Trilateral submarine agreement set to create thousands of jobs

Thousands of jobs are set to be created following a trilateral agreement between Australia, the UK and the US to build Australia’s first nuclear powered submarines.


On March 13, 2023 UK PM Rishi Sunak, along with Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden, announced an arrangement for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSN) through the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) enhanced security partnership.

SSN-AUKUS submarines are set to be the future attack submarine for Australia and the Royal Navy and will be based on the UK’s next-generation SSN design with the incorporation of US submarine technologies.

BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness is set to become a ‘major partner’ in the new attack submarine programme, along with Rolls-Royce Submarines in Derby, which will deliver reactors to the boats.

The UK intends to deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Navy in the late 2030s. Australia plans to deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.


“We employ more than 10,000 people in our Barrow-in-Furness shipyard delivering the Astute and Dreadnought submarine programmes for the UK’s Royal Navy and we’re extremely proud to be selected as a major partner in this historic endeavour which will ultimately enable Australia to acquire its own sovereign nuclear powered submarine fleet,” said Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems chief executive.

Yesterday’s announcement follows an 18-month consultation period to identify ‘the optimal pathway’ for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

According to the Whitehouse, AUKUS partners operating highly capable conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines ‘will provide an assured undersea capability that contributes to stability, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.’

Prior to delivery of the new submarines, Australia will develop a sovereign capability with the acquisition of three Virginia class submarines from the US - with the potential for two more – pending approval from Congress.