Island’s west coast host to two Navy university vessels

ISLAND VISITOR: HMS Tracker showing off her speed and  manoeuvrability during a recent exercise

ISLAND VISITOR: HMS Tracker showing off her speed and manoeuvrability during a recent exercise

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A PAIR of Royal Navy university patrol boats will be making two separate visits to Peel as part of a circumnavigation of the British Isles.

The Universities Royal Naval Units HMS Tracker and HMS Raider are on a six-week around-Britain summer deployment.

Tracker, which is the patrol vessel for universities in Oxford, and Raider, which is Bristol’s equivalent, set off from Portsmouth on June 27 and will be docked in Peel from July 21 to 22 and from 24 to 25.

Although the vessels will not be open to the public during their visits, island residents will be able to spot them in port and chat to the crews on the quayside.

Peel is the only port during this summer operational tour which will be visited twice.

Being small ships, their deployment is unusual because they will call in at many ports along the way where other Royal Navy vessels would never normally be seen.

Other stops include the likes of Brighton on England’s south coast; Scarborough in Yorkshire; Scrabster and Wick in the far north of Scotland; Portrush in Northern Ireland; Pwllheli and Aberystwyth in Cardigan Bay, Wales; and Padstow in Cornwall.

Each ship carries a full-time Royal Navy crew of five, which will be joined by up to 12 university students at any one time. In total the student crews will change three times during the voyage, while the Royal Navy crew remains permanent throughout. During the six weeks-plus at sea, the ships will each cover 2,336 nautical miles, visiting 28 different ports.

The deployment will allow some 72 students to put into practice what they have learned on shorter deployments and drill nights.

Skills such as seamanship and navigation will be put to the test throughout, perhaps never more so than on the three nights which the ships will spend at sea rather than in port.

‘Be under no illusion about the intensity of this deployment,’ explained HMS Tracker’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Brian Drewett.

‘The students will certainly be put through their paces. There is no better experience for them than to get to sea and put theory into practice in whatever situations or conditions are thrown at them.’

‘We are also thoroughly looking forward to visiting so many ports during this deployment,’ continued Raider’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Richie Gray.

‘And there should be down time in the evenings for the students to have some fun and reflect on what that day at sea has taught them.’

The organisation’s mission is to educate a wide spectrum of high-calibre undergraduates who show potential as society’s future leaders and opinion formers in order to better inform them of the need for, and role of, the Royal Navy.

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