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AUKUS pact: US attack submarine USS Mississippi visits Australia

USS Mississippi visits Australia
Illustration: Australian defense ministry photo of United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP (right) onboard USS Mississippi at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii in October 2022.

US Navy Virginia-class submarine USS Mississippi and its crew have arrived at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, for a visit to Australia.

The nuclear-powered submarine’s routine visit comes after it hosted Australian defense minister Richard Marles and his US counterpart Lloyd J. Austin III for a tour at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in October this year.

The Australian defense ministry said the Monday’s visit reflected the ongoing strength of Australia’s alliance with the United States and builds on previous visits of nuclear-powered submarines from Australia’s AUKUS partners.

AUKUS is a technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that initially focused on providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, but was later expanded to undersea capabilities, quantum technologies, artificial intelligence and autonomy, cyber, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities, and electronic warfare.

One of the first benefits of the pact will see Australian sailors climb onboard UK Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines for training on nuclear-powered boats.

Since 1960, Australia has hosted over 285 visits by UK and US nuclear-powered vessels with over 1840 total days in port.

The USS Mississippi is the second US nuclear-powered vessel to visit Australia in 2022, following a visit by the USS Springfield in April.

“I had the opportunity to tour the USS Mississippi as part of my visit to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii last month, alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. It is a pleasure to welcome the crew to Western Australia this week, for this routine visit,” Marles said.

“Their stay in WA will provide those on board with much needed respite as they continue to ensure a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

“After a busy year operating with the US Navy across the Indo-Pacific, it’s a privilege to welcome our friends to Western Australia,” Admiral Mark Hammond, Australia’s Chief of Navy, added.

“We value every opportunity for our navies to interact, train, and operate together. Australia and the United States have a proud history of working together in peace and war, it is a privilege to be able to support this enduring friendship.”