A Tall Ship for the Royal Navy

If as many predict, the pace of operations will slow over the next few years (stop laughing at the back) and as the forces reduce in size one of the difficult challenges will be both recruitment and retention. We have seen the outcry about recruitment in a time of reductions in overall size despite it being an obvious requirement to keep the pipeline moving but if the economy does pick up both recruitment and retention might become equally difficult, who knows what the future holds.

Traditionally, one of the many ways of offering interesting and exciting alternative means of winning the battle against boredom and increased voluntary outflow is that of ‘adventurous training’

Almost every week there are stories from the MoD about service personnel participating in one expedition or the other, the increasing number of wounded ex service personnel adds another dimension to this aspect of service life.

It has always struck me that the Royal Navy does not have a tall ship, well, at least one that can sail.

There is HMS Victory of course and a number of restored naval and civilian vessels like the Cutty Sark or Belfast but there is little or no training opportunities there, unlike a functioning tall ship with its living heritage and ample opportunities for leadership development, adventurous training and interesting things to do.

The value to the UK as a whole of a tall ship should also not be underestimated, there has been some research about the positive benefits to those taking part, mainly young people understandably.

Whether it was taking part in a tall ships festival /races in parts foreign, providing opportunity to overseas military students or simply acting as a unique and interesting training environment for serving personnel, cadets, recruits and university students for all three services, it would add real value.

The Royal Oman Navy will soon take delivery of a new 87m, square rigged, three mast steel construction sail training vessel from Damen Shipbuilding to replace the Cisne Branco.

As we are looking for ship building work to fill in the construction gaps between CVF work winding down and Type 26 building up would it be possible to fill that gap with something of greater long term value to the whole of the UK than a handful of offshore patrol vessels no one wants?

Hang on, what about the cost?

First off, they are really not that expensive to build because they are relatively unsophisticated, certainly when compared to warships.

As we all know, the real cost of any capability is in the people using it but this is where if we were really joined up, funding from the UK conflict prevention, overseas development, education and criminal justice strands could be combined.

The actual full time Royal Navy strength could be quite modest and there is no reason why it could not utilise Royal Navy Reserves, FTRS or sponsored reserve type engagement models.

In addition to providing interesting and rewarding training opportunities for all three services and a broad spectrum of other UK and overseas civilians it would naturally provide valuable command experience for Royal Navy officers, especially important in an era of reducing hull numbers.

The UK is of course actively involved with sail training ships, the Jubilee Sailing Trust for example has a number of vessels including the STS Tenacious, which is especially adapted for disabled personnel and was built in Portsmouth.

The Jubilee trust also operate the STS Lord Nelson, a similar vessel that was also designed for disabled and able bodies crew.

Appledore built the Stavros S Niarchos, the UK is not without build and operate expertise.

So instead of the ‘bring back the Royal Yacht’ and ‘lets have a couple of offshore patrol vessels because ‘BAE Portsmouth want us to’ how about thinking more broadly, recognise the UK wide benefits of publicly funded sail training vessels and get a handful, what would that be called?

A flotilla I believe the nautical term is

Perhaps we could buy the ARA Libertad at a knockdown price!

Any takers?



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May 28, 2013 3:34 pm

Amongst the West’s major navies the RN is an exception not having its own tall ship. Indeed when it comes to training ships in general the RN is a bit light.

I am sure APATS will pop along for the semi-official view on the matter.

Oman has just commissioned a Dutch yard to build a new tall ship for their navy. They see it as a key asset in their navy expansion plans.

Can’t see it happening. MoD(N) is probably more bereft of imagination than cash. I would put money on Astute 8 first!

Looking at training and our inshore maritime security there is undoubtedly a need for a new something to replace P2000 and the former Border Agency former HMRC former HMC cutters before we look at tall ships.

My views on fat sailors and the need RN personnel to be a bit more, well war-like, are well known here. And in away that feeds back into tall ship training. A sort of getting back to fundamentals if you will. I don’t think my views are shared by 2SL and the upper echelons of the service. I grant I could be wrong on this issue. I don’t think many would pass RT’s muster. :)

Rocket Banana
May 28, 2013 3:37 pm

Love the idea.

