Captain Gary Lawton

CAPT Gary Lawton

Captain Gary Lawton was born in Southampton, England into a naval family in May 1966. He combined travel and a variety of jobs before being commissioned as a Midshipman into the Royal Navy in September 1988. Qualifying as a submariner in 1991 in HMS Torbay, he later navigated HMS Talent from 1993 until 1995 gaining significant operational experience in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. Following the completion of his short career commission in September 1996, Lawton joined the Royal Australian Navy in February 1997.

Lawton served in HMAS Collins as Sonar Officer and Operations Officer between 1997 and 2000. Upon completion of the Submarine Executive Officers Course in December 2000, he was the commissioning Executive Officer of HMAS Dechaineux until December 2001. During this period HMAS Dechaineux undertook a major South East Asian operational deployment and Lawton was selected to undertake the Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Command Course in 2002. On successfully completing ‘Perisher’, he then completed the United States Navy Prospective Commanding Officers Course in September 2002.

Lieutenant Commander Lawton was a student on the Australian Command and Staff Course in 2003 and joined Sea Training Group - Submarines as the Deputy Commander Submarine Sea Training, responsible for the maintenance of operational standards in the Submarine Force in 2004 and assumed Command of HMAS Rankin in March 2005. The highlight of his time in HMAS Rankin was a six month Pacific deployment, including Exercise RIMPAC and hosting the USN Submarine Command Course, in 2006.

Following promotion to Commander, Lawton served as the Head of Submarine Warfare Training, responsible for submariner Officer, Sailor and Command Team training, until May 2008. He then represented the RAN at the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre, Newport, Rhode Island as the Operational Requirements Development Manager for the BYG-1 submarine combat system and the CBASS heavyweight torpedo. Upon return to Australia in July 2010, Lawton was briefly appointed as Training Authority - Submarines prior to a two and a half year posting as the Director Submarine Operations at Headquarters Joint Operations Command in November 2010.

Lawton then served on the training and tactical development staff of Commander Submarine Forces Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from 2013-2016. On return to Western Australia, he was the Deputy Commander Australian Submarine Force before once again commanding HMAS Rankin from December 2017 to December 2018, and then HMAS Farncomb until November 2019 when he was promoted to Captain. Lawton was then the Director of Submarine Policy and Plans at Navy Headquarters in Canberra.

Captain Lawton assumed command of HMAS Stirling in December 2020.