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Old 22-02-2015, 03:39   #1
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Hats Off to the Royal Navy

No one quite does it with their style and class.

Smaller RN vessels often berth with us in Cowes. RN personnel, unlike our guys, who since 9/11 seem to feel it necessary to treat the general public with a certain gruff indifference, behave just like any other yachtsmen, taking your lines, shooting the breeze, etc., relaxed and friendly, obviously having just as much fun as we do.

But, boy, what skill they have. I watched the HMS Smiter unberth from opposite me in a rushing near-spring tide at peak flow, with the wind blowing them onto the breakwater. The crew of young kids (I think it was a training mission) snapped into perfect military order while the OOD (also barely 30 if that) calmly gave orders, loudly, clearly, but without shouting, not a trace of tension. They sprung off without using their thrusters at all. I didn't know you could maneuver a big power boat like that; the civilian power vessels around here would have thrusters -- and usually the skipper, too -- screaming.

It's the same way with their Coast Guard -- I remember how surprised I was, sailing in these waters, and having my first contacts with Her Majesty's Coast Guard, and understanding from their attitude that their primary mission is to help you, what a concept! So different from our Coast Guard, whose primary mission, especially after 9/11, is to make sure we're not violating something. Regarding all of us with suspicion all the time; refusing to lift a finger if it's only our boat which is going to be destroyed. Nothing against our Coast Guard -- when the chips are down, you sure want them to be around -- but why can't they be more pleasant.

One difference, of course, is that the role of HMCG and the USCG is different -- HMCG do not have law enforcement roles. That's the role of the UK Border Force, who operate four large cutters and periodically intercept drug smugglers etc. But in almost six years and many thousands of miles around the UK coasts, I have never had any contact with a UKBF cutter, although I have made dozens of entries into the UK from other countries, mostly France. When you clear into the UK as a non-European, you do it by phone, by calling something called Yachtline, in 5 minutes. Yet another of the many joys of sailing in the waters of a country where cruising is considered a completely normal activity, where cruisers are assumed to be just normal people, neither bums nor probable criminals nor rich people to be envied or exploited, as is the case in so many other places, including, alas, in my native land.

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Old 22-02-2015, 04:34   #2
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

HMS Smiter, Glasgow University Royal Naval Unit. Like the rest of the P2000 class (with the exception of two at Faslane) she is crewed by university students from one of 14 URNUs around the country, holding the rank of officer cadet or midshipman in the RNR. They do however have a permanent crew of 5 ratings who are typically posted to the ship for several years and contribute a lot to the smooth running you see , as well as a training officer (typically a 2nd lieutenant).

So then most of the crew you will see are just students, taking on the RNR duty in their spare time - generally because they are enthusiastic about it and want to gain naval experience rather than because the Navy pays them a particularly good salary for it. Hence why they seem friendly and relaxed. In return, the RN is able to get more informed, better trained candidates for officer selection, and gains a visible presence in smaller ports around the UK, as well as abroad as the ships typically have a summer deployment several weeks long. You occasionally see them in other roles as well, I remember two flanking the Queen's barge at the jubilee river pageant, and I believe at least one provided security at the Olympics. All in all, the URNU is a thoroughly good thing and is well worth it's cost to the navy, and the taxpayer.

Oh, and the P2000 class all have twin screws, which does help with the docking a bit.
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Old 22-02-2015, 04:43   #3
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pirate Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

Thanks for the compliment to our Services DH...
To be honest if the USA was anywhere near the UK in courtesy and cheerfullness I would likely take on more jobs to and from the US.. however.. as it is right now I honestly would rather knock back a 5-10K job than deal with that ****.. I don't need it.
I think that the USA is still too young a country.. and the borders are where its shows most clearly... it needs to mature a few hundred more years more to gain the confidence to relax..

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Old 22-02-2015, 05:15   #4
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

As ex RN myself, it is nice to hear such a complimentary report. However, don't be too. hard on the US armed forces or USCG. In my many deliveries to and from the US I have had nothing but courtesy and professionalism from Coasties who have boarded me and US warships who have interrogated me en route.

Also, on the occasions that the USN or CG visit foreign ports for R&R, the boys and girls ashore are generally an excellent example of what we would wish to see in the youth of to-day. Unfortunately, professional as they undoubtedly are, sometimes "Britain's Little Ambassadors" ashore can be an embarrassment.... Tony
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Old 22-02-2015, 05:31   #5
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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Originally Posted by bvimatelot View Post
As ex RN myself, it is nice to hear such a complimentary report. However, don't be too. hard on the US armed forces or USCG. In my many deliveries to and from the US I have had nothing but courtesy and professionalism from Coasties who have boarded me and US warships who have interrogated me en route. . .
I'm not being hard on the USCG. When it comes to saving your bacon in a hopeless situation, they are as good as it gets, by all accounts. This commentary just concerns their -- let's say, bedside manner. I've been boarded many times in US waters. Always professional, never any real problem, but always suspicious, never very pleasant, however hard I tried to show respect and keep it friendly. Dye down the toilets, search of the bilges and lockers, the whole bit. Never experienced anything like that in boardings by French and German CG, and in UK waters I've never even been boarded, not even once.
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Old 22-02-2015, 05:38   #6
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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Thanks for the compliment to our Services DH...
To be honest if the USA was anywhere near the UK in courtesy and cheerfullness I would likely take on more jobs to and from the US.. however.. as it is right now I honestly would rather knock back a 5-10K job than deal with that ****.. I don't need it.
I think that the USA is still too young a country.. and the borders are where its shows most clearly... it needs to mature a few hundred more years more to gain the confidence to relax..

