Commander Australian Fleet

Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT), also referred to as Fleet Commander, 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 (2-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)
  • Maritime Commander Australia (1988-2007 - MCAUST).

The Fleet Commander is the primary operations advisor to the Chief of Navy. Additionally CN has delegated full command of all of the RAN’s ships, submarines, aircraft squadrons, diving teams and shore establishments to the Fleet Commander, who is responsible for force generation. This includes the group and joint collective training of fleet units and overseeing the maintenance and support of ships, aircraft and other equipment, to enable the fleet to reach and maintain required levels of readiness.

The Fleet Commander exercises command of shore establishments through Commander Shore Force (COMSHORE) and delegates operational command of units to the various force commanders. Operational control of fleet units will usually be delegated to the Director General Maritime Operations (DGMAROPS), with tactical command either held by DGMAROPS or delegated to Commodore Warfare (COMWAR), a subordinate tactical warfare commander, a nominated Commander Task Group (CTG) or ship’s commanding officer, depending on circumstances.

When naval forces are needed for joint, multinational or other specific operations CDF will direct the Chief of Navy to assign those forces to CJOPS. At all other times these forces will be available for training, and other activities, as directed by the Fleet Commander. Within Fleet Command, responsibilities are delegated to a number of senior officers. These are:

  • Director General Maritime Operations (DGMAROPS)
  • Commodore Warfare (COMWAR)
  • Force Commanders.

Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead RAN was appointed Commander Australian Fleet on 18 January 2018.

RADM Christopher Smith

Rear Admiral Christopher Smith

Rear Admiral Christopher Smith, AM, CSM, RAN, assumed the role of Commander Australian Fleet on 16 December 2022.  Rear Admiral Smith joined the Royal Australian Naval College in 1989. His seagoing...

List of Previous Commanders Australian Fleet

RADM Smith
(2000 - 2002)

Rear Admiral Geoffrey Francis Smith

Geoffrey Francis ‘Geoff’ Smith was born in Sydney on 16 May 1950 and entered the Royal Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell) in January 1968 as a senior entry Cadet Midshipman. In late 1969 he...

(1999 - 2000)

Rear Admiral John Robert Lord

John Robert Lord was born in Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia on 10 November 1949 and educated in Perth and Kalgoorlie. He joined the RAN College as a Cadet Midshipman in 1965 and, following...

VADM Christopher Angus Ritchie
(1997 - 1999)

Vice Admiral Christopher Angus Ritchie

Christopher 'Chris' Angus Ritchie was born in East Melbourne, Victoria on 16 January 1949. Chris Ritchie graduated from the RAN College at Jervis Bay in 1968. He received further training at sea and...

RADM Robert Walls
(1991 - 1993)

Vice Admiral Robert Andrew Kevin Walls

Robert Walls was born at Colac, Victoria and educated at country schools before joining the Royal Australian Navy College (HMAS Cerberus) as a Cadet Midshipman in the last 13-year old entry, in...

RADM Kenneth Allan Doolan
(1990 - 1991)

Rear Admiral Kenneth Allan Doolan

Kenneth Allan 'Ken' Doolan was born in Hurlstone Park, Sydney on 15 January 1939. He attended Kyogle Primary School, Wilston State School and Kedron State School before entering the Royal Australian...


Vice Admiral Ian Donald George MacDougall

Ian Donald George MacDougall was born in Sydney on 23 February 1938 and joined the Royal Australian Naval College as a 15-year old Cadet Midshipman in January 1954. He graduated the following year...

(1983 - 1985)

Rear Admiral Geoffrey John Humphry Woolrych

Geoffrey John Humphry Woolrych was born at Townsville, Queensland on 6 May 1930. He entered the RAN College (then at Flinders Naval Depot) in February 1944 and gained his sporting colours for rugby...

(1981 -1982)

Rear Admiral John Dixon Stevens

John Dixon Stevens was born in Perth, Western Australia on 27 May 1927 and educated at Kalamunda State School. Of quite humble origins, his father died of heart disease when John was in primary...

RADM Peter Hogarth Doyle

Rear Admiral Peter Hogarth Doyle

Peter Hogarth Doyle was born in Lithgow, NSW on 27 September 1925 and educated at Caulfield Grammar School, Melbourne and Trinity Grammar School in Sydney. He entered the Royal Australian Naval...

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald
(1977 - 1978)

Rear Admiral Neil Ewer McDonald

Neil Ewer McDonald was born on 12 November 1922 in Payneham, South Australia. He entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1936 gaining his colours for cricket, rugby and tennis. On passing out...