The Admiralty, originally known as the Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs, was the government department responsible for the command of the Royal Navy first in the Kingdom of England, later in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and from 1801 to 1964, the United Kingdom and former British Empire. Originally exercised by a single person, the Lord High Admiral (1385–1628), the Admiralty was, from the early 18th century onwards, almost invariably put "in commission" and exercised by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, who sat on the Board of Admiralty.
In 1964, the functions of the Admiralty were transferred to a new Admiralty Board, which is a committee of the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom and part of the Navy Department of the Ministry of Defence. The new Admiralty Board meets only twice a year, and the day-to-day running of the Royal Navy is controlled by a Navy Board (not to be confused with the historic Navy Board described later in this article). It is common for the various authorities now in charge of the Royal Navy to be referred to as simply 'The Admiralty'.
The title of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom was vested in the monarch from 1964 to 2011. The title was awarded to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by Queen Elizabeth II on his 90th birthday. There also continues to be a Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom and a Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, both of which are honorary offices.
|Department of Admiralty|
Coat of Arms of Her Majesty's Government
|Jurisdiction||Government of the United Kingdom|
|Headquarters||War Office building |
|Parent Department||HM Government|
The office of Admiral of England (later Lord Admiral, and later Lord High Admiral) was created around 1400; there had previously been Admirals of the northern and western seas. King Henry VIII established the Council of the Marine—later to become the Navy Board—in 1546, to oversee administrative affairs of the naval service. Operational control of the Royal Navy remained the responsibility of the Lord High Admiral, who was one of the nine Great Officers of State. This management approach would continue in force in the Royal Navy until to 1832.
King Charles I put the office of Lord High Admiral into commission in 1628, and control of the Royal Navy passed to a committee in the form of the Board of Admiralty. The office of Lord High Admiral passed a number of times in and out of commission until 1709, after which the office was almost permanently in commission (the last Lord High Admiral being the future King William IV in the early 19th century).
In this organization a dual system operated the Lord High Admiral (from 1546) then Commissioners of the Admiralty (from 1628) exercised the function of general control (military administration) of the Navy and they were usually responsible for the conduct of any war, while the actual supply lines, support and services were managed by four principal officers, namely, the Treasurer, Comptroller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts, responsible individually for finance, supervision of accounts, Shipbuilding and maintenance of ships, and record of business. These principal officers came to be known as the Navy Board responsible for 'civil administration' of the navy, from 1546 to 1832.
This structure of administering the navy lasted for 285 years, however, the supply system was often inefficient and corrupt its deficiencies were due as much to its limitations of the times they operated in. The various functions within the Admiralty were not coordinated effectively and lacked inter-dependency with each other, with the result that in 1832, Sir James Graham abolished the Navy Board and merged its functions within those of the Board of Admiralty. At the time this had distinct advantages; however, it failed to retain the principle of distinctions between the Admiralty and supply, and a lot of bureaucracy followed with the merger.
In 1860 saw big growth in the development of technical crafts, the expansion of more admiralty branches that really began with age of steam that would have an enormous influence on the navy and naval thought. Between 1860 and 1908, there was no real study of strategy and of staff work conducted within the naval service; it was practically ignored. All the Navy's talent flowed to the great technical universities. This school of thought for the next 50 years was exclusively technically based. The first serious attempt to introduce a sole management body to administer the naval service manifested itself in the creation of the Admiralty Navy War Council in 1909. It was believed by officials within the Admiralty at this time that the running of war was quite a simple matter for any flag officer who required no formal training. However, this mentality would be severely questioned with the advent of the Agadir crisis, when the Admiralty's war plans were heavily criticized.
Following this, a new advisory body called the Admiralty War Staff was then instituted in 1912, headed by the Chief of the War Staff who was responsible for administering three new sub-divisions responsible for operations, intelligence and mobilisation. The new War Staff had hardly found its feet and it continually struggled with the opposition to its existence by senior officers they were categorically opposed to a staff. The deficiencies of the system within this department of state could be seen in the conduct of the Dardanelles campaign. There were no mechanisms in place to answer the big strategic questions. A Trade Division was created in 1914. Sir John Jellicoe came to the Admiralty in 1916. He re-organized the war staff as following: Chief of War Staff, Operations, Intelligence, Signal Section, Mobilisation, Trade.
