ALL CHANGE AT THE TOP - FLEET AIR ARM
TODAY saw the supersession of both the Head of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and Command Warrant Officer FAA at the FAA) Awards ceremony, Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton.
Rear Admiral (RAdm) Martin Connell was appointed Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aircraft, Amphibious Capability and Carriers) and Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm taking over the helm from RAdm Keith Blount CB OBE FRAeS. RAdm Connell said;
“I look forward to serving the men and women of the Fleet Air Arm. We will have many challenges and we have a compelling tale to tell as the next chapter begins”
Commissioned in 1987, Rear Admiral Connell qualified as a front-line Lynx Observer and his early Royal Navy career was spent at sea in various frigate and destroyer Lynx Flights and as an Officer of the Watch.
In the early 1990s he became a Qualified Observer Instructor at 702 Naval Air Squadron, followed by time as a Flight Commander in HM Ships COVENTRY and MANCHESTER as well as instructing front line aircrew in 815 Naval Air Squadron. He has had the privilege of commanding at sea in every rank from lieutenant to commodore, including HM Ships SEVERN (2003-04), CHATHAM (2006-09) and the aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS (2012-13).
Commanding Officer RNAS Yeovilton, Commodore Nick Tindal in his opening address at the FAA Awards Ceremony said;
“Today also marks the occasion of the supersession of our Admiral and Head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Keith Blount, who has led us expertly for the past 3 years and driven the Fleet Air Arm though some huge milestones. We welcome Rear Admiral Martin Connell as our new head and look forward to working for you Sir and supporting you and the direction you take the Fleet Air Arm in throughout the next few years”.
Warrant Officer 1 (WO1) Chris Boucher is at the pinnacle of his career as he becomes the Command Warrant Officer of the Fleet Air Arm (CWO(FAA)) taking over fromWO1 Paul Stephenson.
For the next couple of years, he’ll be the right-hand man of Rear Admiral Connell, the head of the Fleet Air Arm. As Command Warrant Officer, it’s the vital task of this supremely experienced air engineer to offer advice and feedback on all matters affecting day-to-day life in the world of naval aviation.
Mr Boucher is an Air Engineering Technician with over 30 years' Service which includes a breadth of employment in CVS, Squadrons (Sea Harrier and Merlin Mk1), Project Teams, Training and Personnel assignments (Career and Branch Management).
Born in Pontypool, South Wales, Chris joined the Royal Navy in 1988, aged 16, as an Artificer Apprentice, passing out of HMS Daedalus as an LAEA(L) in 1992 a career of over 30 years!
During his two years accompanying the Admiral Chris will be faced with various milestones and challenges. He will make individual visits to every part of the Fleet Air Arm realm – not just RNAS Yeovilton and Culdrose, but overseas detachments in the Middle East, ship’s flights around the world, RN personnel training to maintain and fly the F-35 Lightning II in the USA among many others.
RAdm Keith Blount in his farewell speech said to the congregated personnel of the FAA from establishments including RNAS Culdrose and RAF Mahram;
“The Fleet Air Arm is in my heart and soul. It’s a great team effort. Be extremely proud of who and what you are and there is no one better than RAdm Martin Connell to lead the FAA through the next chapter. I will always be a Fleet Air Arm Officer.”
We wish both RAdm Keith Blount the very best of luck as he moves from Portsmouth to Northwood to take over from Vice Admiral Sir Clive Johnstone as Commander of NATO’s Maritime Command (the headquarters which directs all the alliance’s naval operations) and WO1 Paul Stephenson in his new role WO1 Career Management Cell here at RNAS Yeovilton.