Obituary: RADM Andrew Robertson




It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Andrew John Robertson, AO, DSC RAN (RETD). RADM Robertson made a most significant contribution to Navy, in war and in peace, during his distinguished 43 year career, and in the four decades since his retirement.

  1. Cadet midshipman Robertson joined the RANC in early 1939, was made Cadet Captain and was awarded the prestigious King’s gold medal.
  2. During 1942 – 44 Midshipman Robertson served in the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (II), and the destroyer HMAS Warramunga. He saw action in the destroyer HMS\Kimberley enforcing the surrender of German forces in the Dodecanese islands in May 1945.
  3. In 1946, in HMAS Bataan, he served in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. This was followed by two years of hazardous duty clearing wartime mines from Australian and New Guinea waters in HMAS Swan.
  4. Sub Lieutenant Robertson was selected to undertake the Royal Navy long gunnery course at HMS Excellent (Whale Island) in 1949. He was ranked 1st in his class. He then instructed at HMAS Cerberus gunnery school.
  5. In March 1951, Lieutenant Robertson served as gunnery officer in the destroyer HMAS Anzacwhich was deployed to the Korean peninsula for aircraft carrier escort duties, firing 1000 rounds of 4.5-inch ammunition at North Korean targets ashore.
  6. Anzac returned to the Korean peninsula in September 1952 and again provided naval gunfire support.
  7. For his service in Anzac, during this second deployment Lieutenant Robertson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The citation for his DSC reads in part: his calmness and disregard of personal danger when most effectively controlling the armament in a relatively prolonged action against an enemy coastal battery of four guns which hotly and accurately engaged HMAS Anzac on 16 November 1952, was most notable.
  8. In January 1953 Lieutenant Robertson joined the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney as the gunnery officer and sailed to Britain to take part in the Coronation Naval Review at Portsmouth.
  9. Lieutenant Commander Robertson joined the staff of the Australian Naval Liaison Office in London in 1954 and later completed the Royal Navy Staff Course, in 1956, before posting to the Training and Staff Requirements Division in Navy Office with the additional duty of Flag Lieutenant to the Naval Board.
  10. In December 1957 Commander Robertson took command of the frigate HMAS Quickmatch which operated in Southeast Asian waters.
  11. His next appointment was to the UK Joint Staff – Singapore based at HMS Terror at a time when Australian warships were heavily committed to the Far East Strategic Reserve and South East Asian Treaty Organisation exercises.
  12. In 1962, Commander Robertson became the Fleet Operations Officer, embarked in HMAS Melbourne and later in HMAS Sydney.
  13. On promotion to Captain in January 1964, he was appointed to Navy Office as the Director of Manning and Training during a period of challenging recruitment.
  14. In January 1967, Captain Robertson took command of HMAS Yarra and the first frigate squadron consisting of four River class vessels. Yarra escorted the fast troop transport HMAS Sydney into Vung Tau harbour, Vietnam in December 1967
  15. In July 1968 Captain Robertson was appointed a member of the Joint Policy Staff in the Department of Defence. He was also aide-de-camp to the Governor-General (first Baron Casey and then Sir Paul Hasluck).
  16. In 1972 Captain Robertson attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in UK and on completion took command of HMAS Sydney and deployed to Southeast Asia.
  17. Following decommissioning of Sydney, and on promotion, Commodore Robertson took command of HMAS Albatross in January 1974. In May 1974 the carrier air group embarked from the Naval Air Station for the first large scale tri-service Australian based exercise, Exercise Kangaroo 1.
  18. Commodore Robertson, with the help of volunteers, established the Australian Naval Aviation Museum at Nowra and remained a committed supporter and major fund raiser after leaving Albatross.
  19. Commodore Robertson became the Director General of Naval Operations and Plans, in Navy Office in January 1976 and in December he took up the position of Head Australian Defence Staff in the Australian High Commission in London. He was promoted Rear Admiral on 24 January 1977.
  20. Rear Admiral Robertson’s last appointment was as the Flag Officer Naval Support Command, based in Sydney, commencing in January 1980. Naval Support Command oversaw the command and management of the RAN’s training and support bases and the maintenance and upgrade program of all ships, submarines, aircraft and armaments.
  21. He was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list in 1980 for service to the Royal Australian Navy and the Defence Force, particularly as Head of Australian Defence Staff London.
  22. Rear Admiral Robertson retired from the RAN in 1982 after 43 years of dedicated service. In retirement he became Federal Vice President of the Navy League of Australia, Councillor of the Order of Australia Association and had a long term involvement in the creation and management of the Australian National Maritime Museum, of which he was named the Inaugural Honorary Fellow in 2016.
  23. On behalf of the men and women of our Royal Australian Navy, I extend our condolences to Rear Admiral Robertson’s family and friends.
  24. A private funeral service will be held and a naval memorial service will occur at a time and place to be announced.



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