The new head of the Royal Navy has hailed his sailors and marines as the best in the world as they get ready for an “exciting new era of British maritime power”.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones has taken over as Britain’s senior sailor as his predecessor Admiral Sir George Zambellas steps down after 35 years of service.
On the world’s oldest commissioned warships, 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 Admiral Jones.
Since 2013, Admiral Jones has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Royal Navy as its Fleet Commander, and during his three-year spell in charge, he 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 world’s most advanced fifth generation jet aircraft, the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, will operate from a Royal Navy ship for the first time.
Admiral Jones said: “We owe Sir George a huge debt of gratitude; through this vision and leadership, the Royal Navy’s credibility has been strengthened immeasurably, and with it our self-belief; it is a legacy that will stand the test of time.
“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 new aircraft carriers, the largest warships in our history, will change entirely how the Royal Navy operates.
“Our sailors and marines are the best in the world, and I intend to keep it that way. With the support of our civil servants and our families, I will use all my energy and experience to lead them to success.
“Together, we will make the most of our opportunities, and address our challenges head-on, as we ready ourselves for this exciting new era of British maritime power.”
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.”