British officer's unique mission on US Navy warship

Royal Navy officer Lieutenant Cameron Fisher enjoys the unique privilege of safely guiding the US warship named after Britain’s wartime leader.

The 27-year-old from Hampshire is navigator of destroyer USS Winston S Churchill, currently working alongside the Royal Navy in the Gulf as part of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

As well as enjoying the rare distinction of being named after a Briton - a nod both to the wartime alliance between Britain and the USA and Churchill’s family ties with America – the destroyer always sails with a Royal Navy navigating officer aboard, going back 20 years to Lieutenant Angus Essenhigh… now Commanding Officer of carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“It really is an honour to be representing the UK on USS Winston S Churchill,” said Cameron. “Since being onboard, I have learnt more about Winston Churchill than I think I ever had done before.

“The crew are very knowledgeable when it comes to his history and feats and everyone has a lot of respect and pride for their namesake, which is great to see.

“We fly the Churchill house flag for special evolutions, and we proudly fly the Royal Navy’s White Ensign from our outboard halyard in acknowledgement of the tie between our countries. The crew even wear a combined UK/US patch on their arm in lieu of the normal US flag patch.” 

It really is an honour to be representing the UK on USS Winston S Churchill. Since being onboard, I have learnt more about Winston Churchill than I think I ever had done before.

Lieutenant Cameron Fisher

Initially a US Navy officer always served on frigate HMS Marlborough (the first namesake Duke was one John Churchill), but although she was paid off in 2005, the association with the US destroyer has continued.

 “The UK and US are indispensable allies and our co-operation is the broadest, deepest and most advanced of any two countries in the world. To be able to live and work alongside the US has allowed me a far greater understanding beyond what before I had only known from popular media,” Cameron said.

“Being a part of a US ship means I am working in the largest Navy in the world. During the deployment we’ve operated alongside the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf; I have served on Royal Navy ships and worked alongside the US before, but now I get to experience it from the other side which I’ve really enjoyed.”

Despite being a qualified Royal Navy navigator, Cameron attended the US Navy’s navigation school to learn its ways of working before joining the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

“I found myself surrounded by a large number of other students who’d come from such varied backgrounds – there were students who had served on ships based in the US East and West coast, Pearl Harbour, Japan, and the Middle East,” Cameron explained.

“Each student had such different experiences that they had gained from their Navy, and it was great to be able to exchange those stories and experiences.”

His appointment to the Churchill has been the highlight of his naval career to date. “I don’t know anyone else my age who can say that they personally are responsible for the lives of 300 plus souls as they keep watch, driving one of the most technologically advanced 10,000 tonne warships in the world,” he added.

“The experience of comradery, friendship with shipmates, and the life experiences to be had in the Royal Navy just simply do not compare to anything else out there. You make memories some people can only dream of, and you learn more doing this job than you would anywhere else – and you have fun at the same time.

“I have lost count of the countries that I have visited in my career so far, but I would hazard a guess that it’s probably at least twice that of any other 27-year-old. And the memories I have made in that time are countless.”