The RAN already has a base in Darwin, but it’s a small one that at present accommodates just nine small patrol boats. The Australian defense ministry in 2019 launched a $200 million project aimed at expanding the Darwin base with additional fuel storage and another wharf so that it can support large surface vessels and submarines.
The U.S. Embassy in Canberra and the Australian Defence Department did not respond Friday to questions about the possible effect of the trilateral defense pact on the Marine rotations.
“I do have an aspiration to make sure that we can increase the numbers of troops through the rotations,” Dutton said.
John Coyne from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said the 99-year lease of the Darwin Port to Landbridge could prove an impediment to the allies' military expansion plans.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, also without giving numbers, confirmed that the United States “will expand our access and presence in Australia.”