May 31, 2015

US Nuclear Subs Temporarily Docked at Rockingham, Western Australia

Visits by US nuclear submarines to Australia's main submarine base, HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Garden Island, Rockingham, Western Australia, are beneficial to Australia. Here are some that have visited over the years:


USS Santa Fe following the 4 Collins class subs.

The US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (dvids) reported February 26, 2019 that  

“The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) [above] arrived at HMAS Stirling, Australia for a scheduled port visit this week”

“Santa Fe’s port visit followed the completion of a joint training exercise with four Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines, HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean, in waters around Australia. The exercise, which was designed to enhance anti-submarine warfare abilities, gave the crews of both navies the opportunity to employ and experiment with real world tactics. Pulling into port, however, gave the crews the opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and forge greater ties.”


HMAS Stirling is an Australian naval base, known as Fleet Base West, at which all 6 of Australia’s Collins class submarines are home based. HMAS Stirling is situated at Rockingham, near Fremantle, near Perth, Western Australia. USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) is home ported at Pearl Harbour.

It is heartening that 4 of the 6 Collins class submarines were available for the exercise with USS Santa Fe.


The SSN USS Jacksonville visits HMAS Stirling Fleet Base West, June 2015. 

USS Jacksonville, an Los Angeles class SSN, visited in late June 2015 escorting ships of US Expeditionary Strike Group Seven that also docked at HMAS Stirling. This Group included  amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Green Bay (LPD-20) a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. and USS Preble (DDG-88) an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer

The SSGN USS Ohio temporarily docked at Garden Island, Rockingham, on January 1, 2010. Note  the 2 pods behind the sail - mainly to house SEAL Delivery Vehicles. (Photo Courtesy Ian Johnson 

USS Ohio was the first of the US’s Trident (missile) class nuclear powered submarines. From November 2003, Ohio’s 24 Trident nuclear missiles were removed and 154 conventional Tomahawk cruise missiles were put in theirplace. Ohio rejoined the fleet in January 2006 having been redesignated a guided missile nuclear powered submarine (SSGN 726). 

Ohio's positioning in the Indian Ocean makes it easier and quicker for her to launch Tomahawk missiles onto targets from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Ohio can also support operations of up to 66 Navy SEALS for up to 90 days. 
The SSN USS Houston at Garden Island, Rockingham, on September 4, 2005. (Photo Courtesy Ian Johnson,

USS Houston is the 26th submarine in the Los Angeles class of SSNs. In December 2004, Houston changed homeport from San Diego, Calif., to Apra Harbor, Guam. In January 2012, her homeport again changed from Guam to Pearl Harbor.

US SSNs in the Indo-Pacific region can protect US carrier groups, amphibious forces and shadow nuclear submarines or surface forces (such as the Russian cruiser Varyag).
USS Buffalo, a Los Angeles SSN at Garden Island, Rockingham, in 2007 (Photo courtesy Australian Navy)


USS Chicago, a Los Angeles class SSN, visited Garden Island, Rockingham, on August 21, 2013 (Photo and details courtesy

USS Hawaii a Virginia class SSN at Garden Island, Rockingham, visit date unknown but probably 2010 or later (Photo courtesy Australian Government Department of Defence)

USS Michigan, another of the US's four SSGNs, arriving at Garden Island, Rockingham, on April 22, 2012 during its Western Pacific (which also cover the Indian Ocean, Middle East area) deployment. (Photo courtesy US Navy)

USS Albuquerque, Los Angeles class SSN at Garden Island, Rockingham, February 24, 2015 (Photo and details courtesy

The visiting US nuclear subs dock at HMAS Stirling which is Fleet Base West located towards bottom center of the map at Garden Island, Rockingham, Western Australia.



Ian Johnson said...

I'm glad you like my photos, Both were taken at HMAS Stirling, also known as Fleet Base West, which is located in Rockingham, not Fremantle, Western Australia.
Rockingham is 40 kilometres south of Fremantle.
Fremantle's Inner Harbour is a nuclear free zone, but not the Gage Roads Anchorage or HMAS Stirling, which saw its first USN nuclear powered submarine in 1976.

Pete said...

Hi Ian Johnson

Thanks for your comments and corrections. I've changed the text accordingly.

Thanks also for taking those great shots of USS Houton and USS Ohio.