UK welcomes new head of Royal Navy

The Royal Navy now has a new leader as Admiral Sir Philip Jones took over the role of the First Sea Lord from Admiral Sir George Zambellas on April 8.

In the great cabin of the world’s oldest commissioned warship, HMS Victory, Admiral Zambellas formally handed over command of more than 30,000 men and women, nearly 90 warships, nuclear submarines and support vessels, the helicopters and jets of the Fleet Air Arm and the elite Naval infantry of the Royal Marines to the man who has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Royal Navy since 2013 as its Fleet Commander.

During his three-year spell in charge, Admiral Jones will oversee the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will begin sea trials and the the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter will operate from a Royal Navy ship for the first time.

Admiral Jones said: “In these uncertain times, the Royal Navy continues to protect our nation’s interests at home and around the world. In the years ahead, the introduction of the two largest aircraft carriers, the largest warships in our history, will change entirely how the Royal Navy operates.”

The ceremony was attended by the head of the US Navy, Admiral John Richardson, and US Coast Guard, Admiral Paul Zukunft, and France’s Senior Naval officer, Admiral Bernard Rogel.

Admiral Zambellas joined the Royal Navy in September 1980 and served as a Sea King pilot before commanding three warships, including HMS Chatham which saw action during operations in Sierra Leone. As First Sea Lord he has overseen the ongoing program to deliver the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review, which sets out a bold path of investment for the Royal Navy.

As his flag was lowered onboard HMS Victory, Admiral Zambellas said:

“It has been an enormous honour to lead the Royal Navy. The Senior Service has always played an important role in the UK’s defence and security. Now it has a leading role. This strategic responsibility will be delivered because the Navy is full of brilliant people – sailors, marines, civilians, and their supportive families. They have a fantastic future ahead of them, as they grow their Navy’s capability and ambition. If I could, I’d join them all over again.”

Admiral Jones joined the Navy in 1978, saw action in the Falklands Conflict aboard HMS Fearless – he’s one of the few veterans of the 1982 conflict still in the Service – and commanded the frigates HMS Beaver and HMS Coventry.