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The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is a statutory position in the British Armed Forces usually held by a four star admiral. As the highest-ranking officer to serve in the Royal Navy, the chief is the principal military advisor on matters pertaining to the navy and a deputy to the Secretary of State for Defence. In a separate capacity, the CNS is a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and, thereby, a military advisor to the National Security Council, the prime minister and the monarch. The First Sea Lord is typically the highest-ranking officer on active duty of the Royal Navy unless the Chief of the Defence Staff is a naval officer. Admiral Ben Key was appointed First Sea Lord in November 2021.
|First Sea Lord and |
Chief of the Naval Staff
|Ministry of Defence|
|Status||Military branch chief|
|Member of||Defence Council|
Chiefs of Staff Committee
|Reports to||Chief of the Defence Staff|
|Nominator||Secretary of State for Defence|
On the advice of the Prime Minister, subject to formal approval by the King-in-Council
|Term length||Not fixed (typically 3–4 years)|
|Formation||Senior Naval Lord (1689–1771)|
First Naval Lord (1771–1904)
First Sea Lord (from 1904)
|First holder||Admiral Arthur Herbert (as Senior Naval Lord)|
Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher (as First Sea Lord)
|Deputy||Vice Chief of the Naval Staff (1941–1946)|
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff
Originally titled the "Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty" when the post was created in 1689, the office was re-styled "First Naval Lord" in 1771. The concept of a professional "First Naval Lord" was introduced in 1805, and the title of the office was changed to "First Sea Lord" on the appointment of Sir John Fisher in 1904. Since 1923, the First Sea Lord has been a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; he now sits on the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board.