The days of Christopher Pyne’s diesel submarines are long gone, with final discussions underway within the federal government for the location of Australia’s first generation of nuclear submarines.
After the historic AUKUS trilateral agreement was signed between Australia, the UK, and US, Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed to including nuclear submarines in the Australian fleet. Australia acts as a support structure for the US presence in the Pacific, with the alliance essential to maintaining Australia’s national security.
$10 billion worth of infrastructure will be required to support the nuclear submarines, with the Prime Minister announcing that Port Kembla, Newcastle, and Brisbane are on the shortlist chosen from nineteen locations to host the facilities. All are situated on the East Coast, closer to operational requirements than previous base suggestions.
“Today I can announce that the government has decided to establish a future submarine base on the East Coast of Australia as well,” said the Prime Minister.
“An optimal East-Coast base would provide a home for the submarines with specialised wharfs, maintenance facilities, administrative and logicists support, personnel amenities, and suitable accommodation for submarine crews and port staff.”
The nuclear fleet is expected to cost $171 billion after a fortune was already wasted on the failed $90 billion submarine deal struck with the French. Unlike the diesel submarines, which were plagued by criticisms about their suitability, the nuclear submarines on order are competitive in the current military atmosphere.
Despite the consensus among the military community being that the acquisition of nuclear submarines is long overdue for Australia, given the rising tensions in the Pacific from China, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party have objected.
“One of the things I notice about the announcement was that I didn’t see Adelaide mentioned at all,” said Albanese.
Adelaide was the previous home of the failed diesel submarine deal. Given that the main threat to Australia comes from the North, one of the main criticisms of the original submarine deal was the location of the submarine base being too far away from deployment requirements.