News

October 21st 2015

Reservist: “The sea states went from calm to very rough, so it kept me on my toes”

A Reservist from Chesterfield has returned from a nine-month deployment to Gibraltar in which he patrolled the seas to protect British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

Leading Hand Buster Browne, aged 43, serves with HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit, and has described his time at sea as a ‘great experience’ that allowed him to put his learning into practice.

Buster Browne Buster was deployed to work within the Gibraltar Patrol Boat Squadron, a squadron that consisted of 26 personnel, four of whom were Reservists.

Spending most of his days on a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), Buster explained: “As the vessel’s Coxswain, it was my job to look out for any potentially threatening small craft in or around the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. We patrolled the water to display sovereignty and to observe any unauthorised manoeuvring in the local area.

“The RHIB was powerful putting out 40 knots, and could be used to transport supplies, personnel or weaponry to and from British Naval vessels. The sea states went from calm to very rough, so it kept me on my toes. It was up to me to make a call on the weather and it if was safe for us to leave the harbour, I made the decision to return to base quite a few times.”

As well as patrolling the water, Buster was Duty Leading Hand (DLH) on a weekly rota with three other Leading Rates, responsible for the daily checks on-board HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar, ensuring the vessels alarm systems were operational and that the bilges were safe.

It wasn’t all work though; Buster also had time to keep up his fitness levels. He continued: “A few of my colleagues and I would run up the steps on the Gibraltar rock for exercise about twice per month. This was about a six-and-a-half mile trip in total from Devil’s Tower, where our camp was, up to the top of the rock and back down again. The clouds came up and over the top of the rock so you had to have your wits about you, just in case the weather turned for the worse.”

Ahead of travelling aboard, Buster was asked to ‘act up’ a rank during his deployment to work as a Leading Seamen, although this became substantive from July this year.

Buster explained: “I was the first line manager for eight Able Seamen, delegating tasks as needed. This was a great experience even though I was thrown in at the deep end a bit with my promotion, but I grabbed the opportunity to develop my leadership and management skills with open arms. Being away from home was a bit difficult at times, but my partner and I made it work. I hope to now take all of the experience I gained through this deployment and put it towards furthering my Royal Naval Reserve career.”

"I hope to now take all of the experience I gained through this deployment and put it towards furthering my Royal Naval Reserve career.”