Controller of the Navy

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Office of the Controller of the Navy
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Rear Admiral Hugh Beard Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Capability and Controller of the Navy in 2019.jpg
Rear-Admiral Hugh Beard

since November 2018
Department of Admiralty
Navy Department
Ministry of Defence, Navy Command
Member ofBoard of Admiralty (1869-1964)
Admiralty Board
Navy Board
Reports toFirst Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
NominatorSecretary of State for Defence
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 3–4 years)
PrecursorSurveyor of the Navy
First holderRear-Admiral: Sir Baldwin Wake Walker

The Controller of the Navy and also known simply as Controller is a senior British Royal Navy appointment and was formerly one of the naval lords and members of the Board of Admiralty. The appointment was first established in 1859 when the office the Surveyor of the Navy who had overall responsibility for ship design was renamed and the post became known as the Controller of the Navy and was given additional responsibilities for the material of the fleet. The first incumbent was Rear-Admiral: Sir Baldwin Wake Walker. In 1869 this office was unified with that of the Third Naval Lord as a joint title. Through out the office's history this title has been simultaneously held with that of Third Sea Lord or just Controller of the Navy. The current office holder is Rear-Admiral, Hugh Beard.


The historical office of Comptroller of the Navy was established in 1561 during the reign of Elizabeth I of England was a very different function from what became known later as the Controller of the Navy. He presided over the Navy Board from 1660, and generally superintended the business of the Navy Office, he was responsible for all naval spending and for the offices dealing with bills, accounts and wages during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[1] By the eighteenth century the principal officer responsible for estimating annual stores requirements, inspecting ships' stores and maintaining the Fleet's store-books and repair-bills was the Surveyor of the Navy however his duties passed increasingly to the Comptroller of the Navy during the latter half of this period. The office of the Surveyor did not altogether disappear. In 1805 for the first time, specific functions were assigned to each of the 'Naval' Lords, who were described as 'Professional' Lords, leaving to the civil lords to the routine business of signing off all official documents.[2] In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and its responsibilities were assumed by the Board of Admiralty. The Surveyor of the Navy was made responsible under the First Naval Lord for the material departments of the Admiralty.[3] In the same year the office of the Third Naval Lord was created that was a separate and distinct role to that of the Surveyors. In 1859 the office the Surveyor of the Navy who had overall responsibility for ship design was renamed and the post became known as the Controller of the Navy.[4] In 1869 the Third Naval Lord was assigned the responsibility for the materiel for the fleet and was given the additional title Controller of the Navy. In 1904 the office was held jointly with that of the Third Sea Lord. From 1965 until 2003 the title was not held jointly with another office.

