Military Wiki
Commander Australian Fleet
Active 1913–present
Country Australia Australia
Allegiance Australian Defence Force
Branch  Royal Australian Navy
Garrison/HQ Fleet Headquarters, Potts Point
Rear Admiral Tim Barrett

Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT), also referred to as Fleet Commander Australia (FCAUST), is a senior appointment in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), holding full command of all Navy combat forces and responsibility for all maritime operations within the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The rank associated with the position is rear admiral (two-star).

The title first came into use in 2007. Previous titles for the position since 1913 have been:

  • 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.[1][2]

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.[1][3] 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, 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.[1][2]

During the East Timor operations of 1999–2000, the then Maritime Commander Australia held the Task force designator Commander Task Force 627, which is probably still in use.[4]

Role and responsibilities

The role and responsibilities of the Commander Australian Fleet is principally 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 his staff fall into three distinct categories: defence of sovereign territory, protection of overseas trade and offshore resources, and contingencies.[5]

The Commander Australian Fleet holds full command responsibility over RAN combat forces, and is responsible to the Chief of Navy—the administrative head of the RAN—for the execution of maritime tasks and training in regards to combat roles and operations. The Commander Australian Fleet additionally holds the role of Maritime Component Commander within Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC), responsible to the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS) as the head of naval activities within operational theatres.[5][6]

The rear admiral's seagoing subordinate is Commodore, Warfare, previously Commodore, Flotillas (COMFLOT).[7] This commodore is the designated ready task group commander.

Previous commanders

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.[1][8][9]

