Naval Warfare

First Royal Australian Navy Officers Complete AUKUS Nuclear Power Training

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First Royal Australian Navy Officers Complete AUKUS Nuclear Power Training

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First Royal Australian Navy Officers Complete AUKUS Nuclear Power Training
First Royal Australian Navy Officers Complete AUKUS Nuclear Power Training

Three Royal Australian Navy officers took another significant step in their submariner careers, and on the Pathway to Australia operating conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) when they graduated from the U.S. Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) program in Charleston, South Carolina on 12 January 2024. Lieutenant Commanders Heydon and Klyne and Lieutenant Hall are the first cadre of Royal Australian Navy personnel to complete one of the U.S. Department of Defense’s most rigorous and demanding training pipelines. NPTU trains officers, enlisted sailors and civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance of surface ships and submarines in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear fleet.

“Our progression through the schools in South Carolina, and next in Groton, brings us closer to our ultimate goal of serving aboard not just SSNs, but Australian-flagged SSNs early next decade,” said Hall.

“I was really looking forward to putting the concepts and theories we learned at power school into operation at the prototype training. Operating a nuclear reactor was thrilling, humbling, and allowed us get that hands-on experience we need to safely operate the Royal Australian Navy’s future SSNs,” said Klyne.

Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program U.S. Admiral Bill Houston said,“NPTU provided the necessary groundwork for students to gain the competence and confidence needed to operate SSNs. NPTU is where our nuclear operators put the knowledge and theories they learned in power school into actual power plant operation and watch-standing capabilities. It’s here our students learn to safely and competently operate the plant in both normal and potential casualty situations.”

The next stop for the three officers is the Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) in Groton, Connecticut where they will undergo the same training given to U.S. Navy officers entering the submarine force. After completing the SOBC, they will be assigned to a U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine to continue their training and qualifications. AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific region between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Announced on 15 September 2021, the partnership involves the US and the UK assisting Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. The partnership also includes cooperation on advanced cyber mechanisms, artificial intelligence and autonomy, quantum technologies, undersea capabilities, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic, electronic warfare, innovation and information sharing.

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