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Reservist leaders of tomorrow enjoy sea time on HMS Albion

5 July 2022
Trainee officers in the Royal Naval Reserve earned their sea legs with a three-week stint aboard amphibious flagship HMS Albion.

The five-strong team were assigned to the assault ship for their Initial Sea Time to build on the core skills of militarisation, ‘marinisation’ and leadership taught at HMS Raleigh and Britannia Royal Naval College.

They were joined aboard the Devonport-based assault ship, which has been training in home waters and the North Sea this spring, by two groups of RNR Seamen Specialist Able Ratings and Leading Hands, as well two Petty Officers who were instrumental in the smooth running of the training programme.

During their relatively short embarkation – which included visits to Den Helder in the Netherlands, then to Edinburgh as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations – all the reservists found their full-time colleagues to be friendly, welcoming and interested in their motivation for service.

Although not permanent members of the ship’s company, the Reservists were made to feel at home from day one and worked hard to demonstrate the value of the Maritime Reserves to their full-time colleagues.

They were fully engaged in the fantastic training opportunities and assisted with routine activities wherever possible.

And thanks to events in Edinburgh as well as at sea, they were able to see the ceremonial role the RN plays in key events. Embarked for some of the period was retired Rear Admiral Jeremy Larken, captain of Albion’s predecessor HMS Fearless during the Falklands. He recounted his and the ship’s experiences during a memorial service for the landing craft Foxtrot 4, sunk in June 1982 and honoured by the landing craft community on every anniversary since.

Of the five officers undergoing training, Mid Morgan – a professional adventure training diver based in Plymouth at HMS Vivid – has decided to join up full-time and found his three weeks afloat a valuable insight into the possibilities of his future career.

Mid Harpham, an environmental consultant based in the West Midlands at HMS Forward, returned to the Maritime Reserves a number of years after enjoying her time in Birmingham University Royal Naval Unit at the end of the Noughties.

The camaraderie and the opportunity to experience challenges and development beyond those available in most civilian lifestyles drew her back to the RNR – and her spell aboard Albion reinforced her belief that the Maritime Reserves has a unique offer for those who are committed to civilian and military careers.

Mid Blacknell, a corporate lawyer based at HMS Flying Fox in Bristol and member of the RN Women’s Rowing Team, enjoyed making the most of the ‘phys’ opportunities (fitness) onboard and arranged a 500m sprint rowing competition for the ship’s company.

And Mid Alasdair Bruce, a post-graduate engineering student, travelled from HMS Scotia at Rosyth to join Albion in her home port… only to sail back to Edinburgh with Albion.

He particularly enjoyed familiarising himself with the ship’s operating systems, while the engineering department onboard welcomed his enthusiasm and interest and he gained a great deal from the exceptional access he was given.

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