D’ye Hear There? Team Manager speaking
This week has been yet another important milestone in the development of HMS OARDACIOUS. We’ve held our first full meeting together as a team, face to face, at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth, with the backdrops of HMS Victory and the Royal Navy Submarine Museum as a great reminder of the depths of history that go before us. It was brilliant to get everyone together, to hold video interviews with the team, capture some dramatic drone footage around HMS Victory and really begin to bond as a team, taking those steps from a group of individuals joined together by a WhatsApp group and email chains to becoming a real team.
The interviews that were conducted helped galvanise our thoughts about how we are approaching this challenge. Our own personal preparations physically for the challenge are going to require dedication, gym time, a disciplined diet and as much familiarisation with our boat that we can achieve before we fly to La Gomera to commence the Atlantic crossing. Not only that, but the team all shared the same ideology that we take to sea as submariners, in that we don’t feel “safe” until we have qualified for our Dolphins, and even then, you never stop learning about your boat, the way it works, the way the systems interact and the way to operate things when systems fail, or conditions at sea cause you a problem. In the same way, the team all feel that they want to make sure they know what to do, should an emergency occur, to do the first thing, correctly, so that we can identify the problem, fix it, and get back on with our crossing of the Atlantic.
We were privileged to have the use of Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory, where we held interviews, and reflected on the enormity of our challenge, in comparison to the perils that were faced by the Ship’s Company of that great vessel. We are embarking on an adventure into the unknown, with unknown perils ahead of us, and those similar thoughts must have been in the minds of every sailor on board that ship as they entered into battle. We don’t face a fierce enemy, but the Atlantic Ocean can be just as unforgiving and hostile, and we need to be ready to face down that danger, and ensure the boat and the team pulls together and conquers that peril.
Later, we proceeded over the Solent to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport, where we went on board HMS Alliance, a submarine with a World War II vintage and a history steeped in the early part of the Cold War. Once again, the conditions, uncertainty and dangers faced by those submariners that have gone before us echoed through the steel hull of that great submarine. In my role as team manager, where I see myself having the duty of galvanising this team of professionals into a honed team, a working machine made of flesh and bone, those backdrops were an extremely powerful tool to help me illustrate the need for those Submariner traits or Absolute Professionalism, Unity and Responsibility. In this team, there’s already those traits, and that has been proven at sea on operations and is proven by the fact that we all wear a pair of Dolphins. What is different for us though is that we are not often so physically challenged in our environment and for us to keep going in times of adversity will require a mental strength and resilience that’s not often tapped into by Submariners. I see that as one of the areas where we will seek to develop our strength to make sure that we’ve got every capability with us in the boat to keep on rowing through the most challenging conditions.
Our team media day has already been hugely successful, and our media partner, Andrew Parish of AJP Media has captured some fantastic video and photographs, which will really help us to promote our campaign message which we hope will turn into more support for us, and therefore more fundraising for the RNRMC. Beyond that, getting the team together, to have a chance to talk, face to face and set out our plans for the year ahead has set us off in the right direction to get us to that starting line next December.
So far, it’s been a successful month for HMS OARDACIOUS!