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‘Exciting, thrilling and humbling’ moment as new Second Sea Lord takes charge
10 March 2015

Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock today took over as the Royal Navy’s senior ‘people person’.

He formally took the helm as Second Sea Lord – responsible for recruiting, training and education, family issues and conditions of service – from Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, who stands down after two and a half years in the post.

Pictures: LA(Phots) Des Wade and Gaz Weatherston

TAKING the helm as the Navy’s ultimate ‘people person’ following a ceremony aboard HMS Victory is the new Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock.

The 52-year-old is the first marine engineer to hold the post – which has existed in various forms since the mid-1800s.

He formally took over from Vice Admiral Sir David Steel as the third most senior officer in the Royal Navy in a supersession ceremony attended by Britain’s ranking sailor, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, and the United States Navy Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michelle Howard.

Admiral Steel (right) signs over responsibility as Second Sea Lord to Admiral Woodcock

As Second Sea Lord, Admiral Woodcock is responsible for all personnel issues – among them recruiting, training and education, family issues and conditions of service.

“Today is perhaps the most exciting, thrilling and humbling day of my Naval career,” Admiral Woodcock said.

“I have been entrusted with one of the most significant roles in the Navy I love, the Navy I have served in for 34 years and the Navy which is the benchmark for all others.

First Sea Lord Admiral Zambellas and the US Navy's Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michelle Howard salute on Victory's quarterdeck

“I am delighted to take over as Second Sea Lord at such an exciting time for the Royal Navy. We have some amazing things happening – new ships and submarines, a complete new aircraft fleet, and some serious modernisation of existing equipment going on. We will make the most of it.”

Admiral Woodcock joined the Navy in September 1980 – on the same day as Admiral Zambellas. Admiral Howard, a guest at the supersession ceremony, is the US Navy’s first female four–star admiral – the equivalent of a full admiral in the Royal Navy.

Ahead of the ceremony on Victory, which was held both in Nelson’s Great Cabin and the quarterdeck, Admiral Steel was applauded out of the Navy’s headquarters on Whale Island by almost all of its employees. He now leaves the Senior Service after 36 years in uniform.