If it had to do with the age of the country the Canadian Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Boarder Services would treat you like villains too. Have you ever been treated like a villain upon entering Canadian waters?

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Old 22-02-2015, 05:58   #7
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pirate Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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If it had to do with the age of the country the Canadian Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Boarder Services would treat you like villains too. Have you ever been treated like a villain upon entering Canadian waters?

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I've not had the pleasure of entering Canada to date.. tho' I do have family there.. Vermonts as close as I got..
Mind.. not surprised by what you say.. you did choose the more civilised route to Independence.. manners are so very important..
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Old 22-02-2015, 06:10   #8
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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If it had to do with the age of the country the Canadian Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Boarder Services would treat you like villains too. Have you ever been treated like a villain upon entering Canadian waters?

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Canadian border control are totally different in my experience as I think you are implying.

My experience with the US border officials has not been good maybe 70% of the time, on occasion terrible and along the lines of what other say above. It's an organization culture thing I suspect. Deep rooted and I can't see a reason for it, but once you get passed them the people are great.
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Old 22-02-2015, 06:45   #9
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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Canadian border control are totally different in my experience as I think you are implying.

My experience with the US border officials has not been good maybe 70% of the time, on occasion terrible and along the lines of what other say above. It's an organization culture thing I suspect. Deep rooted and I can't see a reason for it, but once you get passed them the people are great.
LOL..... I have got some really grumpy Canadian border officers. One in particular who stands out in a memory that will never be erased. A right plonker and a villain. Thank you on the Detroit to Canada entry..........

USA immigration is based on total suspicion and antagonism. Unhappy memories in the main. One guy SCREAMED at my ex wife for standing on a line where she was waiting her turn.. "The sign says BEHIND the line...whats the matter with you? cant you read?!!"
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Old 22-02-2015, 06:47   #10
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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I've not had the pleasure of entering Canada to date.. tho' I do have family there.. Vermonts as close as I got..
Mind.. not surprised by what you say.. you did choose the more civilised route to Independence.. manners are so very important..
Joking aside though, I do consider the USCG to be a very professional organisation.

They do tend to treat Canadians a little better than other foreign nationals. Which is a good thing because they form a very large natural barrier between Canada and where Canadians would like to get to.

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Old 22-02-2015, 07:26   #11
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

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LOL..... I have got some really grumpy Canadian border officers. One in particular who stands out in a memory that will never be erased. A right plonker and a villain. Thank you on the Detroit to Canada entry..........

USA immigration is based on total suspicion and antagonism. Unhappy memories in the main. One guy SCREAMED at my ex wife for standing on a line where she was waiting her turn.. "The sign says BEHIND the line...whats the matter with you? cant you read?!!"
Well- you were coming from Detroit, probably the most violent, crime ridden, impoverished city in North America. An endless stream of gang bangers coming across the border to take advantage of lax Canadian gambling, drinking, adult entertainment and drug laws.

The Ambassador Bridge crossing isn't really a fair example.

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Old 22-02-2015, 07:28   #12
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pirate Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

My dealings with those on the water has been okay to date.. usaully on departure around the 3 miles mark a fast boat will head for me.. 2-3 uniforms.. request permission to board then its usually a quick check of the boats papers, passports etc.. photo'd.. a quick check then goes on while they check out the boat etc..
Generally okay folk tho' a bit overly serious..
Its the whole airport experience that gets me.. getting on and off a USA flight.. either way.
Addendum... On the water thats Florida.. Up in NC I saw no one in 2 departures and one return.. further from Cuba..??
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Old 22-02-2015, 08:31   #13
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

It's been several decades since I was in the USCG. What I can say was that back then the aviation folks had very little contact with the marine element. I think I was on a boat once. I was on fixed wing aircraft, the situation may have been different at a small helo station, but I don't think much.

I believe that now to get into aviation you first need some time on ships or small craft. Not sure.

Back then aviation was a separate and small group. Almost like another service itself.
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Old 22-02-2015, 09:34   #14
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

Great comments about our (US) law enforcement in general. I know a lot of Coasties, a couple of admirals, a few captains and other officers, a master chief and several rates and they are all good people. The National Maritime Center people have always been helpful with my license and renewals and with documentation of vessels. But like our police, it's our politicians and bureaucrats who pipe the tunes who have screw everything up and created a bad and nearly unworkable system.
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Old 22-02-2015, 09:54   #15
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Re: Hats Off to the Royal Navy

We have been visited by the RN whilst in British territory in the Indian Ocean. Polite? Well, they kindly even donated a case of beer to us.
In contrast we had guns pointed at us in the Med by the Israeli Navy before being boarded by their marines who were incredibly obnoxious and arrogant. We were also 'ordered' by a US helicopter carrier, and her escorts to 'move aside' - the radio operator sounded as tho' he was still approaching puberty. They could not uderstand that levitating was not possible. In contrast, we have also met US naval ships in other locations that were super polite and friendly. I guess the ships in the region of the Middle East have reasojn to be tense.
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