Date: 29th June 2016
Military Affiliations and Awards
Two visits in support of our military affiliates have recently taken place. Earlier in June the Master took a very interesting trip to meet some of the crew of HMS Defender and to make our annual Leadership Award to Leading Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Mleczek. And later in the same month the Master and members of the Company were invited to visit RAF Waddington to understand more about the base and to be present for the presentation of our Leadership Award to Fl Lt Sharon Ingle.
The citation on the Navy award read as follows:-
‘Working within the ship’s Services Group, Mleczek and his technicians have been routinely tasked to operate in some of the most unpleasant working environments on board in order to reinstate capability. Always one to lead from the front, he can be relied upon to inspire those around him to achieve the task”. In addition, he was head of the Junior Rates Mess, thereby holding responsibility for 162 personnel. Outside of command, this is deemed to be the biggest leadership challenge on board. “His impressive and rare ability to subtly influence and guide all those around him – subordinates, peers and seniors alike – sets him apart as a leader’.
Whilst for the Air Force, the citation captured Fl Lt Ingle’s contribution in this way:-
‘Sharon Ingle works as the 8 Squadron Intelligence Officer (IntO) where she is responsible for the flow of intelligence information from external agencies, into the Squadron, and then onwards up the intelligence chain to senior commanders Number 8 Squadron flies the E-3D Sentry, which is a large Command and Control platform that is employed across a range of combat operations; the role of IntO is thus critical to operational ouptut.
Within weeks of arriving on the Sqn, she launched an in-depth evaluation of extant Squadron processes and went on to revolutionise activity to focus it directly on the needs of higher commanders, ultimately directly affecting current and future operations. When the Squadron redeployed in March 2016, Sharon travelled out in advance of the main party to ensure that the correct facilities were in place to enable immediate operational success on arrival in theatre.
Without Sharon’s commitment and hard work, the relevance of the Squadron’s combat role would be much reduced. While Sentry’s performance is a team effort, this is a clear demonstration of an individual making a disproportionately positive impact on the team’s results.
To fit in with the hectic schedule that Defender is currently undertaking, the Master’s visit to HMS Defender necessitated a flight to meet the ship part way back from an active deployment.
Since we last reported on her progress, Defender has been deployed to the Mediterranean, to the Gulf and ultimately to the Indian ocean, in October 2015. Since that time, the crew have been on constant operations, save for a few weeks when the ship was in Bahrain, and crew were allowed back to the UK in shifts.
Her main task on deployment was to support and protect two key aircraft carriers, the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, and the US carrier Truman, especially at the time of their campaigns against Dae’sh in Iraq and Syria. On occasions Defender was the eyes and ears for both ships at the same time.
In addition to her main task, Defender attended the naval Review of Visakhapatnam in the Indian ocean; escorted both of the Cunard liners, the Queen Mary II and the Queen Elizabeth, through the Gulf of Oman; hosted members of the Gulf royal families on board; with trade deals being agreed and signed in the Captain’s cabin; and succeeded (with the aid of the Royal Marines on board) in intercepting a suspected dhow and removing some £5m worth of cannabis.
In spite of earlier press reports in this country about the Type 45s, the new gas turbine propulsion worked well for Defender. There was immense pride within the crew that, in spite of the long 9 month deployment, they had not missed a single day of operations due to mechanical failure. They had tested a type 45 Destroyer over a very long period, and the information gained will be invaluable to future commanders.
The visit to Waddington, still by the way awaiting completion of its main runway, was attended by a small party from the Company who were very enthusiastically and considerately entertained by the team at the base.
The visit afforded us an opportunity to try out the flight simulator, I am sorry to say not one of us actually managed to get the plane down safely on the runway; an introduction to the dog section and some disturbingly aggressive and powerful guard dogs that only their handlers could safely interact with and an introduction to the survival equipment specialists who are tasked with supplying the aircrew with everything from communications headsets to life rafts and from survival rations to water purification devices.
In between all these activities we were served an excellent lunch in the Sergeant’s Mess and the opportunity to chat to aircrew and ground personnel about life in the military and at Waddington in particular. With the key moment in the day the presentation by the Master of our Leadership award to Fl Lt Ingle in the Officers mess.