Royal Navy weather forecasters get celebrity endorsement for graduation

TV Weather Forecaster Laura Tobin has given the latest Royal Navy Meteorologist course a big celebrity endorsement and wished them Good Luck for their futures serving the Fleet.

At a virtual ceremony due to COVID 19 restrictions six students received their graduation certificates and end of course prizes, as well as a congratulatory talk from Laura, with the help of a giant TV screen. Laura, who had also served operationally at RAF Brize Norton as one of the Air Station’s forecasters for several years, passed on some of her experiences to the course, who will begin their operational time soon. 

It is truly a huge honour to be asked here today,” said Laura, from her home near London. “Can I just say a huge congratulations to you all on your achievements and it is no mean feat to have got this far, with all the Pandemic interruptions and knowing how much there is take in and learn, you have all done remarkably well.”

Those on course would whole heartedly agree; for the past 19 weeks they have been studying global meteorological forecasting and practised delivering weather briefs to their instructors, at the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic, Meteorological and Oceanographic (HM) School at HMNB Devonport.

All officers and senior in the specialisation will do this course at the school to become forecasters in the Royal Navy before moving onto an air station for consolidation. After spending two months briefing and learning on the job, briefing aircrew and squadrons we can expect to go to sea on one of the two Aircraft Carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales. And it’s here that our briefings are critical to aircraft safety and Carrier Strike with F35’s Jets and Helicopters conducting flying operations day and night.

Chief Petty Officer Ian ‘Perry’ Mason

Ian served on HMS Queen Elizabeth during the recent trials with the F35 off the East Coast of the United States, where hurricanes and severe storms are frequent. His 15 years in the Royal Navy have served him well and passing the Metrological Forecasting course is a huge highlight of his career so far.

“They will provide an essential role to an Aircraft Carriers capability, giving advice on the safety of operations, guidance to Command on where aircraft can safely fly as well as to the other Ships in a Task Group,” said Lieutenant Commander Gordon Jones, Officer in Charge of the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic, Meteorological and Oceanographic School.

The capability to be able to react instantaneously to changes in the environment is essential to any naval operations.  The ability to report a line of thunderstorms in the path of a mission and whether you have the flexibility to fly in the next 10 minutes is important now as it was 50 or 60 years ago.”

Gordon is no stranger to reacting to weather changes at sea. He was the Senior Meteorologist onboard HMS Ocean, when it was diverted to the Caribbean in 2017 during Operation Ruman, when Hurricane Irma swept across the region, causing catastrophic damage in its wake.

“Being able to react to weather changes when you are carrying out disaster relief in the face of a Hurricane or Typhoon is important now as it ever has been. It is a sobering experience to personally witness the physical impact on a community and the devastation caused by the weather.

“Weather touches everything and everyone all the time. Whether it’s how long food will stay fresh or if you should take a coat with you when you go for a walk. We teach Royal Naval Weather Forecasters to be ready for anything, anywhere in the world, wherever our carriers or ships are operating.”