30 NAVY NEWS, OCTOBER 2011
Unique haul of prizes for Merlin unit
efficiency and capability are all essential in military aviation units, and Deputy
in the light of the fact that no unit has won more than one top trophy in a single year since the first prize was created in 1959. That Bambara Trophy, for the unit with the best flight safety record, was handed by Vice Admiral Zambellas to Lt Cdr Steve Thomas, 820’s Senior Pilot and Squadron Flight Safety Officer. His namesake,
Training Officer Lt Dave Thomas, was handed the Breitling Trophy, which recognises the squadron or flight which achieves the best overall performance during a Naval Flying Standards inspection. The Australia Shield, for the front-line squadron demonstrating the highest degree of operational capability, was received by LAET Gaz Foulkes.
Engineering Efficiency Trophy was picked up by CPO Chris Stuart,
member of 820 NAS. At a separate ceremony at 771 NAS the Bambara Shield was presented to the Sea King Force HQ in recognition of the entire force’s excellent flight safety record, including operations in Afghanistan.
the longest-serving And the Rolls Royce Squadron
Chief Fleet Vice Admiral George Zambellas paid tribute to the standards set at the Cornish base. And no unit has done more to tread the path of excellence than 820 NAS, which flies the Merlin. 820’s performance is remarkable
ONE of the Navy’s top officers visited Culdrose to see just how one squadron bagged an unprecedented four glittering prizes. Flight safety,
‘Salty wizard’ spent 250 days in the air
A HELICOPTER observer who blasted an Argentinian submarine
Falklands Conflict has just
aviation Daring’s Flight
Commander, Observer Lt Cdr Joe Harper, has achieved 6,000 hours of helicopter flight. The magic number was clocked up whilst flying at night from the flight deck of Daring, the first of the Type 45 destroyers which he had only just joined. Lt Cdr Harper is one of the most experienced Observers in the Fleet Air Arm, and is the only Observer in the Lynx helicopter force to achieve 6,000 hours. As Lt Cdr Harper landed after reaching the milestone, the hangar doors were raised to reveal a large 6000 sign held by the ship’s flight and members of the ship’s company, including Commanding Officer Capt Guy Robinson with a bottle of champagne.
The chefs had also made a
cake especially for the occasion inscribed with 250 days – the amount of time Joe has spent in the air.
The pilot of Daring’s Lynx, Lt
Wes Blackwell, a US Navy pilot on exchange, clearly looks forward to going on operations with such an experienced old hand. He said: “It is comforting to know that such a salty wizard is in
Ex-bandie still in the running
A FORMER Royal Marines bandie still has her eye on a break- through recording contract, having won a place in the regional finals of a national singing competition. Professional singer and multi-
l Lt Cdr Joe Harper (right of helicopter) and pilot Lt Wes Blackwell are welcomed back to HMS Daring by the ship’s flight and ship’s company after the Observer passed the 6,000 hours milestone
the left-hand seat, he has always got my six [looking out for him].” Lt Cdr Harper for
recognised achieving during
said: “Being this
milestone was both very humbling and a great surprise. “Despite all my hours airborne,
operating the Lynx at sea is still hugely rewarding,
from such a fantastic platform as Daring. Roll on 7,000!” The 6,000 hours were achieved
32 years of constant
service in the cockpit of many of the Royal Navy’s helicopters, in operational theatres all over the world.
Lt Cdr Harper was involved in the Falklands Conflict, where in the opening engagement he targeted the already-damaged Argentinian submarine ARA Sante Fe with a missile from his Wasp helicopter, scoring a hit. He became a Qualified Observer
Instructor in 1996, training junior Lynx aircrew on 702 Naval Air Squadron, and in 2001 achieved the standard of A2 Instructor, one of the highest levels of instructor in the Fleet Air Arm.
He subsequently returned to
operational flying, but has still remained at the lead for developing and teaching new techniques and capabilities for the Lynx Helicopter Force, including the wider introduction of Night Vision Goggles and maritime counter- terrorism operations, both key techniques which he himself will use when Daring deploys on operations early next year. Lt Cdr Harper has also spent
three years as the Naval Flying Standards Flight (Rotary Wing) Assessor or ‘Trapper’, as they are known in the Fleet Air Arm, checking whether pilots and observers still make the grade.
instrumentalist Michelle Forde, aged 33 (above), who now lives in Colchester, entered the Open Mic UK competition, which reaches a crescendo at the National Grand Final in the O2 in London in January.
regional heat, held in Basildon on October 2, and the Area finals which follow, if she is to appear in front of the movers and shakers in the UK music industry in London in the New Year.
“the biggest music competition in the UK for singers, songwriters, rappers
showcase their music and get signed,” though that shouldn’t prove too daunting for Michelle, who appears under the stage name Destiny Michelle. She featured
in 1997 when she sang at the Edinburgh Tattoo and the Festival of Remembrance, and her military career – which also included a spell in the Royal Military Police – saw her perform in front of numerous VIPs,
Royal Family, and at locations including Buckingham Palace. Her singing career built on an impressive musical pedigree; she trained on a wide range of string, woodwind and brass instruments, and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra before joining the Forces. For more details on the competition,
and for information
see www. see
A JUNIOR officer is back in the UK after carrying out research in Australia, thanks to a prestigious fellowship award. Lt Andy Burns, of the CHF
l From left: Lt Cdr Gavin Marshall, Lt Cdr Guy Lewis RAN and Cdr Tom Sharpe
Dubai rendezvous leads to reunions
REUNIONS came thick and fast when HMS St Albans went alongside in Dubai. For at the jetty just astern of the
Type 23 frigate was the Australian frigate HMAS Toowoomba. The Marine Engineer Officer on board the Anzac-class ship is Lt Cdr Guy Lewis RAN – but in 2001 Guy was the MEO of St Albans, guiding her out of build, through work-up and on to the ship’s first operational deployment which saw her complete anti- piracy and anti-smuggling patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
deployment was one Lt Gavin Marshall,
His DMEO on that first now promoted and
delighted to have returned as her current MEO.
This might have been coincidence enough – but there’s more. The Commanding Officer of St
Albans, Cdr Tom Sharpe, joined Dartmouth at the same time as Lt Cdr Lewis and played in the same RN cricket team for a number of years. So it was with great pleasure
that the three met up to reminisce. And with the two ships lying in such close proximity, the chance to foster ties between the two navies wasn’t wasted; sailors from both ships took the opportunity to tour that of their oppos, and the COs of RFA Fort Victoria and St Albans attended a most enjoyable lunch on the Toowoomba.
Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson defence
HQ, spent six weeks taking a close look at the Royal Australian Navy, after winning the Naval Review Fellowship. The award, sponsored by the firm Ultra Electronics,
allows a junior officer the opportunity to select and study their own essay for the Naval Review whilst travelling around Australia visiting RAN establishments. “It was a fantastic experience to see the RAN up close and to meet a Navy that is, on the surface, so similar to ours but, by digging a little deeper, you find they take a different approach to training and operations,” said Lt Burns. “Maybe we can each learn a lot more from each other than perhaps we both realise.” On completion of his research
Lt Burns duly submitted an essay to the quarterly magazine, which celebrates its centenary next year. The Fellowship is open to any
RN lieutenant or RM captain, and potential candidates should see RNTM 222/11, which gives full details of the 2012 award, or contact their career manager.
including the in Navy News and solo artists to Open Mic UK bills itself as She has to negotiate the
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