Australia is set to have a glimpse of what to expect under the Australia–UK–US submarine partnership (AUKUS) after the United Kingdom announced a joint training program on the newly commissioned HMS Anson. She was delivered to the Royal Navy at the end of August and promoted as the “most advanced submarine ever built.”
In one of his final acts as British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson attending the handover ceremony said that Australian submariners will join Royal Navy crews on training missions on the newly commissioned submarine. It will be the next step as the countries seek to deepen defense ties through the AUKUS pact that was announced in September last year. The UK will prepare the Australians for their planned nuclear subs to be built under the pact.
The Anson is the fifth of seven new Astute-Class submarines that the Royal Navy is building. It joins HMS Astute, Ambush, Artful and Audacious that are already in service. The remaining two, Agamemnon and Agincourt, are in various stages of construction as part of a $12.8 billion overall investment in the whole Astute-Class program.
Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, the hunter-killer Anson is being described as one of the most sophisticated underwater vessels ever built armed with up to 38 Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedoes and Block V Tomahawk land attack missiles capable of tackling targets at a range of up to 1,000 miles. At approximately 318 feet in length, and a displacement of 7,800 tons, the nuclear-powered submarine was built at BAE Systems’ yard in Barrow, Cumbria.
“From the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, our submarine service is protecting the UK and our allies and the deployment of Australian submariners alongside our British crews epitomizes the strength of the AUKUS partnership,” said Johnson during the commissioning of the submarine last week. The event was attended by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.
Johnson added that with naval capability at the center of the two countries’ future defense relationship, the joint training will reinforce the priorities of the Integrated Review and the significance of the AUKUS partnership that is designed to promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The UK and U.S have already welcomed Royal Australian Navy personnel on their specialized nuclear training courses with more expected to follow next year before Australian submariners go to sea. The training and exchanges mark the beginning of a multigenerational naval partnership between the three AUKUS nations.
The Royal Navy has described Anson as the cutting edge in submarine design, including the incorporation of naval stealth into her form and construction that gives the UK an operational advantage in the underwater battlespace. The submarine can reach speeds of over 30 knots and is fully equipped to destroy enemy military infrastructure both on land and in the sea. The onboard Rolls Royce nuclear reactor means the vessel, which took 11 years to build, will never need to be refueled during its 25-year service period.
Anson will remain in Barrow for several more weeks undergoing final checks, tests, and tweaks to her system before she sails for her future home at HM Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, where she will prepare for sea trials.