Fleet Command (Australia)
Fleet Command is responsible for the command, operations, readiness, training and force generation of all ships, submarines, aircraft squadrons, diving teams, and shore establishments of the Royal Australian Navy. Fleet Command is headquartered at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney, and is led by the Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT), also referred to as Fleet Commander Australia (FCAUST), which is a rear admiral (two-star) appointment.
|Allegiance||Australian Defence Force|
|Garrison/HQ||HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney|
|Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead|
The position of Commander Australian Fleet was established in 2007. The previous positions since 1913 were:
- Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Fleet (1913–1926),
- Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron (1926–1949),
- Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet (1949–1988, regularly abbreviated as FOCAF), and
- Maritime Commander Australia (1988–2007 – MCAUST).(I)
Prior to 1913, all naval activities and forces in Australian waters were controlled by the British Royal Navy. In 1859, Australia Station was established as a separate command of the Royal Navy, responsible for all the waters around the Australian continent, in addition to the British and Australian colonial possessions in the South Pacific. It was at this stage that the forerunner of Commander Australian Fleet, Officer Commanding Imperial Squadron Australian Station, was created. Between the Federation of Australia and formation of the Commonwealth Naval Forces in 1901 to the year of 1913, the Royal Navy began a process of transferring all command responsibility in Australian waters over to the Australian Government, as well as replacing equipment and personnel with Australian variants. The Commonwealth Naval Forces were renamed to Royal Australian Navy in 1911. With the transfer complete in 1913, the position of Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Fleet was formed, with control over all naval combat operations and forces; the post was renamed Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron in 1926. Despite this position being a command of the RAN, the majority of occupants were Royal Navy officers attached to, or on loan to, the RAN.
In 1949, Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron was redesignated Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet. This was followed by a renaming to Maritime Commander Australia in 1988, and more recently to Commander Australian Fleet in 2007. Throughout its existence, the command has administered Australian naval forces as they have been deployed for duty in the First World War, Second World War, Malayan Emergency, Korean War, Indonesian Confrontation, Vietnam War, Operation Navy Help Darwin (1974-75), the Gulf War, War in Afghanistan and Iraq War, in addition to peacekeeping operations. The rank associated with this position today is rear admiral, however some of the earlier appointees held a different rank.
During the East Timor operations of 1999–2000, the then Maritime Commander Australia held the Task force designator Commander Task Force 627.
Command and staff
The Fleet Command is led by the Commander Australian Fleet who has overall command of the Fleet and supported by the Director-General Maritime Operations and the Commodore Warfare who have delegated responsibilities for operational command and maritime warfare alongside the Chief of Joint Operations. The principal role of the Fleet Command is to "plan, prepare for, and conduct maritime operations for the protection and promotion of Australia's security and interests". With this directive, the operations carried out or planned by the Commander Australian Fleet or the delegated command staff fall into three distinct categories: defence of sovereign territory, protection of overseas trade and offshore resources, and contingencies.
Commander Australian Fleet
The Fleet Commander is the chief maritime and amphibious operations advisor to the Chief of Navy. The Chief of Navy delegates full command of ships, submarines, aircraft squadrons, diving teams and shore establishments of the Royal Australian Navy to the Fleet Commander. The Fleet Commander is also responsible for overseeing the training, readiness, maintenance, capabilities management and force generation of the Fleet.
The Fleet Commander delegates the management of naval bases and operational command of Fleet units to force commanders. The Fleet Commander delegates operational control of fleet units to the Director General Maritime Operations and tactical command to the Director General Maritime Operations, the Commodore Warfare, tactical warfare commander, or a task group commander. Unless the Chief of the Defence Force directs the Chief of Navy to assign specific forces to the Joint Operations Command for joint or multinational operations, the Fleet Commander retains control of fleet forces.
Director-General Maritime Operations
The Director-General Maritime Operations (DGMAROPS) is the deputy to the Fleet Commander located within the Headquarters Joint Operations Command. The Director-General Maritime Operations is responsible for providing advice on the preparedness and readiness of the Fleet Command and for the operational control and tactical command of delegated fleet force elements and all Royal Australian Navy units at sea and on "routine activities". The Director-General Maritime Operations is also the Navy Submarine Operating Authority and in charge of the Navy Activity Schedule.
The Director-General Maritime Operations also oversees the Maritime Operations Centre within the Headquarters Joint Operations Command. The Maritime Operations Centre is responsible for the coordination of all maritime operations of units of the Fleet Command outside of Joint Task Forces.
The Fleet Commander's seagoing subordinate is Commodore Flotillas (COMFLOT), a position established by that name, and previously known as Commodore Warfare (between 2011 and 2018). In 2018, the name was reverted to COMFLOT under the direction of Commander Australian Fleet. The Commodore Flotillas oversees the Australian Fleet Battle Staff and the Australian Maritime Warfare Centre and is responsible for maritime warfare capability management and force generation.
Australian Fleet Battle Staff
The Australian Fleet Battle Staff is the naval staff of the Royal Australian Navy responsible for the command of multinational maritime warfare task groups and the tactical maritime expertise advice to the Australian Defence Force. The Staff also provides sea control operational planning with input from Fleet Forces. Members of the Australian Fleet Battle Staff serve afloat or ashore during maritime operations.
