With the German Navy’s sail training ship Gorch Fock tied in port for extensive repairs, a number of German officer cadets have taken to Royal Navy’ flagship HMS Ocean for their first at sea experience and training.
Thanks to a liaison between the home of Royal Navy officer training in Dartmouth and its German equivalent at Mürwik, the 19 cadets have been able to plug the gap by joining Ocean in the Persian Gulf.
Accompanied by counterparts from Britannia Royal Naval College, they arrived on Britain’s flagship as she led the Combined Task Force 50, typically commanded by a US Navy aircraft carrier.
As with British officer cadets, the month-long spell on the helicopter carrier was used to introduce the Germans to all aspects of life at sea in a warship, spending three or four days at a time shadowing the ship’s company in each of the various departments: warfare, air, marine and weapon engineering, logistics and the Royal Marines’ amphibious assault squadron, the 9 ASRM.
And just for good measure the German guests were also invited to join in ‘whole ship’ events, demanding the actions of most of the ship’s company, such as storing ship and getting rid of rubbish (‘out all gash’).
They were introduced to bucketball – basketball with a bucket – and, according to the Royal Navy, put senior officers on the spot about maintaining morale during sustained periods at sea and generally impressed the 700-plus sailors, soldiers, airmen and Royal Marines aboard Ocean with their attitude and command of the English language.
Britannia trains upwards of 450 officers for the Royal and international navies every year, while around 250 would-be German naval leaders pass through Marineschule Mürwik (Mürwik Naval College). German cadets have mostly come straight from school, with the Deutsche Marine sponsoring them through university before they resume their seafaring careers.
Helping the German cadets throughout has been Lt Serena Scott, their divisional officer, who’s currently on exchange at Mürwik, near Flensburg, a couple of hours’ drive north of Hamburg.
Following their four-week spell on Ocean, the cadets will return to their respective colleges to complete their training.