It was not until 1917 that the admiralty department was again properly reorganized and began to function as a professional military staff. In May 1917, the term "Admiralty War Staff" was renamed and that department and its functional role were superseded by a new "Admiralty Naval Staff"; in addition, the newly created office of Chief of the Naval Staff was merged in the office of the First Sea Lord. Also appointed was a new post, that of Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, and an Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff; all were given seats on the Board of Admiralty. This for the first time gave the naval staff direct representation on the board; the presence of three senior naval senior members on the board ensured the necessary authority to carry through any operation of war. The Deputy Chief of Naval Staff would direct all operations and movements of the fleet, while the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff would be responsible for mercantile movements and anti-submarine operations.
The office of Controller would be re-established to deal with all questions relating to supply; on 6 September 1917, a Deputy First Sea Lord, was added to the Board who would administer operations abroad and deal with questions of foreign policy. In October 1917, the development of the staff was carried one step further by the creation of two sub-committees of the Board—the Operations Committee and the Maintenance Committee. The First Lord of the Admiralty was chairman of both committees, and the Operations Committee consisted of the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, the Deputy First Sea Lord, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, and Fifth Sea Lord. The Maintenance Committee consisted of the Deputy First Sea Lord (representing the operations committee), Second Sea Lord (personnel), Third Sea Lord (materiel), Fourth Sea Lord (transport and stores), Civil Lord, Controller and Financial Secretary.
Full operational control of the Royal Navy was finally handed over to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) by an order in Council, effective October 1917, under which he became responsible for the issuing of orders affecting all war operations directly to the fleet. It also empowered the CNS to issue orders in their own name, as opposed to them previously being issued by the Permanent Secretary of the Admiralty in the name of the Board. In 1964, the Admiralty—along with the War Office and the Air Ministry—were abolished as separate departments of state, and placed under one single new Ministry of Defence. Within the expanded Ministry of Defence are the new Admiralty Board which has a separate Navy Board responsible for the day-to-day running of the Royal Navy, the Army Board and the Air Force Board, each headed by the Secretary of State for Defence. This structure remained in place until the department was abolished in 1964; the operational control and this system still remains in place with the Royal Navy today. For the organisational structure of the admiralty department and how it developed through the centuries see the following articles below.
In the 20th century the structure of the Admiralty Headquarters was predominantly organized into four parts:
Board of Admiralty
When the office of Lord High Admiral was in commission, as it was for most of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, until it reverted to the Crown, it was exercised by a Board of Admiralty, officially known as the Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, &c. (alternatively of England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland depending on the period). The Board of Admiralty consisted of a number of Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. The Lords Commissioners were always a mixture of admirals, known as Naval Lords or Sea Lords and Civil Lords, normally politicians. The quorum of the Board was two commissioners and a secretary. The president of the Board was known as the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was a member of the Cabinet. After 1806, the First Lord of the Admiralty was always a civilian, while the professional head of the navy came to be (and is still today) known as the First Sea Lord.
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (1628–1964)
The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were the members of The Board of Admiralty, which exercised the office of Lord High Admiral when it was not vested in a single person. The commissioners were a mixture of politicians without naval experience and professional naval officers, the proportion of naval officers generally increasing over time.
First Lord of the Admiralty
The First Lord of the Admiralty or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty was the British government's senior civilian adviser on all naval affairs and the minister responsible for the direction and control of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office later the Department of Admiralty.(+) His office was supported by the Naval Secretariat.
First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff was the Chief Naval Adviser on the Board of Admiralty to the First Lord and superintended the offices of the sea lords and the admiralty naval staff.
The Navy Board was an independent board from 1546 until 1628 when it became subordinate to, yet autonomous of the Board of Admiralty until 1832. Its principal commissioners of the Navy advised the board in relation to civil administration of the naval affairs. The Navy Board was based at the Navy Office.
