You are here:

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key Biography

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE - Commander of Joint Operations, Ministry of Defence


Educated at Bromsgrove School, Ben Key joined the Royal Navy in 1984 as a University Cadet, subsequently graduating in Physics from Royal Holloway, University of London. As a junior officer he qualified as both helicopter aircrew and as a Principal Warfare Officer and saw service around the world in a variety of frigates and destroyers.

He has been privileged to command four ships: the mine hunter HMS SANDOWN, the frigates HMS IRON DUKE and HMS LANCASTER, and the aircraft carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.

Shore appointments have included Resources and Plans in MOD as the naval aviation desk officer, an advisor to the Iraqi Director Joint Staff in Baghdad, PJHQ as DACOS J3 and HQ Air Command as the Head of the Joint Air/Maritime Organisation. He has also served as Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff. From April 2013 to July 2015 he was Flag Officer Sea Training, responsible for recruiting as well as individual and operational training across the Naval Service.

He was awarded the US Bronze Star in 2006 for his service in Baghdad and appointed CBE in 2016 and KCB in 2021. Promoted to Vice Admiral in February 2016, he was the Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander from then until March 2019.

Ben Key and his wife Elly have 3 children and make their home in Dorset. He is a governor of a small independent school that was founded by his grandmother (Stover, in south Devon), and holds Honorary Degrees from his old university and the University of Plymouth. A Freeman of the City of London and a Younger Brother of Trinity House, he holds a Diploma from the Institute of Directors and is an alumnus of the London Business School. Now much better at talking about any sport than actually playing one, he is President of RN Rugby Union, UK Armed Forces Rugby and UK Armed Forces Golf.

Upcoming programme: 28 - 30 April 2021 (Live-Online Developing Strategic Leaders)

Please call us on 01753 830202 or register below for one of our team to contact you about our Live-Online or Residential Programmes:

Organisations we currently work with

Civil Service logoTransport for London logoChurch of England logo Oxfordshire County Council logo Motorola Airwave logo