Although the AUKUS programme for next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) will not be delivered until the late 2030s, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that Royal Australian Navy personnel will be embedded into the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy by the end of 2023.
This is to provide service men and women with the capacity to use the SSN-AUKUS submarines as soon as they are delivered.
This news was announced in an MoD press release detailing the visit of the UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace and the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the location where the SSN-AUKUS fleet is being manufactured, at the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard.
The MoD releases states: “To deliver the new submarines by the earliest possible date, Royal Australian Navy personnel will be embedded in the Royal Navy and US Navy, and – subject to necessary arrangements – at British and American submarine industrial bases, by the end of this year.
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“This process will accelerate the training of Australian personnel required for them to operate a submarine fleet. In support of this objective, a number of Royal Australian Navy personnel have commenced nuclear training in the UK.”
During the visit, Albanese commented: “I look forward to having Australians training alongside the highly skilled submarine builders here in Barrow-in-Furness.”
The SSN-AUKUS submarines will be the largest, most advanced, and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design, and weaponry in one vessel.
On the visit, the two ministers also toured BAE Systems’ training academy that is helping develop the world-class engineering skills required to design, build and deliver complex submarine programmes. These critical skills will be taught to the integrated pesonnel of the three navies as the AUKUS fleet is being manufactured.
As announced at the budget in March, an additional £5bn will be provided to the UK government over the next two years, some of which will be spent on modernising the UK’s nuclear enterprise and funding the next phase of the AUKUS programme. This will be followed by sustained funding across the next decade to support the SSN-AUKUS programme.