Change at the top for NZ Navy

30 November 2012

The new Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Jack Steer (left), is fitted with the Symbol of Command, the Korowai (cloak)
The new Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Jack Steer (left), is fitted with the Symbol of Command, the Korowai (cloak)

After four years in command of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Rear Admiral (RADM) Tony Parr relinquished his post to the incoming Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Jack Steer at a special ceremony at Devonport Naval Base today.

Befitting the occasion, the ceremony was attended by the Minister of Defence, Dr Jonathan Coleman, the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones, senior Navy personnel, the Commanding Officers of all Navy ships and units alongside Devonport Naval Base at the time, and invited guests.

The Change of Command Ceremony is traditionally formal and impressive – designed to strengthen the respect for authority, which is vital to any military organisation.

During the ceremony, the Chief of Navy’s symbol of command (a Korowai or cloak) was passed from RADM Parr to RADM Steer.

The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones addressed the parade saying: "I thank Rear Admiral Parr for his service as Chief of Navy.

"He leaves the Navy in good hands as Rear Admiral Steer brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise to the role.

"Our chiefs are not just figure-heads, they must live with the values and morals of professional leadership."

Rear Admiral Steer said to the scores of Navy officers and ratings present: "Success in the Navy is all about people. Ships are steel and wood. You give them life and a purpose."

The Maori Cultural Group and assembled sailors performed a rousing Navy haka to farewell to RADM Parr and his family.


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Rear Admiral Jack Steer was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. He joined the Royal New Zealand Navy on 3 January 1973 as a midshipman, specialising as a seaman officer. As a young officer he served on Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ships TAUPO, WAIKATO and OTAGO before taking his first command post as the Officer in Command of HMNZS HAWEA.

Following the completion of his Principal Warfare Officer training in the United Kingdom, Rear Admiral Steer was posted to HMNZ Ships OTAGO and SOUTHLAND in the positions of Weapons Control Officer and Operations Officer.

Between June and December 1988 Rear Admiral Steer completed staff training at the Royal Australian Naval Staff College. On his return to New Zealand he was posted to Naval Staff as Deputy Director of Underwater Warfare. In November 1989 he was posted to HMNZS SOUTHLAND as the Executive Officer and in May the following year was appointed Executive Officer in HMNZS WELLINGTON.

In July 1991 Rear Admiral Steer was promoted to Commander. He completed the Joint Services Staff Course in Australia and was appointed to the staff of the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in Williamstown, Australia. In December 1994 he took command of HMNZS WELLINGTON, which successfully contributed to the Multinational Interception Force operations in the Arabian Gulf, enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq. In mid 1996 he was appointed as the Fleet Operations Officer at Maritime Headquarters.

Rear Admiral Steer was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 1995 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

In December 1998 he was appointed Military Adviser to the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations, in New York. On completion of this posting in 2003 he undertook the Defence and Strategic Studies course at CDSS, Canberra and gained his MA in Strategic Studies.

He was appointed Chief of Staff at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand in January 2003 and on promotion to Commodore in April 2004, was appointed as Maritime Component Commander. In January 2006, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Navy following which he was promoted to Rear Admiral and took up the position as Commander Joint Forces New Zealand in May 2006.

Rear Admiral Steer was appointed Vice Chief of Defence Force in February 2008 and during his tenure has been fully engaged in the largest reform programme ever undertaken by a New Zealand Government department.

On 25 October 2012, he was appointed as the Chief of Navy and will take up the position on 01 December 2012.

Rear Admiral Steer is married to Sally, and they have two children.




This page was last reviewed on 30 November 2012.