A young Royal Navy sailor from Helston has spoken of life aboard his first ship - patrolling the waters of the Caribbean.

Able Rating Kieran Ashley has shared stories of seasickness, cramped conditions and the yearning to go ashore to visit the passing idyllic islands, as the ship provides hurricane disaster relief.

But this is no holiday - the 20-year-old is serving on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship Argus as part of the UK’s commitment to oversee the security of its overseas territories.

Working alongside the RFA crew, he is part of 1700 Naval Air Squadron, which is based at RNAS Culdrose, in his hometown of Helston.

The team from 1700 support the helicopters of 815 and 845 naval air squadrons, which in turn transport the task group’s boots on the ground: Royal Marine commandos.

Falmouth Packet:

AET Kieran Ashley onboard RFA Argus

Air engineering technician Kieran said: “I was nervous about setting sail for the first time, knowing there would be no relief if I didn’t like it.

"Luckily, I soon found I enjoyed being at sea as it was the beginning of a new adventure for me – although I did suffer from mild seasickness while crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

“This lasted for a week and then I got over it. I think that was down to the profile of the ship, which is a flat-bottomed, ex-container ship, and carries a lot of fuel and weight.

"Talking with people after the crossing, I found out that others had suffered the same as me. This made me feel more at ease as I knew then I wasn’t alone.

“I am lucky enough not to suffer with that other sickness – homesickness. I think this is down to my previous training, being away from home for long periods of time and still being able to contact home through social media."

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While at sea he was fortunate to be offered the chance to fly in a Merlin Mk4 - something Kieran said he "didn’t hesitate" to put his name forward for.

"This was my first time flying in a Royal Navy helicopter.

“I was nervous and excited at first, especially prior to take-off, but the nerves soon disappeared once we were in the air. The aircraft flew us around Montserrat and I was able to see how the volcano devastated the island and left whole towns in ruins," he said.

Kieran added that he had also had the chance to explore some of his surroundings.

“After being at sea constantly for six weeks, with no port visits, and sailing passed numerous islands such as Bermuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, and The Caicos islands, people were starting to get frustrated.

Falmouth Packet:

AET Kieran Ashley checks aviation fuel samples on RFA Argus

“The chance finally arose to get ashore, for a small handful of personnel, by volunteering to take part in a disaster-relief exercise.

"I instantly volunteered - although we were told that there would not be any down-time – for the chance to go ashore on one of these beautiful islands.

“After arriving on the island of West Caicos we were told to pretend to act like a local community that had just been hit by a hurricane. This was to help train 29 Commando in how to respond to this scenario.

"After the exercise we were allowed some time to spend on the beach while having lunch," said Kieran.

“This was my first experience of a ‘run-ashore’ and it was definitely worth it. All of the lads from my department went and that made it much better.

"The best part was getting transported by jet boats which was an adrenaline rush.”

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Kieran is part of the engineering team that services the flying support equipment on the ship, such as the movable towing arms and aircraft movers.

Every day they test the quality of the fuel and check the hoses and refuelling points on the flight deck. They also brief the squadrons on emergency procedures, such as helicopter in-flight refuelling or wheels-up landings.

He added: “The accommodation is satisfactory, neither good nor bad to be honest. Being my first ship, I found that the accommodation was very small at first, compared to what I was used to on shore.

Falmouth Packet:

AET Kieran Ashley (right) and fellow engineer check fuel lines on RFA Argus

“There wasn’t much room to move around in, especially sharing a cabin and the facilities with three other lads. This also made storing things awkward, especially as people would constantly be going under my bed to get access to their bags.

“With all the members of my cabin on different watches, it makes getting to sleep very complicated and with people constantly moving in and out of the cabin and using the bathroom, it makes it hard not to wake each other up.

“Presently, I am enjoying my time at sea. I like my work colleagues and the entertainment we make, for example a quiz is held in the junior rates’ mess every week, hosted by different departments onboard.

“I enjoy the aspect of travelling and seeing different scenery, while doing things that I never thought I would, like flying in a helicopter and trips in speed boats. I can’t complain.”