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Talks by Rear Admiral John Lippiett



Rear Admiral John Lippiett

John Lippiett had a 36 year career in the Royal Navy, serving in a large number of ships from aircraft carriers to minesweepers and deployed to all of the world’s operational theatres. He was second-in-command of the frigate HMS Ambuscade throughout the Falklands War, and his book “War and Peas; Intimate letters from the Falklands War” was broadcast on BBC’s Today programme for the 25th anniversary. John commanded three ships, a Frigate Squadron, and then the School of Maritime Warfare. On promotion to Rear Admiral, he flew his Flag at sea as Flag Officer Sea Training before serving in Naples as Chief of Staff of the NATO maritime forces in the Mediterranean. His final posting was as the Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College. John retired and for nearly 13 years was the Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, during which time he led the project to build the award-winning new museum and ensure Henry VIII’s flagship is conserved and displayed for future generations. John retired from the Mary Rose Trust in 2016 and spends much time back at sea as a speaker on maritime history - and this time with his wife Jenny. He much enjoys telling the stories both of exploration, often using old maps, and of naval ventures that have taken place on the world’s oceans over the last two thousand years.


Botanists & Scientists all at sea with the Navy!

In this latest talk by John, he turns his attention to some of the voyages of discovery of the Navy in their travels around the world, searching for and recording new-found plants, fish and birds, and fossils. While the names Banks and Darwin are very well known both here and abroad, others such as Narborough and Dampier are little known, yet their exploits are well worthy of note, and help us to understand how our horizons of knowledge expanded over the last 300 years or more. Furthermore, we need to recognise that the exceptional skills in seamanship and navigation of Captains Cook and Fitzroy were the key to the successes of their more famous passengers.




Thomas Cochrane, the greatest fighting captain of the Napoleonic Wars

 John continues his series with stories about a larger-than-life character. Christened the 'Sea Wolf' by Napoleon, Capt'ain Cochrane carried out extraordinary feats against the French that are unparallelled in naval history of that time. He became the model for authors such as Forester and O’Brian in the characters of Hornblower and Aubrey, but their exploits were but a shade on Cochrane. Having been removed from the navy and stripped of his honours after conviction for a stock market fraud which put him in prison, he was invited to take command of the Chilean Navy. There he successfully gained maritime superiority against the Spanish, through yet more remarkable actions, achieving the independence of Chile, and Peru before taking command of the Brazilian Navy fighting the Portuguese to liberate Brazil. Brief command of the Greek navy fighting the Ottomans for liberation was followed by his restoration to naval rank with his honours fully restored. He died as an old man and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Now little known in the UK, he is still highly honoured in South America. 





Francis Drake; villain or national hero?

 John’s fifth talk now takes us into a new series that look at some of the individual British sailors who have made their indelible mark on this nation’s history. He starts with Sir Francis Drake and describes a number of his activities both good and bad. It’s for you to decide the answer to the question John poses.





The Mary Rose: Life at sea 500 years ago

While itching to get back to sea, John Lippiett looks to treasures to visit in the UK and is talking about King Henry VIII's flagship Mary Rose. She is the only ship on display of the type that took the early explorers to sea 500 years ago, and she gives us a remarkable insight into life in those days. In 13 years at the helm as the CEO, John oversaw the completion of Mary Rose's conservation and the building of the new museum in Portsmouth, so is well placed to tell us about this unique collection. 





 Europeans search for Terra Australis Incognita

In his third talk, John looks at how European mariners went searching for new lands in the Pacific in their quest for territory and valuable resources. This vast, seemingly empty, ocean saw countless adventures and disasters as the world map gradually developed through to the nineteenth century. There is a chance to catch some of the sunshine from afar while we await the chance to get back to our travels again!





Mariners map the Unknown World

John’s second talk picks up on the shape of the world as seen by the Greeks, and takes us to the 15th and 16th centuries when European sailors ventured ever farther afloat in their quest to find the fabled riches of the East. Great explorers such as Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Magellan made remarkable voyages that changed the shape of the then-known world, as illustrated in the contemporary maps. These were the early days of founding the Portuguese and Spanish global empires, and of their amassing great wealth.




Early Mariners of the Mediterranean

This first talk of a series introduces the story of how the Egyptians first became waterborne some 6,000 years ago on the Nile, and tells of the development of their boats into relatively sophisticated vessels in the succeeding millennia. The Phoenicians from the Levant became the major seafarers through the Mediterranean, followed by the Greeks. Sea trade led to exploration, colonisation, and wars, with many excitements along the way. The stories here end with the Roman Empire dominating the Mediterranean, Mare Nostrum, and paves the way with the trade into the Indian Ocean towards the next talk, which will look briefly at how the voyages of mariners in the following centuries went ever farther over the horizon to give a fuller understanding of the shape of the world.





Click here to view details of the upcoming cruises on which John will be Guest Speaker.