United States Navy submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) has arrived in Perth, Western Australia for a scheduled port visit as part of routine patrols in the Indo-Pacific region. The nuclear-powered, Virginia-class vessel, with more than 130 crew members, is docked at HMAS Stirling Naval Base on Garden Island, near Rockingham.
It is the first Virginia-class submarine to visit Australia since the AUKUS announcement in March detailing Australia’s optimal pathway to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. During the visit, U.S. crew members will welcome Royal Australian Navy submariners on board to see the vessel’s operations and technology firsthand.
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy said the North Carolina’s visit demonstrates America’s unwavering commitment to its allies and partners. “Our partnership is active and evident every day in Australia, and even more so under AUKUS. The USS North Carolina’s visit builds on a strong tradition of Australia welcoming U.S. sailors to its shores, advances our shared security goals in the region, and exemplifies the immense friendship and trust between our countries.”
Australian Submarine Agency Director General, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, said, “Through increased UK and US port visits and the Submarine Rotational Force –West initiative, Australia will progressively develop the skills, knowledge and expertise to operate, maintain and steward nuclear-powered submarines. Australia is leveraging the more than 70 years of naval nuclear propulsion experience of our AUKUS partners as we become sovereign ready to take ownership of our own Virginia class submarines from the early 2030s.”
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Chris Cavanaugh, Commander, Submarine Group 7 said “Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States share a long history of security cooperation around the world. I am impressed every day by our ability to work together seamlessly during undersea warfare training and operations.”
Rear Admiral Simon Asquith, United Kingdom Royal Navy Director Submarines, joined his colleagues in Australia, stating: “This visit demonstrates the remarkable progress being made by our three our nations to develop Australia’s own SSN capability. The Royal Navy looks forward to conducting similar visits in support of training of Australian personnel to safely operate nuclear submarine technology.”
The U.S. submariners will also volunteer in the local community and have the opportunity to enjoy Western Australia’s tourist attractions and hospitality venues. The USS North Carolina’s visit follows USS Asheville in March, USS Mississippi in November, and visits of USS Frank Cable and USS Springfield in April 2022.