MPs experience training at HMS Raleigh

Three MPs were given a first-hand taste of Royal Navy training on a visit to HMS Raleigh.

Anne Marie Morris, Luke Pollard, and Wes Streeting  – who represent Newton Abbot, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, and Ilford North respectively – spent two days at the Royal Navy training base in Cornwall, where they met both staff and students.

The trio, enrolled on the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme – which aims to give politicians an insight into life in the military and help them debate the subject with greater understanding – tried their hand at HMS Raleigh's damage-control simulator.

Havoc is about as real as it can get; trainees need to work as a team to plug the breaches in the hull as water floods in and the simulator rocks from side-to-side.

It really shows just what kind of expertise and skill we ask of our people that serve in the Royal Navy

Luke Pollard

"It was incredibly difficult, but extremely exhilarating. To actually see how difficult it is, when you are in the pitch black and you are banging wooden wedges into the holes in the hull with water coming in and you are gasping for air; it was incredible," said Mr Pollard.

"It really shows just what kind of expertise and skill we ask of our people that serve in the Royal Navy and the fact that they are trained in how to survive if the worst happened here in the South West.  It’ll be something that stays with me for a very long time.”

Mr Streeting added: “It gives you a bit of a flavour of what it would be like in a real situation and how terrifying it must be.  Compared to what the guys in the Navy have to do we were given an easier, softer run, so it reinforces how challenging life at sea can be, especially in a crisis situation.”

The MPs were shown the diverse range of training carried out at the Torpoint establishment, from watching a class of new recruits undergoing an intense military fitness session, to a visit to the River Lynher, where sailors from across the Fleet are taught how to drive the small boats.

They were also introduced to HMS Raleigh’s giant replenishment-at-sea training rig which is used to train Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors to transfer stores and fuels from ship-to-ship, while underway at sea.