buying 3 Virginia class SSNs. Although I wish we were. This is an Australian initiative as part of AUKUS that may or may not fall "flat-on-its-face" and is frought with may blockages including the US Congress to deal with. IMO an "AUCANUKUS" deal should give Canada an in for this technology. The SSN (X) which is the replacement for the Astute class in the future is strictly an American thing which Australia has decided not to go that way probably because of costs for Australia.
My bad, I just realized i mixed you up with somebody else.😃 Anyway, thanks for the reply.
 

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@Gary after watching Indonesia's geography I just realized it is pretty advantageous in this context.

However, in my opinion Indonesia needs at least 12 FREMM ( preferably 18 ) to achieve sufficient ASW capability in that vast area of indo-pacific region.

Yes, but we must find balance between our need and money. other than the 6 FREMM, many doesn't notice that Indonesian navy planners put quite an emphasis on ASW on its vessel.

  • SIGMA 10514 uses CODAE for maximum quietness during ASW hunt instead of CODAD, CODAG etc
  • SIGMA 9013 has its sonar upgraded earlier than its air surveillance radar
  • There's also talks of acquiring not additional FREMM but 30FFM from Japan, and we know 30FFM is optimized for ASW operation
 

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Yes, but we must find balance between our need and money. other than the 6 FREMM, many doesn't notice that Indonesian navy planners put quite an emphasis on ASW on its vessel.

  • SIGMA 10514 uses CODAE for maximum quietness during ASW hunt instead of CODAD, CODAG etc
  • SIGMA 9013 has its sonar upgraded earlier than its air surveillance radar
  • There's also talks of acquiring not additional FREMM but 30FFM from Japan, and we know 30FFM is optimized for ASW operation
Dutch, British, Italian and Japanese! Doesn't it feels little stretched?
 

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France Joins AUKUS Submarine Program


Under extended plans, France will join the AUKUS submarine program. This will see advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines built for Australia, United Kingdom and France. The United States is also providing key elements, including interim submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.



The French government has joined the previously trinational AUKUS submarine program. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are already involved in the 368 billion dollar project. The plan is to build and deliver a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarine for the respective navies. Now the French Navy (Marine Nationale) could receive up to four submarines under the plans.


The AUKUS submarine deal was announced in a joint session by British, the American and Australian leaders on September 18 2021. A follow-up announcement on March 13 2023 confirmed that the British SSN(R) program would form the basis of the AUKUS design. It is unclear whether the French boats will be exactly like their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, or slightly slimmer.


Design Influences​

There were already indications that this new partnership was imminent. It may explain why some official images of the then-called AUKUS submarine, released March 14, appear to show it with a French style sail. The sail depicted closely resembled the Barracuda class submarine which is now entering service with the French Navy.


In anticipation of cost overruns with the interior design of the crew accommodation and galley spaces, the submarines will be built for-but-not-with (FBNW) torpedo tubes. The new arrangement could save millions in operating costs. This is according to an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.


The torpedo tube situation would not be permeant. “In the event of increased tensions or the outbreak of hostilities” the source added “the submarines could be rebuilt with torpedo tubes in just a matter of years”. It should be remembered that a 4 year overhaul is considered short in submarine terms. Especially in Canada.


The submarine service remains silent on the new deal.


Joint Construction Key To Success​

It is understood that the submarines will be built in a new facility exactly halfway between Southampton and Cherbourg. The latter is the home of French submarine building. Such a political decision was widely expected. It is the hallmark of international collaborations in the defense arena. Australia’s submarines will be built locally in Australian yards, and assembled in France and the United Kingdom. The completed submarines will then be shipped by rail via the Suez Canal to Australia.


The upgraded program will be renamed FUKUS after France joins. Following the expected formal announcement, the submerge à trois will become a submerge à quatre. Boris Johnson, who was among the leaders who originally announced the AUKUS program, is said to be keen to join the celebrations. A Downing Street spokesperson has preemptively denied the existence of the planned catered business meetings.


It is understood that Canada will not be allowed to join FUKUS for common decency reasons.
No April mop ?
 

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East coast nuclear submarine base decision likely to be made after next federal election​


Senior Labor figures say a decision on where to put a future submarine base on Australia's east coast is unlikely to be made until after the next federal election, insisting locking in a location is not an immediate government priority.

