|Sir Nigel Essenhigh|
|Place of birth||Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK|
|Years of service||1963-2002|
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath|
Admiral Sir Nigel Richard Essenhigh, GCB DL (born 1944) is a former Royal Navy officer who served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from 2001 to 2002. He served as a navigating officer before commanding the Type 42 destroyer HMS Nottingham and then the Type 42 destroyer HMS Exeter during the Gulf War. As First Sea Lord he entered into a contract to acquire up to 150 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the UK's two new aircraft carriers. In retirement he worked for Northrop Grumman and became a Non-Executive Director of Babcock International. He remains a Deputy Lieutenant of Devon.
Essenhigh was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and educated at St. Cuthbert's School. He joined the Royal Navy in 1963 and, having been promoted to sub-lieutenant on 4 June 1965 and to lieutenant on 1 May 1967, he qualified as a Principal Warfare Officer in 1972, specialising in navigation. He served as a navigating officer on the frigate HMS Juno and then the destroyer HMS Antrim before joining the staff of the Flag Officer Sea Training at the Ministry of Defence. Promoted to lieutenant commander on 1 May 1975, he was posted to the destroyer HMS Glasgow in 1978.
After his promotion to commander on 31 December 1980, Essenhigh joined the Ministry of Defence for duty with Naval Manpower Training: he worked on the 1981 Defence Review. He took command of the Type 42 destroyer HMS Nottingham in 1982 and saw service in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and West Indies. His next post was on board HMS Ark Royal during its construction in 1984. Promoted to captain on 31 December 1985, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1986 and then returned to the Ministry of Defence to be Assistant Director (Weapons and Ships) in the Naval Plans Department in 1987. He took command of another Type 42 destroyer, HMS Exeter, in April 1989, and saw operational service during the Gulf War.
Essenhigh attended the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Staff College, Camberley in 1992 before being promoted to commodore and becoming Director of Naval Plans and Programmes at the Ministry of Defence later that year. Following promotion to rear admiral, he took up the position of Hydrographer of the Navy in February 1994 and, having been promoted to vice admiral, he became Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Programmes) in March 1996. In September 1998 he was promoted to full admiral and was appointed to the post of Commander-in-Chief Fleet as well as NATO Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic and NATO Commander Allied Naval Forces North West Europe. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1999 Birthday Honours.
In January 2001 he became First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. In that role he entered into a contract to acquire up to 150 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the UK's two new aircraft carriers. He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 2002 Birthday Honours and retired on 3 December 2002.
In retirement Essenhigh became an advisor to Northrop Grumman and from 2010 to 2011 he was chief executive of its Information Systems Europe business, involved in the supply of command, control, and intelligence and counter-IED products to customers throughout Europe. He was also a Non-Executive Director of Babcock International and Patron of Journey South 2007, an expedition to the South Pole. He has an interest in local matters and he remains a Deputy Lieutenant of Devon. He is married to Susie who is sponsor of the frigate HMS St Albans.
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- "Sir Nigel Essenhigh GCB". Babcock International. http://www.babcockinternational.com/about-us/the-board/#sir-nigel-essenhigh-gcb. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Sponsors". Journey South 2007. http://188.8.131.52/archive/js/sponsors.php. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
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