John Augustine Collins

Vice-Admiral Sir John Augustine Collins, KBE, CB (7 January 1899 – 3 September 1989) was a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) officer who served in both World Wars, and who eventually rose to become a vice admiral and Chief of Naval Staff. Collins was one of the first graduates of the Royal Australian Naval College to attain flag rank. During the Second World War, he commanded the cruiser HMAS Sydney in the Mediterranean campaign. He led the Australian Naval Squadron in the Pacific theatre and was wounded in the first recorded kamikaze attack, in 1944.

Sir John Augustine Collins
John Collins 28AWM P00444 093 29
Captain John Collins in 1943
Born7 January 1899
Deloraine, Tasmania
Died3 September 1989 (aged 90)
Sydney, New South Wales
Service/branchRoyal Australian Navy
Years of service1913–1955
Commands heldChief of Naval Staff (1948–55)
HM Australian Squadron (1944, 1945–46)
Task Force 74 (1944–45)
HMAS Shropshire (1943–44)
China Force (1942)
HMAS Sydney (1935–37, 1939–41)
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Mentioned in Despatches
Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Other workHigh Commissioner to New Zealand (1956–62)

Early life and education

John Augustine Collins was born in Deloraine, Tasmania, in 1899.[1] In 1913, at age 14, Collins joined the first intake to the RAN College.[1] He became a midshipman in January 1917, in time to see war service while attached to the Royal Navy.[1]

Second World War

In the early Second World War, Collins commanded HMAS Sydney in the Battle of the Mediterranean.[1] Sydney led Allied ships which sank an Italian cruiser, Bartolomeo Colleoni, in the Battle of Cape Spada, in July 1940. For this action he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath.[2]

Relations between the RAN and British Royal Navy were close at the time, with frequent exchanges of officers between the two and in June 1941, Collins was transferred to Singapore, as Assistant Chief of Staff to the British Naval Commander in Chief, China Station, Vice Admiral Geoffrey Layton.[1]

Following the outbreak of war with Japan, Collins was appointed Commodore Commanding China Force, the RN-RAN cruiser and destroyer force based in Batavia, Dutch East Indies, under the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command.[1]

Members Australian Mission Group Japanese surrender P00046.051
Members of the Australian Mission Group at the Japanese surrender talks. Left to right: Commodore John Collins; Lieutenant General Frank Berryman; Captain Roy Dowling; Air Commodore Raymond Brownell.

After the fall of Singapore and the Allied defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea, it became clear that the Dutch East Indies would be occupied by Japan. Collins organised the evacuation of Allied civilians and military personnel from Batavia, and was on one of the last ships to leave, before the city fell, in March 1942.[1] As a result, he was Mentioned in Despatches,[3] and was later made a Commander of the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau.[4]

Collins was then appointed Senior Naval Officer, Western Australia, based at Fremantle.[1]

During 1943, Collins commanded HMAS Shropshire and took part in the Bougainville campaign, the Battle of Cape Gloucester, and operations off the Admiralty Islands and Hollandia (Dutch New Guinea).[1]

In mid-1944, Collins was made commander of the Australian-US Navy Task Force 74, and commander of the Australian Naval Squadron, with HMAS Australia as his flagship. He became the first graduate of the RAN College to command a naval squadron in action, during the bombardment of Noemfoor, on 2 July 1944.

Collins was badly wounded in the first kamikaze attack in history, which hit Australia on 21 October 1944, in the lead up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf.[1] He did not resume his command until July 1945. When the war ended Collins was the RAN's representative at the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.[1]

Post-war service and legacy

Collins was appointed Chief of Naval Staff in 1948, succeeding Sir Louis Keppel Hamilton, and held the position until 1955. He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1951 New Year Honours.[5] He later served as Australia's High Commissioner to New Zealand (1956–62).[1]

The latest class of Australian submarine, the Collins class bears his name. The lead submarine, HMAS Collins, was launched by his widow on 28 August 1993. Collins Road, a street in the Sydney suburb of St Ives and in the town of Narooma was also named in his honour.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Collins, Sir John Augustine (1899–1989)" (RAN official biography)
  2. ^ "No. 34907". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 July 1940. p. 4653.
  3. ^ "No. 35823". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 December 1942. p. 5461.
  4. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Commodore John Augustine Collins". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  5. ^ "No. 39105". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1950. p. 35.
  6. ^ Australia's Argonauts: The remarkable story of the first class to enter the Royal Australian Naval College, Echo Books, Canberra, 2016, p.580

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Admiral Sir Louis Hamilton
First Naval Member & Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
Vice Admiral Sir Roy Dowling
Preceded by
Commodore Harold Farncomb
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron
Succeeded by
Rear Admiral Harold Farncomb
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron
June – October 1944
Succeeded by
Captain Charles Nichols
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Peter Heydon
Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand
Succeeded by
Donald Alastair Cameron
Allan Everett (Royal Navy officer)

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Chief of Navy (Australia)

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Vice Admiral Michael Noonan is the current chief of navy; he assumed the position on 06 July 2018.

