UK: Royal Naval Reserves’ Final Salute for HMS King Alfred’s Commanding Officer
Royal Naval Reservists at Portsmouth’s RNR training unit, HMS King Alfred, cheered and lined the route to the quayside as their outgoing Commanding Officer, Commander Kevin Robertson, left the base at Whale Island by boat following a formal handover to his successor Cdr Anthony Stickland.
The ship’s company arranged a special honour guard salute for Cdr Robertson on his last working evening, following three years in command of the southern region’s Royal Navy Reserves at HMS King Alfred.
As one of the few full-time Royal Navy officers since the Second World War to lead the largest Maritime Reserves unit in the country, Cdr Robertson’s special farewell evening also marked his final day of work in the Naval Service.
The Reserves held a a dinner and made presentations at HMS King Alfred to mark the end of his 35-year
career as a Warfare Officer.
Cdr Robertson is retiring from the Naval Service to seek new challenges in the civilian world.
Cdr Robertson worked closely with Naval Command HQ to define the future Maritime Reserve requirement across all of the specialist reservist branches that will support and integrate with the future Navy Force, under the Future Reserves 2020 programme, whilst also overseeing the careers and training of HMS King Alfred’s 200 Reservists and managing his small team of full-time administrative staff.
As Commander Robertson handed over to his successor, Cdr Anthony Stickland, he said:
“I have the utmost respect for the commitment, determination and professionalism of all the Reservists based at HMS King Alfred and to have been given the chance to command them over the past three years has been professionally rewarding and a highlight of my career in the Royal Navy.
“As I look to take on new challenges away from the Service environment, I wish all at King Alfred continued success in their Reserves Careers.”
Cdr Robertson said that one of his proudest days was in July 2011, when HMS King Alfred exercised their Freedom of the City of Portsmouth, marching immaculately through the city to muster in the Guildhall Square for presentations before Hampshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Dame Mary Fagan, herself an Honorary Cdre in the RNR.
The Lord Mayor and many other supportive local dignitaries attended this special day that recognised the Reserves commitment and saw several operational medals presented. He added:
“The most satisfaction I’ve had during my command has been seeing so many of King Alfred’s reservists complete successful mobilisations in support of military operations, not just in Afghanistan but also across a wide range of activities at sea, at home and abroad.”
Cdr Stickland has now assumed Command of HMS King Alfred and addressed the Ship’s Company on his first drill evening.
Well known to the Ship’s Company, Cdr Stickland is a former Executive Officer and First Lieutenant.
He has played a key role in the executive branch, training and administration of the unit and its predecessor HMS Wessex over many years. He said:
“It’s a great honour to be assuming command of HMS King Alfred at such an exciting time for the Maritime Reserve.
“We are a key element in the Government’s Defence strategy; both the Reserves and HMS King Alfred in particular are destined for growth over the coming years.
“More locally, next year we will be marking King Alfred’s 20th year since commissioning in Portsmouth, and also look forward to making our contribution towards Portsmouth’s Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and other key ceremonial events during 2014.”
HMS King Alfred is actively recruiting new Reserves to meet the FR2020 requirements.
Naval Today Staff, April 26, 2013; Image: Royal Navy