Joint media release:
- Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP
A new submarine base will be built on the east coast of Australia to support the nation’s new nuclear-powered submarines, providing deployment opportunities in both the Indian and Pacific oceans.
The new Future Navy Base will add capacity and capability to Fleet Base West in Western Australia, home of the Navy’s Collins-class submarines, which will also receive significant funding to support Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines and enable regular visits from the United States and United Kingdom’s nuclear-powered submarines.
The Department of Defence estimates that more than $10 billion will be needed for facility and infrastructure requirements to transition from Collins to the future nuclear-powered submarines, including the new east coast submarine base.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to establish an east coast submarine base has been underway for many years and would enhance Australia’s strategic deterrent capability in the Pacific Ocean.
“Australia faces a difficult and dangerous security environment and we must continue to invest in growing the capability of our ADF to ensure we keep Australians safe,” the Prime Minister said.
“Under our AUKUS partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom we will have access to the best technology in the world to support our efforts to deter threats against our national interest in the Indo-Pacific.
“This new 20-year investment is vital for our strategic capabilities, but it will also provide long-term economic opportunities at both our submarine bases on the east coast and on the west coast.
“Our investments will also flow into our operations in Western Australia, with significant funding flowing to upgrade facilities there for our future submarines and to support our allies in the United States and United Kingdom.
“Fleet Base West will remain home to our current and future submarines, given its strategic importance on the Indian Ocean.”
Following significant work by the Department of Defence, which reviewed 19 potential sites, three preferred locations on the east coast have been identified, being Brisbane, Newcastle, and Port Kembla.
The locations were selected on submarine basing criteria, which included access to exercise operating areas, proximity to industrial infrastructure, and significant population centres to support personnel and recruitment.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the Australian Defence Force had not constructed a major new base since Robertson Barracks in the 1990s, and an extensive process would now begin.
“We took the important decision in 2021 to pursue nuclear-powered submarines with the support of our American and British partners, in response to the changing strategic environment,” Minister Dutton said.
“Nuclear-powered submarines have superior characteristics of stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability and endurance when compared to conventional submarines.
“With the ability to operate from both coasts, this will make our nuclear-powered submarines more responsive and resilient to meet the strategic environment.
“Today’s announcement will ensure Australia has the infrastructure and facilities ready to support those submarines when they enter service.
“A new Navy base on the east coast will also have significant advantages for training, personnel and for Australia’s defence industry.”
Navy’s current fleet of Collins-class submarines and other maritime capabilities will be able to be operated out of the new east coast base, which will provide critical support to the ADF’s undersea capability.
Defence will engage with state and local governments to determine the optimal site, which will be informed by the ongoing work of the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce. This initial work is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.