A sweeping $368bn plan to build nuclear submarines in Adelaide has pressed ahead after the federal government struck a land agreement with South Australia on Friday.
A jointly constructed fleet of UK-Australian submarines is due to be built and homed in a yet-to-be-constructed naval shipyard in Osborne in Adelaide’s northwest, the government has confirmed, as part of the multi-decade AUKUS deal.
Designs to map out the shipyard will be finalised over the next eight weeks, with the first SSN-AUKUS submarines to be built in the late 2020s. South Australia’s government will receive defence-owned land at Keswick and Smithfield under the exchange as well as part of the Cultana training area north of Whyalla.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said the agreement was a “significant milestone” and flagged the building of a new skills academy that would recruit and train up to 4000 skilled workers to build the nuclear-powered subs.
“Osborne is key to Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine enterprise and I congratulate and thank South Australia for being such a great partner as we continue to work together to deliver the necessary infrastructure and skills,” Mr Marles said.
Under the AUKUS plan, which is forecast to cost $268bn to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s, Australia will also buy at least three American nuclear-powered submarines pending approval from US Congress.
A visiting US navy admiral told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday that ideally the US-owned second-hand Virginia class submarines could be sold to Australia anywhere between 2032 and 2035.
Friday’s announcement came after Mr Marles and SA Premier Peter Malinauskas released a report detailing initiatives to address the workforce challenges looming over Australia’s plans to build its own nuclear submarines.
Experts have warned that the country will need to significantly scale up local nuclear education and training to build sufficient expertise to service the AUKUS plan.
Under a joint initiative, SA’s defence personnel will be increased from 3500 to 8500 by the 2040s. The government plans to engage tens of thousands of students across the state in a bid to drive up tertiary enrolments in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Source : News.com.au