A big romantic gesture to the former Navy captain landed him in hot water after he used a military submarine to propose to his girlfriend: “It’s not his personal love.”
- The chief of the navy proposed to his girlfriend on an overnight trip in a military submarine
- Vice Admiral Michael Noonan used a spin to drop off Samantha Heighway
- The opposition described the June 2022 incident as an “abuse of power”.
The former Australian naval chief has come under fire for treating a military ship as his “personal love partner” after proposing to his girlfriend during an overnight cruise.
Vice Admiral Michael Noonan gave Samantha Heighway approval to board HMAS Waller on June 23, 2022, as they spent a romantic night at sea together off the coast of Western Australia.
He used his authority as Chief of the Navy to allow Mrs. Heighway, a civilian, to make the trip aboard a Collins-class submarine, during which the couple took selfies.
Former Australian Navy chief Michael Noonan has come under fire for treating a military ship as his ‘personal love’ after proposing to his girlfriend, Samantha Heighway, during an overnight cruise (pictured together)
Vice Admiral Michael Noonan gave Samantha Heighway approval to board HMAS Waller on June 23, 2022, as they spent the night at sea together off the coast of Western Australia. In the photo, an Australian Collins-class submarine
It is understood that Mr Noonan got down on one knee during the controversial trip and asked Ms Heighway’s hand in marriage.
The gunboat was at the time at sea as part of a public relations exercise to collect Defense Forces recruiting footage.
Coalition defense spokesman Philip Thompson called the incident an “abuse of power” and “unbecoming” for any leader.
“The Navy is a professional outfit,” Mr. Thompson told the newspaper, “and this is not the captain of the Navy’s personal love squad.” The Daily Telegraph.
It is understood that Mr Noonan got down on one knee during the controversial trip and asked Ms Heighway’s hand in marriage. Coalition defense spokesman Philip Thompson described the incident as an “abuse of power”.
He had unilateral power to approve the (civil voyage) and this leaves all the sailors in a very uncomfortable position as the most senior person in their branch is the one doing the questionable order.
While it is understood that the voyage did not violate any rules, civilians are not ordinarily allowed on board seagoing vessels.
A Department of Defense spokeswoman said: “It is not routine for members of the Defense to take a civilian partner, spouse (or) relative on an overnight cruise.”
In a move unrelated to the indiscretion, Mr. Noonan was replaced as Chief of the Navy five days later by Vice-Admiral Mark Hammond.
Mr. Noonan retired from the Department of Defense in September 2022 after 38 years in the business.
He entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1984 and after a distinguished career that included coalition counter-terrorism operations, he was appointed Deputy Chief of the Navy in 2016, and Chief of the Navy two years later.
Ms Heighway congratulated him on his career in a Facebook post at the time.
Michael Noonan… Congratulations for your service to our county, for your selfless leadership and for inspiring future generations who will work selflessly to protect our country.
“So to say, ‘This guy, Michael Noonan, I adore and am really inspired by’ would be an understatement.”
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Michael Noonan for comment.