Nuclear Powered Submarines for Australia

Nuclear Powered Submarines for Australia

AUKUS Trilateral Agreement: Announced 16th September 2021

Nuclear Powered Submarines for Australia  - An Australian Government Statement

First initiative under AUKUS


The first initiative under AUKUS is for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology, leveraging decades of experience from the US and UK.


Under AUKUS, the three nations will focus immediately on identifying the optimal pathway to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.


As a start to this endeavour, Australia, the UK and US will intensely examine the full suite of requirements that underpin nuclear stewardship and demonstrate a clear pathway to becoming a responsible and reliable steward of this sensitive technology. Australia will establish a Nuclear-Powered Submarine Taskforce in the Department of Defence to lead this work.


Nuclear-powered submarines do not have the same limitations that face conventional submarines on weapons storage, speed and endurance. They can stay completely submerged for many months, limiting the opportunities for detection by adversaries.


As a three-ocean nation, it is necessary for Australia to have access to the most capable submarine technology available. As a nation, we are ready to take the step to pursue the most advanced submarine technology available to defend Australia and its national interests. 

Australian Government Nuclear Powered Submarine Task Force.

A link to the home page for this Task Force is here.

The Future Maritime Environment in the Indo-Pacific Region - The Catalyst for the AUKUS Agreement

Australia is an island – it is dependent on the sea for transportation of key imports, for example, energy and technology. Our economic well being is heavily dependent on exports carried in ships.

Countries in our region are investing heavily in warships and surveillance systems to support their national maritime interests. For example, by 2030 at least ten nations will be operating over 50% of the global submarine forces, in our region.

Addressing a deteriorating strategic maritime environment will therefore grow in importance for our security and prosperity; it will be more difficult and challenging to operate in.

How Is The Capability To Be Achieved?

Australia’s submarines require long range, the ability to cover the long distances quickly and remain on task for several weeks – this is a product of our geography.

Australia’s Collins class submarines were developed specifically to meet these needs, but current and developing  strategic circumstances require a capability with greater speed, endurance and stealth.

Some Opinions

Results of a recently published article examining the options, can be viewed here.

Earlier SIA Considerations in Relation to Next Generation Submarines are included below.

The lesson is clear: we should build on the key ingredients of our success in Collins to evolve towards the acquisition of a nuclear powered submarine capability and develop the replacement design for the future underwater warfare capability.

Click here to download a copy of the SIA submission to the 2009 Defence White Paper (PDF 1.3MB).

What are the key issues facing acquisition of a New Submarine? Download a 2-page brief here (PDF 915 KB).

A brief on the arguments underpinning the requirement for the future submarine capability and method of acquiring it can be downloaded here. (PDF 288 KB)

Download SIA paper 'SM2020 - Australia's Strategic Sting' here (PDF 132 KB)

Download presentation given to 'Seapower 2008' by Peter Briggs on 30 January 2008 here (PDF 388 KB)

Download a brochure answering Frequently Asked Questions about Australia's submarines. (PDF 389 KB)

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