Celebrating ARNO’s Centenary in 100 Words – Stories from Our Members
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Seize the Day
ARNO surely merits a motto after a century of service on behalf of we that go down to the sea in ships.
I consult my lockdown mate. What does ARNO mean to her? Oh, history, legacy, friendship, memories, support, champagne.
How about Animo et Fide? Courage and Faith?
I reflect that we arrive in this world with nothing, we leave with nothing. It’s the adventurous bit in between that’s up to us – spend your life writing your obituary.
Carpe Diem then, that’s it. Seize the day.
Thank you ARNO, and here’s to the next 100 years.
From Commander John Lane OBE
We are all at sea.
We are all about the sea.
Some run away to sail the seven seas.
Underway. Miles of water.
Nautical miles of water.
White horses. Huge swells.
Battered by storms.
Shudder up the waves. Shudder down.
Every bolt and rivet stressed.
The whole crew straining.
Sinews taught. Muscles cramped.
Fighting the sea.
Praying for calm.
Needing the shore. Foreign shore.
Exhilarating. Bars. Girls. Drinks.
Noise. Music. Happy sounds.
A siren call that lifts your spirits.
Back on the street. Minus money.
Back to ship. Crash.
Back to sea.
By Lieutenant Commander Mick Monaghan MBE
Our First Washing Machine
In 1958, I was a Flight Deck Engineer Officer in HMS Bulwark. We were returning home from the Far East, when two tankers collided in the Persian Gulf.
I was put aboard “Malika” with a few others. There was a fire with vapour cloud explosions amidships.
After a week, the fire was out, the generators running and Bulwark had towed the vessel to Muscat. We returned home for Christmas.
Eighteen months later, I received salvage money, (double whacks for those on the tanker) having just married the Naval Nursing Sister at HMS Raleigh.
We spent it on an automatic washing machine.
They were rare and expensive in those days!
From Commander Peter Leggott
ARNO in Retirement?
Selling Maritime Books a few years ago I was only 72 so it certainly wasn’t time to slide into slippers and daytime TV. Having led ‘naval educational tours’ from Hawaii to Moscow it was difficult to stop.
I took a gamble and chartered a fabulous 19 cabin ‘millionaires’ yacht’ off the Croatian coast, advertising to ARNO members. What a fabulous group attended that first cruise, from a retired Admiral to a ‘Midshipman RN Rtd’… it has degenerated somewhat into a ‘fully relaxed holiday’!
Three cheers to the ARNO guys and gals. See you soon when this virus is past.
From Mike Critchley, Maritime Heritage Tours
Swiftsure in Lisbon – Cocktail Party
“Man Overboard, Man Overboard”. Actually, it was a lady, a local dignitary’s wife! Swift action by the Casing Party and OOW enabled the lady to be rescued and brought down below. Safe but wet and bedraggled, she was taken to the Captain’s cabin and dried off. Her clothes were put into the tumble dryer and an hour or so later she came to the Control Room and greeted with a massive round of applause. A very gutsy lady.
CO, Don Mitchell. OOW, Mark Stanhope. I hope Sir Mark will amend any errors in this dit!
By Lt Cdr Brian Higginson
HMS Dido. 1979. Indian Ocean.
Alarm clock rings. 0515.
Shirt, shorts, sandals. Go!
Charthouse. “Morning Yeo”.
Sextant, chronometer, notepad.
Out to starboard bridge wing.
Still dark. Emerging eastern horizon.
“What’s our first star?” “Betelgeuse, Sir”.
Approximate bearing 105, elevation 38.
Set the sextant. Search. There she is.
Bring her down to the horizon.
Adjust, adjust, she’s moving fast.
Swing gently, got to kiss that horizon.
“OK, standby … now, now, NOW”.
Time: 0528 and 19 seconds.
A second of time is a mile of sea.
Elevation: 37 degrees, 54.2 minutes.
“Next star? Mmm … Smell that bacon!”
Commander Nigel Smith
Naval Party 1910, South Atlantic, 1982. Middle watch. Ship blacked out.
Marisat’s down again. On foulies. Hammer and bent Pusser’s torch, reddened out with marker pen, in pocket.
Out of Bridge, grope way to ladder, climb up to Monkey Island, hugging rungs and praying as the ship slams into another trough.