I’m all for rebuilding some galleons too,

They’re simply beautiful.

Besides, they’re ideal material to shoot some films on ;-)

May 28, 2013 4:14 pm

At best we’ll get something 8% smaller than the Libertad:


“Given that health, schools and foreign aid budgets continue to be protected, this means that remaining departments, such as transport, defence, business and the Home Office, are likely to have to make 8% cuts”

May 28, 2013 4:59 pm

Why not, a Tall ship is perfect for the Royal Navy to test Midshipmen and recruits on Basic Seamanship, teamwork. It can be used to test Navigators. That’s why the US Coast Guard has the Barque Eagle, and they use her on her summer cruises for the 4th, 2nd and 3rd class cadets. They have a small cadre that maintains the ship when not in use during the academic year or they use it to train Officer candidate when the cadets are not using the ship.
Here’s the link to the USCGC Barque Eagle http://www.cga.edu/eagle/

May 28, 2013 6:03 pm

How about the sail powered Opv proposed in the 80s.

Nick London
Nick London
May 28, 2013 6:25 pm

Will go towards our Climate Change commitments and if it was good enough for Nelson…

The Other Chris
May 28, 2013 6:37 pm

Looking for something like the Rainbow Warrior III approach, with a helipad for CROWSNEST and ASW Merlins?


Chuck Hill
May 28, 2013 6:44 pm
May 28, 2013 7:03 pm

. . . Why not just officially commission HMS Warrior and use her for sail training? Being a Battleship she would outclass the cousins training toys in the heritage stakes a bit. That, and being mobile when stopping off at ports she’d be good for getting more people interested in the navies heritage, you’ll get far more people in the door if she’s sailing around the country/continent rather than being parked metaphorically and literally in Victory’s shadow.

May 28, 2013 7:06 pm


‘Indeed when it comes to training ships in general the RN is a bit light’

It has Bristol and a couple of former mine-hunters tied up at training facilities and in use, plus 14 P2000 that can/are utilised. Not too bad from where I’m standing.

‘Looking at training and our inshore maritime security there is undoubtedly a need for a new something to replace P2000’

Id like to see up-to 20 100-200 ton boats procured with UK based ones having a very basic weapons fit of general purpose machine guns and used for more than just cadet training (as in for coastal/river patrols working with the borders agency and customs) and a few used in pairs at Gibraltar, Cyprus and maybe Bahrain (I think our sizeable deployment to the Gulf could make good use of a couple of boats to protect them entering and exiting port) with a 30mm instead.

Surely they are the sort of hulls that can be stamped out quickly and cheaply in UK shipyards without any danger of interrupting or delays any larger projects? Seriously, why aren’t P2000 replacements even on the horizon yet!

John Hartley
John Hartley
May 28, 2013 7:23 pm

Well if you want adventure training, why not send cadets to build an airstrip on South Georgia? That is a prime chunk of sovereign UK territory doing nothing, but with stunning scenery prime for adventure eco tourism.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 28, 2013 7:36 pm

Lovely idea TD. Hopefully, she’d have a proper name like HMS Guts and Glory.

To be honest, I think a repurposed Brittania would be equally as good for the country. Something that can embark a proper hospital / disaster relief capability, and then once a decade re-role into a properly military role. A white-painted Juan Carlos that given 3 weeks of notice, can turn itself into a grey funnel LPD/H-y sort of thing and carry a complete light battle group around. Mostly paid for by DFID.

X, don’t know what you mean about passing my muster. I have extremely low expectations of matelots when they are on land (and they proved me correct, often), but on the briny, anyone prepared to go beneath the waterline for a kip or worse still, for Action Stations deserves some respect. It would be a start if most of them were considerably fitter and moved about in a less shambolic way, but you can’t have everything. ;)

(I was teased relentlessly during 3 months on HMS Bristol by a The Chief Bosun’s Underscrubber’s Leading Mate, or some such improbable title, with nautical talk. Ask a simple question about timings, and you’d get an answer involving 17 Bells or the Forenoon watch. And this from a man with a watch on his arm)

