SYDNEY, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a Chinese warship acted in a dangerous manner during an incident with an Australian navy vessel that injured a military diver, his first…
SYDNEY, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Australia’s government said on Saturday it had expressed serious concerns to China after an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction between an Australian navy vessel and Chinese war…
HMAS Canberra (L02) launched several MV-22B Ospreys in an air assault exercise off Palawan this week, commencing the first phase of the first-ever bilateral amphibious drill between the Philippines and Australia. The Australian big-deck amphibious warship departed Darwin last week for the Philippines in the aftermath of the latest incident between the Philippines and China […]
HMAS Canberra (L02) launched several MV-22B Ospreys in an air assault exercise off Palawan this week, commencing the first phase of the first-ever bilateral amphibious drill between the Philippines and Australia.
The Australian big-deck amphibious warship departed Darwin last week for the Philippines in the aftermath of the latest incident between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea.
The drills, called Exercise Alon 2023, will see Australian Defense Forces (ADF) train with their Filipino counterparts across the Philippine archipelago. U.S. Marine Corps aviation from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin also supports Alon, with an unspecified amount of MV-22B Ospreys seen embarked onboard Canberra. Philippine Marines in Palawan trained on Ospreys during last month’s Marine Aviation Support Activity 2023.
The drills will host 1,200 Australian, 700 Philippine and 150 American troops. Activities highlighted by the Australian Department of Defence include an aerial assault on Palawan via Marine Corps Ospreys, amphibious drills off Zambales and a live-fire exercise at Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Luzon. Naval and air activities are also occurring in the Sulu Sea, with a vast swath of the area being designated for exercises.
Before Alon officially began, Australian and U.S. troops trained Philippine Marines in Helicopter Underwater Escape Training and MV-22B familiarization. Around 100 Philippine troops were onboard Canberra as it departed Darwin.
“It’s really a great opportunity for all of us to have a common goal, which is to maintain prosperity, to maintain security, and that is by means of bilateral engagements,” Philippine Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kristine Salon, commander of the Amphibious Landing Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a statement.
The Australian-Philippine defense relationship is one of the closest that Manila has outside of its cooperation with the U.S. Australia, like the U.S., shares a Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. This allows the ADF to train in more complex and larger exercises on Philippine soil. Australian support on the ground has also been crucial to the Philippines beyond training, as seen during the 2017 Battle of Marawi where a Royal Australian Air Force P-3C Orion provided intelligence to Philippine forces.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles will observe the exercises.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be in Manila on Sept. 8, marking the first visit of an Australian leader to the Philippines in two decades. Key talking points include defense cooperation and maritime security. As Australia continues to ramp up its regional security engagement as seen with the QUAD and AUKUS, defense cooperation with and assistance to the Philippines is set to increase.
Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore Tony McCormack reflected this sentiment and highlighted this year’s upgrade of the Australian-Philippine relationship to a strategic partnership.
“We have a shared interest in a peaceful, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] at its center,” McCormack said.
The flagship of the Royal Australian Navy comes to the region in the wake of an incident between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. This incident saw China Coast Guard and Maritime Militia vessels harass a Philippine resupply mission on its way to BRP Sierra Madre at Second Thomas Shoal. While the incident occurred two weeks ago, tensions from the encounter are still ongoing as the Philippines doubles down on its response. The Philippines plans to proceed with another resupply mission and has told “all relevant parties” to “respect the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its maritime zones.”
Canberra is set to train with U.S. and Japanese vessels in the South China Sea later this week.
A group of Republican lawmakers is calling on the Biden administration to boost submarine industrial base support with a claim the U.S. submarine force could be at risk if Washington goes through with the sale of Virginia-class nuclear attack boats to the Royal Australian Navy, according to the letter obtained by USNI News. On Wednesday, […]
A group of Republican lawmakers is calling on the Biden administration to boost submarine industrial base support with a claim the U.S. submarine force could be at risk if Washington goes through with the sale of Virginia-class nuclear attack boats to the Royal Australian Navy, according to the letter obtained by USNI News.
