A recruitment campaign began for marines almost immediately after Commodore Designate Swinley‟s arrival in 1976. The Ministry of Defence published the following release in the Nassau Guardian looking for candidates who were:
- “17 1/2 – 25 years old
- Bahamian nationality
- Holding two advanced level certificates
- Three ordinary level certificates (including Math, English and wherever possible physics or a degree from a recognized university)
- Medically fit
- Without speech or sight defects
Application forms are available at the Cabinet Office, first floor, Churchill Building between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. beginning October 12. Closing date for submitting applications is October 31. It was stated that the salary would be good and the facilities (opportunities) offered from the date of enlistment in the force are “unlimited‟ and „unrivaled‟.1”
The selection tests were held on the 18th, 19th and 20th April 1977 for the droves of anxious young men clamoring to become marines. The first group of enlisted men, 27 in total, joined the ranks on 02nd May 1977. These were: Antonio Collie, Hubert Smith, Wilmore Munroe, Herman Gaitor, Michael Hudson, Leroy Whylly, Luke Bethel, Andrew Seymour, Keith Baker, Sidney Barr, Neville Moss, Brian Evans, Joseph Forbes, Stafford Knowles, Anvil Cunningham, Andrew Farrington, Hylan Johnson, Floyd Deveaux, Peter Carroll, The Nassau Guardian, 09 October 1976.
Kenrick Brennen, Anthony Marshall, Anthony Forbes, Andrew Butler, Cyril Sands, Curtis Ferguson and Brian Pennerman.
Signed training agreements with the British government secured two slots in January 1977 for the Junior Officers Course at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, England.
These first two openings for the Junior Officers Course were filled by Kenneth Gordon Turnquest, 23, and 19 year old Peter Daniel Drudge Jr. in January 1977. Turnquest had already been serving on the Police Force and Drudge was attending the University of South Florida. The two midshipmen spent a very intensive three terms at the Britannia Royal Naval College and were among the nine who passed the course in its entirety, out of forty who underwent it. Donald Livingston Weir became the third Midshipman selected to undergo officer training. He left in April 1977 to join Turnquest and Drudge.
The course trained the young men in areas as Ships‟ Stability, Radar Technology, Naval Traditions, Strategic Studies, Operations, Meteorology, Oceanography, Rules of the Road, Navigation, Seamanship, Communications, Engineering, Damage Control, Parade and Physical Training and a 9 week Initial Sea Training Course onboard a Royal Navy Battleship. Upon their return to The Bahamas, they were promoted to Acting Sub-Lieutenants.
By the time the second entry began training almost a year later, in January 1978, the organization was still struggling to achieve the subtle balance that would dictate a smooth and seamless operation. It is often remembered that this particular entry went through their entire training period in civilian clothes, as their uniforms, ordered from England, were held up in transit for one reason or another.
In a 09 February 1978 presentation to the Kiwanis Club of Fort Montague, the Commander Designate exclaimed that applications were very heavily oversubscribed, i.e. about three hundred young men had applied to fulfill the thirty positions advertised. They were also informed that hundreds of young women, too, were calling to ask how and when they could join and he admitted that in „due time‟ as he saw a number of administrative and radio operating billets that women could fill.
Fourteen days after the force became official, NE 6, who also happened to be the first entry to be trained on Coral Harbour Base, began their training. Up to this point, all other entries were trained at the Police
Commodore Belton during his tenure also began the practice of aligning officer recruits with an enlisted entry, thereby familiarizing them with military practices and giving them several months of sea time, before sending them to Dartmouth BRNC to complete the Young Officer‟s Course.
In a letter dated 10 March 1982 to Captain GB Evans RN who was the Director of Naval Assistance Overseas, Commodore Belton secured spots for an Upper Yardman. History was made in April 1982 when L/S Andrew Farrington became the first rating to attend the International Midshipman Course at the Britannia Royal Naval College. Soon after, Petty Officer William Munroe became the first marine to undergo and pass the Special Duties Officer Course also at the BRNC in Dartmouth, England. In the same vein, Kenneth Forbes became the first enlisted to attend the Officer Cadet School in the United States.
It was often said that those who undergo the Midshipman Course at Dartmouth could progress straight through the ranks, up to Commodore. It is alleged also that those who have done the Special Duties or Upper Yardsman course knew that the furthest their careers could ever progress would be to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and the post of Commodore would never be opened to them. The appointment of Lieutenant Commander Clifford Scavella, who completed the Upper Yardman‟s or Special Duties Course at the Britannia Royal Naval College has since debunked this myth.