Blunder blindly, canon off the mast, find another short ladder then reach the satellite dome. Cling on, push hatch open.
Satellite dish is buzzing like a trapped bee. Reach up with hammer.
Clang! Once, twice, third time lucky. Dish swoops up. Close hatch, return to Bridge. Until next time.
Lt Cdr (SCC) RNR (Rtd)
No land required – bees fly – 3 miles or more – so routinely monitor 28 square miles –
but further if necessary.
There are few better ways to banish every worrying thought from your mind than a bee
inspection on a pleasant sunny afternoon – until they swarm.
And then there’s the honey, the wax and the propolis.
Lt Cdr Jeremy Quinlan
I joined ARNO on recommendation of Cdr John Prichard of the Naval Club, London. Links with the RN began with the Colonial MRNVR (Singapore Division). In 1963, on transfer to RMN, I was mobilized during Confrontation. Attached as RMN (VR) Naval Support Officer to 42 RM Cdo, Tawau Assault Group, I was awarded the GSM Borneo and a SAF GSM for service during hostilities.
My active service imbued my civilian life, as Adjunct University Lecturer and Cross-Cultural Negotiation Consultant. I edited Naval Reserve in Action: WW II (Far East) and Confrontation (1963-1966) – legacy of the Far East Colonial RNVR Divisions.
Lt Adrian Villanueva, Colonial MRNVR (Singapore Division) 1960s
Joining the Royal Navy as a Medical Cadet in 1971
First hurdle – applying during the national postal strike. Solution – careers office and RN courier.
First Gosport Ferry crossing, Pneumonia Bridge, imposing Georgian frontage of the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, smart sailors on guard, vast mahogany table, fearsome senior medical officers, penetrating interview, supper in the Mess, silver service, white jacketed staff, convivial evening, medical in the morning.
OHMS letter, 5 year commission offered – and taken, Official Secrets Act signed, Surgeon Sub Lieutenant. Must pass Finals!
49 years later – still one stripe (but broader), outgoing chairman of ARNO and RNOC. Who could have predicted that? Not me!
Surgeon Commodore Jim Sykes, Chairman
From Barnsley to Bermuda
If it hadn’t been for the Miners’ strike I wouldn’t have been in Barnsley. If it hadn’t started raining I wouldn’t have entered the RN Careers office. If it hadn’t been for CPO Orchard I would probably have joined as a chef. If it hadn’t been for mates saying I wouldn’t stick it I would probably have left. If it wasn’t for Instructors Taff Pugh, Dennis O’Keefe and John Mchale I wouldn’t have passed out of HMS Pembroke. Without doubt if wasn’t for the fantastic opportunities and brilliant people I wouldn’t have loved my 32 years.
Born in Barnsley, made in the Royal Navy.
Commander Mike Goldthorpe, Director
Action Stations, Air Raid Warning Red, ANDROMEDA steams up threat full ahead.
Racket detection whistle makes its shrill sound, Enemy aircraft are confirmed to be inbound.
HANDBRAKE is the code that makes us fret, For now we have an Exocet threat.
Zippo One is our modern day Battle Cry, We fire chaff rockets to fill the sky.
Sea Wolf has acquired the track,
We’re seconds from engaging, no going back.
But the incoming missile’s fuel runs dry, As it splashes with relief we sigh.
We stood firm, saw our Goalkeeper Mission through, Now fall out and assume NBCD Condition Two.
Cdr N J ‘Nobby’ Hall RN
HMS ANDROMEDA 1982
Teachings from an Old Seadog
Being an SD officer had its advantages. A young Lt was the CPO’s President, and sought my advice on looking at the mess books regarding amounts of drink recorded. Having been President of the PO’s mess in an earlier life I knew some of the tricks!
It was recorded that two pints of Courage Sparkling beer had been drunk on a Sunday by all three guests. Nothing unusual. Being OOD on that Sunday I had seen the guests, and suggested to him that it was unlikely that a Mother Superior and two nuns would have drunk that amount!
Lieutenant Bill Ritchie
The Snotty and the Battenberg
“The midshipman will change station using the Battenberg”, announced our visiting admiral. As 2nd OOW, my first thought was to ‘leg it’ but, with the help of the OOW and NO, I eventually found the instrument gathering dust at the back of the chart table. Having fiddled with the pointers and rotated the centre, the OOW and I were none the wiser and the NO had by now wisely disappeared. Meanwhile, probably realising our predicament, the captain diverted the admiral’s attention to more pressing issues, and we got a crafty course to steer from the ops room. Bacon saved.
