Benjamin Bathurst (Royal Navy officer)

Sir Benjamin Bathurst
Born (1936-05-27) 27 May 1936
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

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

The frigate HMS Ariadne which Bathurst commanded in the mid 1970s

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

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. 1 2 "Admiral Sir David Benjamin Bathurst". The Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  2. Mosley, p. 215
  3. 1 2 3 4 Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-408-11414-8
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Heathcote, p.22
  5. The London Gazette: no. 41831. p. 6137. 29 September 1959. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44238. p. 1153. 27 January 1967. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49496. p. 12932. 3 October 1983. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  8. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50740. p. 15867. 8 December 1986. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50948. p. 2. 12 June 1987. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  10. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52382. p. 2. 28 December 1990. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  11. 1 2 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. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 54507. p. 11443. 27 August 1996. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 55413. p. 2247. 25 February 1999. Retrieved 24 August 2012.


External links

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
Succeeded by
Sir Jock Slater
Preceded by
Sir Richard Vincent
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Jock Slater
Preceded by
Sir Julian Oswald
First Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Jock Slater
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