Last week, the other 7 remaining shortlisted candidates (for the last place on the Captain Scott centenary sledging party) and I went down to Gosport, Hampshire for further selection tests. We were guests of the Royal Navy at HMS Sultan, where the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) is held. This is the officer recruitment process for the navy, with a 30% pass rate. The navy kindly modified the AIB format to accommodate the 8 of us, so we were spared the quizzes on maximum speeds of different sea vessels, mercifully!
It was appropriate that this penultimate selection event was again on a naval dry dock (we had first all met at HS Raleigh in April), given that Captain Scott himself was marinaded in and moulded by naval ways. His first preparations to join the navy were made at 13, when he entered a crammer. HMS Sultan itself was of historical interest. The site encompasses four forts built by the War Office in the 1850s; the grassed-over roofs of which are now maintained by rescue goats.
It was walking a curious tightrope; to compete against friends, but the reunion aspect of our time at HMS Sultan definitely added levity to an intense arrangement. I’m going to keep this blog post short, because I doubt the navy would appreciate if I spilled the beans, peas and other pulses on the tests they sprang on us.
Photo credit: Christopher Pledger; The Telegraph
Suffice to say, we ran, swung, carried, built, balanced, led, cooperated, planned and improvised our way through a battery of tasks. It was fantastic fun, and oddly engrossing, even though a large imaginative element had to come into play in the fictional scenarios we were set in a converted aircraft hangar. A visiting delegation of services clergymen watched us with dinner plate eyes. Out tests ended shortly after 10 am on the Friday, with what I can best describe as an amiable interrogation of our understanding of a planning exercise – we were kept on our toes.
Four people will progress to the final round, a training expedition in Norway late next month or in early November. It’s been a tremendously exciting thing to be involved with, up until now. I’m surprised and grateful to have made it even this far. The next shortlist will be announced in The Telegraph next Saturday. In the meantime, here's their take on last week.