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HMS Kent honour legendary stoker Paul’s 40-year career

The chief stoker has completed the rare feat of 40 years in the Royal Navy – from 17-year-old rookie marine engineer to one of the most experienced damage control specialists in the service aged 57.

Shipmates on Kent took time out to recognise his achievement – which includes just short of 5,450 days at sea… nearly 15 whole years on the oceans.

Paul, from Wiltshire, passed through the gates of HMS Raleigh at the end of May 1983 when Spandau Ballet’s True and The Police’s Every Breath You Take were riding high in the charts, the UK was in the grip of an election campaign which would see Mrs Thatcher elected for a second term as prime minister, Roland Rat had recently made his TV debut and Bond fans were gearing up for Roger Moore’s penultimate outing as 007 in Octopussy.

The marine engineer’s subsequent career, mostly with Portsmouth-based ships, is a snapshot of all the RN has done – and how much it has changed – over the past four decades.

His first ship was the unique destroyer HMS Bristol (only one in the class was built) which took him to the Great Lakes and Canada, plus the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.

He then was transferred to HMS Ark Royal to bring her into service and another trip to the USA, this time to Fleet Week in New York where the carrier’s Harrier jets famously ‘bowed’ to the Statue of Liberty.


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