The captain, britannia royal naval college

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Congratulations on being selected to join Britannia Royal Naval College and to be given a life changing opportunity to develop yourself in this world class training environment – well done!
You are soon to be an officer in the oldest fighting organization in the world and it is in Dartmouth where we will help you develop the skills and leadership that will equip you for the inevitable challenges of a turbulent world and life in the Senior Service. We will expect much of you during your training here and your life here will be busy, challenging but also very rewarding and the training staff will leave no stone unturned to advise, guide and assist you throughout your initial training at BRNC. All I ask of you now is that you come ready with the right attitude, spirit and willingness to give it your all - mediocrity is not a recognised attribute in the Royal Navy.
Look carefully through this guide and do not leave your preparations to the last minute, particularly in your personal fitness level, which must be good enough to allow you to cope with our training and not to hold your fellow Cadets back.
Finally, remember that BRNC is as much about your mental approach as it is anything else. Arrive at the College with enthusiasm, determination and a willingness to work as a team and we will work with you to allow you to be the best you can be.
I look forward to seeing you in Dartmouth.

J P Kyd

Captain Royal Navy

Captain Britannia Royal Naval College

Initial Naval Training for Officers Pre Joining Guide
Foreword by The Captain, Britannia Royal Naval College
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Aim 1 - 1

Introduction to the College 1 - 1

BRNC History 1 - 2
Chapter 2 - Preparation and arrival
Appearance on arrival 2 - 1

Documentation 2 - 1

Completion of forms 2 - 2

Medical Information 2 - 3

Kit list 2 - 4

Pre-joining fitness 2 - 4

Naval general knowledge 2 - 6
Kit List Annex A

Dress Regulations Annex B

Proposed reading list (with abstracts) Annex C
Chapter 3 - Training at BRNC
First few days at the College 3 - 1

Phased training 3 - 1

Warnings and remedial training 3 - 2

Specific Learning Difficulties 3 - 2

Sport 3 - 3

Leave and travel 3 - 3

Typical Week Annex A
Chapter 4 - The College
Facilities 4 - 1

Alcohol, drugs and smoking 4 - 1

Visitors 4 - 1

Correspondence 4 - 2

Church and chaplaincy 4 - 2

Pay and cash 4 - 2

Complaints 4 - 2

Bullying and harassment 4 - 2

Chapter 5 - English Assignment
Chapter 6 - Glossary
Chapter 7 - Contact details

Chapter 1 - Introduction

  1. Firstly, congratulations on making the excellent decision, and having been selected, to join the World’s finest Navy. If you are already a serving member, then congratulations on your achievements thus far.

  1. The aim of this Handbook is to act as a guide of what to expect during your time at BRNC. It will obviously not be able to cover everything you need during your training, but it should provide sufficient information to prepare you for joining and your first few days here at the College.

Introduction to the College

  1. Naval Officers' training in Dartmouth goes back to 1863, when the wooden hulled HMS BRITANNIA was first moored in the River Dart. With safe waters for navigation and open access to the sea, the Ship was perfectly located. The job has always been the same and is now encapsulated, as you might expect, in a mission statement:

'To deliver courageous leaders with the spirit to fight and win'.

  1. Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) presents an imposing image sitting on top of the hill overlooking the town of Dartmouth and it has a history to be proud of. BRNC is the centre for the initial training and education of all officers of the Royal Navy, as well as many from overseas.

  1. The College has changed markedly over the century since first opening its doors. What has not changed is the ethos. It is here to change young civilians into fit, professional and compassionate leaders, proud of themselves, the uniform they wear, and the tradition they represent. They will leave the College to become the next generation of Royal Naval officers.

  1. The Captain has overall command of the College and is supported by 3 Commanders who oversee all aspects of the College. As well as including a number of Royal Naval officers and ratings, the staff at the College also includes Army and Royal Air Force exchange officers, foreign navy liaison officers, civil servants, civilian lecturers and academics, Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and Royal Marines officers.

