Hugh Beard joined the Royal Navy in 1987 as a Naval College Entrant and gained his initial sea experience in HM Ships Bristol, Peterel and Cornwall before volunteering for service in submarines. He gained operational experience in both SSNs (Tireless and Trenchant) and an SSBN (Victorious), as well as enjoying the unusual opportunity of surfacing at the North Pole in May 1991. Completing the Submarine Command Course, or 'Perisher', in 1999, he then joined HMS Vengeance as Second in Command for post-build trials (including the test firing of a Trident missile) and further deterrent patrols.
Promoted to Commander in 2005, he joined HMS Trenchant for a hugely enjoyable and rewarding 27 months in Command. This period included more operational patrols as well as participation in the International Fleet Review in July 2005 and the first successful UK Block IV Tomahawk missile firing. On promotion to Captain in 2012, Hugh returned to sea in the Type 23 Frigate HMS Westminster as Commanding Officer and Captain Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), responsible for the development ASW capability at sea. During another 27 months in Command, he completed a seven-month operational deployment to the Gulf and Indian Ocean, which included counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations off the Horn of Africa, and was activated twice for ASW operations in the North Atlantic, acting as CTG on both occasions.
A graduate of ACSC (2002/3) and HCSC (2012), Hugh has also completed a number of staff tours in the MOD, PJHQ and Navy Command. As Navy representative and then the SDSR programme lead in the Strategy Management area, he gained a fascinating insight into MOD prioritisation and decision-making through the 2010 SDSR and Spending Review. In the NATO and Europe Policy area in the MOD, he had responsibility for capability development, which was dominated by developing the UK’s role and contribution as the framework nation of the JEF and as part of NATO’s VJTF, as well as driving forward the CJEF with the French. As UK TLAM officer in PJHQ J3, he was responsible for the development of operational policy and employment of the missile system.
Selected to be the Navy’s representative in the cross-Government Cabinet Office SDSR team, he was at the centre of the development and drafting of the 2015 NSS/SDSR.
On promotion to Commodore in 2016, Hugh returned to the Finance and Military Capability area of the MOD as Head of Capability Strategy where he had the lead for future force structure development and design. The Capability Strategy team played a pivotal role in developing the Department’s input to both 2017 National Security Capability Review and 2018 Modernising Defence Programme which dominated this challenging assignment.
Promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Capability) in November 2018, he is relishing the opportunity to combine his MOD experience and capability perspective with Navy Command expertise to continue to make the case for a strong, modern Royal Navy now and into the future.
He has a Masters Degree in Defence Studies from KCL and is a Younger Brother of Trinity House.
Hugh is married to Jenny, a school teacher, and they live in Hampshire. They have three grown up children who still (occasionally) join them for family holidays around the world. His interests include most sports, but particularly athletics, squash and golf, as well as reading, theatre and cinema.