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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 9 October 2010 17:00 UK
HMS Dauntless: The strains of living on board a warship
Crewmembers from HMS Dauntless
Michaela Smith, Sam Dunkley, Olly Robinson, Steve Dunn and Tony Gaskin

The Royal Navy's newest warship HMS Dauntless arrived at its affiliated town of Great Yarmouth on Thursday, 7 October 2010.

For the 190 men and women who live on the ship, it can be a tough existence.

Being away from home can take its toll but camaraderie helps to alleviate the stress of life in a warzone.

"We've got a good ship's company so if you're having a down day you've always got somebody to go and cheer you up," said junior rating Michaela Smith.

"The facilities that are on-board are also better than on any other ship," she added.

Spending nine months on a tour of duty can be a daunting experience for new recruits but the ship's company makes sure the younger members are looked after.

"You've got the senior lads and they will be a sea dad to one of the new lads and they'll be there to help them and basically they'll look after them," said junior rating Tony Gaskin.

"If they're starting to feel down they'll be there to look after them and make sure they feel okay," he added.

Disorientating experience

Junior rating Olly Robinson, another member of HMS Dauntless' crew, recalls his first time at sea as being a disorientating experience.

"I was very confused, quite overwhelmed with the whole scenario of facing your own ship, taking on the responsibilities and going through the different questions and tasks that are asked of you," said Olly.

"You gradually become very adapted to the environment," he added.

Despite the fact that the ship can be on the other side of the world, its crew can still have some contact with life at home thanks to the HMS Dauntless' state of the art equipment.

HMS Dauntless
HMS Dauntless' crew have to cope with long periods away from home

"We have got e-mails on board which is always a good thing. We've got internet so we can actually talk to the world. We've also got satellite communications and if we're within 10 miles of land we've got the mobile signal in range," said junior rating Steve Dunn.

And the Navy also takes care of the crews' families.

"There is an organisation called Family Services [Naval Personal and Family Service] which is run by the Navy itself which will deal with people at home while we're serving," said Steve.

Crewmembers can also make use of the services of a padre who visits the ship periodically.

"If there's any problems going on you can always go and see the padre," said Michaela.

"It is good to have someone there when you maybe don't want to speak to a friend or anyone else on board," she added.


One of the hardest things for people to deal with is being separated from their partner.

"A lot of relationships do break down because the partners don't understand what they're getting themselves into," said Tony.

"You do explain it to them - they don't think it's going to be as hard as it actually is once they get further into a relationship, especially when their partners are going away for nine months at a time," he added.

Michaela, whose partner also serves in the Royal Navy, agrees that it can be complicated but you learn to cope with it.

"You do get used to it but it doesn't get any easier."

In pictures: HMS Dauntless
08 Oct 10 |  People & Places
Port welcomes new 1bn destroyer
08 Oct 10 |  England


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