US, UK and Australia Unveil Plan for Nuclear Submarine Fleet in Indo-Pacific Region

The US, UK and Australia have unveiled details of their ambitious plan to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, aimed at countering China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.[0] Under the AUKUS defence and security pact, the US will provide Australia with three to five new nuclear-powered submarines, subject to approval by Congress.

The first phase of the agreement will see the US and UK base a small number of nuclear submarines in Perth, Western Australia, and the US will help Australia build the capacity to maintain and employ nuclear-powered submarines. From 2027, Australian navy personnel will be sent to US and UK submarine bases to learn how to use the nuclear-powered submarines, and shipbuilders will travel to shipyards in both the US and UK to get experience on submarine production lines.[1]

In the second phase, the US will sell at least three Virginia-class attack submarines, a mix of in-service and new production, to Australia in the early 2030s, and Australia will purchase at least three and up to five nuclear-powered submarines from the US. Congress must approve the deal.[2]

In the third and final phase, the US and UK will design and deliver a new nuclear-powered submarine named SSN AUKUS to their respective navies, based on the UK's next generation design and incorporating technology from all three nations.[3] The first examples for the Royal Navy will commence construction in the United Kingdom later this decade and Australia's first boats will be built by ASC in Adelaide starting in the early 2030s.[4]

The announcement has been 18 months in the making and the deal is aimed at improving defence capabilities in the region and bolstering peace. President Biden stressed that the submarines will be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed”.[5] The pact also involves the US enhancing training with Australian submariners, initiating rotational submarine patrols in the waters around Australia and working with Canberra to help it build a nuclear-powered submarine of its own.

0. “US and Aukus Allies Unveil Submarine Deal to Counter China in Pacific” Bloomberg, 13 Mar. 2023,

1. “‘SSN AUKUS’: How the US and UK plan to get nuclear-powered subs to Australia” Breaking Defense, 13 Mar. 2023,

2. “Australia, the UK and US are joining forces in the Pacific, but will nuclear subs arrive quick enough to counter China?” CNN, 14 Mar. 2023,

3. “U.S. to sell nuke-powered subs to Australia in unprecedented deal” POLITICO, 14 Mar. 2023,

4. “Australia To Field Virginia & SSN-AUKUS Submarines” Naval News, 13 Mar. 2023,

5. “Aukus deal: US, UK and Australia agree on nuclear submarine project” BBC, 13 Mar. 2023,

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