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HMS Ark Royal

Invincible Class Aircraft Carrier

Captain Alan Massey

Commanding Officers

The opportunity to command one of the Navy's aircraft carriers is an immense privilege, especially so when that ship is called Ark Royal. These are the men that have received that accolade.





capt weatherall

Captain James Weatherall RN

June 1985 - February 1987

A former executive officer of Ark Royal IV and a veteran of the Falklands War, Captain Weatherall joined Ark the day before she entered Portsmouth for the first time. His tenure saw a busy time of work ups and sea trials and a very high profile visit to New York for an international fleet review.


After leaving Ark Royal he eventually achieved the rank of Vice-Admiral and was awarded Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1991.


Sir James Weatherall sadly crossed the bar on 18th March 2018. RIP Sir!


 capt harris

Captain Michael Harris RN

February 1987 - April 1989

Having previously commanded HMS Cardiff during the Falklands War, Captain Harris joined Ark Royal in Barbados and was lucky enough to command the ship during her Outback '88 tour of the Far East and Australia.


Captain Harris was promoted to Rear-Admiral after leaving Ark Royal and retired from the Royal Navy in 1992.



 Captain John Brigstocke

Captain John Brigstocke RN

April 1989 - October 1990

Captain Brigstocke joined the ship in Portsmouth and commanded Ark Royal during a very busy period of exercises and deployments.


Since leaving Ark, he eventually achieved the rank of Admiral and went on to be Second Sea Lord. He was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and retired from the Royal Navy in 2000.


Sir John Brigstocke crossed the bar in May 2020, RIP Sir! 


 Captain Neil Rankin

Captain Neil Rankin RN

October 1990 - July 1992

Originally a pilot by trade, Captain Rankin joined the ship whilst it was alongside in Gibraltar. He had previously commanded three Leander-class frigates.


On leaving Ark Royal he was promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed Flag Officer Portsmouth. He was awarded a CBE and Companion of the Order of the Bath.


 Captain Jeremy Blackham

Captain Jeremy Blackham RN

July 1992 - April 1993

An experienced captain having previously commanded a minesweeper, a frigate and a destroyer Captain Blackham, like his predecessor joined the ship in Gibraltar. During his command Ark Royal's involvement in peacekeeping operations in the Adriatic commenced, though promotion meant that his tenure as Ark's captain was relatively short.


Before his retirement from the Royal Navy in 2002, he achieved the rank of Vice Admiral and was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.


 Captain Terry Loughran

Captain Terry Loughran RN

April 1993 - December 1994

Another former pilot, Captain Loughran (or 'Big Tel' as he was affectionately known) joined Ark Royal in Naples during the ship's first peacekeeping mission in the Adriatic. He would also command the ship for a second deployment to the region in 1994 before the ship was placed into extended readiness to await refit later in the decade.


After leaving Ark he was promoted to Rear Admiral and was appointed Flag Officer Naval Aviation.


 Captain David Snelson

Captain David Snelson RN

May 2001 - July 2002

Captain Snelson joined Ark Royal in Rosyth as the ship was coming to the end of her first refit, he had previously commanded HMS Liverpool. During Captain Snelson's command the ship was able to welcome Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at the rededication ceremony for her last ever public engagement. Captain Snelson was also selected to represent the ship at the Queen Mother's funeral in 2002 as part of the funeral escort.


He was promoted to Rear Admiral after leaving Ark Royal, was Royal Navy Commander for Operation Telic in 2003 and awarded Companion of the Order of the Bath before his retirement from the Navy in 2006.


 Captain Alan Massey

Captain Alan Massey RN

July 2002 - July 2003

Captain Massey joined the Ark straight from HMS Illustrious which had just gone into refit. Originally planning to take the ship on another Far East deployment, the programme changed when Ark Royal was required to act as command platform for UK Amphibious Operations in the 2003 Iraq War.


After leaving Ark Royal he achieved the rank of Vice Admiral and became Second Sea Lord in July 2008. He has been awarded a CBE and made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Since retiring from the Royal Navy he has been appointed as Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


 Captain Adrian Nance

Captain Adrian Nance RN

July 2003 - March 2004

Captain Nance, a midshipman on Ark Royal IV joined Ark in Portsmouth after the ship's return from Iraq, with the somewhat less glamorous mission of preparing the ship for another period of extended readiness and refit.


After leaving Ark Royal he became Commodore of the Maritime Warfare School before retiring from the Navy in 2006.



 Captain Michael Mansergh

Captain Michael Mansergh RN

July 2006 - July 2008

Having previously commanded HMS Cumberland, Captain Mansergh joined Ark Royal in Rosyth as the ship was again emerging from a refit. During his command, the ship visits London as part of the 25th Anniversary Commemorations of the Falklands War.


Promoted to Commodore after leaving Ark Royal, he retired from the Navy in 2013.


 Capt Clink

Captain John Clink RN

July 2008 - September 2010

Captain Clink joined Ark Royal in sunny Florida, just in time to sail her home to Portsmouth. During his time onboard, the ship will undergo a mini-refit, visit the USA and Canada and play host to a Discovery Channel film crew.


After leaving Ark Royal, Captain Clink was promoted to Commodore.


 Captain Jerry Kyd

Captain Jerry Kyd RN

September 2010 - March 2011

Captain Kyd joined the ship already an Ark Royal veteran. He first served on Ark Royal as a Midshipman in 1986, and he joined her for a second time in 2001 as Captain Snelson's Navigating Officer. Unfortunately his tenure as CO was to be short-lived as one of his first tasks after joining was to inform the Ship's Company that the ship was to be decommissioned.


Jerry Kyd was appointed as the first commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Royal Navy's new class of aircraft carriers. Promoted to Rear Admiral after leaving QE in November 2018, he was promoted Vice Admiral in March 2019.




Reunion Dinner 2019