Robert Walmsley

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Sir Robert Walmsley
Born 1 February 1941
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1958 - 1996
Rank Admiral
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Walmsley KCB, FREng,[1] FRSA, FIET (born 1 February 1941) was Chief of Defence Procurement at the UK Ministry of Defence from 1996 to 2003, and is a retired Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy.

Early career[edit]

Robert Walmsley was born in Aberdeen in 1941 and was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh.[2] He joined the Royal Navy as a Dartmouth Cadet in 1958[3] and went on to read Mechanical Sciences at Queens' College, Cambridge,[4] before taking up a range of seagoing appointments, mainly in submarines, developing an expertise in nuclear propulsion. During his naval career he was at times Chairman of the Naval Nuclear Technical Safety Panel and Director General, Submarines. For three years, he was the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Communications, Command, Control and Information Systems. His final naval appointment (1994) was as Controller of the Navy[2] and member of the Navy Board as a vice admiral. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1995.

Sir Robert is a former Cambridge Blue, having coxed the light blue boat to victory in the 108th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 1962.[3] He is a Fellow[1] of the Royal Academy of Engineering,[1] the Royal Society of Arts, and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and is an Honorary DSc of Cranfield University.[5]

Chief of Defence Procurement[edit]

Walmsley (2nd from right) at The Pentagon in 2001

After retiring from the navy, he held the position of Chief of Defence Procurement at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) from 1996[6] until his retirement on 30 April 2003. He retired from the Her Majesty's Civil Service after serving longer in the Defence Procurement post than any of his predecessors. During Sir Robert's period in post he led the transformation of the procurement organisation into the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA, now Defence Equipment and Support) and made numerous appearances as a witness to Parliamentary Select Committees.[7]


HMS Sutherland[8] was launched by Lady Christina Walmsley, at that time the wife of Sir Robert, in 1996. This launch made naval history since Lady Walmsley broke with tradition and used a bottle of Macallan Whisky; up until this time Royal Navy ships had always been launched with a bottle of champagne.

Corporate roles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "List of Fellows". 
  2. ^ a b Distinguished Pupils Fettes College
  3. ^ a b "The men who found fame after the Boat Race", The Daily Telegraph, 22 March 2002.
  4. ^ Eminent alumni Queens' College, Cambridge
  5. ^ Honorary Graduates Cranfield University
  6. ^ "Robert Walmsley appointed Chief of Defence Procurement", PR Newswire on behalf of Ministry of Defence, 24 April 1996.
  7. ^ Select Committees, Session 1998-99 Parliament
  8. ^ HMS Sutherland Royal Navy website
  9. ^ Welcome Major Projects Association
  10. ^ Management Cohort plc
  11. ^ a b c d e Sir Robert Walmsley: Biography Reuters
  12. ^ Listed directors Ultra Electronics Holdings
  13. ^ a b "Resources - Influence - Person - 368 - Robert Walmsley". CAAT. 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Kenneth Eaton
Controller of the Navy
Succeeded by
Frederick Scourse