The captain, britannia royal naval college

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Stephanie Jones & Jonathon Gosling: Nelson’s Way - Leadership Lessons from the Great Commander.

This book offers a one-of-a-kind look at Nelson and his leadership skills. Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson has been widely admired as a celebrated and effective leader. This intriguing study of his life offers advice and examples that remain useful and relevant two centuries after his death. Through this book, his dynamic approach to leadership and management has now been translated into a timeless, practical and contemporary insight for today's generation of leaders in the Royal Navy. ISBN: 1857883713.

Margot Morrell & Stephanie Capparell: Shackleton’s Way – Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer.

This compelling volume accomplishes the unlikely feat of being both a useful alternative commentary on leadership and a suspense filled page turner. In 1914, Shackleton led 27 men through a fight for their lives after they became stranded on an ice flow. Every man survived, ascribing it to Shackleton's superb leadership. This book draws on anecdotes and interviews to illustrate Shackleton's tactics. ISBN: 1857883187.

Admiral Sandy Woodward:  One Hundred Days, The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander.

This is a gripping account containing memoirs and personal reflections of Adm Woodward during the hours up to the Argentine surrender at Port Stanley. His reflections include the repulsing of the Argentinean navy and the defeat of their air forces, the sinking of the Belgrano and of the landing at Carlos Water. He provides a portrayal of modern naval warfare, where equipment is of astonishing sophistication but the margins for human courage and error are as wide as in the days of Nelson. This book is still the best account of modern naval command. ISBN: 1557506523

Anthony Hichens: Gunboat Command.

This biography draws heavily on the personal diaries of the subject, Robert Hichens (or 'Hitch' as he was universally known). After a brief description of his early life, time at Oxford, his motor racing achievements (including trophies at Le Mans in his Aston Martin) and naval training, the book focuses on his exceptional wartime experiences. Hitch was the most highly decorated RNVR officer of the war with 2 DSOs, 3 DSCs and 3 Mentions in Despatches. He was recommended for a posthumous VC. We read of his early days in vulnerable minesweepers and the Dunkirk 'DYNAMO' Operation (his first DSC). In late 1940 he joined Coastal Forces serving in the very fast MGBs, soon earning his own command and shortly after command of his Flotilla. He was the first to capture an E-Boat. His successful leadership led to many more successes and his reputation as a fearless and dynamic leader remains a legend today. The book contains detailed and graphic accounts of running battles against the more heavily armed E-boats. Tragically he was killed in action in April 1943, having refused promotion and a job ashore. ISBN: 1844156566.

Lt Cdr James Newton RN DFC:  Armed Action, My War in the Skies with 847 NAS.

A gripping account of the Iraq war of 2003, this book is a first hand account from a serving naval pilot. It honestly documents the ferocious intensity of modern air combat and the mental and physical strains involved. Thrilling, fast-paced and an adrenaline-fuelled journey through an aviator’s life, "Armed Action" is a fascinating insight into life in the air and a very accessible account of modern contemporary operations by a serving officer.  ISBN: 0755316037

Edward Young: One of our Submarines.

A crisply-told account of a British naval officer's training and campaigns in submarines, mostly in the Arctic and Pacific. Some fine descriptions of submarine technology, life on board, action against surface ships, evading detection, and of the strategies and tactics. This is the author’s account of his experiences in the Submarine Branch of the Royal Navy during the Second World War and on HM Submarine STORM. ISBN: 1844151069.

Lt Cdr Tristan Lovering RN (Ed): Amphibious Assault

A collection of 37 papers by leading academics and military authors on the development of amphibious operations from World War One through World War Two to more recent campaigns in Korea, Suez, Kuwait (1961), Vietnam, Falklands and Iraq. It is large format but contains excellent and well illustrated summaries of amphibious operations from Gallipoli to TELIC.  ISBN: 0955024358.

Douglas Jerrold: The Royal Naval Division.

We are always hearing that gunners, sappers, or some other branch of our forces are "a peculiar people". This phrase applies with even more force to the Royal Naval Division, which struggled, actively and passively, with the military authorities for its naval traditions. It is fitting that a Division which had more celebrated writers, both of poetry and prose, in its ranks than probably any other should also have had a historian who is an accomplished writer. Antwerp, Gallipoli, France: the author records the doings of the Division in each theatre. ISBN: 1843422611.

Chapter 3 - Training at BRNC
First few days at the College

  1. The first few days at BRNC are exciting but understandably may also be nerve-racking. You will be met at Totnes Railway Station by Senior Cadets where you will be assigned to the College Squadron that you will be joining. From there it is a 30 minute bus ride to the College. This provides the first opportunity for you to get to know those with whom you will be spending the next 6 months or more with.

