Field entered the navy as a cadet in 1868, becoming a sub-lieutenant in 1874, and a lieutenant only a year later as a result of his success in the examinations. He received the Beaufort Testimonial for 1875. After a few months on HMS BLACK PRINCE he embarked on his career in surveying and hydrography, the branch of the service in which he remained. From 1876 to 1880 he served on the surveying vessel HMS FAWN and in 1881 was employed in his first piece of independent work, as Admiralty Surveyor for the river entrances of the Niger delta, known as the Oil Rivers. From 1882 to 1884 he was on HMS SYLVIA and his first command was HMS DART in 1885, surveying around New Guinea and Tasmania. In 1889 he was promoted to commander and served from 1890 to 1894 on HMS EGERIA around Borneo. He was twice commended by the Admiralty for his surveying work. In 1895 he was promoted to captain and from 1896 to 1899 commanded HMS PENGUIN, surveying islands in the south west Pacific including deep borings on Funafuti Atoll under the auspices of the Royal Society. This was his last foreign service and on his return, he spent the next four years until 1904, surveying on HMS RESEARCH in home waters. In 1903 in company with HMS FLIRT he was involved in sounding experiments at speed in the Channel with the resulting tables bearing his name. He was Hydrographer from 1904 to 1909, was made a Rear-Admiral in 1906 and in 1909 was appointed the first Admiral representative on the Port of London Authority, a post he held until 1925. In 1910 he retired and the same year was promoted to Vice-Admiral on the retired list, becoming Admiral in 1913. In 1905 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 1911 received the KCB. From 1910 to 1930 he was Acting Conservator of the River Mersey, and was a Nautical Assessor to the House of Lords. As a leading authority he wrote on surveying and revised and enlarged the "Hydrographical Surveying" of his predecessor as Hydrographer, Rear-Admiral Sir William Wharton, publishing the 3rd edition in 1909 and the fourth in 1920. With Purey-Cust he patented the Field/Cust automatic tide-recorder in 1908. His father, John Bousquet Field (1819-1869) served as a midshipman on HMS PICKLE in 1839 and became a captain.
The papers were donated by Cecilia Field, the daughter of Arthur Mostyn Field, in 1979, 1981 and 1982. The bulk of the collection consists of letters written by Field to his wife when he was captain of HMS PENGUIN surveying in the Pacific 1896-1899, and from HMS RESEARCH surveying in home waters 1900-1903. The letters were sorted into bundles and labelled by Arthur Mostyn Field and Cecilia Field and this arrangement has been kept. In addition there is a journal kept by his father John Bousquet Field 1839, his own journal 1870 to 1871, his diary 1881, and some personal reminiscences, undated. Other items comprise ephemera and printed material. The museum Hydrography Collection contains charts by Field relating to the voyages and Admiralty charts produced under his aegis as Hydrographer. There is also a memoir by his friend G. Keith Gordon of the Navy's attempts to suppress the slave trade off east Africa in 1873. For further details see printed lists.