Ahead of the formal unveiling of the AUKUS submarine plan in San Diego in March, the ABC revealed Port Kembla in New South Wales has firmed as the Defence Department's preferred option following months of study examining three shortlisted sites, but the government says an announcement "won't be rushed".

Last year former prime minister Scott Morrison announced Port Kembla as one of three potential options for a new naval facility to house Australia's future nuclear-powered submarines, along with Brisbane and the NSW city of Newcastle.

Revelations that the busy commercial harbour south of Wollongong was the military's favoured location has been met with mixed reactions from unions and businesses in the Illawarra community.

Speaking ahead of an Illawarra Shoalhaven Defence Industry conference on Tuesday, Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite has told the ABC there's "going to be a fair bit of time before we make a decision on this".

"No future east coast naval base has been identified yet, there's a hell of a lot of due diligence and work that's got to be undertaken – we're not going to rush it."


Asked by ABC Illawarra if a decision could be expected before voters are next due to head to the ballot box, the assistant minister indicated an announcement that soon would be unlikely.


"I think it will be most likely after the election, it'll be sometime into the future because we've still got a long way to go on this, there's no decision that's been made yet and the due diligence has to be done."

Under the AUKUS plan, the United States is intending to sell three nuclear-powered submarines to Australia from as soon as the early 2030s, but other American Virginia-class boats will be stationed in Western Australia from as early as 2027.

Mr Thistlethwaite denies the government is unnecessarily delaying a decision on the future east coast site because of potential community concerns, insisting the immediate focus was to upgrade Australia's existing Collins-class submarine base near Perth.

"The priority is upgrading the HMAS Stirling base in Western Australia which will take the submarine rotational force, and that will begin receiving some of those Virginia and Astute-class submarines later in this decade."


"So that's got to be the priority and then eventually we'll get onto the decision about where the east coast base will be later on," the assistant minister said.

Mr Thistlewaite also claimed the new east coast submarine base was "not needed" until the 2040s, the same time frame for when the Royal Australian Navy is expected to first take delivery of its initial locally made AUKUS-class boats.

"We're not going to rush this; we've got time, we're going to make sure that we take that time to make sure we get the decision right – it's still a fair way off because we simply don't need that capability until the 2040s."

However, industry figures tell the ABC the government's apparent lack of urgency contrasts with what the defence department is briefing local companies; that design work needs to start as soon as possible because a new nuclear submarine base will take over 10 years to get up and running.

On Monday Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones, who represents the Illawarra electorate of Whitlam, also insisted a decision was still a very long way off.

"These are decisions that aren't going to be made for a long, long time yet to come," Mr Jones told reporters standing alongside fellow local Federal Labor MP Alison Byrnes.

"Our focus in the immediate and medium term is ensuring we do everything from a government point of view to ensure that we have that renewables future here in the Illawarra and Port Kembla continues to be a core manufacturing zone".
 

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense asked Congress to authorize the transfer of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as part of the trilateral AUKUS agreement with the U.K.

Three legislative proposals, submitted on May 2 and first posted online Tuesday, would greenlight the sale of two Virginia-class submarines to Australia, permit the training of Australian nationals for submarine work and allow Canberra to invest in the U.S. submarine industrial base.

Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee’s sea power panel, praised the proposals in a statement to Defense News, saying “I look forward to working with all my colleagues in Congress to fulfill these goals.”

“The Department of Defense’s legislative proposals are the latest example of President [Joe] Biden’s commitment to fulfilling the AUKUS agreement,” said Courtney. “Importantly, the proposals spell out a clear path forward to facilitate the transfer of Virginia-class submarines to Australia while ensuring we have the necessary authorities to accept the Australian Government’s investments to enhance our submarine industrial base capacity and provide training for Australian personnel.”

AUKUS stipulates that Australia will buy at least three and as many as five Virginia-class submarines in the 2030s as part of phase two of the agreement, giving Congress more than a decade to authorize the sale. This year’s proposal, which the Pentagon hopes will become part of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, asks that Congress approve just two of those submarines “without a deadline to consummate the transfers and without specifying the specific vessels to be transferred.”

The proposal argues that this “small amount of flexibility is necessary” since the transfers depend on Australian readiness to operate the submarines, which will involve developing Australia’s submarine industrial base through training and appropriate shipyard infrastructure.

To that end, a second legislative proposal would authorize U.S. defense service exports directly to Australia’s private sector in order to train its own submarine workers.

