HMAS Stirling welcomes USS Annapolis

14 March 2024

This week Australia has been excited to host USS Annapolis, a Los Angeles class submarine and her crew to HMAS Stirling in Perth, Western Australia.

This visit marked the second port visit by a US nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) since the announcement of the AUKUS Optimal Pathway in March 2023.

The visit coincided with the first anniversary of the Optimal Pathway announcement. The past 12 months has seen significant progress made on AUKUS – both here in Australia, and overseas to prepare for the build and maintenance of Australia’s future nuclear-powered submarines.

As part of the Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West) initiative of longer and more frequent visits by US and UK SSNs to HMAS Stirling, this visit will not only build Australian experience with SSNs, but further demonstrates AUKUS partners’ commitment to maintaining momentum on Australia to achieving sovereign readiness by the early 2030s.

Rear Admiral Matt Buckley, Head of Nuclear Submarine Capability at the Australian Submarine Agency said historically, we’ve had allied SSNs visit Australian ports for many decades totalling more than 1,800 days.

“Starting with USS North Carolina (SSN 777) last August, these visits are taking on a more important meaning for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Submarine Agency as we build the infrastructure, knowledge, and stewardship needed to establish SRF-West in 2027,” Mr Buckley said.

During this visit, Royal Australian Navy personnel are developing critical knowledge and exposure to maintenance, infrastructure and logistics requirements necessary to support nuclear-powered submarines at sea and at port.

It will also enable the Royal Australian Navy to support the first planned maintenance activity of a US SSN during a visit to HMAS Stirling in the second half of this year.

This has been another great step towards Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West) – which is critical to develop and accelerate Australia’s capacity to be sovereign ready to safely and securely own, operate and maintain its own fleet of SSNs.

Australia’s commitment to the safe and secure stewardship of nuclear propulsion technology is unwavering. The decades of experience offered by the UK and US programs will contribute to Australia building on our 70-year unblemished track record of operating nuclear facilities and conducting nuclear science activities.