HMS Chargers Summer Review

Liverpool University Royal Naval Unit and HMS Charger’s busy summer schedule kicked off on 1st May 2014 as the ship travelled to Londonderry to take part in the annual Battle of Atlantic commemorations.

The extended sea weekend provided the handful of student’s who made the trip two invaluable night time passages, honing their bridge and navigation skills as the ship made a gruelling 180 nautical mile journey to Portrush.

After an enjoyable evening in Portrush, the Ship embarked some local sea cadets before making the short 25 nautical mile trip into Londonderry for the commemorations.

The memorial took place on River Foyle with a small service on board HMS Charger along with a minute silence before a wreath was delivered into the river.

The summer of 2014 has proved to be a busy and fruitful summer for Liverpool University Royal Naval Unit

On the Sunday morning the Commanding Officer attended a remembrance parade, whilst the Ship’s Company and students made the most of a walking tour of the city walls, kindly arranged by the City Council.

Three weeks later the ship returned to Portrush to take part in an annual raft race to raise funds for the local RNLI.

The event its self attracts around 40,000 visitors to watch the race and Liverpool URNU fielded two students to compete with two local Royal Navy Reserve Unit personnel. Whilst they may not have won, at least they were on of the few rafts to make it to the finish line intact!

On 15th May 2014 Liverpool URNU held its annual Passing out Parade and Official Reception. This year the parade was bigger than ever, with 19 students ‘passing out’, a guard of honour and a Sea Cadet Band (kindly provided by South Liverpool Sea Cadets).

This year we were honoured to have the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Gary Millar, in attendance as our Guest of Honour and the evening proved to be a very enjoyable experience.

We wish all of our leavers the very best success with their future careers, whatever that may bring them.

From 18th June 2014 HMS Charger was deployed for a total of seven weeks, split into four phases with thirty-five students completing around twelve days each on-board.

The main areas of operation throughout the deployment Was the North West of England, Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the East Coast of Ireland. Some regions (especially the Scottish Islands) provided some challenging navigation, which gave some of the more experienced students a chance to conduct some difficult pilotages and passages.

Beyond navigation exercises, the ship’s company and students carried out man overboard exercises and fire exercises on-board the ship alongside leadership training to work towards their Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Award.

Despite its busy schedule HMS Charger helped fly the flag for the Royal Navy when she paid a visit to Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland for Armed Forces Day. As part of the Armed Forces Day celebrations, the Ship was opened up to visitors and had around 500 members of the public onboard for a short tour.

Continuing her civic duties, the ship was again opened to visitors whilst in Preston at the invitation of the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Nicholas Pomfret, who was hosted on-board for the entry into harbour.

The Ship also made the first visit to the island of Rathlin, Northern Ireland, for many years, spending a night there in company with HMS Pursuer.

During downtime the crew and students took full advantage of what their locations had to offer, which ranged from a cycling session at Manchester Velodrome to climbing Ben Nevis whilst the ship visited Fort William.

HMS Charger’s series of summer deployments concluded on 1st August 2014 with a smooth passage back into Liverpool.

Besides sea training, over the course of this summer two Liverpool URNU students along with others from sister URNU’s took part in force protection exercises at RAF Cranwell and Stanford training area.

Known as ‘Strike’ Exercises, these exercises are intended for all University Air Squadron (UAS) and Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) students and take place only a handful of times every summer.

Each ten day exercise introduces the students to force protection operations, exposing them to the moral and physical courage, problem solving, organisation, logistics, skill at arms, teamwork and physical fitness needed to operate in the field in defence of vital air assets.

These exercises also helped form closer bonds with our friends from the Liverpool University Air Squadron.

During July 2014 three Liverpool URNU students along with a further nine from other URNU's have spent ten days supported the annual Royal Navy recognised Sea Scout and Combined Cadet Force summer camp on-board HMS Bristol, Whale Island.

Acting as Assistant Divisional Officers the students supervised approximately 150 CCF cadets during a wide range of activities spanning orienteering, sailing, kayaking, power-boating and a training session at the Royal Navy’s specialist fire school.

They were also fortunate enough to be able to experience the Phoenix Damage Repair Instructional Unit (DRIU), which is a simulator teaching sailors the art of damage control.

The camp serves to provide the CCF cadets with taster sessions in various disciplines which they may now go onto specialise in and gain qualifications through future camps.

On 30th July 2014 three Liverpool URNU students were invited to attend an affiliate’s day on-board the Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster.

The students spent all day on-board with a voyage out of Portsmouth harbour and witnessed several Ship’s exercises demonstrating its capability, including the firing of the 4.5 inch main gun and an aerial display by her Merlin Helicopter.

The summer of 2014 has proved to be a busy and fruitful summer for Liverpool University Royal Naval Unit whether at sea with HMS Charger, or on land our students have developed their experience and knowledge via the vast range of activities and events that have been made available to them.

We are looking forward to the new academic year and what new opportunities that may bring.