FOR the past four years, the Reverend Scott Brown has presided over a sizeable parish made up of 77 vessels and all the souls of the Royal Navy.
But now the chaplain of the fleet is retiring after 22 years of service, handing over the baton to the Venerable Ian Wheatley, an archdeacon of the Anglican faith.
Rev Brown, who is only the second ever chaplain of the fleet to be of the Church of Scotland, has served in the post for the last four years.
During the course of his career Rev Brown has served in several Portsmouth-based warships and oversaw several changes to the chaplaincy service while working at HMS Excellent on Whale Island.
He said: ‘It has been a great career.
‘I will miss the people I have worked with but I am also looking forward to a new challenge and to seeing what else life has to offer.
‘There are qualities that I have learnt in the Royal Navy that I know I will take with me – punctuality and discipline for example – because that is something we take for granted in the armed forces and I know that will stay with me.
‘In terms of organisational changes I think in terms of equality we have come a long way – going from woman not being allowed to go to sea to now being able to serve on ships and submarines.
‘And homosexuality used to be illegal – that is unthinkable today. But there are those things that will never change – Jackspeak for example.
‘We in the navy had a whole different language that just creeps in and you don’t really realise it.’
In navy speak, chaplains after often referred to as the ‘bish’.
‘And then there is the camaraderie,’ adds Mr Brown.
‘As you can see someone after four or five years and you are still friends despite a huge time gap. It is the way of service life.’
Some of Mr Brown’s highlights include serving with HMS Cardiff during the second Gulf War where he was one of 300 people on board and working as part of an exchange programme with the Australian and New Zealand navies.
Based in Canberra with the Australian Defence Force Academy he enjoyed his time working with the chaplaincy family on board – and took the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to abseil off the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a White Ensign.
Rev Brown has moved to Scotland where he and his partner Colin run a bed and breakfast business.