University Royal Naval Unit

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A University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) is a Royal Navy training establishment connected to a university, or a number of universities concentrated in one area. There are 15 URNUs nationwide in the UK, and each URNU has land-based facilities near the university in question, up to four training officers (members of the Royal Naval Reserve).


Unit Date established Home port Unit location
Edinburgh 1968 Leith Hepburn House, Edinburgh
Glasgow & Strathclyde 1972 HMNB Clyde Glasgow University
Liverpool 1972 Liverpool Headquarters Naval Regional Command Northern England
Southampton 1972 HMNB Portsmouth National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Birmingham 1984 HMNB Portsmouth HMS Forward
London 1985 HMNB Portsmouth HMS President
Bristol 1986 HMNB Devonport HMS Flying Fox
Manchester & Salford 1986 Liverpool University Barracks, Manchester
Sussex 1990 HMNB Portsmouth University of Brighton
Cambridge 1994 Ipswich Cambridge ARC
Northumbria 1994 HMS Calliope, Gateshead HMS Calliope
Oxford 1994 HMNB Portsmouth Falklands House, Oxford
Wales 1994 Penarth Marina, Cardiff HMS Cambria
Yorkshire 1994 Kingston-upon-Hull HMS Ceres
Devon 2017 HMNB Devonport HMS Vivid

URNU ships are part of the Costal Forces Squadron, or "CFS". CFS is commanded by Commander CFS, who previously was also Commander URNU, Commander Universities now being a separate post. The mission statement of CFS is to provide high-quality sea training experiences in support of the URNU mission and to deliver P2000 operational capability in support of other fleet tasking.[1]

The most recently formed unit, Devon URNU was established in 2017, catering to universities across the region. Devon was the first new unit formed since 1994. But in 2021 there are expected to be 3 new units.


University Royal Naval unit training vessels Charger (left) and Trumpeter in Bristol in 2004

While the URNUs are commanded by Commander URNU, they fall under the overall jurisdiction of Captain BRNC (the commanding officer of Britannia Royal Naval College), Dartmouth. Each URNU is commanded by a lieutenant RN, lieutenant commander or RM captain. Each URNU comprises 51 undergraduates who join for the duration of their degree, with the option of taking years out or leaving at any time, the URNU's also have attached cadets that are on Navy sponsorship/cadetship programs.

Undergraduates join for up to a maximum of 4 years Members are list 7B and therefore there is no call-up liability and members may leave at any time.

During the first year URNU students wear URNU slides on their shoulders and are acting officer cadets (A/OC) and on completion of their first year they receive a white officer cadet tab in addition to the URNU slide. They can then be referred to as officer cadet (OC) and on completion of the second year students will wear midshipman rank slides in addition to URNU tabs and are referred to as acting midshipmen. To achieve the rank of Midshipman the URNU OC must pass out of BRNC via the reserve or regular courses. URNU OCs work through training logs and receive training credits, what was formerly task books, but these no longer correspond to the URNU ranks, which atomically promote over time.

Each URNU has a senior midshipman (SMID) and deputy senior midshipman (DSMID) with a committee made up of various roles which differ according to unit, but will generally include a treasurer and sports and adventurous training officers alongside other roles, and this committee will take leading role in programme planning and assist in the running of the unit. The committee is supported by the unit CO and a coxn, usually a full-time Royal Navy chief petty officer (CPO) as well as a civilian secretary. Each unit also has capacity for up to five training officers, who may be ex-Navy, former URNU students, or civilians with relevant experience, who are appointed as Royal Naval Reserve officers (RNR) though they do not hold a commission or require an Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) pass.[2] URNU training officers now wear the reserve 'R' within their executive curl to show their status. Some are being given the opportunity to attend AIBs and pass out of the reserve's Accelerated Officer Programme.

Training and unit life

Training focuses on leadership, navigation and seamanship, and this is put into practice during sea weekends, and longer deployments during the summer and Easter vacations. Drill nights also often include lessons on wider navy knowledge, drill practice, and visits from serving personnel and affiliated units as well as practical leadership tasks and team building. Units also frequently undertake visits to affiliated units and local training establishments to experience military life first hand. Training is assessed via successive taskbooks which must be signed off by members of the unit staff or P2000 ships company. Advancement in rank depends on completion of each taskbook.

There is also a significant and important social element to URNU life from formal mess dinners including the main naval formal event of the year, Trafalgar Night, to informal socialising in the unit's mess where ‘naked bar’ is called for all ranks and dedicated socials which contribute to unit integration and may be coordinated by a dedicated social secretary.

There are sporting activities held within the URNU units, informal contests between the units and an annual sports weekend in Portsmouth between all units, organised by the losing unit from the previous year.

See also


  1. "Patrol boats | Royal Navy". (in English). Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  2. BR 3 (2) Chapter 25 - Volume 2 - The University Royal Navy Units. London: Royal Navy media office. 2016.

External links