Naval Ordnance Department
Naval Ordnance Department
Preceded by Artillery Branch
Country United Kingdom
Founded 1866
Abolished 1958
Headquarters Whitehall, London, England
Head Director of Naval Ordnance
Role Supply of Naval Ordnance
Part of Department of Admiralty
Succeeded by Weapons Department

The Naval Ordnance Department, also known as the Department of the Director of Naval Ordnance, was a former department of the Admiralty responsible for the procurement of naval ordnance of the Royal Navy the department was managed by a Director of Naval Ordnance was supported by various assistant directors later renamed and deputy directors the department it existed from 1866 to 1958 when it became the Naval Ordnance Division a subordinate unit with the new Weapons Department.

1) History

Before 1855 the supply of guns and ammunition to the Royal Navy was the responsibility of the Ordnance Board, which was also concerned with supplying ordnance to the Army and which tended to concentrate on the latter function, although naval officers served on the board and on the Ordnance Select Committee which succeeded it. The Ordnance Board was abolished in May 1855, its responsibilities for naval ordnance passed to the War Office, where a naval officer was appointed Naval Director-General of Artillery within the Artillery Branch. He retained that title from 1858 to 1868, when he was also Director of Stores, War Office ; he was also the Vice-President of the Ordnance Select Committee.

A Director-General, subsequently Director of Naval Ordnance, in the Controller's Department of the Admiralty was first appointed in 1866, but he did not take over procurement of naval ordnance from the War Office until 1888 or custody and supply until 1891, when a Naval Ordnance Department was finally established at the Admiralty from inception until 1917

By stages from 1908 the Admiralty also took over responsibility from the War Office for inspecting naval ordnance when a Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance was appointed. The Royal Ordnance Factories, under the control of the War Office, continued, however, to manufacture naval ordnance though a large proportion, including most of the heaviest guns, was let to private contract.

From 1917 until the department was responsible for mines and torpedoes. Between 1918 and 1923 and again from 1939 there was a separate Armament Supply Department. The Naval Ordnance Inspection Department was set up in 1922 to control quality in the manufacture and testing of weapons and ammunition for the fleet. Chemical and metallurgical analysis was carried out at its laboratories at Sheffield (the Bragg laboratory) and Caerwent.

During the First World War the work of the directorate was divided, and a separate Department of the Director of Torpedoes and Mining was created. After the Second World War in 1946 this department became the Underwater Weapons Department. The Bragg laboratory, so-called from 1938, continued unchanged until 1968, when its chemical analysis work became part of the Army Department's Directorate of Chemical Inspection at Woolwich. From 1940 to 1945 there was a Miscellaneous Weapons Development Department.

In 1958 the two were re-united as subordinate divisions of the Weapons Department, under the Director General of Weapons from 1960 to 1964. Bragg continued as the Naval Ordnance Inspection (later Service) and Metallurgical Unit (NOIMU, later NOSMU) until 1984 when it was closed and its work transferred to Woolwich. Caerwent laboratory continued investigating propellants until 1971.

2) Key Officials

2.1) Director-General of Naval Ordnance

  1. Rear-Admiral Astley Cooper Key, September 1866-July 1869

2.2) Director of Naval Ordnance

  1. Captain Arthur W. A. Hood, July 1869-May 1874
  2. Rear-Admiral Henry Boys, May 1874-May 1878
  3. Rear-Admiral Richard Vesey Hamilton, June 1878-March 1880
  4. Rear-Admiral Frederick A. Herbert, April 1880-April 1883
  5. Rear-Admiral John O. Hopkins, April 1883-November 1886

2.3) Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes

  1. Rear-Admiral John A. Fisher, November 1886-May 1891
  2. Rear-Admiral Compton E. Domvile, May 1891-March 1894
  3. Captain Henry C. Kane, March 1894-August 1897
  4. Rear-Admiral Edmund Jeffreys, August 1897-January 1901
  5. Captain William H. May, January–April 1901
  6. Rear-Admiral Angus MacLeod, April 1901-January 1904
  7. Rear-Admiral Henry D. Barry, January 1904-February 1905
  8. Rear-Admiral John R. Jellicoe. February 1905-August 1907
  9. Captain Reginald H.S. Bacon, August 1907-December 1909
  10. Captain Archibald G.H.W. Moore, December 1909-June 1912
  11. Captain Frederick C.T.Tudor, June 1912-August 1914
  12. Captain Morgan Singer, August 1914-March 1917

