General Counsel of the Navy


The General Counsel of the Department of the Navy is the senior civilian lawyer in the U.S. Department of the Navy and is the senior legal adviser to the Secretary of the Navy. The Office of the General Counsel of the Navy provides legal advice to the Secretary, the Under Secretary of the Navy and the various Assistant Secretaries of the Navy and their staffs. The General Counsel of the Navy is the third highest-ranking civilian office in the Department of the Navy, behind the Secretary and Under Secretary of the Navy.

General Counsel of the Navy
Seal of the Office of the General Counsel
Flag of the General Counsel and the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy
John P. Coffey, Navy General Counsel.jpg
Sean Coffey[1]
since February 16, 2022
Department of the Navy
Office of the Secretary
StyleThe Honorable
(formal address in writing)
Reports toSecretary of the Navy
Under Secretary of the Navy
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
NominatorThe President with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 8019
PrecursorSolicitor General of the Navy
First holderH. Struve Hensel
Succession18th in SecDef succession by seniority of appointment
DeputyPrincipal Deputy General Counsel
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level IV[2]
WebsiteOfficial website

The General Counsel maintains a close working relationship with the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, the senior uniformed lawyer in the Department of the Navy who performs statutory duties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The General Counsel manages nearly 650 attorneys worldwide, helps to oversee the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and advises senior Navy and Marine Corps officials on litigation, acquisition, contractual, fiscal, environmental, property, personnel, legislative, ethics, and intelligence law issues.

General Counsels of the Navy, 1941—presentEdit

The first General Counsel of the Navy was appointed in 1941. From 1862 to 1941, essentially the same function was provided by the Solicitor General of the Navy.[3]

Image Name Assumed office Left office President appointed by Secretary served under
  H. Struve Hensel July 10, 1941 January 30, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt Frank Knox
James Forrestal
  W. John Kenney February 5, 1945 April 2, 1945 James Forrestal
Patrick H. Hodgson April 3, 1945 October 31, 1945
J. Henry Neale November 1, 1945 July 26, 1946 Harry S. Truman
William Wemple July 27, 1946 August 23, 1946
James T. Hill, Jr. August 24, 1946 May 15, 1947
Hudson B. Cox May 16, 1947 April 29, 1949 James Forrestal
John L. Sullivan
Harold B. Gross April 30, 1949 August 30, 1953 Francis P. Matthews
Dan A. Kimball
Robert B. Anderson
F. Trowbridge vom Baur December 15, 1953 April 30, 1960 Dwight D. Eisenhower Robert B. Anderson
Charles Thomas
Thomas S. Gates, Jr.
William B. Franke
  Meritt H. Steger

May 2, 1960

May 31, 1971 William B. Franke
John Connally
Fred Korth
Paul Nitze
Paul Robert Ignatius
John Chafee
Hart T. Mankin

June 7, 1971

July 21, 1973 Richard Nixon John Chafee
John Warner
E. Grey Lewis August 1, 1973 April 21, 1977 John Warner
J. William Middendorf
  Togo D. West, Jr. April 22, 1977 January 13, 1979 Jimmy Carter W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Coleman Hicks May 25, 1979 January 13, 1981 Edward Hidalgo
Hugh O'Neill (Acting) June 1981 August 24, 1981 Ronald Reagan John Lehman
  Walter T. Skallerup, Jr. August 24, 1981 July 29, 1987
Harvey J. Wilcox (Deputy GC) July 29, 1987 November 21, 1988 Jim Webb
William L. Ball
  Lawrence L. Lamade November 22, 1988 November 21, 1989 William L. Ball
Henry L. Garrett III
  Craig S. King November 22, 1989 January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush Henry L. Garrett III
Sean O'Keefe
Steven S. Honigman June 1, 1993 March 15, 1998 Bill Clinton John Howard Dalton
Eugene Angrist (Deputy GC) March 15, 1998 September 28, 1998
  Stephen W. Preston September 28, 1998 November 17, 2000 Richard Danzig
  John E. Sparks (acting) November 17, 2000 December 12, 2000
William Molzahn (Deputy GC) December 12, 2000 July 25, 2001 Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
  Alberto J. Mora July 25, 2001 January 1, 2006 George W. Bush Gordon R. England
  Paul C. Ney, Jr. (acting) January 2, 2006 September 25, 2006 Donald C. Winter
  Frank Jimenez September 25, 2006 April 30, 2009
  Anne M. Brennan (acting) April 30, 2009 March 11, 2010 Barack Obama Ray Mabus
  Paul L. Oostburg Sanz March 12, 2010 January 20, 2017
  Anne M. Brennan (acting) January 20, 2017 March 6, 2019 Donald J Trump Richard V. Spencer
  Garrett L. Ressing (acting) March 7, 2019 January 5, 2020 Richard V. Spencer
Thomas B. Modly (acting)
  Robert Sander January 6, 2020 January 20, 2021 Thomas B. Modly (acting)
  Garrett L. Ressing (acting) January 20, 2021 February 16, 2022 Joe Biden Thomas Harker (acting)
Carlos Del Toro
  Sean Coffey February 16, 2022 incumbent Carlos Del Toro

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Home - SECRETARY OF THE NAVY" (PDF). Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5315
  3. ^ History of the Office of General Counsel of the Navy

External linksEdit

  • Official website