Navy tradition goes virtual due to virus outbreak

The coronavirus epidemic has forced all of us to change our routines – even the Royal Navy, which is trying to maintain ‘business as usual’ around the globe.

We’ve had virtual Royal Marines Band lessons. Physical trainers offering tips on keeping fit in isolation. Submariners explaining how to cope being cut off from the world.

 

And now, courtesy of the British team directing an international task group protecting shipping in the Gulf, a virtual ‘clear lower deck’.

 

The Royal Navy officer in charge of the International Maritime Security Construct – the headquarters set up specifically to safeguard merchant ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz – turned to mass video conferencing when he wanted to speak to the 87 people from eight nations on his staff.

With the busy schedule that we all have, it’s vital that I still have the opportunity to address all staff and an opportunity for them to be able to see and hear their commander as often as possible.

Cdre Parkin

From Bahrain, they oversee the actions of numerous warships which provide that reassurance around the narrows which act as the entrance/exit to the Gulf.

 

Social distancing ruled out a typical clear lower deck, so Commodore James Parkin turned to his laptop and video conferencing software to impart his non-secret message.

 

“With the busy schedule that we all have, it’s vital that I still have the opportunity to address all staff and an opportunity for them to be able to see and hear their commander as often as possible”, said Cdre Parkin.

 

“There are eight nations in the organisation, and almost 90 members of staff in Bahrain, but the one thing we all have in common is access to our own smartphones and/or laptops.

 

“For a conversation that does not touch on our mission details, this is a neat solution to the problem of my not being able to look everyone in the eye and telling my team what’s going on, and hear from them of their concerns”.

 

Although captains have broadcast systems to address the men and women under their command and, more recently, emails, gathering all the ship’s company together to be briefed on important matters retains the personal touch and is frequently used.

 

For classified conversations and discussions, personnel will continue to use secure secret video teleconferences, which the Royal Navy has called upon for the past couple of decades.