The Australian sub-agreement is “brilliant”, the partnership with the French navy remains solid

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WASHINGTON – The US Navy Chief of Naval Operations has pledged to assist Australia with its recently announced nuclear-powered submarine program and has also pledged to operate transparently alongside the French Navy, after the recent agreement on Australian-British-American submarines caused political fallout between the triad and France.

Admiral Mike Gilday called the so-called AUKUS deal, in which the US Navy and the British Royal Navy would help Australia design, build and support its own nuclear-powered attack submarine program, “on the strategic plan… very important and, I think, a big bang as regards our posture in the Pacific, in particular vis-à-vis China.

He said the arrangement would require the US Navy to work “very closely with the Australian Navy to help determine what will be the optimal route to safely deliver not only the submarines, but the company that needs to support them. It’s all from a defense industrial base in Australia; to a community within the Australian Navy that is capable of piloting, training and equipping these submarines; to support them; to have an oversight mechanism similar to the one we have in the United States Navy to monitor these nuclear ships.

“This is a very long-term effort that will take decades, I think, before a submarine launches – it could be. I don’t see this as a short-term timeline. We have an 18-month exploratory period that will answer many of these questions and help Australia understand exactly what it needs to do to get on the path to the US Navy, ”Gilday continued in his address to L Defense One State of the Navy event online.

The US Navy not only has program offices that support the design, construction, and maintenance of submarines, but a naval nuclear propulsion program, or naval reactors, exists under the US Department of Energy to manage the design, maintenance and safety of the nuclear propulsion system.

Gilday said last week’s announcement came as 140 international naval chiefs and coast guards gathered at Naval War College in Rhode Island for the International Maritime Power Symposium. Although the Australian Naval Directorate participated virtually, the Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Admiral Pierre Vandier, was present at the event in person, allowing Gilday to speak to him four times about this. subject and others.

“Although this announcement was a bit controversial for the French, what we committed to at our level was to continue working together,” said Gilday. He noted the recent joint operations between the 5th Fleet and the Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group as an example of cooperation between the two maritime services.

“There is no reason why we cannot consider having the same arrangement in other theaters, whether in the Mediterranean or in the 7th Fleet,” said Gilday. “So the bottom line with the French is that we continue to work closely with our marines marching together… and so I’m very confident that this will continue at a pace without any bumps in the road. “

Australia previously planned to replace its Collins-class attack submarines built in the 1990s with a French diesel-electric submarine, in a $ 66 billion deal between the Royal Australian Navy and the French majority naval group, according to the Associated Press.

When the AUKUS deal was announced – with the announcement that Australia would not buy the French submarines, instead opting for nuclear-powered submarines which are quieter and do not need to be refueled, allowing them to function longer without needing to surface or come to seek gas at the port – France recalled its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra in protest.

US President Joe Biden was only able to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 23, eight days after the announcement, to begin to smooth things over politically. Due to the timing of the ISS event, Gilday said he was able to immediately ensure good relations with his French naval counterpart.

Megan Eckstein is the naval war reporter for Defense News. It has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs, and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest reporting stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumnus.


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