Australian Maritime Warfare Centre
The Australian Maritime Warfare Centre develops maritime warfare policy and formulates joint doctrine and tactics for the Royal Australian Navy. The centre also provides operational analysis to the Defence Science and Technology Group and other analytical capabilities for the Commodore Warfare.
The operational command of the Force Element Groups of the Fleet Command are delegated from the Fleet Commander to the respective force commanders. The force commanders are responsible for the policy development, administrative management, operational capability, and force generation of all units and personnel of their respective fleet force. The Director-General Maritime Operations will have operational control of the fleet forces when required for deployed operations.
The Commander Surface Force oversees the capability management of the destroyers, frigates, and support vessels of the Royal Australian Navy.
The Commander Submarine Force is charged with the responsibility of the operations of the Royal Australian Navy Submarine Service alongside the Navy Strategic Command's Director-General Submarine Capability.
Fleet Air Arm
The Commander Fleet Air Arm is in charge of the operational management and airworthiness capabilities of Royal Australian Navy aviation.
Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Forces
The Commander Mine Warfare, Clearance Diving, Hydrographic, Meteorological and Patrol Forces is responsible for the operational capability and logistical management of the mine warfare forces, patrol forces, Clearance Diving Branch, the Australian Hydrographic Service of the Royal Australian Navy.
The Commander Shore Force is responsible for the shore capabilities and naval facilities including the maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, properties and ports of the Royal Australian Navy in accordance with seaworthiness requirements. The Shore Force also provides naval policy input to the Defence Estate and Infrastructure Group on matters of preparedness and garrison support.
Information Warfare Force
The Commander Information Warfare Force is in charge of the information warfare, signals intelligence and imagery intelligence capabilities of the Royal Australian Navy. The Information Warfare Force was established in 2015 through the amalgamation of five Navy Imagery Units, the Navy Tactical Data Link Organisation, the Maritime Data Correlation Centre, the Maritime Intelligence Support Centre, the Directorate of Maritime Command, Control, Communications and Computers and Electronic Warfare, and the Fleet Information and Communications Technology Support Teams.
List of Commanders Australian Fleet
The following list chronologically records those who have held the post of Commander Australian Fleet or its preceding positions. However, the position of Officers Commanding Imperial Squadron Australian Station (1859–1913) is not included in this list as it was administered as a command of the Royal Navy, and existed before the formation of the Royal Australian Navy. The official title of the commander at that period of time is listed immediately before the officers who held that role. The rank and honours are as at the completion of the commander's term.
|Rank||Name||Postnominals||Service||Term began||Term ended|
|Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Fleet|
|Vice Admiral||Sir George Patey||RN||23 June 1913||22 September 1916|
|Rear Admiral||Sir William Pakenham||RN||23 September 1916||9 January 1917|
|Rear Admiral||Arthur Leveson||RN||9 January 1917||3 September 1918|
|Rear Admiral||Sir Lionel Halsey||RN||4 September 1918||21 March 1919|
|Rear Admiral||John Dumaresq||RN||22 March 1919||29 April 1922|
|Rear Admiral||Albert Addison||RN||30 April 1922||30 April 1924|
|Commodore||Thomas Wardle||RN||30 April 1924||30 April 1926|
|Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron|
|Rear Admiral||George Hyde||RAN||30 April 1926||17 May 1929|
|Rear Admiral||Edward Evans||RN||17 May 1929||29 May 1931|
|Commodore||Leonard Holbrook||RN||29 May 1931||7 April 1932|
|Rear Admiral||Robin Dalglish||RN||7 April 1932||19 April 1934|
|Rear Admiral||Wilbraham Ford||RN||19 April 1934||20 April 1936|
|Rear Admiral||Richard Lane-Poole||RN||20 April 1936||21 April 1938|
|Rear Admiral||Wilfred Custance||RN||22 April 1938||2 September 1939|
|Commodore||Wilfrid Patterson||RN||2 September 1939||1 November 1939|
|Rear Admiral||John Crace||RN||1 November 1939||13 June 1942|
|Rear Admiral||Victor Crutchley||RN||13 June 1942||13 June 1944|
|Commodore||John Collins||RAN||13 June 1944||27 October 1944|
|Captain||Charles Nichols||RN||27 October 1944||9 December 1944|
|Commodore||Harold Farncomb||RAN||9 December 1944||22 July 1945|
|Commodore||John Collins||RAN||22 July 1945||9 November 1946|
|Rear Admiral||Harold Farncomb||RAN||9 November 1946||5 October 1949|
|Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet (FOCAF)|
|Rear Admiral||John Eccles||RN||5 October 1949||10 October 1951|
|Rear Admiral||John Eaton||RN||10 October 1951||17 December 1953|
|Rear Admiral||Roy Dowling||RAN||17 December 1953||23 February 1955|
|Rear Admiral||Henry Burrell||RAN||28 February 1955||7 June 1956|
|Rear Admiral||David Harries||RAN||7 June 1956||7 January 1958|
|Rear Admiral||Henry Burrell||RAN||7 January 1958||20 January 1959|
|Rear Admiral||Galfry Gatacre||Bar&||RAN||20 January 1959||22 December 1959|
|Rear Admiral||Hastings Harrington||RAN||22 December 1959||8 January 1962|
|Rear Admiral||Alan McNicoll||RAN||8 January 1962||6 January 1964|
|Rear Admiral||Otto Becher||Bar&||RAN||6 January 1964||10 January 1965|
|Rear Admiral||Thomas Morrison||RAN||10 January 1965||29 January 1966|
|Rear Admiral||Victor Smith||RAN||29 January 1966||20 January 1967|
|Rear Admiral||Richard Peek||RAN||20 January 1967||18 March 1968|
|Rear Admiral||Gordon Crabb||RAN||18 March 1968||6 January 1970|
|Rear Admiral||David Stevenson||RAN||6 January 1970||14 April 1971|
|Rear Admiral||William Dovers||RAN||14 April 1971||24 January 1972|
|Rear Admiral||David Stevenson||RAN||24 January 1972||1 April 1972|
|Rear Admiral||William Dovers||RAN||1 April 1972||23 January 1973|
|Rear Admiral||Anthony Synnot||RAN||23 January 1973||4 February 1974|
|Rear Admiral||David Wells||RAN||4 February 1974||17 November 1975|
|Rear Admiral||Geoffrey Gladstone||Bar&||RAN||17 November 1975||16 April 1977|
|Rear Admiral||Neil McDonald||RAN||16 April 1977||8 May 1978|
|Rear Admiral||James Willis||RAN||8 May 1978||12 April 1979|
|Rear Admiral||David Leach||RAN||12 April 1979||16 May 1980|
|Rear Admiral||Peter Doyle||RAN||16 May 1980||1 June 1981|
|Rear Admiral||John Stevens||RAN||1 June 1981||16 March 1982|
|Rear Admiral||Michael Hudson||RAN||15 March 1982||21 October 1983|
|Rear Admiral||Geoffrey Woolrych||RAN||21 October 1983||3 May 1985|
|Rear Admiral||Ian Knox||RAN||3 May 1985||6 January 1987|
|Rear Admiral||Peter Sinclair||RAN||6 January 1987||2 September 1988|
|Maritime Commander Australia (MCAUST)|
|Rear Admiral||Peter Sinclair||RAN||2 September 1988||6 January 1989|
|Rear Admiral||Ian MacDougall||RAN||6 January 1989||9 July 1990|
|Rear Admiral||Ken Doolan||RAN||9 July 1990||7 November 1991|
|Rear Admiral||Robert Walls||RAN||7 November 1991||9 December 1993|
|Rear Admiral||Donald Chalmers||RAN||7 December 1993||13 April 1995|
|Rear Admiral||Chris Oxenbould||RAN||14 April 1995||11 February 1997|
|Rear Admiral||Chris Ritchie||RAN||11 February 1997||17 May 1999|
|Rear Admiral||John Lord||RAN||18 May 1999||12 July 2000|
|Rear Admiral||Geoffrey Smith||RAN||12 July 2000||20 July 2002|
|Rear Admiral||Raydon Gates||RAN||20 July 2002||28 June 2004|
|Rear Admiral||Rowan Moffitt||RAN||28 June 2004||4 July 2005|
|Rear Admiral||Davyd Thomas||RAN||4 July 2005||1 February 2007|
|Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT)|
|Rear Admiral||Davyd Thomas||RAN||1 February 2007||July 2007|
|Rear Admiral||Nigel Coates||RAN||July 2007||8 October 2009|
|Rear Admiral||Steve Gilmore||RAN||8 October 2009||21 December 2011|
|Rear Admiral||Tim Barrett||RAN||22 December 2011||12 June 2014|
|Rear Admiral||Stuart Mayer||RAN||12 June 2014||19 January 2018|
|Rear Admiral||Jonathan Mead||RAN||19 January 2018||Incumbent|
^(I) "HM" (His/Her Majesty's) is not always included when referring to these titles.
- Gilbert, Gregory P. (2006). Australian Naval Personalities: Lives From the Australian Dictionary of Biography (PDF). Canberra, Australia: Sea Power Centre. ISBN 0-642-29636-7. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "The RAN — A Brief History". History. Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Top Stories — Fleet Command now launched". Navy News. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- David Stevens, 'Strength Through Diversity: The Combined Naval Role in Operation Stabilise', Sea Power Centre – Australia Working Paper No. 20
- "Fleet Headquarters". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Commander Australian Fleet". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "Senior Leadership Group". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
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- "New Position Established" (PDF). Navy News. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Seibel, Jamie (14 July 2015). "The U.S. and Australia Team Up as a Combined Task Force During Talisman Sabre". Navy News. United States Navy. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- Slatter, Harley (10 August 2017). "Information Warfare Force established". Navy Daily. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "Rear Admiral Nigel Coates". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore". Defence Leaders: Navy. Department of Defence. Retrieved 18 October 2009.