Rank Name Post-
Service Term began Term ended
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Fleet
Vice Admiral Patey, Sir GeorgeSir George Patey KCMGKCVO RN June 23, 1913 September 22, 1916
Rear Admiral Pakenham, Sir WilliamSir William Pakenham KCBMVO RN September 23, 1916 January 9, 1917
Rear Admiral Leveson, ArthurArthur Leveson CB RN January 9, 1917 September 3, 1918
Rear Admiral Halsey, Sir LionelSir Lionel Halsey KCMGCB RN September 4, 1918 March 21, 1919
Rear Admiral Dumaresq, JohnJohn Dumaresq CBCVO RN March 22, 1919 April 29, 1922
Rear Admiral Addison, AlbertAlbert Addison CMG RN April 30, 1922 April 30, 1924
Commodore Wardle, ThomasThomas Wardle DSO RN April 30, 1924 April 30, 1926
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron
Rear Admiral Hyde, GeorgeGeorge Hyde CVOCBE RAN April 30, 1926 May 17, 1929
Rear Admiral Evans, EdwardEdward Evans CBDSO RN May 17, 1929 May 29, 1931
Commodore Holbrook, LeonardLeonard Holbrook MVO RN May 29, 1931 April 7, 1932
Rear Admiral Dalglish, RobinRobin Dalglish CB RN April 7, 1932 April 19, 1934
Rear Admiral Ford, WilbrahamWilbraham Ford CB RN April 19, 1934 April 20, 1936
Rear Admiral Lane-Poole, RichardRichard Lane-Poole CBOBE RN April 20, 1936 April 21, 1938
Rear Admiral Custance, WilfredWilfred Custance CB RN April 22, 1938 September 2, 1939
Commodore Patterson, WilfridWilfrid Patterson CVO RN September 2, 1939 November 1, 1939
Rear Admiral Crace, JohnJohn Crace CB RN November 1, 1939 June 13, 1942
Rear Admiral Crutchley, VictorVictor Crutchley VCDSC RN June 13, 1942 June 13, 1944
Commodore Collins, JohnJohn Collins CB RAN June 13, 1944 October 27, 1944
Captain Nichols, CharlesCharles Nichols MVO RN October 27, 1944 December 9, 1944
Commodore Farncomb, HaroldHarold Farncomb CBDSOMVO RAN December 9, 1944 July 22, 1945
Commodore Collins, JohnJohn Collins CB RAN July 22, 1945 November 9, 1946
Rear Admiral Farncomb, HaroldHarold Farncomb CBDSOMVO RAN November 9, 1946 October 5, 1949
Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet (FOCAF)
Rear Admiral Eccles, JohnJohn Eccles CBCBE RN October 5, 1949 October 10, 1951
Rear Admiral Eaton, JohnJohn Eaton CBDSODSC RN October 10, 1951 December 17, 1953
Rear Admiral Dowling, RoyRoy Dowling CBEDSO RAN December 17, 1953 February 23, 1955
Rear Admiral Burrell, HenryHenry Burrell CBE RAN February 28, 1955 June 7, 1956
Rear Admiral Harries, DavidDavid Harries CBE RAN June 7, 1956 January 7, 1958
Rear Admiral Burrell, HenryHenry Burrell CBCBE RAN January 7, 1958 January 20, 1959
Rear Admiral Gatacre, GalfreyGalfrey Gatacre CBDSC and Bar RAN January 20, 1959 December 22, 1959
Rear Admiral Harrington, HastingsHastings Harrington CBCBEDSO RAN December 22, 1959 January 8, 1962
Rear Admiral McNicoll, AlanAlan McNicoll  CBEGM RAN January 8, 1962 January 6, 1964
Rear Admiral Becher, OttoOtto Becher CBEDSODSC and Bar RAN January 6, 1964 January 10, 1965
Rear Admiral Morrison, ThomasThomas Morrison CBEDSC RAN January 10, 1965 January 29, 1966
Rear Admiral Smith, VictorVictor Smith CBDSC RAN January 29, 1966 January 20, 1967
Rear Admiral Peek, RichardRichard Peek OBEDSC RAN January 20, 1967 March 18, 1968
Rear Admiral Crabb, GordonGordon Crabb CBEDSC RAN March 18, 1968 January 6, 1970
Rear Admiral Stevenson, DavidDavid Stevenson CBE RAN January 6, 1970 April 14, 1971
Rear Admiral Dovers, WilliamWilliam Dovers CBEDSC RAN April 14, 1971 January 24, 1972
Rear Admiral Stevenson, DavidDavid Stevenson CBE RAN January 24, 1972 April 1, 1972
Rear Admiral Dovers, WilliamWilliam Dovers CBEDSC RAN April 1, 1972 January 23, 1973
Rear Admiral Synnot, AnthonyAnthony Synnot CBE RAN January 23, 1973 February 4, 1974
Rear Admiral Wells, DavidDavid Wells CBE RAN February 4, 1974 November 17, 1975
Rear Admiral Gladstone, GeoffreyGeoffrey Gladstone AODSC and Bar RAN November 17, 1975 April 16, 1977
Rear Admiral McDonald, NeilNeil McDonald AO RAN April 16, 1977 May 8, 1978
Rear Admiral Willis, JamesJames Willis AO RAN May 8, 1978 April 12, 1979
Rear Admiral Leach, DavidDavid Leach CBELVO RAN April 12, 1979 May 16, 1980
Rear Admiral Doyle, PeterPeter Doyle AOOBE RAN May 16, 1980 June 1, 1981
Rear Admiral Stevens, JohnJohn Stevens RAN June 1, 1981 March 16, 1982
Rear Admiral Hudson, MichaelMichael Hudson RAN March 15, 1982 October 21, 1983
Rear Admiral Woolrych, GeoffreyGeoffrey Woolrych AO RAN October 21, 1983 May 3, 1985
Rear Admiral Knox, IanIan Knox AO RAN May 3, 1985 January 6, 1987
Rear Admiral Sinclair, PeterPeter Sinclair AO RAN January 6, 1987 September 2, 1988
Maritime Commander Australia (MCAUST)
Rear Admiral Sinclair, PeterPeter Sinclair AO RAN September 2, 1988 January 6, 1989
Rear Admiral MacDougall, IanIan MacDougall RAN January 6, 1989 July 9, 1990
Rear Admiral Doolan, KenKen Doolan AO RAN July 9, 1990 November 7, 1991
Rear Admiral Walls, RobertRobert Walls AO RAN November 7, 1991 December 9, 1993
Rear Admiral Chalmers, DonaldDonald Chalmers AO RAN December 7, 1993 April 13, 1995
Rear Admiral Oxenbould, ChrisChris Oxenbould AO RAN April 14, 1995 February 11, 1997
Rear Admiral Ritchie, ChrisChris Ritchie AM RAN February 11, 1997 May 17, 1999
Rear Admiral Lord, JohnJohn Lord AM RAN May 18, 1999 July 12, 2000
Rear Admiral Smith, GeoffreyGeoffrey Smith AM RAN July 12, 2000 July 20, 2002
Rear Admiral Gates, RaydonRaydon Gates CSM RAN July 20, 2002 June 28, 2004
Rear Admiral Moffitt, RowanRowan Moffitt AM RAN June 28, 2004 July 4, 2005
Rear Admiral Thomas, DavydDavyd Thomas AMCSC RAN July 4, 2005 February 1, 2007
Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT)
Rear Admiral Thomas, DavydDavyd Thomas AMCSC RAN February 1, 2007 July 2007
Rear Admiral Coates, NigelNigel Coates AM RAN July 2007 October 8, 2009
Rear Admiral Gilmore, SteveSteve Gilmore AMCSC RAN October 8, 2009 December 21, 2011
Rear Admiral Barrett, TimTim Barrett AMCSC RAN December 22, 2011 Incumbent


^(I) "HM" (His/Her Majesty's) is not always included when referring to these titles.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gilbert, Gregory P. (2006) (PDF). Australian Naval Personalities: Lives From the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra, Australia: Sea Power Centre. ISBN 0-642-29636-7. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The RAN — A Brief History". History. Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  3. "Top Stories — Fleet Command now launched". Navy News. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Fleet Headquarters". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  6. "Headquarters Joint Operations Command Project — Purpose". Headquarters Joint Operations Command Project. Department of Defence. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  7. Navy News, 28 November.
  8. "Rear Admiral Nigel Coates". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  9. "Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore". Defence Leaders: Navy. Department of Defence. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 

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