Board of Admiralty civilian members responsible other important civil functions
Admiralty Naval Staff
It evolved from *Admiralty Navy War Council, (1909–1912) which in turn became the Admiralty War Staff, (1912–1917) before finally becoming the Admiralty Naval Staff in 1917. It was the former senior command, operational planning, policy and strategy department within the British Admiralty. It was established in 1917 and existed until 1964 when the department of the Admiralty was abolished, and the staff departments function continued within the Navy Department of the Ministry of Defence until 1971 when its functions became part of the new Naval Staff, Navy Department of the Ministry of Defence.
Offices of the Naval Staff
The Admiralty Departments were distinct and component parts of the Department of Admiralty that were superintended by the various offices of the Sea Lords responsible for them; they were primarily administrative, research, scientific and logistical support organisations. The departments role was to provide the men, ships, aircraft and supplies to carry out the approved policy of the Board of Admiralty and conveyed to them during 20th century by the Admiralty Naval Staff. 
Offices of the Sea Lords
Department of the Permanent Secretary
The Secretary's Department consisted of members of the civil service it was directed and controlled by a senior civil servant Permanent Secretary to the Board of Admiralty he was not a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, he functioned as a member of the board, and attended all of its meetings.
The Admiralty complex lies between Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and The Mall and includes five inter-connected buildings. Since the Admiralty no longer exists as a department, these buildings are now used by separate government departments:
The oldest building was long known simply as The Admiralty; it is now known officially as the Ripley Building, a three-storey U-shaped brick building designed by Thomas Ripley and completed in 1726. Alexander Pope implied the architecture is rather dull, lacking either the vigour of the baroque style, fading from fashion at the time, or the austere grandeur of the Palladian style just coming into vogue. It is mainly notable for being perhaps the first purpose-built office building in Great Britain. It contained the Admiralty board room, which is still used by the Admiralty, other state rooms, offices and apartments for the Lords of the Admiralty. Robert Adam designed the screen, which was added to the entrance front in 1788. The Ripley Building is currently occupied by the Department for International Development.
Admiralty House is a moderately proportioned mansion to the south of the Ripley Building, built in the late 18th century as the residence of the First Lord of the Admiralty from 1788. It served that purpose until 1964. Winston Churchill was one of its occupants in 1911–1915 and 1939–1940. It lacks its own entrance from Whitehall and is entered through the Ripley Courtyard or Ripley Building. It is a three-storey building in yellow brick with neoclassical interiors. Its rear facade faces directly onto Horse Guards Parade. The architect was Samuel Pepys Cockerell. The ground floor comprises meeting rooms for the Cabinet Office and the upper floors are three ministerial residences.
This is the largest of the Admiralty Buildings. It was begun in the late 19th century and redesigned while the construction was in progress to accommodate the extra offices needed by the naval arms race with the German Empire. It is a red brick building with white stone, detailing in the Queen Anne style with French influences. It has been used by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from the 1960s to 2016. The Department for Education planned to move into the building in September 2017 following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's decision to leave the building and consolidate its London staff into one building on King Charles Street. Change of contractor (BAM was replaced by Willmott Dixon) delayed consolidation of Department for Education to the autumn 2018 .
In some cases, the term admiralty is used in a wider sense, as meaning sea power or rule over the seas, rather than in strict reference to the institution exercising such power. For example, the well-known lines from Kipling's Song of the Dead:
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' paid in full!
The Admiralty Islands are an archipelago group of 18 islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the South Pacific Ocean. These are also sometimes called the Manus Islands, after the largest island.
