Current Position: First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Royal Navy.
Speaking in: Eighth Week, Michaelmas 2010
Speaking on: The Royal Naval Contribution to UK Defence and Security
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As the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, a position he took up in July 2009, Mark Stanhope is the Royal Navy's professional head and Chairman of the Navy Board. He is responsible to the Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Naval Service, and as a member of the Defence Council supports the Secretary of State in the management and direction of the Armed Forces through prerogative and statutory powers. As a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, he advises the Chief of the Defence Staff on maritime strategy and policy whilst as a member of the Defence Board, he has a collective responsibility for providing strategic direction to the department, managing performance and ensuring that Defence delivers the required outputs. He is also the Top Level Budget holder for the Naval Sector and advises the Permanent Under-Secretary on resource allocation and budgetary planning in the light of defence policy and naval priorities. He thus holds both Single-Service Executive Committee and Departmental responsibilities.
Joining the Royal Navy in 1970, his career has included command of submarines and surface ships as well as broad experience in Whitehall and the NATO Alliance. During the Cold War he commanded the conventional submarine HMS ORPHEUS (1981-1983) and the nuclear powered submarine HMS SPLENDID (1986-1989). Utilising his experience in the submarine Flotilla he was the “Teacher” of prospective submarine commanding officers on the unique “Perisher” course (1989-1990) and commanded the Submarine Sea Training Organisation (1993-1994). A shift to the surface Flotilla in 1991, in command of the frigate HMS LONDON, broadened his portfolio and included the first UK warship visit to Northern Russia in nearly 50 years and operational patrols in the Caribbean and Arabian Gulf. His final sea command was the aircraft carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (1998-2000) which included combined exercises and operational patrols again in the Gulf, but also off Sierra Leone.
In between sea appointments he has worked in the Ministry of Defence for the Naval Staff and as a personal staff officer to the Chief of the Defence Staff (1994-1996). His experience of Whitehall was expanded in 2002 by a short secondment to the Cabinet Office. His initial NATO assignment was in the Regional Headquarters of Allied Forces North, based in Holland. Following this he served as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet before returning to NATO, this time in Norfolk, Virginia, USA as the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, a four star post leading on the military transformation of the Alliance. His most recent appointment as Commander-in-Chief Fleet combined both his operational and alliance experience exercising full command over all deployable Fleet units, including the Royal Marines whilst also holding the post of Allied Maritime Component Commander at Northwood responsible for ensuring that NATO maritime forces were ready for operations as required by the North Atlantic Council.
As a junior officer Admiral Stanhope read Physics at Oxford. He conducted formal staff training at Greenwich, attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1997 and Higher Command and Staff Course in 1998. Awarded the OBE in 1990, he was knighted in 2004 and is a recipient of the US Legion of Merit (Officer). A Freeman of the City of London and the Guild of Freemen, he is a Younger Brother of Trinity House, a Fellow of the Nautical Institute, a Liveryman of the Upholders Company and an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford.
(Current as of October 2010)