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

Rear Admiral Geoffrey Gladstone
(1975 - 1977)

Rear Admiral Geoffrey Vernon Gladstone

Geoffrey Vernon Gladstone was born on 27 January 1921 at Wagin, WA the son of Rupert Gladstone (Public Accountant) and Myra Constance Victoria Gladstone (née Jefferson). He entered the Royal...

RADM Davis Wells

Rear Admiral David Charles Wells

David Charles Wells was born at Inverell, NSW on 19 November 1918 and entered the RAN College (at Flinders Naval Depot) in January 1933. He was the outstanding Cadet Midshipman of his intake and was...

RADM William John Dovers

Rear Admiral William John Dovers

William ‘Bill’ John Dovers was born on 12 February 1918 at Dundas, New South Wales, the eldest of three children to George Dovers (a surveyor who had accompanied Douglas Mawson to Antarctica in 1911...

VADM Sir Hugh David Stevenson

Vice Admiral Sir Hugh David Stevenson

Hugh David Stevenson was born in The Valley, a suburb of Brisbane on 24 August 1918 to the Reverend William Henry and Katherine Stevenson. His father was the Rector of Holy Trinity Church and later...

VADM Eaton

Vice Admiral John William Musgrave Eaton

John William Musgrave Eaton was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia on 3 November 1902. He was educated at Temple Grove Preparatory School in Eastbourne, Sussex and entered the Royal Navy, as a Cadet...

ADML Eccles

Admiral John Arthur Symons Eccles

John Arthur Symons Eccles was born in Marylebone, London on 20 June 1898 and joined the Royal Navy on 15 September 1916 as a Special Entry Cadet. Eccles was promoted to Midshipman on 31 March 1917...


Admiral George Edwin Patey

George Edwin Patey was born at Montpellier, near Plymouth, England on 24 February 1859. His father, also George Edwin Patey, was a captain in the Royal Navy. His mother Lucinda was the daughter of...