The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) next cohort of submarine officers have graduated from the US Navy Nuclear Power School (NPS).
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Three RAN officers graduated on 27 October, continuing progress towards the operation of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines by Australia. They had originally begun study at NPS in April this year as the second group of RAN personnel undertaking the training.
NPS trains officers and enlisted sailors in the science and engineering principles that are fundamental to the design, operation, and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants.
“I had heard that nuclear power school was extremely challenging, and it definitely was,” according to one student.
“Being here in the US, attending school, and ultimately helping to prepare Australia for its own SSN capability is a true honour. I already loved being a submarine officer and am really excited to become a nuclear-qualified submarine officer.”
The RAN officers will now follow the July graduates for further training in an operating nuclear propulsion plant and then complete a Submarine Officer Basic Course before assignment to an American Virginia-class SSN for additional onboard training and qualifications.
“Today marks yet another step forward in building the Royal Australian Navy’s sovereign nuclear-powered submarine capability,” said Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, the director-general of the Australian Submarine Agency.
“Through AUKUS, Australia is leveraging the decades of nuclear propulsion experience to safely operate, build and maintain our own fleet of conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines.”
The first cohort of RAN enlisted sailors has already arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, and commenced training at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command.
“I could not be more proud of all of the Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors who have attended the US Nuclear Power School,” said the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond.
“It’s exciting to see our second cohort graduate from the program. These exceptional members of our Navy are charting the course for our future, receiving incredible training for our future submarine capability.”
There will be more than 15 RAN officers and sailors enrolled in nuclear training by the end of this year.
“The officers and sailors graduating from the US Navy’s nuclear training programs will form the nucleus of the RAN’s nuclear-qualified submariners,” said Captain Lincoln Reifsteck, the AUKUS integration and acquisition program manager.
“Through them, Australia will develop its sovereign ability to operate and supervise their own conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine fleet.”
Defence has also recently announced the commencement of work on the Submarine Construction Yard, Osborne, in South Australia.
Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines, the SSN-AUKUS, will be built in Adelaide, South Australia, with SSN-AUKUS construction supported by an expansion of the existing Osborne Naval Shipyard Area, known as the Submarine Construction Yard (SCY).
It’s estimated at least $2 billion will be invested in South Australian infrastructure for the project, and at its peak, the design and build of the infrastructure for the SCY will employ up to 4,000 workers, almost double the workforce forecast for the Attack class program.
Preliminary enabling works are expected to optimise access routes and traffic flows around the site, as well as the relocation of above- and below-ground utilities for provision of power to the Osborne Naval Shipyard and surrounds.
The Commonwealth has appointed Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI), as an Australian government business enterprise, to be the Australian Submarine Agency’s (ASA) design and delivery partner for the project.