  1. Officer Cadets (OCs) at the College are divided into 3 Squadrons, CUNNINGHAM, ST. VINCENT and BLAKE (famous Naval Admirals), and rivalry between them is strong from the outset. Within the Squadrons, OCs are placed in Divisions, named after Ships and Submarines in the Royal Navy such as AMBUSH or DEFENDER. Each Division is overseen by a Divisional Officer (DO) who is responsible for the welfare and overall progression of the OC through BRNC.

Initial Naval Training (Officers).

  1. Initial Naval Training for Officers consists of 30 weeks training, including 9 at sea on one of Her Majesty’s warships. Christmas Leave (2 weeks), Easter Leave (2 weeks) or Summer Leave (3 weeks) is taken as appropriate depending on entry start date. Cadets are addressed as Officer Cadet, or by their surname, preceded by Mr, Miss or Mrs as appropriate. The generic term for all officers under training, until their first complement assignment, is Young Officer (YO).

  1. The first 10 week phase is known as ‘Militarisation’ and as the name suggests term is spent learning the military aspects of navy life, including leadership training and then assessment in the demanding environment of Dartmoor, physical development and academic studies. The second phase is termed ‘Marinisation’ and during these 10 weeks there is a focus on developing sea sense and other professional skills and again culminates in a leadership exercise this time on the River Dart. The final phase confirms OCs’ training at sea in what is known as Initial Fleet Training, which concludes with a formal Fleet Board assessment. At the end of it all, OCs will pass out of BRNC and in to the Fleet.

  1. Initial Naval Training (Medics/Dentists/QARNNs). Initial Naval Training for Medical, Dental and QARNN (MDQ) Officers consists of 15 weeks training beginning in September and ending in December of each year. Cadets are addressed as Officer Cadet, or by their surname, by Mr, Miss or Mrs as appropriate. The first 10 week phase is ‘Militarisation’ and MDQs are embedded fully into other New Entry divisions and conduct the full ‘Militarisation’ phase. On completion the MDQs form their own division for the remaining 5 weeks of an “MDQ” Phase to conduct bespoke training prior to passing out.

  1. At any time there may be a number of different groups studying at BRNC, including: RFA Officers, Royal Navy Reserves Course, University Royal Navy Unit weekends, Divisional Officers’ course, Junior Officers’ Leadership Course and Military Analysis courses for Royal Marine Officers under training. At any one time, there can be over 400 Young Officers training within the College.

  1. Today, Dartmouth, with its academic staff, has joined with Plymouth University in presenting Young Officers with opportunities to lay firm intellectual foundations for University Degrees if they have not acquired them before entering the RN.

BRNC History

  1. The present buildings date from 1905, when the training ships BRITANNIA and HINDOSTAN, which had been moored in the River Dart for the previous 4 decades, were condemned and the decision taken to train cadets in a purpose built college ashore. The architect was Sir Aston Webb, one of the more distinguished of his day, whose subsequent commissions included Admiralty Arch and the East Front of Buckingham Palace. The land was compulsorily purchased, the foundation stone was laid by King Edward VII in March 1902 and the first cadets entered the College 3 years later. The addition of further workshops and laboratories soon provided a very successful technical education, one of whose products, Lord Blackett, later won a Nobel Prize for Physics.

  1. The other impetus to expansion came from accelerating Anglo-German naval rivalry. By 1914 the College, with additional accommodation, classrooms and its own dedicated preparatory school at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, was considerably larger than originally conceived. With the outbreak of hostilities the cadets were mobilised and sent to the Reserve Fleet where many were killed aged 15 or so, in the early days of the war.

  1. When war broke out again in 1939 the cadets remained in the College, with increased numbers following the arrival of the Special Entry Scheme – one of whom, Prince Philip of Greece, received the prize for the best cadet and met his future bride, Princess Elizabeth. The bombing of the College in September 1942 forced a change in training policy and both staff and students were evacuated to Eaton Hall, Cheshire, until the end of the war. The Dartmouth site subsequently became a centre for Combined Operations and later a US Navy HQ in the run up to ‘D’ Day since Dartmouth had become a major advanced amphibious base for American troops and ships preparing for the Normandy landings.

  1. The Royal Naval College re-opened in September 1946 and although structurally it remained unchanged, the number and character of its courses was greatly expanded. In 1955 the age of entry was raised to 18 and 5 years later the very successful Murray Scheme was introduced. This lasted into the early seventies, by which time the number of graduate entrants had significantly increased. HRH the Prince of Wales was a graduate Sub Lieutenant in the autumn term entry of 1971.