May 28, 2013 8:33 pm

RT you speak the truth

whilst embarked with the RFA it was hard to trace the proud lineage of the Merchant fleet back through the Arctic Convoys and Battle of Atlantic back to Nelson, unless he too marvelled at the mighty collections of porn his crew enjoyed in their downtime…

having said that while serving at Joint Staff College under a Naval OF5 he and his shipmates fell about laughing every time the army students set about solving a problem, any problem. Apparently they first had to spend 2 hrs sellotaping maps together then stand around them arranged on a bird-table.

back on the point, a tall ship for the RN is a chuffing marvellous idea. It’s cheap, worthwhile and so freeking obviously good news one has to suspect that the only reason its not in the programme is that we appear to be the last to have realised it. Not sure recommissioning HMS Warrior would be such a cost-effective plan but a new build sail powered royal yacht with bags of eco-cred and co-crewed by RN alongside disdvantaged yoof or other mixed ability crews in concert with those admirable fellows at the Jubilee Sailing Trust would be bang on-message. which is precisely why no carrier-strike ninja will ever sign off on it.

May 28, 2013 9:05 pm

@ Chally

Bristol isn’t really much of a training ship more of a floating accommodation hulk. That the former SRMH are also secured alongside too and not sea going sort of undermines their worth as training vessels.

The P2000s are training vessels but are mostly used by URNUs not Dartmouth. For reference they displace 49 tons and all but two have a top speed of 14kts.

The French have 8 Leopard Class displacing 470 tonnes, 2 Glycine class navigational training ships 295 tonnes, and 2 Paimpolaise class schooners 275 tonnes.

The Spanish have 8 training boats (pennant numbers beginning with A not P) and the 3,700t schooner Juan Sebastián de Elcano. They have 8 further small vessels all of whose pennant begin with P so it can be assumed that are truly patrol boats and not for training.

The Danes have 2 of the 5 Holm class boats in the training role, 98 tons.

The Japanese have 8 ships not boats in their training squadron. The flagship of their training fleet is the JDS Kashima, 4050 ton CODAG with a 76mm mount.

The Canadians have HMCS Oriole and 8 Orca Class, 210 ton 20 knots.

The Indians have the INS Tir, 3200 tons and 3 430 ton sailing ships.

The Chinese operate 6130 tonne Zheng He.

The USCG have the wonderful USCGC Eagle.

The only major navy not to having any training vessels is the USN, but given the size of their fleet and ships I don’t suppose it troubles them much. I don’t count Old Ironsides as her role is more akin to that of HMS Victory.


EDIT: Um. I have included all the patrol vessels in those navies…..

May 28, 2013 9:21 pm

The JDS Kashima somewhere rather familiar to some of us……


EDIT to my last post: I haveN’T included all the patrol craft.

May 28, 2013 9:47 pm

The JDS Kashima somewhere rather familiar to some of us……the sequel…….


All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
May 28, 2013 9:54 pm


We used to have the old Dartmouth Training Squadron but lack of hulls and also lack of numbers being trained put paid to that.

I am not sure what the exact timings and systems now in place are but after a bit of military indoctrination at Dartmouth I believe Officer cadets are still sent to sea on a form of Initial Sea Training which used to be 6-8 weeks. they live in a mess deck and work their way around the departments doing duties and turning to with the Junior Rates. So watches on the bridge, gangway, ships control centre and ops room. Maintenance on the upper deck and engine spaces, potato peeling and cake mixing in the galley etc. This gives them a feel for what their boys and girls will be doing for them.

The next time they go to sea they are on a form of Common Fleet Time, This involves living in a wardroom (on an FF/DD or above) and over the course of 3? months filling in a task book as they work their way round the departments gaining a grounding knowledge of how each one operates. I think they then sit a board on this knowledge, though that may once again come after the next phase.

They then go back to sea, hopefully for a Warfare Officer on an OPV/MCMV but an FF/DD at a push and spend 3? months doing specialist fleet time. Living in the wardroom again but basically at the beck and call of the NO to spend as much time as possible on the bridge and gain as much experience as possible. Witnessing all the good serials and keeping stacks of watches. they will also get the opportunity to carry out training serials such as Pilotage, blind pilotage, anchorages etc. they have a task book to complete here as well. they should also be encouraged to witness participate in seamanship serials on the upperdeck.

