Box seat: Call for nuclear submarines to be based at Port of Brisbane

The new defence pact with the United States and the UK could and should lead to the Port of Brisbane becoming a home base for American and the future Australian nuclear submarines, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Sep 17, 2021, updated Sep 17, 2021

At a Queensland Futures Institute defence forum in Brisbane today, the threat to Australia of a rising China was front and centre along with the impact of the AUKUS pact announced yesterday.

ASPI’s senior defence analyst Dr Malcolm Davis said the pact would have enormous ramifications and opportunities and Queensland and northern Australia were likely to be at its centre.

He said to deal with the threat from China Australia must increase the presence of the American military in Australia with the number of marines based in Darwin from 2500 to 7500.

He said it should also include the basing of long-range bombers here.

He said that would mean an expansion of the Port of Darwin and ending China’s ownership of that facility.

“If we are to acquire nuclear submarines that should not all be based on the west coast,” Davis said.

“The potential for east coast basing is really important to consider and Brisbane has to be a logical place in that regard.

“We need to think … about hosting rotational deployments of US aircraft, including long-range bombers and home porting of US nuclear submarines on the east coast, possibly in Brisbane and also the west coast at HMAS Sterling.”

He said the government had already agreed to go ahead with local manufacturing of missiles, which made sense but would also give Queensland business a key opportunity.

“The prospect of a protracted power war means we cannot rely on overseas supply chains. We have to be largely self sufficient in manufacturing our own weapons.

“For Queensland there is opportunity for the emerging space and defence sectors through bidding to host sovereign missile development.

“Queensland can and should take a leading role in the manufacture of advanced weapons as well as the platforms that deliver them.

“The space dimension is really critical.

“Queensland is already a leading state with companies like Gilmour and BlackSky and with the Boeing launch site under development.

“It is important for Queensland to maintain this lead.”

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