On Wednesday, the group of 22 senators and three House members led by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), called on the White House to present a multi-year plan to expand the submarine industrial base spending as part of the AUKUS pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
The current outline of the AUKUS plan calls for the U.S. to sell Australia three to five U.S.-built Virginia-class attack boats to the RAN in the early 2030s while simultaneously developing Australia develops domestic submarine construction capacity. The signatories argue the sales would detract from the U.S. submarine force without additional submarine production.
“This plan, if implemented without change, would unacceptably weaken the U.S. fleet even as China seeks to expand its military power and influence… To make up for the sale of at least three attack submarines to Australia, the U.S. would have to produce somewhere between 2.3 to 2.5 submarines per year to avoid further shrinking our fleet’s operational capacity,” reads the letter.
“We urge you to send Congress immediately an AUKUS-specific request for appropriations and authorities alongside a multi-year plan to increase U.S. submarine production to a minimum of 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines per year. It is time to make generational investments in U.S. submarine production capacity, including supplier and workforce development initiatives.”
While not explicit in the letter, the intent is to establish a supplemental shipbuilding fund separate from the baseline defense budget, a legislative source told USNI News on Thursday. While the Fiscal Year 2024 and 2025 defense budget is capped under an agreement between President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over the debt ceiling, the Senate is expected to introduce a supplemental defense proposal later this year to boost the industrial base, provide additional funding for weapons to Ukraine and fund China deterrent efforts in the Middle East. The source told USNI News that the submarine industrial base funding could be included in a supplemental package.
Download the document here.
In a Thursday statement to USNI News, the office of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) highlighted industrial base support in the current FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act and would be open to an additional conversation on supplemental funding for shipbuilding.
“[Kaine] believes our defense industrial base is strong, and he’s working to keep it that way,” reads the statement.
“He’s also open to a conversation about additional funding for shipbuilding. It’s his understanding that House Republicans will be the biggest roadblock to Senate Republicans’ desire for that.”
McCarthy said last month that he opposed an additional supplemental to the defense budget.
In terms of new submarine construction, contractors General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding are delivering about 1.2 submarines a year with a Navy plan to get to 2 a year by 2028, USNI News previously reported.
In a Thursday memo to members of the House, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, said previous investments in the submarine industrial base were paying dividends.
“The production rate for Virginia-class submarines was nearly at 2.0 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Degradation of that rate since can be attributed to a complex set of factors: the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the industrial base, the incorporation of the 84ft Virginia Payload Module (VPM) on the heels of increasing the build rate from one a year to two, and the ramp up of Columbia class production (with each boat equivalent to 2.5 Virginia-class SSNs),” reads a memo Courtney sent to House members this year.
“From FY18 to FY22, Congress invested nearly $1 billion in developing suppliers, training up workforce, and other critical areas. In FY23, the Biden Administration initiated a 5-year investment in the SIB, totaling $2.4 billion. The first tranche of $748 million was approved by Congress in FY23 NDAA and Omnibus; another $647 million is pending as part of deliberations for FY24. AUKUS, too, will bring direct investment in our industrial base in addition to the proceeds from the sale of the submarines.”
The Australians have also committed to a $3 billion investment into the U.S. and U.K. industrial base in what Australian minister for defense industry, Pat Conroy has called an AUKUS “down payment.”
Even with an injection of additional resources, the submarine base will still be faced with workforce and supplier shortages that were exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, USNI News has previously reported.
The delay of the current 13 Virginia-class submarines under contract is a combined 410 months behind schedule, according to a recent Navy construction estimate reviewed by USNI News.
Aside from the industrial base concerns, Congress is working through other limitations to sharing the submarine technology with the Australians.
This week the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bill that would allow the sale of the Virginia-class submarines to the RAN.
