Crash and Burn

This is both optimistic and troubling. Fairfax media reports that "China has put…

The Admirable Demonstration of Dan Tehan And Other…

Apparently, Dan Tehan was on QandA last night. I only know this…

Condensed Fun Facts, Dates, Myths/Misconceptions

By Richard Whitington Fun Referendum Facts Fun Referendum Facts #1: The ballot paper for…

Cannabis: We can shut up, toe the line,…

When President Obama commented that he thought cannabis was likely less dangerous…

Corruption suspicions hang over secret PNG refugee contracts

Refugee Action Coalition Media Release AUSTALIA’S SECRET PNG DEAL MUST BE INVESTIGATED Refugee advocates…

Dianne Feinstein: National Security State Diva

The tributes for the late Democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, heaped…

Media Alert - Refugees Say "Fair Go, Albo"

A protest vigil will be held for 4 days at the electoral…

The Voice reveals the urgent need for truth…

The fact that Elon Musk has just halved his election integrity team…


Congressional Concerns: Stalling Nuclear Submarines for Australia

Any security arrangement with too many variables and multiple contingencies, risks stuttering and keeling over. Critical delays might be suffered, attributable to a number of factors beyond the parties concerned. Disputes and disagreements may surface. Such an arrangement is AUKUS, where the number of cooks risk spoiling any meal they promise to cook.

The main dish here comprises the nuclear-powered submarines that are meant to make their way to Australian shores, both in terms of purchase and construction. It marks what the US, UK and Australia describe as the first pillar of the agreement. Ostensibly, they are intended for the island continent’s self-defence, declared as wholesomely and even desperately necessary in these dangerous times. Factually, they are intended as expensive toys for willing vassals, possibly operated by Australian personnel, at the beckon call of US naval and military forces, monitoring Chinese forces and any mischief they might cause.

While the agreement envisages the creation of specific AUKUS submarines using a British design, supplemented by US technology and Australian logistics, up to three Virginia Class (SSN-774) submarines are intended as an initial transfer. The decision to do so, however, ultimately resides in Congress. As delighted and willing as President Joe Biden might well be to part with such hulks, representatives in Washington are not all in accord.

Signs that not all lawmakers were keen on the arrangement were already being expressed in December 2022. In a letter to Biden authored by Democratic Senator Jack Reed and outgoing Republican Senator James Inhofe, concerns were expressed “about the state of the US submarine industrial base as well as its ability to support the desired AUKUS SSN [nuclear sub] end state.” Current conditions, the senators went on to describe, required “a sober assessment of the facts to avoid stressing the US submarine industrial base to the breaking point.”

On May 22, a Congressional Research Service report outlined some of the issues facing US politicians regarding the procurement of the Virginia (SSN-774) submarine for the Australian Navy. Should, for instance, Congress “approve, reject, or modify DOD’s AUKUS-related legislative package for the FY2024 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] sent to Congress on May 2, 2023”? Would the transfer of three to five such boats “while pursuing the construction of three to five replacement SSNs for the US Navy” have a “net impact on collective allied deterrence”? And should Beijing even worry, given some unequivocal remarks from Australian officials that they would not automatically use the US-supplied boats against them in a conflict involving Washington.

The report has proven prescient enough. Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee have realised that stalling aspects of AUKUS might prove useful, if it entails increasing military spending beyond levels set by the current debt-limit deal. On July 16, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, one of the committee’s ranking members, took to the Wall Street Journal to declare that the US had to double submarine production. The opening words of praise for the security pact are merely the prelude for a giant dollop of America First advice, snootily relegating Australia to the status of mere clients. “As it stands, the AUKUS plan would transfer US Virginia-class submarines to a partner nation even before we have met our own Navy’s requirements.”

The magic number of 66 nuclear submarines was some way off; the US only had 49 in its fleet, a number that would fall to three by 2030 as aging submarines retired at a rate faster than their replacement. The industrial base for such vessels had been stretched, with a mere 1.2 Virginia-class attack submarines being produced annually instead of the necessary two. For Wicker, the halcyon days for submarine procurement were the 1980s, when bold, muscular administrations lustily spent money on the program.

Then came another problem: almost 40% of the US attack submarines would be incapable of deployment due to maintenance delays. The senator offered one example from 2021: an accident to the USS Connecticut in the South China Sea meant that it would not be of use until 2026.

