The Royal Navy is to ditch a 200-year-old tradition in which the Captain of the ship gives a “grilling” to new officers, replacing it with a “holistic” feedback session in a major shake-up.
Following a sailor’s first spell at sea, they would normally be quizzed by the ship’s captain once ashore, where they would demonstrate what they had learnt over the three months of the Common Fleet Time.
Known as the Fleet Board, the assessment marked the culmination of an officer’s official training.
The tradition, described by the Royal Navy’s Training Management Group in its review as a “grilling”, will now be replaced with the officer expected to explain how they might respond to an emergency, demonstrating leadership, knowledge and the ability to think on their feet.
The first group of 80 newly commissioned officers will go through the overhauled Common Fleet Time and final assessment at the end of August.
As well as the new final assessment, the refreshed training will involve a considerably shorter “learning journal’’, also known as a task book, for officers to complete onboard.
The training will be more modular and students will work in each department, rather than their chosen specialist branch such as logistics or warfare.
Trainees will also be encouraged to shadow senior ratings, while the final assessment will no longer be carried out solely by the commanding officer, with other members of the ship’s company encouraged to sit on the panel to build their command, leadership and management skills.
The Navy said the overhaul would introduce some of the “biggest changes in decades’’ and will be “mirroring the way industries assess high-flying candidates’’.
Meanwhile, in order to be “robust for the modern age”, the final training package has been designed with templates for development journals and ship-specific assessments hosted on the Navy’s learning portal, allowing them to be remotely accessed by those who deliver training while ships are deployed.
The Navy said they made the changes in order to adapt the experience “making it more relevant” to the fleet, which introduces most junior officers to the day-to-day running, routine and life aboard an operational warship.
It also said that the training package had not been reviewed for sometime and was “falling behind the industry standard for equivalent training for junior managers”.
Lieutenant Alexandra Head, who has led on the changes, said: “The new assessment is designed to give modern-day learners holistic feedback in line with current coaching and mentoring practices, allowing individuals to identify areas for self-improvement.”
Lieutenant Head added that “people today expect modern training”.
“Our sea training needs to reflect that,” she said. “This is a different way of assessing Royal Navy officers, much more modern, much more in line with the commercial world and also much in keeping with the expectations of the candidates themselves.”
Colonel Ade Morley, Commandant of the Royal Navy Training Management Group, said:
“This review of our sea-based core training allows our young officers to broaden their skills and continue their learning journeys onboard ships, and modern learning and development techniques ensure learners are engaged by their training.
“It is essential to a modern Navy that individuals can learn anywhere.”