UK: Andrew McFadden Becomes Principal Chaplain for Entire Royal Navy
A padre at HM Naval Base Clyde has swapped the Holy See for the high sea after being appointed the new Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain for the entire Royal Navy.
Father Andrew McFadden (47) was given the appointment as Principal Chaplain and Vicar General of the Bishopric of the Forces (Great Britain) on November 14.
It is the culmination of his career as a Royal Navy Chaplain which saw the Paisley Diocese long-term loan his services to the armed forces back in 1998 when he answered the “call of the sea” and attended training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
Shortly after, Padre McFadden took up post as Chaplain of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar before being appointed to Portsmouth Naval Base’s Fourth Frigate Squadron.
Since then he has served on board HMS Iron Duke in the Adriatic, HMS Marlborough in the Gulf, and, in 2006, a move to the Royal Navy’s largest ship, HMS Ocean of the West African coast.
However, for the past two years the Roman Catholic priest has been overseeing the spiritual needs of Royal Navy submariners as seagoing chaplain to Commodore Faslane Flotilla (COMFASFLOT) at HM Naval Base Clyde.
Father McFadden said:
“Submarines are a unique experience; a very specialised group, indeed an elite, but with great heart and humanity. I sensed this especially in my time with HMS Astute, the navy’s latest submarine. It has been a privilege to work so closely with the Silent Service.”
Another specialist group at HM Naval Base Clyde are the mine clearance and diving units, and Father McFadden has recently been involved with Sandown Class mine hunters HMS Pembroke and HMS Ramsey.
These vessels are part of the First Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM1) and operate frequently in difficult and dangerous conditions, keeping shipping lanes open and assuring international stability and peace.
It has been an experience described as a “blessing” by Father McFadden.
“The future challenge,” he said, “to be Principal Chaplain and Vicar General, surprised me. I was about to join a submarine permanent crew!
“In reflection I sense this is part of my life long calling – first to be a priest and then to be a priest in the naval service. It’s about vocation.”
“It is a time of new and big challenges for all three of the armed forces. We need chaplains urgently in order to continue the mission in the navy, army and air force.”
Naval Today Staff , December 12, 2011; Image: royalnavy