By David DeCamp / Antiwar.com
The US Navy wants a full-service submarine hub in Australia that can oversee all underwater activity in the Asia Pacific, including production and repairs, Defense News reported Thursday.
The report cited comments from Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro, whose vision will be possible under AUKUS, the military pact signed between the US, Britain, and Australia in 2021 as part of an effort to build alliances against China.
AUKUS focuses on technology-sharing and will give Australia access to American and British nuclear-powered submarine technologies. Del Toro said that AUKUS is about “being able to repair our submarines much further out, being able to build them in Australia as well, too, and create that much more presence in the Indo-Pacific where we need it the most.”
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President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are expected to unveil the details of AUKUS submarine deals on Monday during a meeting aboard a submarine in San Diego. Australia is expected first to purchase American Virginia class attack submarines, which will be delivered in the early 2030s.
Australia will then purchase a new British-designed submarine, called the SSN-AUKUS, that’s expected to arrive in the 2040s. The ultimate goal is for Australia to be able to build its own SSN-AUKUS submarines with US or British-provided nuclear propulsion. Over the next few decades, Canberra is expected to spend over $100 billion on the plan.
The submarines Australia will acquire are not expected to be armed with nuclear weapons, but that could always change. Either way, China views the submarine buildup as a provocation since the underwater craft will be used to patrol the waters of the South China Sea. The US also has plans to deploy more troops and aircraft to Australia as part of its buildup, including nuclear-capable B-52 bombers.