Ex-Navy chief Michael Noonan used HMAS Waller submarine to propose to girlfriend: ‘Love sub’


Ex-Navy chief’s grand romantic gesture lands him in hot water after he used a military submarine to propose to his girlfriend: ‘This isn’t his personal love sub’

  • Navy boss proposed to girlfriend on overnight voyage in military submarine
  • Vice Admiral Michael Noonan used role to get Samantha Heighway aboard
  • The June 2022 incident was described as ‘an abuse of power’ by the opposition 

The former chief of Australia’s navy has been slammed for treating a military vessel as his ‘personal love sub’ after proposing to his girlfriend during an overnight voyage.

Then-Vice Admiral Michael Noonan granted Samantha Heighway approval to board the HMAS Waller on June 23, 2022, where they spent a romantic night at sea together off the coast of Western Australia.

He used his authority as boss of the navy to allow Ms Heighway, a civilian, to make the trip on board the Collins Class submarine, during which the couple took personal photographs.

The former chief of Australia’s navy Michael Noonan, has been slammed for treating a military vessel as his ‘personal love sub’ after proposing to his girlfriend, Samantha Heighway, during an overnight voyage (pictured together)

Then-Vice Admiral Michael Noonan granted Samantha Heighway approval to board the HMAS Waller on June 23, 2022, where they spent the night at sea together off the coast of Western Australia. Pictured, an Australian Collins Class submarine

Then-Vice Admiral Michael Noonan granted Samantha Heighway approval to board the HMAS Waller on June 23, 2022, where they spent the night at sea together off the coast of Western Australia. Pictured, an Australian Collins Class submarine

It is understood Mr Noonan got down on one knee during the controversial trip and asked for Ms Heighway’s hand in marriage. 

The war boat at the time was at sea as part of a PR exercise to gather Defence Force Recruiting footage.

The Coalition’s defence spokesman Phillip Thompson labelled the incident an ‘abuse of power’ and ‘unbecoming’ of any leader.

‘The Navy is a professional outfit, this isn’t the chief of Navy’s personal love sub,’ Mr Thompson told the Daily Telegraph.

The Coalition's defence spokesman Phillip Thompson labelled the incident an 'abuse of power'

It is understood Mr Noonan got down on one knee during the controversial trip and asked for Ms Heighway's hand in marriage

It is understood Mr Noonan got down on one knee during the controversial trip and asked for Ms Heighway’s hand in marriage. The Coalition’s defence spokesman Phillip Thompson labelled the incident an ‘abuse of power’

‘He had the unilateral power to approve the (civilian trip) and that leaves all the sailors in a very uncomfortable position because the most senior person in their branch is the one doing the questionable thing.’

While it is understood the trip did not break any rules, civilians are not usually allowed on board naval vessels.

‘It is not routine for Defence members to take a civilian partner, spouse (or) relative on an overnight sea ride,’ a Department of Defence spokeswoman said.

In a move unrelated to the indiscretion Mr Noonan was replaced as navy chief five days later Vice Admiral Mark Hammond.

Mr Noonan retired from Defence in September 2022 after a 38 year career.

He attended Royal Australian Naval College in 1984 and after a distinguished career that included coalition anti-terrorism operations, was appointed Deputy Chief of Navy in 2016, then Chief of the Navy two years later.

Ms Heighway congratulated him on his career in a Facebook post at the time.

‘Michael Noonan… congratulations on your service to our county, your selfless leadership and on inspiring the next generations that will selflessly serve to protect our country.

‘So to say, this person, Michael Noonan, I adore and am truely inspired by would be an understatement.’

Daily Mail Australia contacted Michael Noonan for comment.

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