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The Sea Training School 1971 - 1972

The next brave period in her life - fully equipped and operating vessel was bought by Eric St. John Foti on behalf of Arundel Priory in Sussex and became a Sea Training School for youngsters - all these boys were trained to work on the deck, in the engine room and in the galley. In the galley a son of Eric - so Nick was a boss. He met his wife Diane in one port, they were in love on Bembridge and they spend even their honeymoon on her board. Their cabin is still existing and is one of the three the best preserved - it is in the small superstructure under our wheel house. This cabin is even named "The Cabin on Diane and Nick"

Nick is still in love with Diane and ... with Bembridge. That is why he written a nice song for ... not for Diane ... this song is for Bembridge.You can listen it just here.

One nice day we were contacted on Ship's Nostalgia web site by Peter Dowling - one of these boys who were trained on her deck. Today he is not a seaman anymore but his the best memories are related to Old Lady Bembridge very much.

Here we would like to place a great thanks to Eric St. John Foti (he made all these great photos what we have), his son Nick St. John Foti and Peter Dowling. We met personally Eric at his home - he still remember all of these boys and it is sure that period of his life was one of the most exciting. Peter remember him perfectly too and he is very thankful for this part of his education.

 It is sure that idea of Sea Training School was a perfect and very valuable for all these boys.

We published here many interesting stories about the life in that Sea Training School.

Christmas card from 1971

Here we collected some documents related to that Sea Training School managed by Eric St. John Foti on behalf of Arundel Priory

  Admiralty Ferry Crew Association presents The Sea Training School on board of Training Ship Bembridge
Advertising poster from 1971

A donation form to Sea Training School

Two liveries of Admiralty Ferry Crew Association present on her deck

Now we will present several pictures showing the life in the Sea Training School

Working on the bridge:

Mick Taylor and ...?


Working on the deck:


Working in the galley:

Peter Quinn and Winston Bennet

Working in the engine room:

From the right: famous "Scotty" - John Cambell Thompson, chief engineer by almost 30 years on Bembridge, a true Scotsman pleased to be in Scotland and his wife Mrs Thompson.

Time of resting:

As we see - fishing was the most popular hobby on board
Winston is showing his fish and some movies made on board

The teacher and boys - the favorite calm place near galley skylight

Original log book from 1971 and several different notes and pages found inside

We have even some boy's pictures made for their passports:

From the right: unknown, Phillip Johnson and Ian Bell

From right: Roy King, Steve McCardle and Ian Smith

From right: Alan Salmon, possible he is Polish guy and unknown one

In 1971 she had a nice adventure in Loch Fyne, Scotland - it took one month and was very exciting. 

What MV Bembridge was doing in Loch Fyne in Scotland?

Why she was waiting on that strange swinging buoy?

She was every day waiting for a special guest ...

Everybody staying on her board could admire Inveraray Bridge on Loch Fyne.
The spires of Inveraray Castle can just be seen on the left of that bridge. On the right picture there is a  Inveraray Castle itself.

In 1971 Bembridge took part in a trials of H.M.S. Courageous. 

H.M.S. Courageous was the last of the Valiant Class submarines. She was built by Vickers (Shipbuilding) Limited at Barrow-in-Furness. Her keel was laid down on the 15th of May 1968 and she was launched on the 7th of March 1970 as S50 (SSN06). It was a Churchill class nuclear submarine commissioned in 1971 - just after one months of trials where Bembridge was used in Scotland, Loch Fyne. First in Southampton a special tank was placed on a Bembridge's stern to supply a nuclear unit on that submarine.



Everyday in the morning she was delivering a crew and engineers to a place where HMS Courageous was in immersion for a night time. Than he was afloat and during whole day inside many trials and checking taken place. The crew of the submarine stayed on board of Bembridge while they tested the electrical equipment underwater. The contract with Vickers was a constant contract with Trinity House - so Bembridge was working for Vickers even before when she was still in Trinity House fleet. Eric St.John Foti was continuing that contract in case of  H.M.S. Courageous. Because Arundel Priory needs a lot of money to keep Bembridge - Bembridge was working by whole month collecting GBP 400,- daily for her service. Navy stuff and engineers of Vickers took Bembridge and all boys under a special care - it was a real good time for both crew.


A nice friendship was established and all of them spent a nice time together - not only working of course. Who tried a fishing from a nuclear submarine? Of course our School's boys! They dared to do it with real success!

Of course MV Bembridge and her crew was invited for an official commissioning ceremony. Boys even tasted a ceremonial cake.


The ceremony of her commissioning into the Royal Navy Submarine Flotilla in Vickers on the 16th of October 1971.

The ceremonial cake was a characteristic one

H.M.S. Courageous was in active service for 21 years and was a cold war warrior. She served in the South Atlantic during the Falklands Campaign as well as carrying out a large number of classified patrols around the world. Much of the work she did is still classed as too sensitive to release into the public domain so there appear to be gaps in her history.

Vessel was retired in 1992 and presently it is own museum.

We found all above mentioned info on HMS Courageous Association site:

HMS Courageous opening main vents and about to dive in a Scottish Loch
The "diploma" for Bembridge for great help of the School in trials of HMS Courageous 1971 in Loch Fyne.

As results of our contact with HMS Courageous Association we received bellow pictures:

Mr Eric St. John Foti at the Commissioning in the Wardroom with the Captain of Courageous Cdr RG Fry RN (more usually known as Sam Fry) He is keeping in his hands  above  diploma  in the frame  - we have of course that diploma with frame, Sam Fry has a plaque - it looks like a plaque of HMS Courageous - but we are not sure

Courageous opening main vents and about to dive in a Scottish Loch Fyne

Helo TX is a Sea King helicopter doing a transfer whilst the Courageous is off the Falkland Islands in 1983.

Pitt.k sent us a part of a history of HMS Courageous related to Loch Fyne and MV Bembridge between the following dates 27th June to 5th July 1971:              

Back alongside to Faslane, for minor defect rectification and making ready for noise trials. Then, passage to Loch Fyne where she was secured between six buoys situated about one mile south of Inverary, but over on the eastern side fairly close to the shore. Inverary itself is near the top of the loch but on the western side and was a lovely little village.             

This period was a slow and tedious time for the crew but essential. The reactor was shut down for the whole time that she was between the buoys. This meant that the submarine was on the surface during the day charging her batteries using her diesel engines. In the evening she would submerge between the buoys with the absolute minimum amount of machinery running. Equipment would be switched on and very sensitive external hydrophones that were placed along the hull on extended booms would record the amount of noise generated. All this was recorded so that each item of equipment had its own noise signature, which was henceforth very closely monitored. Obviously, this was not a quick evolution and it took many long nights to complete. During the night period only the minimum crew was on board for safe operations and the rest were over on the small accommodation ship Bembridge, which was an ex Solent Pilot Cutter but subsequently taken over and run by the Sea Training School at Arundel Priory, Sussex. Each morning she would come out to Courageous from the Inverary Pier with fresh water, mail, and the relief crew for the following night. The local pubs especially ‘The George,’ fairly close to the jetty did a roaring trade during this period.

We had a very pleasant e-mail exchange with Peter Godwin, Pitt.k and Chas Cooke and we established a fruitful contact with HMS Courageous Association - so after 40 years once again both crews are co-operating together.

Quite soon we will publish much more - it is just a begging ....
We are strongly looking for all these boys. Today we have a contact only with Peter Dowling who is our real great friend and a member of our international restoration team. Maybe you can help us?
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