Born at Tundiani Fort, India but entered the navy as a cadet on the training ship Britannia
in 1885; after passing out in 1887, he joined HMS Raleigh
and then transferred to the corvette Turquoise
in 1890; he was promoted to the rank of sub-lieutenant in 1892 and to lieutenant the following year; he saw action whilst commanding the destroyer Hart
on the China station from 1898 until 1901 and was promoted to captain in 1905; Keyes commanded a cruiser in the Atlantic Fleet between 1908 and 1910 and was appointed commodore in charge of the Submarine Service in 1912; he remained in the position until approximately sixth months into the war; he was then named chief of staff to the Vice-Admiral and commanded the British naval forces off the Dardanelles; in 1917, Keyes took up the position of director of plans at the Admiralty; later, he was created a baronet, and between 1921 and 1925 was deputy chief of naval staff; for the next three years Keyes served as commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean station.