Once they have completed this they pop off to Collingwood for a Junior Warfare Officers course which is 3 or 4 months long? Inside the first month they are assessed in the bridge simulator over the course of a week and either given a tick to proceed or sent back to sea for further training once the rest of the course is completed. the rest of the course consists of modules on warfare, comms, navigation, signal writing etc and even a logistics module with an office simulator!. With lots of lovely exams. Towards the end of this course appointments are made.

Some people will be able to proceed to their first ship with minimal further courses e.g somebody appointed to be OOW3 and Xec Officers assistant on a 45 may only have to do a Health and Safety Course. A Gunnery Officer appointed to an MCMV/OPV will find themselves on small ships gunnery officers course and correspondence officers course. Somebody appointed to Navigate an MCMV first job will be on another months worth of Nav Training.

Even when they arrive in their first complement job they still have to obtain their platform endorsement, an assessment by MEO/WEO/NO/CO before they can stand their own watch. (should only take a week or 2) and within 12 months complete their Bridge Warfare Qualification, yes another task book and nasty oral boards with the MEO/WEO/Ops/CO and if the ships is any good an assessed watch where the NO makes the poor sods life hell for 4 hours.

Now I have been out of the loop for a little while and names and timings may have changed but those are the hoops to jump through before you are assessed as being at Operational Performance Standard.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 28, 2013 9:54 pm


re maps and sellotape, you are not so far from the truth.

It is long acknowledged that land battles can only be fought at the junction of 4 maps, and no excuse, but merely explanation, that in the pre-digital days, briefing 30 people on the current situation had to involve them all standing around a bird-table with a single common (mandraulic) picture. I recall with some shame spending 6 whole months in Bosnia running current Ops for 1st (UK) Armd Div, with a VTC to HQ ARRC every evening in which my starring role was to highlight on the VTC the locations of whatever it was we were reporting on a map with a laser pointer, while the Chief of Staff read the script I prepared for him. Only later did it become apparent that the laser shine was not transmitted over the limited bandwidth Ptarmigan / RITA system we had for our VTCs. I’d been shining a laser pointer uselessly at a map for 6 months and no one ever realised.

Even more ridiculously, towards the end of Gulf War 1 we ran out of maps for our advance to the Kuwait / Basra Highway. The Colonel turned to me and said “OK Ops, any bright ideas?” I had none, but only a stupid one. There was not much on the maps of the 100 kilometres west of the Basra Highway – mostly grey, and grid lines printed. So we told the Regiment (in clear, as I was too bollocksed with no sleep to try encoding BATCO) to just reuse the maps for their gridlines only. It worked, pretty much.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 28, 2013 10:15 pm


can I take your memory back about 20 years?

Back in 1990, I needed to find a course for social reasons that would have me back in the UK for the summer of 1990, and I picked on the Long Navigation course at HMS Dyad (officially a tri-service course, reality I was with a Royal Marine 2 among 14, the rest being RN Sub Lts and Lts).

We did 24 weeks, all sorts of fascinating stuff involving moon compasses and the then new-ish GPS, and even something called WECDIS. A couple of weeks in the Channel, taking bearings of bits of cliff. Quite hard it was, but I passed.

What was that course in proper Andrew officer qualifications? Did the course lead to proper ships’ appointments for the Sub Lts / Lts?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 28, 2013 10:17 pm

Got my vote….in fact I’d like to see every LEA in the country supporting Sail Training Ships, Mountain Adventure Centres, and serious projects in the developing world…with youngsters staying on until eighteen, there is ample time for all of them to get some serious life-enhancing experiences before they leave…probably at no greater cost and with much greater benefit than some of the deeply questionable subjects offered at GCSE in a desperate effort to meet league-table requirements…

I’m quite drawn to the idea of a Sail Training Royal Yacht as well…although it looks to me like a job for the Prince’s Trust with RN support, not an MOD priority…is there anyone out there able to float the idea with his Lads?

And finally, couldn’t the Public Schools get their act together and establish an operation in the Alps, making Ski Sunday a more rewarding experience all round!


Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 28, 2013 10:18 pm

Dryad, not Dyad.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 28, 2013 10:38 pm


The only 24 week long nav course run by the RN at time i can think of was Dagger N course which would have featured senior Lts and Junior Lt Cdrs who had all navigated a couple of times before. IT was for people about to go to FOST or navigate a capital ship.

