- Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2021
On 15 September, the US, UK, and Australia announced the new trilateral AUKUS defence partnership. While the partners said it's designed to protect and defend "our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific", some experts believe the true purpose of the partnership is to counter China.

Australia to Invest $7.4 Billion to Develop a New Pacific Base for its AUKUS Submarines

© AP Photo / Rick RycroftAustralia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2021
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.03.2022
Under the AUKUS pact announced in September last year, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, which will be developed domestically after the transfer of technology from either the US or the United Kingdom. Canberra has yet to decide which technology it would be using for developing its subs.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said that his government has authorised a plan to develop a new base on the country’s eastern coast to cater to the nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) under the tri-nation AUKUS arrangement.

“Today, I can announce that the government has decided to establish a future submarine base on the east coast of Australia as well…,” Morrison said in a foreign policy speech at Sydney-based Lowy Institute. He reckoned that the ongoing security crisis in Ukraine will “inevitably stretch to the Indo-Pacific" region.

“Australia faces its most significant and dangerous security environment in 80 years,” stated Morrison, who faces a federal re-election in May.
Morrison noted during his address that plans to develop a new eastern submarine base had been in the making for many years now, with former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke first announcing a “two-ocean basing plan” for the Australian Navy back in 1987.
He remarked that the new base would allow Australia to create “additional capacity” and didn’t entail “relocating any existing or planned future capacity from the ‘Fleet Base West’ on the Indian Ocean, currently the docking facility for the RAN’s Collins-class submarines.

He said during his address that nearly $10 billion Australian dollars ($7.4 billion) had been “provisioned” by the government to “meet the facilities and infrastructure requirements for the future transition from Collins to the future nuclear powers submarines for the next 20 years”.

Morrison, however, said that the west coast base would continue to “remain central” to the country’s future, given its strategic location on the Indian Ocean coast.
ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 22: Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on September 22, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
AUKUS: Australia's Nuclear Subs May Cost $121 Bn, Carry 'Enormous Challenges', Warns Think Tank
The Australian Prime Minister revealed that the Defence Department had shortlisted three locations along the Pacific Ocean as contenders for the upcoming base— Brisbane and Port Kembla in Queensland and Newcastle in New South Wales. He noted that the federal authorities had reviewed a total of 19 locations before zeroing in on the three contenders.
He said that the authorities have already begun discussions with the two state governments to take the process further.

Morrison said that the “initial work” on the new base would be completed by 2023, adding that the three sites “meet the criteria” for housing the advanced nuclear subs, as all of them are close to “sufficient industrial infrastructure” to be able to fulfil the demand of maintaining and repairing the high-tech submarines and were close to “large population centres”.

He said that the locations would also provide the Australian forces with “strategic depth” to carry out potential operations in the future.
Australia's plans to build a fleet of its own nuclear-powered submarines has evoked a critical reaction from China as well as Russia, both of them saying that it would undermine the principal of "nuclear non-proliferation" as well incite an "arms race" in the Asia-Pacific region.
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