In a heartfelt ceremony aboard flagship HMAS Canberra, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer has handed over the reins as Commander Australian Fleet to his successor Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead.
More than a thousand officers and sailors from Eastern-based ships and shore establishments lined the decks and wharf precinct at Garden Island, Sydney, many dressed in PT rig.
Joined by wife Sue, daughter Rebecca and sons Jacob and Josh, Rear Admiral Mayer said it had been an ‘immeasurable privilege’ to lead the Australian Fleet.
“Fleet command has been the single greatest honour I have experienced in my career in the Navy,” he said.
“Every day that I have been part of our command I have taken pride in being part of a team of 10,000 men and women who are committed to fixing problems, to making our fleet stronger, and building a fleet capable of winning the fight at sea.”
Rear Admiral Mayer presided over the longest tenure as Commander Australian Fleet in the history of the RAN and guided the fleet through a time of unprecedented growth and change.
He transformed the Australian Fleet from one focused on deploying individual ships around the region, to a Fleet that generates and deploys maritime task groups; that is self-sustaining and capable of fighting and winning across the full spectrum of conflict.
Chief of Staff, Fleet Command, Commodore Luke Charles-Jones described Admiral Mayer as visionary.
“Rarely have any of us encountered someone who so readily displays his conviction, passion, energy and pride,” he said.
“He had a vision for a Fleet that is Fit to Fight, with a focus on our people to be committed, tough, professional and disciplined and our platforms to be available, reliable, affordable and lethal.
“His remarkable leadership to instil pride, teamwork and esprit de corps through the reinvigoration of sport, physical training, adventure training and other health and wellbeing programs has inspired us all.”
Joining the RAN with Rear Admiral Mayer in 1984, incoming Commander, Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead said three things were certain those 33 years earlier.
“Death, taxes, and that one day, Stu Mayer would be Fleet Commander,” he said.
“Because all throughout my career, and amongst our peers from the ’84 class, we’ve looked on with envy in the way with which he has distinguished himself.
“He has been an outstanding servant of the Navy and the nation.”
In his final words as Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Mayer encouraged sailors to honour their heritage.
“Our Navy story isn’t about any one of us, our Navy story goes for 100 years and more, we’re just part of that.
“Our job is to make sure we live up to the honour of that heritage and we leave our heritage in a better place than when we picked it up.
“I ask you to continue to do that, because you have knocked it out of the park in the last couple of years.
“It has been an honour to be the fleet commander. I will never forget it. Thank you very much.”