SYDNEY (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy nuclear submarine arrived in Western Australia on Friday as allies Canberra and Washington deepen defence ties and prepare to transfer nuclear submarine capability to Australia.
The U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine arrived at HMAS Stirling for a scheduled port visit as part of a patrol of the Indo-Pacific, officials said.
Port Stirling will undergo an A$8 billion expansion to become a base for U.S. and British nuclear submarines from 2027, under the AUKUS partnership of Australia, the United States and Britain.
Australia plans to buy three nuclear-powered and conventionally armed submarines next decade from the United States, before building a new nuclear submarine class in Australia in the 2040s.
The U.S. military does not have a base in Australia but it is increasing the type and number of forces it rotates there. It will also stockpile military stores this year and establish a joint intelligence centre next year, defence and foreign ministers from the two nations said on Saturday.
The United States will also be involved in upgrades to multiple air bases in Australia’s north, missile production and space cooperation, they said.
Australia and the United States are conducting two major military exercises this month, as Australia seeks to boost its defence preparedness.
Two Indian navy ships will join the Malabar Exercise, with Quadrilateral Security Partners the U.S., Australia and Japan, off the east coast of Australia next Friday.
Talisman Sabre (NASDAQ:), involving 34,000 personnel from 13 nations closed on Friday. Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said the exercise “tested our combined capabilities across sea, land, air, cyber and space operations”.