Office of the Fifth Sea Lord
Ensign of the Royal Navy
Department of the Admiralty
Member ofBoard of Admiralty
Reports toFirst Sea Lord
NominatorFirst Lord of the Admiralty
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the King-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 1–3 years)
Inaugural holderRear Admiral Sir Godfrey Paine

The Fifth Sea Lord was formerly one of the Naval Lords and members of the Board of Admiralty that controlled the Royal Navy.[1] The post's incumbent had responsibility for naval aviation.


In 1805, for the first time, specific functions were assigned to each of the 'Naval' Lords, who were described as 'Professional' Lords, leaving to the 'Civil' Lords the routine business of signing documents.[2]

During World War I it was one of four additional naval positions added to the Board of Admiralty to manage the Navy. The only officer to hold the title during the war was Commodore Godfrey Paine. Commodore Paine simultaneously held the title of Director of Naval Aviation. After the Air Force Bill received Royal Assent in November 1917 the Air Council was created on 3 January 1918 which included Paine.[3]

The post of Fifth Sea Lord then lapsed until 1938 when the Admiralty regained responsibility for naval aviation: the post was reestablished and was the Chief of Naval Air Services, responsible for preparation and management of all of the Royal Navy's aircraft and air personnel.[4]

From 1957 to 1965 the Fifth Sea Lord's post was held jointly with the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. The post was abolished in 1965.[5]

In the 21st century the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability & Carriers) has a similar role.

List of Fifth Sea Lords

Fifth Sea Lords and Chief of Naval Air Service 1917–1918


Note: with the transfer of naval aviation to the Royal Air Force in 1918, the appointment lapsed and was not revived until 1938

Fifth Sea Lords 1938–1956

Note: the title was in abeyance from 1942 to 1943 although Admiral Sir Frederic Dreyer was Chief of Naval Air Services

Fifth Sea Lords and Deputy Chiefs of the Naval Staff 1957–1965

Admiralty departments and divisions under the Fifth Sea Lord

As of 1917[7]

As of 1939[8]

As of 1941 [8]

As of 1957[9][10]

As of 1962[11]

In fiction

In the title story of his 1960 short story collection For Your Eyes Only, Ian Fleming wrote that M, James Bond's MI6 superior, gave up a likely appointment as Fifth Sea Lord in order to head the spy agency.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Marder, Arthur J. (31 March 2014). From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume IV 1917, Year of Crisis. Seaforth Publishing, p.219, 31 Mar 2014. ISBN 9781848322011. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Sainty, JC, Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660-1870', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660–1870 (1975), pp. 18–31". Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  3. ^ Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
  4. ^ Division with ADM National Archives
  5. ^ Whitaker's Almanack 1965
  6. ^ Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Fifth Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project". Harley and Lovell,3 November 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  7. ^ Abbatiello, John (2 May 2006). Anti-Submarine Warfare in World War I: British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats. Routledge, p.8, 2 May 2006. ISBN 9781135989545. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b Watson, Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation in World War 2, 1939-1945". Gordon Smith, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Structure of the Service Fleet Air Arm Organization and the Work of Home Air Command" (PDF). Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Naval Air Organization" (PDF). ght International Magazine, 20 April 1951, p.483. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  11. ^ Huntley, Cdr F. C. "All Hands, The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, No 541" (PDF). United States Navy, February 1962. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  12. ^ Fleming, Ian (2012). For Your Eyes Only. ISBN 978-1612185514.