Legendary Royal Navy sailor Alan 'Sharkey' Ward notches up almost 14 years at sea during 44-year naval career

HE’S served in the Royal Navy for more than 44 years and spent almost 14 years at sea.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 4:55 am

Now legendary sailor Alan ‘Sharkey’ Ward has been honoured achieving a feat few in the navy ever managed – completing 5,000 days at sea in service of the nation.

The Chief Stoker, from Gosport, is the latest to receive the Senior Service’s relatively-new award singling out sailors – and their families – whose dedication to the job goes some way beyond the norm.

Known the Longer Separation Allowance 5,000 Days – of LSA5K, for short, the accolade is presented to sailors who spend at least 13 years and nine months at sea, away from loved ones.

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Alan ‘Sharkey’ Ward pictured with Commander Charlie Wheen as he receives an award for spending 5,000 days at sea with the Royal Navy

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Among those celebrating Sharkey’s achievement was defence secretary Ben Wallace, who took time out to congratulate the Falklands veteran while visiting Sharkey’s ship HMS Argyll at a defence event in London.

‘Sharkey is the absolute epitome of what it means to serve and we are hugely fortunate to have him on board,’ said Commander Charlie Wheen, Argyll’s commanding officer.

‘A font of knowledge, a great example to all of us and ever ready to keep us on our toes, thousands of sailors over the years have benefitted from his mentoring, and I hope there will be plenty more yet to come.’

Alan ‘Sharkey’ Ward, left, pictured with defence secretary Ben Wallace as he was presented an award for spending 5,000 days at sea with the Royal Navy

Sharkey joined the navy in 1977 and has served on 11 different Royal Navy vessels since joining the Senior Service, having served across the south in on ships in Portsmouth and Plymouth.

As well as serving on minehunters, survey vessels, frigates and destroyers, Sharkey also went on to serve on former aircraft carrier HMS Invincible’s first commission.

The Falklands conflict, in 1982, proved to be the defining moment in the career of the then 21-year-old marine engineer mechanic serving in survey ship HMS Herald.

Alan ‘Sharkey’ Ward, left, pictured welcoming defence secretary Ben Wallace onto HMS Argyll during an event in London

His experience in dealing with the casualties from RFAs Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram has seen him dedicate himself ever since to mentoring young sailors in damage control and firefighting so they can fight and win the internal battle.

A dedicated advocate of veteran charities, he has returned to the islands a number of times since, maintains close links with the area and people and is a trustee of and active fundraiser for Forgotten Veterans UK in Eastney and and the Falklands Veterans Foundation, based in Gosport.

He and his wife Jo, have raised more than £10,000 for the Falklands Veterans Foundation alone.

Sharkey is set to leave HMS Argyll to return to the Falklands for his last tour, where he will once again take on responsibility for the upkeep of the many memorials and war graves on the islands, as well as providing engineering support to Portsmouth-based warship HMS Forth, the navy’s permanent patrol ship in the region.

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A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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