Cardiff based P2000 HMS Exploit has returned to the front line Fleet after a period of refit in Holyhead. HMS Exploit successfully finished her Annual Slip and Repair Period at Holyhead Boatyard which sees her ready for another busy year of high tempo URNU operations.
Starting as she means to go on, Exploit welcomed the new intake of first year students from Birmingham URNU on board for two indoctrination weekends.
Following on from their weekends at BRNC Dartmouth and at HMNB Portsmouth, the new intake from Birmingham URNU embarked in Exploit on a cold and bitter Friday night in Penarth.
The weekend programme saw the students exposed to life on board ship at a slow and cautious pace – deliberately so to aide the professional development of the students.
The first year intake were made up of students from University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, De Montford University, Birmingham City University and Aston University.
“During the weekend we needed to brief the students on safety issues, sea survival, damage control and life on board. “Sleeping on board the ship for the first time and keeping watches through the night was somewhat of a shell shock for the students!
“For some students, finding out there was a 0600 in the morning was a revelation,” commented CPO Pam Ayres, Exploit XO.
“The tempo of these First Year weekends is quite slow to allow the new entry to get the most out of the two days. “Next time the first years are on board the ship will be on passage to a Bristol Channel port for a sea weekend proper or en route to the continent for an Easter or Summer deployment.
“Simple tasks like engine room rounds, switching on the oven in the Galley and using the Heads must be briefed and mastered by the new first year students,” added Coxswain Mick Archer, Birmingham URNU’s chief of staff.
To give the first year a taste of driving the ship, Exploit sailed through the Cardiff Barrage locks into the Bristol Channel.
Each first year drove the ship as quartermaster in the vicinity of Flatholm and Steepholm Islands under the watchful supervision of third year students.
Exploit’s home port in Penarth offers the perfect training ground in nearby Cardiff Bay – a man made fresh water lagoon.
This two mile by two mile lake is not affected by tide, sea state or wind.
So after a morning in the Bristol Channel, Exploit returned to Cardiff Bay for man overboard exercises and damage control scenarios.
Thereafter Exploit berthed at Mermaid Quay for the night in the public eye.
“It was great to be finally at sea in Exploit. The ship had been delayed leaving her annual slip period in Holyhead and this had impacted the first year induction plan.
“However once on board we were made to feel very welcome, given our task books and only lost one to sea sickness, “commented a beaming Officer Cadet Lewis Holdsworth.
On the third day of the First Year sea weekend, the new entry students were given engineering briefs by Exploits engineering team of CPO Tug Wilson and LET(ME) Paul Shingleton.
Thereafter the students again enjoyed some time on the wheel and a navigation lesson from the embarked training officer in the surroundings of Cardiff Bay.
“The keys to a successful new entry sea weekend are a willing ship’s company, supportive second and third year students along with keen, eager first year students.
“For both first year weekends this winter we were also fortunate to have good weather, perhaps a little chilly at times, which ensured first year students were not overly sea sick,” said AB Nick Bolt.
“This year we recruited 21 first year students, so this necessitated two first year weekends rather than the traditional one weekend.
“Five second and third year students along with two training officers supported the weekend, making it a whole ship effort from my team at Birmingham URNU.
“The first years had been looking forward to seeing their ship after two weekends of shore based training at BRNC and HMNB Portsmouth.
“Now they are trained at a basic level, we can now concentrate on sea weekends to Bristol, Swansea and Milford Haven and deployments to Ireland, Spain and France, ” finished Lt Simon Shaw, Exploit’s CO.
HMS Exploit is one of two P2000’s based in Penarth, Cardiff. Along with Express, she forms one of only a handful of Wales based Royal Navy units. Exploit has been assigned to Birmingham URNU since 1994 and celebrates her 25th Birthday this year.
Press Release, December 5, 2013; Image: Royal Navy