First Royal Australian Navy Enlisted Sailors Begin Training at US Submarine School

25 June 2024

The US Naval Submarine School (Submarine School) in Groton welcomed its first cadre of nine enlisted sailors and the second cadre of three officers from the Royal Australian Navy on June 3rd and 10th respectively. These 12 Australians will train alongside their American counterparts to operate and maintain conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs).

The enrolment of Royal Australian Navy sailors at Submarine School marks another significant step for Australia’s acquisition of conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines.

“We’re excited to welcome these sailors and officers to Groton and build on the momentum of the first cohort of Australian officers to graduate from Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) in April,” said Capt. Matthew Fanning, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine School. 

“It is an honour to be part of the team that is delivering game-changing capabilities to one of the United States closest and staunchest allies.”

Submarine School trains officers and enlisted personnel through two distinct but interrelated tracks: Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) and Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS). 

SOBC is the last step in the US Navy’s submarine officer training pipeline, graduating over a thousand officers annually. BESS introduces enlisted sailors to the fundamentals of the construction and operation of today’s nuclear-powered submarines. 

The course covers everything from shipboard organisation to submarine safety and escape procedures. Following BESS, enlisted sailors will complete their pipeline training with classroom and skills training specific to their intended technical rating.

Upon graduation from pipeline schools, the Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors will be assigned to US SSNs for their first sea tour to further their knowledge and training.  

“The Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors commencing their training at the U.S. Naval Submarine School represent the leading edge of Australia’s future submarine fleet,” said the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond.

“Three Australian officers have already completed 14 months of intensive shore-based training, including Nuclear-Power School, nuclear propulsion training, and the Submarine Officer Basic Course before being assigned to U.S. Virginia class submarines. Our people are receiving world class training through our US and UK partners, and will play a crucial role for Australia’s future SSN capability. I’m incredibly proud of their achievements representing the Royal Australian Navy.”

“Australians are exceptional submariners,” said Rear Admiral Lincoln Reifsteck, the US Navy’s AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Manager. “The training they receive at the Submarine Learning Center will set them up for a successful tour aboard an American SSN, moving the Royal Australian Navy that much closer to operating sovereign, conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.” 

 The number of Royal Australian Navy personnel training across the US will increase to over 100 in the next 12 months. Training Royal Australian Navy Sailors alongside their American counterparts will enhance interoperability across the submarine forces, which is a cornerstone of establishing Australia's sovereign nuclear-powered submarine capability.