Fires, floods, Bish’s and medals on HMS Example

HMS Example recently finished her Squadron Covered Continuation Training (SCCT), the annual package of training provided by staff from 1st Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS), ensuring she is safe to operate and operated safely.

Her Executive Officer (XO) then topped it off, being presented with a clasp to his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in recognition of serving for 30 years!

The training was conducted in company with her sister ship HMS Explorer, normally based in Hull. On completion HMS Archer and HMS Trumpeter were also put through their paces.

The first day for Example started with a set of formal rounds conducted by Commander Hammon (Commander 1PBS), delving into the nooks, crannies and bilges on-board.

Following this a ‘fire’ was discovered in the forward accommodation area by one of the students, this was the first CBRNDC test for the crew, but was well handled, and extinguished in short order, just in time for sailing.

The departure from Viking Park (the Northumbria Police Marine Unit base), was led by Explorer, out into the operating areas just outside the Tynemouth breakwater, not unusually for ‘The North’ the temperature was fairly chilly.

We have now achieved the milestone of being assessed as safe to deploy for Easter

Lieutenant Duncan Napier, Commanding Officer of HMS Example

Once out Example was detached, and proceeded to conduct more engineering and damage control serials including standard manoeuvres, to test the power plant, and an F4 (engine room fire).

The day culminated in an F7, when the Commanding Officer (CO) managed to (for the exercise) hit a large piece of floating debris, resulting in multiple hull breaches throughout the ship. The ships company fought through the multiple floods, managing to retain the upper hand throughout.

Overall the day proved extremely useful helping to solidify the ship’s company into an efficient fighting team with the relatively new CO and new Marine Engineer Officer (MEO).

The second day shifted target to navigation and seamanship aspects, with Example taking the lead for the departure.

All went well until two ‘casualties’ were experienced in quick succession, just as the ship was exiting the breakwater into a grim North Sea day! With a crew of only five, this meant that the bridge was reduced to the minimum personnel while the others dealt with the medical emergency.

Swiftly following this, Example rolled into a Towing Exercise, with Explorer as the casualty ship, this was an ideal opportunity to prove the new equipment and practise close in manoeuvring.

The rest of the day panned out with a man overboard exercise, anchoring (with some free physical training thrown in for the Deputy Marine Engineer Officer (DMEO) carrying out an emergency recovery) a transition to blind pilotage and then the XO and CO taking turns in berthing the ship.

The day was conducted in typical North sea conditions, with at times 30 Knots of wind and a strong swell, despite this the team hung in, working well with each other and gave 100% for each evolution.

Talking about the training, the CO, Lieutenant Duncan Napier said, “It was an extremely useful assurance period, allowing us to build a baseline for future training. We have now achieved the milestone of being assessed as safe to deploy for Easter.

“The success was a result of the dedication and teamwork shown by my ship’s company not just in the two days of SCCT, but since I have joined the ship.”

On completion of the two days, the XO, Chief Petty Officer (AWT) Graeme Stroud topped it all off by being presented with a clasp for his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, marking 30 years of service in the Royal Navy.

The XO joined the Royal Navy in 1987, three years before the current CO was born! He has served on eight ships as well as in operational theatres including Iraq. This is an impressive achievement and as mentioned by Commander Hammon during the presentation, there are not many personnel within the RN who have achieved this milestone.

On the way back up the river to HMS Calliope (where HMS Example is berthed normally), ‘the Bish’, Chaplain of mine warfare, Fishery Protection Squadron and Patrol Vessels, Reverend David Simpson joined Example and her for the journey. After his stint on the wheel for part of the passage back, he took time for a chat and some reflection on the last two days.

HMS Example finally berthed back home, in the centre of Newcastle with HMS Explorer on the Tuesday evening.

Thanks go to the Northumbria Police Marine Unit for the use of their jetty in Jarrow, and also to Commander 1PBS for facilitating the training with his staff.