San Diego: The unveiling of the biggest leap in Australia’s defence capability in history required a momentous backdrop and the US naval base at Point Loma provided.
The landing place of the first European expedition to come ashore in modern-day California, it’s now the home of the US Pacific fleet.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to the podium alongside US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak under cinematically blue skies.
On a podium adorned with their nations’ flags, and with a 115-metre Virginia-class submarine in the background, the leaders of Australia, America and Britain marked a momentous new chapter in their alliance.
Across the water in the distance was the USS Sterett, a missile destroyer where hundreds of impeccably dressed sailors stood attentively, listening to the leaders’ every word.
And next to that was the USS Missouri – a vanguard of US sea power and a model of the Virginia-class submarine Australia plans to buy from the US within the next decade.
Biden, donning a navy-blue suit and his trademark aviator sunglasses, got to lead the event, lauding this “inflection point” and the overriding objective of AUKUS: to enhance stability in the Indo-Pacific.
He stressed nuclear propulsion was “tested and safe” and had been used by the US and Britain for nearly 70 years.
“Combined between the US and the UK, all of our nuclear-powered ships have travelled the entire globe, around the entire globe, more than 150 million miles. That’s going to the moon 350 times. We can’t figure out how to get a sub to the moon but we’ll figure it out,” Biden said.
Albanese held his own on stage as he spoke of Australia’s determination to promote security in the region “by investing in our relationships”.
This particular investment – projected to cost up to $368 billion between now and the mid-2050s – is one for the ages.
“What the United States, Great Britain and Australia hold in common is more fundamental and more universal than our shared histories,” Albanese said, never faltering as he met his moment on the world stage.
“We are bound, above all, by our belief in a world where the sovereignty of every nation is respected – and the inherent dignity of every individual is upheld.”
It was left to Sunak to bell the cat and address why this alliance came to be.
He warned of a “world defined by danger, disorder, and division” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and he mentioned China by name.
In the crowd of dignitaries and security details, members of congress, including “AUKUS caucus” chairman Joe Courtney, rubbed shoulders with military brass, while US ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy obligingly posed for photos.
Kennedy – whose father John F Kennedy was invoked in the speeches – was quick to agree this opened a new chapter in history.
“It’s historic for Australia because the US is sharing our most sensitive technology for the first time since [it was shared with] the UK, but it’s historic for the United States as well because Australia is just emerging as such a significant ally,” she said.
“I mean, it always has been – but I this is really going to take it to another level.”
Australia’s Ambassador to the US, Arthur Sinodinos, came to the event as one of his last duties before handing over to incoming ambassador Kevin Rudd.
“As I’ve said before, this is a moonshot. It’s a whole-of-nation effort. Failure is not an option.”
At one point, a reporter asked US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin how much of a big deal this was.
He didn’t reply, but White House Indo-Pacific co-ordinator Kurt Campbell, who was walking behind him, summed it up neatly: “It’s an effing big deal!”
( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )