Sunday, September 16, 2007
A Royal Navy officer has been stripped of the Captaincy of a Devonport-based ship after twice failing crucial training exercises. Captain Nigel Chandler was relieved of his duties in charge of HMS Argyll earlier this week for twice failing to pass Flag Officer Sea Training exercises which were preparing the Type 23 frigate for operational deployment. The 41-year-old succeeded the previous Captain in December last year. HMS Argyll was two weeks away from deployment to the Gulf. Royal Navy officials admitted it was "rare" for a Commanding Officer to be removed from his post for failing to pass the rigorous tests. A Plymouth-based spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "It doesn't happen very often. It is rare. Captain Chandler has been relieved of his command of HMS Argyll as a result of twice failing FOST. "The ship will carry on training until it passes. "He has not been sacked. He will be put in the post which will best suit his talent and experience." The spokesman added: "FOST exercises are tough and the ship and its crew go through a lot of intense training."
HMS Argyll (F231)Commander Gavin Pritchard has now accepted the role of Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll. Cdr Pritchard was previously captain of Portsmouth-based HMS Kent. Warships have to undergo FOST tests on a regular basis. Training for warships is tailored to suit their individual operational needs. The larger surface units are trained at Devonport. They conduct training in many different disciplines, including warfare, weapon engineering, marine engineering, logistics, damage control and fire fighting. FOST, which is based at HMS Drake, provides Operational Sea Training for all surface ships, submarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries of the Royal Navy by a dedicated team of experts. It also trains land and air units and an increasing number of NATO and foreign navies. On the Royal Navy's website it states: "FOST has established a worldwide reputation for excellence. Over 100 ships and submarines from the Royal Navy and navies of NATO and allied nations benefit from FOST's training expertise each year." Last year HMS Argyll hit the headlines after seizing nearly £120million worth of cocaine in two drug busts en route to West Africa on a training exercise.