Training for the Royal Navy’s officers undergoes one of its biggest changes in decades next month – mirroring the way industry assesses high-flying candidates.
No longer will officers face a ‘grilling’ from a ship’s captain, demonstrating what they have learned during their first concerted spell at sea.
Instead, they will be expected to draw upon all they’ve accumulated over three months on a front-line warship and explain how they might respond to an emergency, demonstrating leadership, knowledge and the ability to think on their feet.
The detailed assessment is the most significant change to the 12 weeks of Common Fleet Time, which introduces most junior officers to the day-to-day running, routine and life aboard an operational warship – from patrol vessels such as the River-class all the way up to flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Every year around 200 officers undergo the spell at sea – which follows officers’ commissioning after completing basic training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth – but the actual training package itself had not been reviewed for some time, falling behind the industry standard for equivalent training for junior managers.
The Royal Navy’s Training Management branch has spent the past two years working with training officers in the fleet and Britannia Royal Naval College to adapt the experience making it more relevant to the Fleet of the 2020s.
Leading the refresh is Lieutenant Alexandra Head, working for the Training Management Group.
“A review of Royal Navy workplace training has been due for some time,” she said.
“There is a real spirit of transformation in the Royal Navy right now, and I have relished the opportunities to apply new learning and development doctrine to our at-sea officer training.”
Lieutenant Head continued: “The new assessment is designed to give modern-day learners holistic feedback in line with current coaching and mentoring practices, allowing individuals to identify areas for self-improvement.
“People today expect modern training. Our sea training needs to reflect that. This is a different way of assessing Royal Navy officers, much more modern, much more in line with the commercial world and also much in keeping with the expectations of the candidates themselves.”
The first group of 80 newly-commissioned officers will go through the new look Common Fleet Time at the end of August.
As well as the new final assessment, the refreshed training involves a considerably shorter/smaller ‘learning journal’ – known in the Navy as a task book – for officers to complete on board.
The training will be much more modular with students gaining work experience in each department, rather than their chosen specialist branch such as logistics or warfare.
Trainees will be encouraged to shadow senior ratings especially to tap their extensive professional and naval knowledge, and provide vital feedback.
And the final assessment will no longer be carried out solely by the commanding officer; other members of the ship’s company will be encouraged to sit on the panel to build their command, leadership and management skills.
The final training package has also been designed so it is robust for the modern age, with templates for development journals and ship-specific assessments hosted on the Royal Navy learning portal, allowing them to be remotely accessed by those who deliver training while ships are deployed.
“This review of our sea-based core training allows our Young Officers to broaden their skills and continue their learning journeys onboard ships, and modern learning and development techniques ensure learners are engaged by their training,” said Colonel Ade Morley, Commandant of the Royal Navy Training Management Group.
“It is essential to a modern Navy that individuals can learn anywhere.”