Summer Deployment 2016 Phase 1

We started off the deployment by meeting at HMS Cambria where we loaded all of our gear into the unit car and the nine seater van and set off for Grimsby where we met the ship as it finished its transit down from Newcastle.

The first morning aboard ship started with an early call to hands to make the ship ready for the transit south to Lowestoft in company with HMS Dasher and her students from Bristol URNU, fair weather and calm seas helped ease the students back into the chart work and navigation we had covered at the unit.

The following morning the ship was joined by our new MEO (CPO Mark Kerton) and the next day we set off for Amsterdam, the weather picked up considerably as we started through the North Sea testing the stomachs of some of the students and was less than ideal as a first outing for our newest member of Ships Company. Unfortunately during the passage we were forced to turn back due to an engine malfunction leaving us with revised limitations that made completing the transit no longer viable.

Once safely back in Lowestoft we were able to call out an engineer and have the issue rectified. After spending the evening socialising with the Bristol students we were ready to sail for Amsterdam again the following day this time with more success and better weather, we arrived, that evening, in Amsterdam and all the off watch students set off to see what the city was like meeting up with the ships company and the Senior Training Officer (STO) Lt Jim Hawkins for a drink.

The next day was the first harbour day of the deployment and while the duty watch started to prepare charts for the coming passage to Cuxhaven the remaining students went sightseeing starting with lunch on a canal and ending with a visit to an Amsterdam museum! Which was followed by an evening run ashore (night out) in true Amsterdam style!

The transit to Cuxhaven was a long one and we did not arrive before dark leading to some striking scenes as we came into port in a thunderstorm navigating by lights and radar this was testing requiring students to draw on all of their navigational training to ensure the OOW new where the ship was at all times and requiring the look out and OOW to put into practise all they had learnt of lights and signals to give accurate and fast shipping reports as we passed through a busy port entrance in the dark. The following morning we set sail and approached the entrance to the Kiel Canal with the chart team working on 3 minute fixing for the whole hour long stretch of the passage stopping to embark a pilot before traversing the canal.

As we transited the Kiel Canal the students undertook task book training with the STO focusing on navigation. That evening after we had come along side many of the students went ashore catching the train to Kiel, to witness the last that the famed Kiel week had to offer. Now officially in the Baltic Sea and with no tides to be concerned with chart work became easier but the spare time was used for each student in turn planning and executing a pilotage.

The weather stayed impeccable from this point onwards in the phase, with temperatures in the high 20s and clear skies. Now one week into the deployment the roles of Senior Midshipman and Catering Offcier were rotated to give more students a chance to take on these roles. Our transit from Eckernförde to Rostock went smoothly and we arrived in Warnemünde Naval Base alongside HMS Dasher.

Our next harbour day came as the new MEO conducted his platform endorsement this meant that we were also hosting the squadron engineer for the day, only five students were required to be aboard for the platform endorsement so the remaining five went ashore in Rostock and spent the day visiting the local zoo. Unfortunately during the day the starter motor on the port engine failed and this was a problem that we were unable to rectify with the tools aboard and so had to wait for an engineer to arrive with the new part and this was predicted to take a few days.

While in Rostock we hosted a BBQ organised by A/OC Nightingale, which involved all students and ships company ending up swimming in the harbour! Finally on the 1st of July the new starter motor was delivered and we were able to regain our intended schedule meeting up with HMS Dasher in Kolobrzeg, Poland, that evening we were stood down from watch and all of the students went for a last run ashore of the phase. The following morning we transited to Gdansk, during the passage OC Lazenby completed his second task book to achieve the rank of Honorary Midshipman. Once we arrived in Gdansk and secured the ship we said our goodbyes to the ships company and headed to the airport to catch our fight home.

What a great time, and now Navigation makes sense!

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