First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference 2024

The Council on Geostrategy was delighted to organise and host the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference 2024, together with a consortium of British universities, on Tuesday 14th May and Wednesday 15th May 2024 at Lancaster House. Find out more information about the keynote speeches and panels at the conference below.

Tuesday 14th May | Day 1


Arrival, registration and tea/coffee at Lancaster House


Welcoming remarks – Viktorija Starych-Samuolienė, Co-founder and Director of Strategy, Council on Geostrategy, and Adm. Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff


Keynote – Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organisation


Panel 1: Protecting our economy in the 2020s: Keeping trade routes open and safe

The maritime domain makes a significant contribution to the economic prosperity of the United Kingdom. This panel will look at the role of maritime power, both civilian and military, in making the most of opportunities and protecting against threats. It will investigate whether disruptions like those seen in the Red Sea are set to proliferate, and if so, if global maritime trade is prepared.


  • V. Adm. Andrew Burns, Fleet Commander, Royal Navy;
  • Amelia Gould, Managing Director, Helsing UK;
  • Dr David Morgan-Owen, Defence Studies, King’s College London.

This panel will be moderated by Prof. Alessio Patalano, Professor, War Studies Department, King’s College London. Associate Fellow, Council on Geostrategy.


Ministerial Keynote and Question and Answer session – The Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Defence


In Conversation: Dan Snow and Adm. Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC


Lunch (State Drawing Room)


Side event: Report launch for ‘A more lethal Royal Navy: Sharpening Britain’s naval power’ (Green Room)

The Council on Geostrategy’s Strategic Advantage Cell will be launching its latest paper on Britain’s naval power with the authors, William Freer and Dr Emma Salisbury, and other panellists.


  • William Freer, Research Fellow (National Security), Council on Geostrategy
  • Dr Emma Salisbury, Associate Fellow, Council on Geostrategy
  • R. Adm. James Parkin CBE, Director of Development, Royal Navy;
  • Prof. Basil Germond, Chair, International Security, Lancaster University.

This panel will be moderated by Patrick Triglavcanin, Research Officer, Council on Geostrategy.


Panel 2: Protecting our economy in the 2040s: Securing critical maritime infrastructure

Following on from Panel 1, this panel will explore how different the maritime economy will look by the 2040s. It will cover key themes including climate change, undersea communication lines and energy infrastructure, food insecurity, and the movement of goods. Panellists will be asked how they believe international maritime norms will have changed by 2040, what Britain can do to react to potential problems, and how we might be able to get ahead of them.


  • Adm. Nicolas Vaujour, Chief of the Naval Staff, French Navy;
  • Prof. Dr Christian Bueger, Professor of International Relations, University of Copenhagen;
  • Harry Holt, Chief Executive Nuclear, Babcock.

This panel will be moderated by Suzanne Raine, Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University.


Coffee Break (State Drawing Room)


Panel 3: Maritime operations by the 2040s: Shape, deter, defend

Looking ahead to the future shape of naval operations, this panel will focus on what changes could occur across the rest of the 2020s and the 2030s, and how this will impact the realm of military operations in the 2040s. The panel will reflect on the full spectrum of operations, from peacetime to wartime activities, including topics such as Carrier Strike Groups, littoral operations, and the support elements which are key to sustaining naval activities.


  • Prof. Jim Bergeron, Political Advisor, NATO Allied Maritime Command;
  • Maj. Gen. Rich Cantrill, Commander Operations, Royal Navy;
  • V. Adm (rtd.) Tom Rowden, Vice-President Rotary and Missions Systems, Lockheed Martin.

This panel will be moderated by Dr. Emma Salisbury, Associate Fellow, Council on Geostrategy.


Coffee Break (State Drawing Room)


Panel 4: Stronger together: A 2040 vision for the Royal Navy and partners

This panel will consider what the geopolitical environment may look like by the 2040s and how, in this context, the Royal Navy can adapt and be prepared for the future challenges it may face. It will focus on who Britain’s key allies and partners may be and how together, through both sovereign capabilities and collaboration, they can secure strategic advantage.


  • Adm. James Kilby, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy;
  • V. Adm. Martin Connell, Second Sea Lord, Royal Navy;
  • AVM Fin Monahan, Director, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, Ministry of Defence.

This panel will be moderated by Ashlee Godwin, Head of the International Affairs and National Security, House of Commons.


Essay Awards Ceremony by the First Sea Lord



Dinners (Invitation-only)

Official black-tie dinner at Lancaster House


Drinks reception


Black Tie dinner


Bar opening



On a mission to help the Indo-Pacific: Disaster and humanitarian relief in the South Pacific

Sponsored by the Coalition for Global Prosperity


Drinks reception





AUKUS and technology collaboration: Embracing Pillar II

Sponsored by QinetiQ







Rebuilding capacity: Working hand in glove with the maritime defence industry

Sponsored by Modini


Drinks reception





Wednesday 15th May | Day 2


Arrival, registration and tea/coffee at Lancaster House


Ministerial Keynote – The Rt. Hon. Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific


Panel 5: The national enterprise in 2040: The maritime contribution

The maritime domain and the national enterprise are inextricably linked, and will continue to be so in the 2040s. This panel will seek to define this relationship and ask how cooperation can be optimised between the branches of the armed forces, industry, government, and academia. In particular, the panel will address how we can create, package, and enact a mutually reinforcing vision which all stakeholders can support.


  • R. Adm. James Parkin CBE, Director of Development, Royal Navy;
  • Dr Robert Johnson, Director, Secretary of State’s Office for Net Assessment and Challenge, Ministry of Defence;
  • Geoff Searle, Programme Director, Future Business and Technology, BAE Systems;
  • Andrew Thomis, Chief Executive, Cohort.

This panel will be moderated by Viktorija Starych-Samuoliene, Co-founder and Director of Strategy, Council on Geostrategy.


Coffee Break (State Drawing Room)


Panel 6: Future sailor 2040: Developing the skills of the future

Despite increasing automation, personnel remain vital; getting recruitment and retention right is crucial to the Royal Navy carrying on with its work. This panel will therefore explore how automation and innovation might affect recruitment requirements and what further resources are needed for the Royal Navy to appeal to, train, and retain the people it needs. In addition to these questions, the panel will ask how industry, academia, and the armed forces – including between branches – can work together to get the most out of people.


  • Baroness Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent, Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), HM Opposition;
  • Chris Keenan, Dean, Faculty of Nautical and STEM, City of Glasgow College;
  • Nynne Scheuer, Senior Director, Head of Marine People and Culture, MAERSK;
  • R. Adm. Jude Terry, Director People and Training, Royal Navy.

This panel will be moderated by Dr Kevin Rowlands, Head, Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre.


Coffee Break (State Drawing Room)


Panel 7: The Atlantic-Pacific: The maritime operating environment of the 2040s

This panel will analyse the geostrategic importance of the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific and explore the interconnectedness of the two regions. The conversation will explore how adversaries are expected to exploit the sea to their advantage, which minilateral groupings, such as the Joint Expeditionary Force, will play a key role, and, in light of these factors, what role Britain should play in both regions.


  • Adm. Ryō Sakai, Chief of Staff, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force;
  • The Rt. Hon. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office;
  • Dr Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova, Head, China Studies Centre, Riga Stradins University
  • Dr Balkan Devlen, Director of the Transatlantic Programme and Senior Fellow, MacDonald-Laurier Institute;
  • Charles Parton OBE, Distinguished Fellow, Council on Geostrategy.

This panel will be moderated by James Rogers, Co-founder and Director of Research, Council on Geostrategy.


Closing remarks – Adm. Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC