Rolls-Royce boost as firm to create nuclear reactors for Aukus subs
Taiwan MP says AUKUS pact is a ‘security net’ against China
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Nuclear reactors fueling next-generation Australian submarines will be made by Rolls Royce and have a British design, officials have said. The submarines are being constructed under the Aukus defence pact – an information-sharing deal designed to defend against Chinese aggression, signed by the Aussie government, the US and UK. Australia is set to be able to build its own British-designed submarines in the 2040s.
The announcement will secure the future of the UK’s manufacturing yard at Barrow in Furness for decades.
Britain is expected to supply other vital parts of the submarines, including the vessels’ sonar arrays.
Rear Admiral Tim Hodgson, director of nuclear technology at the Ministry of Defence, said: “The anticipation is that Australia will be building that first submarine in Adelaide.
“Inevitably, components of that will be provided from the UK, the reactor plants in their entirety are being provided by the UK.”
Steve Calier, President of Rolls-Royce Submarines Ltd added: “We are delighted to be asked to play our part in delivering this element of the AUKUS Agreement and are well prepared to support through our nuclear expertise and engineering excellence.
“For over 60 years we have provided the power to the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines and we are proud to be playing a critical role in helping Australia acquire their own nuclear propulsion submarine capability.”
Aukus was announced in 2021 and saw Australia ditch plans to buy French diesel-powered submarines from the French.
For 18 months, Australia, the US and the UK have been negotiating but have finally reached an outline of the deal to build up the industry in Australia.
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US and Royal Navy vessels will be used to train Australian submariners from this year. But from 2027, the US and UK will patrol Australian waters, and in the next decade, Australia is set to buy three to five US-made submarines.
The plan will reportedly give Australia time to prepare to build its own submarines in Adelaide in the 2040s.
The Australian submarines will have a British design but contain some US equipment, such as a US combat system and weapons capability, according to The Telegraph.
The submarine yard in Barrow, Cumbria will have a secure future as a result of the deal.
The BAE Systems’ yard will be used to train Australian engineers while the country readies itself to build the UK-designed vessels in Adelaide.
The yard will also be used to create a British version of the new submarine from the late 2030s to replace the previous generation.
Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems, commented: “We employ more than 10,000 people in our Barrow-in-Furness shipyard delivering the Astute and Dreadnought submarine programmes for the UK’s Royal Navy and we’re extremely proud to be selected as a major partner in this historic endeavour which will ultimately enable Australia to acquire its own sovereign nuclear-powered submarine fleet.”
The Barrow submarine yard has had a difficult time over the years as a result of an inconsistent supply of work. Major contracts have ended there without any replacement work to follow.
Between the creation of the last Vanguard-class nuclear deterrent submarine and the creation of the first Astute attack submarine, there was a delay of more than three years. It resulted in a gap in skills as highly specialised people left the industry at this time.
Rear-Adml Hodgson told the Telegraph Britain needs to “learn those lessons” to avoid having gaps like this.
He said developing a “proper pipeline is the way to do this”.
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