A COMMODORE from St Leonards is heading the Royal Navy’s biggest deployment of the year.
John Kingwell is taking charge of seven ships and hundreds of Royal Marines currently deployed to the Mediterranean and Middle East, as they embark on a series of amphibious exercises.
Cdre Kingwell commands what is known as the Response Force Task Group – a collection of ships, submarines, helicopters and marines designed to respond to unforeseen events around the world.
These could include disaster relief, evacuating civilians from trouble spots or undertaking naval security patrols.
Speaking to the Observer shortly before setting sail he said: “It is a great honour to command the Royal Navy’s Task Group whose sailors and Royal Marines provide an essential and unique capability for defence. We can react at very short notice to a wide range of events and provide political and military choice to the Government.
“Put simply, my task group is ready for anything”
For Cdre Kingwell there is an additional bonus because he is commanding the deployment from the fleet flagship HMS Albion – a ship he knows particularly well as before he was promoted he was her captain.
And joining him on board HMS Albion is another resident of St Leonards, Halle McLane.
The 26-year-old able seaman, who attended Helenswood School, works with 6 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (ASRM), which operate HMS Albion’s landing craft. These are used to transport Royal Marines, their vehicles and equipment ashore.
And one of her roles is operating the hoists which lower the landing craft into the water. Known traditionally in the Navy as a ‘writer’, AB Halle also provides administrative support to ASRM, dealing with everything from issuing foreign currency to making sure people are up to date with their fitness test.
AB Halle said: “Working as a writer in the Navy is unlike any other job because my office is a warship that could be anywhere in the world.
“I particularly enjoy working alongside the Royal Marines as it means I get to accompany them wherever they go ashore.”