SYDNEY • Australia is planning to build a new deep-water port on its northern coast able to accommodate US Marine deployments as part of efforts to counter China's growing presence in the region, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported yesterday.
ABC quoted defence and government officials as saying that the facility would be about 40km from Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, which controversially leased its own port to a Chinese operator in 2015.
The Darwin port already includes military facilities and hosts visiting American ships, but ABC said that the new port would offer large amphibious warships a more discreet and less busy base of operations.
US Marine units of more than 2,000 troops regularly rotate through Darwin as part of the two allies' close military cooperation. Australia and the United States have been building their military presence across the Western Pacific to counter moves by China to gain influence across the strategically vital region, notably by creating armed outposts on disputed South China Sea islands.
Washington and Canberra recently announced plans to build a joint military base on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, north-east of Australia.
ABC said the new Australian port at Glyde Point would include commercial and industrial operations, in addition to facilities for military activities. An announcement concerning the port could come in the next few weeks to coincide with the height of the bi-annual Talisman Sabre US-Australian military exercise in the middle of next month, ABC said.
The US consulate in Sydney declined to comment on the ABC report, and the Australian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a response.