First Sea Lord pays farewell visit to Devonport

Britain’s most senior sailor paid his final visit to Devonport ahead of handing over the role of First Sea Lord to his successor.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones saw the latest developments in amphibious warfare before visiting HMS Argyll to thank sailors for their efforts during the frigate’s nine-month deployment to the Far East which ended successfully earlier this year.

Beginning with 1 Assault Group Royal Marines and a ride in a heavy duty Landing Craft Utility, Admiral Jones was shown around RM Tamar, the home of the Corps’ amphibious ops and the bulk of its landing, assault and raiding craft.

Commanding Officer Colonel Chris Haw and his team briefed the Sea Lord on the equipment used by the Royal Marines and sailors under his charge and 1AGRM’s increasing use of the latest technology; it is running a series of Commando Warrior exercises to evaluate and exploit new equipment and tech to enhance amphibious warfare.

To have First Sea Lord personally recognise the outstanding efforts of my people is a huge honour.

Commander Andrew Ainsley RN

Berthed a short distance from RM Tamar is Type 23 HMS Argyll whose Far East deployment ended in dramatic style: rescuing the crew of merchant ship MV Grande America off the Brest peninsula when fire ravaged the vessel.

For saving/treating the 27 sailors aboard the ship, Argyll’s medical team received the George Beeching Prize for compassion (named after a 20-year-old Sick Bay Attendant from HMS Ibis who saved shipmates at the cost of his own life in 1942).

“I am proud that the medical team on HMS Argyll have been recognised for the care given to those rescued from the Grande America,” said Surgeon Lieutenant Nathaniel Roocroft, Argyll’s doctor and leader of her medical staff.

“The preparation and training for such events paid off when it counted, and the team worked well together in challenging circumstances. It is rewarding to know that we helped to make a difference on the night.”

Certificates were also presented to Leading Logistician(Chef) Brad Dewing, Leading Logistician (Steward) Amyott Msulira, Leading Logistician (Steward) Davonne Bethal and Steward Alex Hay.

Admiral Jones also met other members of HMS Argyll’s ship’s company including those directly involved with the rescue and discussed the successes of Far East deployment, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

Argyll’s Commanding Officer Commander Andrew Ainsley said “To have First Sea Lord personally recognise the outstanding efforts of my people is a huge honour.

“These sort of heroic actions in challenging circumstances are part and parcel of service in the Royal Navy and not just HMS Argyll.”

His ship is undergoing a period of maintenance in Devonport before training and assessment ahead of future operational tasking later this year.