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Vincentian sisters on course for Royal Navy career

Vincentian sisters on course for Royal Navy career


Two sisters from St Vincent and the Grenadines were among the successful recruits on parade recently at HMS Raleigh in the UK to celebrate the completion of their Royal Navy basic training.{{more}}

Trainee stewards Shannie and Onika Henry arrived at the training based in Cornwall in May to undergo 10 weeks of intensive training to transform them from civilians into Royal Navy sailors. The course culminated in the passing-out-parade, attended by families and friends.

Both sisters joined the Royal Navy for the career opportunities and enjoyed the physical challenges within the course.

Shannie, aged 28, attended Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia and previously worked as a hairdresser. She said: “I joined the Royal Navy for the travel, qualifications and the career. I’ve loved all the physical elements of training. Back home we had a trainer who prepared us for the course. We waited nearly four years to join up. Making friends here, particularly with the other girls in our block, will be the thing I will take away from HMS Raleigh.”

Although part of the same recruit entry, the girls have been in different classes throughout the course. Shannie said: “There’s been a competition between us, which we’ve enjoyed because it’s the same back home.”

Onika, aged 26, is a former pupil of Emmanuel High School Kingstown and the St Vincent Community College. She worked as a physical education teacher at the West St George Secondary School before embarking on her naval career. Onika said: “I joined up for the same reasons as Shannie, for the qualifications, travelling the world, to help my family back at home and improve my standard of living. I enjoyed the physical elements, particularly week four on Dartmoor. It’s been overwhelming having the two of us here together. I don’t think I would have made it through the course if Shannie wasn’t here. It has certainly made things a lot easier for me. For the future I hope to study for a degree in hospitality or hotel management or something like that.”

With the first phase of their training complete, the sisters will transfer to the Defence Maritime Logistics School, which is also based at HMS Raleigh. There they will undergo a 12-week course to learn how to provide hospitality for visiting VIPs including Heads of State. They will also learn about accommodation management and stock accounting.

Shannie said: “I’d like to thank my family, my mother and my friends back at home who have supported us. A lot of people at home were behind us and God was also the force behind us.”

The Royal Navy’s Initial Naval Training course is underpinned by nine Core Maritime Skills that are the foundations of naval life and underpin operational effectiveness. Recruits are taught the basics of naval discipline and customs. They learn about navigation and are given the chance to take the helm of their own medium-sized inflatable boat during a waterborne orienteering exercise. With Royal Navy personnel playing a vital role in Afghanistan and other land-based operations, recruits undergo training in basic combat skills, which includes survival in the field. Fitness is a key component of the training and is delivered using a disciplined method of military fitness which focuses on developing co-ordination and individual physical strength and endurance. As the course progresses, the recruits take part in three extended exercises to test their skills and understanding of the principles they have been taught.

Details of career opportunities within the Royal Navy are available online at or by calling the Recruitment Line on 08456 07 55 55.