Rear Admiral Michael Julian van Balen

Deputy Chief of Navy (2013 - 2016)

Rear Admiral Michael van Balen

Michael van Balen was born in Brisbane, QLD on 16 February 1961 and joined the RAN as a Junior Entry Cadet Midshipman in 1978. After graduating from the Royal Australian Naval College in 1982, he undertook a variety of sea appointments in HMA Ships Barbette, Brisbane, Stalwart, Stuart, Yarra, Bunbury, Derwent, Swan and the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.

As a Principal Warfare Officer with a sub-specialisation in Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW), in 1992, van Balen was appointed as the ASW Tactical Training Officer, Fleet ASW Training Center Pacific, San Diego, USA. He returned to Australia in 1995, for sea appointments in HMA Ships Adelaide and Darwin before selection in 1998, as Staff Officer to the Chief of Navy.

In 2001, Commander van Balen graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy with a Masters of Management Studies. He briefly returned to the USA as the Australian Liaison Officer to the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, before appointment as Commanding Officer of HMAS Sydney in late 2002. During his time in command the ship was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations FALCONER and CATALYST, the war in Iraq, for which he was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service in the 2005 Australia Day Honours List.

Captain van Balen attended the Command College at the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA in 2004, and on return to Australia in 2005, was appointed in command of HMAS Watson and also assuming duties as Training Authority Maritime Warfare. Further staff appointments as Chief of Staff (COS), Navy Systems Command, and COS Fleet Headquarters and Commodore Support followed.

In 2011, Michael van Balen was appointed as the Chief of Defence Force Liaison Officer to United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), Tampa, Florida, USA and Director, Coalition Coordination Centre, USCENTCOM for which he was awarded the US Legion of Merit (Officer). He returned to Australia in 2013 and on promotion to Rear Admiral, assumed duties as the Deputy Chief of Navy, and Head Navy Personnel and Resources.

He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in January 2015 for distinguished service as Commodore Support (Fleet Command), Director Coalition Coordination Center (United States Central Command) and Deputy Chief of Navy. Rear Admiral van Balen retired from the RAN in 2016.