Australia, U.S., UK formalize Nuclear-Powered Submarine supply pact

March 14, 2023
The move both helps decarbonize the fleets and provides a next-generation Naval defense capability to counter China’s growing power.

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia formally detailed a pact Monday that leads a future cooperation around building and supply nuclear-powered submarines bound for the Australian military.

The move both helps decarbonize the fleets and provides a next-generation Naval defense capability to counter China’s growing power, according to reports.

The U.S. government will provide advanced and “highly sensitive" nuclear propulsion capabilities with the Australian and UK partnership, according to a statement by the Australian government. The agreement also allows for manufacturing of many submarines and components in Australia, leading to 8,500 direct jobs employed in the industrial workforce there.

U.S. President Joe Biden was joined at the ceremony along with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The three governments announced the so-called AUKUS nuclear submarine deal back in 2021. Monday’s announcement focused on the specific “SSN-AUKUS” submarine model based on the United Kingdom’s next-generation design and technology from all three nations.

The United Kingdom also will begin manufacturing the submarines within its shores in the coming years.

Biden clarified that the submarine class is nuclear-powered for propulsion and on-board electricity, but it is not going to include nuclear weapons. Australia is not a nuclear nation.

“Each of our nations is making concrete commitments to one another,” Biden said during a ceremony announcing the submarine pact in San Diego. “We’re backing it up with significant investments to strengthen the industrial bases in each of our countries in order to build and support these boats.

“By the way, this partnership is going to mean an awful lot of good-paying jobs for all workers in our countries,” the U.S. president added.

In 2021, Australia announced it was scrapping a five-year-old order for French-built conventional submarines in favor of a nuclear sub agreement with the U.S. and UK. The switch out of the multi-billion-dollar plant greatly angered the French government that it temporarily recalled its U.S. ambassador for consultations after the move.

Australian naval personnel soon will begin visiting U.S. ports for training on nuclear fleets. The project hopes to deliver the first AUKUS submarines in the 2030s.

Nuclear-powered submarines provide abundant energy supplies and underwater endurance while also eliminating greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel-powered units.