There was an air of anticipation as the first years gathered in the drill hall on Friday night with new uniforms in hand, ready for the first evening of our induction weekend. After a few talks on topics like diversity and inclusion, we set to work learning how to iron our shirts, bull our shoes and shape our berets. We arrived at the unit early the following morning ready for our first inspection in the Royal Navy’s new PCS uniform before heading out to Faslane for a swim test. Everyone had been training in the weeks beforehand and it was great that the hard work paid off! We were all excited for our first trip out to a naval base and we even caught a glimpse of a submarine. We headed back to the unit for a tasty lunch prepared by the senior students and then found time in our busy schedule to practice marching for the upcoming remembrance parade. After being divided into groups, we completed various Personal Leadership Tasks or ‘PLT’s’. The first involved using PPE to get the whole team across a ‘river’ using just a tyre and rope. The second was a more artistic challenge in which we had to build a tall, aesthetically pleasing structure with moving parts. As leader for this task, I learned the importance of delegation and using the strengths of each member of my team. The feedback from the tasks was invaluable and really helped us to improve our leadership skills. Ending the day with a Chinese takeaway and a karaoke social was a great way to relax and have fun. We mustered early on Sunday for another inspection before getting changed into sports rig. The first years gave the seniors a run for their money in a few games of the URNU’s specialty sport, ‘Bucketball’, followed by a jog around the park to finish off. After a few final formalities, we ended the weekend feeling exhausted, exhilarated and ready to join the URNU.
The year, Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Royal Navy Unit again had the honour to participate in the University of Glasgow Service of Remembrance. This was the first ceremonial event for the new first years who performed well and had mastered foot drill in the weeks prior. The unit had a very good turnout, very smart and their foot drill was praised by some of the other university units and as the No. 1 Guard, lead from the front. A reading was also performed in the University chapel by OC Harries The tri-service wreath was presented by MID Barclay and SMID Cornforth led the parade of University Units behind the skilled OTC Pipes and Drums Corps. The units then had a social afterwards with the other University Units in the OTC building. In all, it was certainly a humbling experience of remembering those who died defending our freedom, especially on the centenary of The Great War.
Phase 4 2018 Started off to a rocky start with flight delays preventing most of the students from joining the ship on time so the ship accompanied by two students sailed to meet them in Great Yarmouth. Before heading north to the 2018 Tall Ships Race in company with HMS Trumpeter, it was a rough trip up the East coast but we made it to Sunderland eventually. The P2’s looked quite out of place compared to the huge masted sailing vessels but we had just as much interest for tours on board, with one cheeky guest ‘accidentally’ turning on the horn whilst posing for a picture at the helm. We were lucky enough to be invited on board another military vessel in the harbour, the Indian sailing ship the INS Tarangini, a massive three masted ship crewed by 50 with a total of 20 sails, made me grateful for the minimal rope work we do on Pursuer. Our main role in for the race was to act as the start line for the ships as they started the journey to Denmark, it felt very Pirates of the Caribbean to watch the huge billowing sails travel past us. We left Sunderland that evening and travelled back down South overnight with an eventful wake up call as one of the engines decided to stop working around 6am. We made it into port and relaxed for the rest of the day before heading to Portsmouth, our last stop with HMS Trumpeter, so to say goodbye they showed us around some of the highlights of Portsmouth at night. Feeling extremely thankful the sea was calm the next day we continued our journey round to the west, joined by a Sub LT who was looking for some sea time and very keen to help us with training, especially fishing vessel identification. On our final night in Holyhead we had our end of phase meal, a slightly less glamorous affair than usual because we just ordered Chinese but just as tasty, all in all a great phase to be on and I can’t wait for the next one!
As usual, the GSURNU Trafalgar Night dinner was a riot, albeit one that came with its challenges. Not only had the first years not been issued their Destroyer Rig, but we also had the added pressure of impressing not only our usual guests, but also Lt Collins' friends and colleagues from the submarine service (who were all very friendly and not as scary as we had initially expected).
