US considers basing warships in Australia

1:50:00 PM
CANBERRA, -- The US Navy is considering a plan to base warships in Australia and would like to broaden yearly maritime exercises with India to permanently include close regional allies Japan and Australia, in an expansion of security ties that could risk exacerbating strategic rivalries with China.

Visiting Australia to inspect port facilities the US would like to use to support a regular Marine training presence in the northern city of Darwin, US Chief of Navy Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, said military officials from both countries were looking to increase maritime cooperation.

"We're doing a study…to see what might be feasible for naval cooperation in and around Australia, which might include basing ships," Adm. Greenert, who is one of the US Navy's most senior commanders and a military adviser to President Barack Obama, said in a lecture on security at the Australian National University in Canberra.

"Right now it's at the stage of 'what's the art of the possible', what kind of infrastructure exists, what might it take to do that, what kind of support measures, and how would that fit into the two nations' strategic desires into the future," he said in response to a question from The Wall Street Journal. "It's in the early stages. But we are considering it."

The US is gradually ramping up the number of Marines at a base outside Darwin, after President Obama announced plans in 2011 to rotate up to 2,500 of them there for six months every year. Washington is seeking more places where it can expand its military footprint in Asia without triggering a backlash.

US Navy ships in heavy seas.


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