If it had been 4 or 6 weeks i would have said it was the nav phase of x course which often features the RM appointed to Endurance.

May 28, 2013 10:59 pm

A hospital ship, auxiler cruiser or various other uses based on one of these small computer controlled sailing ships is an interesting idea. unusual idea for a ship


May 28, 2013 11:02 pm


A good point well made!

A shame, as you say, that their is absolutely no money to spare and even if their were it would most likely be spent on a lot of other pressing matters before it could be used for more training vessels.

May 28, 2013 11:11 pm

contains a nice list of all the operational tall ships operated world wide by various navies

May 28, 2013 11:57 pm

I think the Royal Navy has some Type 23 frigates that they can use for midshipmen training. Take one of the Type 23’s and use them solely for training of Midshipmen and Cadets in the same way as the Japanese Maritime self defense forces dose with their JDS Kashima (TV-3508) and their Hatsuyuki-class destroyer. Which converted some as training vessels for Midshipmen and cadets.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 29, 2013 12:34 am


re the £75 million:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. “

May 29, 2013 1:27 pm

@ Chally

I am on a bit of in-shore security kick at the moment so I had been surveying various nation’s patrol boat fleets, both navy and other, and training ships and auxiliaries sort of dovetail into my thoughts.

As you know one of my catchphrases is “nobody joins the RAF to go to sea”. Where there that comes from is a decade or so watching 16 to 18 years old make career choices. The sea can be wearing; even big ships are effected by the motion of the much, much larger ocean. Then there is the actual environment of the ship. Perhaps I am over thinking but I think getting personnel acclimatized as soon as possible in their career might be a good idea. Especially with the costs of training and, well personnel in general. I acknowledge that the ships are getting bigger and crews smaller so there is even more spare accommodation for trainees. And the current “training” system works. But I don’t know. There is no substitute for on the job training, I am more concerned with what comes before they go to for that training. We don’t train infantry by sitting them down in front of an X-Box for a year hours day, the best training is getting out into the field. Um. Though I believe that the sea is a natural environment for humanity, I think gaining sea time, becoming familiar with the sea, should be just as important as the technicalities of the job. Britannia spends an awful time teaching and assessing leadership. Though boat work is a fair part of the syllabus I wonder why the French with a similar size fleet think they need a training flotilla? The Canadians have a smaller fleet yet they operate 8 boats just for officer training; never mind the 12 Kingston class for their reserves. Or why everybody from Brazil to the Germans operate a sailing vessel for officer training? Perhaps “we” just do things differently to other navies when it comes to training? As we do in other areas of naval thinking……… ;)

As for their being no money well you know my views on that too. An Orca would cost about £8 million pounds; actually just under but rounding up makes the maths easier. They are a lot more substantial than our Archers. Dare I wonder about a one for one replacement of the Archers with something Orca-esque? Plus one for Gibraltar. Plus reinstating two ships to Cyprus. Two (three?) for Dartmouth. And eventually a replacement for the HMRC/BA cutters plus a few more hulls say another 4 (I am on an in-shore security kick at the moment bare with me!) Say £200million all in. But spread over a few years not much. And if it keeps the skills pool the all is good.

Alternatively if we wanted a “training ship” then we don’t need a warship. Look at charter like Protector. Or perhaps an outright purchase? It would not have to be new. The Spanish have a ship the Contramaestre Casado (A-01) laid down in 1951 for a Swedish line and then operated for a couple of decades by Olsen. If a Bay cost £10million pa perhaps we could find something suitable that costs say about £5million that could also have secondary uses (as has been mentioned above.)

Oddly I have no views on what size of tall ship would be suitable………….

All good fun.


Thanks. I sort of know a lot of that. How much boating did you do at Dartmouth?

May 29, 2013 2:44 pm

TD said “Would it be very wrong to remind everyone that the MoD has just spunked £75m AT LEAST up the wall on dithering over which F35 version to buy”

How much was spent on not buying FRES? Enough to equip what 2 brigades with any one of a half dozen available 8x8s in production? Or one Astute? Or two more T45’s? £75m is what just about how much 1 F35 will probably end up costing the UK?

