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Ron

Served on HMS Archer when it was stationed alongside HMS Helmsdale in Dundee with the RNR, it was my very first boat. We did navigation exercises and combined work with the RAF and SAS. Good little boats although a bit cramped. They can be equipped with a 20mm which might make them useful for inshore anti smuggling and fishery protection work. I do think however that the crews should be not only from the university’s but also for people going through technical apprenticeships and for the RNR.
But I will always have a fond memory of these boats especially as it was due to them that I was giving a chance to show what I could do and get offered my commission.

Chris

I’m hoping to join the army version of the URNU (The UOTC) when I start university next month and I am really looking forward to it.

Jess

Join the URNU if there is one, with only 51 in a unit it’s a more personal experience with more opportunities than the OTC

Mike

Could they be used for Sea Cadet training as well. A good source of recruitment. I’d also think about yachties, many of the RNVR skippers of MTB/MGB’s where sailors before the war.

Aidan Rodmell

I am an URNU student, they are used for Sea Cadet’s, Sea Scouts, anything that helps the RN fly the flag.

Grubbie

How much money are we actually talking about?Did I understand correctly that they get paid for this?The huge allowances will be more of a factor.
Old and young boys network and nice easy empire for older officers. Although the whole thing stinks, maybe there is some value. Perhaps it it should be widened to provide training opportunities for all sorts of likley recruits and trainees for the RN and merchant marine, as already suggested ,rather than the rather snobbish arrangement described in the article .Perhaps it could be combined with the coastguard or OPV force to provide wider experience and some useful patrolling work(I’m not against a bit of recreation as well)
“Only a small percentage will join the RN” suggests that we are wasting a lot of money. Massive rethink at the very least.

Ian Willis

Yes, what’s the social profile of the cadets? These units seem to be tied to elite Russell Group Universities which serve a narrow social group. The RN needs to diversify it’s talent pool, especially with retention issues in recent years. ‘captians of industry’ [sic] want to join daddy’s hedge fund not the navy.

Aidan Rodmell

The boats are already used for a diverse range of takings, including RNR and BRNC.

I don’t know about the old boys network, but having the URNU on my C.V was critical to me working in parliament over my placement year.

The URNU is far more successful than its RAF and Army peers, the unit I am at sends roughly 30% of the intake to BRNC.

Jess

In my experience about 1/3 of the unit will put in an application to the RN or RNR upon leaving. The vessels are also used for giving sea time to sea cadet units, RNR and other military burser. And in reply to your snobbish comment, yes the URNU’s are centred around Russel group unis but take equally from ex-pollitexniques and new universities in the area. There is a number of students who are part of the URNU due to family ties in the military but that is not the experience of everyone. As a non-white, student from inland rural England it has given me and many like me the insight into the Navy that I don’t think I could have got anywhere els.

Grubbie

So,it seems that they are already doing a lot of what has been suggested.This is great, but I am still highly suspicious, vague statements about how it enhances the reputation of RN and people commenting how much they enjoyed it are not convincing me that this is value for money.

Jess

I am obviously not in the know about the budget but this article really does highlight the other benefits of the URNU and P2000. But just to add, speaking to the members of ships company (people in the RN) most of them see their roll on ship as a good career progression opportunity to gain more responsibility regardless of rank as they work in such as small team. Many of them also get promoted on leaving their P2000 poasting. It can also be a chace for people to be based from home as in areas such as the north east of England it is really the only poasting you can get that can place you near family.
I can only really speak for me, who I guess it would be presumed value for money for (as I have put in my application for the RN as a ME after not considering it as an option before). But even for the people who try the URNU and decide the RN is not for them, I feel it’s helpful in the long run. MOD scemes such as DTUS ( who recruite people as young as 14 into a 6th form and then a Uni scheme where you get payed but are contracted into a number of years in your chosen survive) face high drop out or medical discharge rates making them sound better on paper but in the long term less effective and more expensive. Different things work for differ people and many young people aren’t ready to commit so young. The people from the URNU who go on to join the RN, RNR or RFA usually know what they are getting themselves infore after being well informed by people in the service and keen, which leads to less of this problem in training. This is obviously not a study but just personal experience.