  1. On arrival you will be mustered on the parade ground and marched to the accommodation. Although you may have never marched before, it will soon become second nature. Large quantities of issued kit will await you in your new accommodation; trying on and naming this kit will take up the majority of your spare time in the first 2 days in preparation for Rounds (inspections), which typically start towards the end of your first week.

  1. The remainder of the first few days are spent in welcoming talks and briefings and you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself, although you will only have one minute in which to do so therefore it may be worth considering what you would like to tell people about yourself.

  1. Your initial couple of weeks will be your induction into the College; learning how to wear uniform, march, undertake physical development and testing and introductory lectures to the Royal Navy. You will have very little spare time and that time will be taken up with preparing your kit; sleep will become a limited commodity!

  1. The first days will probably be a culture shock for you; most find it that way but do not worry, you will soon find your feet and the support of the staff and those who have been at BRNC for a while is always readily available. There is a structured hierarchy of assistance and support and everyone in it has been through what you will be going through before you.


  1. Militarisation (10 weeks). Consists mainly of an induction period where you will learn to wear uniform, prepare your kit, march and improve your understanding of the Royal Navy. You will undertake leadership training, including several days spent under canvas in the College grounds on Basic Leadership Development Exercise (Ex BLD) before your first leadership assessment on the Assessed Basic Leadership Exercise (Ex ABLE) held on Dartmoor.

  1. Marinisation (10 weeks). During this second section of your training you will develop your sea sense with more time in the challenging maritime environment of the River Dart and start to learn other professional skills, including the Maritime Tactical Estimate process and strategy. The leadership skills learnt in the first term will not be wasted though as you will learn to apply them in a maritime environment. The Marinisation Phase culminates in the Maritime Leadership Exercise (Ex MARL).

  1. Initial Fleet Time (10 weeks). The final segment of training is Initial Fleet Time, which takes place on one of Her Majesty’s Ships. This provides an opportunity to consolidate what has been learnt so far and knowledge will be thoroughly tested by a Fleet Board at the end of the phase. The final week’s training is for the Passing Out Parade; a very proud moment.

  1. Medics, Dentists and QARNNS. Following Militarisation phase you will then conduct the 5 week “MDQ” Phase. You will undergo a shortened version of Marinisation with studies in Maritime Tactical Estimate, Maritime Operations and Strategy. You will also complete the Junior Officer Leadership Course at HMS COLLINGWOOD, Basic Sea Survival Course at HMS EXCELLENT, First Aid Level 2 Course at HMS RALEIGH and the Phase culminates with the Passing Out week.

  1. A Typical Week. There is no such a thing as a typical week within your Initial Naval Training; it will be varied and hopefully interesting. One week you could be within the College undertaking various lectures and presentations, the next you could be on a Basic Sea Safety Course (BSSC) on Whale Island, Portsmouth, and another week could be at sea or on Exercise under canvas on Dartmoor. However, a sample of what a week could be at the College is at Annex A to this Chapter.

Warnings and Remedial Training.

  1. BRNC is required by Navy Command to train all Officer Cadets to a standard that adequately prepares them for the jobs they will undertake on leaving the College. To ensure you meet a high standard, your training is monitored and assessed continuously. Exams provide a goal to be reached and enable the College to identify any shortcomings in the training provided. Similarly assessment of your leadership ability enables shortcomings to be identified if applicable. Most importantly, for those who do not meet the required standard, a remedial training package can be created, applicable to you as an individual.

  1. Failure of any exams or assessments results in a formal warning being given. The severity of the warning is dependent upon the type or quantity of exams failed and the effect this failure has on the rest of your training. For example Officer Cadets cannot take part in the Basic Sea Survival Course (BSSC) until they have passed their swimming test.

  1. The warnings ascend in order of severity:

Divisional Officer’s Warning.

Senior Squadron Officer’s Warning.

Commander Training’s Warning.

  1. Whilst the above indicates the order in severity of warnings it should be noted that they may not always be given in this order. This is the case for Leadership Exercises for which failure of either will lead to an immediate Commander Training’s Warning. Repeated failures will lead to an increase in warning status. An accumulation of warnings may ultimately lead to Compulsory Withdrawal from Training (COMPWFT).