  1. The range of courses continued to expand. Two important new groups of officers came with the arrival of the Special Duties Officers Pre-qualifying Course, ST GEORGE, in 1974 and the WRNS Officers’ Training Course, TALBOT in 1976. The training of female Naval Officers was integrated into that of their male counterparts in 1990 and the Greenwich arm of the Special Duties Officers’ course moved to Dartmouth in 1996. Today all Officers joining the Royal Navy pass through the College.

Chapter 2 – Preparation and arrival
Appearance on arrival

  1. There is a rule of thumb that states 90% of a person’s opinion of someone is made up within the first 60 seconds of meeting. Your appearance, manner and conduct makes a very large statement about you as an individual and whilst a poor initial impression will not be held against you, it would be preferable to start off on the right footing from the outset.

  1. When arriving in Totnes, the nearest train station to Dartmouth, Cadets are immediately associated with the College and it is therefore imperative that your appearance is of the appropriate standard. Cadets should arrive as detailed below:





    Suit / blazer with tailored trousers, shirt, tie and smart shoes.

    Suit / tailored trousers or skirt with a jacket and shirt. Outfit must have a collar on either the jacket or the shirt.


    This should be of natural colour, sit above the shirt collar and be short (although not razored all over).

    This should be of natural colour. Short hair is to sit above the collar. If hair is long, be aware that in uniform long hair must be worn up and off the back of the neck.

    Facial Hair

    Clean shaven or with a full beard. Moustaches alone are not acceptable. If Cadets do not arrive at BRNC with a full beard permission to grow a beard must be sought from their Divisional Officer.


    No form of body piercing is allowed. Only engagement, wedding or plain signet rings may be worn when in uniform.

    You will be required to remove all jewellery during Physical Training.

    In uniform Female Officers are allowed to wear one pair of single stud earrings, normal or clip-on earrings when out of uniform (one earring in each ear). Engagement, wedding or plain signet rings may be worn when in uniform. No other form of body piercing is permitted.

    You will be required to remove all jewellery during Physical Training.

    Regulations for dress are outlined at Annex B to chapter 2 .


  1. You are to bring the following documents with you:

Immunisation Card or record from GP* - if applicable.

National Insurance Card* – if previously employed.

Income Tax Form P45* – if previously employed.

Bank account details* – bank name, address, sort code and account number.

Marriage Certificate* – if applicable.

Current Passport** – valid for at least 1 year.

National Health Service Card.*

Blood donor card – if applicable.

Outdoor pursuits qualifications – RYA etc.

Directed letter and career regulations from the AIB.

SUY / UY to post to BRNC prior to arrival.

detailing joining date, rank and commission (SUY Appointer’s letter or other written confirmation held).

Fitness Brochure – issued by AIB and completed.

‘Autobiographical Highlights – A Reflective Account’ – see Chapter 5.

SUYs / UYs to post to BRNC prior to arrival.

* Not applicable for SUY / UY.

** If you are a UK National and do not have a passport and were born outside the UK please bring your Father’s birth certificate.

  1. If a Cadet is a Foreign or Commonwealth Citizen and does not hold a British Passport they must contact the UK Immigration Authorities at Croydon to arrange for their passport to be stamped to allow them free and multiple access to the UK, following overseas duty travel, in their second term at BRNC. The section at Croydon is: DMC (Armed Forces Exemptions), IND, Block C, Whitegift Centre, CROYDON CR9 1 AT. A personal visit to Croydon may be necessary.

  1. Those already in the Service should additionally bring:

Medical Docs.

ID Card.


