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Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff

Rear Admiral R Cooling
Rear Admiral R Cooling

Rear Admiral Robert G Cooling

Bob Cooling joined the Royal Navy as a seaman officer in 1978 having graduated from Keele University with an honours degree in International Relations.  He has since enjoyed an enormously varied and rewarding series of appointments leading up to his current position as the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, based in the Ministry of Defence London. 

An experienced warfare officer and navigation specialist he has been involved in an extensive range of maritime, joint and combined operations over the last 30 years.  Having completed 15 tours at sea he has seen service in home waters, the Far East, the Gulf and Middle East region, the Atlantic, Caribbean and Arctic.  His time on the front line has included 4 warship commands: HMS Sandpiper (patrol craft), HMS Battleaxe (Type 22 Frigate), HMS Montrose (Type 23 Frigate), and HMS Illustrious (Aircraft Carrier).  His tour in Illustrious incorporated the 1* role of Carrier Strike Group Commander, during which he led a coalition Task Group deployment to the Middle East and Gulf region. This included the operation to evacuate several thousand British citizens and other nationals from Beirut during the Lebanon crisis in 2006.  Between command tours he gained further operational exposure as the Chief of Staff to the Commander UK Task Group leading a joint battle staff in a wide variety of national, NATO and coalition operations.  Latterly as a Rear Admiral he led NATO’s high readiness maritime battlestaff (Strike Force NATO) based in Naples Italy, including the staff’s preparation for duties in Afghanistan (ISAF) and subsequently Component Command in NATO’s Response Force. 

Whilst ashore he has had an equally varied range of appointments, including a 2 year tour as an instructor at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He has previously worked in the central staff Resources and Programme (Plans) area in the Ministry of Defence Head Office in London, and was the Director of the Naval Staff with a broad portfolio of policy issues, force development and defence diplomacy on behalf of the First Sea Lord and the Navy Board.  He is a graduate of the Joint Staff Defence College and the UK Higher Command and Staff Course. 

Bob is married to Helen and the couple have two mature sons, Ben (a Royal Marines officer) and Harry.  The family home is in Hampshire.  Recently appointed a Freeman of the City of London, Bob enjoys country pursuits and is an enthusiastic adventurer and sportsman.