Rear Admiral Robert Geoffrey Loosli

Robert Geoffrey 'Geoff' Loosli was born in Melbourne on 21 February 1926 to Dr Robert Byram Loosli and Marjorie Jean Loosli (nee Fussell). His father practiced medicine in rural Victoria and, as a consequence, Geoffrey boarded at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. He sat the entrance examination to the Royal Australian Naval College, at Flinders Naval Depot, on the day Australia declared war on Germany in 1939.

Loosli joined the RAN College in late January 1940 and graduated as a midshipman in September 1943. He was an unremarkable student and gained no prizes for academic studies of colours for sporting prowess. Loosli proceeded to the United Kingdom, by troopship, for further training and along with four of his classmates joined the County Class cruiser HMS Berwick in January 1944 at Scapa Flow (northern Scotland). He spent a year in Berwick operating off the Norwegian coast and also participating in several convoys to northern Russia. The escorting of convoys to the Russian port of Murmansk was hard and demanding sea service with frequent bad weather and determined attacks by German aircraft, submarines and warships.

In late December 1944 Loosli joined the destroyer HMS Scourge. He was again involved in convoy escort duties taking much needed war materiel to Russia. In late January 1945, Scourge left Kola Inlet for Britain and at one point the ship passed through a large group of sailors from torpedoed ships, all floating in calm waters with their heads held upright by their life-jackets, but all long dead from exposure due to the freezing Arctic waters. 70 years later Loosli was awarded the Arctic Star for this vital, but often forgotten, maritime campaign.

He served briefly in the minesweeper HMS Courier in April 1945 before promotion to sub-lieutenant in May 1945. Loosli then undertook sub-lieutenants courses at HMS Excellent and was noted as an average officer but somewhat slack in appearance and bearing; his overall results on course were good but not outstanding. After completing his training in the United Kingdom, in September, he returned to Australia and joined the destroyer HMAS Arunta, in January 1946, as the signals, radar and torpedo officer. The destroyer operated in Australian waters and also deployed to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Loosli gained his watch-keeping certificate in Arunta and was promoted lieutenant in July 1947.

Lieutenant Loosli embarked in the troopship HMAS Kanimbla in June 1948 to return to Britain; joining the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney as commissioning crew. Sydney embarked the new squadrons of the Australian Fleet Air Arm and arrived in Australia in May 1949. During October 1949 - July 1950 Loosli served as first lieutenant in GPV 957, a general purpose vessel involved in mine-sweeping work off north Queensland. He then joined the frigate HMAS Condamine, in August 1950 as a watch keeping officer. The frigate operated in Australian waters during his time on board.

In 1951 he married Jocelyn Paton in Melbourne and they later had three children. Soon after the wedding they traveled to the United Kingdom where Lieutenant Loosli commenced training as an aircraft direction officer at HMS Dryad in Hampshire. On completing his courses he served on loan with the Royal Navy in the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle during May 1952 - January 1954. Loosli then completed the advanced direction officer course at HMS Harrier before returning to Australia at the end of 1954.

His next appointment was to HMAS Watson, the RAN's radar training school in Sydney, as an instructor. Loosli was promoted lieutenant commander in July 1955 and while at Watson also took on an additional role as a member of the inspection and trials teams for the fleet. He returned to sea in early 1957 as the executive officer of the destroyer HMAS Anzac. The ship deployed to Southeast Asia during 1957-58 as part of the RAN commitment to the Malayan Emergency and the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR). Anzac was patrolling off the south east coast of the state of Johore on 26 July 1957 when the destroyer was tasked with bombardment of 'targets thought to be terrorist hideouts'. Several salvos of 4.5 inch high explosive shells were fired but the entire action was inconclusive and some later documentation stated it was a training exercise rather then a combat operation.

Lieutenant Commander Loosli was posted from Anzac in May 1958 and shortly after joined the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne as the direction officer. During his time on board the carrier operated in Australian waters and also deployed to Southeast Asia on FESR duties in March - May 1959. He departed Melbourne in June 1959 and was then employed in Navy Office, in Melbourne, in the Directorate of Training and Staff Requirements. On 20 June 1960 he assumed his first command - this was the former World War II frigate and now survey vessel HMAS Gascoyne. During his time in command the ship operated in Australian and New Guinea waters conducting various surveys. Loosli was promoted commander on 30 June 1962 and remained in command of Gascoyne until October of that year.