Completion of forms

  1. There are guidance notes for the completion of the Unit Personnel Office forms within this joining pack. The following may be required:

    1. Rank: All Cadets (except MDQ, SUY and Chaplain) hold the rank of Midshipman (as per AIB letter). Officer Cadet is a rank used in the College and the term Young Officer is a generic term for any individual yet to complete their Fleet Board. Medics will hold the rank of Surgeon Lieutenant, Dentists will hold the rank of Surgeon Lieutenant(D)

    1. Seniority Date: As per AIB Letter. Medics and Dentists: this will be the date of Full GMC/GDC registration.

    1. Unit: BRNC.

    1. Type of entry:

NGE: Non-Graduate Entry

DGE: Direct Graduate Entry

RFA: Royal Fleet Auxilliary

SUY: Senior Upper Yardsman

SIC: Short Introductory Course (for MDQ)


    1. Sponsorship: Bursar or Cadetship for those from BLAKE Squadron/DTUS.

    1. Commission: This can be found on your AIB letter and will usually be IC (Initial Commission), possibly CC (Career Commission) or SC (Short Commission for MDQs).

    1. Service Number: Officer Cadets will receive their Service Numbers when they arrive at the College so leave blank. SUYs and those with other previous military Service are required to annotate their existing Service Numbers. Those entering INT(MED) from a Medical or Dental Cadetship via BLAKE Squadron need to enter their current Service Number and the Last Unit will be BRNC.

    1. Accounting Base: Not required.

    1. Originating Unit Code: Not required.

Medical Information

  1. In your first few weeks at the college you will be subject to medical scrutiny and you will receive a number of vaccinations. It is ESSENTIAL that you bring your NHS number and immunisation card, or a copy of your immunisation record, from your GP. It is also requested that if you are a blood donor that you bring your blood donor card.

    1. Immunisation Records. BRNC must ensure that you are vaccinated against all relevant diseases but also needs to ensure that you are not vaccinated unnecessarily. You can obtain an up to date vaccination record from your GP and this can be forwarded to us in the enclosed envelope. You are unlikely to be charged by your GP for this request but if you have any problems getting this information, please call the BRNC Medical Centre on 01803 677069 and you will be sent an authority form to sign and return in order that the Unit Personnel Office may request the information on your behalf. Please note: Only a printout or letter from your GP on their headed paper can be accepted. Handwritten, unsigned lists are not acceptable.

    1. Blood Donors. If you are a blood donor and have a Donor Card, please bring it with you when you arrive. Do not send it in the post.

    1. NHS Numbers. Your NHS number can also be obtained from your GP. Specifically this needs to be the new style NHS number which, if you are resident in England, will be 10 numbers only. Patients in Scotland and Ireland will have different number configurations.

    1. Well Woman. Ladies are requested to bring a copy of result letter from their most recent cervical screening, if applicable.

  1. If you suffer from any significant illness or injury between the time of your initial entry medical and your arrival at Dartmouth, or if you have any screws or plates as a result of treatment for broken bones, you must inform the AIB (02392 542112) prior to joining BRNC. If you have not fully recovered when you arrive at the College you should report to the Medical Centre as soon as possible after arrival. The training is such that you will be unable to disguise illness or injuries for long.

  1. Arriving at BRNC in good medical condition will optimise your chances of success during the course of your training. In particular:

    1. Ears. If, prior to arrival at BRNC, you are employed in a noisy environment, such as working with loud machinery, you must ensure that you wear ear protection. This is to prevent the development of permanent noise-induced hearing loss which, if severe enough, may prevent entry to the Royal Navy.

    1. Medical Treatment. Medical arrangements are under the supervision of the Principal Medical Officer, Britannia Royal Naval College. Any questions of a medical nature should be referred to the Medical Centre (01803 677069) directly.

    1. Private Medicines. If you are taking regular medication you should arrive with an adequate supply as the College may not hold your particular requirement. With adequate notice, however, the sickbay will be able to obtain any medication they require.

    1. Dental Treatment. Cadets should ensure that they are dentally fit before joining. The College does not have a full time Dentist so any necessary work should be completed prior to arrival at BRNC.

    1. Foot care. Blisters occur when the skin rubs against another surface causing friction, then a tear occurs in the skin surface between the dermis and epidermis allowing fluid to collect. As blisters form more easily on moist skin than on dry skin, warm sweat encourages them. Prevention is easy:

      1. Boots and shoes. Make sure they fit. You should have 1cm in front of your toes and 0.5cm to the side to allow for movement and swelling. If footwear feels too deep and your foot rises and falls or your lace flaps overlap, then insoles will likely be required.

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