The terms, for Wicker, are stark. “To keep the commitment under AUKUS, and not reduce our own fleet, the US would have to produce between 2.3 and 2.5 attack submarines a year.” There would have to be improvements in the field of submarine maintenance and “more forward basing of submarines” (Australia is not mentioned as an option for such staging, but the implication throbs in its obviousness). While acknowledging that Australian investment in US shipyards will help, the amount of $3 billion in the submarine base, Wicker stated in a separate interview fell far short of what was necessary.

Priorities are what they are: “we cannot afford to shrink the overworked US submarine fleet at a dangerous moment.” And why should that be so? Because the People’s Liberation Army of China will, as instructed by China’s President Xi Jinping, “be ready for a Taiwan invasion by 2027. Time is of the essence.”

When, then, to be done? No fuss will be made by the senator and his colleagues were Biden to “immediately send Congress a request for supplemental appropriations and authorities – including a detailed implementation – that increases US submarine production to 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines.” General investments in US submarine production capacity including supplier and workforce development initiatives were needed. Remember, Wicker urges, those bold and brash expenditures of the Second World War and the Cold War. “To fulfill the promise and benefit of the AUKUS agreement, we need such clarity of purpose once again.”

Such manoeuvring has caught the Democrats off guard. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who had hoped for an easy transfer of submarines pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act, is pondering the need for a separate amendment to the defence policy bill facilitating the submarine transfer. He thought that Republican reluctance to permit the transfer to the Australians was “foolish because giving us the ability to have that type of presence in the Pacific with a strong ally makes a lot of sense.”

As US lawmakers wrestle over funds and the need to increase submarine production, the Australian side of the bargain looks flimsy, weak, and dispensable. With cap waiting to be filled, Canberra’s undistinguished begging is qualified by what, exactly, will be provided. What the US president promises, Congress taketh. Wise heads might see this as a chance to disentangle, extricate, and cancel an agreement monumentally absurd, costly and filled with folly. It might even go some way to preserve peace rather than stimulate Indo-Pacific militarism.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button


Login here Register here
  1. Harry Lime

    Turns out those Republican naysayers have a use after all.Wonders will never cease.The whole AUKUS circus has always looked like a mountain of bullshit.As for building 2.3 to 2.5 giant metal coffins,who cares? For Governor Albanese it means 3/5 of fuck all.Might as well set up a stall advertising free money for the NE military industrial complex.The way things are shaping up on the home front,I think Albo needs some new advisors…or a different job.

  2. JulianP

    @Harry Lime. Good stuff Harry; pretty well sums up my intended comment.
    Albo definitely needs new Mil/Tech/Int advisors – he’s still using Scummo’s lot.
    BTW, as food for thought, have a look at this article:

    An Australian battery Industry, or a dodgy AUKUS scam?

  3. Harry Lime

    Thanks JulianP,it appears that the Defence wallahs are completely in the thrall of the mega death toys salesmen,most of who imagine themselves as cage fighters if they weren’t obliged to sit behind a desk.However, we are so fortunate to have a Defence Minister of the calibre of Richard Fucking Marles, and as an added bonus, Defence has an impeccable track record of pissing money against the wall and being unfailingly wrong about everything.The Republicans,for Christ’s sake,Look like performing a major rescue.As Forrest Gump said”life is like a box of chocolates,you never know what you’re going to get”

  4. Canguro

    A cursory Wiki enquiry into the prevalence of submarine ownership supplies this linked result, and one might perhaps be forgiven for suggesting that such is the seeming popularity of these sardine cans amongst the various navies of the world that Australia might well be suffering a case of FOMO, and as such is hastening to alleviate the anxiety encumbered by such a plight. I should add that ‘Australia’ is not meant to represent either the country or its people, but merely a miniscule quotient of brass-buttoned mariners and their eager-to-please political masters… who seem, unsurprisingly, hypnotised by the razzle dazzle of snappy men in sharp uniforms with a tight line in serious & sober flubble bubble on the present and future risks this country is facing from its major trading partner… an exercise in fevered and febrile fantasy if ever there was, but apparently sufficient to convince the suits from Canberra to hock the country’s GDP into debt for generations in order to satisfy the brass buttoned weavers of hocus pocus and keep them from shifting gear into invoking darker rumblings.

    Fingers crossed that the Mad Men of the American Republican Party might actually come to the rescue and bin this mad fantasy before real world consequences take place.

  5. Roswell

    And when it’s cancelled the government can share $65B with Australia’s poorest 10M families, giving them $6,500 each.

