Managing director of A&P Defence, Gerald Pitts, one of the main architects behind the A&P group winning two major multi-million pound MoD contracts, is retiring after 46 years with the shipyard.

Gerald, who is a consummate professional in all that he does, has a natural flair and charisma of bonding with the workforce and industry chiefs within the MoD, Royal Navy and other players in the Defence industry. In his wake Gerald will leave a strong Defence Division that he has helped mould during his tenure in office.

Gerald’s career began in 1975 as an engineering apprentice with Silley Cox and Co in Falmouth and he spent his final apprentice training at Vosper Thornycroft Shipbuilders in Southampton, where he gained additional experience in the build of the Hunt Class mine sweepers.

Returning to A&P Falmouth in 1980, Gerald progressed quickly from fitter to engineering foreman before joining the A&P management team in 1998 as project manager. Gerald’s early career saw him work on a wide variety of commercial vessels, as well as RFA vessels including Fort Victoria, Oakleaf, Gold Rover and Fort Austin.

In 2008, Gerald played an instrumental role in securing the Cluster Support Contract and was promoted to RFA Cluster director responsible for the overall management of the contract.

Seven years later, Gerald became interim managing director of A&P Falmouth, and then managing director, before taking the role of managing director of A&P’s newly created dedicated Defence Division in 2018.

During this year he and his team spearheaded a project to win a ten-year MoD contract. The group won a £239m Future In-Service Support (FISS) contract from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to refit three Bay Class RFA’s Lyme Bay, Cardigan Bay and Mounts Bay along with RFA Argus and the hydrographic ocean survey vessel HMS Scott.

This is the largest contract ever awarded to the docks which has brought stability for the company and workforce for the foreseeable future.

In this current role, Gerald has been responsible for the Cluster and MARS UKCCATS contracts and all defence related work within the business both home and abroad.

David McGinley, chief executive officer of Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders, and Atlantic & Peninsula Marine Services, said: “Gerald’s defence expertise, strong client relationships and inimitable warmth have been critical to the success of our business.

“He played a lead role in securing the first RFA Cluster contract, as well as subsequent MARS and In Service Support contracts and we are incredibly proud and grateful for his immense contribution over the last five decades. We wish him every happiness in his retirement.”

Gerald’s retirement will begin in September and he already has plenty of plans which include travelling, motorcycling, kayaking, renovating old motorbikes, swimming, being chairman of the local boxing club and enjoying time with his wife, family and four grandchildren.

Gerald said: “I think I’m about to be as busy as I have been, but I’m very much looking forward to retirement. I’m going to miss the A&P team immensely. They’ve been a hugely important part of my life and I thank them all for their support over the years and making my career so very rewarding.”

Gerald’s position will be filled by Matt Weetch, defence business development director, who will take overall responsibility for the defence business, supported by Jonathan Green in his role as A&P’s cluster director. Together they will lead A&P Defence as the division continues to grow.