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US carrier group: Govt, No Home in Western Australia

THE government has dominated out basing a US Navy carrier battle cluster in Western Australia.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the US, an alliance partner, had access to Australian facilities and joint facilities like Pine Gap.

“But a US base to service a carrier battle cluster or home-porting here isn’t in contemplation,” she said.

The idea of basing a US aircraft carrier battle cluster at the Australian navy’s western base, HMAS Stirling, near Perth, was raised in a very study people force posture within the Asia-Pacific delivered to US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in late June.

The report, ready by the middle for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), considers varied choices for increasing, decreasing or leaving US military presence within the region at its current level.

The option of using HMAS Stirling for a US carrier battle cluster was among potentialities for lifting the US military presence.

The cluster might embody a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, up to 9 squadrons of aircraft, 2 guided missile cruisers, 2 or 3 guided missile destroyers, one or 2 nuclear attack submarines and offer ships.

It would need substantial redevelopment, that CSIS place as high as US$6 billion.

Mr Smith’s spokeswoman said the study was an freelance assessment people defence posture within the US Pacific Command space of responsibility, commissioned as a Congressional demand, and failed to replicate policy.

“Secretary Panetta’s letter accompanying the report makes clear that whereas the report reflects aspects people defence policy with regard to the Pacific region, specific proposals mustn’t be interpreted as reflecting current or future US policy,” she said.

Under current Australian and US policy, enhanced defence cooperation can are available 3 phases, beginning with the gradual increase people Marine Corps coaching within the Northern Territory.

It has started with 250 troops and can physical exercise to a 2500-strong Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

“Secondly, it’s envisaged that there’ll be increased access by US aircraft to facilities like RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindal within the high finish,” the spokeswoman said.

“Finally, additional down the track, it’s envisaged that the improved cooperation can embody increased visits by US ships to Australia’s main Indian Ocean naval base, HMAS Stirling.”