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    Australian trailblazers become first to complete intense Royal Navy nuclear course

    HMS Anson is an Astute-class submarine - the same type the three Australians will be serving on (Picture: MOD)HMS Anson is an Astute-class submarine - the same type the three Australians will be serving on (Picture: MOD)

    Three Royal Australian Navy officers have become the first in their service's history to qualify in the UK as nuclear engineers, following nine months of intensive training delivered by the Royal Navy.

    The training, delivered as part of the Aukus agreement, a pact between the UK, US and Australia to build a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines, saw the Australian officers train alongside their Royal Navy counterparts at HMS Sultan in Gosport.

    Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy and a submariner said: "The graduation marks another significant step forward for the Royal Australian Navy's ability to operate, maintain and support Australia's future nuclear-powered submarine capability.

    The three officers, named only as Lieutenant Commander James, Lieutenant Isabella and Lieutenant Steve, will now go on to serve in Astute-class submarines alongside the Royal Navy as they gain practical experience to complement their studies.

    Lt Cdr James will now be assigned to the Royal Navy's newest hunter-killer submarine, HMS Agamemnon, which is nearing completion in Barrow.

    He said: "The experience of bringing her out of construction, going through trials and training will be hugely important down the line for our programme."

    Watch: The Aukus agreement aims to create the most powerful attack submarine ever operated by the Senior Service

    The training sees students undertake six months of intensive academic studies including subjects such as nuclear physics, thermodynamics and nuclear safety management.

    That's followed by three months of practice where they learn the inner workings of nuclear systems and complete control room simulations to correctly respond to possible incidents and emergencies.

    Lieutenant Joe Roberts said the course was one of the most intense in the Royal Navy, with many students dropping out.

    "It's a course which demands the best and the brightest – and the Australians have sent them, three outstanding students who will go far," he explained.

    "It's been something of an honour because these are the Aukus pioneers. They will go on to lead their country's future nuclear submarine programme."

    Their success marks a significant milestone in developing the skilled workforce needed to operate Australia's future conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability being developed under the Aukus tri-lateral security partnership between the UK, Australia and the US.

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