Category Archives: Adventure Training

Ski-Mountaineering World Championships


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Captain Tania Noakes, the Unit Adventurous Training Officer for Oxford UOTC, has recently competed at the Ski-Mountaineering world championships as part of the Great British ladies team. The championships were held in Alpago-Piancavallo Italy from 23February to the 4th March 2017.

Athletes from 25 Nations took part in the championships which included 5 races. An individual race, team race in squads of two, sprint race, vertical race and a relay race. Captain Noakes is part of the Army ski mountaineering team who are striving to promote opportunities and wider participation of Service personnel in this exciting and challenging new sport.

This was her first time racing at the world championship level and the competition from the much larger squads from the Alpine nations was at an inspiring and fiercely competitive level.

In the individual Tania managed to place first GB female and partnered with Ursula Moore in the team race came 11th female team.

The Army will be running a ski-mountaineering race training camp next winter season 2017-18 to help equip budding Army ski-mo racers with the essential skills to take part competitively in this challenging and exciting new sport.

http://www.serfca.org/Links/Officer-Training 

Exercise Snow Eagle


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Me straddling Austria and Germany after ski touring up to 1844 metres above sea level 

My name is Paul Doodson and I am currently a LAC Logs (MTD), Reserve with 501 Squadron RAuxAF.  I recently attended Ex SNOW EAGLE adventurous training exercise in Bavaria, Germany.

This year was my first experience of the Eagle scheme and it was an absolutely brilliant time that was had by all.  I and 6 other members of my Squadron joined 60+ Regular members of the RAF, all of us at different skill levels, so all getting something different from the experience.

On Ex SNOW EAGLE there are 3 different basic levels of training – Ski Foundation (SF) 1, 2 and 3:

  1. This level is for people who have never skied before. By the end of the week each person will be at a level where they can confidently stop, turn, control speed and ultimately tackle basic blue runs, more challenging red runs, and occasionally a black run.

 

  1. Once you have completed SF1 or have skied before and have a good competent level of ability, this group hone their skills on the slopes, advance to black runs ‘as a standard’ and prepare to advance to the next group.

 

  1. For the advanced skier, this group spends a lot of time skiing off piste, ski touring, undertaking avalanche training and rescue. This group gets prepared to go onto the next course which is a whole new package of training which is Ski Leadership 1, 2 and 3.

Every person I spoke to in each of these groups thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the week and all got a massive sense of achievement from their week’s work. This week was very enjoyable but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a free ski trip. Personally I was in the SF3 group and this was very physically demanding, from skiing off piste, digging in deep snow for avalanche search and rescue and most demanding was ski touring. This involves putting skins onto the bottom of the skis, detaching the heel part of your ski binding and then basically walking up the mountain. The payoff for this though is amazing views not available from the top of a ski lift and then, of course, the off piste trip back down creating fresh tracks of your own!

SNOW EAGLE is one of many different schemes that are run as adventure training; there is also mountain biking, canoeing and mountaineering. It is well worth looking on the MOSS website to find out more.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/lifestyle-benefits/life-as-a-reserve/

The Air Training Corps teaches you many invaluable life skills


Sergeant Kieren Clarke- Hill, 23, is a Cadet Force Adult Volunteer with 19 (Crawley) Squadron. From Horsham, Kieren is a stock controller at Tesco.   Kieren was a cadet with 1015 (Horsham) Squadron and, after leaving at the age of 20, he became a civilian instructor. He has just been promoted to Adult Sergeant and has moved to 19 (Crawley) Squadron where he is responsible for drill and discipline.

Sergeant Kieren Clarke- Hill

Sergeant Kieren Clarke- Hill

Kieren believes that he owes many of his life skills to the ATC including some common sense and how to motivate and manage difficult people and situations.  He said “My family are all from an Army background and so the interest in the military has always been there. However, I remember going to the Shoreham Air Show when I was 12 years old and being fascinated by the planes. I did my first flight when I was 14 and I remember being absolutely terrified.

