SAN DIEGO (CNS) – President Joe Biden visited San Diego Monday with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to lay out a phased plan for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.
Monday’s meeting outlined how Australia will acquire up to five nuclear-powered submarines from the United States as part of the agreement, according to the White House.
“One of the most important parts of this partnership is increasing each of our countries’ submarine capabilities,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement. “Under the first phase of the Optimal Pathway, the United States and the United Kingdom will immediately increase port visits of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia and then, as early as 2027, will begin rotating through Australia under Submarine Rotational Force-West.”
Following that first phase, the U.S. intends to sell three Virginia- class submarines to Australia in the 2030s, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. Then, both Australia and the U.K. “will develop and deploy SSN-AUKUS, a new conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine that incorporates critical U.S. technologies.”
The trilateral Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership — known as AUKUS — announced in 2021 aims to boost Australia’s submarine program.
“Further, this plan will lift all three nations’ submarine industrial bases and undersea capabilities, enhancing deterrence and promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the White House read.
Biden flew into Naval Air Station North Island, arriving shortly after noon. He was greeted upon arrival by Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Surface Forces, and Capt. Charles McKissick, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado.
The president was expected to be greeted later in the day at San Diego International Airport by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other local elected officials.
The visit is Biden’s first to the San Diego area since a 19-hour visit Oct. 3-4, when he spoke at MiraCosta College in Oceanside and a technology company in Carlsbad.
Biden is scheduled to travel Tuesday to the Los Angeles area, paying a visit to Monterey Park, the scene of a recent mass shooting that killed 11 people. Biden is expected to discuss efforts to reduce gun violence, according to the White House.
California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said Biden should use his two-day tour of California to address issues the GOP often opines on, such as inflation, fentanyl and energy prices.
“Californians deserve answers to the pressing issues they face because of the Biden administration’s failures, but we won’t hold our breath that we’ll get them on his California trip or anytime soon,” Patterson said in a statement.