Coming home to familiar shores

Able Seaman (Steward) Colette Cunningham (22) from Buckhaven
Able Seaman (Steward) Colette Cunningham (22) from Buckhaven

A Buckhaven sailor is returning to Scottish shores - for the first time since joining the Royal Navy five years ago.

Able Seaman (Steward) Colette Cunningham (22) is serving in the Royal Navy’s last Invincible class aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, which is involved in Exercise Joint Warrior – a large multinational deployment off the coast of Scotland.

Colette, who attended Buckhaven High School before she applied to start her basic training at HMS Raleigh in Plymouth in 2009, has already served in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Gulf on board HMS Ark Royal and the Mine Counter Measures Squadron vessels out of Portsmouth. She joined the famous ‘Lusty’ in February.

Colette said: “Although I had the full support of my parents, my friends and family didn’t believe I would manage to pass basic training. It only made me more determined and I am so proud of all that I have accomplished.”

Colette will be kept busy during the exercise - which is conducted in the UK twice a year and provides high quality training for all three UK Armed Services - with a number of roles onboard.

She said: “Stewards run the officer’s mess, or Wardroom on board; providing all the services that you would do if you were in a hotel, but during emergencies or at Action Stations we provide the initial casualty response, assisted by the medics. We practice for anything from treating burns, electric shocks, broken bones – all sorts.”

The Exercise involves 34 naval units from the UK, US, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Turkey and Norway.