    What a boost to the economy that would be.

  6. New England Cocky

    @ Harry Lime et al: The sooner the USUKA debacle funding is redirected into social housing the better. Minister Richard Mediocre must look at tomorrow’s weaponry rather than repeat the DD policy of preparing for the last conflict in 1945, or even the US imperialist disasters in Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan that were all land wars.

    DRONES. Rockets and very fast aircraft.

  7. ajogrady

    Why is it that Albanese and Marles have a bottomless pit of taxpayers money for USA made WMD’s ( Weapons of Mass Destrution) but cannot find the much needed funds for pensions, health, aged care, homelessness and education. All of these offer forms of protection for the majority of Australians.
    Australian Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Australian Defence Minister, the warmongering pimp for war, Rchard Marles was elected to do what is in the best interest of Australia’s strategic defence and NOT those of a foreign country, the USA. Marles is the latest Australian politician that is foremost a lobbyist for the US military arms industry.
    The picture put forward by DPM Marles, endorsing every single move the US makes and celebrating “unprecedented defence cooperation” with it— cooperation that will be so close that it would be very difficult for us to disengage even if we wanted to, for example if we concluded that the US was provoking a conflict with China over Taiwan, is NOT in the best interest of Australia and its people. Marles has trashed Australia’s sovereignty and independence and gifted it to the USA. Marles’s intentions are to subvert what is in Australia’s best interest and for Australia to accommodate unwaveringly what is in the USA’s best interests. Any reasonable person would consider this to be an act of treason by an Australian elected representative.
    The $400billion AUKUS deal is Albanese’s and Labor’s Achilles Heel and will drive Labor’s “true believers” and young voters elsewhere with their vote. Albanese, the Astral-American, is proving to be a warmongering pimp for war.
    Albanese lacks the self-confidence of a Gough Whitlam or a Don Dunstan, who routinely risked their careers by advocating progressive policy reforms. His commitment to the ill conceived bogus AUKUS deal stands in stark contrast to the ethical leadership of the late Simon Crean. At the time, Mr Crean’s opposition to John Howard’s craven commitment to the Iraq war was a rare and inspiring
    example of statesmanship and integrity in leadership.
    Prime Minister Howard had committed Australia’s young men and women to a war not yet declared, knowing all along that you couldn’t pull them out. It was done without the mandate of the Australian people, the Australian parliament or the United Nations.
    It was an act of a subservient Australian leader keen to abide by the wishes of the US imperium, whatever its wisdom and whatever the implications for international peace and security. Albanese’s AUKUS deal shows no signs of Crean’s acumen and insight but all the signs of Howard’s folly and poor judgement.
    Albanese Labor’s
    few attempts at reforms so far have been limited by timidity and insidious incrementalism, rather than making a bold break from the old politics. In fear of the Murdoch mob, it lacks ambition to free Australia from the grip of grifters exploiting regressive tax avoidance schemes and government subsidies to monster industries like the mining sector. Labor’s powerful right wing is dominated by the likes of Richard Marles. Marle’s old, white and stale politics is writ large and is a massive handbrake on Australia progressing to its full and prosperous potential.
    Albanese’s invidious $400billion AUKUS deal will turn what should have been a 3 to 4 term Labor government into minority government by the next election.
    Voters who anticipated the Albanese government would be a courageously progressive government have so far been totally disappointed. They are unlikely and unwilling to be voting Labor next election.

    Labor’s serial betrayal of Australia

    All’s not quiet on the home front

  8. Clakka

    I am far from being a militarist, and would far prefer the world did not involve itself in such stupidity. Then again I am not charged with making decisions about how, when and whether we should defend ourselves, and whether such a situation is likely to arise. The very sorts of questions the folk of Ukraine will now be again asking themselves. And upon which others in their neighbourhood have taken decisive actions of deterrence.

    I certainly look over my shoulder into the past, and look at the post-WWII behaviour of the USA (and Britain) from its previous international ‘pacifist’ stance to its beguiling ‘world’s policeman’ covering for a progressively disgraceful imperium and pursuit of hegemony. It not only confused its own citizens, but frightened the rest of the world. Its no wonder that through and beyond the Vietnam war, anti-American sentiment and apprehension sky-rocketed around the globe.

    I also look at the west’s long history of egregious behaviour within and towards China over the years, and understandably, China’s growing mistrust, resentment and determination to become self-sustaining, self-reliant and defensive regarding any threats.

