UK: Whitby Sailors Serving in Support Ship to Royal Navy

Whitby Sailors Serving in Support Ship to Royal Navy

Two Whitby residents, one at the start of her career, have met up by chance serving in a ship which is patrolling the world.

Cadet Emma Hopps (25) and Captain Steve Donkersley (53) are both serving in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). ship Diligence which provides repair and maintenance support worldwide to the Royal Navy. They are undergoing training with the Royal Navy in Plymouth specifically for their next deployment abroad in May.

Emma attended Whitby Community College and Scarborough Sixth Form College before joining the RFA in 2010. She is a studying at Fleetwood Nautical College while training as a deck officer onboard RFA Diligence.

er course is a combination sea time and studying for her degree in nautical science. The degree covers navigation, cargo work and law.

Emma has trained on four ships and to become an officer-of-the-watch under training on RFA Diligence. This involves representing the captain on the bridge, maintaining navigational safety of the ship and managing vessel operations.

She takes her final exam in August to be ready for life at sea.Emma said:

“I have always been keen on sailing and I worked for the Ocean Youth Trust as a teenager and sailed on their yacht James Cook. I love being at sea and I like the flexibility offered by the RFA.

“One of the initial difficulties to overcome was missing home, but you soon adapt and now I enjoy all the challenges I experience.”

Although only a trainee Emma has already travelled to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. She has also represented the support tanker and cargo ship RFA Orangeleaf at a reception at Downing Street with the Prime Minister on the ship’s return from Libya in 2011, where the ship was supporting the naval task group.

The task group enforced a no-fly-zone and a Libyan shipping blockade.

Emma’s parents Robin and Barbara live near Aislaby, Whitby with her brother William.

Her commanding officer is Steve Donkersley, who attended Whitby School and Scarborough Technical College before joining Turnbull Scott, originally based in Whitby.

He worked on chemical and product tankers, tramp and coastal bulk carriers before joining the RFA in 1986. In a long and varied career Steve has sailed worldwide and visited Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe.

He admits he joined for one trip, but enjoyed it so much he stayed. He was promoted to captain in 2009.

Steve lives in Whitby with his wife Katy and enjoys golf and motorcycling. He said:

My job is never routine, there is always a different challenge. You can spend 45 days at sea at a time and as a captain I change ship every three years, which adds to the new challenges faced.”

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary supports the Royal Navy and NATO forces, helping them operate effectively all around the world.

With a fleet of specialist ships and sophisticated techniques, they replenish and support Royal Navy warships with everything they need, wherever they are in the world, when they need it.

Naval Today Staff, April 23, 2013; Image: Royal Navy