Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom

The Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom is an honorary office generally held by a senior Royal Navy admiral. He is the official deputy to the Lord High Admiral, an honorary (although once operational) office vested in the Sovereign from 1964 to 2011 and currently held by the Duke of Edinburgh. He is appointed by the Sovereign on the nomination of the First Sea Lord.

Vice-Admiral of the
United Kingdom
Flag of the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom
Flag of the Lord High Admiral
Sir Donald Gosling

since 2012
Formation25 April 1513
First holderWilliam FitzWilliam, 1st Earl of Southampton
DeputyRear-Admiral of the United Kingdom


The office was originally created on 25 April 1513,[1] by Tudor King Henry VIII. The officer holder served as the deputy of the Lord High Admiral from April 1546 when the incumbent jointly held the title of Lieutenant of the Admiralty, though not always simultaneously.[1] From 1557 to 1558 Vice-Admiral Sir John Clere of Ormesby, Kt. was appointed Vice-Admiral of England by patent but not appointed Lieutenant of the Admiralty.[1] The post was in and of abeyance until 1661 when after appointments became more regular and in 1672 the two separate distinct offices were amalgamated into one unified office though both titles remained. The responsibilities of the pre-1964 Board of Admiralty would, in theory, have devolved upon the Vice-Admiral had the entire Board been incapacitated before a new Commission of Admiralty could pass the Great Seal. However, such a contingency never occurred in practice.

In former days, the Vice-Admiral of England (or Vice-Admiral of Great Britain following the 1707 union with Scotland) was the second most powerful position in the Royal Navy, and until 1801 was officially called the Lieutenant of the Admiralty.

Below the office of Vice-Admiral ranks the Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, another now honorary office.

Vice-Admirals of England

Post in abeyance
Post in abeyance
Post in abeyance
Post in abeyance

Vice-Admirals of Great Britain

Vice-Admirals of the United Kingdom

1876: Abolished under Queen Victoria

1901: Revived by King Edward VII


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Blomfield, R. Massie (January 1912). "NAVAL EXECUTIVE RANKS". The Mariner's Mirror. 2 (4): 106–112. doi:10.1080/00253359.1912.10654589.
  2. ^ Hannay, David; Tanner, J. R. (January 1912). "NOTES:Vice-Admiral of England". The Mariner's Mirror. 2 (6): 185–187. doi:10.1080/00253359.1912.10654608.
  3. ^ "No. 7793". The London Gazette. 31 March 1739. p. 1.
  4. ^ London Gazette, 1 July 1749
  5. ^ London Gazette, 5 June 1792
  6. ^ London Gazette, 14 May 1814
  7. ^ London Gazette, 20 July 1819
  8. ^ London Gazette, 24 November 1821
  9. ^ London Gazette, 17 February 1832
  10. ^ London Gazette, 1 February 1833
  11. ^ London Gazette, 15 April 1834
  12. ^ London Gazette, 17 November 1846
  13. ^ London Gazette, 7 May 1847
  14. ^ London Gazette, 13 July 1847
  15. ^ London Gazette, 13 August 1847
  16. ^ London Gazette, 7 November 1854
  17. ^ London Gazette, 6 June 1862
  18. ^ London Gazette, 12 December 1862
  19. ^ London Gazette, 19 May 1863
  20. ^ London Gazette, 26 September 1865
  21. ^ London Gazette, 2 March 1869
  22. ^ London Gazette, 20 July 1869
  23. ^ London Gazette, 15 February 1870
  24. ^ London Gazette, 18 January 1876
  25. ^ "No. 27338". The London Gazette. 26 July 1901. p. 4950.
  26. ^ London Gazette, 26 March 1929
  27. ^ London Gazette, 17 February 1939
  28. ^ London Gazette, 29 June 1945
  29. ^ London Gazette, 19 October 1962
  30. ^ London Gazette, 11 March 1966
  31. ^ London Gazette, 15 January 1973
  32. ^ London Gazette, 15 April 1976
  33. ^ London Gazette, 3 August 1979
  34. ^ London Gazette, 18 November 1986
  35. ^ London Gazette, 3 November 1988
  36. ^ London Gazette, 3 December 1990
  37. ^ London Gazette, 20 January 1994
  38. ^ London Gazette, 12 November 1997
  39. ^ London Gazette, 3 May 2001
  40. ^ a b c Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-408-11414-8
  41. ^ Navy's Long-Standing Benefactor Flies his Flag on Victory Archived 2 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "No. 60144". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 May 2012. p. 9389.

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.

Anthony Morton

Admiral Sir Anthony Storrs Morton (6 November 1923 – 6 May 2006) was a senior Royal Navy officer and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.

Davidge Gould

Sir Davidge Gould GCB (1758 – 23 April 1847) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the American Revolutionary, French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, eventually rising to the rank of Admiral. He was one of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson's Band of Brothers at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Derek Empson

Admiral Sir Leslie Derek Empson, (29 October 1918 – 20 September 1997) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy who served as Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command from 1974 to 1975.

Deric Holland-Martin

Admiral Sir Douglas Eric Holland-Martin, (10 April 1906 – 6 January 1977) was a Royal Navy officer who served as Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel from 1957 to 1959.

George Martin (Royal Navy officer)

Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Martin (1764 – 28 July 1847) was an officer of the Royal Navy who saw service during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. During his long naval career he took part in several significant battles, for which he was awarded a number of honours and promotions; he commanded ships at Cape St Vincent and Cape Finisterre.

