American shipyards could supply Australia with nuclear submarines, US politicians insist

“For people who say, ‘Oh, you know, the industrial base is secure.’ Says who?” Courtney said. “If you have a plan and you have the resources, history tells us that capacity can increase.”

Members of the House of Representatives note that the US submarine manufacturing industry has been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic but argue it could expand to meet both US and Australian needs.


“While it is imperative for the United States to maintain at least two submarines per year to meet our national security requirements, we support expanding the industrial base to meet AUKUS’ expectations,” they write.

“Specifically, we believe that expanding our industrial base beyond two submarines would support the early deployment of existing Virginia-class submarines, which will be made available concurrently with the decommissioning of the Collins-class attack submarines. “

How to close a looming capacity gap between the decommissioning of Australia’s current Collins-class submarines in the 2030s and the arrival of locally manufactured nuclear-powered submarines is a key question being addressed by the government for the review of submarines. nuclear powered boats, which will report in March.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has urged the Albanian government to buy two Virginia-class submarines off the shelf in Connecticut as an interim measure, but US political and military figures have warned that US shipyards are already operating at full capacity.

In their letter to Biden, members of the House of Representatives say that AUKUS should be viewed as a “unique opportunity to leverage the support and resources possible under AUKUS to expand our industrial base to serve both the U.S. and support Australian submarine construction, recognizing that full development of AUKUS is over Many decades will result in Australia being able to domestically produce nuclear-powered submarines”.

Acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead, they note that the realization of AUKUS “is likely to require many legislative, regulatory, and policy changes that will require bipartisan support and approval from Congress — and the sooner these discussions can begin, the.” better”.

Jack Reed, chairman of the Democratic Senator and Armed Services Committee, who co-authored the original letter to Biden warning about the advances of AUKUS, said on Twitter: “I’m proud to announce AUKUS, the historic United States military agreement with Great Britain, to support Australia.

“This strong partnership is central to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, dramatically enhancing the capabilities of our allies, and increasing our engagement in the region.”


“Importantly, AUKUS is also laying the foundation for the most significant integration of our underwater and other military capabilities ever achieved.”

In his leaked Dec. 21 letter to Biden, written with Republican colleague John Inhofe, Reed said: “We are concerned that what was originally touted as a ‘no harm’ opportunity to support Australia and the UK and building long-term competitive advantages for the US and its Pacific allies could become a zero-sum game for the scarce, sophisticated US [nuclear-powered submarines].”

Break through the noise of federal politics with news, perspective and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here. American shipyards could supply Australia with nuclear submarines, US politicians insist

Callan Tansill

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