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NEWS | Feb. 20, 2024

Royal Australian Navy personnel receive training at the home of the U.S. Submarine Force

By U.S. Naval Submarine School Public Affairs and AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Office

NEW LONDON, Conn. — Three Royal Australian Navy (RAN) officers began the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC), known commonly as “Submarine School,” where they will learn to tactically employ nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). This represents another step forward for the trilateral AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) AUKUS) Pillar I Optimal Pathway for Australia to acquire a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered SSN fleet.

“Over the next two months, these sailors will learn the responsibilities of leading an advanced SSN crew as a division officer, including safety, damage control, and seamanship,” said Capt. Matthew Fanning, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine School. “These sailors have already qualified aboard Australia’s Collins class diesel-electric submarines and have proven their aptitude for nuclear power, so I have no doubt they will excel here as well.”

Located on Naval Submarine Base (NSB) New London, SOBC is the last step in the U.S. Navy’s submarine training pipeline, graduating over a thousand officers every year. Prospective graduates must first pass Naval Nuclear Power School (NNPS), followed by the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU), commonly known as “Prototype,” before attending SOBC. After SOBC, graduates are assigned to submarines for their first sea tour during which they are trained and tested on the ship’s systems and in various roles before earning their “Dolphins,” a badge signifying their qualification as a submariner. Australian SOBC graduates will only be assigned to SSNs.

“The RAN sailors entering SOBC will be the future leaders of Australia’s sovereign SSN fleet,” said Rear Adm. Lincoln Reifsteck, the U.S. Navy’s AUKUS Integration and Acquisition (I&A) Program Manager. “Their time in New London will bridge the vast operational gap between the highly-capable Collins class SSKs and American SSNs and prepare them to operate and eventually command Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-powered attack submarines.”

Multiple RAN personnel are expected to enter SOBC this year.

“Seven months ago these officers started their path toward serving aboard an SSN. Now, they are not just one step closer to that goal, but also only a step away from that goal,” said Royal Australian Navy Commodore Bradley Francis, Australian Program Lead AUKUS I&A office. “They have made impressive progress over the course of their training, and their continued advancement is another tangible sign of our shared commitment to the AUKUS partnership.”

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