“Importantly, spelling out the transfer and sale of submarines and allowing the U.S. to accept Australia’s $3 billion investment will prove critical to not only fulfilling AUKUS, but increasing the capacity and capability of U.S. shipyards to meet our undersea warfare requirements. This step builds on the work already underway to expand and bolster our submarine production and maintenance capabilities, which will help achieve the sustained two-per-year build rate and needed operational availability of attack submarines in the period when this transfer could occur. AUKUS is essential to these goals, and I applaud the strong bipartisan statement sent through today’s vote,” reads a statement from Courtney’s office.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed similar legislation earlier in July
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Leaders of the U.S. Navy joined their Australian counterparts on a windy winter day at the ancestral home of the Royal Australian Navy to welcome USS Canberra (LCS-30) to the American fleet. Moored the RAN naval base HMAS Kuttabul in the middle of Sydney harbor, the Littoral Combat Ship Canberra (LCS-30), was […]
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Leaders of the U.S. Navy joined their Australian counterparts on a windy winter day at the ancestral home of the Royal Australian Navy to welcome USS Canberra (LCS-30) to the American fleet.
Moored the RAN naval base HMAS Kuttabul in the middle of Sydney harbor, the Littoral Combat Ship Canberra (LCS-30), was commissioned in a rare overseas ceremony on Saturday.
The LCS’ commissioning was a “celebration” and demonstration of the alliance between Australia and the United States, Australia Governor-General David Hurley, Governor General of Australia, said at the ceremony. It is a, “very very visible example of our nations’ shared history, contemporary partnership and commitment to the future… [all] which is now honored in the name Canberra.”
Canberra is the second Navy ship to bear the name of Australia’s capital city. The ship’s namesake, HMAS Canberra (D33), was sunk while fighting alongside U.S. forces during the Battle of Savo Island in World War II. As a result of Canberra’s actions during the battle, Marines of the 1st Marine Division were able to continue the fight on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. In recognition of HMAS Canberra’s sacrifice to protect U.S. Forces, President Roosevelt ordered the under-construction cruiser USS Pittsburgh to be renamed USS Canberra (CA-41).
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said that, while the world is very different to the 1940s, when the first USS Canberra (CA-41) was commissioned, Australia and the United States are once again facing “significant challenges” in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We, along with our allies and partners around the world, are facing significant challenges in every environment that we operate,” he said. The People’s Republic of China continues the rapid expansion of its navy, leveraging its maritime organizational strength to coerce and intimidate its neighbors into accepting illegitimate maritime claims,” he said.
The LCS Canberra will play a critical role in defending the maritime commons which are so critical to both nations, Del Toro said.
“This ship before us, along with HMAS Canberra, and our combined Naval fleet play a crucial role in securing our ability to conduct unencumbered maritime trade across the globe, promoting the wealth and strength of our two nations, along with those of our allies and partners.”
While Adm. Mike Gilday, the outgoing Chief of Naval Operations, said that the ship will closely integrate with the Royal Australian Navy, he did not go so far as to provide a timeline for its first deployment.
“Today, we commissioned USS Canberra into service, not just part of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One, not just part of the United States Pacific Fleet. Today, we commissioned this ship into service as a combat unit that will integrate with the Australian fleet and with the combined maritime force of allies and partners who stand united across the entire Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The commissioning ceremony comes as the U.S. and Australia are formalizing deeper security ties as part of the AUKUS technology-sharing agreement. In the next several years, U.S. and U.K. Royal Navy nuclear submarines will forward deploy to western Australia with the goal of the RAN operating their own Virginia-class submarines bought from the U.S.
For Canberra In the short term, the LCS will return home to San Diego. There, it will be fitted with specialist anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) systems before leaving on its first deployment, USNI News understands.
Both the Blue and Gold crews will also complete various remaining certifications ahead of entering a standard deployment cycle which will likely include a rotational deployment to Destroyer Squadron Seven (DESRON 7), based out of Singapore, USNI News understands.
Cmdr. Bobby Barber, commander of USS Canberra Gold Crew, told USNI News that he’s “hopeful” a deployment will take place soon.
In the longer term, continued uncertainty about the fate of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships means that the vessel may or may not see out its full lifespan. In June the House Armed Services Committee authorized the Navy to decommission two of Canberra’s sister ships, USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8), after less than ten years of service.
