A team from HMS Ocean has been training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in preparation for taking Britain’s biggest warship back to sea following a 15-month £65 million revamp.
The ship’s Bridge team of 11, made up of Officers and Ratings, spent the week at the Naval College in Dartmouth using the state-of-the-art simulator which allowed them to practise manoeuvring the 20,700 tonne ship.
In the shape of a ship’s bridge the simulator has images outside of the windows which represent open sea or harbours and coastlines from around the world. It can be configured for any class of Royal Navy ship or submarine.
At the click of a button changes can be made to simulate different environmental conditions, such as sea states and winds, and bring into play other vessels, objects or scenarios. Primarily it is used for Officer Cadets during their navigation training.
Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Maryla Ingham, HMS Ocean’s Navigating Officer said: “HMS Ocean is the biggest ship in the Navy and due to her size and design she handles very differently from the Frigates and Destroyers in which an Officer-of-the-Watch (OOW) will have been trained.
“The ship also has a much higher Bridge which is displaced from the centreline. All these factors change the way in which the OOW should behave and the simulator can be used to help the OOW gain an appreciation of their blind spots, shadow distances and the need to think ahead to resolve problems at range.”
As well as allowing the OOW to hone their ship-handling and bridgemanship skills, the ship’s Quartermasters were able to work towards their endorsements for sea by practising tactical communications, voice procedures and helmsmanship.
“For part of the training the Bridge team were joined by the ship’s Tactical Communications Support team. This enabled them to test their warfare skills in an operational based scenario which saw the ship sailing from Plymouth Sound as part of a task-group of vessels.
Lt Cdr Ingham said: “The week of core training away from the ship purely concentrating on the Bridge environment was invaluable to building team ethos and stronger working relationships.
“It helped us to recognise strengths and weaknesses to identify further training priorities. Following a short introduction by BRNC Staff, we were allowed to run the training ourselves.
“As the ship prepares to go to sea for the first time after refit, the team will be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead because of the week at the BRNC simulator.”
HMS Ocean, or the Mighty O as she is nicknamed, has been out of action since late 2012, undergoing an overhaul in her home base of Devonport. She is due to return to sea this summer.
Press Release, May 30, 2014; Image: UK Navy