2019 King-Hall seminar: Australia's Naval Leaders

2019 King-Hall seminar: Australia's Naval Leaders

Seminar Room 6, Building 32

UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy

Northcott Drive

Campbell, ACT, 2612

8.30am to 3.00pm

The Naval Studies Group, as part of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society (UNSW Canberra), will host a seminar as part of the continuing King-Hall series of naval history conferences which have been jointly sponsored since the late 1990s by the Sea Power Centre - Australia and UNSW Canberra.

Registrations are now open.

Tickets to attend are $15. Price is in AUD and is inclusive of GST.



The seminar will be an opportunity to identify and discuss the themes that are emerging as work progresses on a collective study of the Chiefs of the Australian Naval Staff from Federation until 1997. The project, which aims to produce a book, is seeking to understand the problems and challenges that each admiral faced, as well as the vision they had for the future of the Service that they led and the priorities they set to achieve their goals. It is aiming to understand the strategic, political, financial, social and bureaucratic contexts in which they operated and how they navigated and overcame opposition or misunderstanding – or did not.

The study of Australia’s Chiefs of Naval Staff has much greater than institutional significance. The Australian Navy was one of the goals and the first projects of Federation. The development of the navy as a national organisation and its slow evolution to autonomy as the links with Britain’s Royal Navy weakened or were removed casts important light on Australia’s slow path to full independence and nationhood. The social, financial and political problems that the navy faced in the twentieth century provide context for understanding many of the nation’s wider challenges as Australia evolved into a successful and self-determinative post-modern society out of classically colonial origins.


The format of the day will be a series of panels in which contributors to the study will speak briefly on the themes that they have identified as they have analysed the contribution of their subject as Chief of Naval Staff. Each panel will include a substantial period for free discussion between the chapter writers and the audience. A final open forum will conclude the one-day seminar. The aim is to encourage ideas and fresh ways of looking at the topic, as well as the wider issues of Australian naval history and historiography.

The presentations and discussions will be recorded as part of the Naval Studies Group’s very successful series of naval history podcasts.

Confirmed speakers and discussants include Dr David Stevens, Vice Admiral Peter Jones, Rear Admiral James Goldrick, Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit, Commodore Jack McCaffrie, Commander Alastair Cooper & Commander Geoffrey McGinley.