US exchange submariners right at home in the west

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), ABIS Julianne Cropley (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Submarine Force, Submarine Training and Systems Centre

United States Navy personnel, from left, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shane Finck; Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Nicholas Graham; Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) James Forsythe; PO2 Christopher Schlegel; PO1 John Robinson; PO1 Beneyam Alemseged; Lieutenant Commander Travis Zettel, USN (front); PO2 Randall Gentry and PO2 Thomas Oestreich stand in front of the HMAS Oxley 'fin' outside Submarine Training and Systems Centre at HMAS Stirling. (photo: ABIS Julianne Cropley)
United States Navy personnel, from left, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shane Finck; Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Nicholas Graham; Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) James Forsythe; PO2 Christopher Schlegel; PO1 John Robinson; PO1 Beneyam Alemseged; Lieutenant Commander Travis Zettel, USN (front); PO2 Randall Gentry and PO2 Thomas Oestreich stand in front of the HMAS Oxley 'fin' outside Submarine Training and Systems Centre at HMAS Stirling.

For the past couple of years, around ten United States submariners have called Western Australia home.

US Officer in Charge of the detachment, Lieutenant Commander Travis Zettel said the submariners are part of an Australia-US exchange program that sees personnel from both navies spend time with their overseas counterparts.

“The exchange program is an excellent opportunity to progress the interoperability of both navies,” Lieutenant Commander Zettel said.

“During our two to three year tour, we are embedded with Submarine Force here at HMAS Stirling.

“This gives us chance to spend time at the Submarine Training and Systems Centre, Defence Material Organisation and onboard individual units.

“The Collins Class Submarine shares a common combat system and torpedo with its USN counterparts enabling us to work together and exchange information that is of benefit to us both.”

Exchange personnel have the opportunity to bring their families with them, and Lieutenant Commander Zettel said it was an opportunity that he and a number of other exchange personnel had eagerly taken up.

“For me and my family it’s been a fantastic opportunity to experience the Australian way of life,” he said.

The exchange program has been operating since the 1970s in which time hundreds of Australian and US personnel have gained valuable interoperability experience from the initiative.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140571.