Nuclear-powered submarines

The AUKUS conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine pathway will deliver Australia a world-class capability that will see the nation become one of only seven countries that operate nuclear-powered submarines.

The pathway delivers significant long-term strategic benefits for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It strengthens the combined industrial capacity of the three AUKUS partners, with increased cooperation making trilateral supply chains more robust and resilient.

In March 2023, Australia, together with AUKUS partners, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced the Optimal Pathway to deliver a conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarine capability for Australia.

Key features include:

  • A range of opportunities for Australian personnel to work with and learn from UK and US Navies including increased visits to Australian ports by the UK Royal Navy and US Navy nuclear-powered submarines.
  • Increased forward presence of Royal Navy and US Navy nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, to assist in developing knowledge and industrial capabilities.
  • The delivery of three Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy from as soon as the early 2030s, with the potential to acquire up to two more if needed.
  • The development, construction and delivery for the Royal Australian Navy of an advanced, nuclear-powered submarine called ‘SSN-AUKUS’, incorporating Australian, UK and US technologies.


Nuclear-powered submarine