(Source: ABC News Australia; posted July 28, 2019)
By Andrew Greene
Military equipment is unloaded from a US Navy amphibious ship near Darwin. As a Chinese company was awarded a 99-year lease on Darwin’s port, the US is covertly preparing to invest in separate facilities of its own nearby. (US Navy photo)
The United States military is preparing to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars on naval construction in the Northern Territory, in a move that could raise tensions with China.

A recent draft US Congressional bill uncovered by the ABC reveals a total of $US211.5 million ($305.9 million) has been allocated for new "Navy Military Construction" in Darwin, but few other details are available.

According to the Senate's annual defence legislation, tabled in June, the "Secretary of the Navy may acquire real property and carry out military construction projects for the installations or locations outside the United States".

Just last month the ABC revealed that secret planning had begun for a new commercial port facility just outside Darwin which could eventually help US Marines operate more readily in the Indo-Pacific.

Following the report, Australia's Defence Department insisted it had "no plans for the development of a new naval facility in the Northern Territory", while Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner denied any knowledge of such a proposal.

In 2015, Washington expressed disappointment after Chinese company Landbridge was given a 99-year-lease of Darwin's existing port, but Federal Government sources privately concede any new maritime facility which could be used by American personnel also risks angering Beijing. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the ABC Australia website.


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