Following a successful Royal Naval Reserve career, spanning over 30 years, Commander Anthony Stickland, the Commanding Officer of Portsmouth’s HMS King Alfred Headquarters, is retiring from the Service following a ceremonial handover ceremony to Commander Chris Webb.
The popular Commander was cheered by fellow reservists and shook hands with work colleagues who turned out to line his route to the quayside where he departed in style in the Queen’s Harbourmaster’s pilot boat, heading out under a golden sunset into Portsmouth harbour for a final sail wearing the uniform of the Naval Service.
Nevertheless, Cdr Stickland is looking forward to having more time to sail for pure relaxation in his own sailing yacht. Before he departed, Cdr Stickland was presented with a number of personal gifts and addressed the Ship’s Company of officers, sailors and permanent staff thanking them for their friendship, support and hard work during his career in the RNR. Cdr Stickland urged them to continue to deliver outstanding results, to complete their various naval training and to stand ready to support the Royal Navy and Defence’s operational effect. Earlier Cdr Stickland reflected on his Service under the White Ensign and said:
“I am going to miss the RNR – the camaraderie, the honour of being part of the Royal Navy, serving Her Majesty the Queen and helping my fellow reservists develop their careers. But I am equally looking forward to reacquainting myself with my own small boat; I love being afloat. Having completed several ocean passages under sail, I am now looking forward to exploring new places. There are still plenty of opportunities to discover around the English Channel.”
Following his departure, Flag Officer of the Maritime Reserves, Rear Admiral Simon Williams
paid tribute to Cdr Stickland’s service: He said: “Under his inspirational leadership at HMS King Alfred and during his long Maritime Reserve Forces career, Commander Anthony Stickland has repeatedly delivered top-class results through the close attention to the needs, aspirations and interests of those in his team, coupled with a strong, loyal commitment to the Naval Service.
“HMS King Alfred has repeatedly met and exceeded Government targets to grow and train the Naval Reserve significantly over the past three years in the South region. The Unit’s high standards are evident through their on-going success and I have personally presented a number of awards marking the achievement of its people. Their specialist maritime and leadership skills have been developed and mentored with exceptional care.
Cdr Anthony leaves the Royal Naval Reserve today in significantly better shape and I thank him personally for his consistent dedication, while also running his own civilian company, and for the energy and motivation he has inspired in his personnel at HMS King Alfred. I wish him every success going forward in his civilian career and trust that he will put his newly acquired leisure time to equally valuable use. He leaves with my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to him for his exemplary leadership and Service to the Nation.”
Cdr Stickland joined the Royal Naval Reserve back in 1985 at HMS Wessex, based in Southampton before the amalgamation of the three South Coast Units into one at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth in 1994. In those days the Mine Warfare branch of the Naval Reserve conducted mine clearing operations on Mine Countermeasures vessels, primarily HMS Itchen and other River class vessels. Highlights of his early career included navigating HMS Itchen during large Cold War NATO Exercises and conducting fishery patrols and conducting precise navigation drills in HMS Alderney and other vessels as the Officer of the Watch.
Later in his RNR career, Cdr Anthony’s organisational and leadership abilities shone as he undertook the complex management of several major ceremonial events for the RNR Unit in a four-year post as the First Lieutenant of the RNR Unit. During this time he undertook Parade Commander Duties for the Ceremonial Divisions, inspected by the then Commander in Chief of the Fleet and organised the very successful Freedom of the City of Portsmouth Marching Parade and ceremony for HMS King Alfred.
Cdr Stickland’s meticulous approach to organisational detail supported major NATO exercises as a Watchkeeper in the Amphibious Warfare role on board capital vessels such as HMS Ocean, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark launching simultaneous surface and aviation assaults ashore.
Appointed Commanding Officer in 2013, Commander Stickland skilfully drove forward HMS King Alfred’s recruiting and public engagement activities in a period of unparalleled growth under the Future Reserves 2020 Government initiative. Doubling the size of the unit under his Command he celebrated the success achieved by members of the Unit, including two reservists awarded the Captain’s Prize following their RNR confirmation course at HMS Raleigh and three reservists presented with Lord-Lieutenant awards for high achievement. Amongst many initiatives, he introduced were better opportunities for reservists to learn how to sail dinghies in the summer months and sourcing field training at Jersey Camp on the Isle of Wight and strongly encouraging and developing the social life of the Unit.
It is a source of immense pride that, in three years, under Cdr Stickland’s command, HMS King Alfred now boasts the largest trained strength of loyal and committed reservists amongst all the RNR units in the UK and his reservists continue to aspire to achieve great things with the firm support of regional community leaders, Reservist employers, the South East Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and the Royal Navy.
While he has successfully pursued a Reserve Forces career, Cdr Stickland has also been able to successfully manage his own civilian company as the Director of an Electronics Company in the New Forest to which he will return, following his departure from Portsmouth.
As Cdr Stickland retires, he can be justifiably proud of his record of achievements during a long and loyal career.