Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Week 5 of the 'Weekly Wednesday' blog from Able Seaman Rob Foster, HMS Daring

Boys are Back in Town

We left Portsmouth in April for the inclement shores of Cornwall and the South Coast Exercise Areas. Since then we’ve spent 19 days alongside in other ports (mainly Devonport) and 59 days at sea. Last Friday, 19th July we sailed into our home town of Portsmouth where the familiar sights of Southsea, Gunwharf and well wishers on top of Round Tower greeted us. It certainly feels good to be back in Sunny Pompey. We weren’t in long before leave was granted and we finally got a full weekend to go home. Being a Derby lad I hadn’t had the opportunity to go home for quite some time as it’s just too far away from Plymouth. It was good to get back in the tractor on the farm and get some of mother’s home cooking down my neck – beats those chips and beans I’ve been eating for so long.

Today is Tuesday and whilst we may not be at sea we’re back at it. Preparing the ship for the busy month that lies ahead in the run up to Navy Days 2010. Got to go now though, The Navigator’s looking for those charts I locked away last week...

Find our more about Navy Days at:

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day in the life... organising Armed Forces Day at the National Museum of the Royal Navy

Second installment by Roxy Martin-Cottee, Creative Apprentice at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Well hello again! It’s been a while since I wrote my first blog, so I thought I’d better get my head down for a few minutes and let you know what’s been going on behind the scenes.
Saturday the 26th June… it seemed so long away when I first started talking about it. I’ve typed it out so many times I can do it without looking at the keys now! But a sudden realisation has just hit me it’s not that far away at all!

Everything’s set, and now it’s down to pulling the last few things together. We are currently corresponding with the companies who are coming down, checking their requirements, and making sure everything will run smoothly. We recently held a meeting to organize the layout of the event, and where to set up the marquees. Those of you who have been to the Dockyards before will know that the Victory Arena is a big space to fill, even with the 20 odd dancers we will be having! WW2 US military vehicles will be on display at the event along with drivers dressed in period costume who will interact with the public, and answer any questions they have. Our field kitchen has been sorted, and demonstrations will be going on throughout the afternoon.

In the last few days I have been looking at decorations and accessories to give the concrete arena a bright fun and welcoming war time tea atmosphere. This was quite an interesting task I must admit. With our big band and lindy hopper dancing going on there should be a real buzz, but just to make sure it has the right look I have been trying to find ways to cheer it up, flags and bunting seem to match. Mind you with HMS Victory as the backdrop, it would be near on impossible to have a boring look to it wouldn’t it?!

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the first Armed Forces day I have been lucky enough to help organise. With each decision being finalised and item being delivered, I really can’t help feeling its going to be like stepping back in time. And hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to some of the veterans too! All we need now is the weather to be good, but living in England, this may be asking too much! I will write again a couple of days before the event, and will be able to give you plenty more bits of juicy information. Why don’t you come along, it’s free!

Week 4 of the 'Weekly Wednesday' blog from Able Seaman Rob Foster, HMS Daring

In the lead up to Navy Days which is taking place from Friday 30th July – Sunday 1st August at Portsmouth Naval Base (, we will bring you ‘weekly Wednesday’ updates from on board HMS DARING - one of the ships open to public during the event.

Week 6 and the final week of Operational Sea Training. The time is 1200 - Midday. Already we’ve sailed into Plymouth Sound, collected the FOST staff via boat transfer exited the sound in a coordinated departure with German Frigates Koeln and Luebeck, conducted a high speed pilotage of the training ‘Mine-Swept Channel’ (PILOTEX), had a man-overboard exercise (MOBEX) and conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) with Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight. Later today we’ve got another Flying Exercise (FLYEX) with our Lynx Mk 8 Helicopter. and somewhere in between all this I’ve had to pop down and write my quick update. Probably the most exciting was the man-overboard. FOST staff throwing the dummy overboard whilst doing 20 knots and within a mine swept channel! (See photos)

All we need to do now is prepare ourselves and the Ship for FOST’s final inspection tomorrow. We’ll be up against submarine, ship and air attacks. Falcon and Hawk aircraft will test this Destroyer’s ability to defend herself and others from air attack. But we’ll be ready! Tomorrow we’ve got a mission and that mission is to win. The last time Daring did Navy Days was July 2009 in Devonport. Back then she was more a trials ship than anything else. This year she’ll be front and centre in her home port as an extremely capable warship.

More information about Navy Days can be found at:

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Week 3 of the 'Weekly Wednesday' blog from Able Seaman Rob Foster, HMS Daring

In the lead up to Navy Days which is taking place from Friday 30th July – Sunday 1st August at Portsmouth Naval Base (, we will bring you ‘weekly Wednesday’ updates from on board HMS DARING - one of the ships open to public during the event.

The Start of Week 5 at Operational Sea Training and our penultimate week in Devonport commenced Monday morning with the Disaster Relief Exercise (DISTEX). This is an evolution that involves the whole ship.

In the North of Devonport Naval Base is a mock-up village – Old Grimsby which, in our scenario was hit by a hurricane the night before. Daring, exercising in the area was sent by the UK Government to render immediate Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations (HDRO). Working from the amunitioning buoys in the north of the River over looked by the Tamar bridge we set to work; deploying medical, fire fighting, search and rescue, command, recce and survey, engineering and public relations teams using the ship’s helicopter and sea boats. My Job was to conduct a survey of the local Port with the Navigating Officer. Using the old fashioned technique of swinging a lead line (a length of rope with a weight on the end) I measured the depth of water in various places to make a rudimentary chart of the area and assess the suitability for bringing a larger ship such as Daring alongside. The whole thing was a huge logistical operation and required lots of planning and briefing in the days leading up to the exercise.

Arriving in the hurricane hit island of Tresco we were greeted with devastation and it was our job to “Save Life and Lessen Suffering”. We put out fires, rescued casualties, built shelters, repaired the water plant and cooked food. All just another day at OST for Royal Navy ships which history tells us have a good chance of having to do this kind of thing for real.

For more information on Navy Days, please visit:

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Week 2 of the blog from Able Seaman Rob Foster - HMS DARING

In the lead up to Navy Days which is taking place from Friday 30th July – Sunday 1st August at Portsmouth Naval Base (, we will bring you ‘weekly Wednesday’ updates from on board HMS DARING - one of the ships open to public during the event.

Week 3 of Operational Sea Training – We’ve hit the wall, 3 weeks into the training, half way through and are now on the home straight. This week has been no less busy – already we’ve conducted Naval Gunfire Support practice using the Ship’s 4.5in gun. Firing against a sea target we used Royal Marines spotters to assess the accuracy of the gunfire from an airborne helicopter. One of our shipmates with an eye for photography managed to take a shot of the round leaving the barrel – Awesome!

Here at Flag Officer Sea Training we’re constantly being assessed. Despite Daring’s magazine being able to hold twice as many rounds as any other ship in the fleet we still conduct ‘Emergency Re-supply Drills’ – moving 28 rounds (105Kg each) up two vertical decks to the Gun bay ready for firing. We ‘smashed’ the drill completing it in under 15 minutes.

Meanwhile I was in the charthouse conducting the altogether less ‘steely’ but equally important job of correcting the paper charts and Admiralty Publications. Using the charts I had recently updated from the international amendments received onboard – The Navigating Officer was able to plan his next serial of the week in complete confidence – A stern Replenishment at Sea driving the ship to within 200 yards (1 cable) from the stern of Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker – Wave Knight.

For information about Navy Days 2010, please visit:

For information on HMS DARING, please visit: