Reserves welcome new officers to the family after intensive training

There are 42 men and women who are ‘twice the citizen’ in the Royal Navy’s officer corps after completing their training.

The head of the Maritime Reserves Commodore Mel Robinson reviewed the parade of men and women who’d successfully completed the Accelerated Officer Programme.

Run by Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth – the spiritual home of the officer cadre – the eight-week intensive training package transforms civilians, all of whom have day jobs, into officers and chaplains.

In what was the most diverse course yet, with chaplains training alongside their Reserve counterparts for the first time, the course also included Officer Cadets from University Royal Navy Units across the country, who transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve to complete this challenging but rewarding programme.

Among the successful cadets, brother and sister Midshipmen Toby and Pippa Blunden, continuing the family’s service to their nation going back more than seven decades.

Their grandfather, John Blunden, was a fighter pilot who saw action with the RAF in the Korean War and Suez Crisis, before transferring to the Fleet Air Arm where he subsequently served for 20 years. It was his sword from 1945 which Pippa carried at the ceremony.

I am so incredibly proud of the Young Officers who have successfully completed the course, which compresses around two to three years’ learning into just eight intensive weeks. What an achievement! I look forward to watching them continue to flourish as they develop and establish themselves as the next generation of officers, both in the Royal Naval Reserve and the regular Royal Navy

Commodore Robinson

Dad Jeremy passed out of Dartmouth in 1982 and went on to command HMS Newcastle and HMS Bulwark before retiring as a commodore. And sister Katie, a lieutenant, passed through BRNC 30 years later.

“We are a family-orientated organisation in the Maritime Reserves,” said Commodore Robinson.

“The Young Officers who have completed their training can now start to tell their own family’s Royal Navy story and, in time, their children and grandchildren may even follow their parents and grandparents into the Royal Navy and Maritime Reserves of the future.”

A number of awards were presented at the parade, held not at Dartmouth but HMS Excellent in Portsmouth.

Midshipman Henry Dewhurst was named Best Officer Cadet and received the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association ‘Sword of Honour’; Midshipman Oliver Kenzie made the most positive contribution to this year’s course. Chaplain Will Sweeney and Midshipman Derek Player were the Best Officer Cadets in their respective Training Divisions (Gosling and Cumberlege, respectively).

As with many passing-out parades over the past six months, many families, friends and employers were unfortunately unable to travel to Portsmouth to witness their loved ones and colleagues complete their training.

“Without the support of our families, friends and employers, the Maritime Reserves would not be able to deliver the level of operational support to the Royal Navy around the world,” Commodore Robinson added.