/ Overview

James is a British
postgraduate researcher,

of military theory,

naval history,

maritime strategy

and sea power.

Currently a PhD researcher in the Department of War Studies, Kings College London focused on the field of naval history and theory, maritime strategy, sea power and related defence, security issues and theories.

An member of the Laughton Naval History Unit, an associate member of Kings College London’s, Centre for Grand Strategy, Kings Contemporary History Unit and collaborates with the U.S. Naval War College’s John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research as a Research Fellow.

Based out of the Laughton Unit, Department of War Studies, Kings College London, yet often located in the United States of America.

Supervised by Professor Andrew Lambert and Professor Harry Bennett.

Counsel and advisors to pursue higher education research: Commodore M.Clapp CB  Ret. Royal Navy. Major-General J.Thompson CB, OBE Ret. Royal Marines.

The foundations of modern naval history were laid out by the late Sir John Laughton. In establishing the scientific study of naval history and its relationship with the higher education of naval officers he demonstrated the value of historical profession in the development of naval theory and maritime strategy. In the post-1960 revisionist era,  historians roles in many debates were reduced or limited to debates within their own field. This was a misstep.  In the 21st century military historians who are interested in modern defence are returning to the foundations of naval history and theory putting forward that naval history provides the ideal vehicle to debate, analyse and gain direction to many aspects of the military. This has to work in close conjunction with the practitioner [those serving or working in or around defence] by emphasising the vast insight and perspectives that can be gained by tapping into the repository of wisdom that is history. By being an active proponent and part of a intellectual forum leading the renewal of this approach, particularly in an era where historians consistently have to remind many that the fundamental root of the professional study of history, is facts, rather than agenda, ideology and caution when interpretation has to take place. Subscribed to the art of the study of war and history per the literature and thoughts of Prof Laughton, Sir Julian Corbett and Captain Mahan.

To gain insight and a more comprehensive understanding of the narrative of many aspects of past and modern debate, the naval perspective and maritime dynamic should be equally explored.

To understand the value of studying history is to firstly understand that the experiences of the past are a vast repository of wisdom that the modern thinker can immerse themselves in, to gain insights and perspectives on both the process and the possible solutions that have been used before while being a part of a intellectual forum that equally includes practitioners, that are exploring strategy and decisions for today and tomorrow. Some historians like Sir Julian Corbett, and Captain Mahan were futurists, following Professor Laughton’s teachings to study history while looking to the here, now and future.

JamesU.S Naval War College, April 5th 2017.

/ Academic Research

Master of Research.

PhD in progress.

Ten years of research.

One interrelated project.

The research explores theoretical debates about naval strategy and doctrine which goes to the root questions of how navies, ‘think, learn, write and speak’ while being mindful of the need for a close practitioner relationship. It is about studying the higher organisation of defence,  civil-military relationship, interservice rivalry, defence unification, the planning and the management of navies including the efficiency and effectiveness of defence ministries / departments of defense.  This research is timely and pertinent to a wide readership as a fundamental level is looks at how organisations succeed or fail in the short or long term either through role, operation, mission, institutional values and coherence, reform and future proofing.


This includes a strong advocacy for operationalising history in the military and by civilian decision makers across policy, doctrine and organisational practices such as institutional coherence. This revisionist, approach, rooted in the discipline of history identifies how research such as this can be used in areas such as decision-making, management, leadership, administration, strategy and policy construction.

The British Admiralty formed an integral part of the defence machinery of the United Kingdom since the 1500s.  The MRes thesis and research explored the rationale and process involved in the abolishment of the Admiralty between 1955 and 1964. It investigated the circumstance of how the Admiralty was abolished from command and control of the Royal Navy, and the impact that this had on the senior service. The thesis explores the motives, methods and events leading to its abolishment. Through the interrogation of sources and evidence this research has identified debates in the period for and against the existence of the Admiralty, and has probed the founding ideology of the Ministry of Defence.

The research identified the Admiralty as a critical security system and guardian of the ‘the Naval message’ including the understanding of Sea Power and maritime strategy to politicians and the public. It expands further our understanding of how the Admiralty was a repository of Naval experience and wisdom that had significant influence on the performance of the Royal Navy. It concludes that the fundamental structural change with the abolishment was a critical turning point in the narrative of the Royal Navy that may have enabled the genesis of what some term modern British Sea Power blindness.

Discipline of History, Lessons Learnt Ideology, Professional Development, Sea Power as Strategy, Command & Control, Organisational Coherence, Institutional Wisdom, Repositories of Knowledge, Tradition of Victory, Instructions & Doctrine,Theory to Practice, Practitioner-Academic relationship, Historians as Futurists, Strategic Thinking, Scholarly Mantra, Naval Message and Politcal-Public Engagement, Fighting Spirit, Management, Decline and Ascendency of Organisations, Change Management, Risk Analysis and Management, Cultural and Organisational Reform.

The ability to nurture intellectual discussion, continually prod navies to progress and tackle the many challenges of today and tomorrow often forgets that the organisational environment, command and control, administration and the higher organisation of defence is undoubtedly been a factor in the fighting effectiveness and efficiency of many navies, particularly the Royal Navy and United States Navy let alone the on going devlopment of naval theory. We should not overlook these factors when studying perspectives on the past while at the same time planning future direction.

JamesU.S. Naval Academy, McMullen Naval History Symposium, Sept 15th 2017.
PhD: Maritime Strategy in the Unified Defence Era.

The research explores the challenges and struggle for British maritime strategy post 1945 and compares this to the U.S. Navy’s experience while revisiting some of the key concepts and theory behind naval power, sea power and maritime strategy as part of defence and grand strategy from the unification narrative perspective.

PhD: Navy Department & Creation of Unified U.S. Defense.

The research explores and revisits the integration of the Department of the Navy into the ‘Pentagon’ and it’s impact on certain aspects of the future development of  U.S. Navy.

PhD: Development of Naval thinking & its relationship with the roots of Unification.

Research explores British and American naval experiences of the  interaction, interface and relationship between the ‘intellectual forum’ of thinkers, historians, the ‘machinery’ of modern defence and the ongoing development of naval thinking in the unified defence and so called ‘joint’ era.

MRes: The Abolition of the British Admiralty

Research scrutinises and comprehensively details the process of the abolition of the British Admiralty including the short and long term impact and influence on the Royal Navy.



The Discipline.

Other Research.

Naval Perspective.

NAVAL WARGAMING and Conflict Simulation

Naval Wargaming for modern defence and historical study. Digital programs and physical models.

3D Modelling and Rendering

3D rendering of warships past and present as a tool for research.

Post-1945 Naval History.

Encouraging the recording, preservation and study of post-1945 naval and maritime history. Post 1945-Naval history matters!

1982 Falklands War

A special long term investigation offering up perspective and insight into previously unaired or selectively avoided discussion of command and control on what was a naval operation.

Laughton Unit

In 2016 under permission from Prof A Lambert,  I reformed the Laughton Naval History Unit’s [Kings College London] online and offline presence such as new websites, social media and other outputs.