A SUBMARINER from Torpoint is taking part in one of the largest multi national naval exercises of the year.
Steward Ryan Drake is taking part in BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) 2014 which has brought together 30 warships and 52 aircraft from 14 nations.
The exercise is being played out in the Baltic Sea and the Royal Navy has sent along Plymouth based frigate, HMS Montrose to take part in this high tempo 10 day event.
Sailors and aircrew are working around the clock to ensure they have ticked off 100 different serials that will ultimately determine the success of the exercise; these include mine clearance, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-air defence, counter piracy and small boat attacks.
Hosted by the US Navy, BALTOPS is all about developing partnerships between the 14 countries and improving maritime safety and submarine steward Ryan Drake volunteered to take part.
The 20-year-old said: “I’m normally a submarine steward and I was meant to be off at the moment but then I heard about BALTOPS and actually asked if I could volunteer to help.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity as it’s a short deployment on a surface ship, which is a novelty for me, but also it’s a high profile, action packed exercise which gives me a chance to meet people from different countries and play an active role in a large scale event.”
As a steward on BALTOPS Ryan has served navy chiefs from a number of countries as well as Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
But on top of that he has also played an active role in the exercise itself.
“I love getting involved and volunteered to be winched off a Dutch ship by helicopter and also got involved in the anti submarine element of the exercise in the Operations Room,” he said.
“We’ve also got a sports day coming up when we get to Germany where teams from the different ships will compete against each other. I’m down for football and hoping to score a few goals for Montrose.”
Born in Plymouth, Ryan went to school in Exmouth where his father was based at Lympstone as a Royal Marine.
With his twin brother also in the navy and his grandfather and uncle both former Royal Marines, it seemed only natural that Ryan would also join the Armed Forces.
“Being in the navy is a family tradition and I’m hoping to one day become a PT (Physical Training) instructor,” he said.
“I don’t think I’d want another career and despite being away from home for long periods of time you get used to it especially when your girlfriend and your twin brother are also in the navy and both of them are deployed on other ships.”