The enhanced trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) was first announced in September 2021, with an Optimal Pathway to delivering Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capability announced in March 2023.
Nuclear-powered submarines have superior stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability and endurance compared to their conventional counterparts. These submarines can deploy unmanned underwater vehicles, while also carrying more advanced and greater capacities of weapons. Collectively, these abilities will allow the nuclear-powered submarines and Royal Australian Navy to operate in contested areas with lower risk of detection.
The AUKUS Optimal Pathway details the delivery of three US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia from as early as the 2030s.
Australia and the UK will work to deliver a new conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine based on a UK design and incorporating cutting edge technology from the three nations, to be called SSN-AUKUS. The UK will deliver its own SSN-AUKUS in the late 2030s, with the first SSN-AUKUS built in Australia to be delivered in the early 2040s.
Work will begin in 2023 on the development of new submarine construction infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, including site identification and design, land transfer discussions, civil works and prototype facilities. Over the next four years, South Australia is set to see $2 billion in expected investment for this undertaking.
At its peak, up to 4,000 workers will be employed to design and build the infrastructure for the construction yard. Meanwhile a further 4,000-5,500 direct jobs will be created to build the nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia when the program reaches its peak in 20 to 30 years.
For further information on the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program visit the Department of Defence website.
Local industry wishing to stay informed or submit an expression of interest to offer products or services to support the program, can visit ICN.