All ship-shape in the galley

Tony Dormand in the galley on HMS Albion
Tony Dormand in the galley on HMS Albion

A SAILOR is playing a key role in protecting millions of Libyan civilians – by filling the bellies of seafaring servicemen.

Tony Dormand is part of a major Royal Navy deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle East which is supporting international efforts to protect people living in conflict-ravaged Libya.

The 31-year-old, a chef on flagship HMS Albion, prepares meals for 550 sailors and Royal Marines three times a day.

The 18,500-tonne assault ship is leading the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, a maritime quick reaction force consisting of ships, helicopters and Marines.

Tony also helped ferry British holidaymakers and soldiers returning from Afghanistan back home during the Icelandic ash cloud fiasco last year.

The former Brierton Comprehensive and Hartlepool Sixth Form College pupil said: “I chose to be a chef because it’s a skilled role. It is also challenging. I’m always working and on my feet.”

At the end of May, the task group was diverted from a multi-national exercise to the Libyan coast to increase pressure on Colonel Gaddafi.

Apache helicopters from HMS Ocean were launched against selected military targets ashore, while HMS Albion acted as the floating command platform directing and guiding the task group.

Tony, of Owton Manor, said: “When the ship is in defence watches, as we were off Libya, people are either working or sleeping, so food really makes a big difference to morale.

“It also helps give people a sense of a weekly routine and stops the days rolling into one. They know they will get fish on a Friday, steak on Saturday and a roast on a Sunday”.

Tony’s role does not end in the galley. When HMS Albion is at action stations he is part of the ship’s emergency response team, primed to respond to fires, floods and battle damage.

Tony, who began his working life in an administration role for British Steel, said: “If you find yourself near a fire you have to tackle it. We go through really intensive training to make sure we can use the breathing apparatus and fire fighting equipment.”

Tony said he was particularly busy when HMS Albion was used last summer to collect people stranded in Spain when an ash cloud grounded flights.

He added: “We had to produce hundreds of extra meals for all the families and holidaymakers we rescued. There was a really good spirit on board and everyone pulled together. The ship’s company gave up their bunks and recreation spaces for the passengers to use.”

Tony joined the Royal Navy in February 2002 and was based at HMS Drake, a shore establishment in Plymouth.

In 2005 he joined HMS Albion and has travelled as far afield as Canada, Sierra Leone, Crete and Oman.

Tony said: “Although I’ve been to some great places and I live on board HMS Albion most of the time, Hartlepool is definitely still home. When I’m back on leave I enjoy catching up with my old mates for a night out in Victoria Road and Church Street.”

l Mail view: Page 8