08 June 2009

the best and worst job in the navy

An army marches on its stomach. Serving bad food risks low morale. In the Australian Defence Force, the best food can be found served in submarines. And the cooks are paid accordingly. From Daily Telegraph

Submarine cooks earn far more than the SAS

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By Ian McPhederan

June 08, 2009 12:00am

THE highest paid non-officer in the military is not an SAS sergeant fluent in three languages taking out Taliban bombmakers in Afghanistan - it's the guy cooking food on a submarine.

A senior sub-sea chef with more than six years experience under his belt earns up to $200,000 a year, the same money as a junior admiral.

The cooks receive a base pay of just $58,806 a year but when all the submarine and critical trades allowances are tallied up, the figure jumps to almost $200,000.

Such is the reluctance of qualified cooks to live and work in a steel pressure tube deep under the sea, preparing three hearty "comfort" meals a day for up to 58 people, that even $4000 a week can't attract enough starters.

Like many of the "submarine critical trades", the ranks of cooks dwindled during a mining boom that offered similar pay, a solid dose of sunshine every day and more regular family time.

The only daylight submariners see during lengthy underwater exercises is if the skipper decides the ocean's surface is calm enough and free from the "enemy" for a deck barbecue.

Submarine cooks are employed in a category known as "individuals critical to the navy" so they attract a bonus of $50,000 a year just for turning up.

An experienced cook also gets a capability bonus of $40,000, a seagoing allowance of $22,254 and submarine service allowance of $26,703.

Three cooks - one a leading seaman and two able seamen - work the subs' cramped galleys and are usually the most popular people on-board a Collins Class submarine.

During one six-month deployment on board HMAS Rankin, the cooks prepared 22,000 meals in their small, steamy galleys.

A submariner pay scale provided to The Daily Telegraph explains just why "cash" did not show up in exit surveys as a key reason for leaving the submarine service.

The commanding officer of a sub at the rank of lieutenant commander with more than six years experience would earn close to $250,000 a year after allowances.

The salaries make submariners the elites of the Australian Defence Force, paid even more than highly trained SAS soldiers operating deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.

The three-star Navy chief Vice-Admiral Russ Crane gets a base salary of $242,000 a year while a navy captain with six years experience gets just $139,000 - or $60,000 less than the cook on a sub.

I reckon it would far more difficult to feed sailors (submariners) in a submarine three square meals a day compared to commanding them.

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