Captain Ian Breckenridge with the twenty submariner trainees and their instructors at their passing-out.

By Kim Hardie

TWENTY submariner trainees at HM Naval Base Clyde recently passed-out from the first phase of their Submarine Qualifying Course (SMQ)

On Thursday, December 17, the class of twenty students – being trained for service on board Astute Class submarines – reached the culmination of their ten-week “dry phase”, the classroom part of the course conducted on dry land at Clyde’s Fleet Operational Sea Training (North) (FOST)(N).

Earlier this year, HM Naval Base Clyde – home of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Flotilla – was singled out for praise by Amanda Speilman, Ofsted Chief Inspector. A team of her inspectors visited Clyde in October and found the training, welfare and support provided to submariner trainees by FOST (N) to be outstanding.

Throughout 2020, twelve SMQ classes were delivered at FOST (N) – eight Vanguard-Class and four Astute-Class – totalling 240 students who have completed this intense and demanding training before moving on to the “wet phase” of SMQ onboard a Royal Navy submarine.

This class, the last of 2020, graduated on the day with Captain FOST (N), Captain Ian Breckenridge presenting each student with their certificates in the HMS Neptune Supermess under strict social distancing conditions.

The best student award was presented to Able Rating (Warfare Specialist) (Sonar Submarines) Darren Matthews for delivering the best overall performance during the course. This award is based not only on the trainee’s academic achievements but also on their attitude, commitment and, most importantly, their teamwork and support of their peers whilst on course.

The “dry phase” of the Submarine Qualifying Course comprises of ten weeks of intensive academic and practical training to ensure they are safe, familiar with submarine systems, drills and routines and can manage their own future training in order to complete the “Wet phase” of SMQ and qualify as a Royal Navy Submariner.

Prospective submariners join FOST (North) at HM Naval Base Clyde for the dry phase of their training.  After successfully completing a final exam, oral board and walk-rounds of a nuclear submarine, they pass-out, eventually joining a nuclear submarine.

It is there the second phase of training begins – known as the “wet phase”.  Students complete their SMQ training at sea on board a Royal Navy submarine and it is only then that they are entitled to wear the coveted “dolphins” badge – the mark of a qualified submariner.

Top picture: Able Rating (Warfare Specialist) (Sonar Submarines) Darren Matthews being presented with the Best Student Award.



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