RECRUIT Robert Fletcher has fulfilled one of his childhood dreams by joining the Irish Naval Service.
Recruit Fletcher was one of the 30 new personnel who commenced their training programme in recent weeks. He is loving his time so far in Haulbowline.
“I am really enjoying it,” he told The Echo. “Thirty recruits all started in the last phase. There is a nice mix of personalities and characters.
“We all have very different backgrounds, but we are all getting on great. There is a great atmosphere. We enjoy lots of laughs and stories on our downtime.”
The new recruits will embark on a tough but exciting 22-week training regime before they graduate. The Cork man is enjoying learning so much new information.
“It is challenging but in a good way,” he explained.
“It is designed to make us toughen up. I don’t find it too hard. It will probably get harder as the weeks go by.
“There is so much to learn which is ideal. We are learning new stuff on a daily basis.”
Discipline is and always has been a key ingredient within the Defence Forces.
Maintaining standards with regard to timekeeping and cleanliness is vital for all members of the Naval Service. This emphasis on strict adherence to discipline is drilled into them from the moment they walk through the doors at Haulbowline.
Recruit Fletcher offers us a glimpse into the inner workings of the Naval Service as he describes a typical day for the new recruits in Haulbowline.
“On an average day we rise at 6am We do our early morning activities which last for 20 minutes. We do stretching, jogging, and push-ups. They wake us up and get the blood flowing. We then shower and get ready for breakfast which is served at 7am.
“After breakfast, we get organised, put on our uniform, and do a clean-up in our accommodation. The instructors arrive at 8.30am and we begin our training for the day.
“The first two weeks we did a lot of theory work. The past few weeks we have focused on marching and physical work.
“We typically finish at 4.30pm and we do a quick clean-up of our quarters. Dinner is served at 5pm. After dinner, we clean our accommodation and we have to ensure it is spotless for inspection. We then have free time before bedtime at 10pm.
“It is all about teamwork. If one person isn’t pulling their weight, it is going to affect everyone. Communication is also key and being punctual. Planning ahead and being strategic is also huge in order to be successful.”
The 19-year-old has always wanted to serve in the Naval Services. Robert is hoping to travel extensively in his new career.
The new recruit has very strong family connections with the Irish Navy, which have proved a strong influence on him.
“Being from Whitegate, I have seen the ships coming in and out of the harbour my whole life.
“My grandfather is the lighthouse keeper in Roche’s Point and I was always out with him on evenings and at weekends, watching ships pass by.
“My other grandfather was a marine engineer in the Merchant Navy. It is definitely in the genes. My uncle was also a marine engineer in the Navy. It is in the blood. I have always wanted to join the navy. When I saw the advertisement for new recruits, I jumped at the chance to apply.
“I am delighted I joined. Part of the reason I also joined was the chance to travel. There is a great opportunity to see a bit of the world. I am delighted to represent the Irish Defence Forces. My whole family is thrilled. Marching out on the square with the uniform on is a very proud moment.”
Recruit Fletcher is ultimately looking forward to a successful and distinguished career in the Irish Navy. He is ready and willing to work hard to achieve his goals.
“I am in the induction stage at present. When that stage concludes, it will be the tactical and range assessments and weapons training.
“I am really looking forward to that. There are plenty of opportunities to move up the ladder. My aim is to put the head down and work as hard as possible. My immediate aim is to take it day by day and graduate.”