A SAILOR who spent seven months deployed on two US aircraft carriers in the heat of the Gulf has been awarded a commendation for his work.
Lieutenant Commander Chris Hughes, 39, from Baffins in Portsmouth, was recognised by the Fleet Commander, Vice-Admiral Philip Jones, at a ceremony in Portsmouth Naval Base.
His citation reads: ‘Hughes’ performance has exceeded all expectations and has underscored the indispensable role of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy Liaison Officer, providing the template for his successors to follow.
‘He increased mutual military and operational understanding by initiating and organising ship visits between Royal Navy and US units, led and facilitated exercise planning between navies; and was pivotal in planning for and hosting UK dignitaries visiting the US aircraft carrier, in particular as part of the UK’s future carrier strike capability.’
Lt Cdr Hughes was first deployed as the UK Liaison Officer to the USS Dwight D Eisenhower which was on its way from Rhodes to the Gulf. The agreement between the UK and US forces saw the integration of UK servicemn onto US carriers to enable mutual learning ahead of the Royal Navy’s new carrier programme.
‘Life on board was great,’ said Lt Cdr Hughes
‘It was a little strange as culturally they have an almost slavish attitude to work with no recreation spaces to speak of as oppose to what we provide in the Royal Navy.
‘However I was blown away by the capability that a Nimitz class carrier brings and it really brought home for me how we will be able to work alongside and support them on operations in the future when our own carriers come into service.’
As reported in a series of special reports by The News, Royal Navy sailors are spending time on board US carriers to help prepare the navy for the imminent arrival of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers which are being put together in Rosyth.