Educated at a Cornish Grammar School and later at Imperial College, London, Adrian Johns joined the Royal Navy in 1973. After service in the submarine RORQUAL and HM Ships WHITBY and SHEARTON, he trained as a helicopter pilot, specialising in anti-submarine warfare. Following a tour with 824 Squadron flying Sea Kings embarked for the final commission of the old ARK ROYAL, he qualified as a flying instructor in 1979, serving at RNAS Culdrose.
After 18 months in command of the patrol craft HMS YARNTON in Hong Kong from 1981-1983, he attended the Staff Course at the Royal Naval College Greenwich, and then returned to aviation, converting to the Lynx helicopter. He served as the Flight Commander in HMS BRILLIANT and as the Staff Aviation Officer to the NATO Commander of the Standing Naval Force Atlantic from 1984-1985 before returning to the Surface Flotilla as the Executive Officer of the frigate HMS ARETHUSA. Promoted to Commander in 1988, Adrian Johns then spent a short period in China, giving a series of presentations on helicopter operations to the Chinese Navy. On return to the UK, he commanded the frigates JUNO and ARIADNE, the latter deploying with the Dartmouh Training Squadron on ENDEAVOUR 90, a circumnavigation of the globe. In 1990, he returned ashore as the Training Commander at HMS RALEIGH, the Navy's New Entry training establishment. This was followed by appointments in the Ministry of Defence, initially as a Desk Officer in the Directorate of Navy Plans, and then, after promotion to Captain in 1994, in the Directorate of Naval Operations as the Assistant Director (Air).
He took command of his fourth ship, HMS CAMPBELTOWN, in 1995, serving in home waters and abroad, including 7 months as the NATO Flagship for a deployment which encompassed UN embargo operations in the Adriatic, counter-drug work in the Caribbean, and exercises with former Soviet states in the Baltic. He left HMS CAMPBELTOWN in November 1996 to lead the Royal Navy Presentation Team for a year. In January 1998 he returned to the Ministry of Defence, firstly as Assistant Director (Warfare) in the Directorate of Navy Plans, and then as Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Defence Staff. He was appointed CBE in the New Year's Honours List 2001.
Following the Higher Command and Staff Course at Shrivenham in early 2001, he served for nearly two years as Commanding Officer of HMS OCEAN, an appointment which included three operational deployments to the Middle East, including military action against Iraq in the spring of 2003. Following this sea appointment, Adrian Johns was then placed as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff in May 2003. Having been promoted to Vice Admiral in October 2005, he took up his present appointment as Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command.
Adrian Johns enjoys music, cycling, surfing and the outdoor life in general. He married Suzie in 1976 and they live with their son and three daughters in London.