    As China quietly grew off the back of America’s arrogance and usury, its rise and methods of expansionism across the Indo-pacific and Africa gave rise to much anxiety and apprehension in the west, particularly as America’s economy and ability to maintain their military ring-fence began to decline. The west failed to understand the speed by which 1.4 billion people could be harnessed and set to work on modernisation and the creation of itself as a great power, with a military machine sufficient to deter all comers of dubious intention.

    Australia, a wealthy, but comparatively tin-pot nation of 30 million had managed to maintain and grow its resources trade with China, but as was demonstrated clearly during Morrison’s tenure, only at China’s convenience. Whilst the USA, coming from every aggressive quarter it could muster, sought to intimidate China in an ongoing pique of hegemonic arrogance – absolutely ludicrous in the face of the logical and ineffable rise of China.

    The stand-offs and stalemates exacerbated by the pandemic and rapidly occurring climate change have trashed economies and wellbeing world-wide, which in turn threaten political and civil stability. There has been a lot of testing of the waters in the last 3 years, but it only took one loose canon in Putin to break out in a venal madness of destruction, jeopardising the fragile equilibrium of Europe and South Asia and trashing 1/3 of he world’s breadbasket.

    There was certainly an acceleration of navel gazing and less posturing in those 3 years, and with Trump gone and Biden in there was noticeable withdrawal by the USA into economic survival and attention to the wellbeing of its populace – it could no longer afford to be the ‘world’s policeman’.

    Upon the advent of Putin’s madness, the USA or any of the NATO countries entering the war would be out of the question.

    The world now pitching in a very unstable situation, not only Russia / Ukraine, but also Israel / Palestine, NE Africa, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Myanma, Cambodia and the Philippines for example. All gripped by failing politics, inflation, civil unrest and dissent, what to do? I’m sure Oz won’t maintain a viable cohesive society selling ice creams to tourists – yet.

    Whilst Oz doesn’t have a critical mass of population, or any land borders, it is vast and contains vast readily available resources, including a significant brains trust. Yet it in the fast moving ultra-high-tech world of not only national but private mercenary militias, it has an utterly inappropriately equipped defence force, and a less than adequately functioning military hierarchy. And the notions of threat are far from what would have been considered even a decade ago.

    I have been impressed with Labor’s rapid forays into international affairs, and in the main, the language it has used to state our position, bolster neglected relationships and talk of a multi-polar future. Whilst there have been some moments that make one wince, overall it seems to be steps to facilitate a momentum in a positive direction. And to that end I observe that Blinken has been making similar overtures toward China under the auspice of coming to gather to take climate change.

    Whilst I am not certain, at this time I am considering AUKUS as a trojan horse. Not a vehicle of ballistics and aggression – a ludicrous prospect (China et al would rofl), but more a security blanket over a substance of surveillance, and re-stimulation of hi-tech education and training, manufacturing and intellectual and resources exchange on the very expensive road to climate change abatement, renewals development and the decarbonisation of the energy industry and changes to those it feeds.

    And I might add that I am far from an adherent of creative destruction, much preferring the m.o. of Oz First Nations folk. And I’m pretty sure that the US republican congress doesn’t think like me – yet. Hmmmmm.

    So, like I said, I’m not sure, but at the same time I ponder what would anyone do, given the state of the world, the throttled and risk-averse investment sphere and the circumstances prevailing in Oz.

    I guess I’ll just have to be a fly on the wall whilst it plays out or until I drop.

  9. Clakka

    PS: It’s all very well for me to blather on about my uncertain theory. But there’s one important matter I had let go through to the boundary, and that’s nuclear waste. Not just of the low-level medical kind a la Lucas Heights at Kimba SA, recently ditched by the Federal Court, but for the Subs, we’re talking high-level weapons-grade enriched fuel for the propulsion units, which, per the AUKUS deal, have to be disposed of here in Oz. Not good, very bad, and potentially the thin edge of the wedge – given the LNP’s pumping of SMRs (Small Modular Reactors), despite the waste problem and the high initial and cyclical cost.

    And of course, AUKUS has pressed the button of Jim Voss ex Pangea proponent of an international radioactive waste dump in Oz. This is out of the question lunacy. But with Voss and his backers on the scene, pushing, the whole caboodle could take a deadly twist, and requires Albo, Marles and Co to come clean on disposal proposals re the Subs and all, and provide unbreachable assurances.

    Cikey’s David Hardaker published this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: