Britannia Royal Naval College

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Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth
MottoTo deliver courageous leaders with the spirit to fight and win
Type Naval academy
Established1863 (1863) (HMS Britannia)
Parent institution
Director People and Training
Affiliation Royal Navy
Commanding officer Captain Sarah Oakley

Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), commonly known as Dartmouth, is the naval academy of the United Kingdom and the initial officer training establishment of the Royal Navy. It is located on a hill overlooking the port of Dartmouth, Devon, England. Royal Naval officer training has taken place in Dartmouth since 1863. The buildings of the current campus were completed in 1905. Earlier students lived in two wooden hulks moored in the River Dart. Since 1998, BRNC has been the sole centre for Royal Naval officer training.



The training of naval officers at Dartmouth dates from 1863, when the wooden hulk HMS Britannia was moved from Portland and moored in the River Dart to serve as a base. [1] In 1864, after an influx of new recruits, Britannia was supplemented by HMS Hindostan. [2] Prior to this, a Royal Naval Academy (later Royal Naval College) had operated for more than a century from 1733 to 1837 at Portsmouth, a major naval installation. The original Britannia was replaced by the Prince of Wales in 1869, which was renamed Britannia. [3]

The foundation stone for a new building at the college was laid by King Edward VII in March 1902. [4] Sir Aston Webb designed the shore-based college at Dartmouth, which was built by Higgs and Hill [5] and practically completed in 1905. [6]

From September 1903, officer cadets first entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne, then after two years transferred to Dartmouth, and the first such intake was in September 1905. [6]

The Britannia training establishment was closed at the same time. The cadets under instruction were embarked on two cruisers to complete their programme under the old system. The headquarters of the cruisers was established at Bermuda, where suitable arrangements had been made to house the cadets. The cadets entered in September under the old system, and those entered in January 1906 (the last to be so entered), were received at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, where they were instructed, as far as possible, side by side with the cadets transferred from Osborne.

Lord Tweedmouth, First Lord of the Admiralty, 26 February 1906 [6]

The college was originally known as the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (RNC). As a Royal Naval shore establishment, it was later known also by the ship name HMS Britannia (a battleship called Britannia operated from 1904 to 1918). The college was renamed HMS Dartmouth in 1953, when the name Britannia was given to the newly launched royal yacht HMY Britannia. The training ship moored in the River Dart at Sandquay, a Sandown class minehunter formerly known as HMS Cromer, continues to bear the name Hindostan. [7] As cadets at the college will be aware, there are 187 steps down from the college to Hindostan's mooring at Sandquay. [8]

Cadets originally joined the Royal Naval College, Osborne, at the age of 13 for two years' study and work before joining Dartmouth. The Royal Naval College, Osborne closed in 1921. [9]

During the Second World War, after six Focke-Wulf aircraft bombed the College in September 1942, students and staff moved activities to Eaton Hall in Cheshire until the autumn of 1946. Two bombs had penetrated the College's main block, causing damage to the quarterdeck and surrounding rooms. [10] [11]

Britannia Royal Naval College became the sole naval college in the United Kingdom following the closures of the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, in 1994 and of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, in 1998. [12]

In 2020, a group of Junior Rates were trained at BRNC to help alleviate added pressure on HMS Raleigh, after a surge in recruitment. On 13 August 2020, a troop of 34 Ratings and 130 officers passed out simultaneously for the first time in the history of the Royal Navy. [13] They were followed by a second class of Junior Rates who passed out on 17 December 2020. [14]


Prospective cadets entrants must meet a minimum academic requirement. They then proceed to the Admiralty Interview Board, where they are tested mentally and physically. Several mental aptitude tests are administered, along with a basic physical fitness test and a medical examination. Officer cadets, as they are known until passing out from the college, can join between the ages of 18 and 39. [15] While most cadets join BRNC after finishing university, some join directly from secondary school. [16] The commissioning course is 30 weeks, with Warfare Officers and Aircrew spending a further 19 weeks studying academics at the college. [17] [18] A large contingent of international and Commonwealth students are part of the student body. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary sends its officer cadets to BRNC for a 10-week initial officer training course, before they start at a maritime college. [19]

Royal cadets

King George V and King George VI were naval cadets at Dartmouth. The first "significant encounter" between Prince Philip of Greece and the then Princess Elizabeth took place at Dartmouth in July 1939, where Philip was a naval cadet. [20] [21] Charles III and the Duke of York also attended Dartmouth. The Prince of Wales spent a brief period at the College after leaving Sandhurst as part of his training with all three of Britain's Armed Forces. [22]

Sheikh Mubarak Ali Yousuf Suoud Al-Sabah, a member of the Royal Family of Kuwait, attended the Royal Navy Young Officer Course at Britannia Royal Naval College in 2002. [23] [24] His Highness Sheikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the eldest son of the Crown Prince of Bahrain, also underwent training at BRNC (including time at sea in RN warships) from 2014 to 2015, prior to commencing active service in the Royal Bahrain Naval Force. [25]

Commanders of the college

List below based on listing compiled by historian Colin Mackie; [26] additional references are given in the list.


Former students

Prospect of the Britannia Royal Naval College Britannia Royal Naval College - drawing - Aston Webb architect (retouched).jpg
Prospect of the Britannia Royal Naval College

See also

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  1. Walker 1938 , p. 39
  2. Walker 1938 , p. 40
  3. Lambert 1984 , pp. 122, 127–128
  4. "The King and Queen in Devon". The Times. No. 36710. London. 8 March 1902. p. 12.
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Coordinates: 50°21′26″N03°34′58″W / 50.35722°N 3.58278°W / 50.35722; -3.58278