First Sea Lord in farewell visit to RNAS Culdrose
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope GCB OBE ADC, retiring First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, since 2009, paid a final farewell visit to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose bidding a fond goodbye to aviators and engineers. He hands over the helm of the senior service to an ex Sea king pilot, Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC, in April who served at Culdrose on 814 Naval Air Squadron in the 1980’s.
During his visit, which involved meeting as many people as possible he thanked the Fleet Air Arm squadrons for their operational achievements and hard work during his time in office. He took questions from personnel whilst touring workspaces and hangars, allowing sailors a chance to quiz their senior man in the Royal Navy. It was also an opportunity for the Admiral to have a final look at the legacy of his time in office.
He was shown the New Merlin 2 facilities on 824 NAS and was impressed by the work of 771 NAS in their Search and Rescue role. He also reflected on the present and said: "It has been a great privilege to be the First Sea Lord.The Royal Navy continues to make a positive difference on operations around the world, has highly professional, motivated and courageous men and women, and in only 5 years time will be flying jets from the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. If I could rejoin I would.”
The First Sea Lord is the Royal Navy's professional head and chairman of the Navy Board. He is responsible to Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and as a member of the Armed Forces Committee supports the Chief of Defence Staff in the management and direction of the Armed Forces.