I have been in the Navy for nearly three years and as you can probably tell I am enjoying being on Richmond immensely. I joined after going to university in London. On completing my training at Dartmouth I was assigned to HMS Iron Duke (a Type 23 like Richmond) for my Specialist Fleet Time where I would learn my trade as a Bridge Watch Keeper and Junior Warfare Officer.
Iron Duke was deployed to the Persian Gulf for 7 months protecting the Iraqi oil platforms from any potential attack. We also spent time patrolling the Gulf area, visiting Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, building up a picture of the local pattern of maritime life. This was a great experience of Naval life for me, with periods spent at sea for up to three weeks at a time and shift patterns of six hours on watch followed by six hours off for that period. I was surprised at how quickly I got used to the broken sleeping pattern but still enjoyed it immensely when we were able to get alongside and have a proper rest.
When Iron Duke was relieved of her duties by St Albans (also a Type 23), I changed ships and went back into the Gulf for another 3 months before heading back to the UK. Here the hard work really started, with a two-week assessment of my abilities as a Bridge Watch Keeper to ensure the safety of navigation. The assessment is written and practical, using HMS Collingwood’s Bridge Simulators to generate shipping and tactical scenarios. Fortunately I passed, which allowed me to proceed on to the Initial Warfare Officers Course where I would further expand my knowledge on Naval Warfare, Leadership and Management. On completion I was hoping to go to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton to conduct Fighter Controller training but the needs of the service saw me assigned to HMS Richmond. I boarded ship in January and haven’t looked back.
I have found it such a rewarding experience to be part of Richmond’s regeneration process. Getting to know the ship and her company as she grows has brought us all closer together and that much better at dealing with any adverse situations that may arise in the future. HMS Richmond is one amazing ship and she has a ship’s company to match.
Ben Manktelow, LT RN