This year, the Unit had the special privilege of being catered for by actual RN chefs, they prepared a lovely dinner, despite the cook-oven relationship seeming... terse and best, and while the guest of honour's Immortal Memory ruffled a few feathers, the skit brought its usual brand of tongue in cheek humour, lead by our illustrious bar manager as Nelson.
All-in-all, Traf was a splendid night and (we hope) it provided a thorough baptism of fire for the first years. Special thanks to Kirsty Kay and everyone involved for working so hard to make it a success!
Between the 5thand 7th of February, the Potential Officers Course (POV) took place at HMS Raleigh for myself and Anna Aitken. Both myself and Anna are aspiring Logistics Officers therefore the course was the perfect opportunity for us to see a day in the life of a Logistics Officer. Our first night at HMS Raleigh consisted of us dining and socialising with current RN personnel on the ILOC course which gave us the chance to ask questions and gain insight as to what training would be like. The next morning, we were given a tour of HMS Raleigh and shown the Supply Chain Squadron, the Writers Training Squadron and finally the Cookery School which showed us how important logistics is in every aspect of navy life. As our second day drew to a close, we were given the opportunity to complete an exercise in the Damage Repair Instructional Unit (DRIU). This is compulsory for all ratings to complete during training. While it was fun, it is not for the faint hearted. Our final day on the POV was getting the Torpoint Ferry to HMNB Devonport where we were given a tour of HMS Bulwark. This gave us an understanding of the importance of logistics while at sea as well as ashore. Overall, the POV was really informative and a great opportunity for those considering joining the RN as a Logistics Officer. We had great fun and would both recommend the course to anyone considering a career as a Logistics Officer.
- OCdt Beth Steven
Friday the 26th of January marked the annual G&SURNU Burns night dinner, and it was not a night to be missed. As our guests arrived, they were ushered upstairs to the bar and given a warm welcome. Once all had arrived, we were seated in the dining hall and served a delicious three-course meal. Our meal was punctuated by a series of entertaining sketches, detailing the life of Robert Burns, starring some of our talented students: OCdts Bell, Kay, Ballantyne and Mills. This was supplemented by a thoughtful speech by OCdt Harries, who went into more detail about the life of the bard and related it to modern times. Everyone was also treated to the humorous toasts to the Lads and Lassies, by OCdts Jones and Clark respectively. All URNU members waited anxiously to hear if the pair had any gossip on them! After the dinner ended, tables were hastily cleared for a spot of ceilidh dancing with a live band. Overall, it was an excellent and entertaining night, with plenty of fun to be had. I would like to thank the organisers of the event, particularly Mid MacKenzie, for a superb evening.
- OCdt Rachel Mawer
Remembrance Sunday was held this year on the 12th November with G&S URNU playing a leading role as always. The first years put in an excellent effort and the unit was remarked on for their excellent standard of drill, all thanks to the superb training from Sub. Lt. Martin Cullen. Mustered at an unholy hour, everyone was turned out immaculately with Windsor knots tied, shoes sparkling and trousers creased to perfection. The chapel service featured a reading from OCdt Joshua Green and the wreath was laid by 1st year OCdt McGregor. After the service all the university training corps headed back for some light lunch. It was an excellent show by the unit for this very sombre occasion.
- OCdt Jethro Barclay
On the 20 October 2017, nearly 212 years after the battle itself, G&S URNU hosted its annual Trafalgar Night Dinner. As usual the evening began with welcome drinks in the mess before we moved through to the drill hall which was dressed from head to toe in bunting and white ensigns. Our entertainment throughout the meal was of course a re-enactment of the battle of Trafalgar which was brought to life by 3 of our very talented students. OCdt Mairi Watt-Cooper gave a fantastic performance as Napoleon, complete with French accent and baguette sword (that she may or may not have snacked on between courses). Lady Hamilton was portrayed by OCdt Joshua Green who proved to be extremely committed to the role and looked fantastic in a skirt and bonnet. Mid Cameron Wragg gave an excellent performance as Lord Nelson and Mid Kieran Smith played a convincing Captain Hardy. After dinner the Deacon of the Hammermen gave his speech which included a lot of bad puns and then it was our guest speaker’s turn, Captain Carl Lias, to deliver his speech which reminds us why we celebrate this battle every year. Mess fines were handed out and then of course it was time for some out of tune sea shanties to end our fantastic dinner.
