Assistant Chief of Naval Staff

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Assistant Chief of Naval Staff
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Ensign of the Royal Navy
Department of Admiralty (1917-1964), Navy Department (1964-1997)
Member ofBoard of Admiralty (1917-1964), Admiralty Board (1964-2011)
Reports toDeputy Chief of Naval Staff (1917-1946), Vice-Chief of Naval Staff (1946-1984)
NominatorFirst Lord of the Admiralty
AppointerFirst Lord of the Admiralty (1917-1964), Minister of State for the Royal Navy (1964-1966), Secretary of State for Defence (1966-2011)
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 1–3 years)
Inaugural holderVice-Admiral Sir Alexander L. Duff
Formation1917-1940, 1946-1966, 1984-2011

The Assistant Chief of Naval Staff was a senior British Royal Navy appointment. The post holder was originally part of the Admiralty Naval Staff and member of the Board of Admiralty from 1917 to 1940 and then from 1946 to 1964 then Naval Staff (Navy Department) from 1964 to 1966 and finally from 1984 to 2011.


The Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff was originally directly responsible to the First Sea Lord for non-operational divisions of the Admiralty Naval Staff, and held a position on the Board of Admiralty. The position was created in 1917 as one of two deputies with Board Status to whom the First Sea Lord delegated responsibility for the running of the Naval Staff. The position still exists today on the Admiralty Board which directs the Royal Navy.[1]

Rear-Admiral Alexander L. Duff was appointed the first Assistant Chief of Naval Staff on 31 May 1917. The duties of the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, shared with the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff and the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.[2]

The Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Continued in this capacity until 1940 when the office of the Vice-Chief of Naval Staff was created this office then supported that flag officer until 1985 when that post was abolished. During World war Two the combined responsibilities of the Assistant Chief Naval Staff were divided up with the creation of new Assistant Chiefs of the Naval Staff responsible for specific areas such as Home (Waters) and Foreign Commands, Trade, Operations and Air. However the ACNS remained responsible for Policy.

In April 2012 Rear Admiral Matthew Parr's post as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff was re-designated Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) and the former Chiefs of Staff responsible for Capability, Support, Aviation & Carriers and Personnel were also re-designated Assistant Chiefs of the Naval Staff.[3]


Notes: The Naval Staff runs the navy's operations and wartime strategy, and has a number of separate divisions, departments concerned with strategy and tactics, the planning and conduct of operations, and the collection and dissemination of intelligence.

From 1917 to 1945 [4][5]

  1. In Operations of War: Deal with all the large questions of naval policy and maritime warfare.
  2. Ensure the fighting and sea-going efficiency of the fleet and its organisation.
  3. Distribution and Movements of all Ships in Commission and in Reserve.
  4. Superintendence of the naval staff.
  5. Superintendence of the Hydrographic Department.
  6. Administer all naval communications.

Post 1945

  1. The Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff's primary aim to: Lead the naval staff effort to drive forward naval policy for the Navy.
  2. Act as the First Sea Lord's Chief Executive and on his behalf
  3. Direct the implementation of Admiralty Board and Service Executive Committee (Navy Board) policy
  4. Provide a high level guidance and prioritisation needed by the Naval Commands to deliver their military outputs.
  5. Superintendence of the naval staff.

Office Holders


  1. Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander L. Duff: May 1917-August 1919
  2. Rear-Admiral James A. Fergusson: August 1919-February 1920
  3. Rear-Admiral Sir A. Ernle M. Chatfield: February 1920-September 1922
  4. Rear-Admiral Cyril T. M. Fuller: September 1922-May 1923
  5. Rear-Admiral Arthur K. Waistell: May 1923-October 1924
  6. Rear-Admiral Frederic C. Dreyer: October 1924-April 1927
  7. Rear-Admiral A. Dudley P. R. Pound: April 1927-April 1929
  8. Rear-Admiral Wilfred Tomkinson: April 1929-May 1931
  9. Rear-Admiral John K. im Thurn: May 1931-February 1933
  10. Rear-Admiral Sidney R. Bailey: February 1933-July 1934
  11. Rear-Admiral Charles E. Kennedy-Purvis: July 1934-October 1936
  12. Rear-Admiral John H. D. Cunningham: October 1936-August 1937
  13. Rear-Admiral Lancelot E. Holland: August 1937-January 1939
  14. Rear-Admiral Harold M. Burrough: January 1939-September 1940
  15. Rear-Admiral Geoffrey N. Oliver: December 1946-August 1948
  16. Rear-Admiral Ralph A.B. Edwards: August 1948-February 1951
  17. Rear-Admiral Eric G.A. Clifford: February 1951-June 1952
  18. Rear-Admiral Robert F. Elkins: June 1952-August 1954
  19. Rear-Admiral Michael G. Goodenough: August 1954-January 1956
  20. Rear-Admiral Royston H. Wright: January 1956-February 1958
  21. Rear-Admiral Desmond P. Dreyer: February 1958-November 1959
  22. Rear-Admiral Antony B. Cole: November 1959-February 1962
  23. Rear-Admiral Peter J. Hill-Norton: February 1962-March 1964
  24. Rear-Admiral Michael P. Pollock: March 1964-April 1966
  25. Rear-Admiral J.Jeremy Black: October 1984-July 1986
  26. Rear-Admiral Michael H. Livesay: July 1986-December 1988
  27. Rear-Admiral Hugo M. White: December 1988-February 1991
  28. Rear-Admiral Peter C. Abbott: February 1991-September 1993
  29. Rear-Admiral John R. Brigstocke: September 1993-March 1995
  30. Rear-Admiral Jeremy J. Blackham: March 1995-May 1997
  31. Rear-Admiral Jonathan Band: May 1997-December 1999
  32. Rear-Admiral James M. Burnell-Nugent: December 1999-April 2001
  33. Rear-Admiral Timothy P. McClement: April 2001-May 2003
  34. Rear-Admiral Anthony J. Johns: May 2003-July 2005
  35. Rear-Admiral Alan M. Massey: July 2005-February 2008
  36. Rear-Admiral Robert G. Cooling: February 2008-June 2009
  37. Rear-Admiral Philip A. Jones: June 2009-December 2011

Additional Notes

From 1940-1946 the role was split into separate areas of responsibility creating additional assistant chiefs of naval staff: ACNS Home, Foreign, U-Boat and Trade, Weapons, Air and Operations. From April 1966 until October 1984 this office holders title changed to Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) it changed back to its original name until December, 2011 when it was once again altered to Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy).


  1. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Assistant Chief of Naval Staff". Dreadnought Project, 3 November 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  2. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, Duff Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 80". Dreadnought Project, 3 November 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  3. Serving Flag and General Officers
  4. Archives, The National. "The Discovery Service:Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty". The National Archives, ADM 116/3392, 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  5. "Assistant Chief of Naval Staff - The Dreadnought Project, War Staff Duties." Jellicoe Papers. British Library. Add. MS. 48992. ff. 94-95". Dreadnought Project. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  6. Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy - Senior Appointments" (PDF). Gulabin, pp.18-20, 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.