Royal Navy appoints new Fleet Commander

The Royal Navy has welcomed its newly-appointed Fleet Commander and Chief Naval Warfare Officer at a handover ceremony in Portsmouth.

Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE takes up the role from outgoing Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB  who is to be promoted Admiral and appointed First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff in succession to Admiral Sir George Zambellas GCB DSC ADC DL.

The ceremony took place on HMS Dauntless with the signing of the official handover documents held on the flight deck in front of the ship’s company and family members.

VAdm Key said: “It is a great privilege to take command of the Fleet, building on all that has been achieved by my predecessor.  

It is a great privilege to take command of the Fleet, building on all that has been achieved by my predecessor.

Vice Admiral Ben Key

“In recent years the sailors and marines of the Naval Service have consistently delivered success on operations. 

“I am determined to support the Fleet to ensure it can continue to do so. 

“In an uncertain world we must be ready and able to fight and win, and the men and women in the front line must be supported to do so. 

“I very much look forward to playing my part in this.”

VAdm Key joined the Royal Navy in 1984, qualifying as both helicopter aircrew and as Principal Warfare Officer.

He has commanded four ships – minehunter HMS Sandown, Type 23 frigates HMS Iron Duke and HMS Lancaster and aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.

Shore appointments have included MOD, an advisor to the Iraqi Director Joint Staff in Baghdad, PJHQ and HQ AIR Command.

His most recent role was as Flag Officer Sea Training responsible for recruiting, individual and operational training.

VAdm Jones, who will be appointed First Sea Lord in April, said: “It has been a huge honour and privilege to serve as Fleet Commander for the past three years. 

“During that time, the Royal Navy has remained as busy as ever, deployed worldwide deterring would be aggressors, reassuring our allies and promoting the United Kingdom and our interests around the globe.

“It has been a pleasure for me to meet so many of the extraordinary men and women, sailors, Marines and civilians alike, who make the Royal Navy truly world class. 

“In Vice Admiral Ben Key I know the Fleet is in hugely competent hands and I wish him every success in this role which I have so thoroughly enjoyed.”