USS Emory S. Land visits Darwin as part of naval knowledge-share

A US Navy ship has docked in Darwin, with hundreds of sailors expected to explore the Top End during the routine stopover aimed at enhancing relations between the two allies.

Complete with a barbershop, retro diner, post office, corner store, dentist, and emergency operating theatre, USS Emory S. Land serves as a floating city wherever she is deployed.

“Our mission is to repair, rearm, and resupply deployed submarines and surface ships, both of US and our partner navies,” Captain Brent Spillner said.

“Two thirds of our crew works in the repair department, so maintenance specialists such as welders, electricians, and we’ve also got a very capable weapons department – we’ve got the ability to reload torpedoes, mines, missiles.

“We are self contained, we could go into a very austere, remote port and still provide the same services a ship would have if it were in a major port.”

“Darwin basically marks the midway point for our current secondment. This represents a massive milestone for us in terms of an opportunity to demonstrate all the skills we have, and really be able to contribute to the operation of the ship.”

USS Emory S. Land: warship pulls into Darwin, nuclear submarine training provided

An American warship is pulling into Darwin with a view to enhance US– Australian relations, with crewmen expected to roam the city in the coming days.

It was also confirmed members of the Royal Australian Navy were on-board the Emory S. Land to develop their knowledge, skills and experience in how their American counterparts conducted nuclear-powered submarine maintenance.

The arrangement to offer submarine-related training to ADF personnel follows Australia’s commitment to bringing into service multiple nuclear-powered Virginia class submarines, expected to patrol Australian waters as early as the 2030s.

The arrival of Emory S. Land coincides with the ramped up military activity currently underway across the Top End, with ADF and Marine Rotation Force – Darwin, integrating at Mount Bundey Training Area.

Delays in completing the $270m US Defence tank farm have seen a change at the top

With construction deadline looming, engineering contractor Saunders International has been removed as lead builder for the A$270m US military bulk fuel storage facility at East Arm.

The project was originally scheduled for completion by September 15, but that is now likely to be delayed until later this year.

The announcement comes as workers put the lid on the final tank this week.

The Darwin bulk fuel storage facility represents a $270m investment in the Northern Territory.

US to Increase Military Presence in Australia in Buildup Aimed at China

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that the US will increase its military presence in Australia in a buildup aimed at China.

In a joint press conference with Australia’s defense minister and foreign minister, Austin said that the US will increase its rotational forces in Australia. “That includes rotations of bomber task forces, fighters, and future rotations of US Navy and US Army capabilities,” Austin said.

Many countries in the region are not eager to get on board with the US’s confrontational approach to China. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea said this week that his country can’t afford to get caught between the US and China and said he told the US your “enemy is not my enemy.”

Indonesia’s president expressed similar concerns during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, saying the ASEAN must not let the region turn into a frontline for a new Cold War.

Details on the rotational deployments aren’t clear, but they will likely focus on the Australian city of Darwin in the Northern Territory, where US Marines have been rotating through for years.

US to increase rotation of forces to Australia

The US will increase rotations of its air, land and sea forces to Australia and has condemned China’s “dangerous and coercive actions” across the Indo-Pacific region.

As part of the step-up in defence ties, the US plans to preposition munitions and fuel in Australia to support its military forces.

Airfields in northern Australia are set to be upgraded to enable rotations of US aircraft.

Defence secretary also pledges to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines ‘as quickly as possible’ at annual high-level talks.

Austin said the US would “increase rotations of our air, land and sea forces” to Australia as the two countries were “determined to be a force for stability” in the region.

“That includes rotations of bomber task forces, fighters and future rotations of US navy and US army capabilities,” Austin said, adding that the specific details would be worked out by officials and announced at a later date.

The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, will join Marles and Austin for a first meeting of the Aukus defence ministers on Thursday.