After a year since the Ship’s Company moved on board HMS Montrose post her extensive £35 million refit, the ship has just completed Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST), proving that she is now capable of undertaking tasking anywhere in the world.
The men and woman of the ship worked hard to prepare for the 6 weeks of intensive training off the Devon and Cornish coast, which required them to practice the full range of skills and drills from flying to gunnery to disaster relief, as well as ensuring that equipment was in top condition months before coming under Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) control.
Whilst everyone onboard has received an extensive training package before joining, the BOST programme takes the collection of people that make up the Ship’s Company and helps to mould them into an effective war fighting team.
Whatever experience you come to BOST with, there is always room for improvement and the mentoring role of the FOST staff assists both individuals and the team as a whole to identify were improvements can be made to improve the ship’s output.
Every department was tested during the initial harbour week to ensure that the basics were in place, to make sure that the ship was safe to train.
The FOSTies (FOST trainers) went through the ship with a fine tooth comb looking at every aspect, whether this be food hygiene in the Logistics department or that the engineers were safely conducting the Lock Out and Tag Out regime in order to conduct maintenance.
Once the ship proved that it could do these baseline tasks, BOST quickly ramped up to the intermediate phase conducting Replenishment at Sea, launching and recovering the Wildcat helicopter, conducting close coastal navigation, getting the ship to and sustaining Action Stations, conducting Damage Control exercises and most importantly proving that the many individuals onboard could work as a team.
The final weeks of BOST culminated in the ship conducting advanced serials such as Naval Gunfire Support (NGS). This required the careful co-ordination between 148 (Commando) Battery Royal Artillery who directed the gunfire onto simulated targets, the ship’s weapon engineers who provide the 4.5 inch gun, the warfare teams who fire the gun, the marine engineers who provide the plant to keep the ship on the gun line, the logistics department who account for the ammunition as well as providing sustenance to the men and woman onboard and the ship’s helicopter which hosted the spotter, observing the fall of shot and radioing the corrections back to the warfare team in the ship’s Operation Room.
Throughout the BOST, normal life went on, with members of the Ship’s Company leaving the ship to go on courses or to join other units as well as periods of paternity leave for a few new fathers. The versatility of the platform is that there is enough breadth of knowledge and expertise to overcome short term absence to allow the programme to continue.
Leading Writer 'Scouse' Mullin said, "BOST is alright these days - it’s not a shouting match where people scream and shout if you’re not doing something that you’re supposed to. As the Incident Board Operator in the Ship’s Control Centre at State 1, I co-ordinate and record all the fires and floods, if they happen, throughout the ship.
"I’d done the job before, but other board operators around the ship hadn’t and the FOSTies 'arm around the shoulder' approach of coaching from the basics upwards was really effective”.
Having passed BOST, the Ship’s Company enjoyed a well-deserved weekend of rest before sailing for Exercise Joint Warrior, off the Scottish coast, for two weeks.
This will be followed by a period of maintenance before the ship sails to the Baltic Sea in the summer to conduct further exercises with our regional partners and allies.