Philip Wilcocks

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Philip Wilcocks
Born (1953-04-14) April 14, 1953 (age 63)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1971 - 2009
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held

Flag Officer Reserves

  • Rear Admiral Surface Ships

Rear Admiral Philip Lawrence Wilcocks, CB DSC DL (born 14 April 1953) is a former senior British Royal Navy officer who became Rear Admiral Surface Ships.



Philip Wilcocks parents were Lieutenant Commander Arthur Frederick Wilcocks and Marjorie Wilcocks. Born in Malaysia, he was educated at Oakham School and Wallington County Grammar School before joining the Royal Navy in 1971.[1] Following initial sea training, he was awarded the Queen’s Telescope and the Queen’s Gold Medal.[1] His first appointments were the frigate Torquay as navigating officer[1] followed by command of the fishery protection minesweeper Stubbington in 1978.[1][2]

After qualifying as a principal warfare officer in 1981, he served in the frigate Ambuscade, which included the Falklands War in 1982 when he was actively involved in directing naval fire support to land forces including 2 Para's attack along Wireless Ridge just prior to the Argentinean surrender.[1][3] His ship survived an Exocet missile attack.[4]

Specializing in air warfare he became squadron operations officer to Captain 3rd Destroyer Squadron in Newcastle and York.[1] This included the task of group operations officer for the evacuation of Aden in 1984. He subsequently moved to the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training where he reinvigorated above water warfare training following his Falkland experiences.[1]

Promoted to commander in 1989, he assumed command of the destroyer Gloucester in 1990.[1][3] During this appointment, the ‘Fighting G’ fought in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm[1] when the Lynx helicopter operating from his ship destroyed 7 enemy warships[3] (including 3 TNC-45s, a T43 minelayer, and a Polnocny class) with Sea Skua missiles. This was in the early phase of naval combat operations, with the Lynx (callsign '410' and one of four Fleet Air Arm Lynxes operating in the rotary wing 'SUCAP' role - others flying from Cardiff, London and Brazen) generally operating over 120 miles from Gloucester, and being brought to bear on its targets either through its own sensors, or through targeting information provided by the US. During a later phase Gloucester herself shot down a Silkworm missile which had been fired from the Al Fintas area of the Kuwait coast and which had been targeted against the battleship USS Missouri.[3] Although the Silkworm had missed its intended target, it still posed a threat to ships further downrange. The entire engagement from detection to destruction was less than 90 seconds During Desert Storm, Gloucester also avoided 2 floating mines. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry and sustained leadership under fire.[3]

After a tour on the Naval Operations staff in the Ministry of Defence (MOD),[1] he went on promotion to the Directorate of Operational Requirements (Sea Systems) where he was responsible for future ships and their combat systems, including the Type 45 destroyers, the LPDs HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK and the Bay Class LSDAs.[1] In 1998, he assumed command of HMS Liverpool as Captain 3rd Destroyer Squadron[1] where he had oversight over 6 Type 42 destroyers (HMS LIVERPOOL, HMS BIRMINGHAM, HMS NOTTINGHAM, HMS EDINBURGH, HMS YORK, HMS GLASGOW).

He rejoined the MOD as the Director of Naval Operations in 1999.[1] This tour included strategic crisis direction for East Timor, Gulf and Balkans operations while in 2000, he was the crisis director for the UK Operation Palliser in support of the United Nations in Sierra Leone. In July 2001, he assumed command of the training establishment HMS Collingwood[1] and formed the new Maritime Warfare School.[5] He took up the post of Deputy Chief of Joint Operations at the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters on promotion to Rear Admiral in early 2004;[1] as well as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was the Crisis Director for the UK military response to the 2005 Tsunami disaster.

Following a short 7-month tour as Flag Officer Scotland, Northern England, Northern Ireland[1] and Flag Officer Reserves, he became Chief of Staff (Capability) to Commander-in-Chief Fleet in January 2007[1] assuming responsibility for generating the fleet across all defence lines of development. As Rear Admiral Surface Ships he was also the “tribal chief” of the surface flotilla.

Post naval[edit]

RAdm Wilcocks retired from the Royal Navy in 2009.[3] He then became owner/director at CEMPA (Leadership) and Chairman of Maritime Films.[6] A churchwarden at Dore Abbey and Lay Co-Chair of Abbeydore Deanery, he is both Chair of Governors of the Aylestone, Broadlands and Withington Schools Federation in Hereford and a governor of the Hereford Cathedral School. In 2012 he became a member of the Bishop's Council for the Diocese of Hereford; the following year he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Herefordshire. He is also Chairman of the Hereford Trow Committee and a member of the Project Team for a New University in Herefordshire. In 2015 he became CEO of the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust. He is President of The HMS HOOD Association as his uncle was killed onboard when the ship was sunk in action on 24 May 1941.

He is married to Kym Wilcocks who was a primary school Headteacher in Portsmouth, and they have 2 sons.


Other activities[edit]

  • President Type 42 Association
  • President HMS Hood Association[7]
  • Chairman Hereford Trow Committee



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Debrett's People of Today
  2. ^ Departing Admiral will miss the Camaradarie Navy News, December 2008
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks stands down Hereford Times, 7 May 2009
  4. ^ HMS Ambuscade Association
  5. ^ MOD Website - Maritime Warfare School
  6. ^ p Companies in the UK: CEMPA
  7. ^ Service to mark 70 years since sinking of mighty HMS Hood Portsmouth News, 4 June 2011
Military offices
Preceded by
Nick Harris
Flag Officer Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland
April 2006–December 2006
Succeeded by
Anthony Johnstone-Burt