The British government has authorised the training of Australian personnel aboard the nation’s newest nuclear-powered submarine under the AUKUS agreement.
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Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace have announced Royal Australian Navy (RAN) personnel would train aboard HMS Anson — the United Kingdom’s latest Astute Class submarine.
The news was reported at the vessel’s commissioning ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow, attended by Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, who is currently touring Europe in an effort to further strengthen defence ties with key European partners.
The training agreement aims to equip RAN submariners with the skills to operate Australia’s future nuclear-powered fleet.
The deal comes just months after the US approved legislation enabling Australian military personnel to train with US counterparts aboard Virginia Class submarines.
The UK’s Astute Class and the US’ Virginia Class platforms are currently under consideration by the Commonwealth government’s Nuclear Submarine Taskforce, which is scheduled to select a preferred option in March next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Marles welcomed this latest training agreement with the UK, noting it would help enhance bilateral defence cooperation between the longstanding allies.
“Australia is eager to learn from our counterparts, and who better to learn from than our friends in the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Our countries are working hand in glove on training and building the skills required for our future submarines is an important part of bolstering our Defence Force.
“Today’s announcement of Australian submariners training aboard HMS Anson says everything about our future plans of building the AUKUS partnership.”
During his visit to the UK, the deputy PM also toured the Govan shipyard, where the UK’s Type 26 frigate is under construction.
The Type 26 platform is the base design for Australia’s own next-generation Hunter Class frigates, to be developed by BAE Systems under the $45 billion SEA5000 contract.
“…We have Australian workers – engineers, mechanics and the like – who are learning from their UK counterparts to deliver the high-tech skills required to deliver for our frigate program back home in Osborne, SA,” the defence minister added.
“I have been warmly welcomed during my time here in the UK and I would like to thank my counterpart, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace for hosting me.
“The technology, capability and lethality on show is truly impressive and Australia looks forward to progressing our talks through the AUKUS partnership.”