The Universities Royal Naval Units’ (URNU) ships, HMS Example, HMS Blazer and HMS Puncher, will call in at Ramsgate during their Easter deployments.
Example is Northumbria universities’ ship and she arrived at Ramsgate Marina on Saturday March 29, remaining in town until Monday. Blazer, which is the patrol vessel for universities in Southampton, and Puncher, which is London’s equivalent, will sail in on Monday afternoon (March 31) and spend the night in port.
Although not open to the public during their visits to the Kent town, locals will be able to spot them in harbour and the crews always welcome the chance to chat to people about their experiences in the Senior Service and the continued work of the Royal Navy.
As well as large oft-visited ports like Ipswich, Hull and Newcastle, some of the other stops for Blazer will include the likes of the Boston, Whitby and Amble, while Puncher will venture to, among others, Cowes and Poole in addition to a visit to London. Example’s journey will take her to France, the Channel Islands and various south west ports, before she makes her way north again.
Each ship carries a full-time Royal Navy crew of five, which will be joined by up to 12 university students at any one time.
But this is no Easter cruise.
The deployment will allow the students to put into practice what they have learned on shorter deployments and drill nights with their URNU throughout the year.
Skills such as seamanship and navigation will be put to the test throughout, perhaps none more so than on the occasional nights which the ships will spend at sea rather than in port.
“Be under no illusion about the intensity of this deployment,” explained HMS Blazer’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Amie Jackson. “The students will certainly be put through their paces.
“There is no better experience for them than to get to sea and put theory into practice in whatever situations or conditions are thrown at them.”
There are currently 14 URNUs supporting universities in England, Wales and Scotland.
Each URNU is commanded by a Royal Navy lieutenant who is responsible for 51 undergraduates who each join the URNU as RN Reservists for their three or four years at university.
Training is conducted one evening a week in shore units at or near the university and at sea, over the weekends and during holiday periods, by a dedicated Archer Class P2000 20-metre patrol craft.
The organisation’s mission is to “educate a wide spectrum of high calibre undergraduates who show potential as society’s future leaders and opinion formers in order to better inform them of the need for and role of the Royal Navy, and to develop awareness of career opportunities in the service”.
Press Release, March 31, 2014, Image: Royal Navy