The UK, US and Australia will work together “keeping our oceans free” with a new generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines, Rishi Sunak has said.
Mr Sunak met US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego to announce the next stage of the Aukus partnership plan.
The plan will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as it seeks to counter Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean.
First announced in 2021, the Aukus partnership was Australia’s reaction to China’s actions. Since then, the UK has published its integrated review of foreign and security policy, which highlights China’s “more aggressive stance”.
The UK will contribute expertise to build the new SSN-Aukus boats, creating jobs in British shipyards in Barrow-in-Furness and Derby.
This will be followed by sustained funding over the next decade and will build on the £2 billion invested last year in our Dreadnought-class submarine programme.
They will be in operation for the Royal Navy by the late 2030s.
Mr Sunak said: “For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come.”
The prime minister said that the collaboration would deliver “one of the most advanced” submarines “the world has ever known” and will replace the UK’s seven Astute-class submarines.
The £5bn extra for defense announced by Mr Sunak will partly help develop the next phase of the Aukus programme.
There is no confirmed number of how many will be ordered, but the size of the hunter-killer fleet could double, Royal Navy insiders said.
As part of the deal, the US intends to sell Australia three US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines.
President Biden said the US could ask for “no better partners” than the UK and Australia when it came to ensuring the security of the Pacific.