Navy

'The right choice': Military world reacts to confirmation of new Navy chief

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key was confirmed as the new First Sea Lord, taking over from Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

Figures from across the military world have reacted to the news that Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key is to become the next head of the Royal Navy.

VAdm Key will succeed Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, who will take over as Chief of the Defence Staff at the end of November.

And in a post on Twitter, Admiral Radakin said the new Navy chief will bring "a wealth of operational experience" to the role.

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The Defence Secretary also congratulated VAdm Key on the social media platform.

"Sir Ben is an exceptional military officer and I have no doubt he will be outstanding in his new post," Ben Wallace said.

"The Royal Navy and Royal Marines are in excellent hands."

One former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Lord West, told Forces News VAdm Key was "the right choice" and "a very capable officer with just the right background".

And the Bands of the Royal Marines also sent their "warmest congratulations" to VAdm Key on Twitter.

The UK Armed Forces Rugby also sent "huge congratulations" to UKAF President VAdm Key on Twitter.

Defence analyst, Professor Michael Clarke told Forces News: "I don't think this is a controversial appointment, but it is a good one. 

"In some respects, it's a natural step up for him [Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key] because he's got all the right background. 

"He's been on operations, he's importantly served in a joint role."

Professor Clarke also referred to VAdm Key’s time in the "MOD (Ministry of Defence) at the planning stage".

"He's got all the right ticks in boxes and importantly, of course he commanded in Operation Pitting, which is the withdrawal of civilians from Afghanistan…I think he deserves some credit for that as well."

Reportedly the only three-star general on the shortlist for the Chief of the Defence Staff job, VAdm Key became prominent after overseeing Operation Pitting, the UK's evacuation effort in Afghanistan in August.

He said he was "honoured and privileged to be selected as the next First Sea Lord".

"I am excited at the prospect of leading the exceptional sailors and marines of the Royal Navy through the exciting challenges we have ahead," he said.

"I have seen close up, as the Chief of Joint Operations, the impact our increasingly globally deployed Navy has had.

"I am determined we continue to deliver on these opportunities, working with allies and partners around the world in support of the Government objectives."