U.S. to sell nuke-powered subs to Australia in unprecedented deal

The U.S. is preparing to sell three to five nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, an unprecedented step that’s expected to pave the way for Canberra to co-develop and then eventually build its own attack boats in the decades ahead, President Joe Biden announced Monday alongside his allied counterparts.

Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese detailed a three-phrase approach in the Australia-U.K.-U.S. deal known as AUKUS, which ultimately ends with London and Canberra creating advanced versions of the highly sensitive vessel for their navies.

The three nations have a “shared commitment of ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, prosperous and secure, to find opportunity for all, a shared commitment to create a future rooted in our common values,” said Biden, standing between the two premiers in San Diego’s Naval Base Point Loma. “We’re putting ourselves in the strongest possible position to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow — together.”

Biden outlined steps in the “Optimal Pathway,” beginning with Phase 1, which involves American and British submarines visiting ports in Australia and embedding those sailors into U.S. and U.K. forces and nuclear power schools. Both the U.S. and U.K. already use nuclear propulsion in their submarines, but Australia does not. Starting as early as 2027, the three countries will participate in a rotational submarine force aptly named Submarine Rotational Forces West.

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