Kieren believes that he owes many of his life skills to the ATC

Kieren believes that he owes many of his life skills to the ATC

The pilot and staff were so brilliant though and really helped to calm me down and I ended up flying three times as a cadet and once as a member of staff.” He continued “Being in the cadets helped to set me straight – I was very naughty at school and it helped to bring me into line. There are a lot of cadets who join who are just like I used to be and it’s very rewarding to point them in the right direction and see them come out of their shells and become young, responsible and respectful adults.”

For more information visit http://www.sussexwing.org/

Ex Winter Challenge 2015


Southampton University Officer Training Corps

After a long coach journey from Southampton to St Johann, Austria, 40 Officer Cadets from SouthamptonUOTC and 4 instructors arrived at the resort of Alpendorf at midday on Sunday 5th April.

Upon arrival, we were each issued with the necessary kit including skis and boots and were allocated our dorms for the week.

After an early start on Monday morning, we boarded the coach to take to Alpendorf, excited to begin our week of skiing. We were split into 4 groups, and introduced to our instructors for the week. The first gondola journey to the top of the mountain seemed to take forever, with the anticipation of the first run growing.

In contrast to the bottom of the mountain, at the top it was snowing heavily, which although sounding very exciting, made the visibility on the first and second day poor, requiring extra vigilance from all on the mountain. As the weather improved throughout the week, the views became more and more spectacular, although photos couldn’t do them justice. We began the week tackling the nursery slopes, practicing our skiing technique and growing in confidence, before moving onto blue slopes to challenge ourselves further. On the nursery slopes, we were taught how to slow down using the snow plough method, how to turn whilst in snow plough and also how to get up and put our skis back on if we were to take a tumble.

Fun on the slopes

On Tuesday morning we continued practicing what we had learnt on Monday, and in the afternoon, instead of taking the T-bar lifts on the nursery slopes, we advanced and took the 6-man lift for the first time! Throughout the week, the chair lifts became quite a spectacle and somewhat entertaining to watch, as Officer Cadets somehow struggled to grasp the concept and simplicity of the lifts. Ski poles were dropped and bent, goggles were lost, the automatic safety bar was forced up and even the occasional seat was missed! Each evening we came together for a debrief after the days skiing, and on Tuesday and Thursday evening, the instructors delivered lessons on weather, avalanches, kit and equipment, and first aid, which were required in order for us all to gain Ski Foundation Level 1 qualification (SF1).

Wednesday flew past, and the sudden realisation that we were half way through our week of skiing was surprising! The hotel that we stayed at offered an ‘All you can eat BBQ ribs’ night on Wednesday, which went down an absolute treat.

Friday was our last day of instructed skiing, and so the instructors decided to take us all to the same restaurant for lunch, called Krapfenalm. It was notorious for their delicious donuts, filled with either sweet or savoury filling, such as bacon, egg and potato, or chocolate, ice cream and sauce! Having all achieved our SF1 qualification on Friday, we were able to go skiing with other Officer Cadets on Saturday without the instructors’ supervision. Once we handed our kit back in to the ski hire shop, tidied our dorms and boarded the coach, the long coach journey back to Southampton began. I’m sure many others agreed that this had been one of the best weeks of our time at OTC and I hope to progress to SF2 next year.

Exercise Himalyan Eagle


Captain Bill Holland 678 (RIfles) Sqn 6 AAC

Towards the end of October , I was fortunate enough to secure a place at very short notice, only 1 week before flying from Heathrow, on a Army Mountain Trekking Expedition to Solu Kumbu Region of Nepal to climb the MERA Peak an impressive 6476m mountain that dominates the Hinku Valley to the south of Mount Everest. I will be joining 9 other excited mountaineers next Tuesday at the home of 4 AAC, based in Wattersham, which happens to be our paired unit under FR2020′ the ten mountaineers I have been told have various degrees of experiences and ages, most of the members coming from from 4 AAC, to reward them after their busy recent Op Herrick tour. Captain Tom Stack an Apache Pilot with 4 AAC, is the leader and organiser who crafted this impressive trip over the past year.