Wherever Canberra operates it will carry a little bit of Australia wherever it goes. During the ceremony, Vice Adm. Mark Hammond, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, said that he had given permission for Canberra to sail with a modified version of the Red Kangaroo which adorns all Australian warships as a funnel emblem. He also confirmed that, for as long as Canberra is in service, at least one Australian officer or sailor will be aboard due to a permanent exchange program.
The Red Kangaroo, Hammond said, was originally adopted by the Royal Australian Navy to distinguish it from the Royal Navy. Gifting the symbol to Canberra, Hammond said, was Australia’s way of making an “indelible mark” on the historic commissioning ceremony.
“There will always be an Australian sailor or officer posted to this ship,” he said.
“An Australian Navy lieutenant is part of the ship’s company today and all of you, when you look to the superstructure you will see your own special Australian kangaroo.”
A Chinese surveillance ship is now off the east coast of Australia and expected to move further south to monitor the U.S.–Australian-led multinational exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, an Australian senior military officer announced Friday. Chinese ships have sailed off the coast of Australia before, and the vessel’s movement is not considered concerning, Lt. Gen Greg […]
A Chinese surveillance ship is now off the east coast of Australia and expected to move further south to monitor the U.S.–Australian-led multinational exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, an Australian senior military officer announced Friday.
Chinese ships have sailed off the coast of Australia before, and the vessel’s movement is not considered concerning, Lt. Gen Greg Bilton, chief of Joint Operations, Australian Defence Force (ADF), said during the opening ceremony of Talisman Sabre.
“No, look, they’ve come before and look, I’ll tell you now, there’s one off the east coast of Australia at the moment,” Bilton said. “We reached out on Thursday and hailed that vessel in the Coral Sea. It’ll move down, I expect, and join the exercise – or be in the location of the exercise again. They’ve done this for a number of years, we’re well prepared for it.”
The Chinese response to the Australian call was courteous and in accordance with normal norms at sea, Bilton said, although he did not reveal the Chinese ship name or class. People’s Liberation Army surveillance ships have been monitoring Talisman Sabre exercises since 2017 with the ships staying well outside the 12NM territorial sea limit and the exercise boundaries while doing so.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro were also present at the ceremony. The exercise is not a message to China, rather it is about the mutual relationship between allies and partners working together, Del Toro said during a press conference.
The Royal Marines have landed in Townsville ahead of #TalismanSabre2023.
The contingent embarked on #HMASAdelaide and will take part in the largest iteration of #TS23 to date. More than 30,000 personnel will participate in this year's exercise. pic.twitter.com/yO1ckDL9MH
— Talisman Sabre (@TalismanSabre) July 21, 2023
“And what we’re trying to do in all of our exercises, whether it be UNITAS kicking off in South America or Talisman Sabre here in the Indo-Pacific, is to actually work far more closely building the types of capabilities – the advanced capabilities that we actually need to better be able to communicate together, to effectively show long-range fires when necessary and to use capabilities in space as well, too, to our full advantage, making each exercise that much more complicated and that much more integrated, right,” Del Toro said.
He added that such exercises enable U.S. partner nations to be capable of working together collectively in order to be far more responsive as one task force.
“We are extremely tied by the core values that exist amongst our many nations together,” Del Toro said. “And we are prepared to actually operate together in defense of our national security interests and in defense of the core values that we all share as Western and non-Western countries working together. I think that’s the most important message that China or any other country actually can take from this exercise and any other exercise that we do with partners and allies.”
Along with amphibious landings and live firings, the exercise will feature the deployment of a transportable wharf from the United States to Bowen, Queenland, Australia, in which 800 vehicles will be moved through during the course of the exercise, Marles said.
“That is a huge logistical capability which is being exercised in that. It’s going to be the most significant logistics exercise that we will see between Australia and the United States in Australia since the Second World War,” Marles said.
Marles also said that following the 33rd Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Brisbane next week, he will be bringing U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin to visit Australian and U.S. troops taking part in the Talisman Sabre exercise.
