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What is the Royal Naval Reserve?

The Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) is an integral part of Britain's naval forces, comprising a corps of some 3,250 men and women who train in peacetime to enable the Royal Navy to meet its operational commitments in times of stretch, crisis, tension and war. Although some 25% of RNR personnel have previously served in the Royal Navy, the majority are volunteers drawn from all walks of life, together with a small number of qualified Merchant Navy deck officers, civilian medical practitioners and nurses.

For most branches, training is conducted in one of 13 RNR Units across the UK some of which have now sprouted 'satellite' divisions in other major towns in naval training establishments and in HM Ships world-wide. For Defence Intelligence Service and Interrogator branches, training is administered from HMS Ferret at Chicksands, Bedfordshire (contact via Director Naval Reserves. Tel No: 023 9272 7679).

The broad training requirements are set by RN organisations responsible for the operational tasking of the respective branches. Training courses and documentation are provided by the relevant RN training schools. Basic training is provided at HMS Raleigh, Torpoint, Cornwall, for ratings and at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon, for officers; both these and most other RNR courses are of 2 weeks duration or less.

Once Officers and Ratings have completed foundation and branch training, they are considered to have joined the Trained Strength of the RNR. Prior to this, they will have served as Midshipmen (age 17-20) or Sub-Lieutenants (age 20+). Thereafter promotion is by selection to Lieutenant Commander* (Major/Squadron leader equivalent), Commander (Lieutenant-Colonel/Wing Commander ) and Captain (Colonel/Group Captain). The highest appointment is the Commodore RNR (Brigadier/Air Commodore).

The Ratings' structure is equally competitive and rewarding. Once part of the trained strength, RNR Junior Ratings compete for promotion to Leading Hand (Corporal equivalent), Petty Officer (Sergeant) and Chief Petty Officer (Colour/Staff or Flight Sergeant). Some may achieve the top rank of Warrant Officer introduced in 2003. Opportunities exist for all Ratings to earn promotion to the commissioned ranks and most RNR Officers have risen up this way.

* Subject to level of professional qualifications, Medical Officers join as either Surgeon Lieutenants or Surgeon Lieutenant Commanders and promotion to the latter is not subject to the normal selection process.