First group of Australian ASC workers depart for AUKUS training in Pearl Harbor

26 June 2024

An important AUKUS milestone has been achieved with the first cohort of skilled ASC submarine workers departing for Pearl Harbor in the United States for comprehensive sustainment training.

Around 30 skilled ASC Pty Ltd (ASC) workers are the first to head to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to participate in training in the maintenance of US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines alongside their US counterparts.

These ASC workers from South Australia and Western Australia comprise mechanical fitters and electricians as well as electrical, mechanical and safety engineers and submarine maintenance and battery crew. 

This is another exciting step towards Australian workers acquiring the knowledge and knowhow that will be essential to build, operate and sustain our future conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

The international placements reflect the strength of the AUKUS partnership and follow the Government’s announcement in March that it had selected ASC as a strategic partner in the sustainment and joint build of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia. Firstly, with the sustainment of the Virginia class and followed by the build and sustainment of Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles said this was a unique education and training opportunity for Australian workers and reflects the rock-solid commitment of our US and UK partners to the nation-building AUKUS program.

“This is another exciting step when it comes to developing the workforce we need for the AUKUS program which presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australians to take advantage of unique and exciting education, training and career development programs, both here and overseas.”

In total, more than 100 Australian shipyard workers at ASC are expected to depart by mid-2025 for naval propulsion skilling at Pearl Harbor.
Once they have completed their overseas training, a mix of classroom and on-the-job learning, they will take up key roles in Western Australia as part of Submarine Rotational Force-West, where they will lead the sustainment of rotating US and UK nuclear-powered submarines. They will also pass on their skills and train other ASC workers through their lead roles.

One UK Astute class submarine and up to four US Virginia class submarines will be involved in a rotational presence through Submarine Rotational Force-West. 

ASC employees already have decades of combined experience maintaining Australia’s Collins class submarines, which will continue operating as Australia transitions to its future nuclear-powered submarine capability.

Mr Marles said “These highly skilled workers already have decades of combined submarine experience having sustained our Collins class submarines and now have the opportunity to be upskilled by our US counterparts in sustaining nuclear-powered submarines.”  

All work by Australian personnel in the US or the UK will remain consistent with Australia’s domestic and international legal obligations, including its non-proliferation obligations and commitments.