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Concerns Arise among Senators Regarding Declining Supply of US Nuclear Submarines amidst Agreement with Australia

Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee have expressed concerns over the lack of nuclear submarines in the United States following an agreement with Australia. During a hearing on September 6th, officials from the State and Defense departments discussed the trilateral security pact known as AUKUS between Australia, the UK, and the US. The agreement involves Australia purchasing three submarines to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability and jointly developing advanced military capabilities. The United States may sell up to two more submarines to Australia if needed. However, lawmakers raised concerns about whether the US has enough submarines to sell to Australia, especially considering tensions with China and Russia. The US Navy currently has 49 fast-attack submarines, 17 short of the 66 it needs to defend the country. In contrast, China and Russia are projected to exceed US naval power. The concerns were emphasized by Senator Pete Ricketts, who stated that China’s navy is expanding rapidly and that the AUKUS agreement is crucial to strengthening US alliances. Other senators, such as Senator Bill Hagerty, raised concerns about potential delays in meeting defense goals if submarines are provided to Australia. Some Republicans have also warned that the current plan could weaken the US fleet. However, officials from the Defense Department assured lawmakers that efforts are being made to strengthen the defense industrial base and increase submarine production and maintenance funding.

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