FLEET AIR ARM GATHERS FOR AWARDS
The Fleet Air Arm paraded at RNAS Yeovilton for one of the largest gatherings in recent years to see the presentation of awards and Fleet Air Arm trophies to some of its Squadrons and personnel.
Aviators, Airman and Air Engineers from across the Navy descended on the Somerset Air Station as Rear Admiral Russ Harding CBE, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability and Carriers – ACNS AACC) presented a number of FAA trophies and awards, including bravery awards and Operational Honours. The inaugural dedicated ceremony was also Admiral Harding’s last duty as head of the FAA, handing over the top job to Rear Admiral Keith Blount OBE.
Operational honours and Awards for personnel from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose were:
QCB - (Queen’s Commendation for Bravery) for Lieutenant Commander Robin Suckling of Gannet SAR Flight, who had risked his life in the rescue of two stranded climbers in gusting 50 knot winds on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe inScotland.
Three QCVS’s – (Queen’s Commendations for Valuable Service) presented to Lt Cdr Edwin Cooper for his leadership of 01 Merlin Flight from 829 NAS Merlin during Op Patwin in thePhilippines. As well as, Lt Cdr Bradley Watson and Lt Paul White both from 857 NAS for service inAfghanistanduring Op Herrick.
Lt Paul White said, “It’s absolutely stunning to receive this award. In the FAA you are surrounded by very professional people in the FAA and to be singled out like for any praise is always humbling.”
The Australia Shield, presented to the FAA Front Line Squadron who achieved the highest degree of Operational Capability. This year going to 820 NAS for their lead during Op Gritrock and received by Commander Ross Spooner, CO of 820 NAS.
The FAA Sword, which went to a team of Pilots, Deck crews and Maintainers who had been deployed onboard USS Carl Vinson, in support of US Carrier Strike Operations in theMiddle Eastover the past 9 months.
There to receive the award among others was Petty Officer Aircraft Handler Callum Gardner, who said, “I am very pleased to receive this award on behalf of my team which went out to the US Carrier. It’s also a great honour for the Aircraft Handlers branch; it certainly had that ‘Top Gun’ feel about it.”
The Bambara Trophy, presented to a Unit of Squadron who had done the most to promote and endorse safety in naval aviation. Presented to 831 Flight (700X) and received by Lt Cdr Al Rogers RNR.
The Rolls Royce Efficiency award – sponsored by Rolls Royce and annually given to the best overall standards of engineering, efficiency and effectiveness in the Fleet Air Arm. Presented to 820 NAS’s Air Engineering Officer, Lt Cdr David Downie for the Squadrons time on OP Gritrock, helping fight Ebola off the coast ofWest Africa.
The Breitling Trophy - Given to a Squadron or Flight who have achieved the best overall performance during a Naval Standards inspection. This year presented to 857 NAS and received by Lt Cdr James Hall, CO 857 NAS.
Two other training prizes for RNAS Culdrose went to Lt Paul Cataffo of 849 NAS, who picked up the Admiral Dudley Pound and The Kelly Memorial prize’s for best aviator and his overall performance during qualifying for his Observer Wings.