George Martin was born into an important naval dynasty, related to the Rowley family, and the grandson of Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Rowley on his mother's side, and great-nephew of Admiral Sir William Martin on his father's side. He spent his early career serving on ships commanded by his uncle, Captain, later Vice-Admiral, Joshua Rowley. He saw action in the West Indies, and had risen to command his own ship by the end of the war with America. The years of peace temporarily left him unemployed, but the outbreak of war with revolutionary France in 1793 provided the opportunity to impress his superiors. Receiving command of several ships, he fought with Jervis at Cape St Vincent, and afterwards participated in an action that saw the capture of one Spanish frigate and the destruction of another. He then served in the Mediterranean, at first at the blockade of Malta, and then off Egypt, before going ashore during the temporary peace. The resumption of hostilities saw him returning to service, and in 1805 he saw action at the controversial Battle of Cape Finisterre under Robert Calder. Promoted to rear-admiral shortly afterwards, he provided his testimony for Calder's court-martial, and after a short spell ashore, returned to sea. He took part in the blockade of Cadiz and operations in support of the forces in Italy, before moving ashore towards the end of the wars. He received various promotions and honours, commanding at Portsmouth for several years, and being appointed to a number of chivalric orders. Martin became rear-admiral and then vice-admiral of the United Kingdom towards the end of his life, and died at the highest rank of his profession in 1847.

James Burnell-Nugent

Admiral Sir James Michael Burnell-Nugent, (born 20 November 1949) is a retired Royal Navy officer who served as Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 2005 to 2007.

James Eberle

Admiral Sir James Henry Fuller Eberle, (31 May 1927 – 17 May 2018) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy who served as Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 1979 until 1981.

John Bush (Royal Navy officer)

Admiral Sir John Fitzroy Duyland Bush (1 November 1914 – 10 May 2013) was a British Royal Navy officer who served as Commander-in-Chief Western Fleet.

List of Royal Navy Officers of the Napoleonic Wars

This article lists notable officers that served in the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) in the Royal Navy.

They are ordered by immediate rank (e.g. admiral and vice admiral not Vice Admiral of the Red and Vice Admiral of the White) and then by surname.

Michael Culme-Seymour

Michael Culme-Seymour may refer to one of three naval commanders of the Royal Navy, father, son and grandson:

Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, 3rd Baronet (1836–1920), Admiral, Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, commanded the Mediterranean and Channel fleets and the Pacific squadron, also Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom

Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, 4th Baronet (1867–1925), Vice-Admiral, served during World War I, Commander-in-Chief on the North America and West Indies Station, and Second Sea Lord

Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, 5th Baronet (1909–1999), Commander, served during World War II, High Sheriff of Northamptonshire

Montague Browning

Admiral Sir Montague Edward Browning, (18 January 1863 – 4 November 1947) was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel.

Nicholas Hunt

Admiral Sir Nicholas John Streynsham Hunt (7 November 1930 – 25 October 2013) was a senior Royal Navy officer. He was Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 1985 to 1987.

Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom

The Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom is a now honorary office generally held by a senior (possibly retired) Royal Navy admiral. Despite the title, the Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom is usually a full admiral. He is the deputy to the Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom, who is in turn deputy to the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom (an office that was vested from 1964–2011 to the Sovereign and is currently held by The Duke of Edinburgh).

He is appointed by the Sovereign on the nomination of the First Sea Lord, and his name is published in the London Gazette by the Home Office. The Admiral usually retires at 70 years of age, but there have been admirals, such as Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, who have been over 80 before they retired from their office.

Thomas John Cochrane

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas John Cochrane (5 February 1789 – 19 October 1872) was a Royal Navy officer. After serving as a junior officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, he captured the French ship Favourite off the coast of Dutch Guiana and then took part in various actions including the capture of the Virgin Islands from Danish forces, the capture of the French island of Martinique and the capture of the French archipelago of Îles des Saintes during the Napoleonic Wars. He also took part in the burning of Washington and the attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812.

Cochrane went on to serve as colonial governor of Newfoundland and then as Member of Parliament for Ipswich before becoming Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and China Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

Trevor Soar

Admiral Sir Trevor Alan Soar, (born 21 March 1957) is a retired Royal Navy officer who served as Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 2009 to 2012.

Vice-admiral (Royal Navy)

Vice-admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy and equates to the NATO rank code OF-8. It is immediately superior to the rear admiral rank and is subordinate to the full admiral rank.

William O'Brien (Royal Navy officer)

Admiral Sir William Donough O'Brien, (13 November 1916 – 19 February 2016) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Western Fleet from 1970 to 1971.

William Young (Royal Navy officer, born 1751)

Sir William Young GCB (16 August 1751 – 25 October 1821) was an officer of the Royal Navy who saw service during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He should not be confused with his namesake and near contemporary Admiral William Young.

Young was born into a naval family, with his father, James Young, and his half-brother, James Young also serving in the navy and rising to flag rank. William Young served on a variety of ships and rose to his own commands during the American War of Independence. Using his connections to continue in service during the years of peace, he was almost immediately given command of a ship on the outbreak of the wars with the France and served initially in the Mediterranean during the siege of Toulon, at the reduction of Corsica, and at the battles of Genoa and Hyères Islands. Promoted to flag rank soon after these events, he returned to England and joined the Board of Admiralty.

He rose through the ranks during his time in office, serving in his official capacity during the Spithead and Nore mutinies, as commander at Plymouth, and as senior officer during the court martial of Lord Gambier after the Battle of the Basque Roads. He returned to an active command at sea in 1811 with responsibility for blockading the Dutch coast until the end of the war. He received further promotions, and reached the rank of Admiral of the Red, with the position of Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom before his death in 1821.


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