Spey and Tamar put the AT in AusTralia

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: People

It’s a hard life… but someone has to deliver adventurous training opportunities to sailors and Royal Marines in northern Queensland.

Crews of both HMS Spey and Tamar benefited from the experience and knowledge of the Deployable Regional Unit AT instructors who organise challenging but enjoyable outdoor activities to ships and RM units and offer that little bit extra to personnel on lengthy deployments far from home.

Cairns is about as far from home as you can get – more than 9,400 miles from the River-class vessels base of Portsmouth, and 1,200 miles north of Sydney.
But once you get there, what opportunities for AT: in the water, on the hills, beaches and rainforests.

With the patrol ships undergoing maintenance, many of the ship’s companies were stood down, allowing for AT action: trekking, mountain biking, snorkling and paddle boarding.   

Personnel threw themselves into various once-in-a-life-time opportunities including snorkling on the Great Barrier Reef, trekking on Fitzroy Island, Mount Sorrow and Walsh’s Pyramid, cycling around the Cairns area, or encountering huge salt water crocodiles in Daintree National Park.

For many, like Tamar’s Able Seaman Robert Stevenson, the highlight was snorkling on the world-famous barrier reef.


“The AT instructors made the day extremely enjoyable and stress free. They really looked after us throughout. The whole package was very memorable and I would really recommend the opportunity to do something similar to other members of the RN”.

Shipmate Lieutenant Nathan Davies added: “After casting off the lines we immediately headed towards one of the great wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. We spent the entire day out on the water, snorkelling on three different dive spots on the same reef, it was the most amazing bit of swimming that I have ever done. All in all it was certainly one of my best days in the Navy!”

Championed by the Second Sea Lord, the DRU is a deployable team of Royal Navy/Royal Marines instructors whose main aim is the front-line delivery of adventurous and challenging activities to aid retention, improve morale and increase operational capability.

Overseeing activities in Cairns was Warrant Officer 2 ‘Stan’ Bloomer RM: “Instructors from the DRU can deliver adventurous training in the UK and overseas and will design a bespoke package to suit the needs of a ship or unit.

“Enjoyable, physically and mentally challenging training activities aid in personal development, leadership, and team building.”


It was the most amazing opportunity and not many people in the Navy have ever got to do it

Able Seaman Robert Stevenson