A full list of participating ships has yet to be officially released for Talisman Sabre, although the United States sent the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which consists of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) and landing platform docks USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Green Bay (LPD-20) and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Japan is despatching destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST-4002) as part of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023 (IPD23) mission. Royal Australian Navy (RAN) amphibious assault ship HMAS Adelaide (L01) is participating in the exercise although Australia has yet to release any info on other RAN ships participating. Adelaide recently embarked British Royal Marine Commandoes on it for the exercise
Talisman Sabre 2023 is being conducted across northern Australia from July 22 to Aug. 4 with more than 30,000 military personnel from 13 nations directly participating in it. Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States are full participants with the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attending as observers.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The U.S. Senate took a tangible step forward to supply the Royal Australian Navy with its own nuclear attack boats with a new AUKUS bill that sets a framework to transfer Virginia-class attack boats to Canberra by the 2030s, Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters on Friday. Standing in view of […]
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The U.S. Senate took a tangible step forward to supply the Royal Australian Navy with its own nuclear attack boats with a new AUKUS bill that sets a framework to transfer Virginia-class attack boats to Canberra by the 2030s, Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters on Friday.
Standing in view of the hulk of the former aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in Newport News, Kaine and Australian ambassador to the U.S. Kevin Rudd outlined legislation that emerged from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday to support Canberra having its own nuclear submarine fleet.
“I would argue that the new chapter in the relationship between the U.S., U.K. and Australia is every bit as exciting because it demonstrates again the capacity of the United States and other like-minded democracies to form alliances,” Kaine said.
“The first pillar will be the construction of Virginia-class subs, which are done here and in Connecticut. And then the subs, beginning of the 2030s, will transfer to Australia to enable Australia to take what they already do to promote regional security and do even more.”
The amendment to the State Department Authorization Act of 2023 approved the transfer of two Virginia attack boats to Australia with a third boat to be sold to Canberra via the State’s Foreign Military Sales program.
In addition, the amendment speeds up the technology clearance for AUKUS and relaxes commercial export controls for the material related to the program.
The amendment was part of a six-week-long legislative push from the U.S. led by Navy Undersecretary Erik Raven, who came to Congress to secure the legislative backing for the AUKUS boats to Australia, Kaine said.
“The Pentagon presented us with their proposal, and, over the course of the last six weeks, which is lightspeed in Senate time, we have worked very hard with the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee on both sides of Congress,” Kaine said.
The bill is set to head to the full Senate for a vote next week, he said.
While bipartisan enthusiasm for deepening ties with Canberra is high, questions about how the transfer of three to five U.S. Navy Virginia-class attack boats to the Royal Australian Navy will affect America’s attack sub inventory.
As of Friday, about a third of the Navy’s 51 nuclear attack boats are in maintenance due to backlogs in repair work in all four of the U.S. Navy’s public shipyards, a Navy official told USNI News. Likewise, HII and General Dynamic Electric Boat will continue to build less than two Virginia boats a year until 2028, USNI News reported in March.
Under the Navy’s latest long-range shipbuilding plan, by the time the first Virginia nuclear sub would be transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, the U.S. could be down to 46 attack boats. The Navy’s long-term goal is to have a force of 66 attack boats.
“We are going to give them existing Block III or Block IV Virginias, and then they’re gone,“ naval analyst and former submariner Bryan Clark who wrote a recent report on undersea warfare told USNI News on Friday.
“Considering submarines in maintenance, that could be up to 10 to 20 percent of the available nuclear attack boat fleet.”
Some Republicans in the House and Senate want the Biden administration to invest more into shipbuilding infrastructure to support the additional submarine construction and maintenance needed to support AUKUS and could make it a component of future approvals, two legislative sources familiar with the deliberations told USNI News.
Criticism of the sale of the attack boats has been mostly muted.
“The AUKUS agreement has the potential to be transformative for the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. However, we must match words with tangible actions in order to realize the near- and long-term deliverables of the agreement,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member foreign relations committee, said in a statement following the release of the bill on Thursday.
A leaked December letter from Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and ranking member Sen. James Inofe (R-Okla.) to the White House expressed much more pointed concern over overstressing the submarine industrial base.
“We are concerned that what was initially touted as a ‘do no harm’ opportunity to support Australia and the United Kingdom and build long-term competitive advantages for the U.S. and its Pacific allies, may be turning into a zero-sum game for scarce, highly advanced U.S. SSNs,” wrote the gpair, according to Breaking Defense.