Commander Rob Scott
A Dinner Party at the Embassy
In 1967 HM ships Arethusa and Lynx paid a visit to Rio. A ball was planned, but regrettably the President of Brazil died beforehand. The British Ambassador invited the ships’ officers to an embassy dinner instead. The trouble started with the sweet; a meringue bombe with cream, strawberries and crowned with an eggshell of burning brandy. At the Ambassador’s end, people helped themselves from the bottom: the column fell and brandy set alight the waiter’s jacket. Our Captain beat out the flames. At Mrs Ambassador’s end, it collapsed and a six-foot flame shot down the table. Rio was a great run-ashore!
Commander Simon Fraser
when I was a young man wanting to see
just what the world had waiting for me
I joined the navy and travelled afar
enjoying the life of a jolly jack tar
meeting people and seeing the sights
sampling a world of many delights
of curious customs and a variety of gods
unusual lifestyles sometimes at odds
with mores acquired when I was a lad
some were quite strange, few of them bad
now I am older, unable to roam
happily settled, living quietly at home
recollecting images and memories galore
sustaining my life on the Lee shore.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” …
… A new park bench plaque along by the River Thames, commemorating a member of the London Fire Brigade, who lost his life at Hillsborough.
Having concluded that one mostly walks alone in life, and that companions join one now and again and different paths are followed (as in Robert Frost’s poem), one is pleased that one has the odd good friend left, whom one may not have seen for years. (As a fellow Wren once said, “We may not have seen one another for a long time, however one just takes up where one left off.”)
Christine Pike (2/O WRNS retired)
Coming to the end of a 28 year career having started as a student nurse at RNH Haslar I am now privileged to be retiring as a Commander, able to support ARNO and RNOC in its benevolence work.
We can all make our daily lives about benevolence as it simply means “a kind act or gift” or “doing kind things for others”. This is as simple as sending a card or letter or making a phone call to brighten someone’s day. Offering to help with a neighbours shopping or their garden if they cannot manage on their own.
What’s your act of benevolence today?
Commander Kay Hallsworth
What Were You Doing 38 Years Ago?
There was I, less than four months out of Dartmouth as a Probationary Third Officer WRNS, sweating away at circuit training in HMS Daedalus’s gym, trying to keep up that hard-won fitness level (not to mention weight loss), when my Petty Officer came up and tapped me on the shoulder. PO: “Can you come back to office now, please, Ma’am?” Me (in disgruntled voice): “Can’t you see I’m busy? What’s so urgent?” PO: “We have to find 10 men to go on the QEII tomorrow to sail to the Falkland Islands.” Needless to say, I haven’t been circuit training since!
Keen to fly I volunteered when the Fleet Air Arm selection board came to Dartmouth in 1957. After reviewing my flying log and general questions the Chairman confirmed that in their view, I would make a good candidate for the Fleet Air Arm. He asked the board members if they had any other further questions and a Lieutenant asked me why I came in dressing gown and slippers whilst the others were in no 5’s. I replied I was recuperating in sickbay from concussion – rugby – and my kit was in my cabin. Silence fell – I never made it.
Commander David Price
Oceans, lotions and adventures inbound
Schoolboy heads to London. Plans of adventure and caring for those that serve. Chatted to all three; chose the best, signed on as a scab lifter. Raleigh complete, a new hair cut received; heading off to learn my new trade. Years flew by serving the green and the blue. Discovered my place on the high seas, travelling the oceans from home to the southern snows. A Chief I became but with ambitious intent. I pass the board and a new stripe was sewn. Time flies by with a beautiful family in tow – my thanks RN, I have found my home.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Stent
It was interesting to see ARNO’s bell pictured in the Yearbook 2020, but of course she lived and died before the Association was founded. I became acquainted with her story when I was NA Rome in the mid-80s: the Italian Navy knows all about her, and proudly tells you that she is the only foreign-built warship every purchased by the Royal Navy.
