Young Officers take their studies to sea
- Author: Nichola Winstanley
- Date: Thursday 2nd February 2017
Young Officers presently undertaking the Initial Warfare Officer's Course (Foundation) (IWOF) at BRNC gained a valuable insight into their future role at sea alongside Officer Cadets from the French Navy.
Eight YO's sailed with the French Marine Nationale's training squadron following the Leopard class ship's weekend visit to Dartmouth in January. Accompanied by two staff officers from the COllege the YO's were fully integrated with the bridge teams of their respective ships. They were given the opportunity to take the control as the Officer-of-the -Watch as the ships conducted various manoeuvres including man overboard recovery drills and replenishment-at-sea approaches. The exercises on the second day had the the added challenge of patchy fog.
Sub Lt Reece Grigg said: "It was really interesting to see and experience the French Navy's way of doing things, and to see how similar it is to the RN's as well as some of the differences. As the French Cadets were at a slightly more advanced stage of training to our group, it was great to able to observe the skills we are just starting to learn being practised at the required standard in the maritime environment."
The 24-hours at sea gave the RN YO's to get to know their French counterparts and discuss their respective careers and training pipelines. French cadets spend successive periods on board vessels practising navigation and ship handling prior to their final stage of training on board the helicopter carrier Mistral later in the year. On completion of their IWOF course Royal Navy YOs spend three months on an operational warship, known as basic fleet time. They return to sea for seven or eight months specialist fleet time further into their training.
The Leopard class training vessels are based in Brest and belong to the Naval Action Force. They are used to teach practical navigation and manoeuvring to students at the Naval Academy and the Brest Naval Instruction Centre, mainly operating in coastal waters. The ships have specific facilities on board dedicated to training, such as a lecture room and a second bridge, directly below the main one, which is used as an operations room and practical teaching room. The equipment used by the students is the same as they will find on warships as their careers develop.
As part of the RN's close cooperation with the French Navy, 845 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton, will be embarking two Merlin helicopters on the FS Mistral for a five-month training mission begining later in February.