A former Sea King pilot with RNAS Culdrose is to become the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord next month.

Current post holder Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope will hand over the helm to Admiral Sir George Zambellas, who served at Culdrose on 814 Naval Air Squadron in the 1980s.

Admiral Stanhope, who has been Chief of Naval Staff since 2009, bid a fond farewell to aviators and engineers at Culdrose when he made a final visit to the Helston air station ahead of his retirement.

This involved meeting as many people as possible to thank them, including the Fleet Air Arm squadrons for their operational achievements and hard work during his time in office.

He took questions from personnel whilst touring workspaces and hangars, allowing sailors a chance to quiz their senior man in the Royal Navy.

It was also an opportunity for the Admiral to have a final look at the legacy of his time in office. He was shown the New Merlin 2 facilities on 824 NAS and was impressed by the work of 771 NAS in their Search and Rescue role.

He said: “It has been a great privilege to be the First Sea Lord. The Royal Navy continues to make a positive difference on operations around the world, has highly professional, motivated and courageous men and women, and in only five years time will be flying jets from the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. If I could rejoin I would.”

The First Sea Lord is the Royal Navy's professional head and chairman of the Navy Board. He is responsible to Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and as a member of the Armed Forces Committee supports the Chief of Defence Staff in the management and direction of the armed forces.