She was being built in the Ansaldo yard in Genoa for the Portuguese Navy when the R.N. took her on, presumably to help make up for an acute shortage of escorts in the Med. She was of course named ARNO after the river on which Florence stands. She was lost in collision in the eastern Med in March 1918.
Captain Richard Channon
In 1953, when Navigator of H.M.S/M. Trenchant, I grew a beard to the scorn of the Wardroom. The following year we visited Bizerta in Tunisia, still under French rule, and the program included a soccer match against the local garrison.
The Captain and wardroom led the spectators, not that it did much good against the fit soldiery. Afterwards the officers were made Honorary Poilus of Le Quatrieme Regiment des Zouaves. We lined up and the General presented our badges kissing each recipient on both cheeks. I just received a formal handshake.
The Wardroom respected my beard thereafter!
W Hugh Reynolds, Lt Cdr
The majestic, brooding, Edinburgh castle. Pre-tattoo dinner, sitting on the hostess’s right hand – two down from her husband the General – Commanding. He briefed me beforehand that his lovely wife is deaf but refuses help. The hubbub increases as the evening develops and conversation with my hostess is increasingly difficult. I marvel at their youthful appearance and comment on the same. I ask “what is your secret”? Mine hostess, in a voice which could only be described as “proudly booming” stops the whole table’s conversation dead! “Sex! Plenty of Sex”! The OC smiled weakly with a rather red but happy flush!
Bob Love, Rear Admiral (Rtd)
In response to the tale of the Salvage Money for the Malika
Newly married to a WRNS officer we were grateful to serve in HMS Drake together. Being under 25 we could not afford a washing machine, but TLs had provided an alternative. When on duty, my wife did our ‘dhobeying’ in the WRNS wardroom machine and thence to their drying room. All went smoothly till a surprise ‘rounds’ by the Chief Officer who, apparently, needed smelling salts on discovering gentleman’s underpants in the Lady Officers’ quarters. The tale generated much humour amongst the male officers – from the Commodore down.
Commander Mike Peters
Life goes on as normal – Belfast 1981
West Belfast 1981. Hunger strikes; riots; shootings; bombings: mayhem. Patrolling; watching; waiting; listening; vigilance: always on edge, ready for instant action and reaction. Suddenly, yet again, sound of smashing glass nearby. Everyone takes cover and looks for source. No one hit: no sign of bottle. Then someone notices a nearby broken window. Protective mesh on outside, but broken glass inside: gin bottle resting on inside window ledge. Hand reaches from inside room. Retrieves gin bottle. Good to be reminded that everyday domestic life in Belfast continues as normal.
Brigadier Ian Gardiner
View from a Woodland Cabin
Many people like to have a view of the sea because of the constant changes mainly due to variations in wind and light. But the woodland changes too. The seasons make a difference, but so too does the wind. We have a north easterly today which makes the trees and leaves look very different from the usual south westerly. North easterlies can often cause damage to trees as well; my fingers are crossed! Instead of ships we have wildlife; as well as noisy and pretty birds, squirrels and foxes provide entertainment, as do the neighbours’ hens particularly if they escape.
Commander David Griffiths
Greenies Vs Droggies
Survey ship at sea surveying. After re-starting the echo sounder it rotates clockwise instead of anti-clockwise, shreds the paper and bends the stylus. Change the stylus, re-set the paper – start again. Same thing happens. Call the WEO. Scratching of heads, long screwdrivers and pusser’s torches. The sounder refuses to rotate correctly. Captain mightily frustrated at the lack of surveying progress suggests the fuse is in the wrong way round. WEO diplomatically instructs the fuse be turned round. “See” says the CO as the stylus rotates correctly and produces a good trace, “I told you the fuse was in wrong.”
Lieutenant Commander John Partington
The Last Imperial
The Admiralty decided to end the Imperial era of ‘schoolboy’ entry into the officer cadre with the last entry in January 1955. I failed the entrance exam in June 1954 but passed the exam in October. The interview in Dartmouth was in November. Commander Aylan – the Engineer – noted I was already a county player and offered me an 8-year ‘contract’ to play representative rugby if I changed my selection from X to E – I did. There were six final successful candidates of this supplementary final tranche – I was the very last of the last of the Darts!
