During the final week of the Easter Term, 11 cadets from year 12 in the CCF Royal Navy Section were given an incredible opportunity to travel to HMS RALEIGH to do some Leadership and Teamwork training in the Damage Repair Instructional Unit (DRIU). The DRIU is a full-scale mock up of part of a ship with compartments (rooms), ladders, hatches, bunks and pretty much everything you would find in a warship. The aim of it is to teach RN personnel how to stop water coming in after an incident at sea and then make more permanent repairs.

The whole construction is on a hydraulic platform, so it can be rocked about just like a ship in a rough sea, they even have a seasick bucket which they named the bucket of shame! Water is pumped into the compartments at high pressure through holes and cracks and the aim is to stop the water coming in before the compartment fills up and “the ship sinks”.

We were given clear instructions on what we had to do to stop the water coming in and how to make more permanent repairs. It all seemed very daunting especially when we were told that it would be in very low light, the ship would be rocking and that the water would be cold! A chilling 8 degrees to be precise. (Thankfully we were all given dry suits to wear). Big eyes all round but no-one quailed. Before we started they promised us that we would all finish it with great big smiles on our face and although many of us seemed doubtful and apprehensive at first, they couldn’t have been more accurate as we left the unit with very cheesy grins.

In the event despite near darkness and 4-5 feet of water sloshing about as the DRIU pitched and rolled we managed to stop most of the water coming in and made the repairs as we had been instructed even with the difficulty of floating to the ceiling every time the water washed our way. Never having done anything like this before it was quite frightening, and we surprised ourselves as achieving this required a huge team effort; although there were a couple of individual heroes, notably Edward “Wedge Basher” Topp and Harriet “Back it in” Bawden!

Team TS stopped the ship sinking within 16 minutes and the instructors were impressed so we all came away from this brilliant teamwork experience feeling proud and a little tired!

Francesca Hill
Year 12