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- December 2002 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Admiral Taylor joined the RAN as a 13 year old junior entry cadet midshipman in 1954. He undertook his initial training at the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Cerberus, with further training at sea in HMAS Swan, at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and in HMAS Quiberon.
He served in numerous ships as a junior officer, including the Royal Yacht, HMY Britannia, later specialising in Navigation. During active service in Vietnam, he was Mentioned in Dispatches as Navigating officer in HMAS Brisbane, in that destroyer’s first deployment.
After promotion to Commander he served at Fleet Headquarters as Commander (Plans) 1980-81, then later in command of the Daring Class destroyer HMAS Vampire 1979-80 and subsequently the destroyer escort HMAS Torrens (as Captain, and Commander Third Australian Destroyer Squadron). Later he was posted as Deputy Fleet Commander and Chief of Staff 1987-88, and subsequently in the inaugural appointment as Commodore Flotillas at MHQ Sydney (previous incumbents had been dual- hatted as Chief of Staff/Commodore Afloat). Here he was responsible for training and operational standards of the Fleet, which provided him with excellent background and experience for planning the RAN’s participation in the Gulf War 1990-91, following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqui leader Saddam Hussein. At this time he was posted as Assistant Chief of Defence Force (Operations)(ACOPS) at ADF HQ in Canberra, bearing main carriage of planning for Australia’s wartime deployments to the Gulf region. He knew the precise capabilities of the ships committed to the Gulf deployments and equally understood the concerns of Maritime Headquarters. Later he became Deputy Chief of Naval Staff 1991-94 and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1992.
Admiral Taylor was promoted Vice Admiral on appointment as Chief of Navy, where he served with great distinction, overseeing considerable development and change within the Navy, when the first ANZAC Class frigate and COLLINS Class submarine entered service. Feeling strong commitment to Navy’s personnel, he continually stressed the importance of preserving Navy’s values, traditions, ethos and professionalism. Under his leadership the Defence Efficiency Review was undertaken, which led to the subsequent Defence Reform Programme. In early 1997 his title was amended to become Chief of Navy and he retired after 43 years service shortly afterwards.
He passed away on 1 Sep 2002 amid great sorrow in the RAN, and was duly accorded a funeral with full naval honours and gun carriage in Canberra, at the Anzac Chapel of St Paul, Royal Military College Duntroon, which was followed by a private cremation.