The captain of a Plymouth-based Royal Navy warship has been awarded the OBE in this year’s military operational honours.
As the commanding officer of HMS Somerset, the only major warship operating in the Middle East during the first half of 2014, Commander Smith consistently demonstrated the highest standards of leadership.
The duty of being the solitary UK frigate demanded resilience, focus and deft management in order to keep both his ship and people at the highest levels of readiness. The ship was at the heart of UK maritime security operations in the Middle East operating in support of counter-piracy and counter-narcotics efforts, shipping escort duties and high profile ceremonial responsibilities.
During the six-month patrol Commander Smith’s personal preparation was ‘meticulous and infectious’, with his vessel arriving in the best operational capability state of any ship and the resulting performance outstanding, according to the award’s citation.
During mine counter-measures exercises, Cdr Smith, from Somerset, could be relied on to provide an unequalled service that offered total reassurance. In testing conditions the ship was at the cutting edge of operational readiness. It was just reward, therefore, that the ‘dogged’ work of the captain and his team was rewarded with a high-profile drugs seizure towards the end of his time in the region. With a strategic brain and tactical muscle, the captain totally gripped this deployment and HMS Somerset’s performance stood above any other.
Commander Smith, now working in the British Embassy in Washington, US, said: “I was hugely fortunate to have the opportunity to command HMS Somerset during her operational deployment to the Middle East last year.
“At the very heart of the ship’s success was the dedication, enthusiasm and sheer hard work of my 200 strong team who gave their best every day in supporting operations along way from home. I am incredibly humbled to have been awarded the OBE on behalf of my sailors and take great satisfaction in the in the fact that the contribution my ship’s company made was worthy of such recognition.’’
He added: “I am humbled by the prospect of having my award presented at Buckingham Palace later in the year and will be thinking very much of all those who made HMS Somerset successful. I am extremely proud to be able to represent their efforts during a period that demanded significant personal sacrifice from them all. My period commanding Somerset was an extremely special time in my career, but it required considerable support from my family. I am delighted that they will be able to share this moment with me and in some small way see it as recognition of many years of firm support to me and the Royal Navy.’’