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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    First three Royal Australian Navy officers graduate from sub school

    Lieutenant William Hall, of Australia, applauds with classmates during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, a military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Commodore David Frost, naval attaché to Washington with the Royal Australian Navy, processes into the ceremony during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, a military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensign Zachary Hughes, of Virginia, and his girlfriend Sophie Muller, of West Virginia, attempt to hide from the rain following a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, a military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    The United States and Australian flags are carried by the color guard during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensigns wait for their names to be called during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensigns cross the Nautilus after receiving their certificates during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at Submarine Force Museum in Groton on Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensign Donna Michaels shakes hands with Vice Admiral Robert Gaucher, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, Submarine Force Atlantic, and Allied Submarine Command, after receiving her certificate during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensigns Everett Stenberg, left, and Justin Suh get ready for a classmate to take their photo following a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensigns process to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at USS Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Ensigns talk with their classmates during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at the submarine Nautilus and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton on Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    The United States and Australian flags are carried by the color guard on the Nautilus during a graduation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Submarine School's Submarine Officer Basic Course at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton on Thursday, April 18. The graduation was the first to include members of the Royal Australian Navy as part of AUKUS, the military security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton ― Lt. William Hall of the Royal Australian Navy said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of a program to bring the first nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

    On Thursday, Hall, Lt. Cmdr. James Heydon and Lt. Cmdr. Adam Klyne of the Royal Australian Navy became the first three Australian officers to graduate from the U.S. Naval Submarine School’s Submarine Officer Basic Course as part of AUKUS, a trilateral security agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    They graduated alongside nearly 80 of their counterparts from the United States in a ceremony at the USS Nautilus, where friends and family members, gathered under a tent, and applauded the officers.

    VADM Robert Gaucher, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, said the ceremony marked a significant milestone with the graduation of the first three Australian submariners.

    AUKUS will bring conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability to Australia and will help to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable, he said.

    “Our Australian graduates today are the first of many tangible steps to advance our partnership,” Gaucher said.

    Calling the class “historic,” he said both the United States and Australian graduates participated firsthand in the initial steps of AUKUS.

    As part of the AUKUS agreement to help provide Australia in the future with nuclear-powered submarines, the officers are being trained to be able to operate them.

    “Over the last two months, these three officers have trained alongside our sailors, learning the fundamentals of operating and tactically employing SSNs,” Capt. Matthew Fanning, commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Submarine School, said in a statement. At the Submarine Officer Basic Course, “they applied both their previous experience and the new skills they developed through our nuclear training schools, to learn how we operate the ocean’s apex predator, the nuclear powered submarine.”

    Royal Australian Navy Commodore David Frost, naval attaché to the United States, thanked the command and the instructors for helping to train “our first generation of nuclear qualified personnel.”

    “It is clear you have gone to great efforts to make Australian personnel welcome in Groton and embrace the trilateral nature of the AUKUS endeavor,” said Frost, adding that he looks forward to sending more sailors to the submarine school in the future.

    On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Second District, marked the milestone with remarks before the House of Representatives. It was Courtney who introduced the 2022 bill that created the training pipeline.

    “Over the next 12 months, 100 Royal Australian Navy personnel will continue in this [training] pipeline to implement the AUKUS agreement, which is one of the smartest collaborations between the US, the UK and Australia to uplift their submarine capacity to work together for the three nations and rebalance the deteriorating security environment in the Indo-Pacific,“ he said.

    Off to Hawaii

    Before coming to sub school, the officers first took nuclear submarine training courses in South Carolina.

    They will next head to Hawaii, where Hedyon is assigned to the USS Vermont, Klyne is assigned to the USS Montana and Hall is assigned to the USS Mississippi.

    Heydon, 32, said the community has been so welcoming that it has made their integration into the United States seamless. From diners and restaurants to running clubs, he said people have been smiley and cheerful.

    “It’s been incredible here,” said Hall. “The people are so warm and friendly.”

    He said Charleston, S.C., has a charm of its own, and New England is amazing.

    “I love it up here,” said Klyne, 39, who likes New England’s weather, people, culture, and history. He has gone hiking in the area, watched the Red Sox play at Fenway Park in Boston and caught a Broadway show in New York.

    Klyne said he joined the program because it is a “once-in-a lifetime opportunity to be part of history.” It’s also providing his wife and children an opportunity to experience life and culture in the United States.

    Heydon described the experience as like a “choose your own adventure” book. He said it feels like there is so much opportunity that is developing for Australia here in the United States.

    Hall, 26, who was recognized for his academic achievement and having the highest overall grade point average, said they will serve on U.S. submarines and then do a sea tour as a department head. They will also return to the sub school for additional training.

    After their training, the sailors can line up to be in command of Australia’s first nuclear powered submarines, or there will be other jobs to ensure the reactors are being run correctly, Hall said.

    Klyne said the initial training period is about four to five years, and then their careers “will largely be our own to write.”

    One of the three will likely be the first commanding officer of an Australian nuclear-powered submarine.

    “This is a massive responsibility that we feel already for what our jobs will entail in the future,” Hall said.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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