Home' Navy News : April 11th 2013 Contents I
N 1986, RADM Mark Purcell
chose to attend the Australian
Defence Force Academy to get paid
through university – now he’s the
Academy’s first two-star graduate and
a role model for Navy’s next genera-
tion of engineers.
RADM Purcell, now the Head of
Maritime Systems, visited the ADFA
Engineering Faculty on March 22 to
encourage students with his motto –
“if your goals don’t scare you, they’re
not big enough”.
“My advice to ADFA’s engineer-
ing students is simple – the sky is the
limit,” RADM Purcell said.
“Don’t think that any concept is too
silly, if you’ve got a bright idea, run
with it and let your passion drive you.”
One bright idea RADM Purcell saw
through to fruition was a little concept
“When I started at ADFA, the
internet was just a twinkle in some US
researcher’s eye,” he said.
“Email was totally unheard of
when I joined the Navy and I’ve seen
the internet grow up during my ser-
RADM Purcell said ADFA gave
him the foundation to help his fellow
shipmates and improve the future of
“I was responsible in part for
implementing email use for ships at
sea. I was able to take the concept out
to the Fleet and drive it home,” he said.
“Now a ship almost won’t go to
sea unless they’ve got their email and
those quality of life services like satel-
“Instead of getting a mail bag once
every three weeks during a deploy-
ment, you now get email on a continu-
At ADFA, RADM Purcell com-
pleted a double degree in electrical
engineering and computer science,
graduating in 1989.
He has stayed with the Navy
because of the opportunities he has
“I have stayed by having a good
job here and another good job there
and have continued as long as the good
jobs have come along. Here I am now
as one of Navy’s senior engineers,” he
RADM Purcell names a career
highlight as having served on two
main classes of ships – the guided
missile destroyer HMAS Perth and
guided missile frigates HMA Ships
Melbourne and Sydney.
“Those postings have given me a
really good perspective and it’s very
exciting to see the new AWDs coming
online and taking us back to having
destroyers in the fleet,” RADM Purcell
In the past 27 years RADM Purcell
has seen a host of changes in the Navy.
“Obviously being an engineer I’ve got
a bit of a passion for technology, and
in technology we’ve had the biggest
changes,” he said.
“We had steam ships when I joined,
the DDGs were a classic example of
that. We’ve now gone through the
gas turbines with the FFGs and we’re
into electric propulsion with HMAS
Choules and the LHDs.
“Similarly in the weapons, commu-
nications and combat systems – I have
spent a fair bit of my career working
information and communications tech-
nologies and have seen improvements
along the way.”
RADM Purcell’s current role puts
him in charge of ship repair and main-
tenance of most of the fleet, including
the acquisition of the new LHD capa-
“Maritime Systems Division is
spread all around Australia, from the
patrol boat SPO in Darwin, the Anzac
SPO in WA, the hydrographic ships
in Cairns and FFGs in Sydney to the
LHD project in Melbourne,” he said.
“It’s a pretty broad portfolio but
it’s pretty exciting with the new ships
coming online and the older ships
approaching planned withdrawal dates.
“The introduction of new capabili-
ties into service is going to be a critical
activity for Maritime Systems Division
over the next five years.”
From engineering student to two-star, RADM Mark Purcell talks to
LSIS Paul Berry about his career.
Star graduate of Academy
FAMILIAR GROUND: Head of Maritime Systems RADM Mark Purcell
speaks with engineering students at ADFA.
Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
April 11, 2013
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