Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. Bill Galinis named Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF) as the Naval Supervising Authority (NSA) and Lead Maintenance Activity (LMA) for Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-W) July 26. As the NSA/LMA, PHNSY & IMF will support the establishment of SRF-W, which is the first phase of the AUKUS Pillar One effort that is delivering conventionally armed nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) to Australia. SRF-W will host up to four Virginia-class and one United Kingdom Astute-class attack submarines (SSNs) at HMAS Stirling on a rotational basis in Western Australia starting in 2027.
Initially announced in September 2021, the AUKUS trilateral agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States is a strategic endeavor aimed at strengthening the security and defense capabilities of the three nations that also promotes stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia will acquire SSNs under Pillar One of AUKUS via a plan known as the “Optimal Pathway” announced by the heads of the three partner nations on March 13, 2023.
With the extended rotations lasting between three and five years, Virginia-class SSNs will require voyage repair and Intermediate-Level (I-Level) maintenance that generally lasts several weeks and does not require dry docking. As the NSA/LMA, PHNSY & IMF will support training Australian military and civilian personnel to execute the required work.
“There is no doubt that Pearl Harbor is the right shipyard to serve as the NSA/LMA for SRF-W,” said Galinis. “Having completed numerous maintenance availabilities, they know the Virginia-class. When you add in the exceptional skill of the Pearl Harbor workforce, it is the right decision.”
“It is an honor and a formidable responsibility to have PHNSY & IMF chosen to serve as the NSA/LMA for SRF-W,” said the shipyard’s commanding officer Capt. Richard A. Jones. “Significant effort will be required, but we understand our efforts will sharpen the tip of the Royal Australian Navy’s spear and set their submarine force on the path to sovereign readiness to operate and maintain their own conventionally armed nuclear-powered attack submarines. PHNSY & IMF’s mission is to keep the fleet fit to fight and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and dedication to a culture of excellence that returns submarines safely to the fleet on time, every time.”
In the near future, Australian and United Kingdom personnel will travel to PHNSY & IMF to refine their understanding of the requirements associated with maintaining SSNs.
“Soon, Australian and UK nationals will be at our naval shipyard, embedded within our maintenance organization, learning skills that are unique to only six countries in the world,” said Rear Adm. Scott Brown, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Deputy Commander, Industrial Operations.
“PHNSY & IMF will be charged with leading a trilateral effort to develop the capability to repair and maintain SSNs in Australia. We are committed to ensuring that Australia has all the local knowledge, training, and skills needed to maintain SSNs in accordance with our standards.”
To ensure PHNSY & IMF can meet its future obligations, additional personnel will be hired to support the AUKUS effort. “We recognize we can’t absorb this added workload with our current workforce,” said Jones. “Working with NAVSEA, we will be looking to add people across numerous shops throughout the shipyard to support this effort so we don’t overburden our systems or impact any planned maintenance availabilities.”
“The AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Office is extremely happy to have PHNSY & IMF designated as the NSA/LMA for SRF-W and we are honored to have them as part of the AUKUS `Ohana,’” said Captain Lincoln Reifsteck, the AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Manager. “The men and women of the Navy’s Nō Ka ‘Oi (of the best) shipyard in the heart of the Pacific are critical to our overall success and I am looking forward to building a strong working relationship with them and our Australian shipmates.”
The AUKUS partnership is a strategic endeavor that strengthens the three nations’ national security and promotes peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia will acquire conventionally armed SSNs for the Royal Australian Navy under AUKUS Pillar One via the Optimal Pathway announced by the heads of the three partner nations on March 13, 2023.
The AUKUS Integration and Acquisition (I&A) Program Office is responsible for executing the trilateral partnership to deliver conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy at the earliest possible date while setting the highest nuclear stewardship standards.