Officer selection boards, which are a key element of growing the Navy, are zooming along during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to technology and teamwork.

Interviews usually done face-to-face are being conducted via video conference from locations around Australia.

Captain John Vandyke is a board president who has been involved on boards since April 2017.

“We all Zoom (video conference application). We do four a day,” he said.

“It’s kept the recruitment pipeline well and truly open. So that’s been a great success.”

Under Plan Pelorus 2022, Navy aims to be fully crewed at sea and fully staffed ashore, able to train for future demand, and prepared for continued growth.

That plan has led to leadership opportunities in Navy’s growing force, from maritime warfare, engineering and logistics to health, meteorology and law. 

Technology has kept the recruitment pipeline well and truly open.

Captain Vandyke credited a team from the Directorate of Navy Recruiting, Retention and Transitions with implementing the seamless move to online interviews. 

He recently notched up his 1000th interview.

He logs each one, which he said was probably an old naval habit and said he was constantly impressed by the quality of men and women aspiring to serve as commissioned officers.

“They bring such a diverse range of backgrounds and life experiences,” he said.

“I have seen people from all sorts of places – Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers, former police officers, ambos, school captains, prefects and Long Tan scholarship winners, and the list goes on.”

Recruiters seek people with a mix of unique skills and experiences, who represent Australia’s rich cultural, ethnic and gender diversity.

Captain Vandyke's career has included command of HMAS Warramunga and the Royal Australian Naval College HMAS Creswell.

He began his career as a midshipman at Creswell in 1979 after passing his officer selection board interview.

Decades later, he interviewed a grandson of the captain of the board that had selected him.

“He was successful in getting in, which was very pleasing,” Captain Vandyke said.