New Base Warrant Officer for Yeovilton
It’s all change at the Top for the Base Warrant Officer, (BWO) at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, when Warrant Officer 1 Steve Uzzell handed over the 'BWO’s Stick’, the symbol of his authority to Warrant Officer 1 Gary Smart. This formal procedure between the two Senior Non-Commissioned Officers on the Air Station rounded off a busy handover between Old and the New BWO.
WO 1 Steve Uzzell, the outgoing BWO relinquishes his badge of authority on his retirement from the Senior Service after a long and distinguished career covering 36 years. Steve began his Naval career in 1976, spending time afloat on the fourth HMS Ark Royal working alongside Phantom, Buccaneer and Gannet aircraft and more recently the Amphibious Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean, where he saw active operational service during OP TELIC and the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. Steve said on his departure, “I have had the best time in the world with the Royal Navy. I will never forget all the great people I’ve had the pleasure to work and travel with. It’s been a fantastic time”. But he has no intention of putting on his slippers, listening to his favourite band Pink Floyd or lazing around the house. He has a Country Cottage near Ilminster to restore and a Golf handicap to bring down.
Taking over as the BWO and HMS Heron Warrant Officer’s and Senior Rate’s Mess President, is WO1 Gary Smart who has Lynx blood flowing through his veins. Having joined the Royal Navy in 1978 he passed out as an Aircraft Artificer, serving on Ship’s Flights throughout his time with both Wasp and Lynx helicopters, most notably HMS Achilles, Beaver, Southampton and Somerset. In addition Gary has seen time with 4 Regiment Army Air Corps in Germany and Wattisham in Suffolk, working on the Army version of the Westlands Lynx. After building a thorough knowledge on all marks of Lynx WO1 Smart has also spent two periods at the Lynx Engineering Authority originally in the Defence Helicopter Support Authority and also in the Defence Equipment Support at Yeovilton. “It’s great a pleasure to be taking over from Steve as the BWO of RNAS Yeovilton, one of the largest helicopter stations in Europe, with over 4300 personnel both Military and Civilian working here. It’s going to be a big challenge and a busy time to take over, but I wouldn’t want it any other way”.
Not that Gary will have time to reflect. The Base is set to welcome the New Wildcat helicopter as the Lynx replacement, both the Navy and Army variants with an additional Army Air Corps Regiment are due in the near future increasing the size of the base and its infrastructure. Gary continued, “With my background working close with the AAC and knowing how they operate, it should be an interesting time to be in charge”.