Navy reservists take the plunge

Royal Navy Reserve Divers conduct training during weekend at Defence Diving School, Horsea Island, Portsmouth.''Picture: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies
Royal Navy Reserve Divers conduct training during weekend at Defence Diving School, Horsea Island, Portsmouth.''Picture: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies

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RESERVISTS from one of the Royal Navy’s specialist cadres have shown their skills to top commanders as they seek to recruit more members.

Six Royal Navy Reservists spent a wintry weekend at the navy’s Portsmouth-based diving training site, at Horsea Island.

Plunging into the dark waters of the training lake, they swam circuits and leaped from high platforms.

They were taking part in pre-joining aptitude tests to fulfil their ambition of joining the Royal Naval Reserve Diving Branch.

The branch is a specialist cadre of the maritime reserves that supports the Fleet Diving Squadron of the Royal Navy.

The six reservists were joined by qualified naval reservist divers – plus the commander of the maritime reserves, Commodore Andrew Jameson.

Lieutenant Commander John Herriman, the diving branch manager, said: ‘This weekend was a great opportunity to show the commander of maritime reserves what the diving branch is about and how well we are integrated into the Royal Navy.

‘We were also able to show him how stringent our selection and training procedures are which is critically important for our branch because of the safety considerations with diving and bomb disposal.

‘It also means we can operate with confidence alongside our regular Royal Navy diver colleagues.’

The diving branch’s role is to deliver homeland defence underwater search capability, supporting harbour searches in strategic ports.

For example, Royal Navy divers inspected the Port of London during the Olympics to ensure underwater security.

Reservist diving teams also support the UK’s explosive ordnance reconnaissance operations.

Able Seaman Grant Thornes, 24, from Southsea, is one of the divers undergoing training.

When he is not fulfilling his role as a reservist, AB Thornes is studying at the University of Portsmouth to become a paramedic.

He said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed the team bonding in the diving branch.’

All of the armed forces are recruiting more reservists.

It is part of a government strategy called Future Reserves 2020, which seeks to reduce the number of regular members of the services, and increase the number of reservists.

Portsmouth has one of the largest naval reserves units in the country, HMS King Alfred, which is based at Whale Island.