Collins-class submarine

The Collins class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines is operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The Collins class takes its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins; all six submarines are named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in action during World War II. The boats were the first submarines to be constructed in Australia, prompting widespread improvements in Australian industry and delivering a sovereign (Australian controlled) sustainment/maintenance capability.

Planning for a new design to replace the RAN's Oberon-class submarines began in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Proposals were received from seven companies; two were selected for a funded study to determine the winning design, which was announced in mid-1987. The submarines, enlarged versions of Swedish shipbuilder Kockums' Västergötland class and originally referred to as the Type 471, were constructed between 1990 and 2003 in South Australia by the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).

The submarines have been the subject of many incidents and technical problems since the design phase, including accusations of foul play and bias during the design selection, improper handling of design changes during construction, major capability deficiencies in the first submarines, and ongoing technical problems throughout the early life of the class. These problems have been compounded by the inability of the RAN to retain sufficient personnel to operate the submarines—by 2008, only three could be manned, and between 2009 and 2012, on average two or fewer were fully operational. The resulting negative press has led to a poor public perception of the Collins class. After 20 years of service issues, the boats have finally provided high availability to the RAN since 2016.

The Collins class was expected to be retired about 2026, however, the 2016 Defence White Paper extended this into the 2030s. The Collins class life will now be extended and will receive an unplanned capability upgrade, including but not limited to: sonar and communications.The Collins class will be replaced by the Future Submarine Program (SEA 1000) that is scheduled, according to the 2016 Defence White Paper, to begin entering service in the early 2030s with construction extending to 2050. The Future Submarine Program will be based on the Shortfin Barracuda, a nuclear attack submarine designed by French company DCNS; twelve submarines will be acquired, all built in Australia.

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Guy Royle

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HMAS Collins (SSG 73)

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Named for Vice Admiral Sir John Augustine Collins, Collins was laid down in February 1990, and was the only submarine of the class to be partially constructed by Kockums' Malmo shipyard. The boat was launched in August 1993, but was not completed until ten months later. Numerous problems with the class were exposed by the lengthy sea trials period undertaken by the boat; Collins was not commissioned into the RAN until mid-1996, eighteen months behind schedule, and the submarine was not cleared for operational deployments until 2000.

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The school was founded by four Christian Brothers in January 1871. They had taught for two years in a small school behind St Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street before moving into the bluestone building in Victoria Parade, East Melbourne. The school's official name was CBC East Melbourne but it was generally known as Parade College. About one hundred boys enrolled on the first day and this number grew steadily over the years. This building was affectionately known as the "Old Bluestone Pile" and the school song takes its name from this building.

Eventually in 1953 it became necessary to move the junior classes to a site newly acquired by the Old Paradians Association at Alphington. In 1968 further expansion was necessary and the college moved to a site of 80 acres (32 ha) on Plenty Road, Bundoora. The old school premises in East Melbourne were taken over by Cathedral College (this school closed in 1995). In 1988, the junior classes at Alphington were moved to Bundoora and all three campuses occupied the spacious grounds large enough to give each campus its own recreational areas. In 2009 Parade opened a second campus in Preston. This had formerly been a long-established school, Marist College Preston which had been renamed Redden College before becoming Samaritan Catholic College. This new campus of Parade Years offers 7–9 classes as well as the Year 10 Edmund Rice Pathways Program and Year 11 VCAL studies.

Today, the college has almost 1900 students in Years 7–12 across both the Bundoora and the Preston campuses. The four houses of the school are named after the founding Brothers: Treacy (Yellow), Hughes (Blue), Bodkin (Red) and Lynch (Green). The school is a member of the Associated Catholic Colleges. Its "old boy" association is the Old Paradians. The school's sporting colours are purple, green and blue, which also feature in the lyrics of the school war-cry.

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Commonwealth Naval Forces
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Chiefs of the Naval Staff
Chiefs of Navy
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Fleet
Rear Admiral Commanding HM Australian Squadron
Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet
Maritime Commander Australia
Commander Australian Fleet


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