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Thursday I got to meet Tom, at Bicester loan pool stores and assisted him in the collection of ten, individual sets of high altitude walking and climbing equipment required for this EX Ped. As always this is an important event and can be a time consuming task, checking the cleanliness and serviceability of every piece of equipment for the whole team to use successfully whilst on the mountain. Many items got rejected by us and quickly changed by ‘Angie’ especially the walking and high altitude boots ? to ensure we had the best start in the Army loaned equipment category in Nepal. My High altitude mountain experience over 25 years has been, Alps, High Atlas, Canada Rockies, USA, Norway and more recently Kilimanjaro, with some great civilians and 3 x amputee soldiers on a charity mission, as well as last year reaching Point Lenana on Mount Kenya with a group of Scots Guards, happy to say the photo was very guardsman like on the top. I have gained over the years my MLT and JSML scheme award and have organised SMF Summer Mountain Foundation courses in Wales and Cyprus. Basically I do like the mountains of the world, and being with like minded persons.

Major G Ridgley OC 678 (RIfles) Sqn. LT Col R Olney CO 6 AAC. WO2 Neilings 678 (RIfles) Sqn. Sir Henry Aubrey Fletcher LL buckinghamshire. SSGT Hamill 678 (RIfles) Sqn. WO1 Walkinshaw RSM 6 AAC. Capt B Holland  PSAO 678 (RIfles) Sqn.

Major G Ridgley OC 678 (RIfles) Sqn. LT Col R Olney CO 6 AAC. WO2 Neilings 678 (RIfles) Sqn. Sir Henry Aubrey Fletcher LL buckinghamshire. SSGT Hamill 678 (RIfles) Sqn. WO1 Walkinshaw RSM 6 AAC. Capt B Holland PSAO 678 (RIfles) Sqn.

I have four days now to prepare my personal items and paperwork that I will take, to supplement the good quality loan pool stores equipment we now have.  A trip like this is quite costly and can be very daunting to anybody, it should cost around £3000, however being partly self sufficient with experienced military personnel in the group, the Army manages to reduce it considerably to £1000. So I have quickly being asking for small grants from my immediate local fund lines and have been able to reduce the amount considerably, being in the Army Mountaineering Association also helps reduce your personal contributions. In repayment for these kind gestures I will continue a blog where possible, also give a swift short 30 min presentation on our experiences when I return to the bold funders. So to close for now, from one Tuesday helping organise a Lord Lieutenants Awards in High Wycombe to the very next Tuesday getting on a plane and flying to Nepal it has to be Army be the Best.

Look out for the next edition next week!!!

For more information on 678 (RIfles) Sqn 6 AAC  please visit: http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/armyreserve/678riflessquadronaac6regtaac.aspx

Exercise Inferno Tiger


Southampton University Officer Training Corps (UOTC)

Day 1

Having spent the best part of the day before travelling, the group woke up on the first ‘walking day’ eager to start, albeit fairly grouchy from their first night’s sleep in a tent. Having packed away the tent for the first time, a slightly more arduous task than expected, eaten our first camp breakfast and had our first kit check the 3 groups piled into the transport to be dropped off at the starting point in Meiringen.

Having been promised an easy start to the expedition to ease the group into mountaineering, some of us were not so pleasantly surprised by the speedy pace set by the first team navigators. However all misgivings were forgotten as we arrived at the Reichenbach Falls, famously known as the site whereby Sherlock Holmes confronted Professor Moriarty in Sir Arther Conan Doyle’s novel ‘The Final Problem’. The site also proved to be the first of many ‘selfie’ opportunities seen throughout the expedition.

