Falklands Hero Takes Over Fleet
The most senior post in the Royal Navy has changed hands, with the promotion of Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh, 55, to be First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff . He succeeds Admiral Sir Michael Boyce,57, who takes over next month as Chief of Defence Staff, the professional head of all Britain's Armed Forces. He replaces General Sir Charles Guthrie, 61, who goes into retirement soon after returning from his Falkland visit.
It is the first time that the top post, with a salary of £140,000 (210-thousand dollars), has been held by a naval officer for twelve years since the late Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse retired in 1988, six years after conducting the 1982 Falklands campaign as overall military commander of the Task Force, from Fleet Headquarters in Northwood in London.
The post he held then, Commander in Chief Fleet, now vacated by Admiral Essenhigh, has already been taken over by a hero of the Falklands conflict, Admiral Sir Alan West, 52. As the youngest Commander in the Royal Navy at the time, only 33, he was captain of the frigate HMS Ardent which was struck by ten Argentine bombs, set on fire, and sank on May 21st,1982, with the loss of 22 killed and another 30 of his crew injured. Commander West was the last to leave the ship as it was sinking and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
As the top naval commands were changing hands, a new agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States for development of a joint strike fighter, signals that the Harrier jump-jet which played a vital part in the defeat of Argentina is to be phased out.
The Harrier, operating from the Task Force aircraft carriers, proved a superior combat aircraft to anything deployed by Argentina, with its unconventional vertical take- off and landing capability, its astonishing ability to stop mid-flight and hover and its side-winder missiles. Several hundred Harriers are also in service with the United States marines.
Harold Briley, London