Sailors and officers have passed out side-by-side for the first time in the history of the Royal Navy after completing training at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), Dartmouth.
The unique ceremony took place on the parade ground of BRNC, home of the officer cadre for the past 115 years, as 34 ratings and 130 officers completed their training.
First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin, the UK’s most senior sailor, welcomed the ratings, who formed a guard of honour, and officers into the Royal Navy.
Usually, it is only officers who train at Britannia Royal Navy College and, traditionally, the Navy’s nine-week training course takes place at HMS Raleigh, Cornwall.
However, after a spike in interest in joining the Navy, an additional course was provided at Dartmouth.
Engineering Technician Sarah-Jayne Stoppel, one of the ratings to complete training, said some parts of the course were "really challenging, particularly the Initial Military Fitness".
"Physical exercise in civvy street really doesn’t prepare you for two hours of military exercise, but I can feel that my fitness has massively improved," she said.
“It’s been exciting to be part of something significant by training here at Britannia."
Admiral Radakin was accompanied by Roger Readwin, Captain of Britannia Royal Naval College. He said: "In the Royal Navy, we're really proud that 25% of our officer corps have come through the ranks.
"So today, with sailors and officers standing alongside each other shoulder to shoulder at the end, is really an important step to reaffirming the journey that they're going to have as they join their ships, submarines, aircraft - they'll be serving alongside each other.
"Today we're just seeing the reflection of what is happening here at Dartmouth, but out there in the fleet.”
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Navy continued most of its training throughout the lockdown period, including at HMS Raleigh where ratings usually complete initial training.
Fellow Engineering Technician, Lucas Cann, another rating to complete his training, lost both his grandfathers whilst on the course.
"When I found out my grandads had died I just wanted to leave, but everyone got around me and I’m still here," the 18-year-old said.
"The staff and the management team of recruits were great. The Navy is really good at handling this type of thing.
"I have made friends for life. I don’t have words to describe how good it feels to complete this course. There was no pressure from the Royal Navy, but as a group we got together and decided that we had to make an impression being the first to train here."
Four nursing officers of the Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Unit, 11 new officers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service and 28 international cadets from 13 overseas nations also completed their training.
Cover image: Royal Navy.