Inspiring journey of a passionate engineer

Captain Sean Feenan’s Navy career is characterised by his dedication, humility and passion for engineering.

CAPTION: Captain Sean Feenan with his family after being promoted to captain at Russell Offices in Canberra. Story and photo by Petty Officer Jake Badior.

At the age of 16, he attended night school to improve his maths skills before joining the Navy in January 1986 as an apprentice marine technical hull.

Although he was identified as having the potential to become a naval officer early in his career, his primary focus was to obtain a trade and finish what he started.

“Where I grew up few people went to university, so I always wanted to get my trade,” he said.

Captain Feenan graduated from HMAS Nirimba as a qualified metal fabricator welder in March 1988, and went on to serve in HMA Ships Stalwart, Jervis Bay, Tobruk and Anzac.

Throughout his career, Captain Feenan has been recognised for his hard work and engineering expertise.

He has received Australia Day medallions, and was recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for his meritorious service in engineering postings, particularly during his time in Tobruk and Anzac.

“Whenever I receive an award, I’m always humbled because I’m just doing my job; I’m just turning up every day and putting my best foot forward,” Captain Feenan said.

In 2003, Captain Feenan completed his Advanced Diploma of Marine Engineering – Chief Engineer 1st Class at the Australian Maritime College before commissioning as a lieutenant in 2004.

“My goal when I commissioned was always to be an engineer at sea,” he said.

In pursuit of his goal, Captain Feenan served in Anzac as the deputy marine engineer officer from 2006 to 2008, gaining his marine engineers charge qualification in 2007.

“I learned a lot of things about myself; to rise to the challenge, to lead my team to get the best out of them, and also from an engineering capability point of view,” he said.

“It really is about building relationships, respect and empowering your teams.”

In 2011, Captain Feenan achieved his goal, joining Tobruk as the engineer officer, going on to support Operations Resolute and Solania.

As a testament to his exemplary leadership, the Tobruk Engineering Department received a Force Commander Commendation for its outstanding dedication and professional excellence.

In February 2016, Captain Feenan transferred to Navy Reserves for four years to support his family.

“I would not be here without the support of my family and I always knew I’d be back,” he said.

“I felt, after four years, it was the right time for me to come back. I always wanted to serve and continue serving.”

Transferring back to full time service in March 2020, Captain Feenan served as the principal maintenance manager in the Destroyer, Guided Missile System Program Office, where he was awarded an ADF Silver Commendation for his consistent pursuit and the application of knowledge, judgment and devotion to duty.

In May 2023, he was promoted to the rank of captain and is currently the Director Future Force Lifecycle Engineer.

His commitment to family, desire to serve and dedication to work have shaped his remarkable 34-year career in the Navy.

CAPTION: Then apprentice marine technical hull Sean Feenan at HMAS Nirimba.


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