Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey

RADM Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Edith Sharkey was born and educated in Queensland and joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Sub Lieutenant (undergraduate medical student at the University of Queensland) in March 1992. She completed her internship at the Gold Coast Hospital in 1994 and then spent two years as a resident Medical Officer in the United Kingdom before commencing full time RAN service in 1997. Lieutenant Sharkey then served at HMAS Penguin, at Balmoral in Sydney, specialising in submarine and under-water medicine. In mid-1999 Lieutenant Sharkey was appointed to HMAS Stirling, in Western Australia, as the Submarine Squadron Medical Officer.

Promoted Lieutenant Commander in March 2001 she deployed to the Solomon Islands as the medical officer in the guided missile frigate, HMAS Melbourne, during August-September 2001, for Operation TREK (supporting the Australian led Peace Monitoring Group). In early 2002 Lieutenant Commander Sharkey was appointed to Penguin as the officer in charge of the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit (SUMU).

Lieutenant Commander Sharkey was awarded a Chief of Army Commendation in mid-2004 for saving the life of an Special Air Service soldier who was utilising the submarine escape training tower at Stirling. An incident occurred in which the soldier suffered a collapsed lung and gas embolism with paralysis. Lieutenant Commander Sharkey, who was incidentally in the building at the time, quickly diagnosed the problem and with a team of medics commenced life-saving treatment and the soldier later made a complete recovery.

Promoted Commander in January 2006 she was appointed as the Medical Officer in Charge of Balmoral Naval Hospital at HMAS Penguin. Commander Sharkey was the Fleet Medical Officer, based at Fleet Headquarters in Sydney, during 2008-2011 where she had oversight of the medical issues affecting those at sea and provided support to the medical personnel serving throughout the fleet. She was promoted Captain in January 2011 and appointed as the Director Clinical Governance and Projects in Joint Health Command from November 2011. Captain Sharkey was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List For outstanding achievement as the Director of Clinical Governance and Projects and Australian Defence Force Health Services Project Transition Lead.

During 2015 Captain Sharkey studied at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies, in Canberra, and was promoted Commodore in December 2015. Commodore Sharkey was then appointed as Director General Garrison Health Operations and Director General Navy Health Services within Joint Health Command in early 2016. In January 2018 she became the Director General Health Business and Plans/Navy Health Services within Joint Health Command.

Sarah Sharkey was promoted Rear Admiral on 2 December 2019 and appointed as Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General Australian Defence Force.

Rear Admiral Sharkey’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Masters in Business Administration, Masters in Politics and Policy, and Associate Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators.

Rear Admiral Sharkey was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), in the Military Division, in the Queen’s Birthday Honour List 2020 ‘for exceptional service to the Australian Defence Force in the management of health care’.


Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey takes over as Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General of the ADF from Air Vice Marshal Tracy Smart, December 2019.
Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey takes over as Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General of the ADF from Air Vice Marshal Tracy Smart, December 2019.