URNU students come through storm in the Solent in Blazer and Puncher

Undergraduates from Southampton, Oxford and London universities helped the Navy take down pirates in two all-action days off the Isle of Wight.

With patrol boats HMS Puncher and Blazer at their disposal, plus Hamble Independent Lifeboat and a helicopter from Solent Coast Guard at their disposal, 50 students from University Royal Naval Units experienced life at the sharper edge – exactly why Solent Storm has been introduced into the UNRU curriculum.

The 14 boats assigned to universities across the land take students around the UK over Easter and around Europe – even as far east as St Petersburg on occasions.

Substantial achievements though these are, they’re mostly flag-flying affair – there’s not a whole lot of front-line action.

The scenario for the weekend focused on a fictional situation where both Blazer and Puncher were gathering intelligence information

Lt Joe Curren

Which is why Solent Storm was introduced.

The premise this year? The country of Solentia was plagued by pirates (‘The Surf Seed Boyz’), acting seemingly at will – until Her Majesty’s Ships Blazer and Puncher intervened, supported by Hamble Independent Lifeboat (for boarding operations) and Solent Coast Guard helicopter.

The pirates – played by students crewing yachts from the military sailing centre in Gosport – first faced interrogation over the radio from Blazer and Puncher before boarding teams of students climbed into the lifeboat – which acted as a makeshift raider as the P2000 patrol boats carry nothing similar.

“The scenario for the weekend focused on a fictional situation where both Blazer and Puncher were gathering intelligence information, stopping and searching sailing vessels, speaking to local fishermen, searching their boats and dealing with casualties,” said Blazer’s Commanding Officer Lt Joe Curren, who helped to organise the weekend.

For good measure Solent Storm, which saw the boats put into Cowes for one day, also saw the URNU students practising dealing with casualties at sea with a winching drill with the Coastguard helicopter.