These rainforest-covered islands form part of Manus Province, the smallest and least-populous province of Papua New Guinea, in its Islands Region. The total area is 2,100 km2 (810 sq mi). Many of the Admiralty Islands are atolls and uninhabited.Admiralty Research Laboratory
The Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL) was a research laboratory that supported the work of the UK Admiralty in Teddington, London, England from 1921 to 1977.Admiralty court
Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries, and offenses.Admiralty law
Admiralty law or maritime law is a body of law that governs nautical issues and private maritime disputes. Admiralty law consists of both domestic law on maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private parties operating or using ocean-going ships. While each legal jurisdiction usually has its own legislation governing maritime matters, the international nature of the topic and the need for uniformity has, since 1900, led to considerable international maritime law developments, including numerous multilateral treaties.Admiralty law may be distinguished from the Law of the Sea, which is a body of public international law dealing with navigational rights, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters, and the maritime relationships between nations. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been adopted by 167 countries and the European Union, and disputes are resolved at the ITLOS tribunal in Hamburg.Board of Admiralty
The Board of Admiralty was established in 1628 when Charles I put the office of Lord High Admiral into commission. As that position was not always occupied, the purpose was to enable management of the day-to-day operational requirements of the Royal Navy; at that point administrative control of the navy was still the responsibility of the Navy Board, established in 1546. This system remained in place until 1832, when the Board of Admiralty became the sole authority charged with both administrative and operational control of the navy when the Navy Board was abolished. The term Admiralty has become synonymous with the command and control of the Royal Navy, partly personified in the Board of Admiralty and in the Admiralty buildings in London from where operations were in large part directed. It existed until 1964 when the office of First Lord of the Admiralty was finally abolished and the functions of the Lords Commissioners were transferred to the new Admiralty Board and the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom.Britannia Royal Naval College
Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), commonly known as Dartmouth, is the naval academy of the United Kingdom and the initial officer training establishment of the British Royal Navy. It is located on a hill overlooking the port of Dartmouth, Devon, England. Royal Naval officer training has taken place in Dartmouth since 1863. The buildings of the current campus were completed in 1905. Earlier students lived in two wooden hulks moored in the River Dart. Since 1998, BRNC has been the sole centre for Royal Naval officer training.Commander-in-Chief, China
The Commander-in-Chief, China was a senior officer position of the Royal Navy. The officer in this position was in charge of the Navy's vessels and shore establishments in China from 1865 to 1941. He thus directed a naval formation, which was often known, even in official documents, as the China Station.First Lord of the Admiralty
The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the political head of the Royal Navy who was the government's senior adviser on all naval affairs and responsible for the direction and control of Admiralty Department as well as general administration of the Naval Service of the United Kingdom, that encompassed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other services. It was one of the earliest known permanent government posts. Apart from being the political head of the Royal Navy the post holder simultaneously held the title of the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral (known as the Board of Admiralty). The office of First Lord of the Admiralty existed from 1628 until it was abolished when the Admiralty, Air Ministry, Ministry of Defence and War Office were all merged to form the new Ministry of Defence in 1964.First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service. Originally the title was the Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty when the post was created in 1689. The office holder was then re-styled First Naval Lord from 1771. The concept of a professional "First Naval Lord" was introduced in 1805 and the title of the First Naval Lord was changed to "First Sea Lord" on the appointment of Sir Jackie Fisher in 1904. From 1923 onward, the First Sea Lord was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; he now sits on the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board.The current First Sea Lord is Admiral Sir Philip Jones (appointed in April 2016). Since 2012 the flagship of the First Sea Lord has been Horatio, Lord Nelson's ship of the line, HMS Victory.Grand Fleet
The Grand Fleet was the main fleet of the Royal Navy during the First World War.Home Fleet
The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy that operated in the United Kingdom's territorial waters from 1902 with intervals until 1967. Before the First World War, it consisted of the four Port Guard ships. During the First World War, it comprised some of the older ships of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, it was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters.Knot (unit)
The knot () is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, exactly 1.852 km/h (approximately 1.15078 mph). The ISO standard symbol for the knot is kn. The same symbol is preferred by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); kt is also common, especially in aviation where it is the form recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The knot is a non-SI unit. Worldwide, the knot is used in meteorology, and in maritime and air navigation—for example, a vessel travelling at 1 knot along a meridian travels approximately one minute of geographic latitude in one hour.
Etymologically, the term derives from counting the number of knots in the line that unspooled from the reel of a chip log in a specific time.Mediterranean Fleet
The British Mediterranean Fleet also known as the Mediterranean Station was part of the Royal Navy. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere. The first Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet was the appointment of General at Sea Robert Blake in September 1654 (styled as Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet) the Fleet was in existence until 1967.North America and West Indies Station
The North America and West Indies Station was a formation or command of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy stationed in North American waters from 1745 to 1956. The North American Station was separate from the Jamaica Station until 1830 when the two combined to form the North America and West Indies Station. It was briefly abolished in 1907 before being restored in 1915. It was renamed the America and West Indies Station in 1926. It was commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and subsequently by the Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies Station.Royal Indian Navy
The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) was the naval force of British India and the Dominion of India. Along with the Presidency armies, later the Indian Army, and from 1932 the Indian Air Force, it was one of the Armed Forces of British India.
