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Training at sea for BRNC Young Officers

17 May 2017
Young Officers (YOs) from Britannia Royal Naval College have been given the chance to take the helm at sea onboard two French Naval Training Ships.

Midshipmen Jonathan Riley and George Walker spent two weeks operating with French Navy, while undertaking their Initial Warfare Officer training. Throughout that time they were fully integrated into the watch bill onboard the FS Lynx and FS Guépard.  

The ships are part of the French Marine Nationale’s training squadron and are used to teach practical navigation and manoeuvring to students at the French Naval Academy and the Brest Naval Instruction Centre.

During a five-day transit the two Royal Navy YOs spent time on both ships. They were entrusted with several four hour Officer-of-the-Watch (OOW) rotations which involved periods on the bridge both by day and at night.

They were able to participate in a variety of training manoeuvres such as replenishment-at-sea, restricted navigation and man overboard drills.

The time at sea provided real time shipping situations and reinforced the importance of situational awareness and fixing without relying on radar and other navigation aids

Midshipmen Jonathan Riley, Young Officer - BRNC Dartmouth

Midshipman Riley said, “The time at sea provided real time shipping situations and reinforced the importance of situational awareness and fixing without relying on radar and other navigation aids.  

“Other benefits included a strengthening of our practical rules of the road knowledge, especially at night, and our ability to adapt to the continuous, and at times violent, pitching and rolling of the ship.”

The two weeks on board also gave the YOs the chance to develop professional working relationships and friendships with the French Naval Cadets from École Navale, the French Navy equivalent of BRNC.

Midshipman Riley said, “By the end we had formed a strong bond with the French Cadets, likely because of the long hours spent working together, our similar cultures and surprisingly similar senses of humour.  

“The Commanding Officers of both vessels were incredibly welcoming and worked hard to foster to a sense of inclusion into the ship’s crew despite the language barriers.”

The FS Lynx and FS Guépard are both Léopard Class training vessels. These ships have specific facilities on board dedicated to training, such as a lecture room and a second bridge, directly below the main one, which is used as an operations room and practical teaching room. The equipment used by the students is the same as what they will find on warships as their careers develop.

The exchange was made possible thanks to a twinning agreement between BRNC and the École Navale.

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