Women to retain senior maritime reserves post

One of the most senior women in the Royal Naval Reserve has handed over her cane to her successor – another female – in an historic moment for the Senior Service.

Warrant Officer First Class Jan Cox RNR  has taken over the role as Command Warrant Officer (CWO) of the Maritime Reserves in a ceremony held at HMS King Alfred on Whale Island, Portsmouth.  

WO1 Cox takes over from WO1 Annette Penfold MBE who, as the first female CWO in the Naval Service, has held the top Warrant Officer post since 2011. 

WO1 Cox said: “I am profoundly honoured to undertake the role of CWO RNR.  In support of the Whole Force approach, I am committed to the recruitment and retention of sufficient, capable and motivated personnel.

The successes that the RNR and RMR deliver on a daily basis are testament to the hard work and commitment of those who serve in the Maritime Reserves.

WO1 Annette Penfold

“Realising talent and ability through our civilian and military skills will only add value to our contribution.  I look forward to engaging with our Naval Service family across the Maritime Reserve.”

The CWO is one of the most prestigious roles for a Warrant Officer and their primary responsibility is to act as a channel between the non-commissioned ranks and the most senior naval officers, ensuring top level policy messages are understood and comprehensive honest feedback is provided in return.

Rear Admiral Simon Williams CVO, Flag Officer Reserves said: “At a time when the Naval Service is striving to achieve greater diversity in senior management, I am delighted to handover the CWO cane from one very capable female Warrant Officer to another.

“I am even more delighted that our most senior Reserve Warrant Officer is a true Reservist, having had a full and highly successful career as a Volunteer Reserve. It is quite right that she has been selected for this role on her merit and achievement.”

WO1 Cox joined the RNR unit HMS Eaglet in 1981 and spent her early years as a Wren Supply Accountant in the Supply and Secretariat branch juggling a civilian career as a business management and HR specialist in the financial sector.

She mobilised to Afghanistan in 2008 and worked for the Joint Force Headquarters in Kandahar as an Information Management specialist, being part of the casualty notification chain and logistics chain to the Forward Operating Bases.

On return from theatre she spent time at HMS Raleigh as an instructor in the Defence Maritime Logistics School and was promoted to Warrant Officer Logistics (RNR) in 2010 before taking on the role as WO Training for CMR HQ.

With the official handover complete, WO1 Penfold will now work as the Maritime Reserves Establishment Warrant Officer in NPT(Res), a new role that will focus on building a manpower structure that meets the future needs of the Maritime Reserves.

WO1 Penfold said:  “It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to champion the hard work, commitment and dedication of the Maritime Reserves.”

“In the past few years, the Maritime Reserves has delivered some incredible things. In 2012 I watched 120 Reserves on parade at Windsor Castle for The Queen’s Jubilee and, in the same year, we had to mobilise over 300 Reserves for the Olympics. I was lucky enough to be part of the Paralympic ceremonial team at the Olympic swimming pool and that was possibly the most humbling experience of my career.

“Setting up the Unit Warrant Officer positions has been my greatest achievement and this has been crucial for units to aid recruiting and retention. 

“The successes that the RNR and RMR deliver on a daily basis are testament to the hard work and commitment of those who serve in the Maritime Reserves.

“I am enormously grateful for everyone’s unstinting support; that is what I will miss the most when I move on. I wish WO1 Cox every success as CWO as she takes on the role at an exciting time of growth and development.”