ACS International School

All Aboard HMS ILLUSTRIOUS

Published Wednesday 5th of June 2013 11:29:35 AM

Four members of Oundle�s CCF Royal Navy Section recently had the opportunity to sail with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS from Dublin to Portsmouth.

The cadets, Joey Cowley (16), Ruaraidh Richardson (16), Richard Taylor (16) and Toby Winter (16) received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience life at sea on a RN warship. HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, a 22,000 ton Helicopter Carrier, is Oundle School�s affiliated ship, and is due to be withdrawn from service in 2014. The group was hosted by Senior Lieutenant Lesbats, a French fighter controller who spoke earlier in the year to the School�s RN Section about his experiences in the Royal Navy.

Highlights of the three day passage included tours of operational Merlin and Sea King helicopters, as well as a chance to witness a �man-overboard� exercise at very close quarters; observation of helicopter exercises from the Air Controller station and the cadets were lucky enough to be invited to hear a genuine Captain's briefing.

After extensive tours of all aspects of the ship, including a two hour �watch� in the Operations room, the trip was rounded off with a 45 minute circuit training session on the flight deck, the southern coastline drifting by in the background � truly a most memorable experience.

Ruaraidh commented, �I feel extremely privileged to have been given such a rare opportunity of travelling on a soon to be decommissioned aircraft carrier. Experiencing life in the armed forces and the day to day life of sailors was really the most telling and unforgettable part of the trip. The people we met were exceptionally generous and I can only hope that the School will find another similar rewarding affiliation�.

Joey added, �It was a fantastic experience. We sampled everything that happens on a real live working ship; it is truly astonishing how many different roles are needed to keep the ship working. My favourite part has to have been the on board guns.�

Richard concluded, �I was altogether very impressed with the ship, and the wonderful reception we had on it. The experience gave us an idea of life for ratings on board a peacetime ship, while our placement with the officers ensured that we always had a comprehensive body of ranks able to speak on broader Navy matters. Our liaison officer, Lieutenant Lesbats, was very thorough, and ensured that we had an experience fit to make us an authority on the naval occupation to our peers! My profound thanks go to Oundle School CCF and HMS Illustrious for fostering this liaison.�

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