Rear Admiral Edward Graham Stubington

RADM Edward Stubington

Edward Graham Stubington was born in Canberra on 18 April 1941, and educated at Canberra Grammar School and Telopea High School. He entered the RAN College as a junior entry Cadet Midshipman in 1957, and undertook training in HMAS Swan during January-April 1960. Stubington was promoted Midshipman in May 1960, completed his training in England at Britannia Royal Naval College and was awarded the Queen's Telescope prize for leadership.

He was promoted Acting Sub Lieutenant in September 1961, and on return to Australia joined the anti-submarine frigate HMAS Queenborough for training as an Officer of the Watch. During his service in the frigate she operated in Australian waters and regularly deployed to Southeast Asia for duties as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. When Queenborough was decommissioned in June 1963, Sub Lieutenant Stubington transferred to the survey ship HMAS Barcoo as Navigating Officer. He was promoted Lieutenant in July 1963.

Lieutenant Stubington joined the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne on 5 February 1964 as an Officer of the Watch and Assistant Navigation Officer, and was on board during the collision with HMAS Voyager on 10 February. Melbourne then spent three months undergoing repairs at Garden Island Dockyard before deploying to Southeast Asia in June 1964. During the period at Garden Island he developed diagrams of the possible movement of Voyager prior to the collision with Melbourne for the Board of Inquiry into the collision. These diagrams were subsequently incorporated in the book 'One Minute of Time' by Vice Admiral Harold Hickling, RN (Ret).

While the carrier was alongside in Hong Kong in late July, Lieutenant Stubington was appointed at short notice (a pier head jump) to the minesweeper HMAS Gull, then patrolling off Pulau Sebatik in Sabah, East Malaysia as part of Australia’s commitment to countering the Indonesian Confrontation of Malaysia.

He took passage in her sister ship HMAS Hawk from Singapore and joined Gull on 25 July 1964. He transferred to another minesweeper, HMAS Ibis, in early September and served in her until December 1964. The Australian minesweepers conducted regular patrols as part of the Tawau Assault Group in the waters off Sabah, to prevent Indonesian incursions into Sabah, and were kept on station for lengthy periods with regular crew change-outs. In December 1964 Stubington returned to Australia, and early the following year he was appointed to the tanker HMAS Supply as an Officer of the Watch. He served in her until mid-1966, during which time she operated in Australian and Southeast Asian waters.

In July 1966 Stubington returned to the recommissioned training frigate Queenborough as Navigating Officer, and served in her until late 1967. In 1968 he was selected to undergo navigation training in England at HMS Dryad (Warfare School). Following this he undertook exchange service in the Leander Class frigate HMS Argonaut during 1969. Stubington returned to Dryad in early 1970, as a member of the training staff. Upon returning to Australia he was appointed as the navigator of the training ship HMAS Duchess in November 1970; then in a major refit at Sydney. Duchess completed her refit in March 1971 and proceeded on a three month ‘up top’ deployment to Southeast Asian waters, visiting Hong Kong and Japan, before returning to Sydney for another short maintenance period.

Stubington was promoted Lieutenant Commander in September 1971, joining the destroyer HMAS Vampire as navigator in November 1971. The destroyer had just completed a 17-month refit and was conducting extensive post refit trials and work up exercises. Vampire visited New Zealand in August 1972, and then in October deployed to Singapore as part of the ANZUK force taking part in Exercise SEA SCORPION, before returning to Sydney in March 1973. In April 1973 Stubington transferred to the destroyer HMAS Hobart while the ship was in refit.

His time in Hobart was short as, in November 1973, he was appointed to the destroyer tender HMAS Stalwart as navigator. Despite her nickname of ‘Building 215’, which related to her pennant number and frequent time spent in harbour, Stalwart had a busy year in 1974, with Exercise SOUTHERN CROSS off the Australian east coast with Indonesian warships; Exercise KANGAROO ONE in Queensland waters; and port visits along the east coast from Gladstone in the north to Hobart in the south.

In January 1975 Lieutenant Commander Stubington was appointed to HMAS Lonsdale in Victoria, to undergo training at the Army Staff College at Queenscliff, Victoria. In early 1976 he commenced duties with the Directorate of Tactics, Ship Command and Control and Navigation in Navy Office, Canberra. Edward Stubington returned to the fleet in May 1977 as the Executive Officer of the destroyer HMAS Hobart, which was then mid-way through a major refit at Garden Island. He was promoted Commander on 30 June 1978, and in September Hobart sailed (in company with HMAS Perth) for a Pacific Ocean deployment. The destroyers visited Suva in September, and then proceeded to Hawaii for Exercise COMPUTEX 1-79 before returning to Sydney in November 1978.

Commander Stubington joined Fleet Headquarters in early 1979 as the Fleet Exercises & Tactics Officer. In the first half of 1980 he completed the Joint Services Staff Course at Weston Creek in Canberra, and in June commenced duties in the Directorate of Naval Officers Posting as the Senior Executive Branch Postings Officer. Commander Stubington took up his first command, the destroyer HMAS Brisbane, in September 1982 while the ship was in refit. Brisbane returned to sea in August 1983, commencing the necessary work ups to bring the ship and her crew back to the necessary level of capability that would allow them to be deployed in harm’s way.

Commander Stubington addressing the ship's company of HMAS Brisbane upon taking command in late 1982 while the ship was in refit at Garden Island, Sydney.

During November of that year a practice Tartar missile malfunctioned shortly after launch, and while the explosion was impressive there were no casualties and only slight damage to the ship. In early 1984 Brisbane deployed to Southeast Asia, and also conducted a North West Indian Ocean deployment - part of Australia’s support to US Navy forces in the region following the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. In June 1984 Commander Stubington left the ship in Singapore, and traveled to the United States to undertake studies at the US Naval War College during 1984-85. Mid-way through his course he was promoted Captain, and on return to Australia in 1985 he was appointed as the Director Joint Planning in Headquarters Australian Defence Force. This senior planning role in the newly created joint headquarters saw Stubington involved in a variety of tasks, including the planning for Operation MORRIS DANCE in Fiji (1987), Operation SAILCLOTH in Vanuatu (1988) and numerous other planning tasks for major exercises and contingency operations.

On 20 December 1988 in Singapore, Captain Stubington assumed command of HMAS Brisbane for a second time. The ship returned to Sydney in early 1989, undertaking a variety of activities in the Eastern Australia Exercise Area, to maintain the warfare skills of her crew, also visiting Hobart and Newcastle. Captain Edward Stubington was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List 1989 for service to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly as Director Joint Planning in Headquarters Australian Defence Force. He relinquished command of Brisbane and was promoted Commodore on 19 June 1989, taking up his next appointment as the Naval Officer Commanding Western Australia Area. On 30 December 1990 Edward Stubington was promoted Rear Admiral, and commenced duties as the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Personnel) in the new year. In 1992 he took up his final posting as the Assistant Chief of the Defence Force (Personnel) before retiring from the RAN in late 1993.

Following retirement from the Navy he became the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (1993-97), and later a company director for a variety of groups including Concentric Asia Pacific (1999-2005), and Re-Engineering Australia (2001-05).