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New Commanding Officer for HMS Raleigh

8 September 2016
A guard of honour made up of trainee sailors has welcomed a new Commanding Officer to HMS Raleigh.

Captain (Capt) Ellie Ablett has relieved Capt Rob Bellfield to become the first woman in Command of the Royal Navy’s largest training base in the South West.

Capt Ablett joined the Royal Navy in 1993, in the first wave of women to join a fully integrated service on the closure of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. 

She comes to HMS Raleigh direct from an appointment in Whitehall as the Executive Assistant to the First Sea Lord.

I am humbled and delighted to have been selected to take Command of HMS Raleigh.

Captain Ellie Ablett RN

Capt Ablett said:   “I am humbled and delighted to have been selected to take Command of HMS Raleigh. 

“Leading the team who are responsible for shaping the key ingredient for our Service’s future success – its people – is a real privilege. 

“And to do that as the Royal Navy begins to grow for the first time in fifty years is particularly exciting.”

The daughter of a RAF Officer, Capt Ablett read History at Somerville College, Oxford, prior to joining the Royal Navy as a Logistics Officer. 

During her career she has served on six Royal Navy warships.  Her last appointment at sea was as Commander Logistics on board HMS Bulwark, which included a deployment East of Suez and high profile events to mark the 350th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Marines and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

Capt Ablett has also served ashore in a variety of roles from providing executive support to Flag and Commanding Officers to policy roles in Navy Command and the Ministry of Defence. 

Other highlights of Capt Ablett’s career include an operational tour of Iraq in support of a three-star General and UK personnel serving in Baghdad. 

She was also responsible for international partnerships and planning for the UK contribution to operations in Afghanistan, working at the Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood.

In 2008 Capt Ablett was selected for the Advanced Command and Staff Course, achieving a Master of Arts in Defence Studies from King’s College London and was awarded a Cormorant Fellowship for academic excellence. 

With a keen interest in promoting effective talent management and an inclusive culture across the organisation, she established a professional network for women in the Naval Service in 2013.  Captain Ablett was awarded the MBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List. 

She is married to Simon, a former Royal Navy Weapons Engineering Officer, who now runs his own outdoor sports coaching and guiding business.

Capt Bellfield has left HMS Raleigh after two years in Command, for a period of study at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. 

He said:  “My time in command of Raleigh has been richly rewarding, witnessing the passion of the staff, and the determination to succeed of the recruits and trainees across all the schools.

“We have passed high quality Officers and Ratings into the Fleet – the Royal Navy will be in good hands for the future.”

In 2017 the Naval Service will celebrate the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). 

It will also recognise the supporting role given by the WRNS to the Naval Service and acknowledge the transition made by women from the separate WRNS into the Royal Navy, demonstrating the way that the WRNS helped define the opportunities for women in today’s Service.

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