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New Command Warrant Officer for Fleet Air Arm

19 December 2016
Taking over as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the head of Naval aviation for the next two years is WO1 Paul Stevenson.

For the next couple of years he’ll be the right hand man of Rear Admiral Keith Blount, the RN’s Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability and Carriers) and Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm – in simple parlance the head of the Fleet Air Arm.

As Command Warrant Officer, it’s the vital task of the 48-year-old air engineer from Helston to offer advice and feedback on all matters affecting day-to-day life in the world of naval aviation.

During his two years accompanying the admiral or making individual visits to every part of the Fleet Air Arm realm – not just Yeovilton and Culdrose, but overseas detachments in the Middle East, ship’s flights around the world, RN personnel training to maintain and fly the F-35 Lightning II in the USA among others – Paul will be faced with various milestones and challenges.

The trusty Lynx retires from service in March 2017;

The last Sea Kings, the Bagger Mk7s, are due to retire in 2018…

It’s not until you get out and about and chatting to people – which is something I am definitely looking forward to doing – that you find out what the issues are. I know what I think is important, but it’s crucial to listen to other views.

WO1 Paul Stevenson

…to be replaced by the ‘Crowsnest’ Merlin, which will perform the same task but with more advanced equipment installed on a much newer aircraft;

The first helicopters landing on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth (2017) followed by the arrival of the first F-35s (2018).

“It’s not until you get out and about and chatting to people – which is something I am definitely looking forward to doing – that you find out what the issues are. I know what I think is important, but it’s crucial to listen to other views,” said Paul.

He joined the Royal Navy at the beginning of 1988 as an air engineer artificer apprentice and has spent most of his time with the grey rather than green aviation world, firstly looking after Sea Kings, then Merlins.

He deployed with the first Merlin Flight with HMS Northumberland, rose to become the warrant officer for the entire Merlin force, was the deputy branch manager for all air engineer and safety equipment ratings and, until taking the Command Warrant Officer job, was Base Warrant Officer at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint.

He takes over from fellow air engineer – it’s by far the largest part of the Fleet Air Arm, accounting for more than 3,000 of its 5,000 personnel – WO1 Mick Davidson who is off to become the squadron warrant officer of the RAF’s legendary 617 Squadron – the Dambusters; when it re-forms with F-35s at RAF Marham, its personnel will be drawn from both the Air Force and FAA (as will 809 NAS which will follow it).

“The Command Warrant Officer job is very much acting as the conscience of very senior officers. You’re the connection between the coalface and the headquarters. You go out there to gauge the views of people,” said Mick.

There are five Command Warrant Officers – Surface Fleet, Submarine Service, Reserves, and Royal Marines as well as FAA. Their role, says Admiral Blount, is crucial.

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