Bristol University RN Unit was formed on 1 August 1986. The first Officer-in-Charge was Lt Cdr J H Dinnin, previous RN Staff Officer at HMS Flying Fox, the RNR Sea Training Centre in Bristol.
Initially there was no training ship available to be allocated to the Unit, and sea training was undertaken on a variety of platforms when opportunity arose. Prominent amongst these were the RN’s chartered navigation training ship MV Northella, the RNR Fleet Minesweeper HMS Itchen and the Marine Society’s vessel, the MV Jonas Hanaway. In 1988 HMS Dasher was made available and was commissioned as Bristol URNU’s Training Ship on 8 June 1988.
During the early years the Unit’s established strength was 30 Midshipmen, this being increased to its present level of 51 Midshipmen in the early 1990s.
In March 1998 Lt Susanne Moore RN was appointed as Officer-in-Charge of the Unit and Commanding Officer of HMS Dasher, thereby becoming, jointly with Lt Mel Rees RN (who was appointed OiC of Wales URNU and CO of HMS Express), the first female RN officers to be appointed to command one of Her Majesty’s Ships.
In January 2003 HMS Dasher was reassigned to the RN’s newly formed Cyprus Squadron and Bristol URNU was once again without a training ship. Summer deployments in 2003 were undertaken on board the MV Loyal Supporter, a civilian owned, ex-RN Fleet Tender under short term charter to the RN. In August 2003, HMS Trumpeter, recently released from the Gibraltar Squadron, was assigned to Bristol URNU as its new training vessel.
In September 2010, HMS Trumpeter was moved over to become Cambridge URNU’s vessel, and we gained HMS Raider as our training vessel. At the same time, the home naval base for the ship was changed from HMNB Portsmouth to HMNB Devonport in Plymouth.
It was all change again in September 2012, as full circle was achieved with the return of HMS Dasher to Bristol URNU.