Submariners - Fit to Fight

Published on Mr Andrew Bujdegan (author), LSIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, HMAS Sheean (S77), Physical Training Instructor, Fit to Fight

Leading Seaman Medic Submarines Jess Caslake continues with fitness training on an exercise bike while on board Collins Class Submarine, HMAS Sheean, at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.   (photo: LSIS Richard Cordell)
Leading Seaman Medic Submarines Jess Caslake continues with fitness training on an exercise bike while on board Collins Class Submarine, HMAS Sheean, at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

Physical fitness plays a significant role in maintaining a force which is fit to fight, and for Navy submariners at sea maintaining this high state of readiness is now a little easier.

Apart from physical training activities providing the physical strength to get a job done, it is also believed that exercise provides mental health benefits giving our members a clear mind to focus on their job. 

Under the close guidance of Navy Physical Training Instructors, a selection of new training equipment was recently purchased to expand and upgrade the current capability within our submarines.

The on-board equipment must be available 24/7 and remain capable of being operated quietly; after all, the submarine community is known as the ‘Silent Service’.

HMAS Stirling Chief Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Brian Garrety said it was important for all Navy members to have access to exercise equipment.

“Keeping our members physically and mentally fit to fight has always been challenging, no more so than with our submariners in their restrictive work environment,” he said.

After significant research, we found the good old exercise bike and rowing machine provide best ‘bang for our buck’ with regards to maintaining fitness as well as aligning with our submarines’ stringent operating environment.

“With the recent funds allocation to support fitness in the Navy, we have been able to upgrade the fitness equipment on all our submarines.”

The weapon storage compartment on-board the Collins Class submarine is the most practical area for the equipment. It is accessible by all crew and has a reasonable amount of space to conduct individual training. The compartment also provides a bunking area for any additional personnel, once again highlighting noise as a consideration in equipment choice.

Operational considerations mean that the equipment must be easily and quickly moved if required, and not hinder the submarine’s operating capabilities.

Activities like the updating of physical training equipment are ongoing, with Navy continually searching for the best solutions to allow our personnel to strive to be the best they can be in what they do.