Royal Navy has 'lost its ambition' and 'will fail' if it doesn't transform, outgoing top officer warns
THE Royal Navy must regain its ambition and transform or it will ‘fail and we will lose’, the outgoing deputy head of the Senior Service has warned in a searingly honest letter to sailors.
Vice Admiral Nick Hine, who is retiring from his role as Second Sea Lord, took the rare step of posting a photograph of his exit letter on social media.
Within it, the experienced officer insisted it had been an ‘honour and a privilege to serve’ in the navy, but warned that change must happen.
In a blunt statement, Vice Adm Hine bemoaned the ‘pedants and naysayers’, despairing over the type of thinking he had encountered during his time helping to drive change in the navy.
In a parting potshot at those lacking the vision to develop the fleet, he said: ‘Please understand that the need for and, the value of change, is not a fantasy – if we don't transform we will fail and we will lose. It is that simple.’
Within his letter, the senior commander said that those who had known him for a long time would say that his ‘big bugbear was that our great navy has lost its ambition’.
‘I have despaired at times that collectively we had become self-censoring, risk-averse and lacking in curiosity, confidence and critical thinking skills,’ he wrote.
‘We have these qualities but have allowed a rose-tinted view of tradition and a spurious belief that you can avoid risk by sticking to a failing status quo to avoid driving transformation.’
His comments came during a period of capped spending on the navy and wider military despite facing changing threats.
Last month, a report by the Commons defence committee called for a ‘bigger navy’ to be funded by the government, to address the ‘significant threats’ to Britain over the next decade.
During his time in post, Vice Adm Hine had unveiled the navy's vision of what its fleet could look like in the future, including an enormous flying drone station in the stratosphere and an underwater flagship vessel.
‘We have a mountain to climb to give the navy a sustainable and successful future,’ he warned, adding that ‘significant progress’ has already been made.
The outgoing deputy chief of naval staff, who served in tours of Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq, praised those who ‘strive so hard for the success of the organisation’, adding: ‘I can only pass on my genuine thanks.’
But he said: ‘I am saddened that I have not been able to realise the level of ambition that I know is possible and needed.’