Rear Admiral Charles Simon Hastings Harrington

Simon Harrington joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1963. After graduating from the Royal Australian Naval College in 1966 and completing a year of sea training, he was awarded the Jubilee Year Graduates Memorial sword for achieving the highest marks in the Midshipmen’s Board in 1967.

His sea service was mainly in destroyers and frigates in which he has served as navigator, anti-submarine warfare officer, communications officer, operations officer, second-in-command and command. He also served as second-in-command of HMAS Aitape, a patrol boat based in Papua New Guinea, and as communications officer of the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. His sea-going career culminated with the commands of the Guided Missile Frigates (FFGs) HMAS Canberra in 1987/88 and HMAS Adelaide in 1992/93. 

Ashore he was involved in officer training, tactical training and development, and capability development. He spent some time as the Fleet Communications and Electronic Warfare Officer, and a year in charge of officers’ career management for the RAN. He also commanded the Naval College at HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay. As a Commodore he helped establish the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies. He then became Director of General Recruiting for a short period before being promoted to Rear Admiral in July 1997 when he became the first Support Commander (Navy) in the newly formed joint organisation, Support Command Australia. During that posting he was the Navy’s representative on the Council of the Australian National Maritime Museum. In 1999 he assumed duties as Head of the Australian Defence Staff and Defence Attaché in Washington where he remained for the next three years. During that time he was kept particularly busy working with US Authorities on matters such as East Timor and post-September 11 issues. Considerable progress was also made in improving logistics links.

Simon has undertaken several professional courses and some academic work. A communications specialist, he has completed a number of courses in the United Kingdom. These include a year at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (1967/8), the Principal (1974), and Advanced Warfare Officers’ Courses (1976), and the Naval Advanced Operational Technology Course (1980) at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. He attended the Australian Joint Services Staff College (1984) and spent a year as the first Naval Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University (1984/5). He holds a Master of Business Administration (1988 Deakin University). He has undertaken executive development programmes at Harvard, and the Universities of Michigan and Virginia. He has also completed Levels One and Two of the Institute of Executive Coaching Courses. 

In 2000 he was made a member of the Order of Australia for his work as Director General Recruiting, as Support Commander (Navy), and as Defence Attaché, Washington. In 2002 he was awarded the Legion of Merit by the United States Government. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

After leaving the Navy he undertook consulting work on national security issues including coordinating a major paper on Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding and Repair Industry for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and he contributed to their publication Scoping Studies: New Thinking on Defence.

In 2003 he was appointed to the Repatriation Commission as the Services Member. His appointment expired in February 2007 at which time he resumed consulting, including being contracted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to be the Australian Team Leader on the proposed Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey of the Anzac Battle Site. In November 2007 he was appointed to a three-year term on the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and 2008 he was a member of the Defence White Paper Public Consultation Team.