First Australian Navy officers assigned to UK Astute-class submarines

11 July 2024

Following their completion of the Officers Nuclear Operator Course and Engineering Administration Course, the first three Royal Australian Navy officers have graduated from the Royal Navy’s Nuclear Reactor Course in the United Kingdom.

Lieutenant Commander James, Lieutenant Stephen and Lieutenant Isabella were among the top of their class in the Royal Navy’s elite program.  

The officers’ graduation marks the end of their shore-based requirements as part of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine training program in Hampshire. The three will now begin practical training, deploying alongside Royal Navy sailors, in the UK Astute-class submarines based at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, Scotland. 

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, AO, RAN congratulated the three graduates on the significant achievement of their critical training.

“It was pleasure to be at HMS Sultan for the first graduation ceremony for our people partaking in the world-class Royal Navy training program,” said Vice Admiral Hammond.

“I am incredibly proud of all three of our remarkable officers for their achievements and especially acknowledge Lieutenant Isabella who was awarded Dux of the graduating class.

“This demonstrates the exceptional skillset and knowledge of our people undertaking this unique training from the Royal Navy – a long-standing partner and friend to the Royal Australian Navy. 

“The graduation marks another significant step forward for the Royal Australian Navy’s ability to operate, maintain and support Australia’s future nuclear-powered submarine capability.” 

This practical qualification enables the officers to undertake their general submarine qualification and complete their engineer officer of watch training, while also learning the fundamentals of operating nuclear-powered submarines, and building upon the program already underway for Australian Defence Force personnel to gain education, experience and training in both UK and US shipyards, facilities and fleet vessels.

Director-General Australian Submarine Agency, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead AO, RAN said the training was a critical step towards Australia operating and maintaining a sovereign fleet of nuclear-powered submarines from the early 2030s.

“The incredible training opportunities we are accessing through our AUKUS partners will ensure we can safely operate and maintain our sovereign fleet of nuclear-powered submarines,” said Vice Admiral Mead. 

“We are grateful for the solid support of the United Kingdom and the United States along with their enduring commitment to help Australia build a highly skilled and capable submarine workforce.”


MEDIA NOTE: Imagery of the graduation is available at 


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