A Royal Navy officer has received a rare honour by being named an Honorary Member of the globally renowned Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. Serving in HMS Argyll, Lieutenant Jeannine Cooley, said she was surprised and privileged to receive the membership during the Ship‚Äôs recent stopover in Lagos, Nigeria.
During the visit a small delegation from the ship took part in a Chatham House Conference on Maritime Security in West Africa hosted by the Institute.
Lieutenant Cooley, 34, the only female onboard Argyll, was part of the team and at the end of the detailed discussions was awarded the honorary membership by the Institute‚Äôs Director General Professor Bola A. Akinterinwa.
Lt Cooley, from Bradford, said:
‚ÄúI‚Äôm really honoured and privileged to have been awarded such a prestigious membership and never expected it.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just a normal Bradford girl doing my job as part of Argyll‚Äôs crew providing maritime security and working alongside our African partners in the fight against illegal maritime activity.‚Äù
Argyll remains one of the very few ships in the Royal Navy which still has not had the necessary upgrade to embark a full complement of female sailors.
However, she can embark a limited number of female officers and until two weeks ago she had two female officers onboard.
A gathering of Nigerian Naval Officers, who visited the ship, found it surprising that Argyll had only one female onboard and jovially labelled Jeannine the ‚ÄúMother of the Navy‚Äù.
Lt Cooley is normally employed within the Operations Room as one of the three Principal Warfare Officers onboard, primarily responsible for directing a team of operators to find, track and, if needs be, destroy contacts in the air, surface and underwater domains. She said:
‚ÄúHMS Argyll may be the longest serving Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy but since her refit in 2010 she is brimming with modern technology and is highly capable of conducting a wide range of duties, from humanitarian and disaster relief at one end of the spectrum to whites of the eyes war fighting at the other.
‚ÄúMy job is to collate all the information that my team gathers from all the sensors and systems onboard and present it to the Captain so that he can make that vital decision to take action.‚Äù
Lt Cooley joined the Navy in 2002 and is no stranger to operations having previously served in HMS Iron Duke and HMS Richmond conducting counter narcotics patrols in the Caribbean and counter piracy operations around the Gulf of Aden.
She currently lives in Portsmouth with her partner, Jennifer, having moved from Bradford after joining the Royal Navy.
A former pupil at Tong Upper School in Bradford, she chose a career in the navy at an early age having joined the Bradford Sea Cadet Unit TS Aurora aged 12.
The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs was established in 1961, to provide a platform of ideas on what direction Nigeria should follow on international policies, having regards to relationship with the outside world and on this occasion was playing host and working side by side with the also globally renowned think tank Chatham House.
The theme for the conference, Maritime Security in West Africa, is of vital importance to all nations but none more so than Nigeria and the UK.
In her current tasking, HMS Argyll continues to work and train alongside other friendly nations to develop a common understanding and mode of working in the fight against illicit activities including drugs trafficking, illegal fishing and people smuggling.
Commander Tim Neild, HMS Argyll‚Äôs Commanding Officer, who led the team at the conference said:
‚ÄúHopefully the conference will lead to an increased understanding of the current maritime security situation off the West African coast and some of the key players in attendance can move forward with some of the ideas presented of how to tackle piracy, drug trafficking and illegal fishing.‚Äù
On completion of her tasking in the Atlantic, HMS Argyll will undertake a number of high profile regional engagement visits and return to her home port of Devonport later in the year.