New CO of Maritime Sea King Force based at RNAS Culdrose
On 07 July 2014 Commander Victoria Dale-Smith assumed command of the Maritime Sea King Force based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
Cdr Dale-Smith takes command of the Sea King Force at a crucial time that sees within the next two years, a drawdown of the much respected aircraft from its traditional Search and Rescue role at the West Cornwall Base and Prestwick in Scotland.
Victoria joined the Royal Navy in September 1992 as a Warfare Officer. On completion of Officer of the Watch course in 1994 her first assignment was to HMS Inverness as Gunnery Officer followed by HMS Manchester as the Communications Officer. In 1998 she sub-specialised as a pilot and qualified on the Sea King Commando Helicopter, passing out as a “Junglie” and serving on 845 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton. During her time on the Commando Helicopter Force squadron she took part in a variety of amphibious exercises including embarkations in HNLMS Rotterdam and HMS Illustrious as well as a detachment to Exercise Clockwork in Northern of Norway, 170 miles inside the Arctic Circle.
In 2003 she sailed with HMS Ocean as part of Operation Telic and flew with the Initial Assault Wave of40 Commando Royal Marines, (40 Cdo RM) and the United States Marine Corps, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, (15 MEU), onto the Al Faw Peninsula. During a second tour as the Operations Officer, Victoria returning for subsequent operational tours to Iraq and the Former Yugoslavia, before embarking in HMS Invincible in support of the UK Amphibious Task Group Staff for Exercise Joint Warrior. After promotion to Lieutenant Commander, she joined the staff of Equipment Capability (Air Littoral Manoeuvre) in the MOD as a Desk Officer followed by assignments to the Admiralty Interview Board and Captain Naval Recruiting. On completion of a busy assignment at Naval Command Headquarters in Air Manoeuvre of the Littoral Manoeuvre Capability Integration Group, (LMCIG) she joined RNAS Culdrose as Senior Pilot of 849 NAS flying the Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) Mk 7 variant of the Sea King.
“It is with enormous pride that I assume Command of the Maritime Sea King Force, especially at such a critical point in the history of the Force”, said Victoria. “I am blessed to have a wealth of talented personnel with diverse operational experience who contribute so much to the success of our daily operations, both in UK Maritime Search and Rescue and operationally in the Gulf.”
On promotion to Commander, she took up her current assignment as Maritime Sea King Force Commander based at RNAS Culdrose and is responsible for Royal Navy SAR, Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control and the Sea King Simulator. Victoria enjoys all outdoor activities especially coastal path running and keeps very busy with her two children, Clara and Anna.
On taking up her appointment CDR Victoria Dale-Smith added: “I have served for 22 years and time has literally flown by. Despite challenges to the Armed Forces over this period, as well as a significant reduction in Royal Naval personnel and equipment, I have still been afforded great career opportunities and huge diversity of employment by the Royal Navy.”