First sailors complete unique training package

The first groups of newly trained Royal Navy sailors have been put through their paces in a bespoke course, created to counteract the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on their training.

All have recently finished basic training at HMS Raleigh and would usually move straight to their respective Phase 2 training establishments, such as HMS Collingwood for Warfare training and HMS Sultan for Marine Engineering.

Sustaining every trainee’s transition from a civilian to military way of life has been the objective whilst various Phase 2 courses are temporarily suspended. With recruitment to the Royal Navy in an extremely strong position the aim has been to capitalise on the trainees’ enthusiasm for a career in the Senior Service.

The Royal Navy has created this new package that will help develop and motivate the sailors by continuing the process of their militarisation and marinization. Their scheduled Phase 2 courses are expected to resume soon.

Groups of about 30 began a two-week programme last month. During their first week they were under canvas on the grounds of HMS Excellent, the home of Royal Navy HQ in Portsmouth, with sessions including weapons handling and ceremonial drill. Their second week was spent on board HMS Prince of Wales, currently in the adjacent naval base.

These courses will run for about two months allowing more than 200 fledgling sailors to have an extra experience of Royal Navy training.

Commander Adrian Coulthard, Navy Command training pipeline manager, helped create the Phase 1.5 programme. He said: “We needed to find a way to continue to train our young men and women through this unprecedented time. With many restrictions imposed on training due to the Covid-19 pandemic we found ourselves in a situation of having a backlog of trainees awaiting of the start date of their specialisation training.

What Phase 1.5 helps us achieve is keeping our sailors working hard and to keep a focused state of mind. It will further develop the skills they learnt at Raleigh whilst also giving them the opportunity to see what navy life is like on board the biggest warships the Royal Navy has ever had.

Commander Adrian Coulthard, Navy Command training pipeline manager

Each cohort will have sailors from different branches of the Royal Navy but mostly made up of engineers and logisticians. Once they arrive, they will be challenged by a mixture of military skills and adventurous training.

The start of week will focus primarily on ceremonial drill and weapons handling.  They will also spend time hiking and kayaking and have their introduction to flight deck sports, which they will encounter when they are at sea.

The second week starts with an orientation around the huge aircraft carrier. While on board HMS Prince of Wales, the young sailors will observe the ships company and get a real taste of what life is like on an aircraft carrier.

The first group of trainees on this programme were treated to a breakfast with the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Nick Hine CB, in which they discussed the changes happening throughout the Royal Navy and what they can expect in their future careers.

One of the sailors who went through this programme is AB2 Daniel Buncle. He said: “We started at HMS Excellent where we stayed in tents for a week. We took part in adventure training and I think it is good we can do it so early in our career as it allows us to develop new skills and build confidence. We then went onto HMS Prince of Wales which was an amazing opportunity so early in our career to stay onboard the biggest warship we have in the fleet.

“We got to have breakfast with the Second Sea Lord while on board HMS Prince of Wales. He’s had an amazing career and he told us about his time in the Fleet. He told us about the future of the Royal Navy and he told us what he wants, then asked us what we thought about it. It is good to know what we will be going into and it is a brilliant time to be in the navy.”

About 600 sailors have completed their Phase 1 training at HMS Raleigh since March and it still has an intake of about 60 recruits per week.