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Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to Succeed John Rothwell as Austal Chairman

Richard Spencer

Posted on July 1, 2024

Austal Limited confirmed the retirement of its founder and inaugural chairman, John Rothwell.

The Australian shipbuilder and defense prime contractor also announced Wednesday that former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer would be the new company chairman beginning July 1. He will also sit on the board of the company’s U.S. subsidiary.

Rothwell said the company set the criteria for his successor, saying, “Those criteria narrowed the field of candidates considerably. Richard was at the top of the list, and I’m pleased that he was receptive to our approach.”

Commenting on his appointment, Spencer expressed eagerness at taking on the role of chairman, adding, “The position that Austal has forged in the U.S. and Australian defense sectors in such a short period of time is incredible.”

Spencer, a Wash100 awardee, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at Rollins College and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a pilot until 1981. He worked at several investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns.

He was the secretary of the Navy from August 2017 to November 2019.

According to Rothwell, he will remain active as Austal’s ordinary board member until the transition is complete.


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