First nuclear-powered attack submarine captain could be schoolgirl from Dubbo

Head of the Australian Submarine Agency said Defence must act now to build a workforce for the future – setting a teenage school girl on the path to captain the first or second SSN (nuclear-powered attack submarine).

CAPTIONNavy gap year sailor Seaman Ross Hunter chats with veterans in Bathurst during HMAS Harman’s Navy Week tour of the central west, NSW. Story and photos by Corporal Jacob Joseph.

Dubbo College senior Hannah Jonker didn’t expect to be told as much when sailors from HMAS Harman came to her school, during a tour of the NSW central west for Navy Week, and she asked about a career in nuclear propulsion.

“I’m only 17, I was pretty nervous,” she said.

By visiting regional schools, the group hoped to address the old-adage, you can’t be what you can’t see.

Commanding Officer HMAS Harman Commander Glyn Hunter said many of the students had never seen a Navy ship or submarine before.

“With all the systems we’re bringing online in the next decade, it’s likely someone in Hannah’s position will have a massive opportunity in a nuclear pathway,” he said.

“Navy just isn’t front of mind for people who don’t live on the coast.”

The schoolyard was a recent memory for 19-year old gap year sailor Seaman Ross Hunter, one of 14 sailors and officers from Harman touring Cowra, Parkes, Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange.

During five days they spoke to hundreds of students at 10 schools.

For many locals they spoke to, it was their first experience talking to someone in military uniform.

“I noticed they found it easier to ask me questions than some of the older people,” Seaman Hunter said

He said the students asked many of the same questions he had before enlisting – about pay and conditions, minimum commitment and work-life balance.

During their tour of regional NSW towns and cities, the Harman sailors also held sunset ceremonies at memorial parks and chatted with veterans and locals at RSLs.

CAPTION(L-R) HMAS Harman Commanding Officer, Commander Glyn Hunter, RAN, Able Seaman Maritime Personnel Operator Sophie Marriott, Seaman Gap Year Ross Hunter, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jesse Anthes and Seaman Gap Year Vimbayi Hakutangwi engage in a question and answer session with students at DubboCollege.


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