Office Holders


  1. Rear-Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker, 1859–1861
  2. Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Robinson, 1861–1869
  3. Admiral Sir Robert Robinson, 1869–1871
  4. Captain Robert Hall, 1871–1872
  5. Captain Robert Hall, 1872
  6. Rear-Admiral Sir William Stewart, 1872–1881
  7. Vice-Admiral Thomas Brandreth, 1881–1882
  8. Vice-Admiral Thomas Brandreth, 1882–1886
  9. Vice-Admiral Sir William Graham, 1886–1888
  10. Vice-Admiral John Hopkins, 1888–1892
  11. Vice-Admiral Sir John Fisher, 1892–1897
  12. Rear-Admiral Arthur Wilson, 1897–1901
  13. Rear-Admiral William May, 1901–1905
  14. Rear-Admiral Sir Henry Jackson, 1905–1908
  15. Rear-Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, 1908–1910
  16. Rear-Admiral Charles Briggs, 1910–1912
  17. Rear-Admiral Gordon Moore, 1912
  18. Rear-Admiral Gordon Moore, 1912–1914
  19. Rear-Admiral Frederick Tudor, 1914–1917
  20. Rear-Admiral Lionel Halsey, 1917–1918
  21. Rear-Admiral Sir Charles de Bartolomé, 1918–1919
  22. Rear-Admiral Sir William Nicholson, 1919–1920
  23. Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Field, 1920–1923
  24. Rear-Admiral Cyril Fuller, 1923–1925
  25. Vice-Admiral Sir Ernle Chatfield, 1925–1928
  26. Vice-Admiral Roger Backhouse, 1928–1932
  27. Vice-Admiral Charles Forbes, 1932–1934
  28. Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, 1934–1939
  29. Vice-Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, 1939–1942
  30. Admiral Sir Frederic Wake-Walker, 1942–1945
  31. Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Daniel, 1945–1949
  32. Admiral Sir Michael Denny, 1949–1953
  33. Admiral Sir Ralph Edwards, 1953–1956
  34. Admiral Sir Peter Reid, 1956–1961
  35. Admiral Sir Michael Le Fanu, 1961–1965
  36. Admiral Sir Horace Law, 1965–1970
  37. Admiral Sir Michael Pollock, 1970–1971
  38. Admiral Sir Anthony Griffin, 1971–1975
  39. Admiral Sir Richard Clayton, 1975–1979
  40. Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, 1979–1981
  41. Admiral Sir Lindsay Bryson, 1981–1984
  42. Admiral Sir Derek Reffell, 1984–1989
  43. Admiral Sir Kenneth Eaton, 1989–1994
  44. Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Walmsley, 1994–1996
  45. Rear-Admiral Frederick Scourse, 1996–1997
  46. Rear-Admiral Peter Spencer, 1997–2000
  47. Rear-Admiral Nigel Guild, 2000–2003
  48. Rear-Admiral Richard Cheadle, 2003–2006
  49. Rear-Admiral Andrew Mathews, 2006–2007
  50. Rear-Admiral Paul Lambert, 2007–2009
  51. Rear-Admiral Amjad Hussain, 2009–2012
  52. Rear-Admiral Henry Parker, 2012–2013
  53. Rear-Admiral Duncan Potts, April 2013-September 2014
  54. Rear-Admiral James Morse, September 2014-May 2016
  55. Rear-Admiral Paul Bennett, May 2016-November 2017
  56. Major-General Robert Magowan, RM. November 2017-November 2018
  57. Rear-Admiral Hugh Beard, November 2018–current

Naval Assistant to the Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy


  1. Captain John R. Jellicoe, 26 March, 1902
  2. Captain Arthur C. Leveson, 12 August, 1903 – 7 February, 1905
  3. Captain Charles E. Madden, 7 February, 1905 – 20 December, 1905
  4. Captain Alexander L. Duff, 20 December, 1905 – 5 January, 1909
  5. Captain Dudley R. S. de Chair, 5 January, 1909 – 27 July, 1911
  6. Captain W. Reginald Hall, 27 July, 1911 – 1 July, 1913
  7. Rear-Admiral Clement Greatorex, 1 July, 1913 – 8 October, 1917

Additional joint titles by dates

The office of Controller of the Navy has at times been held jointly with an additional appointment see list and dates below:[7]


  1. "Navy Board, In-Letters And Orders, 1688-1815 - National Maritime Museum". Royal Museum Greenwich. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  2. "Sainty, JC, Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660-1870', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660-1870 (1975), pp. 18-31". Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  3. Archives, The National. "Records of the Surveyor of the Navy and successors". National Archives, 1620-1979. Retrieved 5 June 2017. This section contains text from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  4. Archives, The National. "Records of the Surveyor of the Navy and successors". National Archives, 1620-1979. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  5. Mackie, Colin.
  6. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (8 December 2018). "Third Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project". Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  7. Mackie, Colin (April 2019). "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). gulabin. Scotland: C. Mackie. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  8. Accounts, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public (2011). Providing the UK's carrier strike capability: fifty-sixth report of session 2010-12, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence. London: The Stationery Office. p. 12. ISBN 9780215038821.