Admiral West joined the Navy in 1965 and has spent the majority of his career at sea, serving in 14 different ships and commanding three of them.
In 1980 he was promoted to Commander and took command of the frigate HMS Ardent, which was part of the British task force ordered to the South Atlantic in 1982. Ardent was sunk on May 21, during the campaign that evicted Argentinean invaders from the Falkland Islands. The Type 21 frigate had been bombarding the airfield at Goose Green, supporting special forces and moved into the centre of Falkland Sound to help break up air raids heading towards the landing forces from the south. Attacked by A4's and Mirage V, the ship was hit by a number of 1000 and 500lb bombs. Out of control and on fire, an anchor was slipped, which stopped her going aground on North West Island. With the frigate now beyond saving, her CO ordered his crew to abandon ship. Twenty-two of the 204 people aboard were killed and others injured. The survivors were taken off by HMS Yarmouth, with Cdr West the last to leave the Ardent. Alan West was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in the action. Promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1994, in February 1996 he became Commander United Kingdom Task Group and was almost permanently deployed in one of the RN's carriers. Promoted to Vice Admiral in October 1997, Admiral West was appointed as Chief of Defence Intelligence. Promotion to Admiral came in November 2000 when he took up the post of Commander-in-Chief Fleet, NATO Commander-in-Chief East Atlantic and NATO Commander Allied Naval Forces North. During this period as C-in-C, Admiral West reorganised the Fleet Headquarters. He also organised the RN's response in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the USA. This involved major maritime deployments in the northern Indian Ocean and sending Royal Marines into Afghanistan.
Appointed as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in September 2002, Admiral West was a member of the Defence Council and Admiralty Board. He was also the First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen. He retired in April 2006.
Taken from www.warshipsifr.com