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USS Annapolis arrives in Western Australia for second AUKUS visit

Los Angeles Class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) arriving alongside Diamantina Pier at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, WA. Photo: CPOIS Nina Fogliani

US Los Angeles Class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN-760) has arrived in Western Australia in the second official visit by a fast-attack submarine to Australia since the announcement of the AUKUS last year.

US Los Angeles Class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN-760) has arrived in Western Australia in the second official visit by a fast-attack submarine to Australia since the announcement of the AUKUS last year.

The nuclear-powered, conventionally-armed submarine arrived at Fleet Base West HMAS Stirling in Perth, Western Australia, on 10 March.

The visit is part of the AUKUS Optimal Pathway announced by Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in March last year. The pathway is designed to deliver a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarine capability to the Royal Australian Navy.

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“Historically, we’ve had allied SSNs visit Australian ports for many decades totalling more than 1,800 days,” according to Australian Submarine Agency nuclear submarine capability head Rear Admiral Matt Buckley.

“Starting with USS North Carolina (SSN 777) last August, these visits are taking on a more important meaning for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Submarine Agency as we build the infrastructure, knowledge, and stewardship needed to establish SRF-West in 2027.”

Nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarine visits to Australia are scheduled to increase from 2027 as the US begins rotational presence operations at the Western Australia facility as a way to grow the RAN’s ability to operate and maintain a fleet of SSNs.

There may eventually be as many as four US Virginia Class submarines and one United Kingdom Astute Class submarine at HMAS Stirling.

Under the second phase of the Optimal Pathway in the early 2030s, the US has agreed to sell three Virginia Class submarines to Australia with potential to sell up to two more if needed.

Phase three sees the combination of a base British submarine design and advanced United States technology to deliver SSN-AUKUS, the future attack submarine for both Australia and the United Kingdom. Australia plans to deliver the first Australian-built SSN-AUKUS in the early 2040s.

“Having our submarines rotating through HMAS Stirling is critical to building Australia’s sovereign capability to safely and competently operate SSNs,” according to US AUKUS Pillar One program manager Rear Admiral Lincoln Reifsteck.

“Each visit will build upon the previous one and allow the Royal Australian Navy team to grow its capabilities.

“This visit will see Australians take a more active role in the execution of a voyage repair period.”

The AUKUS trilateral agreement is expected to strengthen the security and defence capabilities of the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom as well as promoting stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

“It’s an honour to be here and the team looks forward to working with the Australians and furthering our relationship,” said USS Annapolis commanding officer Commander James Tuthill.

“The enthusiasm and professionalism of the HMAS Stirling team is apparent, and we look forward to making this visit as productive as possible.”

US “pacing threat” rival, the People’s Republic of China, has spoken out against further development of the AUKUS agreement by all three countries as a risk to nuclear proliferation and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

“By setting up the so-called AUKUS, the US, the UK and Australia are in nature inciting military confrontation through military cooperation,” said PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin during a regular press conference on 11 March this year.

“This is typical Cold-War mentality. It will increase the risk of nuclear proliferation, exacerbate arms races in the Asia-Pacific and harm peace and stability in the region. China and many other countries in the region are gravely concerned and oppose this.

“Any attempt to enlarge and upgrade the US-UK-Australia military cooperation represents a step in a more dangerous direction, and will only cause greater concern from regional countries and the international community.

“We urge the three countries to abandon the Cold-War mentality, fulfil their international obligations in good faith, and stop creating greater trouble for peace and stability in the region.”

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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