The Australian government will set up a new agency and a new regulator as part of its commitment to deliver conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

The Australian Submarine Agency (ASA) will be set up by an executive order.

It will manage and oversee the country’s nuclear-powered submarine programme.

The acquisition of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines via the AUKUS partnership will be essential in ensuring the Defence Force has the required capabilities to keep the country safe, stated the government.

The ASA will be responsible for acquisition,  delivery,  construction,  technical governance,  sustainment, and disposal.

It will also enable the required policy, legal, non-proliferation, workforce, security and safety aspects.

The Royal Australian Navy will continue to be responsible for training submariners and operating the country’s submarines.

Presently operating as part of defence, the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Taskforce will transition to the ASA on 1 July 2023.

It will be led by a director general, whose appointment will be announced by the government at the appropriate time.

The government will also set up a new independent statutory regulator, the Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator.

The new regulator will have the functions and powers required to monitor the circumstances related with nuclear safety and radiological protection across the lifecycle of the country’s nuclear-powered submarine enterprise. This includes related infrastructure and facilities.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said: “The establishment of the Australian Submarine Agency and the Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator are critical elements of delivering this game-changing capability and will ensure the safe and successful implementation of the pathway for Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

“The ASA will be responsible and accountable for delivering the ambitious programme to acquire Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.

“A specialised and dedicated regulator – which will be independent of Defence and the Australian Defence Force – will ensure we have the highest standards of nuclear safety and radiological protection across the lifecycle of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.”