Specific Learning Difficulties

  1. BRNC has a good record in supporting individuals with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD). Trainees are not obliged to declare their SpLD and may have developed coping strategies that enable them to be trained without support. However, BRNC can offer anyone with difficulties, or who believes that they may have difficulties, the support they may require. This includes:

    1. Diagnostic assessments by qualified personnel.

    2. Funding for Educational Psychologist’s Reports.

    3. Additional extra time in knowledge based exams.

    4. Provision of SpLD tutors.

    5. Assistance with funding for recommended IT software.

  1. Cadets’ initial points of contact at BRNC are the Divisional Officers, or alternatively, BRNC’s Learning Centre staff.


  1. Sport plays a part in your training at BRNC; it builds teamwork, leadership and physical conditioning, participation is expected.

  1. In addition there are annual games against Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Royal Air Force College Cranwell. Fixtures also occur between Divisions and Squadrons giving you an opportunity to play a range of sports.

Leave and Travel

  1. Your Initial Naval Training is a busy time and as such there will be little opportunity for any leave during term time although you will be granted leave between your training terms. You should prepare yourself for the separation from your family and friends. Leave may alter due to Navy Command requirements and Ships’ programmes, for example when you are required to join your IFT Ship. Weekend Leave (from the end of the working day Friday until 0730 Monday morning) will be granted for one weekend during Militarisation at a time to be announced.

  1. Travel Warrants. Under current regulations, Officer Cadets are entitled to a maximum of 2 Travel Warrants at public expense during Phase One Training. Warrants are to be used to and from your place of duty to your home address. The aim is to enable junior members of the Services in the UK to maintain links with their close family / friends while they adjust to Service life.

  1. Driving Licence. Should you be required to drive a vehicle during your time at the college, both parts of your driving license will need to be shown before authority can be granted.




Uniform lecture


What is an officer? seminar

Military Law

College Sport

Drug / alcohol education lecture

Physical Training

(Pre Ex ABLE training)

Strategic studies

Motor Whaler consolidation


Uniform Fitting

Ranks and Rates of the RN

Strategic studies



RN First Aid

Strategic studies


Ship Tech

Physical Training


How to motivate a team

Law of Armed Conflict

Navigation and chart work

Navigation and chart work


Intro to the library

Types of leadership

Rule of the road


Leave and travel brief

College Historical tour

Physical Training




Strategic studies

Sickbay for injections

Etiquette training

5 Minute presentations

Strategic studies

Motor Whaler consolidation



Physical Training

Rule of the road

The Fleet Air Arm brief




Strategic studies

Motor Whaler (single screw) training

Navigation and chart work

Strategic studies


Low Ropes Course


Rule of the road





Divisional Officer’s Period

Rule of the road

Litter Skirmish



Squadron Senior Officer’s Period





Physical training

Physical training








Chapter 4 - The College


  1. Convenience Shop. There is a well-stocked convenience shop within the College, which is open 7 days a week. In addition to a range of drinks, snacks, newspapers and toiletries the shop stocks ironing boards, coat hangers and suit covers along with a number of other items which may be required during training. The ATM is situated here.

  1. College Shop. The BRNC Shop stocks items which may be required, ranging from souvenirs, gifts and cufflinks to sportswear, jumpers, document holders and bags.

  1. Library. BRNC has a dynamic academic-standard library service with computer study area, seminar spaces, individual study areas and a newly created Heritage suite.

  1. Learning Centre. Offering a full range of education and life-long learning services, the Learning Centre has 22 internet PCs that may be used for research, life-balance and social networking with printers and scanning facilities. There are refreshment vending machines and continuous news updates on TVs. There is a full support service throughout the working week.

  1. Gymnasium. In addition to the gymnasium, sports facilities include a CV suite, spinning cycles, weights room, swimming pool, tennis courts, bouldering wall, 2 large playing fields, Astroturf pitch, squash courts and numerous running circuits.

  1. Pavilion. The Pavilion and Pavilion Bar will be available as a recreation space where Officer Cadets can relax once a satisfactory point when undertaking rounds has been reached.

  1. Facilities. Facilities available include a Military Tailors, Seamstress, Barber and Laundry.

Alcohol, drugs and smoking

  1. After passing rounds, you will be allowed to drink in moderation in The Pavilion, and after night leave is granted, in Dartmouth and the surrounding areas. Alcohol is not to be brought into the College, nor held in accommodation at BRNC.

  1. The Royal Navy’s policy on drugs is strictly enforced and accompanied by a random, but regular, testing programme. The use or possession of drugs or encouragement to use is forbidden (except when medically prescribed). Failure to observe these rules will result in the withdrawal from training. The severity of punishment reflects the stringent requirements of life in a military environment. THIS IS AN ISSUE OVER WHICH THERE IS NO COMPROMISE.

  1. You are allowed to smoke in designated areas, not including the accommodation, subject to certain regulations.

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