Royal Navy reservists in Portsmouth get new facilities as part of £11m upgrade at naval base
RESERVISTS will have brand new facilities when they return to drill nights after months of them being suspended over budget constraints.
The 270-strong maritime reserve unit at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth has moved from a centre on Whale Island into the part of Semaphore Tower and adjacent buildings.
The move comes as part of an £11m BAE Systems refurbishment of the Watering Island area.
As reported, drill nights for reservists were suspended across the country in December until this month following Ministry of Defence budget constraints.
Reserves make up almost one fifth of the UK’s military personnel, with naval reserves serving in key roles throughout the pandemic.
Naval base commander, Commodore JJ Bailey, handed over the King Alfred buildings during a visit from Cdre Mel Robinson, commander of maritime reserves.
Cdre Robinson said: ‘As an organisation, we are transforming for 21st century operations and a key element of this is ensuring that Reservists get more time at sea in the early stages of their careers.
‘The new HMS King Alfred will not only offer a thoroughly modern training facility for our Reservists but will play a vital role in delivering a new Maritime Reserves for a new Royal Navy.’
He added: ‘The buildings represent far more to us than the sum of its component parts.
‘Situated right at the heart of the Royal Navy’s waterfront activity in Portsmouth, it will enable our reservists to work and train in even closer alignment with their regular colleagues and strengthen our working relationships with the ships of the Royal Navy.’
The Portsmouth detachment of Royal Marines Reserves have also made the move.
They have been given a new drill shed, gym, messes and wardroom overlooking the harbour. They were handed new classrooms and offices with a virtual reality training suite for learning about boats and navy vessels.
Reservists can also take sea boats out from a nearby camber recently improved.
Commander Andrew Robinson, King Alfred commanding officer, said: ‘As one of the largest reserve units in the UK, we contribute to global operational capability with a range of specialist skills in support of the Royal Navy.
‘Our ability to attract and retain exceptional individuals in the Royal Naval Reserve will be greatly enhanced by the new, modern and fit for purpose facilities.’