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Veteran retires after 48 years in Royal Navy

7 June 2017
Royal Navy veteran Lt Cdr Phil Dickinson has left the Service after 48 years.

Phil, who was officially the longest serving commissioned officer in the Royal Navy when his extended contract was finally complete, said: “Now, I’m going to have my first free summer since 1969.”

A veteran from the Falklands conflict, Phil saw active service flying with 826 NAS, serving in a variety of ships including HMS Hermes and RFA Fort Austin.

He was actively involved in the helicopter evacuation of 14 survivors from the heavily damaged HMS Coventry across to HMS Broadsword. 

The years have gone past in a flash. I can barely believe I’ve reached this point already.

Lt Cdr Phil Dickson RN

At a reception to celebrate his retirement at HMS Excellent, Phil received his certificate of valediction from Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock.

Phil said: “The years have gone past in a flash. I can barely believe I’ve reached this point already.

“The most memorable times in my long career are when I was the Commanding Officer of a Sea King helicopter squadron, during the Falklands conflict – recovering people from HMS Coventry and remembering vividly the 36 separate air raids endured in Falkland Sound.

“I also enjoyed a three-year appointment serving in Lisbon with NATO.

“The last six years have been spent as the Adjudication Officer on the Royal Navy’s HQ Staff was interesting and I learnt a huge amount about people.”

He joined BRNC Dartmouth as a Cadet on September 18 1969.

After sea time in home waters, the Mediterranean and the Far East in the minesweeper HMS Highburton and the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, he studied for a politics degree at Lancaster University, where he met his American wife Susan, before returning to BRNC to complete his training.

His early career was as a General List warfare officer.

He began Observer training in 1976 and accumulated over 2,000 flying hours.

His early aviation time was spent flying in ASW Sea Kings in the helicopter cruiser HMS Blake, including a six-month deployment to the west coast of the USA.

He went on to command 824 Naval Air Squadron in which he spent many flying hours trialling anti-submarine capability at the Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre ranges in the Bahamas.

Following his flying career, Phil was appointed to the Maritime Warfare Centre to conduct operational analysis in support of the FAA and became known as ‘Mr AUTEC’ for the next ten years.

Phil returned to the UK to serve as the Fleet Adjudication Officer for six years after which he received a Second Sea Lord Commendation for his exceptional service and meticulous attention to the role. 

In his final year, he was employed as the Maritime Reserves Mobilisation Officer.  

Phil added: “I will very much miss the people I’ve been in contact with on a daily basis, who have been so supportive to help me do my job.

“I’ve learnt something new every day. That’s been a key motivator, even at this stage. Never stop learning.”


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