Monthly Archives: October 2013

Naval Reservist is ready to support counter-piracy

Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) at HMS King Alfred

With her long-held love of the sea and marine sports, experienced sailor Alice Moore was always destined to have a career that matched an ambition to learn more about the oceans that she studied during her Geography with Oceanography degree at the University of Southampton.

In early 2014, she will realise one of her career goals by joining the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean when she joins the United Kingdom’s Maritime Trade Operations HQ in their Dubai-based operational hub providing advice to Merchant shipping transiting the vulnerable Middle East and Indian Ocean region.

It was not entirely unexpected that Alice would be drawn to the Royal Navy as an early career choice, especially given her active membership of the Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) during schooling at King’s College, Taunton, where she rose to be Head of Unit as Cadet Coxswain, further qualifying as a RYA Senior Instructor and teaching many young cadets sailing skills at both the RN Sailing Centre in Portsmouth and at Jupiter Point, the Navy’s sailing training facility at HMS Raleigh.

HMS King Alfred

HMS King Alfred

However, not ready to join the Royal Navy full time, Alice decided to broaden her options and seek experience across the maritime industry. Instead, she signed up to the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth to take advantage of professional seamanship, leadership and management training, while seeking opportunities to support the regular Royal Navy on duties in her specialist branch role.

A perfectly complementary civilian career – mutually benefiting both the Royal Navy and the MCA.

In tandem with her part-time and weekend training in the Maritime Trade Operations specialisation of the RNR, Alice’s full-time civilian occupation perfectly complements her military career.

Joining the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2011, Alice spent many long shifts learning the duties of a Coastguard Watch Assistant at Lee-on-Solent, responding to Maydays, answering 999 calls, and dealing with various maritime incidents, before moving on to take up further tasking at the MCA HQ in Southampton.

AB Alice Moore

AB Alice Moore

The MCA’s Chief Executive Sir Alan Massey recently awarded Alice with a Maritime Search and Rescue (Foundation) certificate, which is an external accreditation, a customised award from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Declaring his unequivocal backing for the Agency’s support of the Reserve Forces, Sir Alan said:  “We are delighted to support Alice in her role as a Royal Naval Reservist.

“We recognise the value that people who volunteer as Reservists with the forces can bring to our workplace. 

“Alice has a wide range of transferable skills and qualities – including decision-making, team working, leadership and communication – which mutually benefit both the Royal Navy and the MCA. I have had the privilege of personally witnessing this from both sides of the fence – and it works superbly well.

“The experience she gains in dealing with a diverse range of people from all backgrounds, nationalities and cultures is also transferable, benefiting both her role as a Reservist and work at the MCA.”

The MCA further supports their Reservists by offering up to 10 days’ special paid leave for them to undertake annual training. It also provides flexible working opportunities, where appropriate, to assist Reservists with their operational commitments.

Royal Naval reserves

Royal Naval reserves

Generous support realises vital role – 2012 Operation Olympics

Generous support from the MCA was vital when Alice volunteered to take part in Naval duties following the urgent call for military personnel to support Operation Olympics – London 2012, where she went on to carry out ceremonial duties in the flag-raising party at the International Olympic medal awards ceremonies. An experience that Alice will not forget, especially when she travelled to the Olympic Sailing Village in Weymouth and Portland to take part in the memorable medal awards ceremony as a Gold medal was presented to Olympic sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie and seeing some of her sailing heroes up close and personal.

A competitive sailor herself, Alice has represented the Naval Service in

Inter-service Championships sailing in the Laser 2000 class. Highly competitive at University, she won plenty of glassware to grace the trophy cabinet back at home.

Back in her day job at the MCA, Alice’s duties over the course of a week range across a wide field of administrative responsibilities. Her tasks include processing maritime consents, dealing with Civil Liability Certificates and recording Dangerous goods refusal notices. She also prepares NAVTEX invoices, working closely with the UKHO. Alice maintains Port State Control inspection reports (that have been carried our on foreign flagged vessels that are operating in UK waters) received from MCA Marine Offices, and ensures accuracy of data received from Port Authorities regarding vessel movements before uploading this data to European Maritime Safety Agency’s (EMSA) THETIS database.

All of the skills and the business experience that she brings to her day job at the MCA are readily transferable to her specialist branch in the RNR. An RNR MTO specialist needs a strong understanding of the merchant fleet and its commercial business priorities and risks. International shipping travels across the globe under flags of many countries, bringing vital energy supplies and goods to the UK and exporting trade across the world.

