Shoreham sailor passes significant milestone in Royal Navy career

A Royal Navy sailor from Shoreham has passed a significant milestone in his career, having completed the tough training to work with Royal Marine Commandos’ helicopters.

Able Rate Samuel Muggeridge, 24, trained at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall and was among 23 sailors who recently qualified as aircraft handlers.

The Royal Navy sailors were part of a class of new recruits learning emergency firefighting skills and how to operate on ships’ flight decks.

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Samuel, who now holds the rank of Naval Airman, received his certificate at a low-key, socially-distanced ceremony at the end of March and will now join the Commando Helicopter Force, serving on frontline operations with 845 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

Aircraft handlers lash down a Merlin Mk2 helicopter on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Royal Navy

A former student of Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove, Samuel said: “I wanted a job that didn’t involve being stuck inside from nine to five every day. I wanted a job that actually made me feel a sense of achievement.

“I was attracted by the firefighting aspect of the aircraft handlers’ branch. I found this part of the training challenging and it tested my physical strength, as well as your mental strength. It was also the most rewarding, as it’s extremely important we work together as a team. It also felt like, for the first time, that I was actually doing the role of an aircraft handler.

“I am looking forward to my next draft at 845 squadron and gaining new licences as well as survival training. I plan to get as much knowledge and experience as possible in the hope that promotion will then be easier.

“Once I’ve climbed the ranks enough that I feel happy with what I’ve achieved, I would consider looking into transferring over to officer when the time is right.”

Commanding officer Captain Stuart Finn presents Naval Airman Samuel Muggeridge with his badge and certificate. Picture: Royal Navy

Lieutenant Commander Scott Harding, the commanding officer of the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, offered his congratulations to all the students.

He said: “They have had to adapt and work hard to complete their training and now enter frontline service in the Royal Navy. They can each be rightly proud of joining the Aircraft Handlers’ Branch. I’d like to thank their families for their invaluable support.

“Some of these new sailors will join 1700 Naval Air Squadron, working on ships around the world while others are joining the fire stations here at RNAS Culdrose or at RNAS Yeovilton or heading off to work with the Commando Helicopter Force. I wish them every success.”

RNAS Culdrose commanding officer Captain Stuart Finn also attended the ceremony and congratulated each new aircraft handler as they collected their branch badges and certificates.