“This development must begin as soon as possible for Australia to become ready to own and safely operate these submarines in a manner that both maintains the highest non-proliferation standards and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime,” the Pentagon argues in the proposal.

Finally, the Pentagon is also asking Congress for permission to accept Australian payments to bolster the U.S. submarine industrial base. Australia has offered to make an undisclosed sum of investments in the U.S. submarine industrial base as part of AUKUS.

The Pentagon states in the legislative proposal that those funds would be used to “add a significant number of trade workers” that will help address “the significant overhaul backlog” for the Virginia-class submarine. Australian monies would also be used for “advance purchasing of components and materials that are known to be replacement items for submarine overhauls” and “outsourcing less complex sustainment work to local contractors.”

Congress is also making its own investments to expand the U.S. submarine industrial base as the Navy ultimately aims to build two Virginia-class and one Columbia-class submarines per year. Courtney helped secure $541 million in submarine supplier development and $207 million in workforce development initiatives as part of the FY 23 government funding bill.

Austal USA, the American subsidiary of Australia-based Austal, plans to open a new facility at its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama to begin construction on nuclear submarine modules for General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard in Connecticut, which produces both Virginia and Columbia-class submarines. Austal expects it will need 1,000 new hires in Mobile to staff that facility.

At Electric Boat, the prime contractor for the Virginia- and Columbia-class submarine programs, the hiring need will be even greater. The company currently employs more than 19,000 people, after hiring 3,700 new workers in 2022, according to local newspaper The Day. But the company needs to hire 5,750 new workers this year, to manage attrition and to help grow the workforce to about 22,000 to handle the increased workload.

The legislative proposal notes that Australian funds “would be applied to recruitment, training, incentivizing, and retention of key skilled trades, engineering and planning personnel in both nuclear and non-nuclear disciplines that are required by the additional AUKUS workload.”
 

Nilgiri

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Lot more info came out just now @DAVEBLOGGINS @Lordimperator @rai456 @Anmdt @Mis_TR_Like @Ryder @Paro @Gary @TR_123456 et al.

I think the Chinese have real reason to be quite concerned about various details here.


Australia To Get One New Build Virginia Class Submarine, Two From U.S. Navy​

New details about Australia’s plan to transition to an all nuclear submarine fleet have emerged during intense questioning in Canberra.

BY JOHN HUNTER FARRELL|PUBLISHED JUN 8, 2023 10:19 AM EDT

The Royal Australian Navy’s senior commanders have revealed the hard details of Australia’s trilateral AUKUS nuclear submarine acquisition deal with the United States and the United Kingdom. These details, which emerged under intense questioning during parliamentary defense budget hearings, also have ramifications for the U.S. Navy’s submarine capacity.

Almost two years after the surprise September 2021 trilateral announcement that the United States and the United Kingdom would team up to assist Australia to acquire and field a next-generation nuclear-powered submarine fleet, major plans for the program have emerged during a Senate Estimates hearing in the Australian capital Canberra on May 30 and 31.

Under intense and sometimes hostile questioning from upper house cross-bencher Senator Jacquie Lambi, the Australian head of the Royal Australian Navy’s Nuclear Powered Submarine Task Force disclosed many of the ‘known unknowns’ of Australia’s AUKUS nuclear submarine program.

Sailors heave in on berthing lines as the <em>Collins</em> class submarine HMAS <em>Farncomb</em> comes alongside Diamantina Pier upon its return to Fleet Base West in Western Australia in March 2020. <em>Australian Department of Defense</em>

Sailors heave in on berthing lines as the Collins class submarine HMAS Farncomb comes alongside Diamantina Pier upon its return to Fleet Base West in Western Australia in March 2020. Australian Department of Defense

This included the configurations and timings for the introduction of the first three Virginia class attack submarines, the number of follow-on AUKUS class nuclear attack submarines to be built in a co-development deal with the United Kingdom, and the intended final strength of Australia’s future nuclear submarine fleet.

“Two Virginias would be transferred to us [the Royal Australian Navy] and then we buy one off the production line,” the head of Australia’s Nuclear Powered Submarine Task Force Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead told the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Legislation Committee panel in formal evidence after repeated and specific questioning from Senator Lambi.

“The exact allocations of submarines that would be transferred to Australia is still to be determined by Australia and the U.S.,” Vice Admiral Mead stated in response to questions. “But we are looking at those submarines having over 20 years of service life.”

