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Aukus Leaders Tout Pillar 1 Submarine Achievements and Goals Despite US Submarine Production Lag

US, UK, and Australian leaders noted their AUKUS agreement Pillar 1 milestones and plans on 1 December, even as the US struggles to reach its own desired submarine production rate.

“There has been an enormous amount of progress, particularly in respect of Australia acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine capability, with the help of the United States and United Kingdom under Pillar 1 of AUKUS,” Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said on 1 December during a press conference to provide AUKUS updates.

“Since the AUKUS announcement in March, Australia has stood up the Australian Submarine Agency,” he noted.

“We have seen the commitment of infrastructure work, we have seen Australians undertake, both submariners and defence industry workers, here in United States, the nuclear power school, but also in the United Kingdom,” he added.

“We’ve seen the frequency, as we promised back in March, of visits of the United States nuclear-powered submarine happen to Australia,” he said. “In the last 12 months, we’ve seen the [attack submarine] USS Mississippi (SSN 782), the USS Asheville (SSN 758), and the USS North Carolina (SSN 777) visit our country.”

Marles, along with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and UK Defence Secretary of State Grant Shapps, reaffirmed their AUKUS Pillar 1 commitment to delivering each phase, to include establishing Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West) in Australia as early as 2027, selling US Virginia-class submarines to Australia from the early 2030s, and delivering SSN-AUKUS to the UK Royal Navy in the late 2030s and the first Australian-built SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the early 2040s.