The ambition to create quality Naval Officers who are well-prepared for a career at sea has resulted in a number of innovations to the Reserve Entry Officers’ Course offered by the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell.
The latest cohort of 16 trainees completed the Phase One component last month and were the first to benefit from several improvements to the 16-day residential program.
The trainees were the first to be included in the uniquely naval tradition of marching the colours, joining the New Entry Officers’ Course participants on the quarterdeck of the historic college.
The October cohort includes Public Relations officers, Engineers, Legal officers, a Medical specialist, Nurse, Psychologist, Maritime Training Operations, a Military Police officer and the Navy’s first Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officer.
Between them they have 31 degrees, two PhDs, and decades of experience in their chosen fields.
Course participant, Commander Benedict ‘Eggs’ Maguire, said the coordinators of the course were outstanding at their jobs.
“We were extremely privileged to have the finest people possible inducting us into the Navy way of life.
“They are complete professionals who provided care, leadership and clarity throughout, which led to excellent learning outcomes but also contributed to building strong bonds and cohesive teams,” Commander Maguire said.
Another first for the group was their participation in an outdoor leadership training component, Operation Jaywick, inspired by the famous Reservist-led WWII operation of the same name.
Course coordinator Chief Petty Officer Christian Duncan said the inclusion of the bespoke resilience training element was designed to mirror the experience of the New Entry Officers’ Course participants.
“It closely replicates the training undertaken by the New Entry Officers’ Course and is designed to push our trainees physically and mentally to help them gel as a group and test their resilience.
“We are incorporating the Reserve Entry Officers’ Course participants into the rest of the college more than they have been in the past to give them the same experiences the New Entry Officers’ Course gets over a much longer timeframe,” Chief Petty Officer Duncan said.
The group have left their mark on the college, with two members breaking records in the gym for push ups and the beep test.
Commander Maguire said several in the group were particularly interested in breaking the records.
“We worked out our average age is 38 so for several of us there was an additional motivation to break records set by those younger than us.
“As it turned out the records broken by our division were previously set by the Physical Training Instructor who managed us on our resilience training so in many respects that was even more satisfying,” Commander Maguire said.
There were several additional measures taken to ensure the course could be conducted in a COVID-safe way with the group kept in a bubble, with separate and specific dining times and distance maintained during combined activities such as parades.
The specialist entry reserve training is conducted in four phases using a combination of online and residential teaching methods and includes time at sea for all new officers.
It aims to provide a balance to allow professionals with full-time employment commitments outside of defence to complete the training while spending minimal time away from their jobs and families.
It provides the Navy with talented and experienced professionals with needed specialist skills who are ready to hit the ground running and bring in fresh ideas.
More information on roles as a member of the Royal Australian Navy Reserves can be found here.