Jumbo

Grubbie by name by nature. Don’t hold others to account by your standards.

Pacman27

Great article that details something that is often forgotten in the rush to reduce costs.

Public services are not just about cost – they are about social stability and culture and from what I can see our culture is moving in the wrong direction.

I would expand this offering but make it a joint officer command whereby officer cadets must do a rotation through all services across a 4 year period – Army, Navy, Airforce and Intelligence/Cyber in any given order.

I also think that some form of public service should be part of a university education and perhaps this should be paid work (or pay towards fees).

Anyway – really informative article, thanks

Grubbie

The enhances reputation and spreading goodwill argument is ridiculess,why not provide paid cruise trips for the general population if that’s your aim?
Similar to the big ship is a deterrent line of reasoning.It dosnt matter to the enermy how big it is,in fact he might be grateful that you didn’t spend the money on a greater number of small ships.

Jumbo

Mr Grubbie,
Because you don’t understand an argument or don’t wish too doesn’t make it ridiculous…mearly you….
Acquire some facts.

Grubbie

Go on then, provide some solid facts.

Jumbo

You have never been envolved in a University Unit.
Be quiet now. Oh of course you won’t empty vessels make the most noise.

Grubbie

Very few people have.No facts or evidence then?Its clear that taxpayers money has been wasted on your education. Perhaps you are drunk?

Jumbo

Fact you haven’t.
You asked you haven’t. Have you?
Nore have you served. Facts. Unless you wish to dispute in public. And I’ll remind you it now a criminal offence to say you have if you haven’t.

Grubbie

You are mad and drunk Hardly anyone has been in the URNU.

Grubbie

Your spelling is better than mine

Jumbo

Well we mainly did Latin. QED.

Iqbal Ahmed

Should we really be supporting militarisation of our universities?

University students are training to use their critical facualtues and not learning to put on military solutions to what are political problems.

We’re the UK not Junker controlled Prussia.

Chris

Simply no. So much was wrong with that statement I’m not even going to start.

Dern

Oh what a surprise Iqbal doesn’t like a RN program … I’M SHOCKED.

Steve

Hahahaha……I cant believe you typed that Iqbal. Shows you have no understanding whatsoever of the article!

Michael

Blah Blah Blah .You and Grubbie ought to move in together.

Dern

Is honestly anyone surprised?

Ian Willis

‘sea blindness’

Wanting to live within our means isn’t ‘blindness’ just prudent financial management.

Dan

Over 90% of the goods traided with the UK are brought by sea, sorry ‘sea blindness’ is a thing!

Stephen

We are an island, we need to re-focus on the maritime in future and get more British people into jobs in the merchant navy, Royal Navy, coast guard, etc.

James

Southampton URNU/BLAZER 99-02, best thing I did at uni, and still have great friends from there now. Importantly, prepared me for my RN career (XSM), enabling me to concentrate at BRNC on areas I needed to dev, basics covered before. #madeintheroyalnavy #ButPreparedInTheURNU

William Flannery

Southampton URNU/ WOODLARK then FENCER 1983 – 1986. The best time ever. Defence Medical Service 1990 – 2000 based KING ALFRED.

Grubbie

So?

A Pickthorne

I personally think what a waste, at times when the T45 programme was halved, and due to budget restraints the New batch of Type 31e and 36 Frigates will also be drastically reduced we should be concentrating on our main line forces. We didn’t need jolly boats like these as a recruitment tool. In the 70’s when I joined up we didn’t have these and didn’t even have any national advertising campaigns on the telly, it was seeing a recruiting Chief at a careers day at school and being part on the sea cadets thats what sold it to me.

Si P

Well! We best revert to the 70’s all over again shall we?? Just because it wasn’t like that in the good old days. We should scrap the URNU? It will have little or no effect on the FF/DD situation. Get a grip uncle Albert.

