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Sean and Nick Pinniger

Father And Son Ensure Security At Sea Remains a Family Affair

Published: 20 Aug 2012

Two Royal Navy frigates at anchor in the Red Sea recently saw a family reunion of father and son. Chief Petty Officer Sean Pinniger (aged 42) an Air Engineer onboard HMS Westminster had the rare opportunity to meet up with his son Nick Pinniger (aged 21), a serving Royal Marine, as the Royal Navy’s “Capital Ship” handed over security duties to HMS Sutherland.

Whilst Sean, normally based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, was looking forward to his homecoming after being part of HMS Westminster’s gruelling seven month deployment in the Middle East and Indian Ocean, Nick is part of the Fleet Protection Group based in Faslane and is assigned to Devonport based Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland just entering the operational theatre.

The pair, both residents of Helston in Cornwall, represent the mix of experience and the ‘new blood’ in todays Armed Forces. Sean joined the Royal Navy in 1989, whilst Nick is a relative newcomer, having completed Royal Marine basic training in September 2010 and is now embarking on his first operational deployment.

If his time East of Suez is as eventful as his father’s, then more success awaits the Royal Navy. HMS Westminster’s time in the “Joint Operating Area” has seen the ship disrupt three groups of suspected pirates, seize $25m worth of heroin from smugglers in the Indian Ocean, conduct security patrols in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, pay goodwill visits across the region from Aqaba in Jordan to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, and conduct numerous exercises with coalition and allied forces in the region.

Onboard HMS Sutherland, Nick sailed from Devonport Naval Base on 5 July 2012 after the Ship completed her operational training under the guidance of Flag Officer Sea Training. She picked up the mission from HMS Westminster and, like the Royal Navy’s “Capital Ship”; she is a highly capable and versatile Unit that is further enhanced with an embarked Merlin helicopter and Royal Marines Boarding Team.

Attached to 829 Naval Air Squadron, 02 Flight based at RNAS Culdrose, Chief Pinniger has had an enjoyable deployment, commenting: “It’s been hard work but ultimately very satisfying, our Merlin helicopter has done incredible work during all of the Ship’s successes, plus after 23 years I finally got to do the Crossing the Line ceremony.” (Crossing the Line is an ancient tradition of a sailor’s first crossing of the equator).

The Pinniger family are no strangers to serving our nation’s interests, indeed Sean’s two brothers have served in the Royal Air Force and the Army, and his nephew is also a Royal Naval rating.

HMS Westminster and its Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose returned home earlier this week.


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