Royal Navy welcomes its new First Sea Lord during ceremony on HMS Victory

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, right, and new Royal Navy leader Admiral Sir Philip Jones
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, right, and new Royal Navy leader Admiral Sir Philip Jones

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THE Royal Navy’s new top sailor has stepped into office.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones took over from Admiral Sir George Zambellas as the First Sea Lord during a ceremony aboard the world’s oldest commissioned warship, HMS Victory.

He is now in charge of more than 30,000 sailors and will oversee Britain’s largest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth coming into service.

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.

The ceremony was also 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 programme to deliver the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

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 and commanded the frigates HMS Beaver and HMS Coventry.