Changes In Naval Headquarters Organisation

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Soon after independence in 1947, the staff at Naval Headquarters was grouped under five Principal Staff Officers (PSO's). These were the Chief of Staff, Chief of Personnel, Chief of Material, Chief of Administration and Chief of Naval Aviation.


The first major re-organisation of NHQ after independence took place in 1955. The Chief of Staff/Deputy C-in-C was re-designated Deputy Chief of Naval Staff. The Chief of Administration was abolished and its Directorates redistributed between the Staff, Personnel and Material Branches.

In 1959, DCNS was upgraded to Rear Admiral. This functioned satisfactorily until 1961, when the combined impact began to be felt of growth, modernisation and self sufficiency.


The 1962 Naval Headquarter was re-organisation into the following structure., which included the newly formed Directorate of Leander Project placed under the COM:


In 1965, the Chief of Personnel and the Chief of Material were upgraded in rank to Rear Admiral.

The Defence Plan 1966-71 had accepted in principle the Navy's expansion programme at an estimated total cost of Rs. 440 Crores and increase in manpower from 21,000 to 31,000. With greater emphasis on self sufficiency in the indigenous production of ships, weapons and ammunition, the nature and scope of the workload in Naval Headquarters changed substantially.

In 1966, the Director of the Submarine Arm was sanctioned and placed under the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

In 1967, the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff was re-designated as Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, and the Chief of Naval Aviation was redesignated as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff.

In 1968, the Chief of the Naval Staff was upgraded in rank to Admiral. Also in 1968, two new Directorates were sanctioned. The Director of Acquisition Project, dealing with the acquisitions from the Soviet Union and elsewhere was placed under the Vice Chief of Naval Staff. The Director of Leander Project dealing with the indigenous construction of the Leander class frigates was placed under the Chief of Material.

By mid 1968, it became clear that there was need to further rationalise the division of responsibilities and the workload. Some of the anomalies sought to be remedied were:

  • The imbalance in distribution of responsibilities between the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chief of Personnel, the Chief of Material, and the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff and the increasing overload on all of them as a result of the Navy's development.
  • The need for the appointment of Vice Chief of the Naval Staff to be tenable by a Vice Admiral so as to better supervise and coordinate work in Naval Headquarters and to enable Government to have a choice between two Vice Admirals (FOCINCWEST and VCNS) when considering a successor to a retiring CNS.
  • The need for a new Logistics Branch under a Chief of Logistics in the rank of Rear Admiral to deal with all matters concerning stores, clothing, victualling, supply and civilian personnel.
  • The need to re-designate the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff in the rank of Rear Admiral.
  • To relieve the overload of the Directorate of Personnel Services, by splitting it into two directorates.


In 1969, Naval Headquarters was re-organised into the following structure, which included the newly formed Directorate of Leander Project placed under the COM:


In 1970, a deep examination was launched to reorganise Naval Headquarters on functional lines. Some of the areas examined were:-

Whether the Staff Branch should be comprised of Executive officers only or should Technical officers also participate in taking staff decisions.

Should the Air and Submarine Arms be separate branches.

Should Engineering and other specialist directorates look after "Training" in their respective fields or should these branches be represented in the Directorate of Naval Training.

Extensive discussions followed. The organisational lessons learnt during the conflict with Pakistan in December 1971 were incorporated and the revised organisation was implemented in 1972.


The 1972 Reorganisation took numerous factors into account:

  • The need to strengthen the policy making apparatus to respond quickly to situations and also allow larger initiative to the Commands.
  • The growth and diversification of sea going forces and the doubling of manpower since 1962.
  • The expansion and modernisation of maintenance facilities.
  • The updating and enlarging of training complexes.
  • The establishment of the Submarine Arm.
  • The large variety of weapons and missiles, computerised fire control systems, communication and electronic warfare systems.
  • The acquisition of very sophisticated naval aircraft.
  • The induction of gas turbine propulsion.
  • The acquisition of vessels from Russia with their new philosophies and practices in the fields of maintenance, logistics and training, which were substantially different and distinct and irreconcilable with extant practices.
  • The march towards self sufficiency and the indigenous construction programme ranging from 200 ton Seaward Defence Boats, and Landing Craft to 3000 ton LST's, 2000 ton Survey Vessels and the Leander class frigates.

The salient features of the 1972 reorganisation were:

  • The creation of the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (DCNS) in the rank of Rear Admiral, responsible for "Operations" and the associated disciplines of intelligence and signals, leaving VCNS to concentrate on the policy and planning functions of the Staff Branch.
  • The upgradation in rank of Chief of Personnel and Chief of Material to Vice Admiral.
  • The creation of three Assistant Principal Staff Officers (APSOs) in the rank of Rear Admiral viz Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Policy and Plans) (ACNS P&P) Assistant Chief of Personnel (ACOP) and Assistant Chief of Material (ACOM).
  • The creation of the new Directorate of Naval Design under COM and renaming the Director of Stores as Director of Logistic Support.
  • The distribution and organisation of Directorates was rationalised eg separating wherever necessary the problems of Russian and Western acquisitions.

The resultant structure of Naval Headquarters was as follows:


In 1973/74 the Directorate of Management Services (DOMS) was created and placed under ACNS (P&P).

In 1974/75 DOMS was placed directly under VCNS.


The next major reorganisation of Naval Headquarters took place in Jan 1978. It was necessitated by substantial changes in the pattern of support and maintenance of the large number of new ships.

The General List Cadres of the Executive and Supply Branches were merged.

The post of Chief of Logistics was abolished.

The Directorates of Logistic Support and Armament Supply were placed under the Chief of Material for better coordination of all aspects of stores and machinery under one branch.

The Directorates of Clothing and Victualling were merged into the Director of Supplies and placed under the Chief of Personnel as both functions were related to personnel.

The Director of Naval Armament Inspection was placed under the Vice Chief of Naval Staff for closer supervision of munitions.

The Director of Staff Duties was re-designated as Director of Administration.