Rear Admiral Barrie Lawson West

Barrie Lawson West was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 11 January 1934. He entered the RAN College (HMAS Cerberus), in January 1952 as a Supply Branch Cadet Midshipman. After initial training at the College he proceeded to Great Britain for further training with the Royal Navy during 1952-55.

During his service with the Royal Navy he spent eight months in the training cruiser HMS Devonshire, and also saw active service in the Korean War while serving in the aircraft carrier HMS Ocean in 1953. West was promoted to Sub Lieutenant in May 1954. Upon return to Australia in August 1955 he was briefly posted to HMAS Lonsdale and was promoted Lieutenant in September 1955. In late 1955 he was posted to HMAS Cerberus where he served as the Supply Officer (Cash). In 1956 he was awarded the Gedge Medal and Prize for the highest aggregate marks in the Supply Officer examinations held the previous year in the United Kingdom.

Lieutenant West joined the destroyer HMAS Tobruk in early 1957 as the secretary to Captain Richard Peek (Commander of the 10th Destroyer Squadron). In early 1958 he was appointed to Navy Office, in Melbourne, as a staff officer in the Supply and Secretariat Branch. During 1959-61 he served in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne on the staff of the Fleet Commander. In 1961-63 he served at Cerberus as the Commodore’s Secretary and then at HMAS Albatross in 1963 as Supply Officer (Cash). West was promoted Lieutenant Commander in 1963, and posted as the commissioning supply officer of the frigate HMAS Derwent during which time he saw active service during the Indonesian Confrontation.

In late December 1965, he was promoted Acting Commander and appointed as Secretary to the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff. Following promotion to Commander in late 1967, he was reappointed as Secretary to the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff. During his tenure he served three successive Deputy Chiefs of Naval Staff - Rear Admiral Richard Peek, OBE, DSC, RAN; Rear Admiral Victor Smith, CBE, DSC, RAN; and Rear Admiral Hugh David Stevenson, CBE, RAN.

Commander West then served on exchange with the United States Navy during 1968-71. Upon return to Australia he was posted in 1972 to the Light Destroyer Project in Navy Office. The project to procure the Light Destroyer (DDL) was cancelled in late 1973 and in 1974 he moved to the New Destroyer Project as the head of the Integrated Logistics Support Section. This project began the acquisition process to acquire the Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates which were commissioned in the early 1980s. West was promoted Captain in December 1974.

In 1975-76 he served as the Director Fleet Supply Requirements before being posted as Secretary to the Chief of Naval Staff (Vice Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot, KBE, AO, RAN) during 1977-79. He was promoted Commodore on 14 February 1980 and became Deputy Chief of Naval Materiel at Navy Office in Canberra.

In 1984 he undertook the senior staff course at the Royal College of Defence Studies at Belgravia in London. Upon return to Australia he was promoted Rear Admiral on 6 May 1985, and became the Chief of Naval Material (later renamed Assistant Chief of Naval Staff - Materiel). He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours List 1988 ‘In recognition of services to the RAN, particularly as Chief of Naval Materiel'.

Rear Admiral West retired from the RAN in 1989.