Royal Navy’s first female admiral takes command

The Royal Navy says it has shattered a century-old ‘glass ceiling’ as Jude Terry has become the first female admiral in its history.

After nearly 25 years’ service around the globe and at home in the UK, Terry takes the helm as director of people and training and naval secretary.

That makes the rear admiral responsible not only for more than 40,000 regular and reservist sailors and Royal Marines, but also the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – who operate the navy’s support ships – plus civil servants and contractors.

Women have served in the Royal Navy since the Wrens in World War 1 and have been going to sea since 1990. Today there is no position or branch of the service not open to women.

Terry says the fact that she is a woman is irrelevant to her post and rank – simply that “someone has to be first” and she most definitely will not be the last; there are currently four female commodores (the next rank down) and 20 female captains. However, there are 86 male commodores and 270 male captains, numbers which show the ceiling is cracked, yes, but not shattered.

Passionate about diversity, inclusivity, equality and social mobility, Terry believes talent, ability and dedication are the only factors determining success: background, education and patronage count for nothing, what you personally bring to the Royal Navy is everything.

“The world has changed in terms of what people want from life and careers, whatever their gender, and the navy needs to work to modernise our organisation to support this change – a diverse and inclusive workforce is a better place for all but is also proven to deliver better outcomes,” she says.

Beyond immediate issues impacting today’s navy, Terry’s department is also charged with helping to shape the Royal Navy and its people up to 2040, when there will still be two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers in service, alongside new Dreadnought-class submarines, three new classes of frigates and a new generation of destroyers.

Since joining the Royal Navy in 1997, Admiral Terry has served aboard survey vessel HMS Scott, and spent two spells with helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the latter as commander logistics during operations in the Baltic and Gulf.

Last year she represented the UK alongside senior female military officers from across NATO and allied/partner nations on Halifax International Security Forum’s Peace With Women Fellowship, which helps shape both future democracy and global security, with a particular emphasis on leadership roles for women in these key areas.

Admiral Terry also helped plan the withdrawal of UK fighting forces from Afghanistan (that involved reducing the footprint of 9,500 personnel to around 5,000).

And as military assistant to the Chief of Joint Operations, who was responsible for more than 20 operations worldwide, she was among the first personnel on the ground in Sierra Leone during the successful operation to stop the spread of Ebola in 2014.

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