HC Deb 03 June 1954 vol 528 cc115-6W
Brigadier Rayner

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can now state the result of his review of the early training of naval officers.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

The early training of officers is to be entirely reorganised in the light of the decision that in future all cadets will enter the Royal Navy at about 18. Under the present system cadets leave Dartmouth between 18 and 19, and their subsequent professional instruction until they join the Fleet as sub-lieutenants some 3½ to 4 years later is given first in a training ship, then in ships of the Fleet as midshipmen and finally in a sequence of courses at different shore establishments as acting sub-lieutenants.

It is intended that cadets of the new entry, who join the Navy from May, 1955, onwards, should receive an all-through course of training centred at Dartmouth partly on shore and partly afloat in a small squadron of Her Majesty's ships. The whole of their early training, lasting about two years, will thus be conducted by a single authority located at Dartmouth, and the full capacity of the Britannia Royal Naval College will be used for this purpose.

At the outset of the new scheme, candidates will, as now, be entered as Executive, Engineer or Supply and Secretariat cadets and the Dartmouth curriculum will provide training for officers of all three branches, although, during the later stages of the course, some may spend a short period away from Dartmouth for specialist instruction. Cadets for the Electrical Branch will participate in the preliminary stage of the Dartmouth training and then, as at present, undertake a university course and works training. The question whether there should be one single entry of cadets with appointment to branches at a later stage will be considered in the light of the review of the officer structure of the Navy which is now being made.

There will be a need for civilian lecturers at the college to deal with the subjects which are essential to the training of young officers, and I hope that some of the present masters will have the opportunity of taking up lectureships on terms not less favourable than those under which they are at present serving.

Cadets will, as now, be promoted midshipmen after one year of service and, on finally passing out of the College, they will go to sea with the Fleet as acting sub-lieutenants to complete their training. The total length of their training before becoming fully effective junior officers will be shorter than that of present Special Entry cadets. This is one of the advantages which will flow from concentrating and consolidating early training in the manner I have described.