First Sea Lord visits RNAS Culdrose
Making his first visit to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose since becoming First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC DL met air base personnel and saw how things had changed since his Sea King Flying days, when serving with 814 Naval Air Squadron.
Admiral Sir George came to Culdrose to share with personnel his vision for a future Fleet Air Arm and the opportunities which HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new carrier will offer. Speaking to trainees who are currently working toward graduating onto frontline squadrons, he set out some of the gripping times ahead they can look forward to, with new Aircraft, Ships and Submarines entering the Royal Navy in next few years.
“We are all on journey which has seen a large investment into the Royal Navy,” he said. “There is a long way to go and we are on target with the Queen Elizabeth Carrier programme which will be officially launched by Her Majesty the Queen this July in Scotland. Many of you are destined to serve on her and there are exciting times ahead.”
The First Sea Lord visited 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), who are set to be the first Merlin squadron to embark on the New Carriers and saw for himself the Merlin MK 2, which entered frontline service with the 820 this year. They are set to be a key feature of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Carrier Air Group’ (CAG); comprising of ‘Junglie’, and ‘Crowsnest’ Airborne Command and Control Merlin’s alongside the Lightening II, the Joint Strike Fighter, Jets.
Petty Officer Aircrewman Diccon Griffith of 820 briefed the Admiral on his role as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircrewman and invited him to see how the new operating systems worked from his seat on Merlin MK 2. “First Sea Lord was interested in my role and how I tracked submarines and the many improvements that have been built into the Mk 2,” said Diccon. “He was impressed by the complex mission system that makes this aircraft one of the most capable ASW platforms on the planet”
Being no stranger to Culdrose and Naval Aviation, the First Sea Lord qualified as a Pilot in 1982 before joining HMS Rothesay where he flew the small single engine Wasp helicopter, then Sea Kings with 814 NAS at Culdrose and Lynx with 815 NAS at Yeovilton. During his visit of the Cornish Naval Air Station the Admiral was shown around some of the support departments on the Base as well lunching with some of the personnel in theOcean Food Courtwhich provides catering facilities for staff at Culdrose.
Rounding off his tour of facilities at RNAS Culdrose, Admiral Zambellas chatted with serving naval personnel and civilian workers from across the Base and assured them of a bright future ahead, and that the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Carrier programme was set to deliver a full spectrum of military options for the next 50 years.