Rear Admiral George Angus Bennett

George Angus Bennett was born on 24 March 1926 in Myrtleford, Victoria and attended Geelong College before entering the Royal Australian Naval College in January 1940. He gained his colours for rugby and athletics and on graduation earned maximum time (three months early promotion to Lieutenant) as well as the prizes for mathematics, physics and chemistry.

In September 1943 Bennett was promoted Midshipman and travelled to England for engineering courses at the Royal Navy Engineering College (RNEC) Keyham commencing in January 1944. He was promoted Sub Lieutenant in May 1945. Bennett served briefly at sea in the cruisers HM Ships Belfast and Glasgow in May-July 1945 before returning to Keyham for more engineering studies. Bennett was promoted Lieutenant in December 1946 and completed his engineering studies at RNEC Manadon in late 1947. On returning to Australia he joined the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia in December 1947. During his time on board the cruiser operated in Australian and New Zealand waters conducting exercises including an exercise with the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge and her attending destroyers.

Lieutenant Bennett returned to England in late 1948 to undertake advanced engineering courses at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and the long ordnance engineering course at HMS Excellent (Whale Island). He returned to Australia in July 1952 and rejoined the heavy cruiser Australia which conducted exercises in Australian and New Zealand waters and a refit at Garden Island. In March 1953 he transferred to the newly arrived aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance (on loan to the RAN due to delays in commissioning the aircraft carrier Melbourne).  Vengeance began a work up in preparation for deploying to Korean waters but this activity was cancelled and she spent all of 1953 in Australian waters. 

George Bennett was then appointed to HMAS Kuttabul (for service at Cockatoo Island Dockyard) to oversee the final work converting the destroyer HMAS Queenborough to an anti-submarine warfare frigate. Queenborough commenced machinery and equipment trials in June 1954 and was recommissioned on 7 December 1954. Bennett was promoted Lieutenant Commander on 1 December 1954 and formally became engineer officer in Queenborough. In February 1955 she proceeded to the United Kingdom for training in the latest anti-submarine warfare tactics. The frigate sailed via Cairns, Darwin, Singapore, Colombo, the Red Sea and Mediterranean to arrive in Portland in late April. Queenborough was attached to the Joint Anti-Submarine School, based at Londonderry, North Ireland and Queenborough displayed a red kangaroo on her funnel to indicate she was an Australian warship. 

During her training with the Royal Navy she also conducted port visits to Hvalfjord (Iceland) as well as Trondheim and Oslo in Norway. The frigate departed England in October 1955 and arrived back in Sydney on 20 December just in time for her crew to be reunited with their families for Christmas Day.

After a short maintenance period Queenborough operated in Southeast Asian waters in March-April 1956 conducting training exercises off the east coast of Australia. Lieutenant Commander Bennett was appointed to Navy Office, Melbourne in August 1956 as Deputy Director Naval Construction. In April 1958 he was appointed to HMAS Kuttabul to be the engineer officer of the destroyer HMAS Vampire then under construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney. In that capacity he oversaw her final fitting out of equipment before commissioning on 23 June 1959, with Bennett promoted Acting Commander on the same day. The destroyer then commenced four months of sea trials and a short deployment to New Zealand waters. 

In early 1960 Commander Bennett was appointed to Navy Office on the staff of the 3rd Naval Member (the senior engineer of the RAN). His main role was as the project officer for the Ikara anti-submarine missile system that was introduced in to the RAN in the mid-1960s. He was confirmed in the rank of Commander on 30 June 1960 and remained with the Ikara project until the end of 1963. In 1964 he became the Naval Assistant to the 3rd Naval Member followed by Director of Technical Planning and Assistant Director of Naval Dockyards. In the 1966 New Year’s Honours List, Bennett was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work on the Ikara project - in recognition of his original thought and outstanding inventiveness in the research, design and development of a major component of a new naval guided weapon system.

Commander Bennett was appointed as the Superintendent Refit Planning at Garden Island Dockyard in August 1966. In August 1967 he returned to Navy Office as Assistant Chief of Naval Technical Services (Design and Construction). He was promoted Acting Captain on 31 December 1967 and in October 1969 became the Director of Forward Design Branch in Navy Office. Captain Bennett travelled to England in late 1970 to take up his next appointment as the Chief Staff Officer (Technical) on the staff of the Australian Naval Representative United Kingdom (ANRUK) located at the Australian High Commission in London. The ties between the RAN and Royal Navy were still quite close and British designed ships, submarines, aircraft and weapons systems were still predominant in the RAN inventory at that time and therefore required a senior RAN engineer to maintain the technical relationship with the RN.

On return to Australia Captain Bennett was appointed as Director of Dockyards Branch in January 1974 with responsibilities to oversee the operation of the three main RAN Dockyards at Garden Island, Cockatoo Island and Williamstown. George Bennett was promoted Commodore on 27 October 1975 and became the General Manager Williamstown Dockyard. During his tenure the dockyard conducted refits of destroyer escorts and the construction of the oceanographic vessel HMAS Cook. The rampant unionism at the dockyard made this a most difficult posting for Bennett who was confronted daily with indifference, mismanagement and poor workmanship from the civilian staff.  The construction of Cook was the most noticeable example of this as the ship took over six years to complete (1974-80) and was dogged by poor reliability and engineering defects throughout her naval service. George Bennett was promoted Rear Admiral on 12 February 1979 and appointed as Chief of Naval Technical Services. He retired from the Royal Australian Navy in late 1980.

Rear Admiral George Angus Bennett passed away on 24 March 1996.