Air Branch reservists enjoy HMS Sultan's hospitality
The Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch Ratings’ Annual Training Serial (RATS) was held in HMS Sultan, the Royal Navy’s primary training establishment for Marine and Air Engineers and home to the RN Survival School.
Because of the unique way the RNR Air Branch operates within Fleet Air Arm squadrons and sections the Reserves in the Air Branch meet only once a year, the three day training serial providing the opportunity to get everyone updated on operations and change across the RN and to achieve important mandatory briefs.
Widely welcomed by the Air Branch ratings, this year’s return to HMS Sultan in Gosport saw them once again enjoy the warm hospitality of the Warrant Officers’ Senior Rates’ and SNCO’s Mess and the facilities in the engineering training base.
“It’s a great chance to meet up with new joiners to the Air Branch”, said Chief Petty Officer Geoff Kendall, newly appointed Executive Senior Rate of the Air Branch and running the event for the first time. “Many of us work outside the defence industry, away from the Fleet Air Arm we all served in previously. Getting together once a year as a team allows everyone to see who’s who and discuss the current issues”.
This year’s event continued a familiar pattern with Unit visits in Portsmouth and an exclusive opportunity for some to take a tour around the British Airways Engineering facility at Heathrow airport. Getting to grips with a more nautical theme members also took to the High Seas for a sailing expedition to the Isle of Wight, which although be-calmed by slack winds proved a popular change for many.
Back in the lecture theatre for mandatory briefs and talks allowed the captive audience of Air Branch ratings to find out how the Royal Navy is coping with changes and the latest issues effecting working practices. More importantly an update from Colonel Jeff Moulton RMR from Maritime Reserves HQ on the Defence Reform Act and other changes afoot for Reserves.
The Guest of Honour at the RATS mess dinner this year was Commodore Matt Briers, Assistant Chief of Staff Carrier Strike and Aviation and Commodore of the Fleet Air Arm. During his speech he praised and thanked the Branch for its operational work and how practices in the branch are being rolled out across the Naval Reserve. He also took the chance to present medals and retirement Certificates of Service and to chat with Reserves throughout the evening. A nominated charity for this year’s event also benefitted from the generosity of the fines system at the meal – “Blind Veterans UK” will be presented with a cheque for £352.33.
CPO Geoff Kendall added, “The effort to put on an event like this doesn’t come from just one person. I’ve had a lot of help from HMS Sultan and the office staff at Yeovilton and Culdrose. A big thank you has to go to Warrant Officer 1 Dave Pottle, BWO of HMS Sultan for allowing us special use of his Mess”.