James Parkin joined the Royal Navy in 1997 after studying Natural Sciences at the University of Oxford, and he graduated from BRNC Dartmouth in 1999. He has served in numerous warships and shore establishments of every size, including HMS Berkeley, HMS Manchester, and HMS Somerset, and has commanded the Patrol Vessel HMS Ranger, the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, and (since 2015) the Fleet Amphibious Flagship HMS Bulwark. 

He has deployed worldwide, including a tour in Baghdad, and worked in both the Ministry of Defence in London and Navy Command Headquarters on Whale Island.

Engaged to be married in 2017, James lives in Old Portsmouth and is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, a Freeman of the City of London, a Trustee of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and the Royal Navy Officers’ Charity as well as being a member of the RNRMC's Financial Risk and Audit Committee.