Strength in Reserve(s) – RNR personnel’s small but key role in carrier deployment

Topic: Fighting arms Storyline: Royal Naval Reserve

Of the 3,700 personnel deployed on the Carrier Strike Group’s maiden deployment, a small – but not insignificant – number of Reservists have played key roles.

They were mobilised from all three Services for the seven-month mission – with Royal Naval Reservists from a range of specialisations and backgrounds understandably comprising the majority.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the task group commander, says “it is important to recognise the contribution of Reservists from all three services who are supporting CSG21, at sea and from the UK, bringing their specialist skills to bear.”

Lieutenant Commander Phil Richardson, from the RNR’s Air Branch, says he “jumped at the chance to deploy”, liaising with the men and women of the four squadrons embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth – the F-35 stealth fighters of 617 RAF and VMFA-211 USMC and Merlin helicopters of 820 and 845 Fleet Air Arm – engineers, planners and the rest of the task group to ensure that the flying programme was delivered.

“This was an opportunity of a lifetime for an experienced aviator,” he said. “It’s been a really rewarding experience where I felt my contribution – and that of other Reservists – has been truly valued. We have offered ‘strength in reserve’ and directly contributed to operational capability.”

Lieutenant Joe Livesey from HMS Ferret ¬(Bedford) works for the Treasury in his day job, most recently organising the UK’s presidency of G7 Finance Ministers.
He served as a watchkeeper for the task group, monitoring potential threats facing the ships.

“I particularly enjoyed working directly with our American counterparts, utilising their knowledge and gaining first-hand operational experience of how other militaries operate in the South and East China Seas,” he said.

Surgeon Commander Michael Wilson, normally attached to HMS Scotia in Rosyth is a specialist in emergency general surgery/major trauma injuries.

“Being part of a deployed surgical team at sea has been both personally and professionally rewarding. It has been a huge privilege to have the consistency of working with the same team every day,” he said.

“The RNR has given me the opportunity to travel ¬– Guam is definitely the furthest I have ever been. Sailing back I have never travelled through so many time zones! The highlight for me was the opportunity to travel by sea boat from Queen Elizabeth into Palma in Mallorca. It was absolutely exhilarating. In the Med, 820 NAS colleagues also offered me the opportunity to take my first flight in a helicopter.” 

Traffic officer AB Robert 'Dicky' Dyke is normally found on the M1 working for the National Highways Agency. The former regular has nearly 40 years’ service as a full/part-time sailor under his belt and assisted shipmates on safe submarine operations on what could be his final deployment.

“Being on the flagship, working for the carrier strike group, Operation Fortis has been an experience never to be forgotten!” he said.

“I am now looking forward to getting home to see my wife, who has been incredibly supportive of my mobilisation.”

Tanker RFA Tidespring was the first of seven Royal Navy surface ships to return to the UK. With the flagship and her escorting destroyers Diamond and Defender, plus frigates HMS Kent and Richmond due home this week.

It is important to recognise the contribution of Reservists from all three services who are supporting CSG21, at sea and from the UK, bringing their specialist skills to bear.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse