Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks to open Maritime Debate

Island Nations

Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks will open this year’s Maritime Debate at the Hay Festival with a speech on the importance of the Royal Navy and it’s global operations.

In his opening speech, he will tell the Festival audience: “I am speaking this year in the wake of General Dannett who spoke eloquently about our country’s requirement for a large standing Army.  May I take this opportunity to provide however a bit of balance to the debate?  For example, he may have missed the fact that – today – 45% of the UK’s Armed Forces in Afghanistan are part of the Royal Navy – 3 Cdo Bde, 42 & 45 Cdo, Commando Helo Force, AEW Seakings, Field Hospital & a plethora of HQ staff.  In addition, while the Army is engaged in one operation, your RN is engaged in a large number of dispersed global operations. For example:

  • Provides the UK’s national strategic deterrent
  • Provides one of 2 high readiness Battle Groups for near instant deployment
  • The Special Boat Service
  • Fishery Protection
  • Defence of UK Economic Zone
  • Counter drug operations
  • Deterrence ops in South Atlantic
  • Counter piracy in the Indian Ocean
  • T42 (LIVERPOOL – paying off next year) off Libya
  • MCM – counter mining off Libya
  • 4 Standby MCMs in the Gulf
  • High readiness SSN
  • Force protection off Gibraltar
  • High readiness forces for sea lane protection

And must not forget that any significant deployment of the Army has to be deployed and supported from the sea.  History tells us that global land operations can only be undertaken once we are able to secure the maritime flank.”

Retiring in 2009 after 37 years service, he was one of the RN’s most experienced operational Commanders.  His last appointment was Chief of Staff at the Navy’s Headquarters and also head of the RN surface ships from aircraft carriers to patrol vessels.  As Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, he was responsible for supporting UK operations overseas.  He fought in HMS Ambuscade during the Falklands War and commanded the destroyer HMS Gloucester (decommissions later this month) in the first Gulf War when his ship destroyed an Iraqi silkworm missile, sank 7 enemy ships and survived 2 mine attacks – following this operation he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The Maritime Debate  “Island Nations” takes place at the Hay Festival in the Barclays Wealth Pavilion on Thursday June 2 at 18.45 (Event 272). Tickets for the event are available on-line or through the Box office 01497 820629 with credit/debit card.