The commanding officer of Plymouth-based Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset has been awarded an MBE for his success on operations in UK waters – including a record illegal drugs haul.
Commander Michael Wood, who lives on the outskirts of Plymouth, is praised in the award citation for ‘his leadership and deft management which have been key to sustaining his ship’s company and maintaining the ship’s material state during a period of intense operations in defence of the United Kingdom’.
The award covers significant achievements, including the discovery of the then biggest ever single haul of illegal drugs in the UK. The ship was involved in the search, location and boarding (with UK Border Force officers) of the Merchant Vessel Hamal, and subsequently the discovery of five tons of cocaine 100 miles east of Aberdeen .
Commander Wood said: “The award of the MBE for my time in command really pays tribute to the outstanding efforts of the men and women who served so faithfully in HMS Somerset with me. It is recognition too for all those who helped support and sustain us, both ashore in Devonport dockyard in Plymouth and our families at home, throughout an exceptional tempo of operations. I was immensely proud just to be the ship’s captain; the MBE is a humbling bonus, for which I am very grateful.”
HMS Somerset was also tasked several times to escort Russian and Chinese warships sailing through UK waters and to help protect Royal Navy vessels on duty in the North Atlantic. The ship also supported several search and rescue operations (including location of lost diver off Cornwall and the search for a merchant vessel in distress).
Commander Wood joined the Royal Navy in 1991 as a University Cadet. Following officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, he studied International Relations at the London School of Economics and then completed a Masters Degree at Cambridge University.
Training in HM ships Beaver, Broadsword, Plover, Leeds Castle and Cumberland was followed by a first tour as officially part of the crew in the role of gunnery officer in the Northern Ireland patrol boat Spey. His junior appointments included serving in the Plymouth-based frigates HMS Montrose and now decommissioned HMS Campbeltown and HMS Chatham. In HMS Chatham he was operations officer during the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami relief effort.
Commander Wood is now on a new phase of his career at the headquarters of Joint Forces Command, Northwood near London.