The “20 years of service life” refers to the expected operational hull life of the submarines after their transfer from the U.S. Navy to the RAN in or around 2032, as revealed in the March 2023 joint statement by U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.


Armed with Vice Admiral Mead’s disclosure of the 20 years of service life of the first transferred Virginia, the known reactor service life, and the U.S. Navy’s published Virginia class build and entry into service timeline, Senator Lambi pressed the commander on which Virginia class configuration block Australia was in negotiation with the U.S. Department of Defense for transfer from the U.S. Navy.

Vice Admiral Mead, responded, “So we’re probably looking at Virginia Blocks III or IV.” Vice Admiral Mead’s identification of the Virginia class Block III or Block IV as the production configuration of the two initial SSNs that will be transferred to the Royal Australian Navy appears to reduce the targeted U.S. Navy submarines to one, potentially two, SSN-774 Block III boats (SSN-791 USS Delaware commissioned in April 2020, and less likely SSN-790 USS South Dakota commissioned in February 2019) and all 10 of the Block IV boats, only three of which have entered service since April 2020. Seven more Block IV Virginias are at various stages of production or in U.S. Navy or contractor sea trials ahead of entering service. This is just based on the limited info available at this time and of course is subject to change.

The Block IV <em>Virginia</em> class USS <em>New Jersey</em> seen nearly completed prior to launch. <em>Hill</em>

The Block IV Virginia class USS New Jersey seen nearly completed prior to launch. Hill

No details of the third Virginia for the Royal Australian Navy, which will be “bought off the production line,” were disclosed during the Australian Senate hearings, where both Vice Admiral Mead and his superior Admiral Mark Hammond were vigorously questioned on every publicly known Virginia class flaw without revealing any further details of which exact U.S. Virginia class SSNs Australia is hoping to directly acquire.


“It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. Navy don’t commit to the names of those vessels for some time to come,” Australian Chief of Navy Admiral Hammond told the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Legislation Committee. “But I am confident that they are leaning into this partnership and looking forward to working with us to set the Royal Australian Navy up for future success.”

The aggressive interrogation of Australia’s two senior naval figures on May 31 followed on from similar scenes at the same hearing on the day before when Senator David Shoebridge of the anti-nuclear Greens Party subjected Vice Admiral Mead to a sustained barrage of questioning. This eventually revealed that the Australian government’s plans for its future submarine fleet vary from the widely reported public perception in both the United States and Australia.

It seems that the concept that the Virginia class SSNs were a temporary nuclear-powered tactical submarine capability being acquired only to bridge a ‘capability gap’ was not the complete story. This gap existed between the decline of the operational utility of Australia’s in-service Collins class diesel-electric tactical submarines and a future fleet of eight AUKUS class tactical SSNs to be built locally in South Australia in a joint program with the British is nowhere near the complete story.

The <em>Los Angeles</em> class submarine USS <em>Santa Fe</em> transits in formation on the surface with Royal Australian Navy <em>Collins</em> class submarines HMAS <em>Collins</em>, HMAS <em>Farncomb</em>, HMAS <em>Dechaineux</em>, and HMAS <em>Sheean</em> in the West Australian Exercise Area, in February 2019. <em>Australian Department of Defense</em>

The Los Angeles class submarine USS Santa Fe transits in formation on the surface with Royal Australian Navy Collins class submarines HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux, and HMAS Sheean in the West Australian Exercise Area, in February 2019. Australian Department of Defense

"The government has indicated eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia," Vice Admiral Read carefully stated in formal evidence to the Senate Estimates hearings. "Based on our modeling and working with our U.S. and U.K. partners we are looking to acquire and deliver an eight-fleet SSN [sic] in the mid-2050s."

When specifically pressed by Senator Shoebridge as to whether he meant eight locally built next-generation AUKUS class nuclear submarines, the Vice Admiral responded, "No, eight nuclear-powered submarines. That includes three of the Virginias."

In a single response, the carefully crafted AUKUS story was effectively ‘complicated’. In reality, the Australian government’s policy is to raise a total fleet of eight nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarines to be operational by the mid-2050s. This fleet will be comprised of both the three transferred and new-build Virginia class attack submarines with the balance of the fleet made up of Australian-built next-generation AUKUS class SSNs.

