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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



18 December 2014

The Royal Navy Reserve in Northern Ireland is reflecting not only on a busy and successful year past but preparing for a new one ahead. After moving into newly refurbished and extended headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, HMS HIBERNIA was able to step up training as well as support to operations worldwide in the past 12 months. Already, the tasks and commitments for 2015 are starting to fill up.

One of the first ventures will be a major exercise at Ballykinler with a scenario that will test skills in evacuation of civilians from a crisis area, protection of infrastructure and diplomatic and media engagement. In a similar exercise in Ballykinler earlier this year, staff from HMS HIBERNIA teamed up with colleagues from other Royal Naval Reserve bases across Scotland and the north of England. For many, the training proved invaluable with deployments to the Arabian Gulf as well as similar training in Cyprus and in the rest of the UK.  The Lisburn based unit also made its mark on one of the Royal Navy highlights with one of the attached officers taking part in the historic annual Royal Navy Field Gun competition in Portsmouth as part of the Maritime Reserve team.  The competition involves running, dismantling, rebuilding and firing a Boer War Naval Field Gun and carriage at speed - this sets a formidable challenge and is fiercely competitive. 

For the Maritime Reserve it was another year in which they competed strongly, gaining much respect from their regular service counterparts.The beginning of June saw a significant milestone for the Royal Naval Reserve in Northern Ireland, with a dinner marking the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Ulster Division Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on HMS CAROLINE.   Welcome news was also received of a large grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund for the restoration of this grand old lady in Belfast, the only survivor from the Battle of Jutland.

Since moving to Thievpal Barracks in Lisburn, HMS HIBERNIA has strengthened its links with the town.  This was recognised in June with Lisburn City Council holding a formal reception officially welcoming HMS HIBERNIA to the city.  The reception was followed by a concert given by the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment culminating in a Royal Navy ceremonial sunset.  
June also involved the Unit supporting Armed Forces Day with HMS HIBERNIA joining with the Army and RAF in supporting the events in Newtownards and in Carrickfergus.

The ship’s company of HIBERNIA were well spread during October and November. National leadership training in Crowborough, support to the NATO exercise Joint Warrior in Scotland, exercising in Cyprus and deployment in the Arabian Gulf took place alongside attendance at training courses and other military events.  The training year culminated in an additional class of recruits completing their basic training at HMS RALEIGH in Cornwall and returning to HMS HIBERNIA as fully fledged sailors.

2015 looks to be another busy year, starting with a repeat of last year’s Ballykinler exercise, and a parade as Freemen of the Borough of Newtownabbey in late March, just before the new council areas come into effect.  Also on the horizon is the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli parade in Whitehall, London.  The Unit’s attendance will be especially poignant as HMS HIBERNIA is the only existing Royal Navy establishment or ship with battle honours from this WW1 operation.  The high tempo of operational role training is unlikely to change and recruiting remains a top priority for the command.   These demands will combine to offer another challenging twelve months; but HMS HIBERNIA, as ever, stands ready.