Royal Navy Officer Initial Course

Sub Lieutenant Les Latham from Charter Academy is one of the new CCF(RN) Officers at Charter Academy. Les describes his experience on the Officer Initial Course at Britannia Royal Naval College. 

Adult Volunteer 5

1. What were you anticipating before you went on the course? Did you know what to expect?

Before I started CCF I thought that it was based on aggressive, antagonising and shouting based requests from military to young people enabling them to engage. I thought I knew what to expect because of the way the armed forces are perceived but I was totally wrong, it’s about building leadership, confidence and at the same time having an amazing experience

2. What was your first impression when you arrived?

However following my perceptions this was completely and definitely not the case. I felt included, the ability to feel like I was respected, understood and that I could do achieve anyting that I wanted to. I was put totally at ease and as soon as I was settled in this was the right decision.

3. Who else was on the course? Did you get to know them?

I have keen contact with everyone who was on my OIC course! We keep in touch via social media and email on our CCF experiences and outcomes. We also have developed a relationship whereby we exchange useful information on our approaches, which I find useful and constructive. due to us all staying in contact I have visited other schools and got some great ideas I can do with the cadets.

4. Describe a typical day of activity on the course. 

On a typical day, we would wake up at about 0530-0600 to shower and get ready, and then have breakfast at about 0700-0730. The food was really good - a full breakfast every day in fact, and I felt really looked after.

We would then all meet in the agreed location that was set the night before and get the plan of the day. After breakfast we would start by spending an hour a day on drill. The content on the first two days mainly focused on health and safety, how to use Westminster (the cadet information management system) and how best to teach the new syllabus to our cadets.

We took a day trip to Plymouth dockyard and visited an active warship; this was an amazing experience and the sailors working/living on the ship made us feel really comfortable. Finally, back on land, we did taster session on navigation, spending a whole day gaining experience sailing different boats, I enjoyed this the most! 

5. What was your favourite part of the course?

I would say my favourite part of the course was meeting the other adult volunteers and getting some great ideas from them on how to run our CCF.   

6. What about your least favourite?

I must say that genuinely there was not one bit that I did not like, I had a great, inspiring and rewarding  time.

7. What's the biggest lesson you've taken away with you?

I would say this course had given me so much more confidence, it has been a big change in my life, for the good. Combined with the training and lifestyle elements, it has opened up a new world to me. I have just been given a promotion at work and I truly believe that being in the CCF has been a big part of getting that promotion with the lessons they have taught me. 

8. What's the one piece of advice you would give to someone about to go on the course?

When people ask about the course I did and if it would be something they’d be interested in I often find they have the same preconceptions that I did. They think it will be a bunch of military men and women shouting at you! Having done the course, I would definitely say don’t worry about this at all – it’s definitely not the case, and this will be one of the most rewarding weeks of your life.