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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



30 June 2015

For the third year in a row, HMS HIBERNIA has hosted a regional training weekend in Ballykinler training base in Northern Ireland.   Designed and equipped as a multipurpose training camp, Ballykinler sits on the shores of the Irish Sea and in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains.    It is able to support a wide range of activities and boasts purpose built accommodation, messes and leisure facilities; the ideal setting for exercising core maritime skills (CMS) and general military training.   

This year’s programme again saw personnel from CALLIOPE, DALRAIDA, CERES, EAGLET, SCOTIA together with their hosts from HIBERNIA take full advantage of the opportunity to practice both CMS and specialist training.   The weekend allowed all personnel to expand their professional and personal knowledge, but also provided them with a chance to socialise with their colleagues from across the northern Units of the Maritime Reserve.  For many of the more junior personnel who attended it also aided their progress through to Phase 2.   

The primary training aim was to conduct a number of stances and exercises to achieve competence in elements of the CMS and develop the teamwork and ethos that underpins the Royal Navy.  These stances included survival skills, patrolling and enhancing familiarity with the SA80, with this training being provided by colleagues from the Royal Marine Reserves.  In addition, medical training and casualty handling, including dealing with battlefield injuries and trauma, were exercised to provide personnel with confidence in their ability to assist in a medical emergency.   The on-site DCCT weapons trainer was also used to good effect. 

The most popular training serial of the weekend was the Maritime Force Protection Exercise.  This is based on a scenario in which the Royal Navy are required to provide a secure base in a foreign, potentially hostile environment from which to evacuate British citizens; a situation that has proven very real in the past.  An escalating crisis unfolded which allowed personnel to understand and enhance further the patrolling skills taught, as well as providing Command and Control challenges throughout the leadership chain.  The permanent staff of HIBERNIA equipped with balaclavas, blank ammunition, smoke grenades and ably assisted by volunteers from the Royal (Auxiliary) Air Force provided a very real scenario and challenging problems for all.  

The variety of training undertaken and the opportunity to exercise a number of the CMS again proved the suitability of Ballykinler as a centre for MR regional training.   The added opportunities for exercising teamwork, and Command and Control in a ‘real’ environment, together with the less tangible elements such as improving general awareness of other Units and building relationships, served to make the weekend extremely successful.  Feedback from all who attended was very positive and HIBERNIA will look to repeat the exercise in 2016.