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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    Defense bill authorizes transfer of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Thursday that the 2024 national defense budget not only authorizes the transfer of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, but includes a pay raise for troops and funding for two projects at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

    The $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, published by the House and Senate Conference Committee, now needs to be approved by the House and Senate to move forward.

    The bill authorizes the training of Australian private sector defense personnel, the integration of Australian financial contributions to the U.S. defense industrial base, and the sharing of technology and information between the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom. It also allows the Navy to enter into a contract for up to 13 Virginia-class submarines in its next contract.

    Courtney said in a statement that after weeks of negotiation, the bill advances the AUKUS trilateral security agreement between the three nations.

    The bill would fully authorize the Virginia- and Columbia-class submarine programs, include a 5.2% pay raise for troops, and authorize a base project to extend Pier 31 to support longer submarines with the Virginia Payload Module and a new weapons magazine for increased munitions storage.

    The bill also includes Courtney’s legislation to expand TRICARE health care coverage for military families; request to increase funding to local school districts that serve many military children, including Groton; $10 million more for academic partnerships with the Navy; and a requirement that the Coast Guard report on the Coast Guard Academy’s facility needs.

    Courtney encouraged legislators to join him in voting for the bill and sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk.

    “For the first time since the launch of the USS Nautilus in 1954, this NDAA authorizes the U.S. Navy to sell three conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines to another nation — our steadfast ally Australia,” Courtney said in the statement. “In addition, it streamlines technology sharing among the three AUKUS allies under the umbrella of the Defense Production Act to strengthen deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. Lastly, it includes authority for the Navy to purchase up to 13 Virginia-class submarines in the next block contract which will guarantee a steady demand to boost production capacity and thus meet our fleet requirements.”

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