New Commanding Officer at RNAS Culdrose
Captain Adrian Orchard OBE has joined Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose as its new Commanding Officer.
Bringing a wealth of operational expertise, Captain Orchard takes the reins at a very important time for the Cornish Air Station and will lead a team driving a variety of frontline deployments, supporting the Royal Navy whenever and wherever it needs aviation assets.
With aircraft and personnel currently deployed across the Globe and the latest version of the Merlin helicopter to put through its paces, Captain Orchard is expecting his time at Culdrose to be demanding and fulfilling.
"It is an honour to be given command of RNAS Culdrose. Culdrose has an excellent team and a reputation for delivering capable personnel and aircraft to support the Royal Navy on its operations across the world. It is the largest and busiest Air Station in the Navy and we have some very interesting times ahead. I can’t wait to get started."
Captain Orchard joins as the Helston based Air Station completes the upgrade of its fleet of Merlin helicopters to the Mk2 model; the latest version of the submarine hunting aircraft.
Culdrose has an excellent team and a reputation for delivering capable personnel and aircraft to support the Royal Navy on its operations across the world.Captain Adrian Orchard OBE
"The Merlin Mk 2 helicopter presents a great leap forward in terms of the aircraft’s capabilities," said Captain Orchard. "Personnel are testing out the new version on the frontline and it is also making a difference in Sierra Leone and the Gulf. We also have other aircraft deployed including our Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopters which have returned to sea based operations having made such a difference in Afghanistan during the past five years. With a reinvigorated Fixed Wing Force, a busy training schedule and a greater focus on 'carrier operations' as we prepare to support the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, Culdrose has a busy few years ahead. 2015 will also give us an opportunity to celebrate the role of 771 Squadron, before they hand over their 'Search and Rescue' duties at the end of the year."
Captain Orchard is also looking forward to a reunion with an old friend during his new role – the SeaHarrier aircraft. Used for flight deck training, the Air Station has several (non flying) Sea Harriers, the aircraft in which Captain Orchard began his Naval flying career.
Captain Orchard joined the Royal Navy in 1986 and qualified as a Sea Harrier pilot in 1990. He brings with him a wealth of frontline experience as well as flying in operations during the Balkan Wars and the Gulf War, he has also served on exchange with the US Marine Corps and been appointed to the Pentagon. Leading 800 Naval Air Squadron and as the Joint Force Harrier Deputy Force Commander, Captain Orchard completed several successful operational tours in Afghanistan and was awarded the OBE in the 2008 Queen’s Honours List for his leadership abilities. He hung up his operational flying boots after 3000 hours flying Harriers, and was promoted to Captain in 2011.
With his involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter project and his last role as the ‘Fixed Wing Advisor’ at the Naval Command Headquarters in Portsmouth, Captain Orchard’s experience will prove invaluable as the 'Fixed Wing' force grows within the Fleet Air Arm.