In order to support the nation’s new nuclear-powered submarines, a new submarine station will be created on Australia’s east coast, allowing for deployment chances in both the Indian and Pacific oceans.
In addition to increasing capacity and capability at Fleet Base West in Western Australia, which is home to the Navy’s Collins-class submarines, the new Future Navy Base is expected to receive significant funding to support Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines and to facilitate regular visits from nuclear-powered submarines from other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Department of Defense estimates that more than $10 billion will be required for facility and infrastructure requirements to transition from the Collins class submarines to the future nuclear-powered submarines, which will include the construction of a new east coast submarine base.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the decision to create a submarine facility on Australia’s east coast has been in the works for many years and that it will strengthen the country’s strategic deterrent capacity in the Pacific.
According to the Prime Minister, “Australia faces a complex and dangerous security environment, and we must continue to invest in strengthening the capability of our ADF to guarantee that we keep Australians safe.”
The AUKUS collaboration with the United States and the United Kingdom will provide us with access to the best technology available anywhere in the world to help our efforts to deter threats to our national interests in the Indo-Pacific.
In addition to enhancing our strategic capabilities, this new 20-year investment will create long-term economic prospects at both of our submarine sites on the east and west coasts, according to the Navy.
“Our investments will also flow into our operations in Western Australia, with major cash moving there to modernise facilities there for our future submarines as well as to serve our partners in the United States and the United Kingdom,” the statement continued.
Fleet Base West will continue to be the home of our current and future submarines because of its strategic importance in the Indian Ocean, says the Navy.
In the wake of extensive work by the Department of Defense, which examined 19 candidate sites, three favoured locations on the east coast have been identified: Brisbane, Newcastle, and Port Kembla, all of which are located in New South Wales.
They were chosen based on submarine basing criteria that included closeness to exercise operating regions, accessibility to industrial infrastructure, and proximity to important population centres that would allow for easy recruiting and retention of submarine crews.
Peter Dutton, Minister for Defence, stated that the Australian Defence Force had not built a major new base since Robertson Barracks in the 1990s and that a comprehensive process will now commence.
“In response to the changing strategic environment, we made the critical decision in 2021 to pursue nuclear-powered submarines with the cooperation of our American and British colleagues,” Minister Dutton stated.
“When compared to conventional submarines, nuclear-powered submarines have superior features such as stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability, and endurance.
“Because our nuclear-powered submarines will be able to operate from both coasts, they will be more responsive and robust to changes in the strategic environment,” the Navy said.
“Today’s announcement will ensure that Australia has the infrastructure and facilities in place to support those submarines when they join service,” said the Prime Minister.
“A new Navy facility on Australia’s east coast will also provide considerable benefits in terms of training, people, and the country’s defence sector,” says the minister.
Using the new east coast station, the Navy will be able to operate its current fleet of Collins-class submarines as well as other maritime assets, which will be essential in supporting the ADF’s undersea capacity.
It is anticipated that the Department of Defense will consult with state and local governments to establish the most appropriate location, which will be guided by ongoing work by the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce. It is anticipated that this initial phase of development will be completed by the end of 2023.