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Hull to Hamburg
12 April 2017
HMS Explorer set sail for Northern Europe from home port of Hull on Wednesday 29th March with ten students from the Yorkshire Universities Royal Naval Unit (YURNU), one Young Officer (YO) in addition to the normal crew of five.

Her first day at sea came to an end at the friendly port of Great Yarmouth, this gave students time to relax and take in the area prior to sailing to Zeebrugge the next day.

“The first day of sailing was a great time to refresh on skills that we had been working on recently and to get used to life on Explorer”, commented Officer Cadet (OC) Ryan Parker (YURNU Student).

Next was a Channel crossing to the Belgian port of Zebrugge, the busy port leading to the city of Bruges.  The short taxi ride to this beautiful city gave us the chance to unwind after another busy day, enjoy our surroundings and also catch up with our ‘oppos’ from HMS Example.

The ship then sailed to rendezvous with HMS Example, another ship from First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS) with students from the Northumbria Universities Royal Naval Unit (NUNRU) embarked in order to transit to Amsterdam in convoy.

Midshipman Oliver Brawn (YURNU student) said, “Being joined by another ship is great as you can conduct In Company training such as Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres, as well as the social aspect that occurs when two different units come together.” 

The stop in Helgoland for me was the highlight of the trip, not only did we enjoy ourselves with the football, it was amazing to visit somewhere that I wouldn’t have done without the URNU and HMS Explorer.

Officer Cadet Poppy Powell, Yorkshire University Royal Naval Unit

The final transit was to Amsterdam, a long transit for our young crew. Testing the student’s skills and abilities on board ship; in which they had been training for over the previous months, as well as testing their endurance.

Leaving Amsterdam the ship visited the industrial port of Emden in Germany, arriving under the cover of night, providing the students with an invaluable opportunity to perform a night pilotage, a skill which many of the students will not have previously had the chance to develop.

Thus, ensuring that HMS Explorer is offering the students indispensable training which they would not receive at a normal drill night.

From Emden HMS Explorer sailed to Helgoland, a small German Island off the cost of Denmark.  An enjoyable visit was had with HMS Explorer and HMS Example conducting a 5-a-side Football tournament in the splendid German Sunshine.

For many this was an occasion fraught with rivalry as the two ships and the two URNUs battled it out on the pitch for bragging rights over the other.

OC Poppy Powell (YURNU Student), “The stop in Helgoland for me was the highlight of the trip, not only did we enjoy ourselves with the football, it was amazing to visit somewhere that I wouldn’t have done without the URNU and HMS Explorer.”  

From Helgoland Explorer and Example set sail bound for the small North Sea town of Cuxhaven on its penultimate voyage for the ten students onboard.

It was on this journey that HMS Explorer reached the milestone of 75000 miles steamed, an exciting occasion for the ship. During their stay in Cuxhaven the students and the crew of Explorer went on an end of phase dinner to celebrate the achievements and work of the students.

Sailing from Cuxhaven with Commander 1PBS, Commander Mark Hammon RN embarked as the two ships made their way down the River Elbe towards Hamburg.

A warm welcome from our friends in the German Navy was received with the two CO’s calling on the Regional Commander for the area.  

Hamburg also marked the end of the first phase of the Easter Deployment, with ten new, eager students joining the ship as she continues her voyages around Northern Europe.

Ben Farrar (YURNU student) said, “The last nine days have been some of the hardest I have faced, however they were some of the most enjoyable and most educating which heavily outweighs the hardship.”

Written by OC William Greenhalgh  (YURNU Student)

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