Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard welcomes AUKUS personnel

23 August 2023

Royal Australian Navy personnel and civilian submarine maintenance subject matter experts from Australia have joined their AUKUS counterparts at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY&IMF) as part of the Advance Verification Team (AVT).

The submarine maintenance subject matter experts from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are working directly with shipyard personnel to gain a full understanding of the maintenance and industrial skills required to establish Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West).

SRF-West will establish the rotational presence of one UK Astute-class submarine from as early as 2027 and up to four US Virginia-class submarines at HMAS Stirling.

A combined Australian and United States workforce will provide the initial maintenance for the rotations of the Virginia-class submarines. The Australian contingent will be the initial personnel who will build a detailed understanding of the types of specialised skills and trades required for Australia to grow its maintenance workforce.

United States Navy’s AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Manager Captain Lincoln Reifsteck said this integration was a great starting block for building good systems.

“Each phase builds on the previous one and SRF-West is the foundation on which the Australian maintenance, sustainment and new construction workforce is built,” Captain Reifsteck said.

Once the AVT had determined the skills and number of personnel required to execute intermediate-level maintenance, it will build an embedment plan to upskill and train Australian personnel within United States public naval shipyards.

“With an informed and specific plan, we will control costs by ensuring we send the right people, to the right places, to get the right training, at the right time to meet our requirements,” Rear Admiral Buckley said.

Director Submarine Rotational Force - West Captain William McDougall said the work at HMAS Stirling would continue to support SRF-West with the assistance of the AUKUS partners.

“Everything the AVT is doing works to grow Australia’s organic capabilities needed to keep our spear point, our attack submarines, sharp,” Captain McDougall said.

The AVT will travel to the United Kingdom after this visit to Pearl Harbor where members of the team will be able to visit British shipyards to strengthen mutual knowledge and ongoing partnerships.