Raven told USNI News Friday the Navy’s level of investment in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget was set to address the backlog.
“In terms of maintenance and new production here in the United States, I’ve been working very closely with not only Newport News Shipbuilding but Electric Boat to make sure that we have the investments necessary in areas such as workforce, supply chain and many other investments to make sure that we are getting these very crucial programs on track on the maintenance front,” he told USNI News.
“We are not where we want to be today. However, if you look at the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 24… it includes new investments, totaling $1.7 billion over the next several years to get at some of these maintenance delays that we’re seeing.”
Rudd told reporters he was optimistic about the outcome of the U.S. legislation needed to make the Australian attack boats a reality.
“I know the business of making sausages can sometimes be untidy, messy, prolonged, but ultimately, there’s a sausage at the end,” he said.
The first of a new cadre of nuclear-trained Australian sailors graduated on Friday from nuclear power school in Charleston, S.C. The three Royal Australian Navy officers completed the service’s six-month Naval Nuclear Power Training Command and Nuclear Power School, which teaches the fundamentals of running U.S. naval nuclear reactors on submarines and aircraft carriers. “It’s a historic […]
The first of a new cadre of nuclear-trained Australian sailors graduated on Friday from nuclear power school in Charleston, S.C.
The three Royal Australian Navy officers completed the service’s six-month Naval Nuclear Power Training Command and Nuclear Power School, which teaches the fundamentals of running U.S. naval nuclear reactors on submarines and aircraft carriers.
“It’s a historic event for our Navy, a historic event for our submarine force and I think it’s a historic event for our nation,” said Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, according to Australian broadcaster ABC.
“Two years ago, this wasn’t on the radar.”
The graduation of the RAN officers Lt. Cmdr. James Heydon, Lt. Cmdr. Adam Klyne and Lt. William Hall is one of the first steps ahead of the introduction of nuclear submarines into the Australian fleet as part of the AUKUS technical cooperation agreement between the U.S., Australia and the U.K.
“What these graduates learn at NPS prepares them for the next step in becoming a nuclear-qualified officer,” Adm. Frank Caldwell, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, said in a Friday statement.
“From here, they will continue their academic and practical studies so that when they go to their aircraft carrier or, in the case of our RAN officers, submarines, they are ready to safely and competently operate the power plant.”
Following the completion of the South Carolina training, the three sailors will undertake additional training at the Navy’s moored training ship and then in Connecticut to be qualified officers to serve aboard U.S. Virginia-class nuclear attack boats operating out of Hawaii.
“The plan at this stage is to join submarines based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and they’ll complete their training at sea,” Hammond said.
“Once they’re qualified, sufficiently experienced, then we’ll get them back into the ecosystem in a different role.”
Nuclear-trained RAN officers serving on U.S. submarines is one of the first steps of the AUKUS construct that will eventually lead the Australians to operate their own Virginia-class submarines.
“One of the key elements to AUKUS that screamed out for immediate attention was helping the Australian Royal Navy gain proficiency in the operation and stewardship of nuclear-powered submarines. All other elements of AUKUS could succeed, but without training, the Australian Royal Navy won’t have the skills to operate or care for the submarines,” Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), ranking member of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces committee, told USNI News in a statement.
The next steps will have U.S. submarines make more port calls in Australia and send hundreds of Australian shipyard workers to the U.S. to learn the art of submarine construction and maintenance.
“Once we feel that Australia is ready to do that – and we think it could be as early as 2027 – we’ll establish a rotational force of U.S. and U.K. submarines in Australia, the construct we’re calling Submarine Rotational Forces West,” or SURF-West, a White House official told USNI News.
The pact between London, Washington and Canberra aims to have the first nuclear attack boats in Australia by the 2030s and the first Australian-built subs by the 2040s.
Australian and Japanese forces conducted exercise Trident 2023 over the weekend in the South China Sea. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in the exercise as part of its Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023. The exercise followed a port visit in Vietnam. JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106), which form the main […]
Australian and Japanese forces conducted exercise Trident 2023 over the weekend in the South China Sea.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in the exercise as part of its Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023. The exercise followed a port visit in Vietnam.
JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106), which form the main body of the first surface unit of IPD23, carried out the exercise with Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac (FFH150) and a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in the South China Sea, according to a Tuesday JMSDF release. The exercise focused on tactical operations, including anti-surface and anti-air warfare.
Both Australia and Japan are considered “Special Strategic Partners” in the Indo-Pacific region, Rear Adm. Takahiro Nishiyama, commander of the first surface unit for IPD23, said in the JMSDF release.
“The relationship between the JMSDF and the Royal Australian Forces has never been stronger and more important, and the JMSDF will promote further improvement of interoperability and mutual understanding with the Royal Australian Navy in order to improve the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
Izumo and Samidare made a port call to Cam Rahn, Vietnam, between June 20 and 23. As they left Vietnam, the two ships conducted an exercise with Vietnam People’s Navy frigate VPNS Ly Thai To (HQ-012) in the South China Sea.
The JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific deployment is an annual presence and regional deployment carried out by the JMSDF since 2019.
The first surface unit consists of Izumo, Samidare and destroyer JS Shiranui (DD-120), with Shiranui detached from the main group for a deployment to the South Pacific Islands.
On Saturday, Shiranui conducted a cooperation exercise with Kiribati Police Service patrol boat RKS Teanoai II (301) while in the waters around Kiribati. The patrol boat had an embarked Japan Coast Guard Mobile Cooperation Team and Australian maritime service advisers aboard to provide technical support.
The second surface unit of IPD23 includes landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST-4002), which has two embarked Landing Craft Air Cushions. The second unit has yet to deploy, while the third surface unit, consisting of frigate JS Kumano (FFM-2), already completed its IPD23 deployment and returned to Japan on June 10. A single submarine rounds out the IPD23 deployment forces.
Destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117), which is not part of an IPD23 surface unit, is currently operating around Hawaii. On Friday, it conducted a live firing of its RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile surface-to-air missile, according to a Monday JMSDF release.
JS Kashima (TV-3508) and destroyer JS Hatakaze (DDG-171/TV-3520), which are part of the JMSDF Overseas Training Cruise, are in the Pacific waters off the Americas.
Destroyer JS Ikazuchi (DD-107), the 45th Deployment Surface Force Counter Piracy Enforcement (DSPE) force, made a port visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday through Friday while en route to the Gulf of Aden, where it will relieve JS Makinami (DD-112). Since 2009, Japan has conducted rotational deployments of a destroyer and two JMSDF P-3C Orion MPAs to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy missions.
Meanwhile, a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 636 hydrographic survey ship sailed around Japan’s southwestern islands on Monday and Tuesday, according to a Tuesday news release from the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
The PLAN ship was sighted at 3 p.m. Monday local time sailing south-east in an area 50 miles west of Uotsuri Island, part of the disputed Senkaku islands chain administered by Japan and claimed by both China and Taiwan, according to the release.
The PLAN ship sailed southeast in an area 43.5 miles west of Uotsuri Island before sailing southwest through the waters between Yonaguni and Iriomote islands and entering the Pacific Ocean.
Destroyer escort JS Abukuma (DE-229), fleet oiler JS Hamana (AOE-424) and a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 1, operating from JMSDF Kanoya on the main island of Kyushu monitored the PLAN ship, according to the release.
French frigate FS Lorraine (D657) arrived Friday for a port visit in Manila. The frigate will be in port until Thursday.
The French Navy frigate integrated into the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group over the past two weeks and participated in several multilateral exercises as part of the CSG in the Philippine and South China seas.
Over in Guam, the U.S. Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy are carrying out the biennial naval exercise Pacific Griffin 2023, which began on June 16 and ends Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy is participating with cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67), Littoral Combat Ship USS Manchester (LCS-14), dry cargo ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) and maritime patrol aircraft from CTF-72. The RSN deployed frigate RSS Tenacious (71) and littoral mission vessel RSS Dauntless (21).
