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In the Sea Cadets

The voluntary youth organisation


There’s a great way for young people to get a taste of Navy life in a voluntary youth organisation called the Sea Cadets.

Navy Cadets learn life skills like leadership and team-working through nautical adventure activities.  Sounds cool?  So where did it all start?  We need to go back to the 1850s – over 160 years ago.

It’s 1856 – the end of the Crimean War – a bloody conflict that involved countries all over Europe, Russia and Asia.  The war left many British children as orphans, many of whom ended up living on streets near our sea ports. Sailors returning from the war formed Naval Lads’ Brigades to help them.

Queen Victoria was so impressed by the work they did that in 1899 she gave the Windsor Unit ten pounds for Uniforms.  That was quite a lot of money in those days and today the event which took place on 25th June is known as the Sea Cadet’s Birthday.

By the outbreak of the Second World War over 80 years ago there were 100 sea units in the UK supporting 10,000 cadets with training in seafaring skills. As the war took hold the Navy League bought an old sailing vessel – TS Bounty – on which the ‘Bounty Boys’, as they became known, undertook pre-service training with 1,000’s going on to active service.

Today there are around 14,000 cadets aged between 10 and 17 based at 400 units across the UK.  So, If you join the Sea Cadets what sort of things will you be doing?  Well a lot of the activities do involve the sailing – as you’d expect!

You could be learning how to sail… even go power boating, or how about canoeing and rowing?  The Sea Cadets have a fleet of 250 motorboats, 3,000 dinghies, plus canoes and windsurf boards, and access to six offshore training vessels, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get out on the water.

Then there’s windsurfing…. diving, not forgetting adventure and expedition training, rock climbing, shooting, drill and piping, music, meteorology, and even cookery!

The Sea Cadets have their very own fleet of ships led by a brand new flagship – Training Ship Royalist.  Over 900 cadets each year will be able to take part in an offshore voyage on this 32 metre Brig which they will never forget.  There are also 3 yachts and 2 power vessels – TS Jack Petchey and TS John Jerwood.

Now, there’s a special group of Sea Cadets who learn what it’s like to be part of the Royal Navy’s soldiers – the Royal Marines.

As part of the Sea Cadets, Royal Marines Cadets get to do all the exciting waterborne activities as well as branching off into serious adventurous training too.

They’ll learn how to do things like orienteering, field craft and weapon handling.  Just because the Royal Navy supports the Sea Cadets – it doesn’t mean you have to join the Navy.  It’s meant to be fun – challenging you to grow in confidence.  So why not check it out?

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Life in the Armed Forces

Find out about Life in the Armed Forces

More From Life in the Armed Forces