From its origins in 1612 as the East India Company's Marine, the Navy underwent various changes, including changes to its name. Over time it was named the Bombay Marine (1686), the Bombay Marine Corps (1829), the Indian Navy (1830), Her Majesty's Indian Navy (1858), the Bombay and Bengal Marine (1863), the Indian Defence Force (1871), Her Majesty's Indian Marine (1877) and the Royal Indian Marine (1892). It was finally named the Royal Indian Navy in 1934. However, it remained a relatively small force until the Second World War, when it was greatly expanded.
After the partition of India into two independent states in 1947, the Navy's one-thirds of the assets and personnel were split with the new Royal Pakistan Navy. Approximately two thirds of the fleet remained with the Union of India, as did all land assets within its territory, and this force, still under the name of "Royal Indian Navy", became the navy of the Dominion of India until the country became a republic on 26 January 1950. It was then renamed the Indian Navy.Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was the air arm of the Royal Navy, under the direction of the Admiralty's Air Department, and existed formally from 1 July 1914 to 1 April 1918, when it was merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, the world's first independent air force.Royal Observatory, Greenwich
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG; known as the Old Royal Observatory from 1957 to 1998, when the working Royal Greenwich Observatory, RGO, moved from Greenwich to Herstmonceux) is an observatory situated on a hill in Greenwich Park, overlooking the River Thames. It played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and is best known for the fact that the prime meridian passes through it, and thereby gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time. The ROG has the IAU observatory code of 000, the first in the list. ROG, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen's House and Cutty Sark are collectively designated Royal Museums Greenwich.The observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II, with the foundation stone being laid on 10 August. The site was chosen by Sir Christopher Wren. At that time the king also created the position of Astronomer Royal, to serve as the director of the observatory and to "apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation." He appointed John Flamsteed as the first Astronomer Royal. The building was completed in the summer of 1676. The building was often called "Flamsteed House", in reference to its first occupant.
The scientific work of the observatory was relocated elsewhere in stages in the first half of the 20th century, and the Greenwich site is now maintained almost exclusively as a museum, although the AMAT telescope became operational for astronomical research in 2018.Simpson Glacier
Simpson Glacier (71°17′S 168°38′E) is a glacier, 6 miles (10 km) long, in the Admiralty Mountains. It flows northward to the coast between Nelson Cliff and Mount Cherry-Garrard where it forms the Simpson Glacier Tongue. The latter feature was named by the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910–13, after Sir George Simpson, meteorologist of the expedition. The glacier described was mapped by United States Geological Survey (USGS), 1960–63,a and was so named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) because (with Fendley Glacier to the east) it nourishes the Simpson Glacier Tongue.
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Simpson Glacier" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is the UK's agency for providing hydrographic and marine geospatial data to mariners and maritime organisations across the world. The UKHO is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and is located in Taunton, Somerset with a workforce of approximately 900 staff.
The UKHO is responsible for operational support to the Royal Navy and other defence customers. Supplying defence and the commercial shipping industry, they help ensure Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), protect the marine environment and support the efficiency of global trade. Together with other national hydrographic offices and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the UKHO works to set and raise global standards of hydrography, cartography and navigation.
The UKHO also produces a commercial portfolio of ADMIRALTY Maritime Data Solutions, providing SOLAS-compliant charts, publications and digital services for ships trading internationally.
|Direction and control |
of Admiralty and Naval affairs
|Boards and offices under|
the First Lord
War and Naval Staff
|Secretariat and staff under|
the First Sea Lord
|Operational planning, policy|
strategy, tactical doctrine
|Divisions and sections|
under the War and
|Offices of the Sea Lords|
|Admiralty civil departments|
under the Sea Lords
|Distribution of the Fleet|
|Direction of Naval Finance|
|Departments under the|
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary
|Direction of Naval Administration|
and the Admiralty Secretariat
|Branches and offices under the|
|Departments under the|
|Scotland Crown Officers|
Italics indicate officers that are in commission, in abeyance or defunct