The First Sea Lord chats with RN personnel at JFC Norfolk 10052021 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY.jpg

Royal Navy Head Visits New NATO Command Ahead Of Its First Major Test

First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin visited ahead of Exercise Steadfast Defender.

The First Sea Lord chats with RN personnel at JFC Norfolk 10052021 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY.jpg

Britain's most senior sailor has visited NATO's newest operational headquarters ahead of its first major test.

First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin saw first-hand the "great work" being carried out by personnel at Joint Force Command (JFC) Norfolk, based in Virginia, USA.

Later this month, the HQ will face its first large-scale test, Exercise Steadfast Defender, a massive workout for NATO forces over land, sea and air from the Atlantic to Romania.

The exercise will involve more than 10,000 military personnel and assets including HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group.

During the visit, Admiral Radakin had discussions with his US Navy counterpart, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday, about strengthing and expanding Royal Navy and US Navy maritime security efforts, the Navy said.

JFC Norfolk was set up in 2018 to acknowledge the re-emergence of the Atlantic as a key region for the alliance.

HMS Queen Elizabeth at the heart of her carrier strike group off Scotland last year CREDIT ROYAL NAVY.jpg
HMS Queen Elizabeth at the heart of her Carrier Strike Group off Scotland last year (Picture: Royal Navy).

Its job is to oversee NATO's efforts across the North Atlantic, ensuring the strategic lines of communication – from the seabed to space.

Commanded by US Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis – also in charge of the US Navy's Second Fleet – with the Royal Navy's Rear Admiral Andrew Betton as his deputy, JFC Norfolk is rapidly approaching Full Operational Capability.

Rear Admiral Betton said: "Steadfast Defender is a golden opportunity to demonstrate the alliance's capability to co-ordinate and deliver transatlantic reinforcement in support of the European theatre."

Assisting the Norfolk team in their preparations for the mission is JFC Naples in Italy as well as other experts from other NATO headquarters.

About 90 Royal Navy personnel are based in and around the Norfolk area – which is also home to the US Navy's principal Atlantic base.

Cover Image: First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin chats with Royal Navy personnel at JFC Norfolk (Picture: Royal Navy).