Officer Cadets step aboard HMS Chiddingfold

Officer Cadets under training at Britannia Royal Naval College have stepped aboard HMS Chiddingfold for their first taste of an operational warship.

The Cadets, who joined the Royal Navy at the beginning of the year, were given the chance take a look around the minehunter during the ship’s two-day visit to Dartmouth.

Officer Cadet Kieran Davies said: “We were shown all around the ship.  We saw the diving equipment, the operations room and the bridge.  It’s been particularly interesting to me as a potential warfare officer seeing what goes on in these ships.

"It was a bit of a maze; I didn’t really know where I was at some points to be honest, but it was a welcome break from our normal training.”

The ship also gave a more in-depth capability brief to Cadets in the second phase of their initial training and to those undergoing their initial warfare course.

It’s been particularly interesting to me as a potential warfare officer seeing what goes on in these ships.

Officer Cadet Kieran Davies

The ‘Cheery Chid’, as she is affectionately known, is one of eight ships that make up the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron.

The minehunter returned to her home port of Portsmouth from a three-year deployment to the Gulf last September, where she had been protecting vital sea lanes. 

While the 42 crew on board rotate every six to eight months, the ship itself was operating from Bahrain throughout the period.  Since then the ship has been used as a training platform in UK waters prior to the Ship’s Company transferring to another minehunter on deployment.

Lieutenant Commander David Louis, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said:  “We’re here really for me to get my team into a bit of training. The Dart is a fantastic place for us to go that’s not our home port, so just a little bit outside of our comfort level.

"Also we’re here so that the College has a chance to get some of the Cadets onto a warship. Being here has taken me back to my training.

"One of the things they tell you when you are driving a picket boat, one of the small vessels they have here, is that it’s just like driving a miniature version of a warship and now here I am driving a real warship into these waters.

"It felt slightly odd, but fantastic. I hope coming on board has put the Cadets’ training in context.

"I remember when I was here it was difficult to imagine being an actual Officer on an actual ship, so hopefully this will enable them to go back and get the best out of their training.”