A SOLIHULL sailor has achieved two of his greatest ambitions this year.
Lieutenant Commander Bruce Russell took over as the Weapon Engineer Officer on board HMS Ambush - the most powerful attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy - and graduated from the Open University with a PhD in History.
Explaining his passion for learning at his graduation ceremony at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, he said: "Most of my colleagues ask me why I put myself through the additional strain of a doctorate while also being involved with the build programme of a new nuclear submarine?
"Quite simply, I wanted to set myself a personal challenge that was different to my naval career - and achieve it before my 40th birthday," explained Bruce.
It took eight and a half years, but the senior engineering officer graduated following the submission of a 98,000 word thesis: 'International Law at Sea, Economic Warfare, and Britain's Response to the German U-boat Campaign during the First World War'.
The 39-year old former Tudor Grange School pupil, who now lives in Ulverston in Cumbria, joined the Royal Navy in 1987. He has spent his career to date serving in submarines.
As the Weapon Engineer Officer he will be responsible for all the weapons, sensors, communications and computer systems in the boat.
"Getting the largest and most powerful class of attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy ready for launch is my next challenge," said Bruce.HMS Ambush, the second of the new Astute Class attack submarines, is being built at Barrow-in-Furness by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions. She is due to be launched in 2009.