Benjamin Bathurst (Royal Navy officer)

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Sir Benjamin Bathurst
Born (1936-05-27) 27 May 1936 (age 81)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1953–1995
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held First Sea Lord
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Commander-in-Chief Fleet
Second Flotilla
5th Frigate Squadron
HMS Ariadne
819 Naval Air Squadron
Battles/wars Bosnian War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Benjamin Bathurst GCB, DL (born 27 May 1936) is a former Royal Navy officer. After training as a pilot and qualifying as a helicopter instructor, Bathurst commanded a Naval Air Squadron and then two frigates before achieving higher command in the Navy. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from 1993 to 1995: in that capacity he advised the British Government on the deployment of Naval Support including Sea Harriers during the Bosnian War.

Early life[edit]

Bathurst is the son of Peter Bathurst and his wife Lady Elizabeth Ann Bathurst (née Temple-Gore-Langton).[1] Generally known by his middle name of Benjamin,[2] Bathurst was educated at Eton and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.[3]

Naval career[edit]

Bathurst joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1953 and became a midshipman on 1 September 1955.[4] During his early career he served in the minesweeper HMS Woolaston and, following promotion to sub-lieutenant on 1 January 1957 and to lieutenant on 1 February 1959,[5] he qualified as a pilot in 1960.[4] He next served in the ship's flight on the destroyer HMS Devonshire and then qualified as a helicopter instructor in 1964.[4] He served as an exchange officer with the Royal Australian Navy in 1965 and, following promotion to lieutenant commander on 1 February 1967,[6] he became senior pilot of 820 Naval Air Squadron on the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle.[4] He was given command of 819 Naval Air Squadron in February 1969 and then joined the Directorate of Naval Recruiting at the Ministry of Defence in early 1970.[4] Promoted to commander on 30 June 1970, he became executive officer on the destroyer HMS Norfolk in February 1971.[4] He joined the Directorate of Naval Air Warfare at the Ministry of Defence in February 1973.[4]

Promoted to captain on 31 December 1974, Bathurst took command of a Leander class frigate, HMS Ariadne in March 1975.[4] He became Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord in May 1976 and Commanding Officer of HMS Minerva as well as Captain of the 5th Frigate Squadron in September 1978.[4] He attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1981 and became Director of Naval Air Warfare at the Ministry of Defence in January 1982.[4]

Sea Harrier, an aircraft type deployed by Bathurst during the Bosnian War

Promoted to rear admiral on 10 October 1983,[7] on appointment as Flag Officer Second Flotilla, Bathurst went on to be Director General Naval Manpower and Training at the Ministry of Defence in May 1985.[4] He was promoted to vice admiral on 22 December 1986,[8] on appointment as Chief of Fleet Support.[4] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1987 Birthday Honours,[9] and promoted to full admiral on 21 April 1989, on appointment as Commander-in-Chief Fleet which also carried with it the NATO appointments of Commander-in-Chief, Channel and Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic.[4] Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1991 New Year Honours,[10] he became Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff in March 1991 and First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff in March 1993.[11] As First Sea Lord he advised the British Government on the deployment of Naval Support including Sea Harriers during the Bosnian War.[12] He was promoted Admiral of the Fleet on 10 July 1995 on his retirement.[11]

Later career[edit]

In retirement Bathurst became a Non-Executive Director of British International Helicopters.[13] He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset on 27 August 1996[14] and became Vice-Lord Lieutenant on 18 February 1999.[15] He is a younger brother of Trinity House and a Liveryman of Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.[3] His interests include gardening, shooting and fishing.[3]


Bathurst married Sarah Christian Pandora Peto, daughter of Major John Peto and granddaughter of Sir Basil Peto, 1st Baronet, in 1959.[1] They have one son (Major-General Benjamin Bathurst CBE) and three daughters.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Admiral Sir David Benjamin Bathurst". The Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Mosley, p. 215
  3. ^ a b c d Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-408-11414-8
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Heathcote, p.22
  5. ^ "No. 41831". The London Gazette. 29 September 1959. p. 6137. 
  6. ^ "No. 44238". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 January 1967. p. 1153. 
  7. ^ "No. 49496". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 October 1983. p. 12932. 
  8. ^ "No. 50740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 December 1986. p. 15867. 
  9. ^ "No. 50948". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1987. p. 2. 
  10. ^ "No. 52382". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1990. p. 2. 
  11. ^ a b Heathcote, p.23
  12. ^ "British units deployed to Bosnia". Britain's Small Wars. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Admiral Bathurst awarded honorary degree". University of Greenwich Biography. 19 July 2004. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "No. 54507". The London Gazette. 27 August 1996. p. 11443. 
  15. ^ "No. 55413". The London Gazette. 25 February 1999. p. 2247. 


  • Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734–1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6. 
  • Mosley, Charles (1999). Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, volume 1. Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. ISBN 978-1579580834. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Tippet
Chief of Fleet Support
Succeeded by
Sir Jock Slater
Preceded by
Sir Julian Oswald
Commander-in-Chief Fleet
Preceded by
Sir Richard Vincent
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Preceded by
Sir Julian Oswald
First Sea Lord