Naval Instructor Branch

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Naval Instructor Branch
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeNaval Branch
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQPortsmouth, Hampshire, England

The Naval Instructor Branch was a specialist educational branch of the Royal Navy devoted to the field of engineering it was first established in 1826.[1] It was abolished on 6 July 1996.


The origins of the branch date back to 1702 and lie within two separate teaching/training branches, known as ‘schoolmasters branch’ and ‘instructors branch. Naval Instructors" were introduced into the Navy in 1826 to assist the "young gentlemen" in acquisition of sufficient knowledge to enable them to pass their examinations for Lieutenant.[2]

In 1863 The Royal Navy introduced coloured cloth on to their uniforms in 1863, so that it was possible to distinguish between naval branches and admiralty departments. the naval instructor branch colour was designated light blue this system of identification remained in place until 1956.[3]

A key development occurred in 1918 by Order in Council as follows: Chief Naval Instructor became Instructor Captain; Naval Instructor of 15 years' seniority became Instructor Commander; Naval Instructor of eight years’ seniority became Instructor Lieutenant Commander; Naval Instructor of six years’ seniority became Instructor Lieutenant.[4]

To distinguish different branches from the General List (GL) of Executive Officers, who had no coloured cloth between their stripes, various colours had been introduced after 1863: Surgeons (scarlet); Instructors (light blue); Paymasters (white); Ordnance (blue); Engineers (purple); Electrical (green). The Royal Navy finally abolished coloured stripes in May 1955, except for those who needed to be clearly recognisable as non-combatant under the Geneva Convention.[5]

These included medical and dental officers and civilian officers required to wear uniform. The instructor and schoolmaster branches were amalgamated in 1946 to form the Instructor Officer (IO) Specialisation.[6] In early 1995 the Naval Secretary put in motion plans for the rebranding of 'Instructor' skills, with transition arrangements for serving officers. This was subsequently achieved and the Instructor Specialisation, which had existed in one form or another since the 17th Century, ceased to be on 6 July 1996.

Branch Colour (1867-1955)


To 1917

Naval Instructor Branch to 1917
Chief Naval Instructor
Naval Instructor +15 yrs
Naval Instructor +8 yrs
Naval Instructor + 6 yrs

1918 to ?

Naval Instructor Branch 1918 to ?
Instructor Captain
Instructor Commander
Instructor Lieutenant-Commander
Instructor Lieutenant
Instructor Sub Lieutenant
Instructor Midshipman
Instructor Cadet


  1. Lt John Nixon and Lt Cdr Michael Rose (2019). The Instructor Officer Specialisation of the Royal Navy and its Trainees A Brief History of Education & Training. Introduction. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association. p.2.
  2. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association
  3. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association
  4. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association
  5. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association
  6. Royal Navy Instructor Officers’ Association