A US Navy submarine departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (file image)
The US Navy submarine USS Connecticut departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard following maintenance.

Facts sink shaky views on earthquakes and Aussie subs

Kate Atkinson February 22, 2023

The US Navy shut down submarine facilities and cancelled the AUKUS deal after having predicted recent earthquakes.


False. Four facilities have been temporarily closed for maintenance following a seismic assessment. There has been no change to AUKUS.

A controversial Australian online commentator claims the US Navy shut down a number of submarine facilities because it predicted recent earthquakes, including those in Turkey and Syria.

In a Facebook video, he implies the earthquakes could have therefore been man-made. The video also claims the US Navy stopped production of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS deal and cancelled the major defence project.

But all the claims are false.

While the US announced it would temporarily suspended operations at four submarine dry docks, this decision followed a seismic assessment that identified the need to reinforce them against possible future earthquakes.

The US Navy told AAP FactCheck it did not – and cannot – predict earthquakes.

Production work on the AUKUS submarines has not yet begun. At the time of writing, there was no change to the AUKUS program.

The claim was made in a video (screenshot here) by Simeon Boikov, also known as “Aussie Cossack”, a pro-Russian online commentator who has sought refuge at the Russian embassy in Sydney following an assault charge.

A screenshot of the Facebook video.
 Simeon Boikov (left) makes claims in the Facebook video linking earthquakes to the US Navy. 

In the video, posted on February 10, 2023, Mr Boikov states: “Fourteen days ago the US navy announced that they’re cancelling the Australian submarines which are apparently being built,” (video mark 55min).

“The Americans actually shut down their submarine pens and they said to the Australians, ‘We’re going to stop building your subs, we’ve shut down four submarine pens,’ and the official reason they gave is because they are anticipating that there are going to be big earthquakes.

“Now I did a little bit of research into this, and guys welcome yourself to Google – you can’t predict an earthquake….The US Navy shut down their submarine pens and said there is earthquakes approaching. This was 14 days ago. Now, about 10 days ago, the first earthquakes started hitting.”

Mr Boikov goes on to mention recent earthquakes in Iran, Turkey, Syria, Armenia and Russia’s Kuril Islands, saying these occurred “just a few days after the US Navy announced publicly that they’re shutting down the submarine pens for the nuclear subs citing safety concerns that there are possible earthquakes incoming.”

He added: “How did the Americans know? They are very, very suspicious. You cannot predict an earthquake and that goes to potentially shed some light or allude suspicion to the fact these earthquakes possibly somebody knew, possibly they were man-made.”

The video had been viewed more than 22,000 times at the time of writing.

Simeon Boikov, also known as Aussie Cossack (file image)
 Simeon Boikov at a Sydney protest in 2021. 

On January 27, the US Navy announced plans to “temporarily suspend” operations at three dry docks in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, plus another at the Trident Refit Facility, all located in Washington state.

The decision followed a seismic assessment which identified the need to strengthen the docks against possible future earthquakes.

“The recently conducted seismic assessment, executed as part of the Navy’s long-range Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), identified potential issues associated with the remote possibility of a large-scale earthquake occurring simultaneously with a submarine maintenance availability,” the US Navy said in a press release on January 27.

The US Navy told AAP FactCheck it “cannot predict” earthquakes and “does not have any suspicions about future earthquakes.”

Since the announcement, operations at two of the four dry docks have now been suspended, with construction work underway. Work on the other two will start after the others are returned to service.

Mr Biokov also claims the US Navy is “cancelling the Australian submarines which are apparently being built”, referring to the AUKUS partnership between Australia, the UK and the US.

Two Australian Collins class submarines (file image)
 The AUKUS submarines will replace Australia’s Collins class subs (front), seen in Perth in 2021. 

The Australian Defence Force told AAP FactCheck this was not true.

“The suspension of dry dock maintenance has not impacted the work underway through AUKUS,” a Defence representative said in an email.

“AUKUS partners remain committed to Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines as early as possible.”

The submarines are yet to be built, with announcements regarding the final design, timeline and cost due to be made in March 2023.

AAP FactCheck has previously addressed claims made by Mr Biokov here, here and here.

The Verdict

The claim the US Navy shut down submarine dry docks after having predicted recent earthquakes is false. The claim it also stopped building Australian submarines as a result is also incorrect.

The US Navy recently announced plans to temporarily suspend operation at four dry docks following a seismic assessment which identified the need to strengthen the facilities against potential future earthquakes.

The temporary suspension has not prevented the US Navy from building nuclear-powered submarines for Australia under the AUKUS deal, as construction has not yet begun.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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