Rear Admiral James Vincent Purcell Goldrick

James Goldrick joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1974 as a 15 year old Cadet Midshipman. A graduate from the RAN College, he held a BA degree from the University of NSW and a Master of Letters from the University of New England. He was also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School (AMP 168). He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa by the University of NSW in 2006 for 'eminent service to the community'.

A Principal Warfare Officer and anti-submarine warfare specialist, he saw sea service around the world with the RAN and on exchange with the British Royal Navy, including the patrol vessel HMS Alderney, the frigates HMS Sirius, HMA Ships Swan and Darwin and the destroyer HMS Liverpool. He served as an Executive Officer of HMA Ships Tarakan and Perth and as Commanding Officer of HMAS Cessnock. He twice commanded the frigate HMAS Sydney and later served as the inaugural Commander Australian Surface Task Group. During this posting, he commanded the Australian task group deployed to the Persian Gulf in early 2002 and also served as Commander of the multinational naval forces conducting maritime interception operations to enforce UN sanctions on Iraq, including units from the RAN, the United States Navy, the Royal Navy and the Polish Armed Forces. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia for this service.

Shore postings included serving as Aide to the Governor-General of Australia, as an instructor on the RAN's Principal Warfare Officer course, as Officer-in-Charge of the RAN's tactical development and training faculty, as Research Officer and later as Chief of Staff Officer to the Chief of Navy Australia, as Director of the RAN Sea Power Centre, for which he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross, and as Director-General Military Strategy in the Department of Defence. He commanded the Australian Defence Force Academy from 2003 to 2006. He was promoted to Rear Admiral (two star) in May 2006 and served as Commander Boarder Protection Command for two years, leading the joint agency organisation responsible for Australia's civil maritime security surveillance and response. In May 2008 he assumed duty as Commander Joint Education, Training and Warfare. In 2011 he returned to the Australian Defence Force Academy as Acting Commandant.

Goldrick lectured naval history and naval affairs at many institutions. He spent 1992 as a Research Scholar at the USN War College and was a Professorial Fellow of the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security. He was President of the Australian Naval Institute from 2005 to 2008 and was an Overseas Corresponding Member of the Society for Nautical Research. His published books include 'The King's Ships Were at Sea: The War in the North Sea August 1914-February 1915', 'With the Battle Cruisers' (edited), 'Reflections on the Royal Australian Navy' (co-edited), 'Mahan is Not Enough' (co-edited) and 'No Easy Answers: The Development of the Navies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka'. He also contributed to many other works, including 'The Royal Australian Navy' and 'The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Australian Navy' and to professional journals, including 'The United States Naval Institute Proceedings'. As a junior officer he twice won the Guinness Prize of the British Naval Review.

Rear Admiral James Goldrick transferred to the Royal Australian Navy Reserve in June 2012 after 38 years of service. He was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia at the 2013 Australia Day Honors for 'Distinguished service as Commander, Border Protection Command, Commander, Joint Education and Training, and Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy and for outstanding scholarship in the study of Australian naval history'. 

In 2020 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Two years later he was awarded the prestigious US Hattendorf Prize. At the award ceremony, the President of the US Naval War College, said of Goldrick, “Your acute historical understanding and your professional naval experience have worked in complementary and interlocking ways that have informed your scholarship in vividly recreating and understanding naval history in a period of rapid technological change.”

On return from the US Goldrick felt unwell and so began many rounds of treatment first for lymphoma and then leukaemia. Professor Geoffrey Till of King’s College London wrote: ‘he had an indomitable spirit and deserved much better fortune'.

Within the Royal Australian Navy and the national security community more generally he was regarded as a towering intellect and the most articulate writer and speaker on the importance of seapower for Australia.

Rear Admiral James Vincent Purcell Goldrick, AO, CSC, RAN died in the Clare Holland Hospice in Canberra on 17 March 2023 aged 64. He is survived by wife Ruth, sons Owen and Edmund and sister Frances.