Phase 1A

The course began at a rapid pace in mid-July in the glorious surroundings of BRNC.  The Officer Cadets (OCs), including a doctor and a vicar, arrived bright eyed and slightly trepidatious and were split into two divisions. 

Weeks 1 & 2 saw the OCs undertake lessons in Leadership and Core Maritime Skills (CMS), as well as an introduction to Parade Training, Battle Physical Training and Sports.  They then deployed to a moored RN ship, STV HINDUSTAN, for a weekend of Marinisation and time on the river Dart in motor whalers. 

Week 3 saw the OCs undergo Leadership Training, beginning with Coached Practical Leadership Tasks (PLTs) under the guidance of their training team, and deploying on Exercise BLD (Basic Leadership Development).

All OCs thoroughly enjoyed participating in College Sports midweek followed by Strategic Studies, as well as additional CMS lessons to further complete the required elements of their Taskbooks.

In week 4 AOP18 deployed to Okehampton Battle Camp for the two-day Basic Military Skills Package.  A Navigation Exercise followed and allowed the OCs to test their skills in field navigation.

The BLD Assessment phase commenced in early August and OCs completed the BLD circuit at BRNC over the course of two days with an additional day of PLTs on the River Dart for Maritime Leadership Assessments.

Over the final weekend, the OCs received instruction on BRNC's Picket Boats and the Maritime Environment as well as further chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and damage control (CBRNDC) training including a live exercise on STV HINDUSTAN.

Phase 1B

Week 5 of AOP saw the OCs transition into their 1B phase of training, moving from BRNC to Fort Blockhouse, just outside of Portsmouth.  A guided tour of HMS Victory was well received followed by a brief on Mobilisation.

The primary focus of this week is academic, with OCs conducting their 1B lessons on subjects ranging from the divisional system to doctrine and capabilities. The lessons were intermixed with some practical training, sailing on yachts, allowing the OCs to put into practice some of the navigation they had learnt, as well as furthering their understanding of the maritime environment.

In addition to daily lessons there were a number of activities to broaden understanding of the RNR such as fireside chats by senior Maritime Reservists and a visit to Commander Maritime Reserves Headquarters.  

A chance to see the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth sail was another highlight. Time outside of lessons also saw OCs maintaining their fitness, as well as preparing for their pass out parade with regular drill practice.

The latter part of the week was focused around the Critical Thinking package. This provided an insight into the fundamentals of staff work, including the maritime tactical estimate and the generation of orders, and was very well received.

Over week 6 the OCs deployed to various Royal Navy ships for their Initial Sea Acquaint. The ships utilised during AOP18 included a Type 45, a Type 23 and an off-shore patrol vessel on national tasking. 

The diversity of the platforms and deployments will prove great preparation for the OCs final Officer exam, Fleet Board.  Returning from Stavanger, Cherbourg and Portland the OCs were keen to share their experiences across the course.

A medical exercise was the perfect way to shed any post sea-time blues during week 7.  Initially covered by first aid training, followed by a presentation on the sinking of HMS Sheffield, the OCs thought they were done with medical training. 

The course then deployed onto HMS Bristol, ostensibly for a Ship’s Tour. The Ship’s Force Posture rapidly changed and some very realistic pipes informed the OCs that they were under attack by a suicide fast attack craft, and were expected to deal with the scenario as it unfolded.

The OCs came across real-life amputees covered in (fake) blood and gore and set to work putting their training in to practice. Better than any PLT this was Command and Leadership in the raw, the pipes kept coming and the Staff acted as hysterical, injured and dead members of the ship’s company.

And the results? A really strong effort by the OCs, after the initial shock (which was considerable) they got to work and sorted things out as best they could. Afterwards the amputees commended the OCs for their care, calmness and speed. 

The rest of the week saw the course at Southwick Park for the D-Day Map room Tour and the Submarine and Fleet Air Arm Museums interspersed with more Phase 1B academics.

Week 8 began with a trip to Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) for a Bottom Field Acquaint which was great fun and concluded with the mandatory trip into the Outdoor Swimming Facility (aka the regain tank). Later the OCs visited the Royal Marines Stonehouse Barracks for a fabulous Mess Dinner at the Commando Forces Officers’ Mess.

The week concluded with the OCs at BRNC for their Passing out Parade, in front of ‘their’ Commodore, Commodore Martin Quinn, Commander Maritime Reserves (CMR), their families and a number of employers.