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Commander Peter Laughton

Commander Peter Laughton

HMS Lancaster is one of the Royal Navy’s 13 Type 23 Duke class general purpose frigates. Patrick Boniface caught up with her commanding officer, Commander Peter Laughton, who discussed his career in the Royal Navy.

How were you attracted to a career in the Royal Navy?
The Royal Navy seed was firmly planted in me at the age of 12, when I joined my local Sea Cadet unit, TS Benbow, in London. The ensuing experiences and sense of adventure I enjoyed over six brilliant years with the cadets were invaluable and provided a superb springboard for my entry to Britannia Royal Navy College, Dartmouth.

What ships have you served in since you left Naval College?
I have been fortunate to serve in 13 different ships, ranging from patrol vessels (based in Hong Kong and Northern Ireland) to various frigates (Type 23) and destroyers (Type 42s), as well as four very enjoyable years serving in Sandown Class Minehunters as a Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officer. I was honoured to enjoy my first command as a Lieutenant when assigned to the Hunt class Northern Ireland Patrol Vessel HMS Dulverton, which was based in Faslane.

 

 
Captain Lis Lauritzen

Captain Lis Lauritzen

Captain Lis Lauritzen, Master of Vision of the Seas, talks to Byron Clayton about her career and ship.

Where are you from and what is your family background?
I was born in 1971 and grew up in Denmark, with a Japanese mother and Danish father. My father was a sailor with Mærsk Line, so shipping has always been part of our family life, although he stopped going to sea when my sister and I were born.

When did you first go to sea?
In June 1989 as a junior seaman aboard Danish-flagged gas tanker Kosan, operated by Lauritzen for seven months and I enjoyed it. I moved to roll-on roll-off ships working in South America and later to Belt ferries.

What inspired you to make a career in shipping?
The passion my father displayed talking about his travels. My dad passed away when I was 15 so he never knew that I went to sea. The stories he told me were my inspiration for wanting to see different places in the world.

 
Captain Dean Bassett

Captain Dean Bassett

The Royal Navy’s fleet flagship, the amphibious assault ship HMS Bulwark, arrived in London on 29 May for a five-day visit, during which Patrick Boniface met her commanding officer, Captain Dean Bassett, to discuss his career, his ship and the fleet flagship’s simulated amphibious assault on Southsea beach to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on 6 June.

What got you interested in a career in the Royal Navy?
I was interested in all three services and decided when doing my A levels that the Royal Navy was the right one for me. I joined in 1991 aged 18 and went through Dartmouth, and then read a degree at University before joining my first ship in 1995. I decided to join the Navy just as we were reducing recruiting, and I was keen to get a degree as part of my naval career because to become a PWO or a Captain of a ship you must do a course beforehand. The advanced staff course is an enjoyable nine months of learning prior to going onto the second stage of your career.

What was your first ship?
My first ship was HMS Bristol, which is still in one piece at Whale Island as a cadet training ship. After that I went through a series of ships in quick order as part of my training, including HMS Dulverton, HMS Alacrity and HMS Dumbarton Castle.

 

 
Captain Jill Russell

Captain Jill Russell

Jill Russell, captain of the expedition cruising ship Safari Endeavour, talked to Steve Newman about Un-Cruise Adventures and sailing on the Sea of Cortés and in Southeast Alaska.

Do you come from a sailing background?
No, my family are all Navy aviators; my father, brother and cousin are all Navy pilots. I think I’m something of a disappointment! I trained as a cartographer and land surveyor, but I found that boring and joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uniformed service (NOAA Corps), a federal agency charting the oceans and examining the conditions of the atmosphere.

Why did you chose a career at sea?
As a surveyor and researcher, I spent three years on the oceanographic survey ship NOAAS Surveyor and fell in love with the sea then. I started by doing 90 days at Kings Point, New York at The United States Merchant Marine Academy. I was transferred to Seattle as a junior officer on the ship and was mentored by a senior officer. I got my captain’s licence in 1991.

 

 

 
Commander Walter Hansen

Commander Walter Hansen

Commander Walter Hansen attended the DSEi exhibition in London in September 2013 along with his, then yet-to-be-commissioned ship, Holland class patrol vessel HNLMS Groningen. Patrick Boniface caught up with Commander Hansen to talk about his ship and his career.

When did you join the Dutch Navy?
I joined in 1985 at the Royal Naval College as a midshipman and I graduated in 1988, although my family has no maritime background. I did my tour on ships as Officer of the Watch and Air Defence, which included serving on the frigate HNLMS Callenburgh and the minesweeper HNLMS Hoogeveen. I did more tours as Operations Officer on the frigate HNLMS Piet Heyn, the air defence frigate HNLMS Jacob Van Heemskerck and as Executive Officer of the multi-purpose frigate HNLMS Van Ness.

What is it like to be in command of such a modern and capable warship?
I feel privileged to be in charge of such a ship. It is not just the ship, but a combination of the crew and the ship. You can always have a good ship, but you also need a good crew, and we have a dedicated group who make the picture complete.

 

 
Captain Wesley Dunlop

Captain Wesley Dunlop

Peter Newall talks to the master of Saga Ruby, Captain Wesley Dunlop, who is one of the youngest ship captains.

Where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in the small Scottish town of Bothwell in 1980. At an early age I moved with my family to Mallorca, spending a short while there before returning to the UK and finally settling on the outskirts of Newcastle.

Do you come from a seafaring family?
My father was a marine engineer with Esso tankers and also worked for Swan Hunter on the Tyne.

Did you want to go to sea?
When I left school I wanted to be an airline pilot. However, when I found out that the British Airways pilot training programme had relatively few placements each year, my father suggested a career in the merchant navy. In 1998 I commenced my four-year training at South Shields Marine College near Newcastle. Initially, I thought about following in my father’s footsteps at Esso. However, I was accepted as a cadet by Sun Cruises, a subsidiary of the UK holiday company Airtours, which was later rebranded MyTravel. It had a fleet of four well-known, mid-size former NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

 
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