Royal Australian Navy officers graduate US Navy Nuclear Power School

12 July 2023

Three Royal Australian Navy officers recently graduated the United States Navy’s Nuclear Power School (NPS), marking a significant step in Australia’s mission to operate conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

Lieutenant Commander James Heydon, Lieutenant Commander Adam Klyne, and Lieutenant. William Hall joined the NPS in November 2022, becoming the first group of RAN personnel to undertake one of the US Department of Defense’s most rigorous and demanding training programs.

The NPS trains and develops the skills of officers and enlisted sailors in the science and engineering principles fundamental to the design, operation, and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants. 

Being one of the first Australians to graduate from NPS, Lieutenant Commander Heydon highlighted the incredible challenge the training program presented to both himself and the team.

“I knew coming in that this was going to be a challenge and I was not disappointed,” he said. 

“That said, being one of the first Australians to graduate from NPS means a lot to me personally and for Australia as we work to build the skills and knowledge needed to safely operate naval nuclear propulsion technology. With that as our motivation, my colleagues and I put our heads down and cracked on”.

The news was well received across the Royal Australian Navy, especially by the Chief of the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Program, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead.

“I could not be more proud of these three Australian officers, and what they have achieved. This is just the start, as Australia continues to work with our AUKUS partners, learning from the best, to become sovereign ready to safely own and operate our own nuclear-powered submarine fleet”.

AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Manager USN Captain Lincoln Reifsteck said the Australian sailors and officers who completed the training would pave the way for future endeavours.

These officers will form the nucleus of the RAN’s nuclear-qualified submariners,” he said.

“Through them Australia will develop its ability to operate, maintain, and build their own conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines when it receives its first Virginia class submarine from the early 2030s”.

The three Royal Australian Navy officers are set to continue their training at the Nuclear Prototype Training Unit in Charleston, which is expected to conclude in late 2023 or early 2024.