BLUF

The outgoing US administration wants to re-establish a US Navy fleet to cover the Indian Ocean—Peter Jennings argues that Australia should try to convince President-elect Biden to base the new fleet in WA.

Summary

The outgoing Trump administration plans to re-establish the US Navy’s 1st Fleet, which will focus on the Indian Ocean region. In time this new Fleet could, in capability terms, rival the US Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet. This new Fleet should provide a strong American presence in the Indian Ocean region. At this stage, the Fleet’s shore HQ is likely to be either Singapore or Australia. However, to-date President Trump’s administration has not consulted either government. Australia should try to persuade President-elect Biden to proceed with establishing the 1st Fleet. Further Australia should try to  convince the US to base the 1st  Fleet in WA, by offering to bear some of the costs of setting up a US base in WA. A US Fleet based in WA would have substantial deterrence value. Consider whether there are other advantages to Australia hosting a US Fleet in WA.