P2000s are some of the biggest vessels handled by the Boatyard’s crane and the slipway is just large enough to fit a P2000 in.

Lt Simon Shaw RN

On passage north from Penarth to Holyhead, Exploit welcomed onboard her URNU midshipmen from universities around the West Midlands as well as Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme midshipmen.

 Midshipman Mike Hardy said: “The weather on passage to Fishguard and then onto Holyhead was relatively calm and benign with sunny skies above.

"There wasn’t much traffic around the Welsh Coast so we concentrated on improving our navigation skills with lots of coastal fixing, including some advanced navigation techniques explained by the CO,”

On arrival in Holyhead, the students disembarked late on the Sunday evening whilst the crew prepared to enter drydock and ASRP period.

The official start of the ASRP sees contractors embark for pre slip trials which include every system onboard from navigation lights to cooker, and generators to windscreen wipers. From this the contractors can begin to plan which systems need most attention, all the time consulting with the Ship’s engineers.

Before the ship enters the slipway and is lifted out of the water, a full power trial in the vicinity of Holyhead Harbour sees the ship’s engines put through their paces.

CPO Tug Wilson, Exploit’s MEO said: “The CO always looks forward to the full power trials to see how fast his ship can go and give the other COs some banter. On this occasion, with some tide helping, we made 17 knots.

"The Holyhead Marine staff were pleased with our general material state and in particular the smart and clean engine room,"

Lt Simon Shaw, Exploit’s CO added: “Following Full Power Trials, Exploit must enter the exposed slipway at Holyhead Marina. P2000s are some of the biggest vessels handled by the Boatyard’s crane and the slipway is just large enough to fit a P2000 in.

"Unfortunately as Holyhead is on a headland, the weather can often be unforgiving with high wind including gales fairly common. On this occasion strong winds from the north, helped us enter the dock and we were lifted out of the water 24 hours earlier than planned."

The focus for Birmingham URNU switches away from the ship during this period, with Exploit's own engineers and shipyard staff running the refit on the CO’s behalf.

Following a successful recruiting period at Fresher’s Fayre across the West Midlands, Birmingham URNU now has 20 new first year officer cadets as well as three sponsored Royal Navy bursars.

“It’s quite a busy period now as we must size up, order and fir new uniform for the students, put them onto JPA so they can get paid and indoctrinate them into the URNU. Over drill nights they begin to learn more about the URNU and Royal Navy.

"Over three weekends before Christmas they will first visit Britannia Royal Naval College which includes basic drill, fitness tests and some boat work on the Dart, visit HMNB Portsmouth with some ship visits and lastly enjoy their first Fresher’s Weekend onboard HMS Exploit in Penarth”, explained CPO Stormy Archer, Exploit’s Coxswain.

Exploit will leave Holyhead in mid November and begin URNU operations again with three more sea weekends are planned before Christmas Leave. Each URNU and P2000 aims to complete 15 sea weekends per year, a four week Easter deployment and a six to eight week Summer deployment.

To qualify for their annual bounty each student must undertake three sea weekends, one 14 day deployment and 16 drill nights. Birmingham URNU recruits from universities across the West Midlands including University of Birmingham, Aston and Warwick.

Exploit belongs to the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron and is one of 14 P2000s allocated to University Royal Naval Units across the United Kingdom.