HMS Seahawk Come Second in The Brickwood’s Championship
HMS Seahawk ran their fastest ever time to come second in the Brikwood’s Field Gun competition. It was a very close final where they were beaten by less than a second by the crew from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
This is an annual competition named after the sponsor of the event. It is held at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire, where teams from all three Armed Services compete for the coveted Brickwoods trophy, the sponsors of the event. This year it took place on 2nd and 3rd of June where members of the public watched the 23 crews of 18 people race over the course.
The aim of the Field Gun event is to race with a Field Gun over a flat distance. The gun is dismantled and reassembled at various stages and the whole evolution takes about 100 seconds. It differs slightly from the older ‘Inter Command’ Field Gun that took place at the Royal Tournament at Earl’s Court in London. Here only the three Naval Commands of Portsmouth, Devonport and the Fleet Air Arm raced over obstacles. This event ceased in 1999. The Brickwoods trophy allows each establishment or regiment to race on a flat course.
The crew are all volunteers who have been trained for the last two years very successfully by Warrant Officer (WO) Andy Penrose, the 1st Trainer, affectionately referred to as “Number 1”. He has been ably assisted by Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Martin ‘Mungo’ Mullins the 2nd Trainer and Sub Lieutenant (Sub Lt) Dave Robson, the Field Gun Officer.
Before the final, the REME beat the World Record, with a time of 1 minute 16.19 seconds. In the final, the results were:
First: REME – 1.17.13
Second: HMS Seahawk 1.18.03
Third: PORTSMOUTH – 1.19.87
Another highlight is the fact the HMS Seahawk Crew have competed in 16 competition runs over the past 2 years without conceding any penalty points, where time is added for errors in the run.
Sub Lt Dave Robson was very proud of the team:
”This year’s Seahawk Field Gun Crew excelled themselves in every way possible; from the mundane circuits in the gymnasium at Culdrose to the rigours of the Royal Marine Assault Course at Royal Marine Base Chivnor, the guys and girl put in their all. You have to be in a peak physical and mental condition to take part and what you have to realise is, they are all volunteers; all of the training is done in their own time, sacrificing lunchtimes and evenings. I am so proud of what they have achieved this year; that record of 1.18.03 will stand for many years. But, none of this would have been possible without the superb training staff; they moulded and fine-tuned the Crew into the fastest Royal Navy Crew for the second year running, sporting clean drill thus receiving zero penalties over 16 Competition Runs. What more can I say about that?”
Before travelling to Portsmouth the crew ran in front of an invited audience at RNAS Culdrose.
‘Running in front of our home crowd is a great way to hone our skills’ says CPO ‘Mungo’ Mullins. ‘It is great to show our friends, families, work colleagues and children from one of the local schools what we can do. Also it gets the runners used to performing their tasks in front of a crowd.’
As the run takes place at such speed, the team went through the manoeuvres at a slow pace, with a commentary, so that everyone could see and understand what was happening. They then ran at full speed and showed their true power, strength, speed, agility and teamwork.
The year four students from a local primary school, Nansloe Academy were delighted. One of the nine year olds Charlie said ‘I would like to run one day myself. It was fun to watch and they worked really hard.’ Rhiannon, Saffy and Cerys said it was ‘Amazing, really good and awesome’. Josh also thought it was stunning and would like to run one day, but not yet, and Tom was surprised at how strong the runners were.
The squad has been training under strict guidelines. It started on 20th of February in the gym and on the track on from 24th April. Some picked up injuries on the way. Air Engineering Technician (AET) Ashleigh Kay from 814 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) injured her leg in training. ‘It was during the second week on the track when one of the wheels ran over my leg. I am gutted that I am not running, but will be back next year and wish our runners all the best’.
Field gun is summed up by AET Kay’s attitude. It is all about determination and teamwork. The number one trainer, WO Andy Penrose, says these attributes can be developed elsewhere, but field gun brings the best out in people. The skills that it develops are exactly what are needed in our modern fighting force. These Naval personnel, when they have finished field gun will be returning to their units, fitter, stronger more resilient and great team players. They will find themselves deployed anywhere in the world defending the interests of the UK. They will know how to get on with others to achieve a task, making it easier for them to work with our international partners. They also show case what is best about the Royal Navy. We wish the team all the very best at HMS Collingwood.