AFTER an illustrious 43-year career, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope has handed over the reins as First Sea Lord.
At a handover ceremony on HMS Victory yesterday, Adml Stanhope stood down as First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff to make way for Adml Sir George Zambellas.
He was joined by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards; Adml Jon Greenert, the United States Navy Chief of Naval Operations; and Adml Bernard Rogel, the French Navy Chief of Staff.
The handover was marked by the signing of the Victory Book and the raising and lowering of Adml Stanhope’s and Adml Zambellas’ flags.
Adml Stanhope said: ‘The Royal Navy’s sense of purpose and strength of ethos have made for a hugely varied and rewarding 43 years, during which I have enjoyed being a part of an organisation that makes a positive difference around the world.
‘Throughout, it has been a privilege to serve with and honour to lead such brilliant people – sailors, marines and civil servants.
‘The Royal Navy has a fantastic future.
‘If I could rejoin, I would.’
It was the first time HMS Victory has hosted the ceremony, which until last year was the flagship of the Second Sea Lord.
As the new First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Adml Zambellas is the Royal Navy’s professional head and chairs the Navy Board.
He is responsible to the Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the service, and supports the Chief of Defence Staff in the management and direction of the armed forces.
Adml Zambellas said: ‘We owe Sir Mark a huge debt of gratitude for his unstinting professionalism, strategic vision and leadership of the Royal Navy.
‘He has worked tirelessly for the service for more than 40 years and leaves a legacy of a highly capable, efficient and globally deployable future fleet.
‘It is a privilege to succeed him.’