Possessing the Wright stuff Officer David leaves the Navy after 47 magnificent years

Topic: People Storyline: People

The Navy is bidding farewell to one of its longest-serving stalwarts: David Wright whose career spans six decades.

After 47 years and one month in uniform – 14 of them as a rating – the lieutenant commander is stepping down to enjoy family time having served in the smallest ships in the Fleet… through to the largest in as varied career as you’re perhaps likely to find in today’s Royal Navy.

It’s a journey which began at HMS Raleigh on March 29 1977… which is before most of today’s serving RN were even born…

Fleetwood Mac had just released their iconic album Rumours. The Queen was visiting Pacific islands as part of her Silver Jubilee tour. Shipwrights were adding the finishing touches to carrier HMS Invincible ahead of her launch in early May.

You could pick up a tabloid newspaper for seven pence, a pint of milk for 11p, beer for 38p. A colour TV would cost the average male worker nearly a month’s wages, while women typically took home pay packets two thirds the size of their male colleagues.

David joined as a sonar operator, but also added the feather of ship’s fiver to his cap with his first ship, Euryalus, after which he served extensively at sea and ashore (Gibraltar, FOST in Portland, frigates Charybdis, Brazen – during the ‘tanker wars’ in the Gulf – and Chatham).

He was then selected for warship officer and completed his Officer of the Watch course, completing it with two awards: top student and top navigation student… which led to joining frigate HMS Alacrity in the Caribbean on drugs patrol/hurricane relief duties.

David then moved into the world of mine warfare, qualifying as a mine clearance diving officer (again as a top student in the disposal phase of the training) and spent nearly a decade either serving in Hunt-class ships (Hurworth and Ledbury) or sharing his experience and expertise on a three-year assignment to the USA.

From small ships to big and two years each on carriers HMS Invincible (damage control officer) and Illustrious (first lieutenant) and, most recently, HMS Prince of Wales (his last ship appointment – as first lieutenant), sandwiching a string of mine warfare appointments at Navy HQ, in Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

After another stint in the Middle East, his career has concluded as Fleet Executive Officer, responsible for Executive Policy across the Service... all of which means an array of medals: Queen’s Jubilee (Golden, Diamond and Platinum), Coronation, General Service (Gulf) and Long Service and Good Conduct (three bars).

David rates his top three RN highlights as serving on Illustrious, blowing up a 2,000kg sea mine in the Baltic, and serving as commander in Saudi Arabia, where he received a commendation from Her Majesty’s Consul-General in Jeddah.

Amid all these duties and appointments, David’s found time to qualify as an instructor in PADI Open Water Diving (training/certifying more than 50 people, including both his daughters Victoria and Charlotte) and Emergency First Response.

He’s completed two marathons (US Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC in 2000 and 2001) as well as the Great South Run (2018), raising money for the RNRMC.

He plans to enjoy his retirement with quality family time with his family, including his wife Annette and five grandchildren.