Royal Navy officers help train next generation of US Navy leaders
Two Royal Navy sailors have helped train the US Navy’s leaders of tomorrow by taking a squadron of patrol boats to New York.
As Britain’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth anchors off Lower Manhattan for a high-profile defence/political/strategic conference reaffirming UK-US bonds, two Royal Navy officers have recently left New York on a training mission with the US Navy’s leaders of tomorrow.
Andy Storey and Mark Heward – a retired and serving lieutenant commander respectively – provide crucial instruction ashore and at sea to Americans passing through the US Naval Academy – the Stateside equivalent of Britannia Royal Naval College.
The academy, located in Annapolis, about 30 miles outside the capital Washington DC, maintains a squadron of Yard Patrol Craft – sort of mini Offshore Patrol Vessels: 118 feet long, accommodating up to 40 personnel and ideal for teaching seamanship, navigation, engineering, damage control, basic warfare drills, and all aspects of naval leadership.
From Annapolis, the craft range up and down the US east coast, travelling as far as Boston or, in this summer’s case, New York.
The exercise is led by the academy’s Seamanship and Navigation Department, which is focused exclusively on military training and professional development.
Under a US Navy captain, the 28-strong team – including numerous exchange officers from allied navies including Brazil, France Israel, Italy, and Japan, plus the RN.
Lt Cdr Heward is the latest in a number of Brits assigned to Annapolis for more than 50 years (there is a US Navy lieutenant at Dartmouth in return as a divisional officer).
‘During the academic semester, midshipmen have limited opportunity to get out and see front-line warships underway,” said Mark, a specialist navigator and principal warfare officer, who’s also commanded patrol boat HMS Dasher and minehunters Haworth and Cattistock.
“So this exercise presents a fantastic chance for them to learn and build experience, putting into practice what they learned in the classroom.”
His fellow Brit Andy is a retired Royal Navy sailor/submariner whose varied career saw him navigate a hunter-killer submarine to the North Pole, enjoy a three-year exchange at the US Naval Academy, help bring icebreaker/Antarctic survey ship HMS Protector into service, and a stint aboard frigate HMS Sutherland before retiring in 2017.
He now works for a large tech company in Washington DC, but still teaches at the Naval Academy in his spare time as an adjunct professor, providing support and experience which delivers huge value to the academy.
Andy acted as the Officer in Tactical Command and was responsible for developing many of the training objectives and serials delivered underway. This was his 15th time at sea in command of the YP Squadron dating back over the past ten years.
“It takes a lot of effort to get our people and ships ready for summer training, but it really is incredibly rewarding and such a wonderful privilege to command again at sea as a retired officer.
“Our US colleagues really do value the RN expertise and in terms of impact, Mark has had a very successful assignment here in Annapolis.
“Restarting the at-sea-training programme after the operational pause caused by Covid has been a significant challenge, that we’ve achieved such success is largely due to Mark’s outstanding contribution and leadership during a very turbulent period.”