“It is not unreasonable to say that additional facilities in and around Darwin will be dual-purpose, they will be available for use by US forces,” Professor Blaxland said.
“Additional fuel storage, additional logistics, support and port facilities will allow for greater flow of US units and possibly longer term stationing. Not basic, but maybe stationary at least for periods of time.
“Darwin is a frequently visited port for American warships transiting from the United States East Coast to the Middle East, across the Pacific, across the Indian Ocean, as well as visits from the Seventh Fleet based in Japan.”
The United States maintains a rotating deployment of US Marines in Darwin, with numbers reaching as high as 2,500 pre-COVID. The US military announced in January the construction of a $270 million, 300 million liter aboveground jet fuel storage facility at East Arm in Darwin.
Defense Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday that the $1.5 billion Northern Territory fund could support military development.
“It looks at the development of the port and the ways in which we might be able to support through Defense contracts, for example, the foundation of a business model and we will have more to say on this in due course. .”
Mr Dutton said in November that stability in the Indo-Pacific “requires the United States to be fully engaged in the region”. He indicated in June that he was open to increasing the U.S. Navy presence in Darwin and said it was in both countries’ interests for the United States to expand its presence in the region.
The federal budget allocated an additional $2 billion to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and expanded its remit to include the territory of the Commonwealth of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The Ministry of Defense announced in 2020 that it was upgrading the Cocos Island runway to accommodate surveillance and response aircraft.
The government is also investing $300 million in an industrial estate in Darwin for gas, hydrogen and critical minerals.