Visit of First Sea Lord

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval staff, recently gave a lecture, The Maritime Contribution to UK Defence and Security as part of the University’s Shaping the Future series of talks, in association with the Met Office.

The future of Defence and Security in the UK is being actively debated following the recent publication of the Government’s Green Paper. “Adaptability and Partnership: Issues for the Strategic Defence Review”.  While the UK’s Armed Forces are fighting courageously alongside NATO partners in Afghanistan, UK Defence is widely reported to be facing a funding challenge which exposes the challenges between achieving success in that campaign, fulfilling the range of other Defence tasks, and investing for an uncertain future. The Green Paper sets a number of questions for Defence, intended to set the context for the forthcoming Defence Review, expected after the General Election.

In the talk the First Sea Lord discussed the global range of UK national interests and their defence and security implications, before explaining how maritime forces contribute, strategically and operationally, to the protection and promotion of those interests around the world. He was joined by Commander Peter Sparkes, former Commanding Officer of HMS CUMBERLAND, who shared his experiences of counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, and Colonel Charlie Stickland OBE, former Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines, who discussed his unit’s operations against the Taleban in Afghanistan.    

Dr Maria Fusaro, Director of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at the University of Exeter said, ‘The University has a long tradition of involvement with the Royal Navy. It teaches the only Master's Degree in Naval History in the country at its Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. The previous First Sea Lord, Sir Jonathon Band, was an Exeter graduate, was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 2005. On his appointment he spoke at the University on the Navy and Defence, and now the newly appointed First Sea Lord, Sir Mark Stanhope is following in this tradition.’

The event which was open to members of the public provided an opportunity to hear first hand the positive impact the Royal Navy can have on British interests, policy and security at home and abroad. The contributions of the Royal Navy to the South West economy includes Devonport Naval base, Fleet Air Arm stations and Royal Marine bases which together represent the largest concentration of naval personnel in the country.

Admiral Stanhope is a nuclear submariner by background, although his last sea command was of the aircraft carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.  He has served in a variety of staff and headquarters positions both in UK and abroad, most recently as the Deputy Supreme Commander, Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia. He was awarded the OBE in 1990, was knighted in 2004 and is a recipient of the US Legion of Merit (Officer).

Back to 2010