James Morley joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 1988. Initially specialising as a Fighter Controller and later qualifying as a Principal Warfare Officer, he undertook a range of junior seagoing appointments deploying several times to the Middle East and Far East, and contributing to operations closer to home including former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland. He was Executive Officer of HMS STARLING (a Hong Kong Patrol Craft) in the lead up to the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997 and went on to command 3 ships: HMS DULVERTON (a Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel) on operations in Northern Ireland from 1997 to 1999; HMS LANCASTER (a Type 23 Frigate) from 2004 to 2006 deployed to the Middle East as part of a French Carrier Strike Group; and HMS ALBION (an Amphibious Assault Ship and the Fleet Flagship) from 2010 to 2011 deployed to the Mediterranean and Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. In 2017 he commanded Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 for operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea – a period that also involved oversight of counter-migration and life-saving operations in the Aegean Sea.
Ashore he has worked in the Ministry of Defence (as a Desk Officer in the Directorate of Navy Resources and Plans, and as Naval Assistant to First Sea Lord), at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (as Assistant Director Strategy for the Higher Command and Staff Course), and in Navy Command Headquarters (as Assistant Chief of Staff for Maritime Capability) where he was responsible for developing the Royal Navy's future equipment programme. On promotion to Rear Admiral in 2018, he served as Director Capability in UK Strategic Command, responsible for joint enabling capability including Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), Special Projects, Joint Medical capability and Support capability – roughly two thirds of the future Defence Equipment programme. He is a graduate of the Advanced and Higher Command and Staff Course, and United States Capstone.
James lives in a small rural village in West Sussex. A boat owner and offshore Yachtmaster, his interests also include road and mountain cycling. He is a freeman of the City of London, a Younger Brother of Trinity House, an honorary member of the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers, and President of Royal Navy and Royal Marines Cycling.