“If you plan to make a voyage of discovery, choose a ship of small draught”
Captain James Cook rejecting the large ships offered by the Admiralty for the search of a new continent.
Vice Admiral (Ret) Hernan Couyoumdjian PDF Print E-mail


Vice Admiral Hernán Couyoumdjian was born in Santiago de Chile in 1942. He studied at The Grange School and entered the Naval Academy in 1957, graduating as a Midshipman, first of his class, in 1961.

During 1962 he went on training cruises on the Brigantine-Schooner ESMERALDA and on the Transport PRESIDENTE PINTO, in the North and South Pacific and along the Chilean coast.


He followed the Navy Underwater Demolition Team and the Gunnery and Missile courses at the Naval Polytechnic Academy and the Basic Military Parachute and Jump Master Courses at the Chilean Army Special Forces School.


He served, as an Air Control Officer, Operations Room and Gunnery Officer, on board the Cruisers O´Higgins and Prat, on the Destroyer Almirante Riveros and on the Frigate Almirante Lynch, of which he formed part of the first complement while she was being built and trained in Scotland and England. On board these ships he managed both the maintenance and the operation of the systems under his responsibility. He was nine years Security and Safety Officer on board ships and shore establishments.


He is a Naval Polytechnic Engineer and has followed various courses on Missiles and Control Systems at establishments of the Royal Navy and defence equipment manufacturers in Northern Ireland, England, France and the Netherlands, serving as Head Gunnery Instructor at the Navy Weapons School in Viña del Mar.


He was aid to the Commander in Chief of the Navy Admiral José T. Merino, Commanding Officer of the Chilean Navy Seal Command and later Commanding Officer of AGS YELCHO, on which ship he carried out various survey and oceanographic operations, Antarctic replenishment trips, towing, salvage operations, fleet support and replenishment of maritime navigational aids.

Admiral Couyoumdjian is a Staff Officer with a Diploma on Naval Warfare at the Naval War College of the Spanish Navy, Magister in Naval and Maritime Sciences; he was Professor and Deputy Director of the Chilean Naval War College, and Head of the First Joint Course of the Chilean Armed Forces War Colleges.


During the 1983 crisis with Argentina he served as Chief of Staff and Operations Officer of the Amphibious Task Force of the Navy.


In 1985 he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Training Ship ESMERALDA on its Cruise along the South Atlantic, crossing Cape Horn under sail, from East to West, for which he was named Albatross of the Amicale Internationale des Capitaines Long Cours Cap Horniers of Saint Malo- France.


In 1986 he was a member of the work group which created the Research and Development Directorate of the Navy and had an important role in the Sea Power Modernization Program of the Navy. In 1987 as a Captain, he served as Head of the Logistic Department of the General Staff of the Navy, attending the Sea Power Symposium in Newport as Chief Advisor to the Commander In Chief. At the same time, during 1986-87 he was head of the Navy’s Diagnosis Committee and in 1988 he was sent as Naval Attaché to the Chilean Embassy in Paris, being also accredited in Bonn, Germany, for a two year period. During this period he also managed the seven Projects of the Navy in France.


In 1990 he served as Commanding Officer of the Helicopter- Carrier Destroyer BLANCO ENCALADA and in 1991 was promoted to Rear Admiral to take over the post of Weapons Director of the Navy, 1991/2. In this job he had the responsibility of all the Materiel, Weapons Systems, ammunition, and related equipment of the Navy.


During 1993-4 he organized and became the first Director of Programs, Research and Development of the Navy acting simultaneously as President of the Administrative Development Committee “Marina 2000”, being transferred in December 1994 to the First Naval Zone as Commander in Chief and Naval Justice 1995/6. In this post he was in command of the Navy Transport Command, all the schools of the Navy and the Naval and Maritime activities (Maritime Governances and Port Captains) in the jurisdiction. He was also in charge of all the Armed Forces, Polices and Civilian institutions for elections and internal disasters.


In 1997 he served as Director General of Personnel of the Navy, post at which he was responsible of the top level management of: Personnel, Health System, Welfare and Educational Services of the Navy.


During 1998 he served as Chief of the General Staff of the Navy, second in seniority to the Commander in Chief and responsible for the planning and all the activities and budget of the Navy. In December of that year he was appointed Chief of Defence Staff at the Ministry of Defence in Santiago, where he served (1999-2000) under three Ministers of Defense. In this job he was responsible of the National Security planning and Senior Military Advisor to Presidents Eduardo Frei and Ricardo Lagos; President of the Intelligence and Educational Committees of the Armed Forces, Secretary of the National Security Council, member of the National Defence Council and Joint Chiefs of Staff, Supreme National Defence Council, Antarctic Policy Council, Foreign Affairs Policy Council. He was also in charge of the planning of Peace Keeping Operations with UN and multinational agreements, modifications of Presidential Directive for operations under Chapter VI and VII of the Charter of the UN; President of the Bilateral Defence meetings with Peru and Argentina and senior military spokesman in all the bilateral international meetings.


A founding member and President of the Centre for Strategic Studies of the Navy, member of the Board of the Maritime University, of the Superior Board of ASMAR (Navy Shipyards), of the Superior Board of the Armed Forces Pension System, of the Board of Directors of the Chilean Insurance Mutuality and Minister of the Court Martial. He was President of the Valparaiso Naval Club, Counsellor of the Chilean Copper Council and of the National Superior Education Council for the autonomy process of all the private universities in the country.


Admiral Couyoumdjian holds several decorations, amongst which the Spanish Naval Merit 1st Class imposed by the King of Spain, Commandeur de L´Ordre Nationale du Merit by the Government of France and Commander of the Legion of Merit awarded by the US Secretary of Defence.


He retired on the 1st of January 2001, after 44 years in the Navy, 10 years as Flag Officer, being designated by the President as member of the Bicentennial Commission. He now works as a Strategic Consultant and partner of a number of business companies, to which he has added the experience of many years in the family retail business.


He was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Valparaiso (2003-7), member of the Advisory Council of Defense Policy of the Minister of Defense 2005/6 and member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies ( London), writing articles on strategic matters in newspapers and magazines. Also President of the Armenian Community in Chile (2007-2009).


As a member of the Advisory Council of  the Centro de Estudios Científicos CECS of Valdivia, he was part of the 2002 CECS/NASA/ARMADA de CHILE Airborne Exploration over the Antarctic Peninsula.


He is at present President of Oriflama S.A. company which is carrying out the recovery of the  1770 wreck “Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo y San Leopoldo “ ex-Oriflama and President of Antartic Shipping S.A. ( Eco adventure tourism to Antarctic and Arctic)


He worked as a consultant and in the design of Command and Control Systems. He designed a Business Intelligence System, a Multifield Strategic Management Model, a Crisis Prediction and Management Model for the Ministry of the Presidential Secretary and a Model for Relations of Private Companies and Government Institutions with Society.


In his youth he took part at the management level of the family retail business. Today he has part ownership and control over the following companies:

Couyoumdjian y Cia Ltda: Strategic Consultants (; ComplexBiz Limitada: Representative/ Distributor of Forensic and Defense product manufacturers (


His life long experience makes him an all rounder system thinker with a powerful analytic and creative capability.



Reñaca, September 2010.