Silent service continues to build capability

Published on CMDR Matt Brown (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Topic(s): Submarine Force

Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, (left) with graduates of the Submarine Warfare Officers' Course at HMAS Watson, US Navy Lieutenant Roger Terry; Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant Poul Mathiesen; Lieutenant Ben Sweetenham; with Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer; and graduates Lieutenant Regina Campbell; Lieutenant William Hartridge and US Navy Lieutenant Nathan Whitelaw, with Commodore Training Commodore Michael Rothwell. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, (left) with graduates of the Submarine Warfare Officers' Course at HMAS Watson, US Navy Lieutenant Roger Terry; Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant Poul Mathiesen; Lieutenant Ben Sweetenham; with Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer; and graduates Lieutenant Regina Campbell; Lieutenant William Hartridge and US Navy Lieutenant Nathan Whitelaw, with Commodore Training Commodore Michael Rothwell.

Navy’s submarine capability has continued to grow, with the 'silent service' recently adding their largest cohort of Submarine Warfare Officers in 20 years.

In a proud milestone for the entire submarine community, the 2015 Submarine Warfare Officers' Course resulted in qualifications for six of the seven participants.

What made this course special, other than the high success rate, was the inclusion of international students.

It was the first time that three overseas students participated and successfully completed the course.

Two US Navy officers and one Canadian officer joined their Australian counterparts in the intensive five-month course.

Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, said completion of the course was an important career milestone for many and that it culminated in an underway assessment phase.

Graduates are qualified to serve as a Submarine Watchleader, a role that leads one of the two 12-hour shifts that crew each boat.

“In all conditions including on deployed operations, a Submarine Watchleader is ultimately responsible to the Commanding Officer for safety of the submarine and crew," Captain Buckley said.

“It was particularly pleasing in this year’s course to have three foreign officers working alongside our Australian students.
"This not only strengthens our relationships across navies, but also encourages the 'cross-pollination' of new ideas and the development of innovative ways of doing business.”

The successful students were Lieutenant William Hartridge, (also dux of the course), Lieutenants Regina Campbell and Ben Sweetenham, US Navy Lieutenants Nathan Whitelaw and Roger Terry and Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant Poul Mathiesen.

The two US officers are seconded to the Royal Australian Navy for a two year tour in another milestone for the Australian and US Submarine Forces.

In order to utilise their learnt skills almost immediately, all the students will be posted to a Collins class submarine as one of the Warfare Officers. The only exception is Lieutenant Campbell, who will be posted to Canada for a two year exchange posting.

The challenging course included submarine warfare theory, visits to Defence Headquarters and Industry Partners as well as a five week simulator phase and a two week sea assessment phase.