Mine Hunter puts international trainees to the test during sea training

Scottish-based Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Penzance has been working with international partners recently helping to train navigators from seven different nations.

The high-tech vessel, which is part of Faslane’s First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1), hosted ten trainees from Vietnam, Belize, Barbados, Jordon, Jamaica, Kenya and Lebanon.

MCM1’s Crew 1 helped develop the international student’s navigation skills, ship-handling ability and response to emergencies over a two-week period, using Scottish Sea Lochs and the stunning backdrop of the Clyde Estuary. 

Lieutenant Commander Lee Vessey, Commanding Officer of HMS Penzance, said that he was impressed with the student’s work ethic and team bonding.

“The different countries had obviously sent some of their best people and have high hopes for their future careers,” he said.  “I hope they will remember the Royal Navy often and positively, and maybe even stay in touch for the rest of their careers.”

The Royal Navy’s reputation as a world-class trainer regularly draws navies from around the world to send personnel to undergo courses and gain qualifications. 

From the perspective of the ship’s company, these weeks provide an excellent opportunity to develop an understanding of other navies and their practices.

Lieutenant Commander Vessey

The ten week Navigation and Warfare International Training Course saw the students put through their paces during a mixture of simulator training, classroom based learning and rigorous assessments.  The course culminated in the fortnight on board HMS Penzance, drawing on the expertise of the highly-trained MCM1 crew.

“From the perspective of the ship’s company, these weeks provide an excellent opportunity to develop an understanding of other navies and their practices,” said Lieutenant Commander Vessey.

“It is invaluable experience and such initiatives serve to strengthen the bonds between us and our allies.  Whether it is on operations overseas, or on joint exercises closer to home, all were left with a genuine hope to meet again.”

All ten trainees will now return to their respective navies to become Bridge and Navigating Officers, with some eventually going on to be future Commanders. 

HMS Penzance is a Royal Navy Sandown class Mine Counter Measures Vessel (MCMV), one of seven based at HM Naval Base Clyde. 

At any one time the Royal Navy has four mine hunters working in the Gulf – two Sandown Class and two Hunt Class vessels.  Together they help safeguard the waterways for shipping in the area.  While there the vessels conduct routine surveys, sea bed clearance and mine clearance operations.  The ships provide a visible naval presence in the region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital.

The crews of the Squadron rotate every seven to eight months, with the vessels staying in the region. 

MCM1 Crew 1 sailed HMS Penzance from the Gulf back to the UK and HMNB Clyde in August last year after an eight month deployment.