HMS Bulwark

One of the Royal Navy's most senior officers is reported to be quitting over possible plans to axe two amphibious assault ships

Rear Admiral Alex Burton, Commander UK Maritime Forces, handed his notice in "three or four weeks ago", according to The Times.

His decision to stand down from the post he took up in January 2016 comes amid speculation that amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark could be taken out of service.

Rear Admiral Burton tweeted in July that he could not enter a war zone by sea without Bulwark or Albion;

That post was "liked" by Major General Robert Magowan, the commandant-general of the Royal Marines.

After reports emerged on BBC's Newsnight that the navy could withdraw the vessels from service - claims dismissed as "pure speculation" by the Ministry of Defence - the Rear Admiral retweeted a link to the original message in support of Albion and Bulwark.

The Royal Navy would not comment on Rear Admiral Burton's departure.

A spokesman said: "It is a private matter for the individual and his employer."

According to the Daily Mail, the Rear Admiral has been “reminded” of what it is appropriate for serving personnel to say on social media.