The USS North Carolina (SSN 777) has arrived at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia, after its role in the Talisman Sabre 2023 exercises.
This event stands as the first instance of a Virginia-class submarine visiting Australia since the AUKUS Optimal Pathway announcement.
The AUKUS partnership, unveiled in September 2021, has its foundation in strengthening the defence capacities of the three countries and endorsing security within the Indo-Pacific region.
Regarding the recent visit, Mr. Abe Denmark, Senior Advisor for AUKUS to the Secretary of Defense, commented, “North Carolina’s presence in HMAS Stirling signifies the United States’ unwavering dedication to the AUKUS partnership. This begins with the pledged surge in SSN port visits to Australia in 2023.”
He emphasised that such visits pave the way for Australia to cultivate the imperative operational proficiencies needed to govern and run its nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet.
The Optimal Pathway blueprint follows a multi-phase trajectory:
- Phase One: Increased SSN port visits serve to broaden Australia’s comprehension of SSNs, preluding the inauguration of Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-W) by 2027. The SRF-W envisions a rotational allotment comprising up to four U.S. Virginia-class subs and one UK Astute class submarine at HMAS Stirling.
- Phase Two: Set to kick off in the 2030s, subject to U.S. Congress consent, it involves the U.S. vending three Virginia class submarines to Australia, with an option to sell two more if deemed necessary.
- Phase Three: Combining British base submarine design with state-of-the-art U.S. technology, the plan is to introduce SSN-AUKUS, the next-gen attack submarine for both Australia and the UK. The first Australian-manufactured SSN-AUKUS is scheduled for the early 2040s.
Rear Adm. Chris Cavanaugh, Commander of Submarine Group (CSG) 7, remarked on the robust security collaborations binding Australia, the UK, and the U.S. He stated, “Our prowess in undersea warfare training and operations is amplified daily through our synergistic endeavours.”
Source : ukdj.