UK: Royal Navy’s Head of Training Leaves South West

Royal Navy’s Head of Training Leaves South West

The Royal Navy’s head of training Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone leaves the South West after seeing through major changes.

As Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) he oversees the famous realistic weekly ‘Thursday War’ training exercise off the South West Coast which prepares ships for operations worldwide.

He is moving from HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, where the FOST organisation is based, to be Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Policy in the Ministry of Defence after two years in Plymouth as Flag Officer.

Admiral Ben Key will replace him as Flag Officer Sea Training. He is a governor of Stover School, Newton Abbot, in Devon, a school his grandmother founded.

Admiral Johnstone, who comes from Argyll, Scotland, is married to Ali who he credited for helping his success, saying she is a ‘supporting influence’. He added:

“I am very proud of what has been achieved over the past two years and of my extraordinary military and civilian workforce.

“’I will miss the sea, wonderful light and warmth of the people of Plymouth.’’

Among his achievement are the development of initial naval training at places like HMS Raleigh in Torpoint. The newly-extended courses are underpinned by nine core maritime skills, the foundations of naval life and underpin operational effectiveness.

The improvements ensure officer and rating recruits will be better equipped for duties at sea and land, working with other parts of the UK Armed Forces and nations.

Training has also advanced under Admiral Johnstone’s tenure, so trainers can now conduct on-shore training with a ship’s crew while running a realistic war exercise at sea – linking the two locations remotely.

They do this by interjecting various scenarios remotely which add urgency and complexity to emergency situations such as war damage fire and floods at sea – allowing the teams to be fully tested.

A major physical change Admiral Johnstone has overseen at Plymouth Naval Base is the building of Royal Marines Tamar – the headquarters for all landing craft training, with 539 Squadron moving from Turnchapel in Plymouth this year.

Another improvement in training has been the building of the replenishment-at-sea rig at HMS Raleigh. This provides a real working environment training for sailors in essential refuelling and loading stores from a supply ship while on patrol and still sailing in mid ocean – before they set foot on a ship.

The rig can replicate replenishment of the still under-construction Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the current Type 23 frigates and new T45 destroyers.

Admiral Johnstone also highlighted on-going improvements in training for operations from the FOST base in Scotland, specialising in submarines and smaller ships.

Flag Officer Sea Training staff are currently running the Joint Warrior Exercise – the largest combined military exercise taking place this year.


Naval Today Staff, May 2, 2013; Image: Royal Navy