New Royal Navy navigators complete their training around British Isles

HMS Mersey and HMS Westminster have been training Royal Navy navigators of the future on the 'Fleet Navigating Officers' Sea assessment week in the waters around Guernsey and Jersey.

New Royal Navy navigators complete their training around British IslesAs part of the course the students are asked to pilot the challenging waters around the coast to demonstrate their ability to navigate a warship by day and night without GPS.

Lieutenant Dominic Garner, a student on board HMS Mersey, a Fishery protection vessel based in Portsmouth, said: "It has always been my ambition to become a Navigator in the Royal Navy and after weeks of practice I am ready for my assessment and I can't wait to join my next ship as the Navigating Officer".

Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster made their way to the Channel Islands after conducting the Specialist Navigator Course (SpecN) in Norway and around the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

This course is the Royal Navy's most advanced navigation course, where navigators are trained to not only navigator a warship, but an entire task group.

It has always been my ambition to become a Navigator in the Royal Navy and after weeks of practice I am ready for my assessment

Lieutenant Dominic Garner, a student on board HMS Mersey

The Weapon Engineer Officer of HMS Westminster, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Cox said: "It has been a real privilege to see some of the UK's most beautiful coastline and wildlife. In an attempt to find new and challenging routes, the SpecN course has taken HMS Westminster to some of the hidden gems that warships don't routinely get to visit."

Additionally the two ships have assisted the Jersey coastguard on two occasions whilst operating in the area. The first tasking was to identify an object which had been reported by an aeroplane which had just taken off from Jersey airport.

The object was large and orange and believed to be a possible life raft. Both Mersey and Westminster responded at speed to the last known position. Luckily it was identified as an orange fishing vessel stopped in the water and both units were stood down.

The second incident was during a pilotage in the vicinity of St Brelade's Bay. The ships were asked to remain in the mouth of the bay to assist the search for a missing swimmer until the Lifeboat and Coastguard boats arrived.

Lieutenant Greg Padden, the Navigating Officer on the ship said: "Safety of life at sea is our greatest peacetime responsibility, and when we received notification of potential distress it is amazing to see how quickly HMS Mersey and her crew are able to respond.

"I take great pride in our ability provide assistance to mariners in distress and it was one of the reasons I joined the Navy."

There has always been close cooperation between the RN and the coastguard, providing mutual assistance at short notice to any alerts. 

Both Royal Navy ships have fast sea boats and medical facilities available, as well as well-trained crew able to provide assistance if needed.