A local girl has received her first promotion on board HMS Prince of Wales, having set sail on the Royal Navy’s newest and largest aircraft carrier at the start of September.
The 23-year-old Weapons Engineering Officer Midshipman Beth Catchpole, sailed from Portsmouth on the 65,000 tonne leviathan to fulfil the next stage in her training, having commissioned as a Naval Officer from Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
Becoming eligible for promotion whilst on board, she was recently presented with her new rank slide by the Commanding Officer; Captain Stephen Higham OBE, and has now assumed the rank of Sub Lieutenant
The Portsmouth-based Queen Elizabeth class carrier is currently preparing for operations in the North Sea having recently qualified the F35 Lightening II Jets of 207 Squadron RAF for carrier operations.
The majority of Beth’s training is at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, but with time allocated to experience life on ship and how each department operates, she is now embarked on the Navy’s biggest warship. She said:
The former Lymm High School girl said: “I am currently in phase two training to become a Weapons Engineering Officer in the Royal Navy. Having passed out of BRNC in April, I studied radar, sonar, communications, and weapons systems in detail, before joining HMS Prince of Wales in September. Now, I am spending time getting used to life at sea and learning about the different departments on board.”
When asked why she wanted to join the Royal Navy, Beth said: “I wanted to apply my Engineering degree to solving real life problems, whilst being able to embark on adventures and hopefully make a difference in the world.”
Known as Common Fleet Time, Beth’s time on board is a pre-requisite for progressing on to the next stage of her training. As such, Beth has been getting stuck in to all aspects of life at sea. She said:
“This deployment is an essential step forward in my training as a Young Officer. Being exposed to Carrier Sea Training is an experience that I am lucky to be a part of. Seeing the ship under strains and stresses, allowing me to fully appreciate the importance of everything we do, has been invaluable.”
When asked what her best moments have been so far Beth said: “The ship went to Thursday War as a final training serial which enabled me to see all the key departments in their action posts. I was able to link together how all the information is fed to Command. It showed me what a vital role I could have on a ship for real, in the not too distant future.”