Commander David Price
Final commission. Conducting Sea Slug missile firing jettison trial without radar guidance beam to replicate action in event of major onboard fire. First missile prepped for firing; launched; ballistic profile; ditched a few miles off port beam. Second missile launched un-prepped; shot skywards; ditched a couple of miles to port. Urgent cry from Gunnery Direction Platform: “Missile re-emerged and heading towards ship!”. OOW takes evasive action; Captain and Admiral on bridge wing observing incoming missile with bated breath! Ship under attack from own missile with no command override! Missile runs out of fuel and ditches a few cables away. Relief!!!
Commander Ian Crabtree
January 55 – first week in Dartmouth – the ‘seniors’ arrive. Chaos in the chest flat as clique leaders seek new members. I only opted for boxing as you did half hour’s training and the rest of the afternoon on your bunk. Three weeks later last College match against Downside. First and second-string middleweight members fall sick so I am selected. My opponent was Salmon who had reputedly reached the finals of the junior ABA competition! First fight, the first punch – pain – surprised me but I hung on for three rounds. Collected my colours next day with a beautiful shiner.
Commander David Price
I claim to be the first officer to mix men and women in a marching platoon. In the early 1980’s the team in the education centre, HMS DRAKE, was teaching a range of O levels and A level Maths and Physics. We had enough bodies for three platoons at division. So we had a platoon of male sailors, one of marines and one of sailors and Wrens Gunnery Officer said it was impossible! How much better to use all our talent. Many of those sailors, wrens and royals are now members. (At the time I was Senior Instructor Officer.)
Lieutenant Commander Chris Smith
“We need an Officer to accompany the Careers Teachers on a visit to HMS Ark Royal at sea; the male RN Officer is off sick. Would you like to go?” Does a bear ….. ?!!
Flying suit and helmet – one size fits all! Helicopter flight from Lossiemouth. Weird feeling landing on whilst ship moving. The only female on board so allocated the Admiral’s cabin. Watching Phantoms taking off –“Could I sit in the rear seat for a flight?”
Answer: “No, you’re a woman and might panic”!! But this was the 1970s. A few years later – asked to train as a helicopter pilot!
Second Officer Janet Moyse
View from a Scratch
HMS INVINCIBLE. November 1982. Wellington NZ. New secretary joins. Spot of jet lag. Programme in disarray. Ship needs repair. Something about nuclear weapons. Can neither confirm nor deny! No one will have us. Signals flying in from UK at 0200. Then a WEM complains to the Daily Star about duties at a CTP. Front page news. Captain apparently a “sprig of the aristocracy”. Understandably doesn’t go down well – Captain not v happy. More signals in the early hours. Now two weeks in the job – thinks, they never mentioned anything about this in the secretarial simulator!
Commander Bob Grainger
Carry On Platoon Commanders
My first job as an Officer was Defiance 87. Divisions were programmed and I attended the brief albeit very few Engineers did. The Captain had told me I would be presented with my LS&GC medal. Divisions day, I marched my platoon on, presented them for inspection and marched smartly out to the side of the dais. Three minutes later another Officer came out towards me. What are you doing here Ken, muttered the Engineer, I told him, his response cannot be repeated. Three more followed – I’d never met so many Officers who swore on divisions!!
Commander Ken Aitken
Shakespeare at Sea
HMS DIANA, 5th Destroyer Squadron, 1961, home waters. Sub Lt, borne for Bridge and Engine Room watchkeeping training before joining RNEC Manadon to read for a London Univ external degree in mechanical engineering.
Keeping low profile as 2nd OOW, with Captain on bridge, as HMS DUCHESS carries out “throw off” shoot firing 4.5in shells at DIANA, from ahead with 3 degree aim off in system for shells to pass to port. First salvo lands dead ahead 2 cables, the second dead ahead 1 cable.
DUCHESS signals “ceasing fire to realign system” much to our relief. Short delay, then “DUCHESS opening fire once more”. With wry grin, our Captain signals “To DUCHESS: Henry V, Act Three, Scene One, Line One!” [Once more in to the breach, dear friends, once more].
Rear Admiral Roger Moylan-Jones
Sunny misses the call – the tale of a naughty West African Grey
In 2001 serving in LANCASTER as OOW1, I was the only bearded Officer in the Wardroom. Knowing that I wouldn’t be on board for an upcoming visit to London’s ExCel Centre, due to Confinement Leave, and at which Sir Nigel would host a CTP in the Bridge and WR areas, in the months leading up to the event we taught our foul-mouthed parrot ‘Sunny’ to squawk ‘Oi Beardface’ every time I entered the Mess, in the ridiculous and vain hope she would do so right on cue for Sir Nigel! Event date 11 September… the rest is history.