Alice will bring this knowledge and experience when she joins the UK’s Maritime Trade Operational HQ in Dubai in January 2014 when she is mobilised for a second period of operational duty with the Royal Navy Reserve supporting the UK’s Maritime Command Centre based in Bahrain.

Preparing to deploy – realistic and useful training

The UKMTO provides an essential communications link and keeps a watching brief on commercial shipping passing through the important but critically vulnerable sea lanes across the Red Sea, Gulf region and Somali basin of the Indian Ocean, where piracy attacks and criminal activity have been common in recent years.

The cooperation between International Shipping and the military in the maritime domain has been one of the great success stories of the 20th century with organisations and big shipping corporations being mutually supportive, pooling resources and intelligence to protect the safety of the maritime domain.

The recently released Hollywood film Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks as a merchant ship Captain seized by pirates, gives a stark indication of what may happen if the alert military monitoring stance in the region was to lapse into complacency against the threat of piracy.

Alice is delighted that she will be able to put her knowledge to good use on this important deployment and has been taking part in a series of training exercises to hone her military capabilities for this domain. She was a recent participant in a National MTO exercise called Cambrian Trader in Milford Haven, one of the UK’s most important commercial ports. The maritime exercise prepares members of the MTO specialisation to take operational control of the security of merchant shipping, learn about boarding operations and briefings to ships, passing on vital information and cooperating with other agencies including Border Control. The MTO ratings learned about conducting Rapid Environmental Assessments and briefing on a rapidly changing environment in a transition to conflict scenario.

“We spent a week at HMS Collingwood practicing the theory, policy and understanding the scenario before relocating to an Army camp, near Penally, joining up with both AWNIS and NCAGS MTO specialists in the port to apply the practical element of the training which was really very realistic and useful. I realise that it’s going to be challenging abroad on operations – in a tropical climate and facing potential language barriers amongst the very experienced Master Mariners we will come across, but I am becoming knowledgeable and well aware of all the issues that they can face. As long as I can give a good briefing and help the crews on their way safely I will be very pleased to be part of this operation.”

When Alice returns from the deployment, she will look forward to picking up her career in the MCA and has an ambition to progress to become a Commissioned RNR Officer. She said: “I’ll feel ready to confidently start my Junior Officer training programme, study for my Admiralty Interview Board and hopefully one day become an MTO Officer in the Reserves specialising in Allied Worldwide Navigation and Information Systems. Some time in the future, I’d really like to work for the Hydrographic Office in Taunton.”

Alice is well supported in both of her careers by her Royal Naval Officer partner Richard, who is currently serving as the Deputy Logistics Officer on HMS Diamond, one of the Royal Navy’s advanced Air Defence Destroyers.  When they get some precious time together the pair enjoy renovating a barn in Somerset that they are hoping will become their new home and driving miniature steam trains.

For more details, or to register to attend, call 08456 00 32 22, search for ‘navy reserves’ on the web, or visit

103 Battalion REME, the Army’s equivalent to the AA

Ex Southern Bluebell

It’s not every day that you get the chance to get up close and personal with a Coyote!  But that’s what I was doing yesterday.

It was with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation that I pulled up outside the Army barracks at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain for a day with the 103 Battalion REME, the Army’s equivalent to the AA.  Not one to know an axle from a drive shaft, I was thrust briefly into the world of petrol heads and greasy mechanics and it was important they thought I knew what they were talking about!!

The Army reservists from the Battalion which has units in Crawley, Hilsea, Ashford and Redhill, were all taking part in Exercise Southern Bluebell, an integrated training weekend designed specifically for REME Army Reservists to undertake training to improve their currency and competency trade skills so they are able to support the Regulars in terms of being fit to mobilise.  With a variety of different trades being showcased, from armourers, to vehicle mechanics and recovery specialists, and with Regulars and Reserves sharing their wealth of experience I knew I was in for an interesting day.

Sorting the problem !!

Sorting the problem !!

From what I could see when I entered the hangar, it was every car mechanics dream!  When and where else would you get the chance to remove and replace a drive shaft from a Coyote, change a bulb on a Mastiff or repair a power steering fluid reservoir on a Jackal?  From my inexperienced eye, I could see that I was standing amongst several millions of pounds worth of heavy duty and specialised military equipment in the hangars – all with bonnets up and innards exposed!

