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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

US, UK and Australia to build nuclear submarines together

US, Australian and British leaders have detailed plans to supply Australia with nuclear submarines to curb China’s ambitions in the region.

Members of the AUKUS partnership, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed the agreement at US Naval Base San Diego, California.

Biden called the project part of a commitment to open up the Indo-Pacific with America’s most trusted allies. Sunak called the project a “powerful partnership”, adding: “For the first time, it will mean that three submarine fleets will work together in the Atlantic and the Pacific to ensure the freedom of our oceans.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the United States will supply Australia with three Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, to be produced by General Dynamics by the start of the next decade. Australia will also have the option of purchasing two more such submarines.

Britain and Australia, based on the British project and using modern American technologies, will start production of a new class of AUKUS submarines for their needs. The UK is expected to receive the first such submarine in the late 2030s, Australia in the early 2040s.

According to the British Ministry of Defence, the construction will be carried out by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. According to a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Defence, $245 billion will be spent to fund this project by 2055.

Joe Biden stressed that we are talking about submarines using nuclear energy as fuel, not carriers of nuclear weapons: “These boats will not have nuclear weapons.”

Under the agreement, US and UK submarines will be based in Western Australia on a rotating basis no later than 2027 to help train Australian sailors and for deterrence purposes.

Under this agreement, for the first time since the 1950s, the United States will share technologies for building nuclear engines for submarines.

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