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Courtney Welcomes Biden Administration’s Announcement on New National Security Partnership Between America, Australia, and the United Kingdom 

September 15, 2021
Press Release
As co-chair of the House Friends of Australia Caucus, Courtney says new partnership reflects America’s trust in Australia as a key partner in non-proliferation

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and co-chair of the bipartisan House Friends of Australia Caucus, made the following statement today after President Joe Biden announced the formation of a new trilateral national security partnership between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom focused on ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The President also announced today that the first action of this new partnership is to augment the Australian Royal Navy with nuclear-powered attack submarines, a critical enhancement of the capabilities and reach of our Australian allies. 

“The new partnership affirms Australia’s increasing national security capabilities and commitment to our alliance, and the critical importance of rules-based approach to freedom of navigation and commerce,” Courtney said. “As maritime disputes emanating from the Indo-Pacific continue to negatively impact global trade, this partnership reflects the alliance’s interest in preserving the safe passage of maritime commerce and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. This is a great move by President Biden towards meeting the challenge in this critical region and recognizing the hard-won and rock-solid relationship between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.” 

“This announcement also recognizes the tremendous opportunity our nations have in augmenting our partnership and capabilities in the undersea domain,” Courtney added. “The decision today to take the steps towards augmenting the Australian Navy with nuclear powered submarines is a game-changing move that will dramatically expand the reach of a key ally in a key region. As Chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee and co-chair of the Friends of Australia Caucus, I’ve been engaged with Australian leaders for years about the best way to complement America’s efforts in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the undersea domain. I’ve met many times with our Armed Services Committee counterparts in Australia, including multiple visits to Fremantle submarine base to see the collaboration between U.S. submarine forces and the Australian Navy, and visits to tour their shipyards and see some of their aging Collins-class subs. Replacing those aging submarines with nuclear powered vessels is a great force multiplier, and it’s clearly needed with the type of distance and fuel requirements you need in that vast region.” 

“Extending cooperation in developing nuclear powered submarines is not something our nation does every day, and today is a reflection not just of the importance of Australia as a key partner but also of the trust and commitment Australia has shown as a global leader in non-proliferation ,” Courtney continued. “This is a great opportunity for America’s and our allies’ national security mission, and for American manufacturers like Electric Boat, who already provide support to the Australian submarine program today.” 

Rep. Courtney has served as Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, which oversees all U.S. Navy shipbuilding, since the start of the 116th Congress in 2019. Since 2017, Courtney has served as co-Chairman of the Bipartisan Friends of Australia Caucus, which seeks to promote cultural ties, enhance mutual security, and strengthen economic relations between the United States and Australia. 

As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and a leader in U.S. Navy shipbuilding, American national security priorities, and improving relations with our Australian allies, Courtney has been engaged for several years with his counterparts in Australia to synchronize national security efforts and capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region—particularly in the domain of energy efficient and dynamic nuclear propulsion.  

In 2017, as Ranking Member of the Seapower Subcommittee, Rep. Courtney travelled to Australia to participate in the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue (AALD) conference. The conference is a diplomatic initiative established to bring together Australian and American leaders to review and refine the parameters of the countries’ bilateral relationship. Courtney visited the Fremantle Submarine Base in Perth, Australia—part of the “five eyes” intelligence alliance between the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—and saw firsthand the close collaboration between U.S. submarine forces and the Australian Navy.

In 2019, in his first year as Chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, Courtney again travelled to Australia to join the AALD conference. Courtney was joined by a bipartisan delegation of Representatives and Senators, and together they met with Australian officials including Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, Governor of Western Australia and former Defense Minister Kim Beazley, and several Members of Parliament. Together, they discussed issues including trade relations, and national security priorities from shipbuilding, to rare earth minerals. 

In 2020, Rep. Courtney’s amendment to promote collaboration on rare earth minerals between the U.S. and Australia was successfully included in the FY 2021 NDAA. The amendment will help America and our allies to push back against China’s increasing stranglehold on rare earth minerals, which are important for manufacturing everything from smart phones, to automobiles, to submarines. The amendment Courtney authored requires the Secretary of Defense to prioritize the acquisition of rare earth minerals materials from U.S. and allied sources, ensuring the continued protection of our national defense supply chains, and was included in the final FY 2021 NDAA that was passed by Congress on January 1, 2021.