The Royal Navy’s Archer-class patrol and training vessel HMS Example (P165), alongside four other vessels of the First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS), deployed north to Scotland for the 2018 annual Easter deployment.
Between the five ships they literally covered the length (north to the Orkney Islands), and breadth (transiting the Caledonian Canal) of Scotland. During her 3 week deployment HMS Example covered 765 nautical miles (NM), visited ten different ports, and hosted nearly fifty sea cadets.
There were also numerous interactions with the (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) RNLI, with visits to Arbroath and Stromness Lifeboat stations. However the highlight was meeting the North Berwick inshore lifeboat, where Man Overboard Exercise (MOBEX) serials were practised, and then the crew popped on board for a wet and a debrief of the serial.
Whilst transiting the stunning coastline of Scotland, HMS Example stopped off at Wick, her ship’s company and the Northumbrian University Royal Naval Unit (NURNU) students had the privilege of presenting an Royal Navy beret to a 96 year old WW2 veteran, one of the last surviving sailors from the sinking of the Bismarck.
On completion of this honour, HMS Example proceeded north to reach the furthest north of her deployment, the Orkney Islands. This was also an opportunity for all to step ashore at Lyness, site of the old naval establishment, and to pay their respects at the commonwealth war graves. At the cemetery there are 453 souls laid to rest, including 13 German Sailors.
After Lyness, the ship then sailed into the mighty waters of Scapa Flow, former residence of the British Grand Fleet during WW1. En route the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Duncan Napier, laid a wreath over the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, sunk 14 October 1939 with the loss of 833 men and boys, which was particularly fitting as the captain of Royal Oak at the time of her sinking, Captain William Benn, was the great great uncle of the CO.
The crew changeover took place in Inverness and from there the passage south included hosting around 50 Sea Cadets at various ports as well as other visits and events. The deployment culminated with the only visit ‘South of the Wall’, to Hartlepool. Here the students and ship’s company visited the National Museum of the Royal Navy and HMS Trincomalee, currently the oldest warship afloat in western Europe.
Mid Bethan Davies said, “This was a great opportunity for us to experience a tangible representation of Royal Navy history, and a window in time to look back at the days of wooden hulled ships!”
Overall the deployment to Scotland, alongside the other four 1PBS ships was a great success, taking in a wide range of ports and coast lines, from the border up to the Orkney Islands. It allowed the students to put into practise everything they have learnt so far during their time in the URNU.
Lt Duncan Napier said, “Whilst the main aim of the deployment was to conduct at sea training with the URNU cadets, it also offered a great opportunity for building good relations with ports, organisations and communities that do not often see a white ensign around and about!”