Death of Vice-Admiral (Ret.) John ‘Jock’ Allan, CMM, OstJ, CD(3), BSc(Eng)

The passing of Vice-Admiral John ‘Jock’ Allan occurred on 01 May. He was 86 years old.

Admiral Allan’s obituary (see below for links) outlines his impressive career but says only that, “He enjoyed a rare and unique career path in the history of Canada’s navy.” This is, in my view, far too modest an assessment for him.

Admiral Allan was ‘rare’ in the sense that he began his naval career in 1946 as an Ordinary Seaman. He was ‘unique’ in that he moved back and forth between ‘line’ and ‘engineering’ positions throughout his time in uniform. The obituary provides the ‘highlights’ but readers should be aware that he was a brilliant and dedicated officer of incredible intellectual breadth and dynamic personality.

Admiral Allan was the Commander, Maritime Command between 1979 and 1980, succeeding VAdm. A.L. Collier (1977-79) and being relieved by VAdm. J.A. Fulton (1980-83). Unfortunately, he was not covered in the Dundurn Press book The Admirals: Canada’s Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century, edited by Michael Whitby, Richard H. Gimblett and Peter Haydon ( 2006). Of him, the book says only, “Also missing are Andy Collier and “Jock” Allen [sic], both of whom had to lead Maritime Command through particularly difficult political times when budgets were tight and the ships getting older without prospect for replacement.(p.16)”

Admiral Allan’s engineering and command perspectives on the state of the fleet and shipbuilding industry of those days would have been valuable in today’s context as new initiatives are starting up. He, more than anyone, would have understood the organizational challenges and knowledge requirements for a new era of development. That his great insights into these issues are now lost is a great opportunity missed for current and future generations of navy leaders.

Here are links to the obituary for Admiral Allan, published in the Ottawa Citizen and the Halifax Chronicler Herald.