History of Navy SERE Training

Royal Navy Survival Training

Royal Naval Survival Training development dates back to when the Navy first received aircraft during the time of the Royal Naval Air Service. Prior to 1943, the responsibility for Survival Training and Survival Equipment in the Royal Navy lay in the hands of two Royal Air Force trained ratings. By November 1943, the scale and importance of the work was such that some drastic re-organisation was necessary.

A Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) Safety Equipment and Survival Officer c. 1950

To ensure the future efficiency of the Service demanded would be available, it was decided that the Royal Navy would train all of its own Survival Equipment Officers and Ratings. The embryo branch was born. Lieutenant Commander M G Sedorski was given the job and within a few months he had formed a branch, given it a structure and was turning out officers and men to the fleet.

Safety eqpt and survival display c.1950; Dummy in aircrew flying clothing 'descending' by parachute, insulated single-seater dinghy

The School was initially housed in an assortment of requisitioned buildings in the town of Eastleigh in Hampshire. In those days the WRNS played a great part in the branch, making up approximately one third of the total numbers. In immediate post war years the ladies were succeeded by their male counterparts, however the WRNS Survival Equipment Officer remained until the early 1970’s before being phased out. HMS SISKIN, or Grange Airfield as it was known, became the branch’s second home in March 1947. This was an improvement to Eastleigh, but only just. In 1955, the school moved to its third home, a former boy’s preparatory school at Hill Head known as SEAFIELD PARK. The school moved again in September 1991 to HMS DAEDALUS at Lee-on-Solent.

Royal Navy wet dinghy drills in static water tank c. 1950

It was whilst the Royal Navy Survival Equipment School (RNSES) located at the old NATEC building DAEDALUS that a significant change was made in February 1995. In order to continue to survive as a School the RNSES had to become part of the Air Engineering School which was renamed Air Engineering and Survival School (AESS). DAEDALUS was closed in March 1996, when the AESS was relocated to a brand new purpose built building at HMS SULTAN and was renamed the Survival Equipment Group forming part of the Air Engineering and Survival Department.

From 1996 The Survival Equipment Group remained at HMS SULTAN until 2008, where they were responsible for the delivery of Sea Survival Equipment Training, Practical Sea Survival Training (in the UK and abroad), Aircrew Land Survival Training (in the UK and abroad), and Career Course Training for all members of the Survival Equipment Branch of the Royal Navy.

RN Survival Training; Sea drills can be tough and physically demanding, training for this eventuality is of paramount importance

Today, the Royal Navy survival school has undergone a merger with the RAF’s own School of Combat Search and Rescue to form the Defence SERE Training Organisation, based at RAF St Mawgan.

History of RAF Survival Training

History of RAF St Mawgan

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