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Prince William takes helm at start of Navy stint

By Gregory Katz

Associated Press

LONDON — Prince William earned high marks from commanding officers for his boat-handling skills Tuesday after he took the helm of a 40-foot craft at the beginning of his two-month stint in the Royal Navy.

William did very well in his first day on the water, said Cmdr. Paul Halton, director of training at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

"The important point to make is that some of the maneuvers he did today would ordinarily take a young officer a number of weeks or months of training and he’s got the hang of it in just a day — so pretty good," he said.

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Halton said the skills William is learning now will be useful when he makes a five-week trip aboard the frigate, HMS Iron Duke, to take part in counter-narcotic patrols and hurricane relief duty in the Caribbean.

Despite his impressive performance, the future king did have problems lowering the anchor the first time.

William’s deployment in the Royal Navy is part of plan to have him spend time in all the branches of the British Armed Forces. He is already a junior officer in the Army, and he has earned his wings in the Royal Air Force.

He will also spend time with the Royal Marines while in the Navy, officials said.

Both his father, Prince Charles, and his grandfather, Prince Philip, served long Navy careers.

The military plans to have William spend the next three weeks learning basic boat handling and safety skills and then roughly five weeks at sea aboard the Iron Duke.

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