Lieutenant Commander Iain Finch
Fifty years ago when driving to Portsmouth I picked up a sailor. He and his heavy backpack made themselves comfortable in the car. Then: ‘So what’s a pretty girl like you doing picking up a Jack Tar like me? Aren’t you nervous?’
I hadn’t been but then I was.
‘No, not at all’ I say ‘My husband is a submariner. If you lay a finger on me I know EXACTLY where you will be tomorrow morning.’
Dead silence, then: ‘Please could you drop me off at this garage, madam?’
I did, and I’ve never picked up a hitch hiker again.
Mrs Jane Molineux
At a Loss
As a Stores Accountant in HMS Diamond in the late 60s I signed for two lorry loads of stores. The Duty Watch stored the 80 boxes in Chacons overnight. In the morning one box was missing! Turned out to be a statuette of Sir Cecil Rhodes worth £3000+ CPOSA not happy! It eventually turned up after three days “voluntary” loss of leave.
On decommissioning the trophy went missing again – for almost 50 years! I tried to trace it for the new Type 45 Diamond.
It was accidentally discovered last year in London and now sits proudly in the Diamond’s Wardroom.
Lt (SD) S David Nairne RN (Ret’d)
Although only a Sub Lieutenant, whilst serving at RNAS Yeovilton, I was, as Commander’s Assistant, privileged to have a named parking billet. Having been warned that the billets were to be smartened up I was shocked to find that following the repaint my billet was annotated ‘Cdr’s Ass’! Mind you that was not as bad as the billet next to mine which was painted ‘COW’ – for Chief Officer WRNS’! Needless to say the painters were out again shortly after.
Lt Cdr Mike Pearson
The Start of Birley’s RN Career
Left P&O after nine years, arrived Totness Station Oct 86 with five others. Met by Chief MA and put in Tilley (unaware of what either was), driven to BRNC. Next morning mustered in classroom. Officer carrying short stick arrived. “Welcome to BRNC chaps, make the most of your visit, take it all in and then take the good news back to your companies”. “Sorry Sir, we have all resigned from our companies and believe we have joined the RN”. “Ahhh, must phone London!”. He returned later. “Welcome to the RN chaps!”. The next 30 years flew by. Now drive buses.
Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Birley
Royal Yacht, February 1988
Baking hot day in Barbados, I was DLC. HRH Princess Margaret embarking at 1500 with full ceremonial; duty team closed up in advance. Umbrella party (6) in sweltering spare gear store. Decided to stand them down – zero chance of showers. Informed Commander of intent. Referred to Admiral who swept a cloudless horizon and pronounced:
Umbrella party nearly expired at end of incarceration.
Glad to say RN today is considerably less risk averse!
Rear Admiral Mike Kimmons
It was not to be
Falklands after the war and I’m ashore as the RN member on the Joint Forces Signal Staff (JFSS). “We want someone to command the Black Pig (gash barge) and it looks like you qualify.” Marvellous – sea command at last! But it was not to be – someone else more senior was found – back to JFSS office in disappointed mood.
I had to wait many years before I got command of a ship and that was Narrowboat Topsham (see pic) by which time I was outside and an ARNO member.
By the way – does anyone know what happened to the Black Pig (proper name Falklands Sound)?
Lt Cdr Bob Corfield
HMS ORKNEY Abandon Ship
Orange and Blue exercises gave refreshing break to FPS OPVs as AGIs. Fortuitous for ORKNEY in Exercise Locked Gate 1985.
Nearing endex, some units less involved. Sea very calm, skies blue, very warm. ORKNEY virtually redundant. 1st Lt suggested Ship’s Company paint ship for time off in Gibraltar. Looking pristine and crew sweaty. “Hands to Bathe.” Almost all SC in water as BLUE Buccaneers attack from up sun. Sent signal “Bombed. Sinking. Many men in water. Request immediate assistance.”
Hoped signal would get young CO out of hole. It did. Read out at PXD to top brass to much laughter!
Commander John Prime