2.4) Director of Naval Ordnance

  1. Captain Frederic Charles Dreyer, March 1917-June 1918
  2. Captain Henry R. Crooke, June 1918-September 1920
  3. Captain Roger R.C.Backhouse, September 1920-December 1922
  4. Captain Joseph C.W.Henley, December 1922-May 1925,
  5. Captain Charles M. Forbes, July 1925-July 1928
  6. Captain Julian F.C.Patterson, July 1928-April 1931,
  7. Captain F. Thomas B. Tower, April 1931-July 1933
  8. Captain Bruce A. Fraser, July 1933-March 1936
  9. Captain Charles E. B. Simeon, March 1936-May 1939,
  10. Captain John C. Leach, May 1939-January 1941
  11. Captain William R. Slayter, January–August 1941
  12. Captain Oliver Bevir, August 1941-March 1944
  13. Captain Charles H. L. Woodhouse, March 1944-February 1945
  14. Rear-Admiral Charles H. L. Woodhouse, March 1945-February 1946
  15. Captain Dennis M. Lees, February 1946-December 1948
  16. Captain Henry A. King, December 1948-June 1951
  17. Captain William J. Yendell, June 1951-March 1954
  18. Captain John G. Hamilton, March 1954-March 1956
  19. Captain Richard E. Washbourn, March 1956-May 1958
  20. Rear-Admiral Gilbert C. de Jersey, May–July 1958

3) Assistant Director of Torpedoes

  1. Captain Arthur K. Wilson, 1887–1888
  2. Captain Edmund F. Jeffreys, 1889–1893
  3. Captain William H. 1893–1895
  4. Captain The Hon. Maurice A. Bourke, 1895-1896
  5. Captain Sir Baldwin W. Walker, 1895-1897
  6. Captain Ernest A. Simons, 1898
  7. Captain George Le C. Egerton, 1898– 1899
  8. Captain Alexander W. Chisholm-Batten, 1899–1901
  9. Captain George Le C. Egerton, 1901–1902
  10. Captain Henry B. Jackson, 1902–1903
  11. Captain The Hon. Alexander E. Bethell, 1903–1906
  12. Captain Bernard Currey, 21 December 1906–1908
  13. Captain Stuart Nicholson, 21 December 1908–1911
  14. Captain Edward F. B. Charlton, 1911–1914
  15. Captain Philip W. Dumas, 15 August 1914–1917
  16. Captain Algernon H. C. Candy, 8 February 1917–1919
  17. Captain Brien M. Money, 1919–1921
  18. Captain Arthur T. Walker, 1921–1922

4) Assistant Director of Naval Ordnance

  1. Captain Frederick C. T. Tudor, 1906–1909
  2. Captain Arthur W. Craig, 1909–1911
  3. Captain James C. Ley, 1911–1912
  4. Captain James D. Dick, 1912–1914
  5. Commander Basil E. Reinold, 1914-1915
  6. Captain Herbert R. Norbury, 1915-1916
  7. Captain Joseph C. W. Henley, 1917–1919

5) Deputy Director of Naval Ordnance

  1. Captain Cecil V. Usborne, January 1919-May 1921
  2. Captain Roger R.C. Backhouse, August–September 1920
  3. Captain G.T. Carlisle P. Swabey, May 1921-October 1923
  4. Captain George R.B. Blount, October 1923-August 1925
  5. Captain Charles A. Scott, August 1925-April 1928
  6. Captain A. Ramsay Dewar, April 1928-September 1929
  7. Captain Frank Elliott, September 1929-March 1932
  8. Captain A. Francis Pridham, March 1932-April 1933
  9. Captain Eric R. Bent, April 1933-October 1934
  10. Captain Gerard W.T. Robertson, October 1934-March 1936
  11. Captain Harold R.G. Kinahan, March 1936-June 1937
  12. Captain Francis W.H. Jeans, June 1937-July 1938
  13. Captain Michael M. Denny, July 1938-March 1940
  14. Captain William R. Slayter, March 1940-January 1941
  15. Captain Frederick R. Parham, January 1941-August 1942
  16. Captain Patrick V. McLaughlin, August 1942-March 1943
  17. Captain Robert F. Elkins, March 1943-November 1944
  18. Captain Kenneth L. Harkness, April 1943-February 1945
  19. Captain Henry N.S. Brown, February 1945-October 1947
  20. Captain Alan F. Campbell, September 1946-September 1948
  21. Captain Thomas V. Briggs, October 1947 – 1949
  22. Captain William J. Lamb, September 1948 – 1950
  23. Captain Desmond P. Dreyer, July 1949-September 1952
  24. Captain Richard E. Washbourn, September 1950 – 1953
  25. Captain F.W.R. Larken, September 1952-November 1955
  26. Captain Thomas W. Best, November 1955 – 1958

6) Subsidiary Departments

At various times were under the control of the Director of Naval Ordnance.

  1. Naval Ordnance Stores Department, (1891-1918)
  2. Torpedo Branch (? -1917)
  3. Armament Supply Department, (1918-1964)-—-Royal Naval Armaments Depot
  4. Department of the Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance, (1908-1922)
  5. Naval Ordnance Inspection Department, (1922-1964)

7) Sources

  2. Mackie, Colin. "British Armed Forces from 1860, Senior Royal Navy Appointments from 1865". Colin Mackie, pp.51-51, January 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017

8) Attribution

  1. Flag of the Board of Admiralty by Martin Grieve at
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