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It was also on this first day that the ‘Team Rock’ phenomena began, the rules are as follows:

  1. The Team Rock must be carried by a member of the group at all times
  2. It can only be transferred to another member if they hadn’t been caught in the act
  3. The Team Rock must be placed securely within their bags, or the transfer does not count and the Team Rock must be returned to the original owner

However, seeing as the rock itself weighed approximately 2kgs, it was fairly noticeable if you had been ‘rocked’.

Having arrived at the campsite in Grindelwald, the group was pleasantly surprised to find the tents already erected courtesy of the Drivers. The evening was very relaxed, including a couple a drinks and the application of temporary tattoos before being briefed on the next day’s climb up Männlichen, followed by bed.

Day 2

The second days walking began with a very steep incline out of the campsite, which some felt, including myself was a foreboding start to what was going to be a rather difficult day. I was not disappointed. The climb up to Männlichen solidified the fact that the previous day had only been a warm up for the days ahead. After was seemed like a lot of teeth gritting we reached the summit all with a strong sense of pride, unfortunately we could not enjoy the view for long as the cloud had crept up on us.

The way down the mountain proved to be just as difficult as the assent, and for some of the more height conscious members of the group, more so. The route down was a steep one, meandering across the slope on a narrow path, our view littered with avalanche barriers. Eventually the descent led us into a more forested area and it was here that brought a little humour back into the group after a strenuous day. Jake, our mountain leader and organiser of the expedition, a man with all the gear the rest of the group envied, found himself in possession of a boot without a permanent sole and had to resort to sniper tape to hold his boot together for the rest of the decent. Secondly, whilst taking a small break the CO was ‘rocked’, whilst he was sitting on his bag giving us all a pep talk about the day so far. Spirits a little higher we headed into Wengen and waited for what would be a slightly unusual train ride in comparison to British public transport. After the train journey with spectacular views, we were picked up by the transport and driven to what would be home for 2 nights.

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That evening we headed up to Mürren via a cable car to meet Ann and David at their home. Having been suitably fed by all the food Ann had to offer, we ventured up to the local sports hall for a party which included beer, dancing, a band performance and more dancing. A good night was had by all.

Day 3

The third day saw a slight split in the group as Jake and the CO climbed the Schilthorn as the rest of the group travelled to the Trummelbach Falls, a series of glacial waterfalls contained within a mountain which had to be accessed via tunnel lift. The falls were astounding and beauty and the power of them was appreciated by the whole group, especially the geographers among us. The relaxed cultural day continued as we returned once more to Mürren that afternoon to witness the parade throughout the town, which was then followed up by a dinner of Fondue, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, the fact that the cheese Fondue itself was strongly alcoholic may have helped. After saying goodbye to Ann and David for the last time after or course a commemorative photo outside the restaurant, we descended once more to the campsite for our final night.

Day 4

A day filled with a certain level of apprehension as it was the day of the most difficult climb so far as we were due to climb up to the Swiss Alpine Blüemlisalp hut at a height of 2840m. After leaving what had been our campsite for 2 nights we once again boarded our transport to the drop off point where our journey uphill began.

Although the majority of the day can only be described as ‘up’ some memorable portions of the day standout. When eating lunch at what was either a house that sells juice to passing strangers or a cafe that looked suspiciously like a house, Yellop was encouraged to eat some things not found in your average lunch diet. He rather bravely ate both a beetle and a cricket which was met with a mix of disgust and pride from the rest of the group. After lunch, whilst walking along a valley we obtained a temporary mascot, a goat we dubbed Darcy. Darcy followed our group for a good 500m and a good 20 goat selfies before we crossed a river that poor Darcy could not follow.

