Britain to train Australian sailors as Aukus nuclear subs pact advances

The UK and the US agreed to help Australia build and operate its own fleet of nuclear-propelled submarines by 2040. PHOTO: REUTERS

CANBERRA - Australian sailors will be trained by the British Navy on board its nuclear-powered submarines, the next step toward Canberra fielding its own fleet of the vessels under the landmark Aukus security agreement.

Australia's Defence Minister Richard Marles joined British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the commissioning of the HMS Anson Astute-class nuclear submarine in the UK on Wednesday. Mr Johnson said Australian sailors would train on the HMS Anson.

Mr Marles said in a statement on Thursday that Australia was "working hand in glove" with Britain on building the skills which would allow them to one day field their own fleet of nuclear submarines. The timeline for the training wasn't disclosed.

"The technology, capability and lethality on show is truly impressive and Australia looks forward to progressing our talks through the Aukus partnership," Mr Marles said.

Australia, the UK and the US struck a pact in September last year to deepen defence ties and increase sharing of intelligence and technology in the face of growing competition from China in the Asia-Pacific.

Under the deal, known as Aukus, the UK and the US agreed to help Australia build and operate its own fleet of nuclear-propelled submarines by 2040, greatly increasing Canberra's military reach.

While the training of Australian sailors is the next step toward fulfilling the Aukus agreement, many details still have to be resolved.

Australia has yet to announce whether it will model its submarines on the UK or the US models or when the new vessels might be ready for service.

Mr Marles said in June it would be "optimistic in the extreme" to expect the submarines to be ready by 2030. BLOOMBERG

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