US report raises submarine repair backlog and AUKUS concerns
A recent US Congressional Research Service report has raised some concerns about upcoming operations with Australia under AUKUS and maintenance backlog in the US nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
The report discusses Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class attack submarine procurement information and issues for Congress published on 6 July.
The US Navy has been procuring Virginia Class nuclear-powered attack submarines since 1998 and accumulated 38 as of 2023 at a rate of two per year and cost of around $4.3 billion per boat.
The vessel is part of a proposed AUKUS defence agreement with the sale of Virginia Class boats to Australia announced earlier this year in March. The US Navy anticipates building additional Virginia Class SSNs in the 2030s as replacements for three to five Virginia Class submarines sold to Australia but warns the full impact of AUKUS shipbuilding plan cannot be characterised in the report.
“Strictly construed, building additional SSNs as replacements for three to five Virginia Cass boats sold to Australia would involve building three to five SSNs that would be in addition to those that were already envisaged as being built in the 2030s for US Navy (20 SSNs from 2030 to 2039),” the report said.