Head of Navy Capability

The Head of Navy Capability is responsible for implementation of both current and future Navy capability, including all Navy programs and projects, from concept through to acquisition, in service use, and ultimately disposal of the system. The rank associated with the position is Rear Admiral (2-star).

Rear Admiral Stephen Hughes

Key appointments

Head of Navy Capability (2022 - present)


Rear Admiral Stephen Hughes, AM, CSC, RAN assumed his current role as Head Navy Capability in December 2022. He is responsible for identifying the needs and requirements of Navy’s future capabilities and for the development and delivery of these capabilities to the Fleet.

Rear Admiral Hughes joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1986. He has served as a warfare officer in Frigate and Destroyer class ships, including exchanges with the Canadian Navy and Commander US Seventh Fleet. He commanded the guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne. Shore postings have included Director Navy Information Warfare, Director Capability Development in the Air Warfare Destroyer program; Director Joint Amphibious Capability Implementation Team responsible for the introduction into service of the Canberra Class amphibious ships; Director General Littoral accountable for Navy’s strategic sponsorship and oversight of the Amphibious and Afloat Support, Mine Warfare, Hydrographic, and Patrol Boat programs; Commander Surface Force responsible for the force generation of Navy’s major fleet units; and Head Intelligence Capability responsible for the capability development and assurance of Defence’s joint intelligence capabilities including the Joint Intelligence and Geospatial Intelligence Programs, intelligence workforce and training requirements, and enablers.

He was awarded the United States Meritorious Service Medal for duties as the Seventh Fleet Exercise Planning and Schedules Officer in 2002; and awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2017 Australia Day Honours List for his outstanding devotion to duty in the field of major warship introduction into service.

Rear Admiral Hughes is a graduate of ADFA and the Australian Defence College. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Master of Business Studies in Project Management, and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.

Rear Admiral Hughes was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2023 Australia Day honours list ‘for exceptional service to the ADF in senior command and staff roles’.