Outgoing First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin inspects ratings passing out alongside officers at Dartmouth in 2020.
Navy

What is a First Sea Lord and what do they do?

Royal Marines, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers all fall under the Navy chief's command.

Outgoing First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin inspects ratings passing out alongside officers at Dartmouth in 2020.

The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff title grabs attention and carries the weight and responsibility of the Royal Navy.

The person in the role heads up the service, overseeing its warfighting capability, efficiency and morale.

Joining other service leaders in the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the First Sea Lord (FSL) advises the Chief of Defence Staff – head of the entire Armed Forces – on maritime strategy and policy.

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Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key has been announced as the next FSL, replacing Admiral Sir Tony Radakin who will be taking over as Chief of the Defence Staff in November

The FSL sits on the Defence Council entrusted with defence of the UK and Overseas Territories, joining a handful of senior political and Civil Service representatives led by the Defence Secretary.

Navy chiefs take charge of more than 30,000 men and women, including Royal Marines, more than 90 warships, nuclear submarines and support vessels.

Jets and helicopters from the Fleet Air Arm are also under FSL command.

The First Sea Lord also heads up the Navy Board to watch over all Navy activity, including operations, logistics and administrative tasks.

Joining the FSL on the board are the Second Sea Lord, the Fleet Commander, the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for policy, the navy Finance Director, and the Non-Executive Director.