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Pickets charge as tiny naval training boats meet HMS Queen Elizabeth off Dartmouth

29 June 2018
The size truly takes your breath away. Yes, it’s the majestic sight of four picket boats from Britannia Royal Naval College leading the nation’s future flagship off the coast Dartmouth, spiritual home of the Royal Navy’s officer corps.

The RN’s leaders of tomorrow were invited to take their training craft out into the Channel to meet up with HMS Queen Elizabeth as she completed her latest spell of trials and sailed back home to Portsmouth.

When the leviathan’s Commanding Officer Captain Jerry Kyd – formerly in charge of the college – signalled Dartmouth to let it know he was passing, trainee officers hit the water to greet the carrier.

Four picket boats and two rigid inflatable boats headed out into the Channel under the direction of Lt Cdr Mike Garner, BRNC’s navigation training officer.

“The picket boats were crewed by a mix of warfare officers undertaking their foundation course and some who are destined for a career in Naval aviation – one day they could find themselves serving on this fantastic warship,” he said.

“It was a great experience for them all to see HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea and get a taste of where their future may lie.”

She’s a popular ship which was proven in the number of Young Officers volunteering to go see her on a Friday afternoon

Midshipman Owen Long, Young Officer BRNC Dartmouth

Several Young Officers were invited on board for a brief tour and a visit to the bridge to meet Capt Kyd, including Midshipman Owen Long.

“I’ve seen HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth before so I know she’s massive but being right next to her in something as small as a picket boat puts the size into perspective,” said Owen (his boat is just 13.7m long and displaces a mere 11.2 tonnes… making it 20 times shorter… and nearly 6,000 times lighter).

“It’s certainly got the desired effect of power projection, showing what Britain is still capable of. She’s a popular ship which was proven in the number of Young Officers volunteering to go see her on a Friday afternoon.”

Capt Kyd said it was important to show Naval cadets “the Fleet they will shortly be part of”.

He added, “It was fantastic to be able to stop by Dartmouth for a few hours on our way home to Portsmouth – this was a marvellous opportunity to show off HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“I also have extremely fond memories of Dartmouth and all the lovely people who live there – the town is a great supporter of the college and the Royal Navy and it was also a great thrill for me to see the town from seaward from the bridge of the carrier.”

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