Two careers are better than one for dedicated Submarine officer

Published on LEUT Tony White (author), CPOIS Damian Pawlenko (photographer)

Topic(s): Training, Submarines (SSG), Navy Engineering

Marine Engineering Officer Submariner Lieutenant Steven Ashworth is looking to qualify as both a Warfare Officer and an Engineering Officer aboard our submarines. (photo: CPOIS Damian Pawlenko)
Marine Engineering Officer Submariner Lieutenant Steven Ashworth is looking to qualify as both a Warfare Officer and an Engineering Officer aboard our submarines.

A common challenge faced by HR departments the world over is the modern trend of people wanting to have several careers over the course of their working lives - and this is a challenge shared by Defence Forces.

Many Officers in the Navy will have commenced their career after identifying a particular job on the Defence Jobs website or through a session with Defence Force Recruiting. For many Officers this leads to a long and rewarding career in their chosen profession.

Marine Engineering Officer Submariner Lieutenant Steven Ashworth on HMAS Dechaineux at Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

Marine Engineering Officer Submariner Lieutenant Steven Ashworth on HMAS Dechaineux at Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

However in today’s Navy, along with more flexible employment options there is an increasing number of opportunities to have more than one career, particularly to fill priority roles and capability needs. Active career management is encouraged and Lieutenant Steven Ashworth is evidence of that.

Lieutenant Ashworth grew up around Navy due to his father being a Maritime Aviation Warfare Officer, so it may have been no surprise when, after completing a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Newcastle, he enlisted into Navy as a Maritime Warfare Officer Submariner.

However, in the not too distant future he will be looking to qualify as both a Warfare Officer and an Engineering Officer aboard our submarines.

A conversation with the head of the Submarine profession, himself a dual stream as a Maritime Warfare Officer and Marine Engineering Officer Submariner, lead to an exploration of how both Lieutenant Ashworth and the Navy could benefit from a broader set of qualifications.

In the past there have been some examples of Officers with engineering degrees taking up warfare careers or moving from engineering careers to warfare roles, and this has indeed been the path for a number of Officers who have moved onto star rank. Navy has benefitted from the broader applications of their skills and qualifications, as have those Officers.

Lieutenant Ashworth already has his “Dolphins” or Submarine Sea Qualification, and is to begin qualifying as a Maritime Warfare Officer in June before returning to Western Australia to finalise his Charge Qualification as an Engineering Officer at a later date.

He will then be qualified to head an Engineering Department on board a Collins Class submarine with the potential to take on further warfare roles in the future.

“The conversation I had with our head of profession has led to some career options for me that I didn’t know were there, and there will be a more opportunities for both Navy and me as my career develops,” Lieutenant Ashworth said.

“Growing up in a Navy family meant I was always likely to head down the path of a Navy career.

“My father was a big influence there, but I am glad there are options available for those who want to explore them once you are in,” he said.