Assistant Secretary of the Navy

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The personal flag used by Assistant Secretaries of the Navy as well as the General Counsel of the Navy.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) is the title given to certain civilian senior officials in the United States Department of the Navy.

From 1861 to 1954, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy was the second-highest civilian office in the Department of the Navy (reporting to the United States Secretary of the Navy). That role has since been supplanted by the office of Under Secretary of the Navy and the office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy has been abolished. There have, however, been a number of offices bearing the phrase "Assistant Secretary of the Navy" in their title (see below for details).

At present, there are four Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, each of whom reports to and assists the Secretary of the Navy and the Under Secretary of the Navy:


The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy was established in 1861, to provide a senior deputy to the Secretary. The Assistant Secretary was responsible for the Navy's civilian personnel, as well as for administration of shore facilities (such as naval bases and shipyards). Gustavus Fox was the first to hold the post, serving throughout the Civil War. The office was disestablished in 1869, during Reconstruction, but was reestablished by Congress on July 11, 1890. James R. Soley was the first to be appointed to the newly reestablished position.

The Assistant Secretary was the Navy's number-two civilian until 1940, when Congress established the position of Under Secretary of the Navy, who was given oversight of the Assistant Secretary's activities. James V. Forrestal, later Secretary of Defense, was the first to serve as Under Secretary; he held the post until 1944, when he became Secretary of the Navy.

During the 20th century, the responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary were divided among several officials. During the 1920s, for example, to reflect the increasing importance of naval aviation, Congress established the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air.

The office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy was disestablished in 1954.[1]

Famous Assistant Secretaries of the Navy[edit]

  • U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1897 to 1898, during the William McKinley administration.
  • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913 until 1920, and helped to implement Navy policies during World War I.
  • According to author Edward J. Renehan, Jr., no fewer than five members of the extended Roosevelt clan served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. who served from 1921 through 1924 under Harding and Coolidge, Theodore Douglas Robinson (the son of Corinne Roosevelt) who served from 1924 through 1929 under Coolidge, and finally Henry Latrobe Roosevelt, a descendant of Robert Fulton's old friend "Steamboat Nicholas" Roosevelt, who served from 1933 through 1936 under FDR.[2]
  • Ralph Austin Bard was Assistant Secretary (1941–1944) and then Under Secretary (1944–1945) during World War II.

Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, 1861–1954[edit]

Picture Name Assumed office Left office President appointed by Secretary served under
Gustavus Fox.jpg Gustavus Fox August 1, 1861 November 26, 1866 Abraham Lincoln Gideon Welles
William Faxon.jpg William Faxon June 1, 1866 March 3, 1869 Andrew Johnson Gideon Welles, Adolph Edward Borie, George Maxwell Robeson, Richard Wigginton Thompson, Nathan Goff, Jr., William Henry Hunt, William Eaton Chandler, William Collins Whitney
James R. Soley.jpg James R. Soley July 18, 1890 March 19, 1893 Benjamin Harrison Benjamin Franklin Tracy
William McAdooNJ.jpg William McAdoo March 20, 1893 April 18, 1897 Grover Cleveland Hilary Abner Herbert
Theodore Roosevelt, New York City police commissioner.jpg Theodore Roosevelt April 19, 1897 May 10, 1898 William McKinley John Davis Long
Charles Herbert Allen, 1898.jpg Charles Herbert Allen May 11, 1898 April 21, 1900
Frank W. Hackett (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Frank W. Hackett April 24, 1900 December 16, 1901
Charles Hial Darling.jpg Charles Hial Darling December 17, 1901 October 30, 1905 Theodore Roosevelt John Davis Long, William Henry Moody, Paul Morton, Charles Joseph Bonaparte
Truman Handy Newberry.jpg Truman Handy Newberry November 1, 1905 November 30, 1908 Charles Joseph Bonaparte, Victor Howard Metcalf
Herbert Livingston Satterlee circa 1900.jpg Herbert L. Satterlee December 3, 1908 March 5, 1909 Truman Handy Newberry
Beekman Winthrop by George Bain (cropped).jpg Beekman Winthrop March 6, 1909 March 16, 1913 William Howard Taft George von Lengerke Meyer
Franklin Roosevelt Secretary of the Navy 1913.jpg Franklin D. Roosevelt March 17, 1913 August 26, 1920 Woodrow Wilson Josephus Daniels
Gordon Woodbury (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Gordon Woodbury August 27, 1920 March 9, 1921
LC-DIG-ggbain-37582.jpg Theodore Roosevelt Jr. March 10, 1921 September 30, 1924 Warren Harding Edwin Denby
Theodore Douglas Robinson (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Theodore Douglas Robinson November 11, 1924 March 4, 1929 Calvin Coolidge Curtis Dwight Wilbur
Ernest Lee Jahncke - Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy in 1930.jpg Ernest L. Jahncke April 1, 1929 March 17, 1933 Herbert Hoover Charles Francis Adams III
Henry Latrobe Roosevelt (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Henry L. Roosevelt March 17, 1933 February 22, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt Claude Augustus Swanson
Charles Edison.jpg Charles Edison January 18, 1937 January 1, 1940
Lewis Compton (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Lewis Compton February 9, 1940 January 10, 1941 Charles Edison
Asst Navy Sec Ralph A Bard.jpg Ralph Austin Bard February 24, 1941 June 24, 1944 William Franklin Knox
Streuve Hensel (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg H. Struve Hensel January 30, 1945 February 28, 1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry S. Truman

James Vincent Forrestal
W. John Kenney.jpg W. John Kenney March 1, 1946 September 19, 1947 Harry S. Truman
Mark E. Andrews (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpg Mark E. Andrews January 21, 1948 February 15, 1949 John L. Sullivan
John theodore koehler in washington dc 1942.jpg John T. Koehler February 18, 1949 October 3, 1951 Francis P. Matthews
Herbert R Askins.jpg Herbert R. Askins October 3, 1951 January 20, 1953 Dan A. Kimball
Raymond H. Fogler June 22, 1953 October 4, 1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower Robert B. Anderson, Charles S. Thomas

Defunct offices bearing the title of "Assistant Secretary of the Navy"[edit]

Office name Year created Year abolished
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR) 1926 1959
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Logistics) c. 1960s? c. 1970s?
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Material) c. 1950s? c. 1950s?
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research and Development) 1959 1977
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Engineering and Systems) 1977 1990
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Shipbuilding and Logistics) 1990


  1. ^ a b "List of Assistant Secretary of the Navy". Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  2. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt and the Navy by The Theodore Roosevelt Association". 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2013-06-17.

External links[edit]