Half a century after he passed out of Britannia Royal Naval College, the Prince of Wales returned to salute a new generation of Royal Navy leaders. Prince Charles was guest of honour at the annual Lord High Admiral’s Divisions – the final passing out parade of the year at the spiritual home of Royal Navy Officer training in Dartmouth, Devon. He took the Royal Salute from the parade and was invited to inspect the passing out Divisions – a mix of fresh Royal Navy Officer Cadets and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Officers, plus sailors commissioned from the ranks.
For the Prince of Wales it was a reminder of the beginning of his five-year Royal Navy career. He passed through the same college doors in September 1971 – following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers. His time at Dartmouth was followed by service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates, HMS Minerva, and HMS Jupiter, he then qualified as a helicopter pilot flying Wessex Mk5 with 845 Naval Air Squadron from the Commando carrier HMS Hermes.
The Prince’s final appointment in February 1976 was command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months with the Royal Navy. Among those passing out in front of the heir to the throne after completing 30 weeks of training were Officer Cadets Alistair Poat, from Somerset and Ruairidh McBean from Inverness. “Dartmouth has pushed me well out of my comfort zone, coming from an engineering background I hadn’t had much experience of leadership responsibility. Training has given me a great chance to learn and hopefully set me up for a successful career in the Royal Navy,” said OC Poat, who will be starting his flying training in the new year as an Observer (navigator/weapons and sensor specialist) in the Fleet Air Arm. “By far the most enjoyable part of training for me was our initial sea time. The early opportunity to get hands on and see what life was actually like in the fleet was amazing.
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