I am off to think more about royal yachts and national flag ships…..

May 29, 2013 3:27 pm

Its pretty much like that now, but CFT has been binned since I did it 5 years ago, due to a lack of platforms/money etc. Instead it has been replaced with a ‘merged’ IST/CFT called IFT which is nominally 10 weeks, but looks pretty much identical to IST as was. Effectively it’s 3 months less at sea now, however you cut it.

SFT (Specialist Fleet Time) still exists in it’s varied guises, and varies from 3 months for an ALO, 6 for an AMEO and up to 9 months for a Warfare Officer. For us ME types it’s machinery watchkeeping tickets, meaning hours at sea are needed, and ditto the Warfare lot (I think they need a minimum of 600 bridge hours).

@ Chally

As APATS alluded to, there is still sea training carried out whilst at Hogwarts, and again afterwards once the OCs have passed out and moved onto their professional training establishments. However, the absence of a dedicated training ship or even a squadron does cause problems. For example, getting enough break down drill periods in order to qualify a ME officer on an operation warship can be very difficult. Or a week of Deck landing training or PWO firing or Nav running and all the other stuff we do at sea whilst trying to fit in the ship’s own training. Fundamentally its another aspect of not enough platforms.



All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
May 29, 2013 3:34 pm


Believe it or not the post was not really for your benefit :)

We still had a Dartmouth training Ship when I went through that we used for Nav training etc but in terms of messing around on the rive in boats i did the bare min to get my required tickets. I find yachts extremely boring as well so no danger of ever seeing me on one of them, (unless it is drinking onboard one somewhere hot) It did after all interfere seriously with Sport.


Thx for that should have guessed we would have rearranged the deck chairs. Know exactly where you are coming from with the training burden on the FF/DD flotilla. Not many people realise how busy doing maintenance, own ship training, other training commitments and trying to fit in leave an FF/DD is between the visible deployments.

Sir Humphrey
May 29, 2013 4:09 pm

Not a great idea – wonderful if you have a navy which turns out classes of officers following 4 years training at an academy (as many nations do). For the RN the turn around time is so small in training that you’d cause major blockage in the pipeline.

One of the appeals of BRNC to the RN and other Navies is the IST component which provides a very realistic level of sea training, and is arguably of more value than spending a summer on a tall ship which is fun, but doesnt do a lot to teach you how the modern RN works.

If you look at the 30 week training pipeline, there is simply no slack in the system beyond the odd weekend, and the end result would be a system needing either extra time at sea (which has a major ripple effect through the pipeline) or which cuts something out.

A better idea would be to offer sail training opportunities on a regular basis to anyone in the Forces, perhaps we could call it the Joint Services Sail Training Centre…

May 29, 2013 5:10 pm

@ Humph

Reminds me of what said about junior doctor training.


Sorry. I didn’t know how to interpret @ X :(

@ TD

Well the RAF do enjoy their sailing don’t they? Is this what psychologist’s call displacement behaviour?

Sorry I never gave frivolous things like AT I thought. I thought you wanted some serious discussion about the very serious matter of naval training which I take very seriously. :) ;)

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
May 29, 2013 5:19 pm

@X sorry
The first line was for you :) I should have put et al when I started on the training bit.

Sir Humphrey
May 29, 2013 5:29 pm

The problem with using a tall ship for AT is getting sufficient crew at one time to man it – you’d need 40-60 people minimum to make it run, which actually is a challenge. One of the good things about the current system is that its easy to put a small expedition together using the extant vessels, which can be used more flexibily.

May 29, 2013 6:17 pm

TD said ” a charity”

You mean charities……… :)


May 29, 2013 7:08 pm

I would have thought the RN would have had one, as the RAF has its fleet of gliders (2 types) and the Army its myriad of clubs, myself for AT mtb/xc cycle with the occasional kevin/pongo/puddle pirate.
But then look how cash strapped we are, and how at the MoD(N) they sacrifice a heck of a lot for actual ships and boats (grey and black ones, that is) to an extent when the FAA gets the scraps of the budget. How could the RN justify a tall ship? Probably by pointing at the red arrows ;)

The RN has rather carried on pretty well without the need for one for some considerable time, there’s plenty of smaller sailing vessels in RAF/RN/Army clubs for AT.