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As throughout the rest of the expedition members of the group took it in turns to navigate, a task I had avoided until now. Alas my time had come, although the leg itself wasn’t particularly difficult as the only direction I had to consider was up. It did however include an obstacle not yet experienced on the trip so far, crossing a glacier, where the CO rather graciously suggested he go first to test the route. My leg of the journey over, the group then faced what seemed like the world’s longest and steepest set of stairs up to the mountain hut. On arrival of the mountain hut the group was a mixture of tired, relieved and proud of the day’s venture.

That evening within the mountain hut we held a ceremony to commemorate the passing of 100 years since Britain entered World War I in 1914. Responsibilties were shared throughout the group, reading passages and scripture to honour the war. The Team Rock even played a part in the ceremony as a centre piece holding the 3 candles used.

Day 5

After the previous day’s climb the whole group was looking forward to a day of downhill walking to rest their aching legs. The journey down was fairly chilled as we took in the views of the glaciers which obviously provided a number of selfie opportunities which no doubt slowed our descent. After lunch we decided to take full advantage of the nearby glacial lake, changed into swimming gear and hire some paddle boats. Everyone got stuck in and really enjoyed the time despite the freezing water, which everyone ‘accidently’ fell into. After begrudgingly leaving the lake, we continued our descent down to the campsite at Kandersteg.

Day 6

Our final walking day brought mixed emotions to the group, and although the ascent wasn’t as high as the one faced on Day 4 up to the mountain hut, it was still a fair climb to the summit of Bunderspitz. Either we were feeling particularly keen that day or we had finally got into the swing of walking because as a group we were making good time on the ascent, so much so that the CO suggested that we split into 2 groups, one keeping the steady state along the original route, the other took a slightly more challenging route across a scree slope. Eventually we met up just before the final ascent to the summit of the mountain, where there were many shameless photos taken and we left an note in the guest book situated at the top.

For some, including myself, the journey down the mountain was more difficult than the ascent, the steep downward spiral seemed never-ending. We did however reach the end of our final walking day and arrived at the barn in Adelboden where we would be spending the night. The hospitality of the owners was incredible, as was the accommodation, and food. After we were suitable stuffed silly after the best meal we had eaten in days the B Coy among the group provided a skit which had everyone in fits of laughter as the performed the most memorable parts of the trip so far with spot on accuracy in their impressions. The night was then rounded off with the classic ‘Paper Plate’ awards hosted by Toby which was a nice way to round off the expedition because although we had one day left, the walking days were behind us; the CO was due to leave the next day and everyone was in high spirits.

Day 7

Waking up in the barn the following morning the group were in slightly hungover but excitable spirits, as the plan for the day was to visit a water park, a nice treat to spoil ourselves after the hard week of walking. But first we packed up all our gear, gave the transport a quick once over and then set off to what would be our final campsite in Berne. Having established out camp, we head off to the water park which could only be described as carnage as we took over the place.

Having exhausted the water park we returned to camp and that evening enjoyed the long awaited final night BBQ which got everyone involved and proved to be the most social evening of the entire expedition. The evening was filled of anecdotes of the trip, beer and most importantly, very good food. As good as the night was, it was also filled with sadness as it was the final night in Switzerland and the next day we would begin our travels back to Southampton where we would no doubt all face the ‘post AT blues’ and sicken our friends with tales of our times on Ex Inferno Tiger.

EX COCKNEY FREEZE


LCpl Aime Daniel -38 Signal Regimental skiing

Still buzzing from my latest adventures Ex NORTHERN PEAK, mountaineering in Arizona and taking part in Ex LION STAR in Cyprus. LCpl Aime Daniel of 1 Signal Sqn, Milton Keynes had the opportunity to participate in Ex COCKNEY FREEZE the 38 Signal Regimental skiing trip.

26 members of the Regiment deployed to Les Carroz, a beautiful ski resort in France. I’d never seen so much snow in my life it was breathtaking. Once everyone was finally sorted with the right kit it was soon time to ski. Being a beginner skier with absolutely no experience is quite daunting when you first get on the slopes, but it had been made perfectly clear that Adventurous training “is not a holiday”.

