Australian Navy welcomes largest group of new officers in seven decades

Almost 300 Royal Australian Navy (RAN) members have completed officer training in 2021 – the largest cohort of new officers to graduate in a single year since the 1950’s.

Illustration; Photo by: Royal Australian Navy

In the first week of December, 125 RAN members graduated from the New Entry Officers’ Course (NEOC) at the Royal Australian Naval College in Jervis Bay. Another 173 officers completed the world-class leadership course in the first half of 2021, according to the navy’s officials.

This year’s NEOC graduates come from all over Australia and from a range of backgrounds, including high-school leavers and professionals looking to switch careers.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said it was great to see such a large number of new officers from diverse backgrounds graduating at a time of significant growth and change for the navy.

“These officers will be the future leaders of a Navy that will look vastly different to the one I joined,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Our Navy is growing to operate and maintain the new and more complex ships and systems that will enter service over the coming years. Our People will be highly specialised, working with cutting-edge technology including robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.”

“There will also be a huge range of opportunities in our expanding Fleet, which will welcome new capabilities like the Future Frigates and nuclear-powered submarines over the coming decades.”

“Among the graduates here today, we will have future warship and submarine commanders, medical officers, and capability leaders.”

Spanning five months, the NEOC teaches trainees the skills and attitudes necessary to be an effective officer in the Royal Australian Navy. This includes practical leadership exercises, sea survivability, first aid, firefighting, laws of armed conflict and basic mariner skills.

The announcement comes in the wake of Australia’s latest deal with the United States and the United Kingdom. The countries signed a new Indo-Pacific security partnership, AUKUS, in September this year. Under the deal, Australia plans to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines.

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