Published on July 2nd, 2015 | by Jim Lee


Government announces the appointment of Rear Admiral Mark Mellett to the position of Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces

On 30th June, Department of Defence, announced that the Government had, at its cabinet meeting that morning, accepted the recommendation of the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, to nominate Rear Admiral Mark Mellett for appointment by the President as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces. He will succeed the current Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Conor O’Boyle, when Lieutenant-General O’Boyle retires in September of this year.

Rear Admiral (DSM) Mellett was appointed to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) of the Defence Forces in November, 2013. His appointment to one the top three posts in the Defence Forces was at the time, the most senior level ever attained by an officer of the Naval Service. Only one other Naval Officer, Commodore L.S. Moloney, has previously progressed beyond the in service post of Officer Commanding the Naval Service. Commodore Moloney served as Assistant Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces from February 1986 and December 1988. He had previously held the post of Officer Commanding the Naval Service from September 1980. The Naval rank of Commodore is equivalent to that of Brigadier General in the other branches of the Defence Forces.

On his appointment to Deputy Chief of Staff (Support), Rear Admiral Mellett became the first officer to hold Admiral rank. It is a remarkable and historic achievement for an officer who joined the service in 1976, as part of the 17th Cadet Class. Originally from Mayo, his first Command was the LÉ ORLA in 1992 and he subsequently commanded the LÉ CIARA in 1997 and the Irish Naval Flagship LÉ EITHNE, (currently deployed to the Mediterranean), in 2005.

He has held a broad range of appointments in Naval Headquarters and prior to his appointment as Flag Officer in 2010 he was Officer Commanding Naval Operations Command. He was also Commandant of the Naval College and Associate Head of the National Maritime College of Ireland.

In his distinguished career, he was awarded citations for service in Afghanistan (2004) and Lebanon (1989), and as Captain of LÉ ORLA he was honoured by becoming the Navy’s second officer recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). This was in recognition of the role of his ship, and he as its captain, where he displayed confidence and leadership, while coordinating a complex operation at sea, leading to the arrest of the ketch ‘Brime’ off the southwest coast on the 13th July 1993. His professional skill, dedication and devotion to duty in that difficult operation reflected great credit on the Naval Service and the Defence Forces, as does his promotion to the top post in the Defence Forces. Traditionally the three top posts in the Defence Forces were held by Army officers, but the mould was broken with the appointments of Ralph James, from the Air Corps, followed by Mark Mellett and to the positions of deputy chiefs of staff.

Current Chief of Staff Lt Gen Conor O’Boyle and Rear Admiral Mark Mellett on a recent visit to the Naval base

Current Chief of Staff Lt Gen Conor O’Boyle and Rear Admiral Mark Mellett on a recent visit to the Naval base

Rear Admiral Mellett is a founding member of the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) and a member of its governing authority. The IMERC is a tripartite alliance launched in 2011 between University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Irish Naval Service (INS) and its vision is to become a research and commercial cluster of world standing, by realising Ireland’s potential in the maritime and energy markets of tomorrow. With the environment facing the Naval Service rapidly becoming more complex and challenging, a key response by the Service is to be more closely embedded in the knowledge economy, hence its involvement in IMERC.

The Naval Service role in IMERC provides end user driven solutions to end user identified problems. Areas of interest include next generation monitoring/detection system technology for maritime situational awareness. Obviously a key area of interest in future applications are drones etc.

It also sees an opportunity for transformation to a post-modern Naval Service for the State as a ‘knowledge institution’ and has set targets to achieve specified numbers of Masters Degrees and PhDs by 2016. As part of this culture, in 2009 Rear Admiral Mellett was awarded a PHD in Political Science from the National University of Ireland Galway. He is also a graduate of the US Naval War College, the Irish Command and Staff College and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Rear Admiral Mellett is married to Liz and has four children, Laura, Sean, Lisa and Patrick.

Commenting on the Government’s announcement Minister Coveney said “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Rear Admiral Mellett on his new appointment and I look forward to working closely with him in the future.”

Flying in Ireland and its team also wish Rear Admiral Mellett and look forward to seeing his contribution to the ongoing modernisation and development of the Defence Forces as he faces into the new directions likely to arise in the context of the forthcoming White Paper on Defence.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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