Group Photograph

Group Photograph

After a series of graceful face plants and forgetting how to apply the brakes on many occasions I soon started to get the hang of it. Of course having and instructor as passionate about the sport as ours with his awesome use of vocabulary helped in more ways then one I thoroughly enjoyed throwing myself of the slopes by the end of the day.

WO2 Andy Medley liked to push us to our limits so by day two he had me on my first blue run. After many superwoman dives WO2 Medley realised how scared I was and with a bit of encouragement I finally made it to the end of the run. It felt amazing, a well earned pat on the back kind of achievement.

LCpl Aime Daniel tackles the rollers on the nursery slope

LCpl Aime Daniel tackles the rollers on the nursery slope

As the days passed the whole group progressed amazingly some picked it up quicker than others and some preferred giving in to gravity and spending most of their time on the deck.

Challenges continued with a night ski but at least we couldn’t tell that this was our first Red run.

As the days went by skiing became more natural and on the last full day the survivors of the beginners group found their competitive side in a race against the advanced middle group down a blue run which we won.

Its safe to say I had the time of my life skiing and its definitely something I am going to do again. Although “it’s not a holiday”, all in all it was an awesome experience and I learnt a lot more then I thought I could.

By LCpl Amie-Louise Daniel

103 Battalion REME


Ex-Himalayan Tiger

As we sat in the tea house, considering an apple pie masquerading as a Cornish pasty, we began to   wonder exactly what it was that we had got ourselves into.  We were 50m away from Lukla’s airstrip – aka the World’s scariest airport, and several days walk from Everest Base Camp via a lot of “Nepali flat”.  It seemed a long time since the posters had first been put up around the Battalion advertising “the trip of a lifetime” to Nepal.  With just 12 places available for members of 103 Bn REME, the selection involved a classic English trudge across the South Downs one delightfully damp weekend in November 2012, followed by an extreme weekend in Brecon doing the Pen y fan route in Force 8+ winds in Feb 2013.  Suddenly the training weekends we’d completed in the UK didn’t seem preparation enough when considering the mountains we could see out of the window.

View of the mountains

View of the mountains

We’d been in the country for 4 days at this point, and were already 2 days behind schedule.  After sitting in the chaos of Kathmandu domestic airport for 2 days waiting for the weather to clear, we’d given up on the airplane and arranged for a more exciting and possibly less terrifying helicopter flight.  Our first experience of a tea house (trekking phrase for a youth hostel really) was something of an eye opener.  The rooms were basic but nice, and the beds had what looked like mattresses on – they even had sheets and blankets, although you probably wouldn’t want to sleep in them without the protection of your sleeping bag.  But it was just so cold.  This turned out to be one of the themes of the trip, with the temperature decreasing as the altitude increased.  By the time we got to 5545m at Kala Pattar most of us were dreaming of being on a beach in the Bahamas.  But the experience was outstanding.

The glacier we crossed

The glacier we crossed

We made it to Namche Bazaar at the end of Day 2, the main town of the SagamarthaNational Park, the Nepalese name for Everest.  This was our last real sign of civilisation for the next 8 days, and sold almost everything you could wish to buy.  The most amazing part of this is that everything is carried up to Namche either on a Porter’s back, or using Donkeys or Zos.   A Zo is a cross between a Yak and a cow.  We even passed a porter carrying a full sized fridge freezer on his back.  This humbled us somewhat as our measly 15kg rucksacks didn’t really compare.   From Namche our route quickly took us away from the crowds, as we headed North to the beautiful Gokyo lakes.  We had a poignant two minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday next to one of the lakes, surrounded by a thin layer of snow.  The following morning, we had a 0330 hours start in order to climb Gokyo peak in time for sunrise, which was by far the coldest moment of most of our lives, but an incredibly satisfying achievement and a real experience to see the sun rise on Mount Everest.  And we soon forgot about the cold that day, as our route took us over a swelteringly hot glacier.  Crossing a glacier was another first for many of us.  Because of the amount of rock debris that the glacier had collected it took a while for most of us to realise there was any ice at all.  And the huge peaks and troughs on the surface meant that there was little air movement.  The next day was another big marker in our trek, as we headed East to cross the Cho La Pass.  While the group had known this was likely to be the most challenging day of the trek, the sheer scale of it surprised many of us.  It took 4 hours just to get to the top and the last part involved climbing up a wall of snow that was at the limit of what we were able to trek without crampons.  Stepping into the sunshine at the summit of the pass and feeling the heat from the sun was glorious.

