Born 1948, Admiral Lord West joined the Navy in 1965. He spent the majority of his naval career at sea, serving in fourteen different ships and commanding three of them. He is a graduate of the Royal Naval Staff Course, the Higher Command and Staff Course and The Royal College of Defence Studies. In 1980 he took command of the frigate HMS ARDENT taking her south to the Falkland Islands in 1982 where she was sunk in their successful recapture. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in the action and led the Victory Parade through the City of London.
He has held several appointments in the Ministry of Defence in the Plans, Programmes and Policy areas plus three years as head of Naval Intelligence and three years as Chief of Defence Intelligence covering the Kosovo War. He was promoted to Admiral in November 2000 when he became Commander-in-Chief Fleet, NATO Commander-in-Chief East Atlantic and NATO Commander Allied Naval Forces North. He led the United Kingdom’s maritime response to 9/11 including the invasion of Afghanistan.
He became First Sea Lord in September 2002 and the First and Principal Aide-de-Camp to HM The Queen. He inspired and organized the Trafalgar Bicentennial Year and led the Navy during its crucial and successful role in the initial invasion of Iraq. He retired as First Sea Lord on 7 February 2006 becoming Chairman of the QinetiQ Defence Advisory Board. He advised both Conservatives and Labour on defence and foreign policy before, in July 2007, being asked by Gordon Brown to join the Government as one of the GOATs (Government of All The Talents) responsible for national security and counter-terrorism as well as cyber and Olympic security.
He produced the United Kingdom’s first ever National Security Strategy and Cyber Security strategy as well as formulating a series of other groundbreaking strategies: the counter-terrorist policy (Contest 2); cyber security; CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear; science and technology for countering international terrorism; guidance for local government in enhancing the security of crowded places. He put in place the basic construct for Olympic security for 2012 Olympics. He was Chairman of The National Security Forum.
He left government in May 2010 and is currently chairman or strategic advisor to a number of companies, a motivational speaker, Chancellor of Southampton Solent University, Knight President of the Knights of the Round Table, media programme maker, philanthropist , plus a number of other appointments. He is much sought after to advise on strategic risk.
Lord West was made a Knight Commander of the Order of The Bath in 2000, Knight Grand Cross in 2004, Baron in 2007 and a Privy Counselor in 2010.