Moore and AUKUS working group introduce new bill to establish Officer Training Pipeline for Australian Submarines

Yesterday, Rep. Blake Moore (UT-01) was joined by Reps. Joe Courtney (CT-02), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), and Derek Kilmer (WA-06) in introducing the Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act. The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and will enable the start of U.S.-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance. Moore, Courtney, Gallagher, and Kilmer—the four Chairmen of the Congressional AUKUS Working Group—were also joined by Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) as original co-sponsors of the bill.

The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act outlines that the U.S., U.K., and Australia should work strategically to deliver the capabilities outlined in the new undersea alliance, including by engaging with industry partners and by expanding industrial base capacity to support increased submarine production. To prepare for the successful operation of future undersea capabilities, the bill establishes an exchange program between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy to integrate and train Australian sailors for the operation and maintenance of nuclear-powered submarines.

“The AUKUS partnership seeks to bolster the alliance between the US, Australia, and the UK, and the Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act is a prime example of what we aim to accomplish together,” Rep. Moore said. “It is imperative that we strengthen our undersea capabilities and increase submarine production for our national security interests, and the training exchange program outlined in the legislation will help us achieve that goal. I am pleased to join my AUKUS Working Group co-chairs in supporting this important bill and the great impacts it will have on our international security capabilities.”

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades. Its centerpiece is creating an Australian nuclear-powered undersea fleet of submarines, which all three allies are actively designing. While that work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the U.S. Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines,” said Rep. Courtney. “The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act is a major milestone in the successful implementation of AUKUS. Our bill will authorize an education and training program for Royal Australian Navy submariners to receive formal instruction in the highest standard of U.S. Navy technology, and will begin rotating in the first cohorts of Australian sailors who will command their future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. This bipartisan bill has the full support of the AUKUS Working Group, and we should waste no time in moving it forward towards a final vote.”

“The US, Australian, and UK partnership is the beating heart of the free world. Establishing a joint training pipeline between our navy and the Australian navy is a critical step that will take our security partnership to the next level,” said Rep. Gallagher. “I’m proud to work alongside my colleagues to introduce this vital legislation that not only demonstrates Congress’ unwavering support of the AUKUS partnership, but begins taking the many steps that will be required to realize its full potential.”

“Recent world events have shown that our strategic alliances and partnerships with key allies across the globe are more important than ever. That includes our nation’s work with the United Kingdom and Australia to strengthen our security partnership in the Indo-Pacific,” Rep. Kilmer said. “Facilitating a pipeline to help strengthen the Australian Navy, and consequently the AUKUS Alliance, makes a whole lot of sense. We’ll keep pushing to get this bill signed into law.”

“When the U.S., U.K., and Australia committed to the AUKUS Alliance last year, all three nations reassured the rest of the world that rogue, authoritarian-led nations will not triumph in today’s world nor will they in years to come,” said Rep. Wittman. “AUKUS is one of the most momentous and historic security partnerships that U.S. has committed to in decades. The Australia-U.S. Submarines Officer Pipeline Act is a positive step forward in the process of ensuring that our valued allies are able to effectively learn, train, and employ nuclear-powered submarines. I am honored to join Chairman Courtney and my colleagues to introduce this vital legislation.”

The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act will help facilitate the delivery and ensure the future success of Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance. Because the delivery of such submarines to Australia will require the appropriate training and development of future commanding officers, and in order to uphold the stewardship of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, the bill establishes a program for Australian submariner training between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

Under the program, a minimum of two Australian submarine officers would be selected each year to participate in training with the U.S. Navy. Each such participant will:

  • Receive training in the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School
  • Enroll in the Submarine Office Basic Course
  • Be assigned to duty on an operational U.S. submarine at sea 

On September 15, 2021, joint leaders of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom announced the creation of AUKUS to enhance each country’s shared commitment to international rules-based order, and deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The AUKUS Working Group, also known as the AUKUS Caucus, was founded by Reps. Courtney, Gallagher, Kilmer, and Moore, and will serve as the go-to panel in the U.S. Congress for implementation of and collaboration on the new undersea alliance.