Commodore Simon Ancona joined the Royal Navy in 1980 and after BRNC Dartmouth undertook fleet training, serving in HMS Leeds Castle during the Falklands conflict. After qualifying as a seaman officer he underwent flying training, qualifying as an anti-submarine observer in 1987.
He deployed in HMS Ark Royal with 820 Naval Air Squadron during her global deployment in 1988, and served with 826 Naval Air Squadron in the northern Arabian Gulf during the 1991 Iraq conflict. In 1992 he qualified as a principle warfare officer and served in HMS Liverpool before completing the Royal Naval Staff Course and an MA in Defence Studies through King’s College, University of London.
He returned to flying in 1995, serving as senior observer with 814 Naval Air Squadron with HMS Invincible, supporting UN operations in the Adriatic.
Staff appointments have included time on the staff of Flag Officer Naval Aviation, the Directorate of Naval Operations at the Ministry of Defence, a role as military assistant to the minister of state for the Armed Forces, and as head of a CINCFLEET human resources initiative.
As captain he became assistant director in the Directorate of Joint Commitments in December 2006, with specific responsibility for both the Iraq strategy team and global maritime commitments. He has held a number of sea commands, including Hong Kong Patrol Craft HMS Starling, HMS Birmingham (DDG), HMS Newcastle (DDG) and the frigate HMS Cumberland.
Promoted to commodore in 2009 he served as commander of United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group. Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review, he transferred within the Maritime Battle Staff to become deputy commander of United Kingdom Maritime Force in January 2011.