He then attended the Joint Services Staff College in Britain in 1963, followed by exchange service with the Royal Navy on the staff of the Flag Officer Medway based at HMS Pembroke in Chatham. On returning to Australia he was appointed as executive officer, in December 1964, of HMAS Creswell the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay. His two years at Creswell were particularly busy as the foundations of revised officer academic training and education were formulated leading up to the introduction of tertiary studies at the college in 1967.

In January 1967 Loosli was appointed to his second command - the River Class frigate HMAS Stuart. She saw service in Australian waters and Southeast Asia including two deployments to South Vietnam escorting the fast troop transport HMAS Sydney to Vung Tau in May 1967 and February 1968. In August 1968 Commander Loosli relinquished command of Stuart and soon after proceeded to the United States to undertake the Naval Command Course at the US Naval War College at Rhode Island. On returning to Australia in early 1970 he was appointed as a member of the directing staff at the Australian Joint Services Staff College at Weston Creek, Canberra. He was promoted captain on 30 June 1970.

Captain Loosli was appointed as the commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane in January 1971. In mid-March 1971 Brisbane deployed to Vietnamese waters as the last Australian destroyer to serve on the gun-line off South Vietnam. During her deployment she fired 7760 rounds in anger and returned to Sydney on 15 October 1971. Brisbane's ships company found Loosli to be a likeable and competent commanding officer and a thorough gentleman. Loosli was appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1972 for his superior command and leadership of Brisbane during the ships Vietnam deployment.

He handed over command of Brisbane in December 1972 and immediately took up his fourth command as the commanding officer of the tanker HMAS Supply. During his command the ship supported the New Zealand Government protest mission concerning French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. In June 1973 the New Zealand Government deployed two frigates (HMNZ Ships Otago and Canterbury) to observe the atmospheric nuclear tests. Supply sailed from Sydney on 25 June 1973 and refueled both frigates regularly so they could stay on station observing the tests. The Australian tanker did not enter the 60 nautical mile exclusion zone, around the atoll, decreed by the French Government but the New Zealand frigates did. Supply completed her support to the New Zealand frigates in early August and returned to Australia.

After relinquishing command of Supply in January 1974, Captain Loosli served as the Officer-in-Charge of the RAN Trials and Assessing Unit in Sydney, before being selected to become Australia's naval attache in Washington in December 1975. Loosli was promoted acting commodore for this role and was confirmed in the rank in February 1977.

Jocelyn Loosli was highly regarded as a charming hostess who supported her husband's demanding social obligations. In 1976 the United States celebrated the American Revolution Bi-Centenary (1776-1976) and the RAN sent HMA Ships Hobart, Stuart and Vampire to take part in the celebrations with Hobart part of the Naval Review in New York Harbor on 4 July 1976. Links with the United States were further enhanced with the building of four guided missile frigates at the Todd Pacific Shipyard in Seattle and the first three ships (Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney) were laid down during Loosli's tenure.

Following his return to Australia, Geoff Loosli was promoted rear admiral on 3 July 1979 and appointed as Chief of Naval Operational Requirements & Plans. This was his last posting in the RAN and his first posting to Navy Office since 1960! Loosli retired from the RAN in 1981 and was one of the few senior officers to have held four commands during his service (Gascoyne 1960-62, Stuart 1967-68, 1971-72 and Supply 1972-74).

Tall and loose-limbed, Loosli was an active sportsman playing tennis, sailing regularly and also a keen golfer - playing his last round at Royal Sydney Golf Club only a week before his death. Rear Admiral Geoffrey Loosli passed away in Sydney on 5 September 2016.

Royal Australian Navy senior officers at a mess dinner in Canberra, ACT on 9 March 1981. L-R: Rear Admiral Stevens, Rear Admiral Lynam, Rear Admiral Rourke, Rear Admiral Swan, Vice Admiral Willis, Rear Admiral Loosli, Rear Admiral Leach, Rear Admiral Doyle and Rear Admiral Robertson.

Royal Australian Navy senior officers at a mess dinner in Canberra, ACT on 9 March 1981. L-R: Rear Admiral Stevens, Rear Admiral Lynam, Rear Admiral Rourke, Rear Admiral Swan, Vice Admiral Willis, Rear Admiral Loosli, Rear Admiral Leach, Rear Admiral Doyle and Rear Admiral Robertson.