A former semi-professional footballer from Carrickfergus has completed his transformation from a civilian into a Royal Navy sailor.
Trainee communication and information systems specialist Simon Steele arrived at HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s training base in Cornwall, last January. During a 10-week course he has been given a thorough induction into the Royal Navy, learning skills that he will rely upon throughout his time in the service.
The course culminates with the passing-out-parade attended by families and friends.
Simon previously worked for the Civil Service and kept goal for Carrick Rangers, Bangor and Islandmagee. He hopes to continue playing football and be selected for the Navy team.
Simon was awarded the role of class leader at the beginning of training and his duties included taking charge of his fellow trainees in the absence of their instructor.
He said: “I joined the Royal Navy to serve my country and travel the world doing so. The exercise on Dartmoor has to be the stand-out of my time in training; the team work we put in and the motivation we gave each other to overcome the physical challenges in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
“Just when you think you will never be able to reach the incredibly high standards required, the training kicks in and you beast it.”
With the first phase of his training complete Simon will transfer to HMS Collingwood. There he will learn how to operate highly sensitive radio and satellite systems to become a central member of the ship’s warfare department. Simon’s role at sea will be to send and receive vital messages from the shore and other ships, including orders, routine supply requests and other essential day to day communications.
The training he experienced has recently been the subject of a Channel 4 documentary series. The seven-part series, entitled Royal Navy School, took a candid look at what it takes to become a 21st century sailor and followed every step of the training, from gruelling fitness sessions, weapon handling and exercises out on the water to the recruits’ free-time in the mess-decks.
More details are available on the Channel 4 website - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/royal-navy-school
Details of career opportunities within the Royal Navy are available online at www.royalnavy.mod.uk or by calling the recruitment line on 03456 00 53 02.