Commodore Chris Smallhorn

CDRE Chris Smallhorn

Commodore Chris Smallhorn was born in Toowoomba, Queensland and attended the Toowoomba Grammar School before joining the Navy in 1987.

Chris graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering and completed his Aeronautical Engineering Certificate of Competency prior to conducting pilot training and earned his wings in 1993.

Chris conducted operational deployments flying the S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter. He was selected for Experimental Test Pilot training at the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1998, prior to being posted to the Navy's Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU). Whilst here he conducted flight testing on multiple Australian and international flight test projects, major aircraft acquisition, modification and research programs.

Chris was the Officer-in-Charge of AMAFTU in 2003 before being promoted to Commander when he became the Project Manager of the Super Seasprite acquisition program. He commanded 816 Squadron (Seahawk helicopters) throughout 2008 and 2009.

Following a short tour as the Commander of Operational Airworthiness and Standards at HQ Fleet Air Arm Chris was promoted to Captain and completed postings as the Chief of Staff Fleet Air Arm and Chief of Staff to the Chief of Navy. He graduated as a Fellow of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies in 2014 prior to assuming duties as the Director of the Maritime Safety Bureau in January 2015.

Commodore Smallhorn maintains a keen interest in Civil Aviation safety. He is a Director of Safeskies Australia, which delivers an international aviation safety conference in Australia on a bi-annual basis. He enjoys supporting not-for-profit emergency medical and search and rescue organisations and has flown their aircraft for numerous years on weekends and during leave periods, thus maintaining flying recency in aviation operations.

Commodore Smallhorn relinquished command as Director Maritime Safety Bureau in December 2015 and assumed duties as Commander Fleet Air Arm 20 January 2016.