WOII Adie Leah, 37, part of 5 Battalion REME in Sheffield is a Regular Permanent Staff Instructor responsible for training the Army Reserves.  Having served for 19 years, his experience of carrying out battled damage repairs is second to none.  “Having the skills to get a vehicle back on the road quickly is the priority, and the Vehicle Mechanics (VMs) need to think creatively, using whatever they have available.  It could be a coke can or a bandage – you’d be surprised at how ingenious our VMs can be to get the vehicle and the crew out of a situation and back to safety.”

British Army's answer to the AA

British Army’s answer to the AA

It struck me very quickly that these members of the Territorial Army, which is soon to become the Army Reserve, have vocational skills training that takes years to accumulate.   I was in the presence of soldiers, regular and reserve, who have actually saved lives – not by administering first aid, but by having the confidence and skills to think “outside of the box”, repairing vehicles on the side of the road, under extreme pressure and often under fire and using anything at their disposal.  Corporal Reece Hancock, 44, serves with 128 Field Company in Hilsea, Portsmouth.  A DT school teacher on civvy street, he swapped the classroom for six months in Afghanistan supporting the Regular Army’s 6 Battalion Close Support.   Clearly extremely passionate about his role in the Army Reserve, his enthusiasm was hard to contain when telling me about the time he carried out an improvised repair to the fuel pipe on a Husky.  “This training exercise is really important.  The more knowledge you have about different vehicles, the better you become at cross-servicing and that in itself gives you confidence to make good repairs under extreme pressure.”

Sergeant Catherine Moat, 44, works for the Border Force and serves with 133 Field Company in Ashford.  With more than 20 years’ service under her belt, she confessed to the Army Reserves having changed her life.  “It’s tested my mettle that’s for sure.  But I’ve travelled the world and gained skills that will mean that I’ll never be out of a job as getting all my driving qualifications means that I can drive a bus, a coach or an HGV.  Better still, I can service my own vehicle and no garage will manage to hoodwink me as I know what they’re talking about!  You get out of the Army Reserves what you put in and I have made great friends who I know will support me through thick and thin!”

The exercise wasn’t all dirty and hands-on.  Corporal Sian Davies, 34, a Solicitor from 128 Field Company in Hilsea, was on hand specifically to give an honest and objective view from her most recent tour to Afghanistan with the Light Aid Detachment.  “Giving the guys the benefit of our very recent experience from theatre is all part of the training process.  By giving them a short presentation with photos, we can talk knowledgably about what it’s really like out there – anything from the accommodation and food to the handing over processes and how we integrated into the Regular units.  For instance on my tour, it was several months before they actually realised I was a Reservist.”

For the afternoon session we left the vehicle mechanics and their spanners to it and made our way to a training area on Salisbury Plain that looked like a scene from one of the Mad Max movies.  In plain view was a petroleum truck – on its side – and not looking in very good shape.  The task set was to right the 30 tonne vehicle back on its four wheels without damage to either the vehicle or the personnel involved.  Well this team of recovery mechanics or “rechy mechs” as they’re affectionately known, made it look easy!  However it was far from that and the skills required by the experienced Crew Commander were plain to see.  Demonstrating calmness and confidence, he got the team to assess the situation, put their plan together, attach winch lines, strops and then with incredible authority, and because he knew exactly what he was doing and his team had complete faith in his experience, the truck was expertly tipped upright and back on its wheels, almost kissing the ground beneath it.  No thuds, no shouting, just pure skill, precision and experience at work!  Lance Corporal Ian Bewers, 44, from Benfleet, serves with 150 Recovery Company in Reigate and is a very experienced Recovery Mechanic.  On civvy street he trains drivers of petroleum vehicles.  It’s a demanding job in itself, which he combines with a busy family, but he clearly loves his part-time role in the Army Reserves too, up to his arms in mud and grease and lugging bits of heavy metal around.  “I get so focused on the skills I need for my civvy job, so coming on this training weekend has been great for getting me thinking about other strategies and refreshing and using different skills.  I’m hoping to do my Class 1 Course in March, which will enable me to become a Crew Commander, and instruct the other soldiers and supervise these type of tasks.  It’s a tough course and I’ll be able to draw from the experiences of this weekend.”

And so, after a really great day and with my introduction to 103 Battalion REME complete, I am off to my car – I’m out of window washer fluid, does anyone know how I open the bonnet .….?

