While sitting in Basic Qualification Course (BQC) class and considering the many places Supply Corps officers can serve, I distinctly remember seeing two or three billets in Australia and thinking to myself how amazing it would be to be stationed there one day. I made the tactical error of sharing this information with my wife. She had the fortune of spending six months in Australia while in college and was ecstatic at the possibility that we could be stationed in Australia. I naturally assured her the probability of this happening was slim to none.
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Picture of my family on the beach in Western Australia.
At the end of my first tour onboard a submarine, I was eager to move on to a new adventure. My wife and I had discussed it and wanted to take advantage of what the Navy had to offer by serving in an overseas location. When I talked to the detailer, he offered a Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) tour in Australia; I think I almost fell out of my chair. I may not have known much about the PEP, but I was very enthusiastic to live in Australia for two years working with one of our coalition partners.
Going into the PEP tour, I was concerned about the perception this tour would create for my record, but I quickly found that what I had been told in BQC was true, every tour is what you make of it and there is no such thing as a “throwaway” tour. I was very fortunate in that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commander I worked for, Cmdr. Dean Powell, had himself served in a PEP tour as the RAN Logistics Officer at U.S. Pacific Fleet N4 in Hawaii. He was very excited to have the opportunity to mentor and work with a U.S. Navy (USN) Supply Corps officer once again. During my tour, I would have the opportunity to plan and coordinate an international logistics trip, assist in the development of a significant performance based logistics contract for a foreign government, act as an ambassador for the United States Navy and the Navy Supply Corps, and expand my family. All the while, making friends and enhancing my Supply Corps network.
During my time in Australia, I had the opportunity to work with the Collins Submarine Program in support of the six Collins Class submarines owned and operated by the RAN. When I first arrived in Australia, the RAN was in the process of re-introducing logistics enlisted ratings to their submarines that had not been onboard for the past seven years. I was able to coordinate a tour of East Coast U.S. Submarine supply chain operations for the Australian commanders I worked for, including visits with Naval Sea Systems Command program offices, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Mechanicsburg, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, and Naval Submarine Base Groton. This expanded the resident knowledge for Australian supply officers and served as a partner-building trip to better establish relationships between the USN and the RAN.
While I was stationed there, Australia was in the process of integrating the first performance based logistics contract with their prime submarine contractor. I learned much about the contracting process and was able to leverage the experience from my time on a submarine to augment the Australians’ efforts. This gave me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of a performance framework in support of a performance based logistics contract that would replace the through-life-support contract, ensuring viability and support for the Collins Class submarine for the remaining life of each submarine. The knowledge and experience I was able to bring were valuable to the development of the performance framework and to the development of stronger relationships with their industry partners to deliver positive results and streamline their submarine logistics supply chain.
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My family visiting with an animal that is uniquely Australian...a Wombat.
It was a result of the trip back to the United States that launched me into perhaps the most professionally rewarding aspect of my PEP tour. We quickly recognized that the logistics support for the AN/BYG-1 Submarine Combat System (commonly shared between the USN and RAN) was poor and leading to a significant reduction in RAN submarine availability. As a result, through the combined efforts of myself and those I worked with in the RAN, we were able to rekindle the relationship between the RAN, the Submarine Combat System Program Office, and Naval Undersea Warfare Center, ensuring much of the integrated logistics support (ILS) products and procedures that had been missing or lacking were reinvigorated. This work culminated in my ability to earn a 1302 (Supply Chain Management) subspecialty code.
Living in Australia, I was overwhelmed with how the Australians took my family and I in as one of their own and how there were numerous US/Australian events that we had the opportunity to participate in. From memorials for the Battle of the Coral Sea to Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, we loved representing the United States at all of these events. Most impactful was having the opportunity to go to Albany, Western Australia, each year on Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the U.S. submarines that served from this port during World War II. Most touching of all was getting to know the Australian widows of U.S. submariners and seeing how much love and dedication they still hold for the United States.
My wife and I were lucky enough to also have our family expanded by two with both of my boys being born in Australia. Needless to say, Australia will always hold a special place in my heart. We were able to make lifelong friends, serve as ambassadors for the United States, and make a difference for a foreign military in cooperation with our coalition partners. Not only did this tour allow me to grow personally, but professionally as well, expanding my skill sets in integrated logistics support and performance based logistics contracts. In the end, I would highly recommend a PEP tour to anyone who has the opportunity to serve in one.