The Royal Australian Navy has celebrated a seamless change of command, with Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, AO, handing over the reins to the new Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond.
In a small, limited attendee ceremony on board HMAS Brisbane, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, AO, hauled down his flag and passed the weight as Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT) to his successor, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond.
The Sydney Harbour ceremony was attended by a limited group of guests including family members and members of the Fleet Senior Leadership Group. Since RADM Mead took the helm in January 2018, the Fleet has welcomed three new Hobart Class destroyers, and the Mid-Life Capability upgrades for the Anzac Class frigates has begun.
Joint and coalition activities have become the norm for the Australian Fleet, which has conducted an increased number of engagements with regional navies under RADM Mead.
Along with the Fleet responsiveness to Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST and the new reality of enduring operations in the COVID-19 environment, the Fleet looks and operates in a significantly different manner than it did three years ago.
RADM Mead said, "Serving in this position has been an honour and a valuable education. It is a truly exciting time to be part of Navy. My goals in my tenure were to generate forces, deploy forces and to be prepared to fight. We have made great strides in these areas."
"I have learned so much from the sailors and officers I have worked with these last few years and I leave this position with the utmost respect for the resilience, professionalism and agility of our Navy people."
RADM Mead will be promoted to Vice Admiral and appointed as Chief of Joint Capability. RADM Hammond assumes Command of Her Majesty’s Australian Fleet having previously served as Deputy Chief of Navy.
RADM Hammond joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1986 as an electronics technician. He was commissioned as a naval officer in 1988 and is a graduate of the RAN Recruit School (1986); the Australian Defence Force Academy (1990); Australian Command and Staff College (2004); and the Centre for Defence Strategic Studies (2014).
RADM Hammond completed seamanship and navigation training in various ships then volunteered for submarine service. Qualifying in Oberon Class submarines in 1994, Hammond joined HMAS Collins as Navigating Officer in 1996 (during First of Class Trials), and was selected as Flag Lieutenant to the Chief of Navy.
He subsequently completed the Principal Warfare Officer's Course and Submarine Warfare Course in 1998, and served as the commissioning Operations Officer in HMAS Waller. In 2001 RADM Hammond instructed the Submarine Warfare Officer Course and assumed duties as Executive Officer in HMAS Sheean. In 2003, RADM Hammond completed the Netherlands Submarine Command Course (Perisher) and the US Navy’s Prospective Commanding Officer Course.
RADM Hammond served as Staff Officer Future Concepts at Naval Headquarters in late 2003, and graduated from Command and Staff Course in 2004. RADM Hammond then deployed on operations with the Royal Navy Submarine force, before assuming command of HMAS Farncomb and completing two years of demanding operations in the Indo-Pacific region.
In late 2014, RADM Hammond was appointed as Director General Maritime Operations, exercising OPCON of the Navy’s ships, submarines and detachments, before relocating in 2017 to the US for duties in the Pentagon as the Chief of Defence Force Liaison Officer to General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
RADM Hammond returned to Australia in March 2018 to assume duties as the Deputy Chief of Navy.
RADM Hammond has sea experience in French, British and US nuclear attack submarines, Australian and Dutch conventional submarines, and multiple surface vessels. Academic qualifications include Bachelor of Science (UNSW, ADFA, 1991); Master's in Management (Defence Studies, UCAN, 2004); and Master's in Maritime Studies (UoW, 2005).
On 17 November 2020, RADM Hammond assumed the duties of Commander Australian Fleet.