Lieutenant Commander James Heydon, Lieutenant Commander Adam Klyne, and Lieutenant William Hall became the inaugural Australian officers to join the crew of US Virginia class submarines, marking a milestone in naval cooperation between the US and Australia.

In a development for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), three officers have become the first Australians to graduate from the Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC).

The officers are spearheading the new period of collaboration between the two maritime powers.

As a part of the AUKUS deal, Australia is anticipated to acquire at least three Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines by 2030, with an option to acquire two more later, per GlobalData’s intelligence on the Australian defence market

Their journey began with training at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command and Nuclear Power Training Unit in South Carolina, followed by instruction at Groton, Connecticut, US. Over 15 months, they honed their skills alongside US Navy counterparts, mastering the operations of nuclear-powered submarines. Now, having completed the pipeline, they stand ready to assume leadership roles as division officers entrusted with guiding teams of submariners.

This achievement is a step forward in the burgeoning partnership between Australia and the US. With plans to increase the number of Australian personnel training in the US to more than 100 in the coming year, this milestone paves the way for enhanced interoperability and mutual defence capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australian Navy chief, vice-admiral Mark Hammond AO, RAN, expressed profound pride in Heydon, Klyne, and Hall’s accomplishments: “Their commitment and dedication over the past 15 months has paid off, and they are now well-equipped to put their training into action aboard Virginia class submarines.”

Likewise, Australian Submarine Agency director-general, vice-admiral Jonathan Mead AO, RAN, hailed their achievements: “The Royal Australian Navy’s greatest strength is its people, and I commend Lieutenant Commander Heydon, Lieutenant Commander Klyne and Lieutenant Hall on their achievements. The AUKUS programme for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines will succeed because of our team of hard-working, driven people like these three officers.”

Having a robust capability for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Virginia-class vessels are also equipped with specialised weapons, sensors, and other equipment that enable them to perform land attacks, gather intelligence, conduct mine reconnaissance, and support special forces, according to GlobalData’s report on the global submarine market.

As Lieutenant Commander Heydon, Lieutenant Commander Klyne, and Lieutenant Hall embark on their assignments aboard Virginia class submarines, they embody the spirit of cooperation between nations but also pave the way for future generations of Australian submariners to follow in their footsteps, forging an enduring legacy.