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- Business Insider spoke to Callum Hui, the youngest sailor on HMS Queen Elizabeth.
- Hui, who has the rank of Able Seaman, played a special part in a recent commissioning ceremony.
- But he said long stretches at sea with no social media can prove tough.
Long months at sea, sharing your bedroom with five other people, and the potential to be sent to war at a moment’s notice: Life as a sailor on board an aircraft carrier is a life worlds apart from most teenagers.
While his school contemporaries sit A Levels and plot life at university, Able Seaman Callum Hui is the youngest crewman aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, the newest, most powerful and most expensive ship in the Royal Navy.
The 17-year-old spoke with Business Insider on board the vessel last week, days before he took a starring role cutting the cake in the official commissioning ceremony, which saw Queen Elizabeth formally accept the ship into the navy.
And, despite living among the most advanced technology at the disposal of the British armed forces, Hui admitted that it’s a lack of technology like Snapchat that can be the worst part of life at sea.
He said: “I’m a teenager, so I spend my whole life on my phone. And being at sea… you don’t have wifi, you don’t have signal.
“Obviously, when you get closer to land, you do get signal, but it’s not always 4G, 3G, so you can’t always check up on social media.”
However, Hui said the opportunities for great Snapchat stories go some way to outweighing the patchy internet access.
Other than that, Hui was full of praise for his role. As a ship’s steward, he spends much of his time keeping the decks and dining areas in good order, and doing odd jobs for the officer class on board.
He said the six-man dorms for low-ranking sailors (“rates” in naval speak) on board HMS Queen Elizabeth are the best the navy has to offer, and count as “spacious” in comparison to many of the much smaller vessels in the fleet.
Despite being the youngest on board — and admitting he still sometimes gets lost — Hui said being one of the newest faces on board isn’t intimidating: “I get treated exactly the same as everyone else.” And perks of the job sometimes include meeting the Queen.
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