HMS Dalriada Mobilises Reservists

Firefighters on ship

Having the ability and opportunity to deploy or mobilise alongside Regular members of the Armed Forces is at the heart of what it means to be a Reservist. 

Busily balancing careers and family life, Reservists train in their spare time to ensure they are able to join and assist their Regular counterparts should their services and skills be required. 

HMS Dalriada, home to Glasgow’s Royal Naval Reserve, has recently seen a number of Royal Navy Reservists being mobilised across the world. 

Proud of the part they’ve played at home and abroad, the Reservists took the opportunity to share their stories. 

Able Seaman (AB) Ellie Earl

AB Ellie Earl, a Podiatrist in the civilian world, has just returned from a mobilisation on the South Coast of England. The ten-month mobilisation included Reservists and Regulars from all three of the single Services (Navy, Army and Royal Air Force). The opportunity saw AB Earl take part in Maritime Security Operations along England’s southern coastline. 

Naval reservists pose

The main task in hand for the Reservists was driving PAC 22 jet boats, a type of Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). Whilst starting in the position of Bowman, AB Earl progressed to Coxswain during the mobilisation, thanks to a course she attended at HMS Raleigh. 

As well as enhancing her seamanship skills, AB Earl also needed to ensure maritime laws and regulations were followed. 

AB Earl said: ‘As it was a tri-Service mobilisation I was able to meet a lot of different rates and ranks… learning more about the different Army Regiments as they rotated. I learnt new skills such as becoming a Coxswain, learning how to pace alongside a P2000 [a patrol boat also known as a Fast Training Boat], and adapting to working in extreme weather conditions.’

Reservists in Rib

Physically, AB Earl found the mobilisation a welcome challenge, commenting: ‘It was a more physically demanding role than my civilian job as a Podiatrist, and it was great to have a different way of working.’

The physicality of the job also proved testing on account of the warm summer: ‘One of the main challenges of my mobilisation was the extreme weather conditions which saw us work in 30-35 degree heat whilst wearing a dry bag. If it’s that hot, you’re wearing a dry bag, and you’re boat jumping, heat exhaustion can become a real threat.’

Moving down south and living somewhere new for ten months also proved to be an exciting and enjoyable opportunity for AB Earl. She said: ‘My mobilisation was a fantastic experience that allowed me to make amazing friends from different Reserve and Regular units. Being a part of an Operation was fantastic and it made me proud to serve with the Royal Navy as a Reservist.’

Reservists in rib

Able Seaman Kieran Nicholson

Having joined the Royal Naval Reserve in January 2019, AB Kieran Nicholson quickly looked to mobilise after he had finished basic training as an AB Seaman Specialist. An opportunity to join HMS Tamar, one of the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), provided the perfect opportunity for AB Nicholson to get out to sea. 

Joining HMS Tamar as one of the Ship’s Seaman Specialists meant AB Nicholson took on the role of Bowman for the Sea Boat and worked extensively across the vessel on Seamanship Evolutions (tasks at sea that require special coordination). ‘The hardest task,’ AB Nicholson commented, ‘was trying to paint HMS Tamar’s superstructure in 38 degree heat!’ 

Reservists on a football field

During the mobilisation AB Nicholson visited Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and Brunei. When asked about his time at sea AB Nicholson said: ‘My mobilisation with the Reserves on HMS Tamar was one the best experiences of my life. Some of my highlights include Crossing the Line ceremonies [an initiation rite in the Royal Navy], folding the ensign [a flag flown on a ship] in a ceremonial sunset, having tea with the First Sea Lord, and marching in the International Fleet Review Parade in Yokosuka, Japan, with 30,000 spectators.’

Firefighters on ship

‘I wouldn’t have seen the countries and cultures that I did without mobilising and that alone has made it worthwhile. I would definitely encourage all Reservists to mobilise; the OPVs are perfect for Reservists seeking to expand the skills they have acquired during basic training.’

AB Nicholson’s advice to anyone joining an OPV? ‘Give it 100% and be part of the team – there is no room for passengers on an OPV!’

Petty Officer Andy Gray

HMS Dalriada’s PO Andy Gray has recently returned from a four and a half month mobilisation aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. The opportunity allowed PO Gray to provide logistical shore support to the Royal Navy Fleet’s Flagship. 

PO Gary on the dock infant of big boat

A particular highlight of the trip was the opportunity to travel aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. During his mobilisation the Reservist enjoyed visiting New York, Cyprus and Falmouth. 

As well as enjoying working alongside the Ship’s Company, PO Gray felt privileged to see first-hand the difference all the hard work has made. 

Whilst living out of a suitcase for four and a half months wasn’t particularly luxurious, PO Gray would highly recommend the opportunity to mobilise as a Maritime Reservist. The fact that this is his third mobilisation is testament to it being a truly fantastic experience. 

Naval Reservists on helicopter

To find out more about the opportunities on offer with the Royal Naval Reserve, click here.

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