Since paying a flying visit to his home village of Flushing in October last year in command of the Royal Navy patrol boat HMS Ranger, Lieutenant Jonathan Eastburn has had a busy time, being involved in various exercises and with an Easter deployment taking university graduates to many south coast ports and across the Irish Sea to Dublin.
HMS Ranger is one of the Royal Navy’s fleet of 14 P2000 Fast Inshore Patrol craft and carries out a wide range of Fleet tasking, both in UK waters and abroad. One of her main roles is to provide training to the University of Sussex Royal Naval Unit (URNU) to which she is affiliated.
Ranger has been awarded the Fleet Effectiveness Trophy which is presented to one vessel in the various classes of RN ships for being the most effective ship during the year, allowing it to fly a special pennant.
Speaking to me yesterday from Jersey, where Ranger had been representing the Navy at the Jersey Boat Show, Jonathan said: “I am immensely proud as commanding officer that my vessel and crew have been given this special award.”
During a brief stay in Falmouth in April when Ranger was berthed at the Pendennis marina Jonathan was putting together the finishing touches to the
annual squadron exercise which saw all 14 P2000 Archer Class vessels in the First Patrol Boat Squadron performing two days of combined manoeuvres in the Solent.
This was the first time in ten years that all of the boats had been together.
Jonathan said: “Commanding an Archer-class craft was both enjoyable and insightful.
“Being in charge of a P2000 after just seven years and one previous job in the RN was an opportunity second to none and it was great that the Royal Navy gave junior officers a taste of command.”
The P2000s are scattered across nine locations in the UK from Faslane and Leith in Scotland, to Penarth near Cardiff, and Plymouth and Portsmouth on the south coast.
But increasingly they are being used by the rest of the Royal Navy for training junior officers and ratings – especially the commanding officers of tomorrow – for specialist navigators, to test the responses of gun crews on larger warships by pretending to attack them and to perform security duties such as during the 2012 London Olympics.
Onboard Ranger with Jonathan observing the three hours of intense manoeuvres was the 1st PBS squadron commanding officer, Commander Mark
“He said his squadron did a cracking job for the Navy and for the country as they were now being used for much more than university training boats.”
Jonathan, who is the son of David and Judith Eastburn from Flushing, was educated at Penair School in Truro and Christ’s Hospital in Horsham. He studied at the University of Exeter, gaining a BSc in physics before joining the Royal Navy and Britannia Royal Naval College in May 2011.
Following Initial Fleet Time in HMS Bulwark and Specialist Fleet Time in HMS Tyne, Jonathan was selected for navigation training on completion of the Initial Warfare Officers’ Course at HMS Collingwood in 2013 and assigned to Crew 1 of the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM2) as Navigating Officer.