Australia to buy three Virginia class N-submarines, then build 8 in Adelaide

Australia is to purchase three US-made Virginia class nuclear powered submarines and follow on by building eight nuclear powered submarines to a new design designated SSN-AUKUS in Adelaide.

To fill a capability gap with the retirement of the Collins class submarines Australia will host American nuclear-powered submarines on a regular basis as early as 2027.

This will accelerate “the development of the Australian naval personnel, workforce, infrastructure and regulatory system necessary to establish a sovereign SSN capability”, according to a joint statement.

The Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made the historic defence announcement today in San Diego, California standing alongside US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Albanese said: “The scale, complexity and economic significance of this investment is akin to the creation of the Australian automotive industry in the post-World War II period.

“…My government is determined to invest in our defence capability.”

Albanese revealed the eye-watering cost of this mammoth deal as between $268 billion to $368 billion through to 2055.

However the nuclear path has the necessary political support with opposition leader Peter Dutton saying last night he would support the spending and any necessary budget cuts.

Dutton said: “In my Budget-In-Reply speech last October, I said that we would work with the government if they had tough decisions to take, for example, keeping the NDIS sustainable.”

The announcement confirms plans progressively leaked over previous few weeks and discussed in @AuManufacturing, with Australia receiving the first of the new class of boats in the 2040s.

Australian submariners have been training alongside US crews in the United States for the past 18 months, during which time the three nations have nutted out their historic three-nation deal.

Crucially for Australian industry hopes, during that time Australia will prepare industrially to manufacture a new class of vessel locally now being developed by the three nations.

The vessels will incorporate US, UK and Australian technologies, Albanese said, and will serve with the three countries navies.

The announcement implies that the Collins class vessels will not be further upgraded as was planned for Adelaide in a blow to South Australian hopes.

However the state is guaranteed heavy investment and rising job prospects and will be working on the SSN-AUKUS within the next decade initially for the first UK vessels, and later for Australia’s that will enter service in the 2040s.

Prior to the meeting Albanese had a private meeting with Rishi Sunak who made the case for increasing defence spending in the UK from around 2.0 percent to 2.5 percent suggesting a build up of UK’s military based on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions centred on China.

Sunak said: “Joe, Anthony, we represent three allies who have stood shoulder to shoulder together for more than a century.

“Three peoples who have shed blood together in defence of our shared values. And three democracies that are coming together again, to fulfil that higher purpose of maintaining freedom, peace, and security now and for generations to come.”


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Picture: General Dynamics/Electric Boat

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