Head of British Navy’s South West Fleet Retires

Head of British Navy’s South West Fleet Retires

The head of the Royal Navy’s fleet in the South West is retiring after 37 years overseeing great changes.

Commodore Jake Moores, commander of the Devonport flotilla’s 21 ships and submarines at Plymouth, says the Royal Navy has become smaller, but more committed and effective during his career.

A Devon resident, he will be leaving HM Naval Base, Devonport, with his flotilla busy operating throughout the world, including nuclear-powered Trafalgar submarines on underwater duties and the Type 23 frigates HMS Monmouth, HMS Argyll and HMS Northumberland, policing the Atlantic and Middle East trade routes.

At the same time, the survey ships HMS Enterprise and HMS Scott have been exploring the unknown depths and discovering new features which are crucial to the safety of global shipping navigation.

Commodore Moores, a submariner with three submarine commands behind him, said:

“I have finally come to terms with leaving the Navy after 37 years. I have seen great change in my time. I leave it in better shape. The Navy is smaller now, but it is more committed, more professional and effective. There are fewer ships, but they are more capable with more armaments, such as the amazing Type 45 destroyers.

“ I am proud to say Devonport flotilla is playing a strategically important role throughout the world; as I speak in the Middle East and the Atlantic. My focus has been there because of this presence. The future is very healthy too with the Astute class submarines proving already to have the potential to be hugely capable for years to come. I have seen HMS Astute operating at sea and was very impressed.’’

After working at Faslane in Scotland as the commanding officer of the flotilla there, he returned to Devonport last year, completing a circle of service which has included commanding officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, Devon, the MOD in London and serving in numerous submarines.

His first ambition while still at university studying environmental sciences however, was to become a hydrographer with the survey ships. He was inspired by a former head of his combined cadet force (CCF) to join the Navy and after experiencing life on board HMS Odin he was determined to join the submarine service in 1981 after graduation.

“I was inspired by the CCF to consider the Navy and impressed specifically by the submarine service and its esprit d’ corps, its challenging and totally professional nature and sense of camaraderie.”

After training in Gosport, Hampshire, Cdre Moores served in HMS Conquerer in Faslane and said the submarine service more than lived up to his expectations. He brought the submarine HMS Opportune out of refit in Plymouth and passed the famously tough ‘Perisher’ training course for submarine commanding officers, taught by the soon to retire head of the Navy, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.

He has commanded HMS Odin, HMS Sovereign, the latter deployed twice, and he was also the first captain of the nuclear armed giant Vanguard class submarine HMS Vanguard out of refit, for which the enormous number 9 dock was built in HM Naval Base, Devonport, providing decades of work for Plymouth. Cdre Moores said:

“I feel privileged to be the first CO of the refitted submarines built to carry the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent and to fire a test missile off the East Coast of the US before going on the first patrol.’’

Among the most significant changes to the submarine force Cdre Moores has seen is the change from 27 conventionally-powered (diesel) submarines to a fleet of nuclear powered submarines. He said:

“There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Conventionally powered submarines are more flexible and adaptable. They are more relaxed to command because they don’t have the added responsibilities of nuclear power.

“They have a smaller crew and can be taken into shallower water to undertake more potentially exciting covert coastal operations. More ports are able and willing to take non-nuclear-powered vessels which allows more diplomatic visits and shore leave.’’

However, nuclear-powered submarines are more operationally capable because they can remain underwater for much longer without the need to surface to ‘breathe’ for the engine and are faster and can operate with more independence from support.

After his sea-going career Cdre Moores worked at the MOD in London and became the commanding officer of the Royal Navy’s officer training school, Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. While there he fell in love with the town and moved there with his wife, the training manager at ‘Thrive – Fronting the Challenge’ a company based in Newton Abbot.

The couple have two sons, one a super-yacht deckhand and the other a financial consultant. He said:

“Working at Dartmouth was my most rewarding experience because I was changing people’s lives for the better. They walk into the college, just as I did at the beginning of my career, on the brink of a completely new way of life and they pass out often a new person living their potential and ambition.

“I was closely involved in Dartmouth life as Commodore of the College and look forward to continuing that fantastic relationship for many years to come.’’

After a spell in charge of the Navy’s Faslane flotilla of mine hunters and Vanguard submarines, Cdre Moores came to his final post in Plymouth. In retirement he will be busy as a trained mediator, a consultant on leadership and management as well as a consultant to Twofour Group to develop their digital simulation training.

Naval Today Staff, March 28, 2013; Image: Royal Navy