On Tuesday, 6th March thirteen Royal Marines cadets set off with an intrepid mission to survive a day with the Royal Marines at RM Poole, the home of 1st Assault Group and the SBS.
After a long coach journey, we arrived at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, and more importantly HMS Bristol, where we would spend a joyous night’s kip! The following morning, we awoke at 0600 to the ship’s tannoy pipe of “All Hands! All Hands!”, to discover that some had been treated to a better sleep than others, due to the vagaries of the continuous ship’s rumbles throughout night! By 0730 we had breakfasted, ‘squared away’ all our kit and were off to Hamworthy, Poole.
When we arrived at Poole, we were greeted by the Amphibious Training Team from 1st Assault Group, led by Capt Andy Lacy, who took us through various classroom briefings, chart readings and knot tying exercises, as well as a tour of the base, as we waited for the storm outside to abate. The most common question asked as we examined each different craft was “Have you ever capsized this one?”
After some ‘scran’ at lunchtime we were ‘suited and booted’ and ready to “rock’n’roll”…
The first vessel we experienced was the Landing Craft, and after a short safety brief we were ready to practise the basics of beach landings in true Saving Private Ryan fashion. The final practice involved a full ride in through the surf onto the beach!
The next craft to have a full cadet test was the much smaller 8-man zodiac inflatable, regularly used for covert reconnaissance missions. After a brief spin around Poole harbour, where all aboard each boat were thoroughly drenched, we practised quiet beach landings, including leopard crawls through the surf and sand.
To follow was to be the highlight of the day. A chance to ride in an ORC, a patrol boat capable of reaching speeds of over 40 knots, then stopping within its own boat length, was a recipe for complete fun. It was evident that the training team had kept the best for last, as for the final 30 minutes of the visit we were given an adrenaline-pumped blast around Poole Harbour at break-neck speeds, twisting and turning in impossibly tight turns, faces being attacked by stinging salty spray at every change of direction, jump and dip.
Once on dry land, there were smiles and grins all round, and in Royal Marines terms it was truly “Happy Days”!
The Royal Marines cadets would therefore like to give heartfelt thanks to the Amphibious Training Team and RM Poole for a truly fantastic and jaw-dropping day!
Cpl Ed Chapman (M LVI) and Sgt Joe Tusting (Rt UVI)