Royal Navy cadets embark French training ships

Photo: Royal Navy

French Navy officer cadets welcomed their Britannia Royal Naval College counterparts aboard their training ship squadron recently.

Eight Royal Navy Young Officers (YOs) sailed with the French Marine Nationale’s training ships’ week-end visit to Dartmouth.

Accompanied by two staff officers from the College, the Royal Navy YOs were fully integrated with the bridge teams on their respective ships.

They were given the opportunity to take the control as the Officer-of-the-Watch as the ships conducted various manoeuvres including man overboard recovery drills and replenishment-at-sea approaches. The exercises on the second day had the added challenge of patchy fog.

Sub Lieutenant Reece Grigg said: “It was really interesting to see and experience the French Navy’s way of doing things, and see how similar it was to ours as well as some of the differences.

“As the French Cadets were at a slightly more advanced stage of training to us, it was great to be able to observe the skills we are just starting to learn being practised at the required standard in the maritime environment.”

The YOs are part-way through their Initial Warfare Officers (Foundation) (IWO(F)) course at BRNC. The 24-hours at sea gave them the chance to get to know their French counterparts and discuss their respective careers and training pipelines. They also took part in briefings, some of which were conducted in English.

French cadets spend successive periods on board the vessels practising navigation and ship handling prior to their final stage of training on board the helicopter carrier Mistral later this year.

On completion of their IWOF course Royal Navy YOs spent three months on an operational warship, known as basic fleet time. They return to sea for seven or eight months specialist fleet time further into their training.

As part of the Royal Navy’s close co-operation with the French Navy, 845 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton, will be embarking two Merlin helicopters on the FS Mistral for a five-month training mission beginning later this month (February).

The Léopard class training vessels are based in Brest and belong to the Naval Action Force. They are used by the French Navy to teach practical navigation and manoeuvring to students at the Naval Academy and the Brest Naval Instruction Centre, mainly operating in coastal waters.

The ships have specific facilities on board dedicated to training, such as a lecture room and a second bridge, directly below the main one, which is used as an operations room and practical teaching room. The equipment used by the students is the same as what they will find on warships as their careers develop.

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