J burden

We did have these in the 70’s

Andrew ex rfa

EX London Unit, and ex RFA. Being in unit was enough to let me know the Royal Navy not for me, but RFA was- which in itself wasn’t a bad thing to find out at 22, rather than going to BRNC and maybe being an abysmal Navy officer. Generally UNRU a good thing and should expanded , with their remit going beyond simply officer recruitment, to promote a wider service in Navy (& RFA). Social life great, and not just posh kids yachting

Also, a good counter measure to the generally anti military prejudices in schools and university which seems to have got worse since my day

Bryan

Devon URNU?

Grubbie

Lord West is again spouting nonsense about the navy he built being inadequate to protect the UK. However I suspect that he has a point about fragmentation. Why can’t young navy officers command border agency cutters and university students train on river class patrol boats?They have plenty of spare room for this sort of thing and the extra money from scrapping the URNU could be spent on more time at sea including the occasional cruise.
At a wild guess In the absence of any numbers provided above ,URNU must be costing about £150000 per recruit.

Mike Critchley

Agreed. I had a staff member desperate to join the RN after Uni. Went to UNI and the URNU but then discovered sea sickness and “diversity issues” so rushed ashore…never to sign up. Bunks are often available on “proper” RN ships in UK waters where UNI cadets would see what the RN was really all about. Young Lieutenants could gain great appropriate experience in Border Force cutters and Sea Cadet vessels…or even foreign navy vessel – till we build more??

Alex

Given the current situation with the French fishermen and with Brexit fast approaching would it not make sense to utilise these boats in a fisheries/ border protection role to supplement the woefully small OPV fleet we have just now. Stick a section of Royal Marines on board and you have a pretty effective deterrent. Seems a waste of good boats and sailors if they are only being used for about 30 days a year.

Grubbie

I think that these boats would get smashed up by steel trawlers, but they would be good for anti smuggling. Perhaps they are already used this way, there is not enough information provided in the article. It looks like a wasteful little empire.

Grubbie

I think that the border agency is having a load of similar sized boats built.

David Graham

No, Border Force are not building OPVs or boats similar to P2000s. However, starting in 2016, they have so far acquired 8 18.8m fast rescue boats for UK coastal patrols. These are basically very large RIBs with a proper bridge and superstructure. Built by Delta Power, they have 2 Cat diesels [1,000hp] driving 2 Hamilton water jets giving a speed of circa 35 knots. Such boats are ideal for the purpose.

One problem with the P2000s in any scenario where boarding is required is that they cannot carry a RIB, and have no means of launching or recovering one in any case. Believe me when I say the last thing you want to do is board from your patrol boat. it’s quite correct to state that a P2000 would come off a certain second best in a close quarters situation with an aggressively handled fishing vessel.

My own experience: Sundry Cod Wars, Island Class OPVs, South Atlantic 5 years. West and Southern Africa 14 years and Yemen 4 years.

Alex

David, I agree that they are not the ideal, bespoke vessel for aggressive boarding of large fishing vessels but they could be the eyes we need which is sadly lacking at ‘present’. Instant real time communications make any aggressor move recorded and can thereafter be tracked by a number of assets. The P2000’s could be used to fill a gaping hole in our coastline defence against smugglers (both people and illegal substances) more as a deterrent than anything else. If they come under threat from aggressors then they are entitled to respond in the same way that an armed London cop is allowed to do if there is a life threatening incident. We as an Island Nation need to get our act together.

Jumbo

Grubbie… we know you can’t think.

Grubbie

No facts, no evidence,no evidence of any thought process.Based on the comments alone there are 51 takers, 2/3 have nothing more to do with the RN, the other 1/3 would probably join anyway. The boats are also unsuited for any other role.My assumption was that you were drunk on a Saturday night, now I must assume that you are just a mouthy public school idiot.

Jumbo

Well as you have never served you’re a remarkably balanced individual with a chip on both shoulders.

Grubbie

As you imply that you are you are in the navy, you should be able to bring some enlightenment to the debate but you chose not to. The horrific thought has crossed my mind that you could be a serving officer.

Grubbie

Go on then, enlightenment us about the position with which some fool has chosen to trust you with the nations defence.

