The first ever female Executive Officer of a Royal Australian Navy submarine has been awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal as part of the Australia Day 2018 Honours List.
Executive Officer of HMAS Rankin, Maritime Warfare Officer Submarines Lieutenant Commander Susan Harris, was recognised for exceptional leadership, dedication and professional knowledge as both a workforce specialist and submariner.
As Submarine Workforce Manager in the Directorate of Navy Workforce Management, Lieutenant Commander Harris was responsible for identifying key workforce risks and their implications for the submarine force.
“I worked with key stakeholders to design retention and remediation measures to ensure that the submarine workforce had the right education, training and preparation to deliver Navy’s submarine capability,” Lieutenant Commander Harris said.
“I was also the lead author of a submarine workforce deliberately differentiated package, consisting of seven components designed to address work life balance issues within the submarine workforce.”
For the final seven months of 2016, Lieutenant Commander Harris took up the role of acting Deputy Director Workforce Management and provided detailed modelling and analysis to ensure that the specifics of current and future submarine positions met a set of strategic priorities and requirements.
“This had never been attempted previously,” she said.
Lieutenant Commander Harris has continued to contribute to capability below the surface by returning to sea in a command role.
“I am proud of going back to sea and fulfilling my career goals after having children and commencing my appointment as Executive Officer of a Collins Class Submarine.
“I could not have done this without the support and encouragement of my husband and children, especially as we are Married Unaccompanied,” she said.
Lieutenant Commander Harris is married to a serving Submarine Officer and, when she is not at sea, resides in Canberra with their three children.
The family enjoys playing music, camping, travelling and being together as much as possible outside of seagoing deployments.
Lieutenant Commander Harris has previously served in HMA Ships Torrens, Darwin, Anzac, Westralia, and Adelaide as well as submarines Dechaineux, Farncomb, and Rankin.