The <em>Collins</em> class submarine HMAS <em>Rankin</em> conducts helicopter transfers in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, as part of training assessments to ensure the boat is ready to deploy. <em>Australian Department of Defense</em>

The Collins class submarine HMAS Rankin conducts helicopter transfers in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, as part of training assessments to ensure the boat is ready to deploy. Australian Department of Defense

Even this projected outcome appears fragile when one considers the public announcement of ‘up to five’ Virginia class SSNs being sourced from the United States, with options for two additional Virginias of some future block as a fallback capability. This would come in the event of delays to the U.K.-Australian AUKUS class nuclear-powered attack submarine program, which could reduce any future AUKUS SSN build to as few as three hulls in the first tranche.

According to Vice Admiral Mead, any additional AUKUS SSNs — presumably meaning a second tranche of three to five boats to meet the announced eight-submarine build program — is a decision, “to be made by a future [Australian] government”.

Concept art of the submerged<em> </em>AUKUS class SSN. <em>U.K. Ministry of Defense illustration</em><br>

Concept art of the submerged AUKUS class SSN. U.K. Ministry of Defense illustration

The Australian Senate hearings also underlined that far from a program of extended port visits with some maintenance and sustainment elements, the AUKUS-inspired Submarine Rotational Force – Western Australia (with the acronym SURF-West) at the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Stirling Fleet Base West near Perth appears to more closely resemble a substantial U.S. Navy Indian Ocean forward presence. This could include something akin to a forward-deployed attack submarine squadron than just a ‘rotational’ periodic stopover point amid broader U.S. Navy submarine deployments.

The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS <em>Perth</em> berths alongside Fleet Base West in September 2022, following a Regional Presence Deployment in which the ship engaged with a number of regional allies in various exercises and port visits. <em>Australian Department of Defense</em>

The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth berths alongside Fleet Base West in September 2022, following a Regional Presence Deployment in which the ship engaged with a number of regional allies in various exercises and port visits. Australian Department of Defense

Australian investments in extensions to the submarine berthing at Fleet Base West’s Diamantina Pier and plans to build spares storage facilities, maintenance workshops, technical support centers, and additional electrical generation have been approved. And, most tellingly, so has married and single personnel accommodations and the expansion of local schools and medical facilities to support American and British and additional Australian naval personnel rotating through the base with SURF-West ahead of the 2027 timeline.

From 2027, up to four U.S. Navy and one Royal Navy SSNs will operate out of Fleet Base West, in a major pivot to Indian Ocean operations and a serious reinforcement of Australia’s deterrence to aggression from the Chinese Navy.

Australian preparations have been in the works for a few years including the specific ‘verification and validation’ of the U.S. Navy’s ability to rearm its nuclear-powered attack submarines at Fleet Base West employing Australian facilities and combined U.S. Navy/Royal Australian Navy teams. This was pioneered during the 2022 visit of the Los Angeles class SSN USS Springfield and the U.S. Navy’s Emery S. Land class submarine tender USS Frank Cable.

Sailors assigned to the <em>Los Angeles</em> submarine USS <em>Springfield</em> (SSN-761), participate in a weapons-handling exercise with a Harpoon inert training shape while the submarine is pierside at Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Stirling on Garden Island off the coast of Perth, Australia, April 28, 2022. <em>U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Wendy Arauz</em>

Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles submarine USS Springfield (SSN-761), participate in a weapons-handling exercise with a Harpoon inert training shape while the submarine is pierside at Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Stirling on Garden Island off the coast of Perth, Australia, April 28, 2022. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Wendy Arauz

More Australian money has been earmarked for a second nuclear submarine operating base on the nation’s heavily populated East Coast to support AUKUS SSN operations in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and the strategic Coral Sea and Solomon Seas.

The details emerging from the Australian Senate hearings will no doubt throw fuel onto the political fire that has been sparked since the AUKUS agreement. It is also worth recalling here the 2021 bipartisan intervention of the Democratic U.S. Senator Jack Reed and retired Republican Senator James Inhofe, the then Chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who voiced fears that Australia’s desire for U.S. Virginia class attack submarines, “…may be turning into a zero-sum game for scarce, highly advanced U.S. SSNs.”

This is in relation to the already over-tasked U.S. submarine fleet that is in need of more hulls of its own, not to mention the capacity to service them in a timely manner.

Whatever the outcomes, the effort to provide the Royal Australian Navy with its first nuclear-powered submarines is proving to be a complicated and controversial affair. For Australia, however, the end result should be highly significant, with a powerful new ability to control key global shipping routes through the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

Contact the editor: [email protected]
 

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