Catalogue description Records of the Surveyor of the Navy and successors

Details of Division within ADM
Reference: Division within ADM
Title: Records of the Surveyor of the Navy and successors

Records of the Navy Board relating to the building and repair of ships are in ADM 83, ADM 87, ADM 91, ADM 92, ADM 95, ADM 106 and ADM 135. Correspondence, etc of the Surveyor and Controller 1832 to 1860 is in ADM 83 and ADM 87 - ADM 92; out-letters of the surveyor are in ADM 222. Correspondence of the Steam Department is in ADM 84 - ADM 86, ADM 93 and ADM 94 and unregistered papers of the engineer in chief are in ADM 265. Papers of the Directorate of Naval Construction are in ADM 229 and ADM 324, reports in ADM 281 and damage reports in ADM 267

Ships' books are in ADM 135, ADM 136; photographs of ships are in ADM 176 and photographs relating to boom defence equipment in ADM 244; details of the dimensions, complement, armament and place and date of launching of ships are in ADM 180

Date: 1620-1979
Separated material:

Ships Covers, Series I (formerly ADM 138), and Ship Building Specifications, Hull and Machinery (formerly ADM 168 and ADM 170), have been transferred to the National Maritime Museum.

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Admiralty, Controller of the Navy, 1860-1912

Board of Admiralty, Directorate of Naval Construction, 1913-1958

Board of Admiralty, Ship Department, Naval Construction Division, 1959-1964

Board of Admiralty, Steam Department, 1850-1869

Board of Admiralty, Surveyor of the Navy, 1832-1860

Navy Board, Comptroller of the Navy, 1558-1832

Navy Board, Surveyor of the Navy, 1546-1832

Physical description: 26 series
Administrative / biographical background:

Before 1832 the building, fitting out and repairing of HM ships were the responsibility of the Navy Board. Originally the principal officer most concerned was the Surveyor of the Navy, who estimated annual stores requirements, inspected ships' stores and kept the Fleet's store-books and repair-bills. In the eighteenth century his duties passed increasingly to the Comptroller of the Navy.

The office of Surveyor did not disappear, however, and after 1832, when the office of Comptroller was abolished, the Surveyor was made the officer responsible under the First Sea Lord for the material departments, and became a permanent member of the Board of Admiralty. In 1860 the name of the office was changed to Controller of the Navy and in 1869 he became independent of the First Sea Lord and himself a member of the Board of Admiralty.

In 1872 he again became subordinate to the First Sea Lord, but with the right to attend Board meetings when the business of his department was under discussion. In 1882 the Controller again became independent of the First Sea Lord and a Board member when his office was merged with that of the Third Sea Lord. Thereafter, except for a period in 1917 to 1918 when there was a civilian Controller of Shipping with responsibility for both naval and merchant shipbuilding, the titles of Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy went together.

The Third Sea Lord and Controller was responsible for the work of the Royal Naval Scientific Service and for a number of Admiralty departments, including those of the Director of Naval Construction, (from 1958 the Director General Ships), of the Engineer in Chief (formerly the Steam Department), of the Director of Naval Ordnance, of the Director of Dockyards and, following a Board decision in 1911, of the Admiralty Compass Observatory, formerly under the control of the Hydrographer's Department. During the Second World War he also had responsibility for the supply of equipment to Combined Operations Headquarters.

From 1958 the Fourth Sea Lord was also known as Vice Controller and assumed the superintendence of the dockyard organisation and the maintenance of the fleet.

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