Royal Naval Museum


Ahmed R Ajala

Name: Ahmed Rufai Ajala

Rank: Leuitenant Commander, HMS Nottingham

When and why did you join the Navy? 

I joined the Navy in January 1990 when I left school and went straight to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. I spent the next 6 months in basic training, including some time at sea in HMS Bristol. 

I joined the Navy because when I was growing up in Nigeria my father was an Army Officer and so a life in the armed services seemed like a good idea to me. At the time I wanted to be a Pilot and the Navy had its own 'Air Wing' called the Fleet Air Arm, which meant that you could fly and still travel the world on ships…

…I also thought the naval uniform was also a lot better than the RAF's!

Where are you now? 

I am onboard HMS Nottingham, which is a Type 42 Air Defence Destroyer, on our way down to the Falkland Islands near Argentina.  We recently sailed from Portsmouth and are currently off the north-west tip of Spain, and looking forward to our first short stop in Gibraltar. 

What's your job? What exactly is that? 
I’m the Weapon Engineer Officer (WEO) onboard HMS Nottingham. I look after 40 people of different ages and experience. The job of a WEO is to check and maintain everything that allows the ship to fight when it needs to. That means it's up to us to make sure everything works the way it’s supposed to.  This includes equipment like satellite communications, explosives, missiles, torpedos, guns, sensors of all kinds and things to help us navigate or tell us where we are.

What's the best and the worst thing about being in the Navy? 
The best thing is getting the chance to travel and be part of a team that works well together. The worst thing is being apart from friends and family and sometimes not being sure about what’s going to happen.

What was your funniest or most interesting moment? 

We were stationed near Ireland for a few days with a submarine. It was really rough weather and at least half the ship suffered from seasickness!  The submarine later sent a signal to us saying that they couldn't take it anymore and called off the whole exercise.  Being submerged, people on a submarine don't have it as bad as a ship on the surface and they couldn’t imagine what we were going through!
Have you won any medals and if so, what for? 
Military personnel earn medals rather than win them for gallantry, long service, and going on 'tours' in dangerous places.  I have 4 medals:

Air Ops Iraq (1996) - HMS York Gulf patrol enforcing no fly zone over Iraq

UN Medal Sierra Leone (2001) - Peacekeeping operations in the north of the country's border with Guinea.

OP Telic Iraq (2004-5) - Service with the Army in Basra

Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) - Presented to people with long service at the time of the jubilee

What do you do on a typical day?
There is no typical day for me but over the past 2 days I’ve walked round the different sections doing checks, fixed things, finished some paperwork, explained tactics to the crew, physical training and a few other jobs.

What training or exams do you need to do your job? 
You need to do a degree in Engineering (or similar), one year on a Systems Engineering and Management Course and a bit of experience doing engineering support jobs ashore.

What would you be doing if you weren't in the Navy? 
Possibly a Chef or a Teacher. 


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