Royal Navy sailors and veterans, plus cadets and supporters turned out for the unveiling of a memorial to Navy personnel at the National Memorial Arboretum, near Alrewas.
The memorial – in glass and stone – was commissioned by the Royal Naval Association (RNA) to mark 60 years since the organisation gained its charter.
Prince Michael of Kent represented the Queen – the RNA’s patron – at an event attended by some 2,000 veterans, serving sailors and guests.
The memorial is designed to honour and celebrate all who joined the Royal Navy or will in the future, as well as those killed in battle.It also honours the Royal Marines, Maritime Reserves, the RFA, WRNS, QARNNS and the RN Auxiliary Service.
Sculptor Graeme Mitcheson’s design features 13 10ft glass panels representing the colours of the five oceans. The panels resemble sails, and when the sun shines the tops create the shadow of a warship on the pavement.
To the east stands the figure of a sailor, cap off, head bowed to the west, beside a gold panel representing the dawn, while a red panel at the far end represents the setting sun.
The unveiling was preceded by a fly-past of Lynx and Merlin aircraft, and in the audience were the First and Second Sea Lords and 15 commanding officers, while sailors from HMS Collingwood and RN Reservists also had roles.
The Royal Marines Band Lympstone marched at the head of a parade which featured almost 130 standards and more than 300 veterans and serving personnel, including contingents from Ireland and Belgium.
RNA President Admiral John McAnally said the day was probably the biggest in the association’s history, and reaffirmed the strong links that exist between the Navy past, present and future.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas described the design of the memorial as “powerful” and “cutting edge”, adding that such symbolism was significant in an age when the Royal Navy operates state-of-the-art equipment and with the naming of new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth just weeks away.
Admiral Zambellas also thanked those who had contributed to the funding of the memorial, including the Gosling Foundation, the RNRM Charity and Seafarers UK.