HMS RICHMOND Ship’s Company had a much deserved break for Christmas. Most of January was used for the maintenance of the ship with repairs and cleaning and maintenance of the Ship’s Company with various courses being attended and qualifications achieved. I myself achieved the full qualification with an SA-80 Rifle. A ‘gruelling’ 2 week course that had those attending shooting at a variety of ranges at distances of 300m, 200m, 100m, and 50m to prove that we, if required, could hit the person we were aiming at in order to defend our own lives or that of another in mortal danger.
Once February rolled around we started our month long stint away from our friends and family, beginning with a passage up to Norway where we partook, with other nations, in the Submarine Command Course (SMCC). SMCC is one of the most intense courses in all navies, where the potential captains of submarines are pushed to their limits not only to keep their boat safe but also conduct simulated attacks against surface units in the area. This was one situation where we played the ‘baddies’ and had the submarine we were working with try and avoid us while still getting a shot off. We were very lucky to get a run ashore in Norway which is a beautiful country with even more beautiful people living there. I have always maintained that I will always live in the UK but Norway comes a close second as a future retirement choice.
On departing the snow covered fjords we proceeded back to the UK to pick up the Specialist Navigation Students that were due to join us for their intense 2 weeks of training. The Specialist Navigator Course (Spec N) trains Navigators to the highest degree the Royal Navy can. It pushes their mental capacity and situational awareness to the extreme so as to ensure that they will find even the most dangerous waters a walk in the park for their future jobs. The two weeks of training was broken up by a short weekend in Ireland further allowing the Ship’s Company a glimpse at another country that, for most onboard, was unexplored. On completion of the Spec N course we had the Frigate Navigating Officer’s (FNO) course join us which was rather anti-climactic following the charging round rock at 22kts of Spec N to cruising around the coast at a cool 12kts FNO.
We are just rounding of our time at sea for the first time this year by shooting off some missiles and bullets before another well deserved break prior to leaping back into our own training in April.
Ben Manktelow, Lt RN