Australia is planning to build a base on its east coast to support a future generation of nuclear-powered submarines, the government announced today.
According to the statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the base will complement “Fleet Base West” in Western Australia, home of the navy’s Collins-class submarines. It will be expanded to accommodate nuclear-powered submarines and enable visits from submarines from the US and UK, with which Australia is in the AUKUS defensive alliance.
Australia’s Department of Defence estimates that more than US$7.4bn will be needed for the work on both bases.
Prime Minister Morrison said the decision to establish an east coast submarine base has been in the works for many years and would “enhance Australia’s strategic deterrent capability in the Pacific Ocean”.
He said: “Australia faces a difficult and dangerous security environment and we must continue to invest in growing the capability of our Australian Defence Force to ensure we keep Australians safe.”
“This new 20-year investment is vital for our strategic capabilities, but it will also provide long-term economic opportunities at both our submarine bases on the east coast and on the west coast.”
After a review of 19 candidate sites, a shortlist of three has been drawn up, at Brisbane, Newcastle, and Port Kembla. These were selected on the basis of their nearness to industrial infrastructure and population centres.
The Department of Defence will now work with state and local governments to determine the best site, with help from the country’s Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce. This is expected to be decided by the end of 2023.