Award for man who mapped seas for navy

Former Royal Naval Lieutenant Commander David Pollitt has been awarded the Greenwich Hospital Prize by the Navy for digitising its navigation systems Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Former Royal Naval Lieutenant Commander David Pollitt has been awarded the Greenwich Hospital Prize by the Navy for digitising its navigation systems Picture: Chris Moorhouse
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WHEN David Pollitt joined the Royal Navy 42 years ago as a fresh-faced teenager, he had no idea he would be responsible for one of the most ‘significant’ technological revolutions in the service’s illustrious history.

But that is exactly the legacy the Lieutenant Commander has left after his years of dedication led the Senior Service to switch from paper charts and ancient navigation aids to sail the Seven Seas to state-of-the-art electronic systems.

David Pollitt is pictured at home in Lee-on-the-Solent            Picture: Chris Moorhouse

David Pollitt is pictured at home in Lee-on-the-Solent Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Using his encyclopedic knowledge of navigation both above and below the waves, the 60-year-old introduced the new digital charts which will guide British warships through the globe’s oceans for generations to come.

Now, his dedication to service has been honoured with the highest award the navy can bestow, that’s not a state honour.

He was presented with The First Sea Lord’s Greenwich Hospital Prize by the head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, on board HMS Victory.

Dad-of-two David, who has since retired from the service, said: ‘IT and computer systems have taken a massive leap forward, from paper charts and sextants to fully electronic systems and digital charts.

‘To know I have been part of this legacy is incredibly humbling.’

David joined the navy at the age of 18 and trained as a navigator.

He eventually qualified as a submariner and served on nuclear submarine HMS Swiftsure between 1984 and 1986, where he navigated across the globe, visiting the likes of the Falkland Islands and Pearl Harbour.

In 1987 he became the executive officer – second-in-command – of nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror.

However, his role soon changed and he became a leading figure in pushing digital kit into new Royal Navy vessels.

It was a job that saw his time in service extended, with David being posted to navy HQ on Whale Island, where he worked for seven years to build the new digital navigation system

‘I was very lucky, I was on the leading edge of the technology and computing systems within the Royal Navy,’ he said.

David, of Cambridge Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, is still helping to advance seafaring systems in his new civilian role at OSI Maritime Systems, in Waterlooville.

‘Going digital is a big step to take for any navy,’ he said. ‘I just really love my work.’

The First Sea Lord’s Greenwich Hospital Prize was established in 2016.

Six prizes are awarded per year to Royal Navy personnel who have demonstrated exceptional individual achievement and contribution to the service.