THE Royal Navy’s most senior fighting sailor is retiring after almost 40 years.

Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, who lives in the south-west of the county with wife Kym, was the Navy’s most experienced fighting Admiral and was recently in charge of its fighting capability, based at the Navy’s Command Headquarters in Portsmouth.

He was also the head of the fleet’s surface ships, covering everything from aircraft carriers to patrol vessels, and had been Flag Officer Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland.

Admiral Wilcocks commanded HMS Ambuscade during the Falklands War and also saw action on board HMS Gloucester in the first Gulf conflict.

After his ship sank seven enemy warships and destroyed a missile targeted at battleship USS Missouri, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.