Commander Emma McDonald-Kerr

CMDR Emma McDonald-Kerr

Commander Emma McDonald-Kerr was born in Gisborne, Victoria, and joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1999, as a Midshipman at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2001, majoring in Oceanography and Politics.

Upon graduation she commenced Maritime Warfare Officer professional training, and in 2004 was awarded her Bridge Warfare Certificate in HMAS Success. Following a period as an Officer of the Watch in Success, she was posted as the decommissioning Navigator in HMAS Launceston (II). After decommissioning, she joined a cross-functional team in the Defence Community Organisation Darwin, supporting ADF members and their families, often in times of crisis.

In 2009, she posted to the Defence Force Recruiting Centre in Melbourne, before commencing a land-based deployment to Timor-Leste in 2012. After returning from operations she managed the Navy’s overseas recruitment program, and subsequently accepted dual specialisation as a Maritime Warfare and Management Executive Officer (human resource management).

In 2013, she deployed as the Military Assistant to the Commander of Combined Task Force 150, responsible for maritime security and counter terrorism operations in the Middle East and Indian Ocean region. Back in Australia she undertook a workforce planning role, before returning to sea as the Executive/Boarding Officer in Cape Class Patrol Boats Cape Byron and Cape Inscription.

Her selection as the Staff Officer to the Chief of the Defence Force in late 2017, provided a unique opportunity to work for the ADF’s most senior military officer. After this role she studied at the Australian War College, before her appointment as the Deputy Director Navy Workforce Requirements Planning.

Commander McDonald-Kerr’s career highlights include navigating a ship through the busy Singapore Strait, and working alongside colleagues from allied and partner militaries. She has a Master of Business from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Military and Defence Studies from the Australian National University.

Commander McDonald-Kerr assumed Command of Navy Headquarters – South Australia in December 2021, and is the re-commissioning Commanding Officer of HMAS Encounter.