Whitgift CCF had a trip down to Portsmouth, in March, to visit the Royal Navy’s new flagship and largest ever aircraft carrier. Whitgift CCF are now affiliated with HMS Queen Elizabeth, having previously been affiliated with the RN Flagship predecessors, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean.
Students from Whitgift and our CCF partner schools (St Andrew’s and Thomas More) were given a guided tour of the Navy base. This was followed by a briefing, during which the cadets saw HMS Queen Elizabeth in all her glory, alongside a couple of Type 45 destroyers including HMS Dragon, as well as a number of smaller patrol boats including HMS Exploit (just 20m long) – a useful illustration of the full range of the Royal Navy’s operating capacity.
The cadets then headed up the gangplank to board the ship – an exciting moment for them as they stood to attention and saluted, before heading off to shadow a number of officers for the day. Their tour of the ship saw them take in the hangar, flight control station and missile bay. Some of the cadets had the opportunity to get kitted out in a full firefighting suit, including the oxygen tank.
Ed Wilkes (Upper Third Whitgift student) enthused, “Visiting the bridge from where the warship is commanded and steered was amazing - the steering wheel of the ship was smaller than the average car!”
In the mission control centre, students learned about the various roles whilst wearing anti-flash gear (fire-resistant hood and gloves), a challengingly hot task even for just those few minutes, let alone the six hours shifts required of the Royal Navy members during war time. They also spoke with engineers and ate their lunch in the ship’s mess, before a final Q&A opportunity with the Commanders.
Lieutenant Colonel Keith Smith, Commanding Officer of Whitgift CCF, commented, “It was a great day and the boys were superb ambassadors for the School. We look forward to one day having the opportunity to go to sea on HMS Queen Elizabeth.”