A renewed national focus

Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff

This is a seminal period for the United Kingdom and the Royal Navy. In the wake of the decision to leave the European Union, our country is looking to its traditional roots as a maritime trading nation, cultivating old alliances and forging new links across the globe. It naturally follows that a great maritime nation needs a great navy to protect its interests, so as the country embraces a new maritime era, the importance of British sea power is coming once more to the fore.

The Royal Navy has been in the public eye recently, not least through the images of F-35B Lightning II jets operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time. As her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales rapidly approaches completion in Rosyth, the Royal Navy is on the verge of operating a world-beating continuous Carrier Strike capability. But while our aircraft carrier programme may be grabbing the spotlight, the rest of the Royal Navy is hard at work too.

There is no such thing as a quiet time for the Royal Navy, given our standing commitments in home waters, the Arabian Gulf and of course the submarine service’s custody of the nation’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent. Over and above all this, working alongside our international partners, we’ve been making our presence felt in every part of the globe.

Our ships have been operating on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Baltic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Nor should we forget our Royal Marines, the country’s only very-high-readiness force capable of intervention from the sea to the land, in the most arduous of the world’s environments. Royal Marines have been honing their skills across the world, from the tundra of Norway to the jungles of Brunei and the deserts of Oman, while deploying teams to a variety of locations around Africa, imparting to our regional partners the skills and professionalism that are synonymous with the famous green beret.

This operational activity is overlaid on top of an exciting period of fleet renewal as we update every part of the fleet with new ships, submarines, aircraft and the latest cutting- edge systems to make sure we can meet the challenges of today and are prepared for those of tomorrow.

The Royal Navy is not alone in experiencing a renaissance, though; the same can be said for the entire British maritime community. Every part of our nation’s maritime network – from our merchant mariners and fishing fleets to the countless businesses, organisations and communities who rely on them – stands to benefit from a renewed national focus on the maritime domain.

The fortunes of our island nation have always been inextricably tied to the sea, and never more so than now. So, as we gather for this year’s Maritime Media Awards, I would once again like to thank our journalists, authors, artists and digital experts for dedicating their creative and persuasive talents to the maritime cause.