Admiralty

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This article is about a former military department of England and later the United Kingdom. For other uses, see Admiralty (disambiguation).
Admiralty Department
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Coat of Arms of Her Majesty's Government
Agency overview
Formed 1709
Preceding agency
Dissolved 1964
Superseding agency
Jurisdiction Government of the United Kingdom
Headquarters War Office building
Whitehall
London
Agency executive
Parent agency HM Government

The Admiralty formerly known as the Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs,[1] was the government department [2][3] responsible for the command of the Royal Navy first in the Kingdom of England, second in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and from 1709-1964 [4] the United Kingdom and former British Empire. Originally exercised by a single person, the Lord High Admiral, 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 [5] 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.[6] 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.

Function and organisation[edit]

History[edit]

Flag of the Lord High Admiral

The office of Admiral of England (or Lord Admiral and later Lord High Admiral) was created around 1400 although there had already been Admirals of the Northern and Western Seas. In 1546, King Henry VIII established the Council of the Marine, later to become the Navy Board, 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.

In 1628, Charles I put the office of Lord High Admiral into commission 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 1831, the first Navy Board was abolished as a separate entity, and its duties and responsibilities were given over to the Admiralty.

In 1964, the Admiralty along with the War Office and the Air Ministry as separate departments of state were abolished, and re-emerged under one single new Ministry of Defence. Within the expanded Ministry of Defence are the new Admiralty Board which has a separate (second) 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.

Board of Admiralty[edit]

Board of admiralty about 1810.

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.

Organisation[edit]

The first real concerted effort to professionally organise the Admiralty was started by Henry VIII, this management approach would continue in force in the Royal navy until to 1832. In this organization the Lord High Admiral or Commissioners of the Admiralty exercised the function of general control and they were usually responsible for the conduct of any war, while the actual supply lines 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 principle officers came to be known as the Navy Board, this organization of the department from 1546 to 1832 consisted of the following: Lord High Admiral or Commissioners executing the office of: for Appointments, Supply, Policy Operations of and Officers Navy Board Movements, Pay, Stores (other than Ordnance and Victualling) Manning, Shipbuilding, Dockyard's here the function of supply was kept separate from military engagement, it was ineffect a dual organization, in which the Navy Board was responsible for the multifaceted requirements of war, that the earlier wars were fought.

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 the Admiralty's, a combining that at the time also 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 university's. 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 naval service manifested itself in the creation of the Naval War Council in 1909.[7] It was perceived 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 heavily criticized, following this an Admiralty War Staff department was then instituted in 1912 headed by the Chief of the War Staff who was responsible for administering three sub-divisions. 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 was no mechanisms in place to answer the big strategic questions in 1914 a Trade Division was created.

In 1916, Sir John Jellicoe came to the Admiralty, he organized the staff as following: Chief of War Staff, Operations, Intelligence, Signal Section, Mobilization, Trade.

It was not until 1917 that the admiralty department was again thoroughly reorganized and really began to function as a staff in May that year, when the term "Admiralty War Staff" was altered and that department and its functional role abolished and was replaced by a new to "Admiralty Naval Staff" and the new office of Chief of the Naval Staff was merged in the office of the First Sea Lord there was also appointed a new Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff and an Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff who were all given seats on the Board of Admiralty. This for the first time gave the naval staff direct representation on the Board, and the presence of three naval senior members ensured the necessary authority to carry through any operation of war. The (D.C.N.S.) would direct all operations and movements of the fleet, while the (A.C.N.S.) 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 September 6 a Deputy First Sea Lord, was added to the Board who would administer operations abroad and 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 was chairman of both, and the former consisted of the First Sea Lord and C.N.S., the Deputy 1 st S.L., D.C.N.S., A.C.N.S., and 5th Sea Lord. The latter consisted of the Deputy 1st S.L. (representing the operations committee), 2nd S.L. (personnel), 3rd S.L. (material), 4th S.L. (transport and stores), Civil Lord, Controller and Financial Secretary.

