An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam shows several vessels moored in Apra Harbor, March 15, 2018.

An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam shows several vessels moored in Apra Harbor, March 15, 2018. (Stacy Laseter/U.S. Navy)

A second, larger contingent of Australian sailors is training alongside U.S. counterparts on Guam as part of an agreement to create a nuclear-powered submarine force for the Australian navy.

Australia sent 37 officers and enlisted personnel to Naval Base Guam to train aboard the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land, according to a Feb. 4 news release from the country’s Department of Defence.

The training program falls under the AUKUS pact, an agreement by Australia, the United Kingdom and United States to build eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia by the 2030s at a cost of about $240 billion over 30 years.

A rotating force of U.S. and U.K. submarines is expected to establish itself in Australia by 2027 as part of the plan.

“The opportunity for our Navy personnel to learn from our AUKUS partners demonstrates meaningful progress along Australia’s pathway to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines,” Defence Minister Richard Marles said in the release.

Three Australian navy officers graduated on Jan. 12 from the U.S. Navy’s six-month prerequisite Nuclear Power Training Unit in Goose Creek, S.C. They advanced to the Navy’s basic submarine officer course.

This larger group will spend approximately five months with sailors from the U.S. vessel, learning to maintain submarines, the release said.

“The skills, knowledge and experience gained in Guam alongside our United States Navy partners will afford our people the opportunity to undertake some of the most complex maintenance on a United States [nuclear submarine],” Australian Chief of the Navy Vice Adm. Mark Hammond said in the release.

Attempts to contact a spokesman for the Emory S. Land by phone were unsuccessful Friday.

The experience, the release said, will allow Australia’s navy to support its first planned maintenance on a U.S. nuclear submarine during a visit to HMAS Stirling, the navy base in Western Australia, later this year.

AUKUS was established to counter Chinese expansionism in the Western Pacific. Several attack submarines have visited Western Australia in the past year as part of the pact.

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Juan King is a reporter, photographer and web editor at Yokota Air Base, Japan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2004 and has been assigned to Stars and Stripes since 2021. His previous assignments have taken him to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Guam and Japan.

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