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In the Bridge Trainer – simulator in the College


THE ROYAL NAVY TODAY by Commodore Simon Williams ADC RN


I was interviewed in the April 2011 edition of By the Dart about the College’s history, personal perspectives and my reflections on officer training and almost a year later I write this article at the end of a week when 82 young men and women began


their careers as naval officers. Not news in itself of course, save that the numbers in the entry are somewhat smaller, and this is a key indication of substantial change at the College. This change is in response to two imperatives – the ceaseless desire to improve and the recent reduction in the size of the Fleet. The latter has forced a reduction in the number of cadets at sea in the Fleet at any one time and the former has encouraged a fundamental qualitative improvement: a new model ‘Initial Officer Training’ has been crafted, with four smaller terms replacing three and a completely revised syllabus.


Before expanding on the new training, perhaps I should set the scene with a little of what the senior service is doing whilst illustrating its continuing importance in the modern world. It might help to start with a few facts: • The UK is an island with 10,500 miles of coastline.


• The UK has in the region of 600 ports.


• The UK has around 300 offshore oil and gas installations and a large fishing industry. • The UK’s dependency on imported gas will rise toward 50% by 2012 and overseas sources will provide up to 80% of UK energy needs by 2020.


• UK-based shipping contributes £10bn a year to GDP and almost £3bn to tax revenues making it the UK’s fourth largest services sector industry.


• Global maritime trade relies on the free and lawful use of the sea. 95% of global maritime trade passes through just nine chokepoints which are inevitably vulnerable to attack. • Disruption to, or attack on, maritime trade or energy supply would have a severe impact on the UK’s economy and the daily life of UK citizens. • On an average day, 24/7, 365 days a year, 68% of the Royal Navy are preparing for, recovering from or actively engaged in operations or military tasks. As an Island nation, our economic prosperity and security is totally dependent on our ability to access the sea. We are reliant on a stable global market for the raw materials, energy and manufactured goods which underpin our way of life and, in a globalised world, we must have the ability to respond to any event that threatens our economy or national interests. That is why the Royal Navy is globally deployed and has a range of versatile ships, submarines and aircraft operated by highly professional


In the classroom


IFT Navigators station on ship’s bridge


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