The direction of fully operational control of the Royal Navy was finally handed over to the (C.N.S.) by an order in Council, effective October 1917, under which they became responsible for the issuing of orders affecting all war operations to the fleet. It also empowered the (C.N.S) to issue orders in their own name as opposed to previously by the Secretary in the name of the Board. This would remain in place until the department was abolished in 1964 however the operational control and this system still remains in place with navy today, for the organisational structure of the admiralty department and how it developed through the centuries see the following articles below.

Admiralty buildings[edit]

The Admiralty complex in 1794. The colours indicate departments or residences for the several Lords of the Admiralty. The pale coloured extension behind the small courtyard, on the left is Admiralty House.

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 Admiralty[edit]

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[edit]

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. It served that purpose until 1964. Winston Churchill was one of its occupants. It lacks its own entrance from Whitehall and is entered through the 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. There are now three ministerial flats in the building, which were unoccupied in 2012.[8]

Admiralty Extension[edit]

The Admiralty Extension (which is also one of the two buildings which are sometimes referred to as the "Old Admiralty") dates from the turn of the 20th century.

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 since the 1960s. The Department for Education will 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.

Admiralty Arch[edit]

Admiralty Arch is linked to the Old Admiralty Building by a bridge and is part of the ceremonial route from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace.

The Admiralty Citadel[edit]

This is a squat, windowless World War II fortress north west of Horse Guards Parade, now covered in ivy. See Military citadels under London for further details.

"Admiralty" as a metonym for "sea power"[edit]

Bomb proof citadel constructed 1940 for Admiralty headquarters

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!

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Knighton, C. S.; Loades, David; Loades, Professor of History David (Apr 29, 2016). Elizabethan Naval Administration. Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 9781317145035. 
  2. ^ Hamilton, C. I. (Feb 3, 2011). The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805–1927. Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 9781139496544. 
  3. ^ Defence, Ministry of (2004). The Government's expenditure plans 2004-05 to 2005-06. London: Stationery Office. p. 8. ISBN 9780101621229. 
  4. ^ Lawrence, Nicholas Blake, Richard (2005). The illustrated companion to Nelson's navy (Paperback ed.). Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books. p. 8. ISBN 9780811732758. 
  5. ^ Archives, The National. "Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Correspondence and Papers". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. National Archives, 1660-1976, ADM 1. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  6. ^ "New title for Duke of Edinburgh as he turns 90, who remains the incumbent.". BBC news. BBC. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Kennedy, Paul (Apr 24, 2014). The War Plans of the Great Powers (RLE The First World War): 1880-1914. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 9781317702528. 
  8. ^ Ministerial Residences

Further reading[edit]

The Building

  • Bradley, Simon, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 6: Westminster (from the Buildings of England series). New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-300-09595-3.
  • C. Hussey, "Admiralty Building, Whitehall", Country Life, 17 and 24 November 1923, pp. 684–692, 718–726.

The Office

  • Daniel A. Baugh, Naval Administration in the Age of Walpole (Princeton, 1965).
  • Sir John Barrow, An Autobiographical Memoir of Sir John Barrow, Bart., Late of the Admiralty (London, 1847).
  • John Ehrman, The Navy in the War of William III: Its State and Direction (Cambridge, 1953).
  • C. I. Hamilton, The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making 1805–1927 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • C. I. Hamilton, "Selections from the Phinn Committee of Inquiry of October–November 1853 into the State of the Office of Secretary to the Admiralty, in The Naval Miscellany, volume V, edited by N. A. M. Rodger, (London: Navy Records Society, London, 1984).
  • C. S. Knighton, Pepys and the Navy (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2003).
  • Christopher Lloyd, Mr Barrow of the Admiralty (London, 1970).
  • Malcolm H. Murfett, The First Sea Lords: From Fisher to Mountbatten (Westport: Praeger, 1995).
  • Lady Murray, The Making of a Civil Servant: Sir Oswyn Murray, Secretary of the Admiralty 1917–1936 (London, 1940).
  • N.A.M. Rodger, The Admiralty (Lavenham, 1979)
  • J.C. Sainty, Admiralty Officials, 1660–1870 (London, 1975)
  • Sir Charles Walker, Thirty-Six Years at the Admiralty (London, 1933)

External links[edit]