Fifty-year naval career culminates in Order of Australia

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author)

Topic(s): Australia Day Honours, Order of Australia

File image of Commander Richard Singleton, RAN at the HMAS Choules Commissioning Ceremony, December 2011. (photo: )
File image of Commander Richard Singleton, RAN at the HMAS Choules Commissioning Ceremony, December 2011.

File image of Commander Richard Singleton, RAN on Anzac Day 2019.

File image of Commander Richard Singleton, RAN on Anzac Day 2019.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and Royal Australian Navy Commander Richard Singleton walked into his naval career as a junior sailor in the Royal Navy.

His fifty years of combined service, to both the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, has culminated in Commander Singleton being inducted into the Order of Australia (OAM) for introducing new capabilities into the latter.

Commander Singleton was recognised for his role in leading the introduction into service of 13 new major capabilities including HMAS Choules, the Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks, the Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyers, Supply Class Tankers, the Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel MV Sycamore and an extensive range of Navy and Australian Defence Force major and minor warfare systems.

Commander Singleton said he felt “very proud and humbled” to have been recognised by his adopted country with an Order of Australia Medal, while also noting the significant changes that have taken place across half a century of Naval life.

“In my first Royal Navy ship HMS Ulster, I slept in a hammock with Broadside Messing, no computers and the only entertainment was board games and the ship’s radio equipment (normally tuned to the BBC).

“Apart from the technology advancements, individual communications and entertainment options, the other big changes I have witnessed are women going to sea - which was a good advancement and well overdue - and pay, with my pay in my first ship equivalent to around 90 cents a day,” Commander Singleton said.

As well as commissioning as an officer in the Royal Navy after six years as a sailor, Commander Singleton nominates his career highlights as qualifying as an Advanced Specialist Warfare Officer and transferring to the Royal Australian Navy.

Two years after transferring, he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal for writing the first version of the Australian Maritime Tactical Publication.

The 1994 award citation praised his exemplary leadership and devotion to duty in the development and dissemination of warfighting tactics within Maritime Headquarters.

Commander Singleton has served ashore in numerous staff and operational roles, while also serving in HMAS Swan (III) and in Command of HMAS Warrnambool (II).

In addition to the two official Honours, Commander Singleton was recognised with a Chief of Joint Operations Commendation in March 2010 for his exceptional performance as the Director Exercise Planning.

The commendation noted his ability to conceptualise the need for the Australian Defence Force to train as a joint force in a variety of operational environments, which was well ahead of its time and has had an enduring and beneficial effect on Defence operations.

Commander Singleton’s citation reads:

Commander Richard John SINGLETON CSM RAN, NSW

For meritorious service to the Australian Defence Force in the fields of exercise and operational planning and the introduction into service of naval capabilities.

Commander Singleton has contributed significantly to the advancement of maritime and joint operational capabilities, specifically in the field of exercise and operational planning. His diverse knowledge, experience and dedication significantly contributed to the introduction into service of the Royal Australian Navy's Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyers and amphibious ships during a period of significant re-capitalisation of the Navy.