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Prince of Wales salutes new generation of naval leaders – 50 years after he completed training

16 December 2021
HALF a century after he passed out of Britannia Royal Naval College, the Prince of Wales returned to salute a new generation of Royal Navy leaders.

Prince Charles was guest of honour at the annual Lord High Admiral’s Divisions – the final passing out parade of the year at the spiritual home of Royal Navy Officer training in Dartmouth, Devon.

He took the Royal Salute from the parade and was invited to inspect the passing out Divisions – a mix of 202 fresh Royal Navy Officer Cadets and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Officers, plus sailors commissioned from the ranks.

For the Prince of Wales it was a reminder of the beginning of his five-year Royal Navy career.

He passed through the same college doors on September 16 1971 – following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers.

His time at Dartmouth was followed by service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates, HMS Minerva, and HMS Jupiter, he then qualified as a helicopter pilot flying Wessex Mk5 with 845 Naval Air Squadron from the Commando carrier HMS Hermes. The Prince’s final appointment in February 1976 was command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months with the Royal Navy.

Dartmouth has pushed me well out of my comfort zone, coming from an engineering background I hadn’t had much experience of leadership responsibility. Training has given me a great chance to learn and hopefully set me up for a successful career in the Royal Navy.

Officer Cadet Alistair Poat

Among those passing out in front of the heir to the throne after completing 30 weeks of training were Officer Cadets Alistair Poat, from Somerset and Ruairidh McBean from Inverness.

“Dartmouth has pushed me well out of my comfort zone, coming from an engineering background I hadn’t had much experience of leadership responsibility. Training has given me a great chance to learn and hopefully set me up for a successful career in the Royal Navy,” said OC Poat, who will be starting his flying training in the new year as an Observer (navigator/weapons and sensor specialist) in the Fleet Air Arm.

“By far the most enjoyable part of training for me was our initial sea time. The early opportunity to get hands on and see what life was actually like in the fleet was amazing. It reaffirmed my reasons for joining, as it’s a completely different environment from Dartmouth.”

OC McBean added: “After BRNC I’m set to join HMS Richmond – I’m excited to get stuck in and get some more time at sea. After completing my next phase of training I’m looking to specialise as a navigator but, at the moment I look forward to facing the challenges of the future as an officer in the Royal Navy.”

Captain Roger Readwin, Captain BRNC, said that all passing-out parades at Dartmouth were special, but Lord High Admiral’s Divisions was “probably the most prestigious of the year”.

He continued: “To have His Royal Highness Prince Charles here is a really great honour for all who are on parade.

“Those passing out should be immensely proud of their achievements to earn their place on the parade ground. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the support from families and friends has proved to be more important than ever, and I would like to thank them all for their incredible support to their loved ones whilst undergoing training.

“While 2021 has been a difficult year for everyone, I’m incredibly proud of the way that my staff have adapted and embraced new ideas, to protect the in-flow of new blood into the Service.”

HRH Prince Charles, who holds the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, is also Commodore-In-Chief of Plymouth and Aircraft Carriers. The title of Lord High Admiral was conferred upon Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh in 2011 by Her Majesty The Queen, to celebrate his 90th birthday. The office of Lord High Admiral is one of the nine Great Officers of State and the title itself dates from the 14th Century.

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