Born in Waikerie, South Australia, in 1935, Rear Admiral Hughes joined the Royal Australian Naval College in 1951. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Melbourne University in 1958 and following weapons application training in the United Kingdom he spent most of the succeeding years in aircraft engineering and project appointments at NAS Nowra, in HMAS MELBOURNE, and overseas. He served as Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer in HMAS VAMPIRE (when he was promoted to Commander) and HMAS ALBATROSS. He then served on the staff of the Australian Naval Representative, United Kingdom, and later as the Assistant Director of Naval Communications Design. Promoted to Captain in 1977, Rear Admiral Hughes served as Superintendent of Aircraft Maintenance and Repair, Director of Naval Aircraft Engineering and as the Aircraft Carrier Project Director. He was promoted to Commodore in 1983 and served as Director General Naval Production until August 1985 when he became Director General New Submarines. On 4 August 1986 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and reposted as the Submarine Project Director. He continued to serve in that posting until his retirement in August 1993 following the launch of HMAS COLLINS.

Following retirement, Rear Admiral Hughes provided consultancy services to Defence and defence industry. In January 1998, he joined the IBM Sydney 2000 Olympics project office, responsible for the operational readiness assurance of applications, systems and the total IT solution for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 2004, he resumed his role as a consultant to defence industry. In January 2011, he was appointed an External Gate Review Board Member and independent strategic advisor in the Defence Materiel Organisation, an appointment that he continues to hold.




Rear Admiral Hughes is a graduate of the Joint Services Staff College. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1983 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1989.