Aboard Nelson’s flagship Victory, he took over as First Sea Lord from Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, whose 29 months at the helm end as he moves on to become the new Chief of Defence Staff.
He formally handed over command of more than 30,000 men and women, more than 90 warships, nuclear submarines and support vessels, the helicopters and jets of the Fleet Air Arm and the elite Naval infantry of the Royal Marines to the man who has been Chief of Joint Operations and a former Fleet Commander.
During his command, Admiral Key will see the lead ships of two new classes of frigate – submarine hunter HMS Glasgow, the first of eight Type 26 warships and general purpose HMS Venturer, the maiden Inspiration-class/Type 31 vessel – enter the water and will continue the transformation of the Royal Navy spearheaded by his predecessor, re-shaping the Service to meet the challenges and demands of the mid-21st Century.
The historic setting of HMS Victory’s great cabin was the venue for the transfer of office. Proceedings then shifted to Victory’s quarterdeck and the last act of the ceremony, where Admiral Radakin’s standard was lowered and Admiral Key’s flag raised in its place.
Adm Radakin, who takes up his new role at the end of the month, said: “It’s been a real privilege to have led the Royal Navy. I am so grateful to all the amazing women and men who serve and support us and what we have achieved together despite the pandemic. Good luck and very best wishes to Admiral Ben Key for his success leading the service.”
Adm Key’s service has seen him qualify as both helicopter crew and as a Principal Warfare Officer, command four ships, including aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, serve as Flag Officer Sea Training, Fleet Commander, and Chief of Joint Operations.