Preparing for deep sea command

Published on Mr Andrew Bujdegan (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base West

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Submarines (SSG), HMAS Farncomb (S74)

USN Submarine Command Course 51, Prospective Commanding Officers and Instructors at HMAS Stirling, Rockingham, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
USN Submarine Command Course 51, Prospective Commanding Officers and Instructors at HMAS Stirling, Rockingham, Western Australia.

Commanding a submarine is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the world so training for the role is justifiably challenging, preparing those who spend their days in the deep with the skills to lead their teams.
 
Seven prospective undersea commanding officers from the United States Navy have joined their Australian colleages on the Submarine Command Course, conducted in Australia biennially.
 
This year it coincided with a visit by the USS Oklahoma City, a Los Angeles class attack submarine, to Fleet Base West.
 
Shortly after arriving in Australia, the officers toured their Australian host boat for the conduct of the exercise, HMAS Farncomb, which was also berthed alongside.
 
Whilst reinforcing the camaraderie between submariners and enjoying the hospitality offered by Farncomb’s crew, the students took the opportunity to examine the differences between nuclear powered and diesel submarine operations.
 
The sea phase of the course involved embarking in both Farncomb and Oklahoma City for the conduct of a wide range of warfare exercises off the Western Australian coast serving to test their warfare knowledge, leadership skills and suitability for command.
 
Commander Rick Salazar, a United States Navy submarine officer on exchange and currently posted to the Operations Support Cell at Australian Submarine Group Headquarters, HMAS Stirling, pointed out that the course was structured to assess the officers’ abilities to deal with the stresses and challenges of commanding a submarine.
 
“Initially it is a steep learning curve,” he said.

“The routines at sea on submarines are somewhat different between our two navies, so the candidates have to learn how to deal with these differences fairly quickly before they head to sea.”
 
Once the officers successfully complete their course, they will go on to command United States Navy submarines based throughout the world.