Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Former commanding officers visit Sultan for 60th Anniversary

27 May 2016
HMS Sultan recently welcomed nine former Commanding Officers (COs) to the Establishment, as part of 60th anniversary celebrations.

The group of visitors were treated to a special commemorative lunch, with the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock and a tour of modern facilities.

With returning COs from across the past three decades, the visit allowed all of them an opportunity to see how training has evolved over this period of time.

Focussed around the core elements of current training delivery, the visitors learnt about the roles of both the Defence College of Technical Training’s schools within HMS Sultan, the Defence School of Marine Engineering and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). 

It’s very heart warming to see just how committed everyone is.

Retired Commodore Malcolm Shirley

Retired Commodore Malcolm Shirley, CO between 1995-1998, oversaw the move of the RNAESS from HMS Daedalus in 1998, and was impressed by the progress that had been made since, he said: “The most striking thing about HMS Sultan now is how the Establishment has embraced modern technology within training and teaching.

“It’s only 20 years since we had blackboards and instructors at the front of a class now they use all sorts of aids including tablets to do things remotely as well as in the classroom.

“It’s a complete evolution, but what is really impressive is that the people haven’t changed, their commitment to training and quality of training is as good as it has ever been.

“It’s very heart warming to see just how committed everyone is.”

As well as lunch and tours of the facilities, the former COs were treated to a ride on HMS Sultan’s own Super Sentinel Steam Lorry, which has been with the Establishment since 1960.

Retired Commodore Mark Slawson was Commanding Officer of the Establishment between 2010 – 2013 said: “It’s been tremendous fun all day and lovely to be back within Sultan.

“It’s a little bit emotional coming back as I had a tremendous time in my 3 years here. In the time that I’ve been away I can see that things have changed, things have improved.

“The focus of things is very much on the future and I can see that things are getting better which is really good news.”

“The steam lorry is something which I think is quite important to Sultan, as it is steam, which is where the marine engineering world is embedded.

“It’s brought back memories for all of us, as everyone of the former Cos that was at lunch today, on the day that they left, was driven around the Establishment on the Steam lorry.”

“I don’t think we have all gathered together before so this is a unique experience for us. There are many that I have met, or not met for many years and the last time I met them I was a Sub Lieutenant he was a Rear Admiral, it’s just how it is.

“In fact there was one chap today that I couldn’t help but straighten up and call him Sir, because he was the Captain when I arrived in Sultan on my first job in 1985 and he’s now Bob apparently, but he’s still Sir when he wants it.”

The visit finished at a reception where the youngest trainee within HMS Sultan, 17 year old Engineering Technician Marine Engineering Jordan Chaplin, and Rear Admiral Austin Lockyer, the longest serving CO, 1982-1983, cutting a 60th anniversary cake.

In addition, Colin Hamilton was presented with a special award by the current Commanding Officer of the Establishment, Captain Trevor Gulley for being the longest serving current member of staff, 1960-2016.

As the visit drew to a close Captain Gulley said: “Today’s visit has been an absolute pleasure to host and for the majority of our guests this is the first time that they have returned to the site.

“All have commented on how much the site has changed and how impressed they are. Each one of them has made their own personnel contribution towards the ongoing success of HMS Sultan.”

“As we look to the future, under the direction of the Defence College of Technical Training, as technology moves forwards so does our training, ensuring we deliver capable people to the fleet for many years to come.”

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.