Ship-in-a-box' is a huge step-forward in board and search training and will test the team in an environment that’s as real as we can make it

Lieutenant Chris Carter, Officer Commanding Board and Search School

Lieutenant Chris Carter, Officer Commanding Board and Search School, said: "'Ship-in-a-box' is a huge step-forward in board and search training and will test the team in an environment that’s as real as we can make it.  It looks like a proper merchant ship with every compartment you’d expect to find for real.  

"We can combine training so that the sailors and marines under instruction can board the ship by descending on a rope directly onto the deck area from a helicopter, which is known as rapid roping, or embark by boat.  

The board and search course is three weeks long and tests the teams in a range of scenarios.  We also conduct exercises on the water, using the training ship Brecon at Jupiter Point and merchant vessels underway in Plymouth Sound, to make sure sailors are fully prepared to carry out this tasking anywhere in the world.” 

Board and search is one of the key capabilities provided by the Royal Navy to maintain the security of the world’s shipping lanes.  In recent years operations have been focussed in the Caribbean and the Gulf where the Royal Navy’s patrols are aimed at stopping the illegal maritime trade of narcotics and piracy that feeds terrorism and insurgency.  

Colonel Garth Manger, Commanding Officer of 1 Assault Group RM, said,  “This boarding facility is a real step forward allowing the sailors and marines to training in a secure, yet demanding, environment.  It will ensure that the Royal Navy continues to lead in Maritime interdiction across the Globe.”

The new complex has been built by FES Ltd, who built a similar facility, minus much of the internal compartments and fast-roping area, for 43 Cdo Royal Marines in Faslane.  Building work also included the construction of new classroom and changing facilities.

Photographs by Dave Sherfield.

1 Assault Group

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