In Aussie visit, US Navy chief talks sub challenges.

Photo: US CNO Adm. Mike Gilday meets with the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. Mark Hammond in Canberra on Feb. 20. (U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist MC1 Michael Zingaro)

During a visit this week to Australia, the US Navy’s top officer acknowledged that there is some “risk” that America’s submarine industrial base cannot deliver on the navy’s requirements, but expressed his belief that the Pentagon and its industry partners could figure out a way forward with key submarine programs.

Speaking exclusively to Breaking Defence during his visit, Adm. Mike Gilday also expressed optimism that US restrictions on tech transfer known as ITAR can be managed when it comes to working on key AUKUS-related technologies.

“Because of all those high-end capabilities … because of the finalized framework. I remain an optimist that we’re going to be able to work our way through those challenges with respect to ITAR. So,” he said yesterday, “in a nutshell, I remain optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction in a very transparent, open and candid way.”

The chief of naval operations’ visit came less than three weeks after a visit by his Marine counterpart, Gen. David Berger. During his visit, the CNO met with Gen. Angus Campbell, head of the Australian Defence Force, and the commander of the Australian Defence College, Air Vice Marshal Steve Edgeley. He also spoke with US Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy “about the importance of advancing our bilateral and Navy-to-Navy relationships,” according to a US press statement.

Gilday was not able to go into details on the upcoming AUKUS nuclear attack sub announcement, to be made soon in Washington by the leaders of Australia, the UK and the US. But he didn’t shy from discussing the difficulties the Navy and industry are having building the Columbia-class boomers, the next-generation nuclear missile submarines that are the highest acquisition priority for the entire US Defence Department.


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