New Commanding Officer for 847 NAS
Lieutenant Commander Graeme Spence Royal Navy has taken over as Commanding Officer 847 Naval Air Squadron just as the Squadron prepares to convert onto the new Wildcat AH1 which will replace the Lynx Mk7/9A next year.
Lieutenant Commander Graeme Spence, an experienced Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) operator since 1996, was quick to express his delight in assuming command.
“I am incredibly honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to command the first operational squadron to fly the Wildcat AH1 in service. It will be an immense challenge but one that the Fleet Air Arm is ready and capable of achieving.”
Lieutenant Commander Graeme Spence’s first tour was with 846 NAS, flying Sea King Mk4 helicopters in numerous locations around the world ranging fromNorwaytoAustralia. In addition, he undertook his first operational tour of duty serving inNorthern Ireland, flying support helicopter missions predominantly in the “bandit country” of South Armagh.
“At the time, flying in Northern Ireland was very demanding for all pilots, especially inexperienced ones as I was. Although I didn’t know it then, but I learnt so many skills in that environment that I would subsequently rely on in later years both in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Converting to the Lynx Mk7 and Mk9, his second tour was spent on exchange as the Flight Commander with the Army Air Corps’ 653 Sqn. He later re-joined 846 NAS as a Flight Commander and returned to the Sea King, operating around the world before being appointed to 771 NAS, where he qualified as a Search and Rescue captain. Returning to CHF as a Flight Commander on 845 NAS, he deployed twice to Iraq.
After almost 5 years out of the cockpit he returned to flying duties in 2011 as the Senior Pilot and Executive Officer of 847 NAS. This period saw him flying operational tours in the Libya campaign and Afghanistan, operating the Lynx Mk7 and Mk9A.
“Returning to the Lynx, after such a long time was hugely enjoyable. The last two years were incredibly busy, supporting operations and exercises around the world, and I feel that my feet have hardly touched the ground. Taking the time now to convert onto this new aircraft offers a welcome respite from front line duties allowing everyone on 847 NAS to catch their breath before resuming their very high readiness status.”