A Royal Navy captain has had the thrill of sailing into his home town port for the first time.
HMS Example arrived in Berwick on a beautiful sunny day last Wednesday for an overnight stay berthed at the quayside.
At the helm was Lieutenant Duncan Napier, Commanding Officer of HMS Example since October.
“It was quite exciting bringing a boat into my home town for the first time,” said Duncan.
“There was a bit of a swell coming in and the Tweed is quite shallow in places but Berwick is a beautiful looking place to sail into.”
HMS Example came on a training excursion, giving students from the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) the opportunity to practise their navigation and leadership skills in a different environment.
“The majority of our RNR are used to training on the River Tyne in Newcastle where we’re based,” explained Duncan. “That is a great training environment but it’s our backyard and these training days give them time at the wheel and at sea doing different drills, and give us a chance to fly the White Ensign in a different port.”
The crew did anchoring drills off Amble and Bamburgh on their journeys to and from Berwick.
It gave Duncan a chance to view Bamburgh Castle from afar before he gets married to his fiancée Rebecca there later this year.
“It’s nice sailing past Bamburgh Castle,” admitted Duncan, who is getting married in November.
The fresh-faced 27-year-old has been in the Royal Navy since 2012 and was honoured to be selected to be a commanding officer last autumn.
“There are some younger commanding officers,” he said. “These roles are designed to give you early command experience of driving a ship and the challenges it can bring.
“It’s a stepping stone for your future career,” said Duncan, a hydrographics specialist in surveying and meteorology.
“My next move will probably be joining a hydrographics team and going out with forecasters or going down the navigational route.”
Duncan went to St Cuthbert’s RC First School, Berwick Middle School and Berwick High School.
His parents, Mark and Bridget, live in Wooler.
“I always wanted to join the Armed Forces and I would highly recommend it. There are so many opportunities and different roles, plus you get to travel the world so it’s a fantastic career.”
HMS Example is a P2000 Archer Class patrol boat based at HMS Calliope in Newcastle. She is affiliated with the Northumbrian Universities Royal Naval Unit (NURNU) which provides naval training to students at Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities.
There are five permanent crew members.
She is one of 14 patrol boats that make up the Royal Navy’s 1st Patrol Boat Squadron. She was given a complete refit in 2016 and her new engines can achieve a top speed of 22kts.
“She looks small but it’s a bit of a tardis once you get inside,” said Duncan.