Rear Admiral Kevin John Scarce

Kevin John Scarce was born on 4 May 1952 at Toorak Gardens, Adelaide, South Australia. He spent his early years at Woomera and was educated at Elizabeth East Primary School and Elizabeth High School in Adelaide. He joined the RAN College (HMAS Creswell) as a Junior Entry Cadet Midshipman in 1968. In 1971 he undertook sea training in the fast troop transport HMAS Sydney and was onboard for a logistics resupply deployment to Vung Tau during the Vietnam War. He graduated from the college in 1972 with full colours for basketball and cricket and the Farncomb Cup (best all rounder for cricket), Morgan Trophy (best batsman) and the Governor-General's Cup for the best individual performance at all sports during the year. Scarce also played in the college first XVIII for Australian Rules Football.

Sub Lieutenant Scarce then proceeded to the United Kingdom in 1973 for further training with the Royal Navy. Upon return to Australia he undertook professional supply courses and then served in HMA Ships Vendetta, Yarra and Duchess. In 1975 he was promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the Sydney shore base HMAS Watson. Also in 1975 he married Elizabeth Anne Taylor who was an officer in the Women’s Royal Australian Navy and they later had two children. In 1977 Lieutenant Scarce was serving in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and took part in the Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations at Spithead in the United Kingdom. On completion of his service in Melbourne he was posted to the RAN Staff College Project which created the first naval staff course which commenced in 1979.

In 1979 Lieutenant Scarce was posted to Washington DC to serve on the staff of the Naval Attaché in the Australian Embassy. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in December 1981. Upon return to Australia in 1982 he conducted further supply specialist training and then joined the destroyer HMAS Perth as the Supply Officer. Promoted to Commander in June 1985 he then undertook service in Navy Office, in Canberra, in the Directorate of Service Requirements - Navy. In 1987 Commander Scarce was posted to the Naval Air Station HMAS Albatross as the base Supply Officer.

He then commenced a year of full time study, in 1990, at the University of New South Wales (Australian Defence Force Academy campus) and completed a Masters of Management Economics. In December 1990 he was promoted to Captain and posted to Fleet Headquarters and became the Fleet Supply Officer and Chief Staff Officer Support. Captain Scarce returned to Canberra in 1993 and was posted as the Director Logistics Strategic Management and Preparedness. For his services in Fleet Headquarters he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 1994 Australia Day Honours List ‘For conspicuous service and excellence in performing the duties of Chief Staff Officer Support to the Maritime Commander’.

In 1994, Captain Scarce completed a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy at the US War College (National Defense University) in Washington, DC. Upon return to Australia in 1995 he became the Commanding Officer of the navy’s premier training establishment, HMAS Cerberus, at Westernport, Victoria. He was promoted to Commodore in early 1997 and served as the Flag Officer Naval Training Command during 1997-98. 

In early 1999 he was appointed as Commodore Logistics Support - Navy, based in Sydney, within Support Command Australia and following promotion to Rear Admiral in December 1999 moved to Melbourne to become Support Commander Australia - Navy. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in June 2001 ‘For exceptional service to the Royal Australian Navy as Commander Naval Training Command and as Support Commander Australia - Navy’.

From 2000-03 he served as the Head Maritime Systems in the Defence Material Organisation (DMO). Following retirement from the RAN in 2003 he was briefly the Acting Under Secretary of the DMO in 2004. In the Australia Day honours list 2004 he was elevated to an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) ‘For distinguished service in logistics Management and acquisition as the Head Maritime Systems Division in the Defence Material Organisation.

Rear Admiral Scarce was Chief Executive Officer of the South Australian Government Defence Unit charged with expanding the State’s defence business opportunities during 2004-05. Additionally he was Chairman of the Defence Industry Advisory Board. In 2006 he became a board member of the Port Adelaide Maritime Cooperation Board.

Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce was sworn in as the Governor of South Australia on 8 August 2007. In February 2013, he was given a two year extension in this position. He was made a Knight of Grace in the Venerable Order of St John (KStJ) in August 2007. Rear Admiral Scarce was made a Commander of the Order of Australia (AC), Civil List, in January 2008 ‘For distinguished contributions to Australia’s Defence Industry through the provision of leadership and strategic advice on the development of naval capabilities to maritime transport arrangements and to the people of South Australia’. In 2009, Flinders University bestowed an honorary Doctorate on Rear Admiral Scarce in recognition of his distinguished service to the public of South Australia.

Rear Admiral Scarce retired as Governor of South Australia on 7 August 2014.