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Another Blog from Dickie - Navy News

All work and no play makes Jack (and Jenny) a dull boy (or, er, girl). Fun is an integral part of naval life. Let’s face it, you’re going to need a sense of humour to get along with 180 people in a tin can for seven months.



Somerset seem to have it in spades. The ward room’s as lively as any I’ve come across and the general air in the ship is what I’d call relaxed but purposeful. They’re not tensed up - as you’ll find in the Gulf. But they get the job done with aplomb.


Journalists only get a whiff of a deployment - a couple of days invariably. And on press trips, it’s all carefully choreographed with things specifically laid on. Navy News are treated slightly differently. We work for the RN, so we’re given a little more leeway. Indeed, the Somerset team kindly gave me the run of the ship to speak to anyone and see pretty much anything. And that’s good because all too often our reports focus on the operational side of things: bridge, ops room, CO. The chefs, the stores assistants, the medics, the weapons and marine engineers often get overlooked. Their jobs might not perhaps be as sexy, but without them, well, the ship doesn’t run.


As for ‘luxing it up’… Budget airline, tea at McDonald’s, cheapy hotel. All I saw of Slovenia was an airport, bus and train, and all I saw of Sicily was a grimy port, a bus and an airport. Indeed, these trips are by no means ‘jollies’. We civvies like our creature comforts. We like our long showers. We like to watch the telly in the evening. Or, in my case, to translate German history. Sharing an 18-man mess for a week, sleeping in a bunk which possesses all the space (and comfort) of a coffin, trotting to communal showers, having to wear a shirt and tie at the dinner table, really don’t come naturally to us. In fairness, as trips go this was one of the more relaxed. No overnight flights in cattle class. No getting up at bonkers o’clock. Even a decent berth (normally it’s the top bunk of a stack of three which requires dexterity that I don’t possess to clamber in and out)… although the bulkhead wasn’t thick enough to stop the CO’s penchant for Def Leppard reaching my ears… And what are five days in a ship compared with seven months which the sailors must endure? They’d just passed their 100-day mark. They won’t be home till August.


Hmmm, perhaps you are right. Journalists? Easy life.

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