After a few drinks in the mess, everyone went back through into the drill hall for the usual after dinner ceilidh. The band was fantastic and even the newcomers to ceilidh dancing were enjoying themselves. Mess games were played and we celebrated the rest of the night with many drinks.
A special thanks must go to OCdt Ciara MacKenzie who produced a fantastic night which was enjoyed by everyone, as well as thanks to our guest speakers for entertaining us all after dinner. I think it’s safe to say it was unforgettable night and one of the highlights of the year for the unit.
Phase 4 of summer was unusual. To start with there were only three students on board which meant there was more room around the ship but a lot more work and I am happy to report that we are now all excellent at morning and evening colours, the daily flag raising and lowering ceremonies.
The first day was a real treat as we were sailing past the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in company with HMS Dasher, another P2000. As we sailed around her, her commander invited us on board and we became her first visitors since she was launched. Our whirlwind tour took us up to the bridge, the aircraft hangar (which is bigger than a football pitch) and one of the systems control rooms before we had to leave to sail to the Orkney Islands.
In Orkney we took part in the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of HMS Vanguard, a St Vincent class dreadnought battleship that had served in the battle of Jutland. On the 9th July 1917 in Scapa Flow her magazine supply exploded killing nearly everyone on board. From our small role in the proceedings it was clear to see that the tragic accident still has a powerful effect on the relatives of those who lost their lives and those who live on the island.
For the rest of our trip around the west coast of Scotland we were in company with HMS Dasher, Bristol URNU’s affiliated ship which had travelled from Lands’ End all the way to John O’Groats. Sailing past the stunning scenery of Cape Wrath and the Kyle of Lochalsh, arguably one of the world’s most stunning natural environments, our final stop was Portrush where we bid farewell to HMS Dasher and headed back to Scotland to conclude the year’s summer deployment.
Phase 3 started in Whitehaven, and as soon as we stepped foot on ship we were told we would be sailing that night to Bangor. We made it to Bangor Marina at 0200 and were rewarded with a long lie the next morning.
Due to weather and Armed Forces Day commitments, we stayed in Bangor for 5 days. We were not, however, without things to do. A few students attended the Armed Forces Day event, while the rest remained on ship to help host some special guests (and a very special dog) on board. We were also given a day off and so 5 students took a day trip to Belfast where we visited city hall and the titanic museum as well as treating ourselves to a traditional Irish pub lunch.
Saying goodbye to Bangor, we sailed to Carrickfergus where we stayed for only one night, basically enough time for us to do a shop at the local Sainsbury’s. Then after a last minute change of plans, again due to weather, we made our way to Campbeltown where we stayed for a few days and filled those days with charts, PLTs and cleaning.
Now on to Oban where we had the pleasure of a tour of the Oban distillery, a first for many of the students on board. We were given whisky to taste and even given a free glass as a souvenir. It was an enjoyable experience and later that day Lt Botfield hosted some friends from the distillery on-board Pursuer.
On the last leg of our journey, we were joined by HMS Dasher and we made our way from Oban, through the Caledonian Canal, to Inverness. It was then when the Commander of the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron joined us, spending a day on HMS Dasher and then a day with us on HMS Pursuer as we made our way through the Canal. During the journey, Mid Walker and Mid Urquhart decided to test their fitness by running alongside the ship from lock to lock.
On our last evening before reaching Inverness, we decided to have a swim in the deepest loch in Scotland. It was not warm. It was however a fantastic experience and the next morning the Loch greeted us with picturesque views which provided the perfect background for Colours at 0800.
Finally, we made it to Inverness where we had our end of phase meal and a night of drinks and ceilidh music. It was the last deployment for many of our senior students and I think it was safe to say it was a good one.