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HMS Collingwood sails to the rescue with Exercise Trafalgar

16 October 2017
HMS Collingwood held its biannual Exercise Trafalgar recently, an intensive Command, Leadership and Management (CLM) exercise following the theme of a disaster relief scenario.

Exercise Trafalgar is now in its seventh year and provides junior officers and sailors from the Warfare and Weapon Engineering branches with the opportunity to build upon the leadership and teamwork skills gained during their initial training against the backdrop of the Royal Navy’s core values; commitment, courage, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty.

The action-packed exercise was set on the fictional Caribbean Island of Santissima Trinidad which had suffered widespread devastation following the passing of Hurricane Villeneuve.

This term’s exercise was particularly relevant given the recent disaster relief effort conducted by Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean in the British Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma. 

We have seen some impressive individual and team performances throughout the exercise

Lieutenant James Way RN

Over 250 trainees and staff took part in the 2 day exercise with the trainees split down into 10 teams competing with one another to win the coveted Le Cock trophy.

The exercise commenced on the Friday evening with a full brief delivered to participants highlighting the devastating situation on the island and introducing the mission that the participants had to achieve.

After some early Saturday morning exercise in the form of a “store ship” teambuilding activity, the teams deployed out into Santissima Trinidad to face a number of demanding physical and mental challenges which included setting up a refugee processing cell, dealing with a road traffic accident and the subsequent casualties and even restoring power supplies and other services to a mock hospital complex.

Participants were put under additional pressure thanks to smoke grenades, blank weapon firings and an “Action Messing” lunch simulating the time-constrained eating serial that the Ship’s Company would endure were they fighting at sea and needing to quickly return to their Action Station.

The exercise was very much a whole ship effort with each training department running a stance and with many providing some very convincing actors to add to the realism.

Each stance tested the teams in different ways with some being very physical involving things like the transportation of casualties whilst some demanded softer skills such as dealing with upset refugees or liaising with the local media.

The exercise concluded on the Sunday afternoon with team “Dreadnought” being declared the winner by some considerable margin. Able Seaman Mallon in team Agamemnon was awarded the Ethos Trophy for the most outstanding trainee due to his strong effort all weekend as both a team member and the leader of several tasks.

Exercise co-ordinator Lieutenant James Way said “The weekend has been an enormous success. Our Phase 2 trainees have worked very hard with all the participants having the opportunity to get stuck in and to build on the leadership and teamwork skills that they developed during their basic training.

“We have seen some impressive individual and team performances throughout the exercise and hopefully the experience will act as a taster for the sort of activity our future officers and sailors will likely face when they get out into the Fleet.”

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