A group of 19 cadets from Reigate Grammar School Combined Cadet Force (CCF) visited HMS Sultan in Portsmouth recently to learn all about sea survival techniques used within the Royal Navy. During the visit to the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School (RNAESS), the students, aged from 14 to 17, got to climb aboard a 25-man life raft, test their skills on putting on survival suits, and learn about helicopter safety and evacuation procedures, including how to use equipment including parachutes and life jackets.

The activities at HMS Sultan were part of a wider field trip to the Portsmouth area which also involved learning leadership skills on the low ropes course within the Royal Navy Leadership Academy (RNLA), HMS Collingwood, and a visit to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. The cadets were also lucky enough to be put up overnight onboard the training ship HMS Bristol at HMS Excellent.

Commander (CCF) Andrew Powell RNR said: “The activities that the students have taken on have been tremendous. “The visits to both Collingwood and Sultan have both been really active, with the students being encouraged to interact with the equipment, which is much better than, of course, what happens to the students when they are at school.”

Among the cadets were 15-year-olds Charles Lee and Maddie Withers. Maddie said: “It’s been a really good team-building experience, where we have all got to know each other much better.” She said: “I have really enjoyed learning about how people get prepared to go out and do their jobs. “Everyone has made us feel very welcome and the enthusiasm of the staff has been very encouraging.”

Charles said: “I think it’s very important to understand what the people that defend our country do, how important survival is and how the equipment used all fits into the operation. “We have seen some really good examples of teamwork and leadership that we can follow in the future.”

He said: “The visit has been particularly interesting for me as both my father and uncle were in the Royal Air Force. “With my uncle a Sea King Helicopter pilot, he would have been very familiar with a lot of the equipment and techniques used here.”