Surveying his options after 52 years

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Mark Doran (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Cerberus, Australian Hydrographic Service, Historic

Royal Australian Navy Commander Alan Regan (left), of the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, and his wife Juleia are presented a retirement gift by Head Joint Systems Division, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, at Russell Offices in Canberra on 22 July, 2017. (photo: CPL Mark Doran)
Royal Australian Navy Commander Alan Regan (left), of the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, and his wife Juleia are presented a retirement gift by Head Joint Systems Division, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, at Russell Offices in Canberra on 22 July, 2017.

One naval officer has recently called stumps on a remarkable career, spanning more than half a century.
 
Commander Alan Regan, who’s roles have included surveyor, Patrol Boat Commanding Officer and Task Group Commander, said he had seen significant changes in Navy and his profession
 
When he joined as a midshipman in 1965, his initial training was at HMAS Cerberus, in Victoria, with sea time in HMA Ships MelbourneAnzac and Stuart.
 
He was 17 and straight out of high school when he went to Cerberus.
 
“My time there was one of the happiest in my life,” he said.
 
“The midshipmen I trained with remain close friends to this day.”
 
Commander Regan’s ship posting list includes HMA Ships MoresbyPaluma, Buccaneer, Barbette, Diamantina, Teal, Hawk, Curlew, Snipe, Gayundah, Advance, Tobruk, Brunei, Balikpapan and Labuan.
 

He conducted hydrographic and oceanographic surveys throughout the south-west Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans.
 
On one survey, while following a route in Mathew Flinders’ journal, he charted an undiscovered shoal in the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is now named after him.
 
Commander Regan said hydrographic and oceanographic surveys were usually in isolated areas and typically lasted up to nine months.
 
“We would then go back to Sydney for three weeks’ leave and three weeks onboard before going back to sea,” he said.
 
“During the time on board we worked on the surveys just completed and prepared for the next one.
 
“My wife Juleia would join me for dinner every second night, but because the work load was so high, I decided to use all the resources available – I had her drawing fair-sheets as well.”
 
Commander Regan joined the reserves in 1974 while studying surveying at the University of Queensland and became one of the first professional surveyors to be certified in Australia as a hydrographic surveyor.
 
He was appointed Commanding Officer (Reserves), Brisbane Port Division, in 1984, doubling the numbers of reservists in Queensland, where he focused the port division on amphibious operations.
 
Commander Regan said the enthusiasm he encountered with reservists on the bridge of HMAS Advance during an exercise made him realise how this asset needed to be harnessed.
 
“I saw the same enthusiasm and dedication at the Staff College,” he said.
 
“All we needed to do was teach them which way we wanted to go ahead – it was most rewarding to see those students progress.”
 
Commander Regan was promoted to Commander in 1985 and was awarded the inaugural Naval Staff College Medal before becoming the first director of the Staff Acquaint Course in 1995.
 
During these years his titles also included Commander Amphibious Task Group, Staff Officer Sea Operations to the Maritime Commander, and Commander Task Group for reserve patrol boat, mine warfare and amphibious group exercises.
In 1991, Commander Regan was appointed to the Queensland Surveyors Board..
 
He is a fellow of the Institute of Surveyors Australia, a fellow of the Surveying and Spatial Institute Australia and a member of the Queensland Surveying and Spatial Sciences Association.
 
He was on full-time service again from 2000-2013, and was posted initially to the Australian Hydrographic Office in Wollongong.
 
During his time at Headquarters Joint Operations Command from 2006-2012, Commander Regan created the military geospatial operations staff officer function, supporting operations.
 
He also built strong relationships with allied geospatial information staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, and was offered the position of Chief Geospatial Officer, Joint Forces Command Brunssum for NATO operations.
 
Since 2012, Commander Regan has provided subject matter expertise for Defence policy, projects and products.
 
In his civilian career Commander Regan held senior policy and corporate governance positions in Queensland government departments.
 
He has also been responsible for hydrographic, engineering, geodetic and cadastral surveys.
 
Commander Regan said it had been a rewarding career.
 
“Organisational structures, procedures and systems can contribute to the Defence geospatial capability, but our principal capability is contained within the knowledge and expertise of our people,” he said.
 
“I’m most appreciative my career has allowed me to work with exceptionally professional colleagues.
 
“I owe my career to Juleia – it wouldn’t have been possible without her.”