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HMS Dasher Easter Deployment Phase 1

Nine students from Bristol URNU set out for Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth to begin the first phase of this year’s Easter Deployment along the south coast of the UK.

It was the first sea time this academic year for the majority of students and the first time deploying for three. After the standard formalities and briefings, the first set of chart work to be carried out for many months began for the passage to Poole.

The first day at sea was not for the faint hearted – passing Dartmouth Castle, those on the bridge could see the whitecaps and feel the wind stiffening – a fun days sailing ahead!

The long trip across Lyme Bay was a good introduction to sea-going on a P2000 – not always smooth sailing! Our arrival in Poole was enjoyed by meeting DOFA James Aspin and enjoying England deservedly win the Six Nations Grand Slam – no sweat.

The next few days provided significantly better met conditions to allow lots of training to take place, with overnight stops in Cowes, Eastbourne and Ramsgate.

By this stage, after only a few days at sea, those New Entry and JGR students were performing extremely well and the quality of chart work, navigation and bridge keeping was improving every day.

As the RN saying goes, A Calm Sea Does Not Make a Skilled Sailor!

A significant programme change due to the tragic events in Brussels required some quick thinking – our new destination, London, was not planned.

With no charts aboard for the passage through the busy and at times confusing Thames approaches, students were dispatched to buy Imray navigation charts for the Thames; and thanks to the kind charity of a certain Medway Pilot, we had Admiralty charts for the approaches. Crisis averted!

Sailing up the Thames was an experience for all – especially the Dartford Bridge Toll Party who closed up on the forecastle to pay the toll. Good drills guys!

After two nights alongside HMS President RNR, a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge, it was time to head for Portsmouth at best speed in order to try and beat Storm Katie (winds 50-60mph with gusts up to 70; SS 3-4…).

After stopping in Ramsgate for fuel and approximately 5 hours sleep, we gallantly sailed at 0400 for Portsmouth, 160nm away. Unfortunately, even leaving at that time meant we could not beat the storm, with the ship diverting to Shoreham-on-Sea. Students then disembarked the ship for Portsmouth for a day of R&R followed by the historical sights of HMS Victory, the Naval Museum, capped off with a tour of HMS Lancaster.

All in all, a very rewarding deployment, with significant programme changes due to weather and international events. The students were all happy throughout and were a strong team (if somewhat tired) by the end of the 10 days.

As the RN saying goes, A Calm Sea Does Not Make a Skilled Sailor!

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