Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – More than a dozen Australian submarine maintenance personnel from the ASC, formerly called the Australian Submarine Corporation, arrived at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF) Nov. 27 to witness how the U.S. Navy plans and executes maintenance on nuclear-powered attack submarines.
The delegation represents the first AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) Maintenance Partners (AMP) to visit a U.S. maintenance facility. Over the next several months, they will observe how the U.S. Navy trains, equips and supervises its shipyard workforce. The goal is to increase the AMP’s understanding of American procedures and requirements ahead of establishing Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-W) that requires Australia to be able to plan and execute intermediate-level maintenance for up to four Virginia-class submarines starting as early as 2027.
“This initial AMP cadre allows us to get Australian submarine maintainers more accustomed to the world of nuclear-powered attack submarines,” said Capt. Lincoln Reifsteck, U.S. Navy AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Manager. “They won’t be able to do any hands-on training at this point, but they will be able to see how the shipyard operates so when it comes time to begin their training they will have a head start.”
“We have been preparing for months to bring our Australian partners to Hawaii to begin the integration process, not only as part of the workforce at the shipyard, but also within our community,” said Beth Kuanoni, program director at PHNSY & IMF, which serves as the Naval Supervisory Authority (NSA) and Lead Maintenance Activity (LMA) for the SRF-W at HMAS Stirling. “We want the Australians to feel our Spirit of Aloha and `Ohana culture when they arrive.”
The Department of Defense and Department of the Navy are working with Congress to modify existing laws that restrict training Australian contractors in government facilities, including shipyards.
“With Congressional approval we will start training AMPs in Hawaii in early 2024,” shared Reifsteck. “That said, if the law does change between now and when this team departs in March we will be able to add to their planned itinerary and add some hands-on training.”
The AMPs will lay the groundwork for the hundreds of Australians who will train and certify at PHNSY & IMF.
The AUKUS partnership is a strategic endeavor that strengthens the three nations’ national security and promotes peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia will acquire conventionally armed SSNs for the Royal Australian Navy under AUKUS Pillar One via the Optimal Pathway announced by the heads of the three partner nations on March 13, 2023. AUKUS I&A is responsible for executing the trilateral partnership to deliver conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy at the earliest possible date while setting the highest nuclear stewardship standards.