First group of Australian submarine workers depart for Pearl Harbor AUKUS training

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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22 June 2024

The Albanese Government continues to progress AUKUS with the first cohort of skilled submarine workers from ASC departing for Pearl Harbor in the United States for comprehensive sustainment training.

Around 30 skilled ASC Pty Ltd workers are the first to deploy to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to directly participate in training in the maintenance of US Virginia class nuclear‑powered submarines alongside their US counterparts.

These ASC workers from South Australia and Western Australia comprise mechanical fitters and electricians as well as electrical, mechanical and safety engineers and submarine maintenance and battery crew.

This is another exciting step towards Australian workers acquiring the knowledge and knowhow that will be essential to build, operate and sustain our future nuclear‑powered submarines.

The international placements reflect the strength of the AUKUS partnership and follow the Albanese Government’s announcement in March that it had selected ASC as a strategic partner in the sustainment and joint build of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia, starting with the sustainment of the Virginia class and followed by the build and sustainment of Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines.  

In total, more than 100 Australian shipyard workers at ASC are expected to depart by mid-2025 for naval propulsion skilling at Pearl Harbor.

Once they have completed their overseas training – a mix of classroom and on-the-job learning – they will take up key roles in Western Australia as part of Submarine Rotational Force-West, where they will lead the sustainment of rotating US and UK nuclear-powered submarines. They will also pass on their skills and train other ASC workers through their lead roles.  

One UK Astute class submarine and up to four US Virginia-class submarines will be involved in a rotational presence through Submarine Rotational Force-West.

ASC employees already have decades of combined experience maintaining Australia’s Collins class submarines, which will continue operating as Australia transitions to its future  nuclear-powered submarine capability.

All work by Australian personnel in the US or the UK will remain consistent with Australia’s domestic and international legal obligations, including its non-proliferation obligations and commitments.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“This is another exciting step when it comes to developing the workforce we need for the AUKUS program which presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australians to take advantage of unique and exciting education, training and career development programs, both here and overseas.

“These highly skilled workers already have decades of combined submarine experience having sustained our Collins class submarines and now have the opportunity to be upskilled by our US counterparts in sustaining nuclear-powered submarines.  

“Such unique education and training opportunities for Australian workers reflect the rock-solid commitment of our US and UK partners to our nation-building AUKUS program.”

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