Steve

Oh, shut up Grubbie…..give it a break!

Stephen

We definitely need to permanently keep the 3 batch 1 river class o.p.v.s and even 8 is the absolute bare minimum for a country with the length of our coastline, especially when you consider not all are always available and some are on patrol thousands of miles away (e.g. the Falklands). If anything we need more of them.

Grubbie

If we did away with the URNU it would free up crew and money to actually operate the ships we already have.
You want more OPVs,don’t worry the type 31e will be along shortly.

Si P

15 URNU boats and 5 full time RN personnel per boat! Hardly an amount that will solve the manning problem of 19 FF/DD will it.

Grubbie

Enough crew and probably enough dosh to operate 2 rivers.

Anthony D

I can’t see this as a very cost effective way of supporting recruitment. A good argument can be made for all sorts of capabilities but it is only by putting them in context can we see their relative value. Cuts have to be made across all nice to do functions so that must do functions can be better funded. If we listed capabilities in order of priority then I suspect this would be close to the bottom.

Crabfat

I agree with many comments below. With minimal assets, each Service needs to evolve rapidly, building on, but not locked into, tradition and history. Limited military resources has to be very much linked to ‘sweating the assets’ and making maximum operational benefit/value from dwindling manpower and assets through multi-tasking and multi-role leverage of resources. The P2000s need to be used for URNU and Sea cadet experience and positive recruiting to fill dwindling RN billets across all branches and trades: additionally, they need to support RNR training and keeping competencies up. As national, taxpayer funded assets, craft and crews should support Border Patrol and inshore national security tasks, including anti-people and commodity smuggling, fishing area policing, small harbour policing, littoral small vessel inspections and boarding, etc – armed and using UAVs if necessary to extend range of influence and effect. Joint patrols and tasks with Border Force, Maritime Police and Coastguard personnel and vessels/aircraft should be the norm alongside RN tasks. MOD/RN needs to squeeze every £ value out of these assets and resources by using them far more effectively and smarter for national coastline, border and national territorial water security, defence resilience and emergency responses. The same is the case for University Air Sqn and University Officer Training Corps units, but their remit should now extend beyond just targeting potential future officers: recruiting potential NCOs is also needed for all 3 Services. These units should be supported or supplemented by medically downgraded Service personnel who might not be fit for full duties, but could release added value with reduced fitness in a training/recruiting and skills continuity function, and support getting service personnel back to full duties. Every Armed Forces resource needs to provide maximum value for money and provide service personnel with fulfilling jobs and tasks to aid retention. These assets could also be used to bring in revenue by providing maritime seamanship and bridge leadership training and skills for the Border Force, Maritime Police, Coastguard, Merchant Navy, commercial shipping companies. If the P2000s do need to be replaced in the near future, why couldn’t the new SEA class fleet be used as the basis, and the current 18m workboat hull (or a new extra 20/25m hull) be used to generate a littoral armed fast training/inshore patrol boat module if the current ones planned are not suitable? If SEA class can do 25 knots in Sea State 4 (P2000 is 20.5 m, 54 tonnes and Batch 2 does 24 knots) why not rapidly evolve the new SEA workboat fleet with another variant to gain the benefits of commonality and modularity, the current shipyard work, and generate potential exports also? Perhaps standardise small RN vessel fleet by replacing the Scimitar Class with similar/same? Just a ‘light blue’ view hoping to support the ‘dark blue’ Senior Service to negotiate current troubled waters.
https://www.navylookout.com/in-focus-the-versatile-new-workboats-being-built-for-the-royal-navy/

Dave

You live on an island, keep and maintain in a Bristol manner as many sea craft as possible.

Mark

A few of these turned up in Cobh to visit the Irish Navy earlier in the year, must have been interesting sailing for such small boats, first time I’d seen them. Given the relative small costs even with the RN budget I don’t think they are a waste but I certainly wouldn’t think they could handle any Fishery Patrol actions

William Flatley

I’m only 12 but I know laser sailing
What’s the age of joining the URNU
I would love to sail the flag.
Though how much dose it cost