Air Cadets from Nuneaton and Bedworth hung up their wings for a week when they boarded the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Bristol.
The youngsters from 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron of the Air Training Corps joined a group of 120 cadets and staff from other units within the Warwickshire area for a weeks camp designed to give them an insight into life in the Senior Service.
The cadets were accommodated onboard the Royal Navel Cadet Force's Accommodation and Training ship HMS Bristol which is permanently moored at the HMS Excellent navel base on Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour.
HMS Bristol which saw action in the Falklands war is the only Type 82 destroyer to have been built. She is some 6,000 tons displacement and 155 metres in length. Following her decommissioning from active service in 1994 she now acts as an accommodation and training ship for the Royal Navy and other Service recognised youth groups such as the Air Cadets. Although she is classified as non-seagoing, she is still a commissioned Royal Naval ship and is commanded by an active service Lieutenant Commander (equivalent in rank to RAF Squadron Leader) with a ships company of 37 serving RN personnel.
Apart from learning various Naval routines and sleeping on board the warship, the cadets visited; ‘Action Stations' in the Portsmouth Dockyard, where they had the opportunity to have a go in numerous naval themed simulators including helicopters and submarines. They also visited HMS Victory (The historic flagship of the Royal Navy), the Victory Experience (a new multi million pound recreation of the ship and its battles), the Royal Marine Museum, the Submarine Museum (where they spent almost an hour inside a WW2 Submarine), the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton, Fort Nelson a Napoleonic Fort on the hills above Portsmouth that was built to repel the French who never actually arrived and the highlight of the week for some cadets was a visit to the Tank Museum at Bovington, where several cadets got a close quarters opportunity to view a fire and movement display of armoured vehicles.
The Camp Commandant Squadron Leader Bryan Coats, said, “This was an excellent weeks camp with a multitude of interesting and valuable experiences for our cadets to enjoy and I am sure many will have fond memories to remember. Once again our cadets were praised by many of the places we visited for their behaviour and turnout, but the highest compliment was from the permanent crew on board HMS Bristol, who remarked that it was a pleasure to have our Air Cadets on board.
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