Sea Cadet Corps has one of the longest histories of any youth organisation
in the country, but like every British institution it has evolved
haphazardly. A few of the landmarks in its long development are
summarised in the text below.
Sailors returning from the Crimean War started up 'Naval Lads Brigades'
in Whitstable and other ports. By the turn of the century there
were 'Brigs' and 'Brigantines' in several towns.
The Navy League, a pressure group formed in 1895 with the aim of
influencing maritime thinking in Parliament and reminding the country
of its naval history and dependence on the sea, decided also to
sponsor a small number of these independent Units as the Navy League
Boys' Naval Brigade. This slowly expanded with the addition of other
formations such as Sea Scout Groups.
The Navy League applied to the Admiralty for recognition of its
34 Naval Brigades. This was granted in 1919 subject to an annual
efficiency inspection by an Officer on the staff of the Admiral
Commanding Reserves and the title Navy League Sea Cadet Corps was
adopted. There were 5 other Sea Cadet Corps, all much smaller.
Lord Nuffield gave £50,000 to fund the expansion of the Corps.
At the start of the war, there were nearly 100 Units with some 10,000
The Navy League's 1941 scheme for training Sea Cadets in T.S. (Training
Ship) Bounty for service in the wartime Navy caught the Admiralty's
imagination. The Admiral Commanding Reserves took over the training
role from January 1942, HM King George VI became Admiral of the
Corps, Officers were granted appointments in the RNVR (Royal Naval
Volunteer Reserve) and the Corps was renamed The Sea Cadet Corps.
A huge expansion to 400 Units and 50,000 cadets coincided in many
towns with 'Warship Weeks' so that the newly formed Unit took the
same name as the adopted warship. The Admiralty now paid for uniforms,
equipment, travel and training, while the Navy League funded sport
and Unit Headquarters. Thousands of 'Bounty Boys' progressed into
the Navy as communications ratings, many returning to their Units
after the war ended. In the same year the Girls' Naval Training
Corns was formed as part of the National Association of Girls' Corps,
with units mainly in Southern England.
All Units were given Unit numbers in Alphabetical order from No.1
"Aberdare" to No.357 "York". Thereafter Units
were numbered in sequence as they were affiliated to the Navy League,
reading 399 by the end of the war.
The Admiralty offered to take over the Sea Cadet Corps entirely.
The Navy League disagreed but suggested that it continue its co-sponsorship
of the Sea Cadet Corps as during the war. The conditions were now
embodied in an agreement with the Navy League, known as the Sea
Cadet Charter. Among other items it undertook to support a maximum
of 22,000 Cadets, to supply uniforms, boats, training facilities,
travel expenses and limited pay to adult staff who retained their
appointments in the RNVR (and in the later reorganisation of the
RNR). The Sea Cadet Council was set up to govern the Corps with
membership from the Navy League and the Royal Navy, and a retired
Captain took on the task of supervision, first as Secretary to the
Council and later as Captain, Sea cadet Corps. From the same date
the GNTC expanded throughout the Country. By the late 1950s there
were more than 50 Units and the name was changed to the 'Girls'
Nautical Training Corps'.
The Commandant General, Royal Marines asked permission to form a
Marine Cadet Section which could be fitted into an existing organisation
and the Council agreed to this. By 1964 the section had expanded
from the original 5 detachments to 40. By 1992, 75 Units had Marine
Cadet Detachments whose training is similar to the Army Cadet Force.
It was. proposed to amalgamate the 3 Girls' Corps into one National
body, to be called the Girls' Venture Corps. The Girls' Nautical
Training Corps, not wishing to lose its naval identity, asked the
Navy League to take over its sponsorship and in 1963 it was affiliated
to the Sea Cadet Corps, in many cases sharing the same premises
with local Units.
The Navy League was renamed the Sea Cadet Association since support
of the Sea Cadets and Girls' Nautical Training Corps had now become
its sole aims. At the end of the year the title of Admiral Commanding
Reserves lapsed and his functions, including responsibility for
the Sea Cadet Corps, were transferred to the Commander-in-Chief
Naval Home Command (CINCNAVHOME) in Portsmouth. The Charted was
revised and replaced by a Memorandum of Agreement, which is reviewed
every two years.
On 31st March the Ministry of Defence Navy) approved the admission
of girls into the Sea Cadet Corps within the overall ceiling of
numbers. The Girls' Nautical Training Corps ceased to exist as a
separate body and its Units were admitted to the Sea Cadet Corps
to form Girls' Nautical Training Contingents in a number of Units.
This number, originally set at 120, was raised to 150 in 1983 and
then, in 1986, all limits to Contingent numbers were removed by
the Admiralty Board and replaced by a limit of 35% of girls in the
Corps overall. By late 1991 over 300 Units contained girls.
The successful integration of the boy and girl cadets and their
adult leaders over the previous 11 years led to the logical step
of discontinuing the separate GNT Contingents from 1st January.
Sea Cadets, male or female, now enjoyed identical training; adult
Sea Cadet Staff, male and female, enjoyed the same opportunities,
insignia, rank nomenclature and pay.
its Golden Jubilee year under this title the Sea Cadet Corps numbered
some 400 Units once more (including the Malta Unit) with a rising
total membership of around 16,000. Sea Cadet Headquarters also retained
a supervisory role over 3 Units in Bermuda and 1 in the Falkland
Islands and maintained friendly links with Commonwealth Corps founded
in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Hong
Kong and others in Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Germany and the USA.
At a conference in Portsmouth an international sea cadet association
was formed to encourage international exchanges, to foster the Sea
Cadet ethos world-wide and to stimulate the formation of new Corps.
Founder members were: UK, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Holland,
Japan, South Africa, Sweden and the USA.
The Sea Cadet Association was reconstituted as a company as well
as a national charity.
Sea Cadet Units known as Training Ships are based
in inner city areas where they continue to promote the origins of
the movement, providing worthwhile activities for young people who
might otherwise not have the opportunity to develop their life skills.
Although more than 20 percent of new recruits embarking on careers
in the Royal Navy are Sea Cadets, the movement is not primarily
a pre-service organisation, but sets it sights on equipping young
people with the essentials of self reliance, personal discipline
and team work which will hold them in good stead whatever career
core training is based on seamanship and traditional maritime skills,
but Cadets can also study mechanical and electrical engineering,
communications, cookery, computers band musician, Duke of Edinburgh
Award Scheme, and a host of associated subjects to prepare them
for adult life. With the experience of the Sea Cadets under their
belts, many ex-Cadets have risen to the very top of their professions.
sea still plays an important part in our lives. Sea Cadets go to
sea aboard Royal Navy ships, attend courses at Naval bases including
helicopter flying at Naval Air Stations, and fly the flag for the
Navy at national events, highlight of which is the annual Trafalgar
Day Parade in Londons Trafalgar Square to commemorate Admiral
Lord Nelsons death at the battle of Trafalgar.
are opportunities for foreign travel too. The Corps is a leading
light in the International Sea Cadet Association, forging nautical
links with nations around the world from South Africa and Australia
to Bermuda, Canada and the United States of America.
the Sea Cadets have come a long way from those early days in the
seaport back streets when orphans of the war first donned the blue
uniform. Now the Corps continues to offer unrivalled opportunities
for young people aged between 10 and 18 years despite the competing
attractions of the "youth leisure industry". Why do young
people join the Sea Cadets? Because they want to do something worthwhile
- Because they want to belong to the best youth movement around
- Because they want to invest in their own community and make the
most of what the new millennium may bring - Because they want to
meet the challenge of the future with the motto: