A SAILOR from Durham has completed his training to serve on warships in support of the Royal Marine Commandos.

Able Rate Cameron Vallance, 20, qualified as a naval airman – an old title which nowadays includes men and women – to join the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Handlers’ Branch.

The Northern Echo:

Naval airmen work on the flight decks of warships and support ships to allow flying operations and are specially training in firefighting and rescue.

A ceremony was held at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, in Cornwall, before the national lockdown, for the 19 sailors who completed the course.

The Northern Echo:

The former St Leonard’s Catholic School pupil, from Belmont, said: “My dad was in the Royal Navy and always spoke very highly of his experiences and the opportunities it gave him, which sparked my interest from an early age.

“The best part of my training was overcoming the many physical challenges that came with it and passing all my exams. I am now looking forward to my next deployment and the new challenges it will bring.

“I am also looking forward to experiencing new training as an aircraft handler and seeing parts of the world I would never have had the chance to see otherwise.”

He joins 846 Naval Air Squadron, the Merlin Mk4 helicopter force which works with the Royal Marine Commandos.

The Northern Echo:

Lieutenant Commander Billy Benton, the commanding officer of the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, said: “I must congratulate all those who have completed their training.

“The coronavirus pandemic restrictions impacted the ability to conduct their course until the staff had taken stringent safety measures and risk assessment to ensure the training could continue.

“It is testament to the hard work and dedication of the school’s Royal Navy and civilian staff that the course has completed successfully; it was a real team effort. “The members of Naval Airman Qualifying Course 3/19 should be immensely proud of what they have achieved under such testing circumstances.

“I would also like to especially thank their families for their support throughout their training who I am sure have been there providing words of support and guidance to get them to the end.

“I hope this support will continue as their careers progress.”