Royal Navy young officers train in the Bristol Channel

Trainee Officers from Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) have swapped their classroom for practical training in the Bristol Channel on board two of the Royal Navy’s P2000 patrol ships.

A group of 22 Young Officers (YOs) from the College travelled to Cardiff to spend a week embarked on HMS Express and HMS Charger, as part of their Initial Warfare Officer (Foundation) (IWO(F)) course.

Accompanied by two staff officers from the College, the Royal Navy YOs were given the chance to perform bridge roles in a real environment for which they have been training in a simulator.

They were given the opportunity to take control as the Officer-of-the-Watch as the ships sailed around the Bristol Channel. The week also gave the YOs the opportunity to perform real time chart work enabling them to navigate the ships in a safe and effective manner.

Midshipman Peter Tollinton said: “It was brilliant to get to sea and use the skills we have been learning in the bridge simulator we have at Dartmouth. It was also a great opportunity to refine those skills and conduct safe navigation in a way we had only seen on computer screens before.

"The experience helped us gain better awareness of the ‘Rules of the Road’ and how they may affect us in our future roles as Officers-of-the-Watch.”

It was brilliant to get to sea and use the skills we have been learning in the bridge simulator we have at Dartmouth.

Midshipman Peter Tollinton

The YOs are part-way through their IWO(F) course at BRNC.  The five days at sea gave them the chance to hone their skills in a safe and beneficial way and gave them crucial training for their upcoming assessment.

On completion of their IWO(F) course Royal Navy YOs spend three months on an operational warship, known as basic fleet time.  They return to sea for seven to eight month’s specialist fleet time further into their training.

The Royal Navy has sixteen P2000, fourteen of which have the primary role of supporting the University Royal Naval Units (URNU).  They are used as a training platform for the URNU as well as giving them the opportunity to go on deployments to European Ports.

HMS Express is affiliated with the Welsh URNU and HMS Charger with Liverpool University URNU.

These ships are equipped with all the navigation aids found on larger ships and so allow the trainees the chance to navigate and work in a similar manner to how they would later on in their careers in the fleet.