Around 100 newly qualified Royal Navy officers have celebrated their formal commissioning during a parade at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of York. The Duke of York was the guest of honour at the parade which signified the completion of 30 weeks intensive training for the Officers, who marched out in the Devon sunshine before their families and friends.
Among those completing training was Lieutenant Tom Smith, aged 25, from Plymouth.
His father, Warrant Officer 1 Garry Smith, is currently serving on the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training at Devonport Naval Base. Lt Smith is a former pupil of Devonport High School for Boys.
He graduated from the University of Reading in 2010 with a first class degree in war, peace and international relations.
Lt Smith said:
“Training has been an endurance test of limits and resolve.
“I go forward feeling far more confident in my abilities, with new skills and most importantly with a network of close friends bonded through this shared experience.
“I’ll blaze a trail to follow my dad from Warrant Officer to Lieutenant and hopefully to Admiralty.”
The Duke of York completed his own initial training at BRNC in 1979. He returned to the College as the representative of his father, The Duke of Edinburgh, who is the Lord High Admiral.
The title, which dates back to the 14th Century, was conferred to The Duke of Edinburgh by Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2011.
Addressing the parade The Duke of York said:
“It is a great pleasure to be here representing her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.’’
He recalled his own training at the college light-heartedly:
“It is a rare opportunity to come to where I was trained and it always brings back fond memories of all the ‘terrible’ things that went on here.’’
He stressed the completion of the intensive nature of the training at BRNC was an ideal start to service in the Royal Navy and told the new officers:
“Rather than this being the end of something as you pass out, this is the beginning of your careers.
“You now join the Fleet, which although reduced in numbers, is as professional now as when it was started so many years ago.’’
The Duke of York said the new Officers should remember the service they will go onto perform will be ‘very highly valued’ by their commanders and by their leaders in London, especially by the Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family.
The Armed Forces are valued more highly than almost anything else, he said.
He added that politicians, who decided when and where to deploy the Armed Forces also appreciated the risk and valour involved.
He reminded them:
“You are the leaders of the future for the Royal Navy and a huge amount of effort has been put into teaching you leadership at the personal and strategic levels.
“I congratulate you on passing through Dartmouth and wish you a lot of success whether you go on to be a submariner or an aviator.’’
During the parade The Duke of York was able to meet and personally congratulate four veterans of World War 2, from Dartmouth, who have recently been awarded the Arctic Star.
Retired Commanders Tommy Handley and Harold Lloyd, retired Lieutenant (A) Freddie Harsant and Sydney Thompson all served on the Arctic Convoys, taking vital supplies to Russia
The Commanding Officer of BRNC, Captain Jerry Kyd said:
“Lord High Admiral’s Divisions is the most prestigious parade in the BRNC calendar.
“We were delighted to have His Royal Highness as the guest of honour and hope that being here brought back memories of his own passing out at Lord High Admiral’s Divisions in 1979, attended by Her Majesty The Queen.
“The Cadets who were on parade have worked hard to reach the standards required during their demanding 30-week course and earn their place in the Royal Navy.
“I’m pleased too that we were able to honour the four veterans of the Arctic Convoys. Naval ethos and heritage is an important part of the training programme.
“We instil the Royal Navy’s core values of commitment, courage, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty into the Cadets throughout the course.
“The four veterans are great examples of people who have displayed these values and more in the service of our country.”
Naval Today Staff, May 3, 2013; Image: Royal Navy