On Friday, Tenacious fired an RGM-84C Harpoon anti-ship missile, and, on Saturday, Shiloh fired an SM-2 surface to air missile as part of the live fire portion of the drills.
The White House’s senior coordinator for the Indo-Pacific is “confident” that Australia, the United Kingdom and United States can meet the challenge of Canberra fielding its own nuclear-powered submarine force. Speaking Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kurt Campbell said that after 18 months of intense study and discussion, “we have the […]
The White House’s senior coordinator for the Indo-Pacific is “confident” that Australia, the United Kingdom and United States can meet the challenge of Canberra fielding its own nuclear-powered submarine force.
Speaking Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kurt Campbell said that after 18 months of intense study and discussion, “we have the necessary understanding” of what must be done to build and maintain the submarines and also to explore technology transfers among the three allies.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said the conversations among the three navies’ leaderships over the last 18 months were candid in judging risk, seeing how the arrangement was progressing and where it wasn’t moving as fast as expected.
“We don’t underestimate difficulties that can lie ahead,” Gilday said.
He added that the military-to-military discussions can provide a “shock absorber” in addressing later challenges.
The U.S. has 80 years of history in developing, deploying and maintaining nuclear-powered submarines, which means “this is not starting from scratch” from the United States’ standpoint, Campbell said. It’s “a legacy Australia can draw on” in developing the infrastructure needed, training a workforce to build and maintain nuclear-powered submarines and training sailors for safe operations.
Gilday cited Vice Adm. Hyman Rickover’s reminder of the Navy’s dedication to safety following the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in March 1979.
“We have never wavered from them,” he said of Rickover’s original safety requirements for a nuclear Navy. The key is “staying true to [the standards] and holding each other accountable.” Doing those two things “can keep you out of trouble.”
Gilday added that the first Australians will graduate next week from the Navy’s Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C.
“These guys are excelling,” all above the median in class standing, Campbell said. “We have high confidence we can help [the Royal Australian Navy] along this path.”
Gilday called the agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, known as AUKUS, “a natural next step.” He said the three nations are taking a phased approach in moving from interoperability to interchangeability.
In the future, four U.S. submarines could deploy from Perth as the nuclear “eco-system,” his phrase, is operating in Australia. “It’s not something that happens overnight,” the CNO said.
“We’ve never taken a step like this before,” Campbell added. “This is a long-term partnership” that will extend beyond the 30 years it’s expected to field the first Australian nuclear-powered, but conventionally armed submarine. AUKUS also signals to other allies like Japan, Korea and the Philippines and partners like Singapore that Washington “is going to play a powerful role in the Pacific now and into the future.”
Asked where the two submarines the United States has said it will provide Australia in the interim will come from, Gilday said, “it’s too early to give you an answer.”
“We’re aspirational on two [Virginia-class] submarines” being built each year, Gilday said. General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII Newport News Shipbuilding are making progress on meeting the two sub requirement.
Campbell found it “troubling, the number of subs in dry dock” waiting for and undergoing prolonged repair, referring to Los Angeles-class submarines like USS Boise (SSN-764), which has waited years for repairs because of backlogs at the public and private shipyards.
On the AUKUS agreement’s second pillar, technology transfer, Gilday and Campbell saw great potential for working with other close allies in artificial intelligence, anti-submarine warfare and unmanned systems.
“The key will be ‘what do you bring to the table’” when nations like France and New Zealand indicate they want to explore technological exchange with the United States, as well as with the United Kingdom and Australia, Campbell said.
“Watch this space,” he added.
As for the three AUKUS partners, Campbell said they are “cataloguing particular areas we might build upon” to benefit each other.
Gilday said this fall that the U.K. and Australia will join in a major exercise involving unmanned systems and AI. He added that the U.S. is continuing to use unmanned systems and AI with U.S. 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59 to see how they could fit into operations. U.S. Southern Command will do the same work with unmanned platforms to help nations in that region combat drug and human trafficking and illegal fishing.
“I have every indication this [commitment to AUKUS] will be sustained” in the three nations as administrations change, Campbell said. He saw bipartisan support for it continuing in future congresses as a means to deter China’s ambitions and maintain stability and security in the Indo-Pacific.