AFTER just 12 months in the job, the commander of Portsmouth Naval Base is moving on.
Commodore Tony Radakin is leaving for a top military planning post at the Ministry of Defence in London where he will be in charge of a £70 billion budget.
His yet-to-be-announced replacement will be the base’s third commander in four years.
The chopping and changing comes at a crucial time for the home of the Royal Navy, which is undergoing a major £400m overhaul for the arrival of two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers – the largest UK warships ever built..
Cdre Radakin, 46, will leave his current job at the end of October.
He said it had been a privilege to be at the helm of the base at such an important time in its 800-year history, adding: ‘Over the last 12 months we have made great strides in planning and preparing for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales – which will be in service by the end of the decade.
‘The ships will be the biggest that the city has ever seen and their arrival heralds a remarkable change in the city and the naval base’s fortunes.’
Cdre Radakin, who lives with his wife and their four young sons near Winchester, previously served as the commander of the maritime task force in Iraq which protected the country’s £1bn-a-week oil exports following the fall of Saddam Hussein.
He was commissioned as a naval officer in 1990 and was captain of the frigate HMS Norfolk in the early stages of the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004.
He returned to the Gulf twice to help establish the new Iraqi navy, for which he was awarded an American medal.
Cdre Radakin’s new job is his fourth based in Whitehall.
It will see him take charge of mapping a course for the armed forces over the next two decades.
The MoD announced he will be in charge of a £70 billion budget ‘to ensure the future force is adequately equipped’.
Cdre Radakin said: ‘I am looking forward to the exciting challenge that my new job offers but will always have fond memories of Portsmouth and will take a keen interest in how the base continues its progress in the run-up to the arrival of the carriers.’
His short tenure at Portsmouth Naval Base coincided with preparatory work to dredge 3.5million tonnes of mud from Portsmouth Harbour to make the channel 3ft wider and deeper for the navy’s new carriers to come and go safely for the next 50 years.
The dredging will begin in earnest next year.
Cdre Radakin also saw through the completion of a new ammunition jetty and the planning stages of work to reinforce the base’s jetties to cope with the sheer size and weight of the new warships.
A Royal Navy spokesman said a successor to Cdre Radakin will be appointed soon.