Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t JoNova; Australia’s politicians have finally buckled on their blanket nuclear ban, in the face of Australia’s glaring strategic need for submarines capable of cutting four thousand mile ocean supply lines, in case of a hypothetical Chinese or other large power invasion.
Australia to get nuclear-powered submarines, will scrap $90b program to build French-designed subs
Australia’s next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under an audacious plan that will see a controversial $90 billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines scrapped.
- Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement at 7:00am AEST
- The ABC understands the Prime Minister convened a National Security Committee of Cabinet yesterday
- It’s expected that there will be an increased presence of American nuclear subs in the region
The ABC understands Australia will use American and British technology to configure its next submarine fleet in a bid to replace its existing Collins class subs with a boat more suitable to the deteriorating strategic environment.
Australia, the United States and Britain are expected to jointly announce a new trilateral security partnership on Thursday, with a focus on aligning technology and regional challenges.
But Australia’s embrace of nuclear-powered submarines will have its political and technological challenges, given there is no domestic nuclear industry.
The new three-nation security pact – called AUKUS – will be seen by China as a bid to counter its regional influence, especially in the contested South China Sea.
The nuclear submarines would likely be based in WA.
A decent Australian nuclear submarine fleet would make an invasion of Australia an absolute nightmare for the aggressor. Australia’s current diesel electric fleet has limited underwater range, they could be crippled by a long range bombardment of major Australian ports, or destroyed by aircraft carrier based aerial spotters as they attempt to approach the enemy fleet on the surface, before diving for an attack run.
But a stealthy nuclear submarine fleet could fight on, even if our cities were reduced to smoking ruins, by remaining underwater, striking anywhere along the enemy maritime supply route, then making a fast underwater dash to San Diego or Hawaii for resupply.
In terms of the likely impact on broader Aussie adoption of nuclear power, perhaps I am reading too much into this decision. Obviously it would still be a big step, from buying a few nuclear submarines to a wholesale embrace of civilian nuclear power. The decision to buy nuclear could still be derailed if our timid politicians chicken out. But the fact it is even on the table as a plan is a tremendous advance on the previous irrational blanket ban on all things nuclear.