But x touched on a point, why don’t we expand Sea Cadets vessel/s? The ATC ‘have’ aircraft, why doesn’t the SCC with further state help develop a tall ship for AT along with the SCC? And tap into RN’s roots of its history by inspiring the young generation.

May 29, 2013 7:32 pm


‘Dare I wonder about a one for one replacement of the Archers with something Orca-esque?’

Having read you’re detailed response and looked up the Orca class I can see that they fit my fantasy requirements for an Archer class replacement rather well, so long as enough were built to replace the latter boats on a one to one basis to provide enough in the UK for training/river and coastal patrol and a handful left over to deploy to Gibraltar, Cyprus and Bahrain with a better weapons configuration and slightly larger crew.

I have no problem with the idea of also chartering or purchasing a civilian ship in Protector shape and form for proper at sea training and even the idea of a sailing ship seems agreeable to me.

I agree all of these suggestions are pretty cheap to implement when compared to most of the larger gold plated projects on the slate, and I remember you’re oft said ‘we choose not to spend money on defence’. I still think though that however cheap a clutch of new/extra vessels may be their needs to be a change in attitude, an acceptance and acknowledgement that additional money MUST be spent to get the armed forces up-to a decent and comprehensive standard before anything (however cheap) can be obtained.

May 29, 2013 7:38 pm

@ Mike re SCC

I think the SCC are happy with what they receive from the RN. As far as I am aware there is no wish in Lambeth to push for more. As a former UMC chair I could comment a lot on how the Corps goes about its business but won’t. Suffice to say the Sea Cadet Corps is a curate’s egg.

I was very surprised, but pleased, that the Corps managed to secure funding for second offshore power vessel TS Jack Petchey. Whether they would have been better pursuing funding to either refit or replace Royalist I am not sure. I know Cadets enjoy both power and sail. To be honest Cadets enjoy all sorts of adventurous stuff.

I know getting funding to send cadets for off shore training isn’t impossible. You just have to get off your backside and apply for it. But I do harbour a little niggle about URNU. Sea Cadets do go to sea in Archer class boats. But there is no sort of formal arrangement. It is ad hoc. Compare that with Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and their access to Orcas. Remember URNUs aren’t about recruiting officers but introducing the RN to tomorrow’s future leaders. When you are looking around for a few hundred quid to send an inner city kid (who never gets to goes to the seaside for a day trip never mind a proper holiday) away for a week at sea it does rankle that master and miss double-barrelled-name are having government money spent on them to go to sea several times a year. And even get a temporary commission too.

Coincidently commission obsession is one of the SCC’s biggest faults.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 29, 2013 9:07 pm


am trying not to hyper-ventilate too much at the thought that I might inadvertently (and no doubt undeservedly) hold a proper Andrew qualification. I’d feel honoured if indeed I do / did (and now time-expired)

Having checked my diaries, it was in fact 22 weeks, not 24. Fading memories, but it was more than 20 years ago. 16 weeks of classroom stuff and overnight / day exercises from Dryad, 4 weeks at Collingwood, 2 weeks (total, not all at once) at sea in the Channel, some of which were on civvy charter small boats, and a few days on a minehunter called HMS Arun.

What we did was geometric spheroid systems, grid systems, map projections, pilotage, blind pilotage, tidal factors, complex currents, complex currents and wind, astro-navigation, GPS, ECDIS, WECDIS, station keeping, tactical approaches, various differences in buoy standards between countries, radio procedure for port entry, offshore NGS calculations (I was quite good at that), and something called “dynamic tactical planning”, which was ridiculously easy I thought, but foxed many of the others. Basically, you are sailing on speed X, bearing Y, with a need to be somewhere at time Z. your instructor then changes course, speed, or required time of arrival. Bloody simple maths, a quick check of the chart to see if you’ll run aground or not, quick reference to any wider instructions about stealth or not, re-calculate, give orders. I couldn’t see a problem, but it was sort of seen as the highest test of your skills.

Anyway, not to bore you, but I don’t think that was a Dagger course (I passed an Army Weapons Dagger course, which was much tougher). I think at the most it was a junior officer’s pretty basic course.