The team at the top of Cho La Pass

The team at the top of Cho La Pass

We then wound our way through the valleys as we headed towards Everest base camp.  The altitude was starting to show in everybody.  Energy levels were generally sapped while the body worked hard just to keep the vital functions going; loss of appetite meant that eating anything was becoming a real effort; and trying to drink 4 – 5 litres a day was getting harder and harder.  Reaching the summit of Kala Pattar became an even bigger highlight, because the rest of the trek was then spent walking down to lower altitudes where simple tasks such as breathing were so much easier.   Four days later we found ourselves back at Lukla airstrip, although this time we were allowed to pop into the Irish bar to see what the breweries of Kathmandu had to offer.  As we flew back into the city and said goodbye to the mountains, the rose tinted glasses were already coming over.  With the odd comment of “well, it wasn’t that hard really”, and “Cho La Pass wasn’t that cold”, and with the prospect of a hot shower, a bed with a duvet, and more than Dal Bhat to choose on the menu, that contented feeling was starting to come over all of us.  All round a fantastic trip, and very much the challenge of a lifetime.

If you are interested in joining the REME please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/ta/rhq103bnreme.aspx

 

 

 

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 www.royalnavy.mod.uk/navyreserves.

The “Benet” Archery Trophy


Surrey Army Cadet Force take up the bow

Surrey Army Cadet Force had their first Inter-Company Archery Final, held on the 29th June at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  CSM Kit Donal and SSI Fiona Watson qualified as Archery Leaders in Sept 2012 and came up with the idea of running a weekend of Archery Tuition for each of Surrey’s ACF Companies.  On each of days after some coaching the cadets had their Inter-Detachment shoot which they participated in, the competition was fierce with only two places per day available.  The two top shots from each day made the final team of four who would go on to represent their Company in the Final in June.  From January through to May each Company put forward their cadets.

Cadets taking aim

Cadets taking aim

Each Company would be shooting for the “Benet” Archery Trophy, this was dedicated to Surrey Army Cadet Force’s Mobile Canine welfare unit AKA “Benet” who sadly passed away in November 2012, he belonged to Surrey ACF’s retired Padre Maj Nigel Nicholson.  Benet was never far from his side and attended many of Surrey Annual Camps.  He was a calming influence on many cadets who may have been missing home or finding Annual camp a little stressful.  He is greatly missed.

The Cadets from each Company fought hard for the trophy, this tested their skills and ability to the maximum as all their training had been carried out in the Indoor Range, for the final they were shooting outside and a further distance.

The parents/grandparents all enjoyed watching the cadets in action, and expressed that it was nice to be included in seeing what their young people get up to in the Cadet Force.

To present the trophies were:

Maj Nigel Nicholson – Benet Trophy

Commandant Surrey ACF Col Alan Mulder – Overall highest score, Top Barebow and Top Sighted Trophies

The winners: D Company with an impressive 1185 points

Runners up: E Company with 1178

3rd place: C Company with 1097

Overall highest score – C Company L/Cpl Szyszko with 589

Barebow top shot – C Company L/Cpl Szyszko with 344

Sighted bow top shot – D Company L/Cpl Stephenson with 249

For more information on the Army Cadet Force please visit : http://armycadets.com/