Preparing for underwater command

Published on LEUT Kara Wansbury (author), ABIS Julianne Cropley (photographer)

(left) Operations Officer HMAS Rankin, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Booth, leads the United States Navy Prospective Commanding Officers' Course, on a tour of the Collins Class Submarine whilst alongside Fleet Base West. (photo: ABIS Julianne Cropley)
(left) Operations Officer HMAS Rankin, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Booth, leads the United States Navy Prospective Commanding Officers' Course, on a tour of the Collins Class Submarine whilst alongside Fleet Base West.

Commanding a submarine is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the world and the training for it is justifiably challenging as ten officers from the United States Navy recently found out during their Prospective Submarine Commanding Officers' Course.

Participants visit Australia biennially, this year coinciding with a visit by USS Albuquerque, a Los Angeles class attack submarine.

Initially, the officers toured their host boat, HMAS Rankin, noting the differences between the boats and enjoy the hospitality, reinforcing the camaraderie that exists between submariners and the two navies.

Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), and Collins-class submarine HMAS Rankin, in the waters off Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), and Collins-class submarine HMAS Rankin, in the waters off Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

The next phase of the course consisted of the officers embarking in HMAS Rankin and USS Albuquerque and conducted simulated warfare exercises in both the submarines, testing their warfare knowledge, command skills and leadership over a few days in the waters off Western Australia.

The challenges of commanding a submarine are tested and whilst there are a number of commonalities between the two navies, there are marked differences said Commander Travis Zettel, United States Navy.

“Initially it is a steep learning curve for the officers.

"The routines at sea on submarines are different between our two navies, so they have to learn the difference fairly quickly before they head to sea," Commander Zettel said.

Once the officers have successfully completed the course, they will go on to command United States Navy submarines.

More images available in the Navy Image Library http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150583 and http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150525