A 20-year voyage of growth

Having devoted 20 years of his life to the Navy, Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Graney reflected on the motivations that have guided his successful career in the ADF.

CAPTIONLieutenant Commander Nicholas Graney salutes during the national anthem as part of HMAS Newcastle’s decommissioning ceremony at Fleet Base East, Sydney, in 2019. Story by Olivia Ransome Gilding. Photo by Able Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill.

Growing up in Tasmania, Lieutenant Commander Graney knew he wanted a meaningful life far away from the comfort of his living room. He aspired to serve his country and his community.

These thoughts led him to Canberra, where he enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history and geography at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), on the quest to become a maritime warfare officer in Navy.

As part of initial training, Navy cadets sail into a one-year immersion course at Naval College ahead of their time at ADFA. This experience allows officer cadets to experience life at sea for the first time, and for many, it is their first time away from home.

“It was an opportunity to grow as an individual. You learn some really valuable lessons about yourself and about your peers, how you work and relate to others, and you find likeminded people to bounce ideas off,” Lieutenant Commander Graney said.

Lieutenant Commander Graney said his time at ADFA, where they were all in it together – working, living and studying side-by-side – was crucial preparation for life at sea.

A milestone during his early career was completing the navigation watchkeeping certificate, which equips junior maritime warfare officers with the skills to navigate a ship and perform the role of officer of the watch.

“The first time you’re the person in charge of a ship and you’re not being observed or under training is a big achievement and a highlight,” Lieutenant Commander Graney said.

One of his proudest achievements was his role as Commanding Officer HMAS Launceston, a coincidence and nod to his past life in Tasmania.

“Hopefully, a future command might come up for something slightly larger, but certainly in the interim, that was a very big highlight,” he said.

As an ADFA alumni, Lieutenant Commander Graney reflected on the impact ADFA had on his career and offered advice to the latest graduates.

“Being at ADFA is hard work, but the reward is certainly there,” he said.

“The academy opens up so many great opportunities; the degree you gain, the friends that you make, the academics you meet and the military studies you learn, all prepare you for a career in the ADF.

“You don’t realise how important networking is when you finish up at ADFA.

“The ADF is an integrated environment, so those relationships you make early on are really important, and they will stick with you for life, not just personally, but with your career as well.”


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