Now that Australia has decided to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, the next step is to decide which one to build.
Australia's first submarine—the AE1, built in 1914—was built in Britain. More than a century later, Britain is again in the running to build submarines for Australia. Just weeks after announcing Australia would be acquiring nuclear-powered submarines to help ensure it has the most modern naval fleet available, Australia now has to decide whether to have those subs built in Britain or the United States (US). Over the next 18 months, Defence's Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force will lead a study into the numerous regulatory issues involved in the ownership and operation of nuclear-powered boats. Many commentators believe the existing British Astute-class is emerging as an early favourite to replace the Collins-class fleet. While others think any nuclear-powered Australian submarine will need to be an American boat (based on the Virginia-class) to be serviced at nearby US bases in Guam or Japan. Both the British and US options have advantages and disadvantages, highlighting the extraordinarily complex process the ADF faces in selecting the most appropriate nuclear-powered submarine.