As part of a new trilateral advanced cooperation agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom, the Royal Australian Navy will receive a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
As a result, the Australian government is reportedly considering cancelling its long-delayed agreement with the French shipbuilder Naval Group to build advanced conventionally powered attack submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
The announcement was made on September 15, 2021, by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was joined by U.S. President Joe Biden and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson via video conference. A short-notice meeting of the National Security Committee of the Cabinet was called in Canberra the day before the announcement, to which senior members of the federal opposition were reportedly invited as well.
“As leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, guided by our enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order, we resolve to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century,” a joint statement reads. “As part of this effort, we are announcing the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” — Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“Through AUKUS, our governments will strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defence interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties,” it continues. “We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defence capabilities.”
Although it is unclear which submarine the Australian government will purchase, the Virginia-class submarine is the most recent design to be developed by the United States Navy. This submarine, which is being built by the American aerospace and defence company General Dynamics, has gone through several iterations but is currently powered by a single nuclear reactor and is capable of travelling at speeds of more than 25 knots. Its crew consists of 15 officers and 117 enlisted members, and the submarines are used for anti-submarine warfare as well as intelligence-gathering operations, among other things.
Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of the Virginia-class submarines.