Merchant Navy cadets set sail on Royal Navy warships in new training link-up
THIRTY Merchant Navy officers will sail around the world with the Royal Navy this winter in a new link-up between the two seafaring forces.
They will spend three months at a time on Portsmouth-based patrol ships and survey vessels to help with their training – and to give them a greater understanding of the Royal Navy’s role.
It follows a long-standing agreement which has given trainee Royal Navy officers the opportunity to sail on merchant vessels, giving them extra time at sea, especially on the bridge.
Before the pandemic, almost 150 Royal Navy officers spent time with the Merchant Navy – including helping to crew cross-Channel ferries for an insight into safely guiding a ship through busy waters.
Officers such as 20-year-old engineering cadet Harry Bell, who spent two months aboard HMS Mersey around the UK, earned the experience and skills which helped him towards a professional qualification, while deck cadet Scarlett Barnett-Smith is currently serving aboard Portsmouth-based patrol ship HMS Tamar.
She said the time attached to the patrol ship on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime passage’ through the Panama Canal had been an unforgettable experience.
‘The immensely dedicated crew have been extremely welcoming and helpful, allowing me to grow and understand the responsibilities as a sailor of the Royal Navy,’ she said.
‘I’m looking forward to one day seeing HMS Tamar from the bridge as an officer of the watch in the Merchant Navy, and will think fondly of her throughout my career.’
Merchant Navy sailors underwent a month of navigational training at HMS Collingwood, in Fareham, to prepare them for their voyages.
The first batch of merchant officers are due to join their ships this month having completed their navigational training.
The navy hopes the new link-up will create a greater understanding between the Senior Service and Merchant Navy.
But bosses also hope it could bolster number to the Royal Navy Reserve.
‘This is something of a novel concept for the Royal Navy but it runs alongside several strands of the Merchant and Royal Navy coming closer together in the maritime sphere for multiple ‘wins’,’ said Lieutenant Commander David Carter, the Royal Navy’s Merchant Navy liaison officer.
‘All the Merchant Navy cadets who have sailed with the Royal Navy so far have loved it and these cadets will be the next generation of influencers who will have the Royal Navy close to their hearts.’