Team of Navy Reserves embark on HMS Iron Duke

With a team of the Iron Duke’s Company returning to the UK prior to the end of the Ship’s deployment, an opportunity existed to use the vacant bed space to embark a small contingent of Navy reserves.

Joining in Barbados they would get to spend just over 2 weeks at sea, an experience that for many is a life away from their jobs back in the UK.

This period at sea provided them all with a chance to really get to see what the Royal Navy does, not only to experience it first hand but also as part of their professional development within the Service.  Each Reserve has a Training Taskbook that they must complete and they certainly didn’t waste anytime onboard Iron Duke.

Within the first week of being on board, the team of Reserves were given the opportunity to get out in one of the Ship’s sea boats and experience the helming skill of the seaman specialists. Out in the middle of the Atlantic the RNR kitted up with lifejackets and helmets and boarded the Pacific 24 boat.  

The RIB is highly manoeuvrable and with the specialised jet drive it is capable of up to 40 knots.  Normally used for recovery of a man overboard, boarding suspicious vessels or transporting personnel, this exercise demonstrated to the RNR team how rapidly the boat can be deployed and its capability.  

The Reservists were utilised in assisting the launch, recovery and communications between the bridge and boat crew.  Not only was this an amazing experience but it added to the working knowledge of the ship and its assets, even if a few did get rather wet!

The time onboard HMS Iron Duke has been exceptional. Having experienced my first flight in a Helo and getting to fire a rifle at sea. It has given me an opportunity to experience new things away from my everyday job

AB Martyn Glover, HMS Forward

Part of the RNR training package during their time onboard was to take part in a series of CBRNDC lessons and drills.  CBRNDC stands for Chemical Biological Radiation and Nuclear Damage Control.  Every member of Ship’s Company are trained to fight fires, floods and a variety of other incidents which may happen onboard whether the ship be at sea or alongside. 

To keep up to date with the reactions required there are regular training evolutions, ranging from a minor flood to a full engine room fire.  The Reservists were no different and they were involved in a series of serials onboard to perfect their damage control skills including specific fire fighting training and getting heavily involved with the wholeship helicopter Crash On Deck Exercise (CODEX).

AB Jensen Shah, who is a student studying for his A-Levels, said: “I am grateful to the Ship’s Company of HMS Iron Duke for being so welcoming and providing the RNR with some valuable training and amazing experiences.”

Of the 11 AB2 RNR personnel that joined Iron Duke, 7 were able to use their time to complete all the training requirements to gain advancement to AB1.  These 7 personnel have now all achieved a standard meaning that they are now on the trained strength and are deployable as ABs within the Fleet.  

The achievement was marked by meeting with HMS Iron Duke’s Captain, Cdr Tom Tredray who congratulated them on their achievements and in particular the hard work they had displayed whilst being onboard.  Hoping to see them in the Fleet in the future, the Captain hoped that their first promotion to AB1 would be the first of many

AB Martyn Glover who normally works full time within the RNR Admin Office of HMS Forward made the most of his time onboard including weapon firings and a flight in the Ship’s Helicopter, call sign ‘Duchess’: “The time onboard HMS Iron Duke has been exceptional.  Having experienced my first flight in a Helo and getting to fire a rifle at sea.  It has given me an opportunity to experience new things away from my everyday job.”

AB Stuart Hill was certainly at the forefront of the various training activities getting heavily involved in all the Ship did: “It was great to sample life at sea with HMS Iron Duke and strengthen the bond between the RNR and the regular Service.  We were made to feel very welcome and treated as if we were amongst the Ship’s Company.”

But it hasn’t all been work, work, work for the team they have also managed to get involved in a number of the other Ship activities such as the infamous Flight Deck Tug-o-War (where they managed to beat the wardroom to avoid the last place), taking part in a Ship’s Quiz and the Ship’s Christmas Carol Service.

Cdr Tom Tredray has been impressed by the Reservists and said: “It has been a pleasure to have the RNRs onboard.  They have integrated seamlessly with the Ship’s Company and worked hard during their time with us ensuring that their input has been as vital to the output of HMS Iron Duke as that of any other sailor onboard.  

"Given the performance of the RNR sailors that I have witnessed onboard I believe that the future of the RNR is bright and they will in no doubt continue to provide valuable support alongside their full time colleagues.  All in all the two weeks have provided a huge amount of training value and important experience of a Royal Navy Warship at sea.”