Signal success for train driver Jamie with Navy in the Gulf

Train driver Jamie Hayhurst swapped transporting passengers safely for the security of seafarers on a four-month stint with the Royal Navy in the Gulf.

The 36-year-old left the lines of Northern England behind and helped direct oil and gas tankers and cargo ships through some of the Middle East’s hot spots.

Jamie, who serves as a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve with HMS Calliope in Gateshead, was mobilised to join the Navy’s headquarters in Bahrain (where there are no railways…).

There he was responsible for monitoring and reporting on merchant shipping in the region, acting as the liaison between the military and merchant vessels to ensure the latter safely reached their destinations.

Merchant vessels have come under attack in two ‘choke points’ at the gateway to the Gulf (the Strait of Hormuz), the Bab-al-Mandeb at the foot of the Red Sea, and in ‘pirate alley’ between Yemen and Somalia.

Every day more than 100 major merchantmen pass through Hormuz, and around 50 through the Bab-al-Mandeb. Any disruption to the flow of shipping would have a dramatic impact on the global economy.

More than two dozen navies, including Britain’s, are committed to ensuring the safety of such ships, regularly patrolling the choke points and accompanying vessels when necessary, as well as providing advice and guidance to merchant seafarers passing through the region.

Dealing with incidents or challenges as a train driver has given me the ability to remain calm under pressure and act methodically in order to get the job done

Lieutenant Jamie Hayhurst

“I’ve really enjoyed the last four months on deployment. The opportunity to put my military training into use in an operational environment has been really rewarding,” said Jamie.

He joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 2006 while studying for a Master’s degree at Durham University.

He then joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – which supports the Royal Navy on its operations around the globe – and spent time in the Merchant Navy before settling on a career with Northern Trains.

“Dealing with incidents or challenges as a train driver has given me the ability to remain calm under pressure and act methodically in order to get the job done – something that I have applied to any challenges I face in the operations room in the Royal Navy.

“Equally, the confidence developed briefing senior officers in the Reserves has helped when dealing with passengers whose trains may have been delayed, or when dealing with a signaller when my train has been involved in an incident.”

When not deployed overseas, Jamie drives local passenger services all over the North and North East from Newcastle to Carlisle, Sunderland, Teesside, Northumberland and County Durham.

“Northern has been really supportive of my Reserve career since I joined the company,” added Jamie.

“I am particularly grateful to my manager and HR department for facilitating this deployment, which has given me the opportunity to use the skills and experience I have developed from my time in the RNR, RFA and Merchant Navy to support operations and merchant shipping in the Middle East.”