If you are interested in joining the REME check out




Gemma Bevington Buckinghamshire Army Cadet Force

Graduating with a Level 6 qualification from CVQO

Graduating was  an amazing experience at the Kia Oval where I, and over 50 other Cadet Force Adult Volunteers graduated with a CVQO qualification. The awards were presented by CVQO chairman of trustees, Lord Lingfield, and were from both the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and City & Guilds with the highest level awarded being the City & Guilds Membership – the equivalent of a Masters degree

I graduated with a Level 6 qualification, the Graduate of the City and Guilds Institute (GCGI) which is the equivalent to a Bachelors Honors degree.

For my thesis, I chose to write about training and ways in which this can be improved to enhance the Cadet experience and also to develop our new adults. I am hoping to use this experience to further  shape the way we train in future and am looking forward to helping to introduce the many changes to training this year will bring.

My award being presented by CVQO chairman of trustees, Lord Lingfield,

My award being presented by CVQO chairman of trustees, Lord Lingfield,

During the day I met lots of other Cadet Force adult volunteers from different branches of the ACF, and each with their own story. Some even travelled from far and wide to be there, from as far as Trinidad and Tobago and the Honk Kong Adventure Corps! It goes to show we are a small part of a big family of Adults and Cadets alike, all with the same aim and incentive – To Inspire to Achieve.

Army Reserve Open Day

Open Day held at Blighmont Barracks, Southampton

To all those fit 18 – 43 year olds from Southampton who spent Sunday 13 October in the pouring rain, wondering what to do, well you missed a trick.

You all missed a fantastic open day with the Army Reserve, at Blighmont Barracks, Millbrook Road.

It could not have rained harder but chatting to members of 457 Battery Royal Artillery, with their new Stormer Missile launcher on display, 266 Port Regiment with their amphibious equipment, the Army Medical Services, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and the Military Police, the rain had made their day because “It’s not training if it’s not raining!” so they told us!

Obstacle course set up and ready

Obstacle course set up and ready

The hot news is that the Territorial Army will become the Army Reserve in the new year, so Southampton and Portsmouth Reserve Units stepped up their recruiting machine and came together to kick off the Autumn to  put on one of the South’s largest recruiting events seen in Southampton for some time. The Army is actively recruiting both Regulars and Reservists.

Speaking to Lance Bombardier Jodie from Thorney Island she told us, “It’s about working as a team, the Army and the Army Reserve together, it makes sense.”

A busy entrance to Blighmont

A busy entrance to Blighmont

Supporting the Regular Army with a Reserve force is nothing new, Since 2003 their have been more than 25,000 Reservists mobilisations, fighting alongside their Regular counterparts, so to find out if you like ‘training when it is raining’ – visit

A very successful boating year

Sheppey Sea Cadets reflect on year!

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook from Sheppey Sea Cadets recently competed in the Sea Cadet National Combined Regatta with outstanding results.

POC Jeffries qualified in first place for single female Yole Rowing at the Southern Area Regatta in July and went forward to the National competition. She competed in three races against cadets from other areas covering the whole of the United Kingdom and won all three resulting in her being announced as National Champion, the best single female rower in the country.

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook

Brother and sister team, Daniel and Laura Snook have combined their individual sailing abilities to create a force to be reckoned with.  They competed in the Southern Area Regatta, taking first place in both Bosun Class sailing and also the Sail Boat Handling competition. The Boat Handling competition required them to demonstrate exceptionally high levels of technical ability in comparison to the racing skills in the Bosun Class.

Daniel and Laura qualified for the National Sailing Regatta in Stockport and took part in four races against some strong competition. They were announced as overall winners of the Bosun Class after achieving a Bronze and three Gold medals for their race results.

In addition to Daniel and Laura, a further four cadets from Sheppey Unit attended the National Sailing Regatta, meaning Sheppey Unit made up half of the Southern Area Team which is a huge achievement. AC Louis Reeves and Cdt Lee Bishop formed the second Bosun crew and worked hard during the four races managing to gain a Bronze medal in one race and coming 6th overall from a total of 14 competitors.  AC Georgia Allan took part in the singlehanded Pico class and OC Jamie Brown took part in the under 15’s Topper class, both put in a huge amount of effort with results to be proud of.

Two weeks later, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook were sixth on the programme at the National Sail Boat Handling Competition in London. Challenges in the Boat Handling routine include rigging, paddling, sailing a triangular course, man overboard procedure, reefing afloat, returning alongside and stowage of equipment.  Taking approximately 45 minutes, they have to maintain a high level of communication and technical ability. Their skill level and amazing teamwork led them to be awarded 120.5 marks out of a possible 132, placing them yet again in 1st place.

For more information on Cadets please visit