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NEWS | June 13, 2024

First Royal Australian Navy Enlisted Sailors Begin Training at U.S. Submarine School

By Lauren Laughlin, Naval Submarine School

The enrollment of Royal Australian Navy sailors at the Submarine School marks a significant step in the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) Pillar 1 Optimal Pathway, aimed at helping Australia acquire a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

“We’re excited to welcome these sailors and officers to Groton and build on the momentum of the first cohort of Australian officers to graduate from Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) in April,” said Capt. Matthew Fanning, commanding officer, Naval Submarine School. “It is an honor to be part of the team that is delivering game-changing capabilities to one of our country’s closest and staunchest allies.”

The Submarine School trains officers and enlisted personnel through two distinct but interrelated tracks: Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) and Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS).

SOBC is the last step in the U.S. Navy’s submarine officer training pipeline, graduating over a thousand officers annually. BESS introduces enlisted sailors to the fundamentals of the construction and operation of today’s nuclear-powered submarines. The course covers everything from shipboard organization to submarine safety and escape procedures. Following BESS, enlisted sailors will complete their pipeline training with classroom and skills training specific to their intended technical rating.

Upon graduation from pipeline schools, the Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors will be assigned to U.S. SSNs for their first sea tour to further their knowledge and training.

“The Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors commencing their training at the U.S. Naval Submarine School represent the leading edge of Australia’s future submarine fleet,” said the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Adm. Mark Hammond.

“Three Australian officers have already completed 14 months of intensive shore-based training, including Nuclear-Power School, nuclear propulsion training, and the Submarine Officer Basic Course before being assigned to U.S. Virginia class submarines. Our people are receiving world class training through our U.S and U.K partners, and will play a crucial role for Australia’s future SSN capability. I’m incredibly proud of their achievements representing the Royal Australian Navy.”

“Australians are exceptional submariners,” said Rear Adm. Lincoln Reifsteck, the U.S. Navy’s AUKUS Integration and Acquisition program manager. “The training they receive at Submarine School will set them up for a successful tour aboard an American SSN, moving the Royal Australian Navy that much closer to operating sovereign, conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.”

The number of Royal Australian Navy personnel training across the U.S. will increase to over 100 people in the next 12 months. Training Royal Australian Navy sailors alongside their American counterparts will enhance interoperability across the submarine forces, which is a cornerstone of establishing Australia's sovereign nuclear-powered attack submarine capability.

​The AUKUS partnership is a strategic endeavor that aims to strengthen the industrial bases of the three partners and promote a safe, free, and open Indo-Pacific, ensuring the international, rules-based order is upheld in the region. Australia will acquire conventionally armed SSNs for the Royal Australian Navy under AUKUS Pillar 1. The AUKUS I&A program office is responsible for executing the trilateral partnership to deliver conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy at the earliest possible date while setting the highest nuclear stewardship standards and continuing to maintain the highest nuclear nonproliferation standard.