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Royally recognised photographer’s stunning images provide snapshot into Navy life

PUBLISHED: 06:30 11 January 2019

Royal Navy photographer Nathan Dua has received the Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his service. Troops embark into an 18 sqn RAF Chinook, during Operation Telic. Picture: Nathan Dua

Royal Navy photographer Nathan Dua has received the Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his service. Troops embark into an 18 sqn RAF Chinook, during Operation Telic. Picture: Nathan Dua

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These striking images provide a fascinating snapshot into life in the Royal Navy over the past few decades.

Royal Navy photographer Nathan Dua has received the Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his service. Picture: Nathan DuaRoyal Navy photographer Nathan Dua has received the Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his service. Picture: Nathan Dua

Taken by Warrant Officer 1st Class Nathan ‘Scooby’ Dua, from Lowestoft, they capture the actions of the Senior Service during operations, training and exercises across the globe.

And now Mr Dua’s talents have been given the royal seal of approval after he was recognised in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for his work as a Navy photographer.

Two Vanguard class submarines berthed at the HM Naval Base Clyde Finger Jetty, with the Shiplift in the background, March 1995. Picture: Nathan Dua.Two Vanguard class submarines berthed at the HM Naval Base Clyde Finger Jetty, with the Shiplift in the background, March 1995. Picture: Nathan Dua.

The silver medal is awarded to those in the military deemed to have given irreproachable service over a period of at least 20 years.

Having originally joined as a marine engineer in 1986, Mr Dua discovered an enthusiasm for photography while deployed in the Falklands on HMS Diomede.

Members of 40 Commando return from the desert. Picture: Nathan DuaMembers of 40 Commando return from the desert. Picture: Nathan Dua

Fast forward to 2019 and the Navy’s most senior lensman has been saluted for more than three decades of outstanding imagery following a nomination from Captain Richard Harris.

“Finding out about the medal came as a real shock and I was absolutely chuffed to pieces,” said Mr Dua.

18 sqn RAF operating from HMS Ark Royal in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Picture: Nathan Dua18 sqn RAF operating from HMS Ark Royal in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Picture: Nathan Dua

“The passion certainly started when I was in the Falklands as a marine engineer. It was just such a lovely place to start taking pictures.

“Later down the line I got talking to a Navy photographer and he told me what his job involved. He’d go from ship to ship taking all kinds of photos and I thought ‘that doesn’t sound too bad.’”

Mr Dua during a video shoot aboard one of HMS Ark Royals' Seaking Helicopters during Operation Telic. Picture: Nathan DuaMr Dua during a video shoot aboard one of HMS Ark Royals' Seaking Helicopters during Operation Telic. Picture: Nathan Dua

Having elected to pursue a change of career, Mr Dua attended the Defence School of Photography and qualified as a professional photographer, before transferring to the Portsmouth-based Photographic Branch in 1991.

The 49-year-old has since captured scenes from around the world covering every aspect of naval life.

A Mk 7 Sea King about to recover to the deck of HMS Ark Royal in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Picture: Nathan DuaA Mk 7 Sea King about to recover to the deck of HMS Ark Royal in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Picture: Nathan Dua

Among his most notable shots are those taken during campaigns in Kosovo and Operation Telic in Iraq, experiences he will never forget.

“Kosovo and Iraq were pretty surreal places to take photos,” added Mr Dua, who is now head of photographic specialisation at the MOD.

The Operation Room of HMS Edinburgh whilst on a Joint Maritime Exercise in Northern Scottish waters, November 1997. Picture: Nathan DuaThe Operation Room of HMS Edinburgh whilst on a Joint Maritime Exercise in Northern Scottish waters, November 1997. Picture: Nathan Dua

“It’s not until afterwards that you realise they were quite strange situations to be in as a photographer.

“People don’t always understand why the Navy has photographers, but it’s all about changing the public’s perspective and helping them understand what we do.”

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