HMS Albion sets sail at BRNC

A team from HMS Albion has been training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in preparation for taking the 18,500 tonne amphibious assault ship back to sea.

The ship returned from a 10-month deployment last November and is currently alongside at Devonport Naval Base, which gave the bridge team the chance to travel to Dartmouth to make use of BRNC’s state-of-the-art bridge simulator.

The simulator is a mock-up of a ship’s bridge and allowed HMS Albion’s team to practise manoeuvres. It can be configured for any class of Royal Navy ship or submarine and at the click of a button changes can be made to simulate different environmental conditions, such as sea states and winds, and bring into play other vessels, objects or scenarios.

We’ve been doing some coastal navigation around the Isle of Wight and have been practising coming in and out of Devonport. This is a fair representation of a ship’s bridge. We have all the same tools as we’d have on board, such as a radar, and we can tailor the shipping situation depending on the experience the bridge team have and build their confidence steadily.

Lieutenant Simon Holden

Lieutenant (Lt) Simon Holden, HMS Albion’s second navigator, said: “We’ve had a big change-over of bridge personnel since we came back from deployment.  We wanted to integrate as a bridge team and the way to do that was to come here to use the simulator and practise going to sea and doing our job.”

Among the new joiners is Sub Lieutenant Jack Hart, who has recently completed his initial warfare navigation officers’ course at HMS Collingwood. He joined HMS Albion at the beginning of this year.

Sub Lt Hart said: “Being on HMS Albion is classed as my specialist fleet time and it’s a chance for me to get my hours in on bridge once we are at sea to qualify as a bridge watchkeeper. However, because the ship’s in at the moment we can only do bridge work using a simulator, so this is a chance for me to be put through my paces a little bit. It’s a really good opportunity for me to get to know the bridge team who I’ll be working with when we go to sea. I left BRNC about a year ago, so it’s nice to come back.”

Windows of the bridge simulator can be configured to represent open sea or harbours and coastlines from around the world.

Lt Holden said: “We’ve been doing some coastal navigation around the Isle of Wight and have been practising coming in and out of Devonport. This is a fair representation of a ship’s bridge. We have all the same tools as we’d have on board, such as a radar, and we can tailor the shipping situation depending on the experience the bridge team have and build their confidence steadily.”

Primarily the simulator is used to teach Officer Cadets navigation, but increasingly it is made available for ship’s team looking to hone their skills. In recent weeks the facility has been used by the Type 23 frigate HMS Kent and HMS Tyne, one of the Royal Navy’s offshore patrol vessels.