International junior officers have a go at commanding Royal Navy ship

The crew of the Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Tyne gave junior officers from around the globe the chance to command a warship for the first time.

The ship, which acts as the eyes and ears of the Navy around the UK and ensures fishermen stick to legal quotas, gave students on the International Small Ships Command Course the full range of challenges the captain of an 1,800-tonne warship might face: from losing a sailor overboard and coping with fires, to dealing with breakdowns, salvage operations, SOS calls and navigating in congested waters.

Nine officers – from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Guyana, Kenya and Lebanon – are being assessed on the course which is run by HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

The practical phase – in the South Coast Exercise Areas between Portland and the Isle of Wight – demands some sea time, providing them with the opportunity to command as well as learn how the RN operates offshore patrol vessels.

Ships of a similar size to Tyne – 1,700 tonnes, 260ft long – are the backbone of many of the students’ navies, while the River class in general serve as a crucial breeding ground for captains of British frigates and destroyers.

Nothing beats practical training at sea and the trainee officers showed enthusiasm and resolve in completing tasks the staff gave them despite the challenging weather,” said Lt Cdr Peter Barfoot, Tyne’s commanding officer.

“It has been a privilege to assist the international course with their training and to help prepare them for their future commands.”