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22 NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2008
Big Bang set to bring
WITH a detonation which will be heard for years to
come, the latest Maritime Reserves Big Bang was set
off at Faslane.
The event brought together reservists from units in Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Tyneside to learn, to teach, to recruit and
to foster esprit de corps in one
action-packed weekend.
Maritime Reservists
The Big Bang (not an official
make a vital
title, but one which everyone uses
as it trips nicely off the tongue)
contribution to the
is an evolving concept, and one Royal Navy.
which Commodore Maritime
Mike Gray watched
Reserves has been instrumental in
them go through
shaping and nurturing.
Cdre Stephen Thorne travelled
their paces at a
north to see his ideas put into Big Bang weekend
action, and was delighted with the
at Faslane
way things are developing.
Faslane was the second such
event in the Scotland and Northern
engender an esprit de corps which
Ireland Region and mirrored an
is vital in an organisation where
event being held in the South of
careers could easily become
England.
disjointed and individuals left
The two events demonstrated
feeling isolated unless measures
once more the benefits which
are taken to counter this.
accrue from Big Bangs rather than
The camaraderie of the Saturday
traditional programmes.
night social event at Scotia’s Big
A total of 160 reservists travelled
Bang, and the meetings of old
to Garelochhead Camp, close to
shipmates now in different units,
Faslane, where they were joined
can only help knit the 2,300 or so
by 31 potential recruits – people
RNR a little tighter.
who had shown a keen interest
The weekend bill of fare was
in signing up to the Maritime packed, to say the least.
Reserves. The Chemical, Biological,
By bringing them along to a Radiological, Nuclear Damage
Big Bang, Cdre Thorne believes Control (CBRNDC) programme
that they will get a much better saw trainees working in the
feel for what a reservist does and classroom and in the swimming
the opportunities the organisation pool – in once-only suits.
presents, rather than just turning Amphibious Water (AW)
up at a local parade night. officers tested their mettle in
In order to fulfil that remit, the Pathfinder bridge simulator,
the Big Bang has to accurately running through Officer of the
represent the range of activities Watch manoeuvres, while the
which a reservist might expect to logisticians set up and ran mock
undertake. supply bases.
And the best way to do that
is to have subject experts on site
There were lectures
to pass on their experience and
and exercises for public
knowledge.
relations staff, and the
If those experts are on site, such
Above Water Force
weekends become perfect vehicles
Protection (AWFP) teams
for training current reservists.
practised skills which are
With those two key elements
in demand from the RN.
in place, other benefits also come New Entry personnel continued
into play. to learn about the Royal Navy and
There is the potential to make its procedures in preparation for
significant savings, as several their short, sharp stint at HMS
training weekends can be ‘blobbed Raleigh, while potential new
up’ into a collective Big Bang, recruits were given a taste of most
while the cost of flying a handful of the activities undertaken over
of experts to a Big Bang is far less the weekend.
● Weapons training was a key part of the Big Bang weekend; here PO Graeme Farrer instructs AB
Kayleigh Wright in the small arms training simulator at Faslane
than transporting a large group Some of the activities were
Joined-up
of trainees to the pretty standard – drill, weapon-
experts’ home base, handling and the like.
be it Nottingham, But other assets were included
approach
Plymouth or to keep interest levels high, such
Edinburgh. as a Search and Rescue Sea King
Such gatherings from Gannet and the Sandown-
also mean that best class minehunter HMS Bangor,
a success
practice can more which hosted visitors throughout
easily be spread the weekend.
throughout the There were more unusual
at Pompey
Reserve, as good serials, such as guiding blindfolded
advice and ideas sailors around an obstacle course
are passed on by to deliver a rugby ball – great for
word of mouth.
team-building.
THE joined-up approach
And there is also
The Big Bang initiative builds
of the Big Bang was also
the unquantifiable
on developments in recent months
in evidence in Portsmouth
but vital morale
that have paved the way for even
as Eastern England units
factor – such
closer links between reserves and
gathered to teach and learn. weekends help
regulars.
There was the same
mix of potential recruits,
New Entry personnel and
more experienced sailors,
and the programme also
embraced the Southampton
University RN Unit, the Royal
Marines Reserve and Solent
Coastguard.
HMS Bristol, at Whale
Island, was the host unit, but
the weekend used a fair bit of
Naval estate and equipment,
including HMS Lancaster, in
Portsmouth Naval Base.
As at Faslane, the New
Entry sailors continued their
education in Naval ways,
picking up basic seamanship
skills, firefighting and honing
their fitness levels, while there
was weapons training for
members of the Above Water
Force Protection branch.
Young officers were
challenged by a range of
command tasks.
Cdr Nigel Bassett
RNR, MR Staff Officer for
Eastern England, said: “I
am hugely encouraged
by the professionalism
of individuals, and it is
obvious that they are
enjoying the training process
● Pathfi nder bridge simulator systems are explained to potential new recruits by S/Lt Morgan (RNR) dur-
immensely.”
ing the Big Bang at Faslane (above) while Cdre Stephen Thorne, Commodore Maritime Reserves, meets
New Entry staff on parade (right)
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