The UK will build a new nuclear submarine for Australia after signing a trilateral agreement with the US in San Diego on Monday.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed the AUKUS agreement with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, marking the UK’s choice to build Australia’s first bespoke nuclear submarine to be delivered in the 2040s. was announced.
Under the deal, which will cost the Australian government A$368 billion (£201 billion), Canberra will purchase three Virginia-class US submarines in the early 2030s.
Prior to that, from 2027, the United Kingdom and the United States will deploy their own nuclear submarines in the port of Perth, Western Australia, from which they will patrol the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as part of a deterrent against China’s assertive assertions and aggression. do. region.
The UK has begun plans to build four new Dreadnought-class submarines at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness in northern England, which are expected to enter service in the early 2030s.
But the new nuclear submarine that BAE will build for Australia will be an entirely new design, currently known only as SSN-AUKUS.
Australia says it has chosen Britain’s world-leading design with Rolls-Royce engines, but the submarine will incorporate “state-of-the-art US submarine technology”.
The first submarines will be built in Barrow, but eventually Australia is expected to be able to build its own submarines in Adelaide, South Australia, using components manufactured in the UK.
Unlike the Dreadnought class, the SSN-AUKUS submarines do not carry nuclear missiles, so Australia does not have its own independent nuclear deterrent.
The first of the SSN-AUKUS submarines will be delivered to the Royal Navy by BAE in the late 2030s and will replace Astute-class vessels, with Australia set to acquire its own fleet in the early 2040s.
The new submarine is expected to be smaller than the 17,000-ton, 500-foot-long Dreadnought-class, and closer to the 7,000-ton, 300-foot-long Astute-class.
of british government The SSN-AUKUS submarine is “the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarine ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in one ship”. It will be.
It’s home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet and a major submarine hub, Albanese said at a press conference at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. The deal represents “opportunities for employment, skills, research and innovation” in both Barrow and Adelaide.
“This will be a sovereign Australian capability, built by Australians, commanded by the Australian Navy, maintained by Australian workers in Australian shipyards, starting in the next decade,” he said.
“Built with innovation and extraordinary emerging technology, these boats offer a unique opportunity for Australian companies to contribute not only to the construction and maintenance of Australia’s new submarines, but also to the US and UK supply chains.” Albanese added. He was elected prime minister last year.
In May 2022, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang congratulated the Albanians and said the stable development of Australia-China relations would benefit both sides.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government, after its 2018 decision to ban Huawei from Australia’s 5G network over espionage concerns, broke all grounds with Albania’s predecessor Scott Morrison government in January 2020. prohibited official contact with action in the South China Sea.
The wheels of AUKUS were already in motion before Albanese took office, but he is going ahead with it, making it clear that the Australian government still sees the CCP as a major threat.
Chinese government spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a speech in Beijing on Tuesday, “The latest joint statement issued by the United States, Britain and Australia confirms that the three countries are further down a wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest.” It shows a complete disregard for the concerns of the international community.”
In response, a Downing Street spokesperson said: We have laid out the reasons for the partnership and the purpose of the partnership to deter aggression and enhance global security. ”
Australia originally agreed to a A$90 billion (£49 billion) contract with France for nuclear submarines, but Morrison backed out of the deal in September 2021, infuriating French President Emmanuel Macron.
In June 2022, Albanese agreed to a deal to pay A$830 million (£455 million) in compensation to French company Naval Group.
The UK government has said: “This large multilateral enterprise will create thousands of jobs in the UK in the decades ahead, building on her 60+ years of British expertise in the design, construction and operation of nuclear submarines.”
“As the home of British submarine building, most of these jobs will be concentrated at Barrow-in-Furness, with additional roles being created elsewhere in the supply chain, including Derby,” he added.
“Our partnership with AUKUS and the submarine under construction at our UK shipyard are concrete demonstrations of our commitment to global security,” said Sunak.
He added: We are also very pleased that with the plans we have announced today, pioneering British design professionals will protect our people and allies for generations to come. ”
PA Media contributed to this report.