The Australian Government has unveiled plans to construct a new base to support the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) future nuclear-powered submarines.

Announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the base will be built on the east coast of the country.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has estimated that a total of $7.4bn (A$10bn) investment will be required for the infrastructure and facilities for the new nuclear fleet and the naval base.

Last year, Australia announced a nuclear-powered submarine deal with the US and the UK. The alliance between the three nations (AUKUS) was reached in response to the changing strategic environment.

Prime Minister Morrison said: “This new 20-year investment is vital for our strategic capabilities, but it will also provide long-term economic opportunities at both our submarine bases on the east coast and on the west coast.

“Our investments will also flow into our operations in Western Australia, with significant funding flowing to upgrade facilities there for our future submarines and to support our allies in the US and UK. Fleet Base West will remain home to our current and future submarines, given its strategic importance on the Indian Ocean.”

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Out of the 19 potential sites, the DoD has shortlisted around three locations for the new base, namely Brisbane, Newcastle, and Port Kembla.

The preferred locations were chosen based on certain conditions, such as distance to industrial infrastructure, quick entry to exercise operating areas and sizeable population centres for recruitment and personnel.

Currently, the RAN has a naval base situated in Western Australia, which is home of the Collins-class submarines. The Fleet Base West will continue to support the existing and future vessels.

Furthermore, both the Collins-class and the new nuclear-powered submarines will also be able to operate from the new east coast base, boosting the RAN’s undersea capabilities.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said: “Nuclear-powered submarines have superior characteristics of stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability and endurance when compared to conventional submarines.

“With the ability to operate from both coasts, this will make our nuclear-powered submarines more responsive and resilient to meet the strategic environment.”

The initial work, which includes selection of east coast base site, is expected to conclude by the end of next year.